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6 Surprising Reasons You're Having Trouble Sleeping Well
Woman with sleep issues
Physical Health

6 Surprising Reasons You're Having Trouble Sleeping Well

Tossing and turning every night and waking up tired?  If you experience insomnia, some of the causes may surprise you. We’ve asked experts for what causes you to lose your zzz’s.woman-sleep-issues

1. Stress

If your thoughts at night keep winding in circles, this cycle can keep you up at night.


“Stress causes so-called stream of consciousness that makes someone think and rethink their problems, life choices, and forthcoming assignments,” says Damian Jacob Sendler, MD and PhD , who is  chief of sexology and clinical research programs at Felnett Health Research Foundation and its clinics in New York City.

“Stress can provoke other physiological bodily responses that may prevent normal sleep pattern, such as stomach growling, bowel movements, and anxiety-provoked shaking that make keep us awake. “ Try strategies like meditation to wind down your racing thoughts.

2. Frequent travelingWhy Sollo Travel Is a Fast Track to Personal Development

People who are changing time zones often have difficulty with steady sleep.

“Changes in time zone distrust our body’s circadian rhythm that tells us when to fall asleep — flight crews are the most hard-hit by this,” says Dr. Sendler.

“Sleeping in hotels also takes a toll on our sleeping patterns. Most people get to sleep best in their own bed for a number of reasons -- comfort of the bed and quality of indoor air being most important.”

3. You’re getting older

Dr. Sendler says the closer we are to turning 60, our sleep patterns change.

“We tend to be wakeful faster, but ongoing physiological and anatomical changes to the brain alter how it regulates sleeping patterns,” he explains. “Therefore, it is very common for the elderly to experience difficulty sleeping.”

4. Your DNA is causing insomniaSleeping position 1024x679

Jeffrey Durmer, PhD, MD, chief medical officer at FusionHealth / SleepCharge in Atlanta, says there are individuals who are born with a genetic predilection for insomnia.

“This ‘premorbid’ state puts you closer or farther from the ‘clinical threshold’ of insomnia,” says Dr. Durmer. Those who have a genetic lean toward insomnia will be more impacted by life stressors than others.

“For many in this position, sleep is usually short in duration, or they may label themselves as ‘light sleepers.’ This population is the one group for which sleep aids were created,” he says.

Dr. Durmer explains that you may get short term relief using sleep aids, but the actual "cure" for the vast majority with this issue, and most clinically validated treatment, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, which he says focuses on controlling the perpetuating factors that make insomnia chronic. 

5. Your diet

Having a balanced diet really can help you sleep better.

“Eating too much or too title can disrupt sleep,” says Talia Segal Fidler, nutritional curator at The Lodge at Woodloch, a spa in Hawley, Pennsylvania.

She says having a full stomach before bedtime may cause digestive discomfort that may lead to hard time falling asleep and may also effect sleep quality. Fidler also says late night eating or snacking, may cause heartburn, or acid reflux.

“Lying down with full stomach promotes gastric juices and acid to flow back up-into the esophagus, causing heartburn and disrupt sleep,” she says.

6. What you’re drinking

Watch the glass of wine or the late-day latte which impact your sleep quality.

“Caffeine or other beverages that contain caffeine can disrupt sleep. If you are sensitive to caffeine, try to avoid it in the afternoon and evening,” Fidler recommends. When drinking alcohol, watch the timing of your last drink.

“Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but sleep may become fragmented as the body metabolizes it,” she continues.

“Alcohol may cause insomnia and also dehydration, leaving you tired and depleted the morning after.” Your bladder will also be a reason you make wake-up. “Drinking too close to bedtime promotes the need to go to the bathroom during the night. Avoid drinking fluids a few hours before bedtime,” Fidler adds.

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