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Why Can't I Sleep Even Though I'm Tired? What to Do?

Why Can't I Sleep Even Though I'm Tired? What to Do?

How frustrating can it get when all you want is to sleep but stay awake for hours? Sadly, struggling to sleep has spiral effects, including fatigue, frustration, and anxiety the following day. It stresses your agitation and promotes poor productivity, leading to an endless loop of more insomnia.

Things that might cause you to struggle to sleep even though you are tired include Circadian rhythmic disorders and caffeine. Others include exposure to blue light before bedtime, dieting, stress, and nocturnal anxiety.

Before you resort to popping sleeping pills, it is vital to discover the things behind your inability to sleep. Knowing these then allows you to work towards achieving better sleep patterns and improved health efficiently.

Below are factors contributing to your inability to sleep even when tired;

tired woman at work


Needing several cups of caffeine throughout the day could harm your sleep. Caffeine does this by promoting your alertness by blocking adenosine receptors- sleep-blocking receptors found in your brain.

According to a 2013 study, consuming four hundred milligrams of caffeine up to six hours before sleep time promotes sleep problems. Caffeine has a quarter-life of around ten to twelve hours. Hence, you can feel the effect of your midday coffee when you want to sleep at night.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Also referred to as sleep-wake cycle disorders, the Circadian rhythmic disorders happen when you alter your regular sleep routine. Your body naturally has an internal clock that tells when it is time to fall asleep or wake up. So, you confuse your body and brain when you experience a change in, say, time to fall asleep.

Also, your Circadian clock considers all cues, including body hormones, natural lighting, plus darkness. During the daytime, your body produces low levels of melatonin hormones. However, when it gets darker, your body produces and releases more, promoting sleep. It is why even when tired, you might struggle to sleep in a well-lit room at night.

Typical forms of Circadian rhythmic disorders include variations in seasons and jet lag. Shift work disorder is an extreme form of Circadian rhythmic disorder that happens when you begin working night shifts. It is why the 9-5 working hours stand as the most favorable for our sleep-wake patterns.

Blue Light

Exposure to electronic screens like phones and televisions disrupts sleep by releasing blue light, which blocks melatonin production. Such tricks trick your brain into believing it should be awake, making you struggle to sleep.

Stress, Nocturnal Anxiety, And Depression

People with stress and anxiety disorders experience alertness when it is time to sleep. During this time, the brain is trying to process everything that has happened and could happen.

Your body naturally produces higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol during the day than at night. Stressing or being anxious at night increases its production, disrupting your ability to fall asleep even when tired.

Sleep and depression can often have a bidirectional relationship. It occurs when sleep cycle disruption and its effects could lead to depression and vice versa.

Sleep Disorders

People with sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and Restless leg syndrome might struggle to sleep even when tired. For instance, people with Sleep Apnea could have breathing problems that might make them struggle to fall asleep even when exhausted. Contrarily, people with restless leg syndrome get the itch to want to move their legs, affecting their sleepiness.

Hormonal Imbalances

The hormonal changes that women experience throughout their menstrual cycles could affect their ability to fall asleep even when tired. The hormonal shifts that occur right before menstruation could have sleep-affecting effects. They include painful cramps, moodiness, migraines, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and increased body temperature.

Since these effects are unusual to your sleep cycle, you could struggle to fall asleep even though you are tired.


In most cases, your goal with dieting is to cut calories. Hence, most people have their evening meals earlier and in smaller proportions, making them sleep almost hungry. Going to bed hungry reduces your chance of relaxation and might make you struggle to fall asleep.

Also, certain foods have varied effects on your level of sleepiness. Eating fatty and spicy foods before bed could reduce your chances of falling asleep sooner. A 2016 review showed that high-fat diet consumption promotes less REM sleep, deeper sleep, and increased sleep arousal.

Long Naps During Daytime

Taking long and frequent naps during the day might affect your sleep cycle and your level of sleepiness at night. Also, the timing of your nap directly affects your sleep quality.

For instance, taking morning naps may barely have any effects since it promotes light REM and non-REM sleep. Contrarily, taking a nap too late in the day promotes deeper sleep since your sleep drive is high. Such could make it hard for you to fall asleep during nighttime.

What To Do When You Cannot Sleep Even Though You Are Tired

The following tips will help you fall asleep faster;

Avoid Taking Caffeine 4-6 Hours Before Sleep

It might be time to say goodbye to your evening cup of coffee that promotes blockage of sleep receptors. Doing so allows your body and brain to fall asleep when it is time naturally.

Avoid Using Electronic Devices 30 Minutes Before Sleep

We know how it is easy to get tied to your phones, laptops, and televisions in this digital era. You are constantly scrolling through social media as you wait to fall asleep. Sadly, the emission of blue light blocks melatonin production, lowering your ability to fall asleep faster. We advise switching off or staying away from electronic screens at least thirty minutes before sleep.

Once screens are off, your brain will associate it with darkness. It will then promote melatonin production, making you fall asleep faster.

Maintain A Regular And Healthy Sleep-Wake Cycle

Your body associates light with being awake and darkness to sleep. Having a regular sleep cycle allows your body to fall into a healthy sleep routine. You get quality sleep by sleeping for a set amount of time daily.

If you are working night shifts and sleep during the daytime, create an environment that promotes sleep. Such includes keeping your room dark and ensuring maximum silence when it is time to sleep. Use eye masks and ear plugs for a faster chance of falling asleep.

Seek Medical Attention

Sleep disorders like Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome call for medical attention to find a suitable solution. Here, doctors could recommend particular mattresses or pillows for better sleep. People experiencing problems falling asleep due to hormonal imbalances could also benefit from seeking medical help.

We also advise talking to a professional if you experience high-stress levels, nocturnal anxiety, and depression.

Watch Your Diet And Nutrition

The types of food we consume directly impact our ability to sleep even when tired. Avoid taking fatty, sugary, and spicy foods or energy drinks before sleep. These might disrupt your comfort and promote less restorative sleep.

Also, ensure that you have had enough food before bed. Not overfed, just enough. This way, your body focuses on sleep and not on your hunger.

cant sleep night

Avoid Taking Long Naps During The Day

We discourage taking long naps later in the evening since it lowers your ability to fall asleep at night. If you must take naps, keep them about twenty to forty minutes long. Also, let them fall in the first half of the daytime or earlier in the afternoon.


Various factors could make you struggle to fall asleep even when tired. Tips include avoiding caffeine intake, using electronic devices before sleep, and maintaining a regular and healthy sleep-wake cycle. We also advise seeking medical and professional help for sleep disorders like Sleep Apnea.