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“Why Can’t I Sleep?”: 5 Reasons and 19 Solutions to Help You Sleep Tonight

Reviewed by Tara Michelle, N.D. on May 16, 2019
Written by Sabrina Wilson
Why Can't I Sleep

Getting enough sleep may be the single most important thing you can do for your body.

Even a single night without sleep has been shown to cause massive reductions in your emotional and physical state, while severely limiting your cognitive capacity for the rest of the day (if not for the next couple of days).

Over time the accumulation of poor sleep quality and low sleep duration has been shown to cause an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, weight gain, and even cancer. With this comes an associated increase in inflammation, and declines in attention, memory, productivity, and athletic performance.

So, to put it simply–sleep is extremely important.

This is why we have put together the ultimate guide to creating your personal sleep cocoon that you can use to get to sleep faster, sleep better and maximize your health!

5 Common Reasons You Have Trouble Falling Asleep

There are a few common reasons that most people have trouble sleeping. Below we list these reasons plus quick links to the relevant solutions farther down the article.

  1. Too Much Light (Especially Blue Light)
    For most of human history, it has been pretty dark at night. But light from light bulbs and electronics has permeated every part of our day and night, to the detriment of healthy sleep.

    It's hard to remove all sources of light from your house at night, but you can make your bedroom into a sanctuary of tightly controlled light that will help you sleep much better. See the following solutions below:
    Blackout Blinds
    Eye Masks
    Blue Blocking Glasses
     
  2. Too Much (Or Not Enough) Noise
    Noise pollution is another artifact of modern life, particularly in urban environments. Too much noise at night can definitely affect your sleep, even if you're otherwise used to the noise.

    On the other hand, some people are creeped out by too much eerie silence and that can keep them from sleeping!  Check out the following solutions to those problems:
    Sound Machines
    Ear Plugs
    Headphones

  3. Too Much Thinking/Racing Thoughts
    We can't blame modern society for this one, it was probably an issue throughout human history. However, modern society certainly isn't helping. Everyone is extremely busy these days and​​​​ it's very difficult to just stop our frantic thinking when it's bedtime.

    There are many factors that can contribute to an overactive mind but the good news is that there are proven methods for calming your mind. See these solutions for more:
    Sleep Aid Device
    Essential Oil Diffusers
    Chamomile
  4. Too Much Positive Charge
    Bet you didn't see this one coming. Throughout the day, we pick up a slightly positive charge in our bodies. The earth has a slightly negative charge that balances this out. However, most people never touch the earth in an average day. 

    This positive charge can affect your overall health and reduce the quality of your sleep. It sounds crazy when you first hear about it, but there's a substantial body of research backing this finding. Luckily, the solution is pretty easy:
    Grounding Sheets
  5. Dust Mites
    This one is sort of gross, but you may be sleeping with tens of thousands of dust mites. These tiny creatures can cause allergies and make it more difficult to get a good night of rest.

    You can reduce them by ensuring that your bedroom gets sufficient airflow and by buying mite-resistant bedding and changing your mattress at least once every ten years. Here are our bedding recommendations:
    Bedding

"Why Can't I Sleep?" Here Are 19 Solutions

How to Use This Guide

The point here is to optimize your sleep environment without pharmaceuticals. You can't use everything in this guide, at least not all at once. There's no point in using earplugs AND headphones, for instance. We just want to make you aware of all the options so you can optimize your particular sleep environment.


Combat Insomnia with Bedroom Enhancements

Our first section looks at physical alterations you can add to your bedroom as a way to improve your ability to fall asleep, while also assisting you improve the quality of that sleep.

Best Blackout Curtains for Insomnia

Blackout Blinds

Blackout blinds are blinds that have been designed using blackout fabric as a way keep your room as dark as possible--and this is important.

Your eyes contain receptors that are sensitive to light. When these receptors are stimulated by light they send signals to your brain, which in turn stimulate feelings of alertness, while also down-regulating feelings of relaxation and tiredness. As you can imagine, this not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, but also reduces your quality of sleep throughout the night [1].

Your Skin Can Sense Light

It's not just your eyes that need protection from light while you sleep--your skin can also sense light (29). This makes sense, because your skin converts sunlight into vitamin D, so of course it is light sensitive. Blackout blinds protect your whole body from light, not just your eyes. 

The use of blackout blinds in the bedroom has been shown to reduce light entering the room, thus increasing your ability to fall asleep in the short term. This has also been shown to aid in the regulation of normal sleep hormone secretion, which can actually improve your sleep quality in the long term [2].


Sleep Aid Device Reviews

Sleep Aid Device

The Dodow sleep device is a new introduction to the sleep market. This unique little machine projects a halo of subtle light onto your ceiling (so subtle that it will not stimulate the light receptors in the eye), which pulses in a gentle and rhythmic manner.

By synchronizing your breathing with the rhythm of the light, Dodow creates a relaxing effect by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and improves hormone function, putting your body in a deep state of relaxation [7].

Through this mechanism, the Dodow has the capacity to help you fall asleep faster, while also putting you in a deeper sleep state throughout the duration of the night [8]. This can cause serious improvements in sleep quality.

See How Dodow Works in 30 Seconds...

The Dodow device is an all-natural & affordable sleep aid.


Falling Asleep

Sound Machines

Sound machines are designed with the intent to make white noise–a unique noise that functions as a type of anti-noise. This means that it doesn’t demand any focus, and as a result, acts as a distraction from normal thought and focus.

This noise also physically dampens and muffles other sounds and noises that could demand attention and promote wakefulness—for example, outside traffic, a dripping trap, or even your partner’s snoring.

As a result, the use of sound machines at night have been shown to not only enhance sleep quality, but also prolong sleep duration and reduce the speed required for you to fall asleep [3, 4]–essentially ticking all of the sleep related boxes!


