Sleep tips: 5 causes of restless sleep and how to avoid it

Sep 29, 2021
Restless sleep doesn't have to take over your life when there are things that can help. Source: Getty

If you’ve ever had a terrible night’s sleep, you know all too well how cranky you can be the next day. You feel sluggish, you can’t concentrate and you may not be very pleasant. Beyond feeling like a zombie, restless nights can actually be dangerous as one in five Australians is affected by a sleep disorder, which contributes to health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

A study published in the Experimental Physiology Journal found that sleep is one of the major influences on overall heart health. MicroRNAs helps regulate gene expression, and the same study had found that between 40 to 60 per cent of participants who experienced insufficient sleep had lower circulating levels of MicroRNAs

What causes restless sleep? 

Many factors contribute to restless sleep that impacts more people than you may think. Here are five of the most common reasons: 

1. Stress

Stress can cause quite a few physical and mental symptoms, including a restless night’s sleep. If you suffer from stress, it may be causing your muscles to tense up, making it harder to fall asleep. Equally, if something is on your mind, it may be harder to clear your head and allow your mind to drift off to slumber.

2. Imbalanced diet 

Not getting enough nutrients in your diet can negatively impact your sleep schedule, as it plays a huge role in producing the sleep hormone melatonin. 

3. Poor sleep schedule 

Going to bed too early, late, or even when you aren’t tired can negatively impact your sleep schedule. For example, if you get into the habit of sleeping late, your body clock won’t know any different, even when you are tired. 

4. Being overstimulated 

Digital devices can cause overstimulation because the blue light can delay the release of melatonin, which ultimately resets the body’s internal clock to a much later time. 

5. Underlying medical conditions 

Some people suffer from sleep-related medical conditions, such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and insomnia. These chronic conditions negatively affect sleep by leaving sufferers tossing and turning during the night or simply leaving them wide awake all night. 

How to avoid restless sleep? 

With that said, there is still hope for restless sleepers. Here are five ways to improve your sleep: 

Create a relaxing sleep space 

Darken the room, light a candle, and choose quality bedding to help produce the best possible sleep space. Creating a relaxing space will rid your mind of stress and let you fall asleep quicker. 

Set an alarm 

Setting an alarm for the same time each day will help you form a regular sleep schedule. After a week, your body clock should get used to the time, leaving you feeling well-rested. 

Turn off devices 

As mentioned above, being overstimulated puts you at risk of a restless night’s sleep. Turning off your devices 30 minutes before sleeping will help your eyes adjust. Instead, you can choose to read a book to help you fall asleep. 

Manage stress

Take a walk, journal, or practise relaxation techniques to help you manage stress. If you aren’t stressed, your brain won’t constantly be as active, meaning you can relax by the end of the day. 

Prescription medications 

If nothing else works, there’s always the option to seek professional help for prescription medications. Medications can help reduce sleep conditions, like sleep apnea.

What else can you do?

If restless sleep is persistent, it’s important to see a medical professional, so they can evaluate the causes and find the underlying issue.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

What helps you fall asleep at night?

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