Why do You Feel Tired but Can't Sleep?

Sometimes, being sleepy isn't enough to be able to sleep. We show you how to reverse this desperate situation, depending on what it is that's causing it.
Why do You Feel Tired but Can't Sleep?

Last update: 30 September, 2021

You’ve been feeling tired and sleepy all day, and you’re looking forward to bedtime so you can lie down and enjoy a good night’s sleep. However, when the time finally comes, you’re unable to fall asleep. Have you ever experienced this?

As a matter of fact, there are few situations as frustrating as this. Furthermore, there are few that are as devastating to your daily functioning, particularly if they’re repeated regularly. Therefore, if you’re one of these people who, every day, find you’re sleepy but you just can’t sleep, this article is for you.

Sleep isn’t only one of the greatest pleasures in life, it’s also a physiological function that’s of vital importance for good health. Nevertheless, more and more people experience insomnia and suffer the consequences of insufficient rest. However, there are several tips that can improve the situation and, in this article, we’re going to share them with you.

Why can’t you sleep?

If you frequently find yourself asking this question, you probably feel quite desperate. In fact, insomnia doesn’t only cause physical fatigue but also changes in your mood and deficiencies in your cognitive functioning.

There’s no one single cause to account for this situation. As a matter of fact, biological, psychological, and environmental factors can all play a part, leading to the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

In this article, we show you some of the most common so that you can identify which ones are applicable in your case.

Woman awake in bed

Circadian rhythms and delayed sleep phase

When it comes to falling asleep, there’s a substance that plays a very relevant role. This is melatonin. It’s a hormone that your body begins to secrete when it gets dark, allowing you to feel sleepy and fall asleep a few hours later. Thus, your circadian rhythms (the internal biological clock ) are synchronized with the light-dark cycles.

However, each person has their own rhythms and there are some who have a lag or a mismatch in this regard. In fact, those who suffer from delayed sleep phase syndrome have the need to fall asleep and wake up at least two hours later than the rest of us. Nevertheless, they also have to adapt to the demands of society, which is why they usually suffer significant sleep deprivation.

Indeed, it doesn’t matter how tired you are at ten or 11 at night if, for your body, bedtime doesn’t come until at least two in the morning.

Anxiety and worry

In order to fall asleep, you need to be in a state of calm, rest, and tranquility, not only on a physical level but also on a mental level. However, it’s common for many people to spend the last few moments before they go to sleep thinking about their worries, the current situations they’re having to deal with, and things that are making them anxious.

The silence of the night, the solitude, and the lack of external stimuli leave you alone with your mind. If you don’t know how to manage it, you can become more and more wide awake by worrying. Thus, with each passing minute, sleeping becomes increasingly difficult.

Irregular sleeping habits

The body needs a routine to function properly. Therefore, going to bed and getting up each day at the same time is essential to avoid insomnia. If you have irregular sleep schedules, it’s likely that you’ll experience greater difficulties falling asleep, even if you feel sleepy, since your body doesn’t really know what to expect.

Poor sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene includes a series of recommendations that you can follow to improve your night’s rest. However, a large part of the population fails to meet several of these guidelines, so if you can’t sleep, ask yourself which of the following aspects you’re neglecting:

  • If you take naps, make sure that they don’t exceed 45 minutes and that you don’t take them after six in the evening.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine, theine, chocolate, and other stimulants several hours before going to sleep
  • Try to avoid alcohol and tobacco especially before sleeping. These can impair your rest.
  • Practicing physical activity on a daily basis is positive as it helps you expend energy and get to nighttime with a greater ability to fall asleep. However, avoid exercising during the last hours of the day as this can activate you and prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Don’t use electronic devices at night, and even less once you’re already in bed. The light from the screens and the sound interferes significantly with your rest and keeps you alert. Instead, look for activities that induce relaxation and calm, such as reading a book, meditating, or visualizing.
  • Try to reserve the bedroom, and especially the bed, only for sleeping and lovemaking. Don’t work, eat, or watch television in this space. In this way, you’ll help your brain to make a clear association: in bed, you sleep.

Unsuitable environment

Finally, it’s important that you take care of the environmental conditions at bedtime. Try to keep the bedroom tidy, at a suitable temperature, and dark and quiet. Choose an appropriate mattress and pillow and opt for loose, comfortable pajamas. These simple things can all make a difference.

Sleeping woman

When you can’t sleep, don’t lose your cool

It’s logical to despair if you can’t sleep. Even more so if this happens every night for several weeks or months. If this is the case, it’s likely that you’ve generated a kind of bedtime rejection or resistance because of what you anticipate is going to happen. While you take the necessary measures to improve this situation, you need to be patient and stay calm.

If you suffer from insomnia, you can get up, leave the room, and engage in another activity for a while until you feel drowsy. By doing so, you’ll avoid increasing your anxiety levels.

In addition, it’s important that you consult a specialist if your situation becomes prolonged. Psychotherapy can help you regulate anxiety and rumination. In addition, there are treatments such as melatonin or phototherapy that may be useful to you. However, they must only ever be used on the advice of a professional. Finally, don’t despair. As you can see, improving your rest is always possible.

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