7 reasons why you may be struggling with sleep

Nishan Fernando

May 27, 2022

As GP’s, insomnia or difficulty sleeping is a common problem we come across. Good quality sleep and sleep hygiene is essential for our mental and physical well-being. Poor sleep can not only affect your mood and energy levels, but also cause problems with relationships and at work.  Sleep needs vary by person but in general a healthy adult should sleep between 7- 9 hours a night.

When a patient comes to see us with insomnia or difficulty sleeping, our aim is to identify the root cause of why you may be struggling and we often start by examining their sleep hygiene. Once we have the cause, we can then work together to find a solution. There are many different reasons why people struggle with sleep and in our latest blog we are sharing the 7 most commons reasons we have come across with our patients:

1. Are you stimulated by screens till late at night? 

You may already know that screen lights stimulate your brain and causes difficulty sleeping. Exposure to blue light before bed shuts off the sleep signals it sends to your brain making it harder for you to settle at night and get to sleep. We recommend a screen-free bedtime routine, starting from at least an hour before you go to bed to help your mind and body switch-off in the lead up to sleep.

2. Do you drink caffeine later in the day or the evening? 

When we drink a cup of tea or coffee later in the day or evening to keep us going, this can stimulate your brain at night and keep you awake. Drinking caffeine can impact the onset of sleep and reduces the amount of time we spend in deep sleep (the one that leaves us feeling refreshed in the morning!). Avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed is a simply way to improve the amount and quality of your sleep.

3. Are you waking up at night to go to the loo?

Whilst drinking caffeine can lead to trips to the loo during the night there are also some underlying health conditions which could also be causing you to wake up. Diabetes, enlarged prostate, overactive bladder, urine infections are just some of the reasons you feel the need to go to the toilet at night.

4. Is your mind buzzing with thoughts even though your body is absolutely exhausted?

Mental health is a common cause of difficulty sleeping – both going to sleep as well as staying asleep can be affected. Anxiety can lead us to feel like our thoughts are racing and depression can lead to insomnia or even oversleeping.

5. Are you smoking and drinking alcohol before bed?

While alcohol can make you feel more tired and get you to sleep, the quality of sleep will be affected. Nicotine can also disrupt sleep and, as a stimulant, you may find it harder to fall asleep after a cigarette. Your best bet for avoiding both alcohol and smoking affecting your sleep, is reducing their consumption or cutting them out altogether.

6. Are you going through menopause?

Hot flushes and insomnia are well recognised symptoms of menopause. HRT can help to relieve symptoms of the menopause including any hot flushes that are keeping you up at night.

7. Is your weight impacting your sleep?

As your collar size increases, the higher chance you have of developing obstructive sleep apnoea. This causes you to wake up in the night with apnoeic (stop breathing) episodes. If you have even fallen asleep while watching TV or as a passenger in a car, then you may have obstructive sleep apnoea.

If any of these causes have resonated with you or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed by a long period of poor sleep, remember the first step is reaching out for help. 222 Healthcare can assess and support you for any of these conditions that may be affecting your sleep including quitting smoking, mental health and treating menopausal symptoms. Simply get in touch to book an appointment.