Fall Asleep Faster with a Diffuser

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers are specifically designed machines that disperse essential oils into the air, causing their natural aroma to completely fill the room.

There are a number of different styles of essential oil diffusers that can be used, some of which are much more complex than others – the thing to remember is that they all aim to do the same thing!

Now these machines only have the ability to enhance sleep quality if you use them in combination with appropriate essential oils.  With that in mind, the aroma of essential oils derived from lavender and clary sage have both been shown to cause large improvement in sleep quality and relaxation, making them your best bet [5, 6].

Rehne Burge, Aromatherapist

Rehne Burge, CA, NAHA Louisiana Director

The Aromatherapist says...

"When purchasing essential oils, follow these simple steps:
1) Avoid purchasing oils from a department, drug or grocery store.  
2) Purchase essential oils from online websites that provide online GC/MS analysis reports onsite.  
3) Never take the advice of a salesperson or other unless they are trained in Aromatherapy. 
To locate an Aromatherapist or ask further questions, you can find me or a Director in your area at the NAHA site."


Falling Asleep Faster with Wearables

With the things that we can add to your room, there are also certain things that you can wear that also have the ability to improve your sleep quality in a huge way.

Best Eye Mask for Sleeping

Eye Masks

Commonly known as sleep masks, eye masks are most commonly made from fabric that blocks all light from entering the eyes.

In doing so, these masks reduce the neural stimulation caused from light. As a result, they have been suggested to improve your ability to fall sleep, help you maintain a deeper sleep, and ensure that you stay asleep for longer – all with less sleep disturbances throughout the duration of night.

And the research really supports this, showing that those individuals who use eye masks on a regular basis fall much asleep faster than those who don’t [9]. These same individuals also tend to have better global sleep quality, suggesting that eye masks also have the ability to promote a deeper and less restless sleep [10].


Blue Blocking Glasses for Sleep Health

Blue Blocking Glasses

We have already mentioned how light exposure can stimulate the brain, thus causing wakefulness. But what we didn’t mention is that certain types of light are much worse than others – with the most detrimental to sleep being blue light, which is emitted from electronic devices such as phones and tablets.

This light causes huge disruptions in your circadian rhythm, making it extremely difficult to fall asleep, while also causing large reductions in sleep quality throughout the night.

Blue light blocking glasses are specially designed glasses that stop this blue light from reaching your eyes. Using amber coloured lenses, these glasses effectively stop all blue light from reaching the eyes surface – thus ensuring that they do not stimulate the brain.

Research has shown that simply wearing these glasses for three hours before bed can cause huge improvements in your ability to fall asleep, while also ensuring that you maintain a deeper and more restful sleep throughout the night’s duration [11, 12].


Best Ear Plugs for Sleeping in Bed

Ear Plugs

Environmental noise (such as outside traffic or your partners snoring) can stimulate key receptors within the ear, which in turn send signals to brain. These signals heighten sensations of alertness, essentially inducing a state of wakefulness that can make it quite the challenge to fall asleep.

Earplugs offer an easy and affordable method of reducing this audible stimulation, therefore increasing sensations of relaxation.

Evidence shows that individuals who start using earplugs on a regular basis will typically fall asleep much faster than they did prior to using earplugs. Additionally, they also tend to experience a deeper more restful sleep, in which they are less likely to wake throughout the night [13, 14].

Headphones

One way to enhance your sleep quality is to listen to either white noise or environmental sounds. These sounds actually reduce brain stimulation, putting you in a more restful state – which as you can imagine, enhances your ability to fall asleep.

The kicker here is that not everyone wants to listen to these noises – which means that headphones offer the most effective option to keep you and the rest of your household happy.

By providing you with a private method of listening to these sleep-inducing sounds, and also blocking out any annoying external noises, headphones offer a great way to help you fall asleep faster, and maintain a deeper sleep through the night [15].


Use the Right Bedding

Very much like both our wearables and our bedroom additions, we can also make some changes to our bedding to cause substantial improvements in sleep quality.

Best Pillows to Fall Asleep at Night

Pillows

As obvious as it may seem, your pillow can have a massive impact on not only your ability to fall asleep, but also a number of other key sleep indicators as well. Having a quality pillow can make you less likely to wake during the night, reduce sleep disruption, and even improve neck and back health over the duration of your lifetime [16].

With this in mind, choosing the best pillow to suit your sleep style, your individual poster, and your personal comfort preference is essential to making your bedroom more ‘sleep friendly’, and thus increase your sleep quality.


Best Earthing Sheets for Your Bed

Grounding Sheets

Grounding sheets are designed to provide the body with a connection to the earths natural negative charge.  While this may sound a little bit far fetched, there is reason to believe that this application of charge can actually down regulate the body’s hormonal and nervous systems, enhancing recovery and relaxation.

Taking this into consideration, research has shown that the application of grounding in this manner can reduce cortisol secretion and enhance sensations of relaxation [17].   

Moreover, when using the application of grounding, individuals have been shown to fall asleep much quicker than they do without that grounding.   Within this, they also appear to wake up feeling more refreshed and with more energy [18], providing a pretty clear demonstration of their effectiveness in this manner. Here is our top recommendation for grounding sheets.

Dr. Eric Wood, N.D.

The Naturopathic Doctor says...

"Also don't forget two simple yet powerful tools to improve your sleep:
1) Taking an epsom salt or peat moss bath: the act of soaking in warm, mineral-rich water can help the body go into 'parasympathetic dominance', which is our 'rest and digest mode', many people struggle with due to overly busy schedules, not winding down before bed, etc. It also helps the body start to regulate it's temperature for bedtime. Most individuals are unaware that our body temp needs to drop approximately 0.4 degrees celsius to sleep well. This can also be helped by...