Why Can’t I Sleep?

Had another sleepless night? Many people struggle with problems falling asleep. Often it is stress and worries that deprive us of a well-earned night’s sleep.

Sleep studies and diagnosis

If you have chronic problems falling asleep, you should consider seeing your family doctor. Sometimes an examination of your sleep, often called a “sleep-study” can help, or with a visit with a psychiatrist or neurologist may be useful to ensure there are no underlying deeper problems or signs of sleep apnea. Many tips such as warm milk, exercise before falling asleep or the ever-famous counting sheep qualify as short-term remedies. Everyone has their own method. But what really helps?

We put the best known tricks and household remedies to the test:

The Good Night Milk

The glass of warm milk with honey is a popular household remedy. Many swear by its sleep-inducing effect. “However, the effect has not been scientifically proven,” said Professor Dieter Riemann, sleep researcher and psychologist at the University Hospital in Freiburg. It is true that milk contains the hormone melatonin as well as the amino acid tryptophan. Both are sleep-inducing substances. However, the quantity is too small to really speed up the process of falling asleep. “Warm milk might rather have a psychological effect,” assumes Riemann. It makes you full, relaxes and thus helps you to find peace.

Counting sheep

The probably best known sleep aid can actually help. Counting is a very monotonous and low-irritation process. It distracts from problems and thoughts that might prevent you from sleeping. Of course, the sheep are not the most important thing. Other calming, unexciting thoughts can also have a soporific effect. So it can just a much help to imagine something serene, like a beautiful landscape. The important thing is to relax. If you put too much pressure on yourself when counting sheep, you will be even more hindered from sleeping. It is worth doing relaxation exercises during the day. This makes them easier to do at night.

Reading to help you fall asleep

A sensible and useful method: Reading helps to switch off, similar to counting sheep. But only as long as the reading does not stir up too much emotion. It is also better not to read directly in bed.

Insomnia: Causes, therapies and self-help

Difficulty falling asleep, not sleeping through the night, snoring, walking up and down with tingling legs, dozing off during times a day – sleep problems have many faces and numerous causes:

Television keeps you awake

Less suitable than reading is television. The blue light emitted by TV as well as computers and smartphones seems to inhibit the production of melatonin. It can thus prevent people from falling asleep quickly – despite the fact that they fall asleep in front of the TV.

Sports – but not too late

People who do sport get tired and can sleep better afterwards. Sounds logical so far and is also correct. However, body and mind need time to switch off after sporting activities. That is why you should stop exercising at least two to three hours before going to bed. The ideal time is in the late afternoon. This gives the body enough time to rest.

Late Night Showers

Does taking a shower before going to bed help you to have peaceful nights? Depends. A cold shower stimulates the circulation and therefore tends to dispel tiredness. It’s different with a hot shower or bath. The body warms up, which can make it easier to fall asleep. Thick socks can also be helpful. However, socks in bed are not everyone’s taste. The temperature in the bedroom plays a role in falling asleep, set it to something comfortable.

Alcohol for Sleep – at the expense of deep sleep

The after-work beer is popular with many. In fact, alcohol promotes a quicker fall asleep. But, alcohol consumption leads to a less deep sleep leading to one waking up more often at night. If you consume substantial quantities of alcohol over a longer period of time, you can disturb your depth and continuity of sleep in the long term.

Is there the perfect way to fall asleep?

Probably not. Most of the drugs have a psychological benefit. Whether it is herbal teas, milk, CBD, melatonin, over the counter sleep aids or the many other foods that are said to have a sleep-inducing effect. The placebo effect does play an important role in helping you fall asleep. That is why everyone has to find out for themselves what will help them sleep best. It is important that the body and brain are at rest. That is why you should avoid stress in the evening if possible and prepare for bedtime with a relaxed evening program.

Fixed habits are also helpful. Rituals like reading, taking a short walk or drinking a glass of milk often make it easier to fall asleep. This allows you to literally program your body for sleep. For example, if you’ve endeavored to tie your time to relax and become sleepy to reading, the body will firmly combine reading with a good night’s sleep and adjusts itself accordingly.

Further Reading: