Why Can’t I Sleep? Remedies for Sleep Disorder

How many of us lie awake at night wondering, "Why can't I sleep?" First step: Find out what causes sleeplessness. Then you can work on making your sleep sound again.

why can't I sleep

Awake all night—and exhausted the next day? Changes in your lifestyle may provide an answer—and restful nights.

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Suffering from bouts of insomnia—and not exactly sure of what’s causing it? You’re not alone. There are millions of people just like you who wonder, “Why can’t I sleep?”

Anyone who has to ask that question may benefit from these common-sense behaviors, each of which can lead to a better night’s sleep:

  • Exercise during the day.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
  • Read a book or do something else that’s quiet and calming right before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom very dark and cool.

If some adhering to those time-tested routines doesn’t work, try these three sleeping remedies:

Focused Breathing

For some people, what causes lack of sleep is stress that clutters the mind and tenses the body. When you’re ready to fall asleep, start focusing on your breathing. Be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Pay attention to air entering and leaving your body. Be aware of any feelings of tension in your muscles. Try to relax and release that tension each time you breathe out.

A Little Night Music

Pachelbel Canon Classical Treasures

Relaxing music—whether baroque or Beatles ballads—may help put an end to your sleepless nights.

Of the many sleep remedies, soothing activities such as listening to relaxing music may be among the most effective. Research shows that just by listening to soft music for half an hour or so at bedtime, you may significantly shorten the time it takes you to fall asleep.

Consider buying a bedside CD player and stocking up on some soothing music. Look also for apps for your phone or for clock radios that have automatic shut-off features that will discontinue the music after a while.

beatles love songs

Sleep Position Changes

For many older adults, the answer to the question “Why can’t I sleep?” is related to chronic back pain. Making some changes in your sleep position may help. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs to relieve pressure on your lower back.

If you prefer to sleep on your back, slip a pillow under your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which puts stress on your neck and shoulders. You also can buy special body pillows and foam leg pillows designed for people with back pain.

For further reading, see these University Health News posts:

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Jay Roland

Jay Roland has been executive editor of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Mind, Mood & Memory since 2017. Previously, he held the same position with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart Advisor, since 2007. In … Read More

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