Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/26/2020
Over70 million Americans have some form of sleeping disorder. But when you’re having a restless night, broad statistics may not feel so comforting. You just want to know why you’re experiencing insomnia, what it’s doing to your body, and how you can stop being a complete zombie during the day. To stop you from spending hours hopelessly searching through answers on forums, we’ve compiled a guide about everything you need to know about sleep deprivation.
When it comes to sleep disorders and anxiety, it can become a bit of a vicious cycle. Your initial stress and anxiety may prevent you from getting rest and then you wake up feeling fatigued and even more anxious. Though some people are generally anxious, others can get triggered and go through stressful episodes. If you’re worried about your job, relationship, or a homework assignment, that can manifest itself as insomnia.
It turns out that a lot of guilty pleasures have a negative impact on your ability to sleep. For instance, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine all can interrupt your resting schedule.
As stimulants, caffeine and nicotine both can keep you up at night. With caffeine, drinking it a few hours before bed can make you restless. Since coffee impacts people differently, it's recommended that you see how caffeine affects you. Many coffee drinkers have a rule that they don’t consume any caffeine after a specific hour.
While caffeine and nicotine give you energy, alcohol can actually make you pass out. However, you won’t have a good night’s rest because you will be frequently waking up and may not be able to get that REM sleep. In addition to nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, eating can also prevent you from sleeping. Eating a full meal can lead to digestive issues and heartburn — two things that won’t help with your rest.
Sometimes your sleep deprivation is temporary. Anyone who has traveled across a few time zones has probably experienced jet lag. When you arrive at your new destination, your body’s circadian rhythm — the 24-hour system that dictates how you sleep and eat — is thrown off balance, causing you to feel restless at night and then feeling tired during the day. Luckily, humans are highly adjustable so this isn’t a permanent condition. Depending on how far you have traveled, it will take days or weeks to fully adjust to your new time zone.
If you’re experiencing restlessness, it could be the symptom of a mental health issue. That’s why you should consult with a doctor if you consistently can’t get a full night of sleep. Your insomnia could be a sign of any of these mental health issues:
Insomnia could also be triggered by a new medication you’re taking. Check with your doctor to see if your sleepless nights could be a potential side effect for a new prescription. Your doctor can set you up with an alternative.
Let’s face it: most of us are on our phones way too much. And it turns out that when you’re curled up in bed with your smartphone, you might have a harder time going to sleep. Some experts believe that the blue light beaming from computers and phones may be causing insomnia. Additionally, getting stimulated by a TV show, game, or article can make you restless by making your brain go into overdrive.
Sleep deprivation can lead to both physical and mental issues. Here are a few symptoms:
Increased risk for diabetes and heart disease
Though suffering through insomnia may make you feel hopeless, there are some practical solutions to this problem. Since your case might be an indicator of another health issue, it's recommended that you talk to a licensed physician about your issues if it's ongoing. Check out these tips:
Are you chugging espressos at 6 PM? Or are you having a heavy meal too late? Maybe you’re scrolling through Instagram for hours before going into bed. Whatever it is, it’s time to face the truth that these habits aren’t helping your insomnia. Pick a regular bedtime routine and stick to it — one that doesn’t involve a phone screen.
In regards to exercise improving sleep patterns, Dr. Charlene Gamoldo, the medical director of Johns Hopkins University, has concluded that there’s “solid evidence” backing it up. Though there are various potential explanations, the Hopkins doctor argues that aerobic exercise improves one’s mood and helps them feel more relaxed. Try out different times of day to exercise to see what works best for you.
If you’re experiencing insomnia because of anxiety and depression, the best thing you can do is to get some professional help. Therapy is a great way to talk about your issues, work through solutions, and learn how to compartmentalize.
As part of the Vitals line, Hims now sells sleep gummy vitamins that contain melatonin, L-Theanine, and chamomile. Melatonin, L-Theanine, and chamomile have been shown to improve sleep quality. Studies also have found that L-Theanine can reduce anxiety and stress — two factors that can lead to insomnia. This is a natural, safe, and scientifically-tested solution that can be sent right to your door.
Sleep is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Do everything you can to get the rest you deserve.