Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?

Woman sleeping

Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?

Have you ever found yourself tossing and turning in bed, wondering, “Why can’t I fall asleep?” 

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of our health, and we can’t function well without it. We’re not just talking about yawning through Tuesday’s meeting. We’re talking about cellular processes and metabolism. Everyone needs sleep, and it should be a top health priority.

At Thrive Naturopathic, our team of naturopathic doctors and health coaches have expertise in finding you natural and functional medicine treatments for sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep starts with falling asleep. This process involves a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors. In this article, we’ll delve into the science of why you can’t fall or stay asleep, and we’ll provide insights into achieving restorative rest.


The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

We all know how good it feels to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. When you can fall asleep and stay asleep, you feel like you can tackle anything the next day! 

A good night’s sleep is a cornerstone of optimal health and functioning. It is during sleep that our bodies and minds undergo essential repair, consolidation of memories, and hormonal balance. Benefits of adequate sleep include the following:

  • Physical Restoration

Sleep is the time when our bodies repair tissues, strengthen the immune system, and regulate hormones crucial for growth, stress response, and metabolism.

  • Cognitive Functioning

Sleep is essential for memory consolidation, learning, problem-solving, and creativity. It enhances cognitive processes, ensuring mental clarity and focus during waking hours.

  • Emotional Well-being

Proper sleep supports emotional regulation and resilience, helping to prevent mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

  • Heart Health

Consistent sleep contributes to healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall cardiovascular well-being.

  • Weight Management

Sleep plays a role in regulating hunger hormones, potentially reducing overeating and aiding weight management.


What Constitutes Good Sleep for Men and Women?

The ideal amount of sleep varies with age and individual needs. On average, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, there are variations based on gender, with women often requiring slightly more sleep due to hormonal fluctuations and their impact on sleep quality. 

Yes, it is also possible to get too much sleep. Pay attention to how you feel after six, seven, eight, and nine hours of sleep each night. Also, pay attention to when you head to bed. If you’re wondering, “Why can’t I fall asleep?” you may just need to go to bed earlier or later if possible.


4 Health Conditions That Influence Falling Asleep

Numerous factors contribute to variations in sleep needs among individuals. These include genetics, age, lifestyle, medical conditions, and environmental factors. Some people are naturally “night owls” or “early birds” due to their biological clocks, while others might have underlying health conditions affecting sleep.


1. Insomnia

Insomnia, a prevalent sleep disorder, involves difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite the opportunity for adequate rest. Factors contributing to insomnia include stress, anxiety, depression, underlying medical conditions, and the side effects of certain medications. As you’ll see, the following health conditions mentioned in this list can contribute to insomnia, but it’s important to also mention insomnia as its own separate condition.


2. Hormone Imbalances

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. Hormone imbalances resulting from endocrine disorders can disrupt sleep. Thyroid disorders, including both an underactive (hypothyroidism) and an overactive (hyperthyroidism) thyroid, can affect sleep patterns. For instance, with hypothyroidism you can fall asleep, but you don’t end up feeling rested. Or frequent naps make it hard to fall asleep at night. Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can also lead to night sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia. Finally, elevated cortisol levels, often seen in Cushing’s syndrome, can interfere with sleep cycles.


3. Digestive Issues

Digestive problems can cause discomfort and pain that disturb sleep and make it hard to fall asleep. Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can affect sleep quality. Acid reflux worsens when lying down, leading to discomfort and sleep disruptions. Abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits can also result in restless nights.


4. Obesity

Obesity can impact sleep due to both physical and hormonal factors. One of the greatest sleep-related symptoms of obesity is obstructive sleep apnea, where excess weight contributes to airway obstruction during sleep, causing breathing interruptions and poor sleep quality. When it’s hard to breathe, you can have trouble falling asleep. Likewise, adipose tissue (fat cells) produces hormones that can disrupt sleep regulation, potentially leading to imbalances affecting sleep.


Pre-Bedtime Strategies for Improved Sleep

First and foremost, if you’re wondering why you can’t fall asleep, we recommend that you investigate any underlying health conditions. Functional medicine and naturopathy are perfect for this. Next, it’s time to create a good sleep hygiene schedule. Cut out stressors and prep your body for falling asleep. 


  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, listening to soothing music, or practicing relaxation techniques.

  • Limit Screen Time

Blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.

  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency reinforces your body’s internal clock.

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep patterns.

  • Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature to promote better sleep.

  • Physical Activity

Regular exercise can improve sleep quality, but avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation

These practices can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, enhancing sleep quality.

  • Limit Heavy Meals before Bed

Eating large heavy meals before sleep can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep.


Get to the Bottom of Why You Can’t Fall Asleep with Functional Medicine

Functional medicine takes a holistic approach, focusing on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of health issues. When it comes to sleep problems, functional medicine seeks to understand individual variations, considering factors such as genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and stress. Consulting a functional medicine practitioner can help you identify personalized strategies to improve sleep quality.

In summary, falling asleep consistently at night is a journey that requires attention to various aspects of our lives. By understanding the science behind sleep, embracing healthy sleep practices, and considering a functional medicine approach, you can overcome sleep issues and pave the way for rejuvenating nights and more productive days. Remember, the path to better sleep is unique for each person, so if you’re wondering why you can’t fall asleep, take the time to explore what solutions work best for you.

Book a discovery call today.

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