It’s 3 AM, and you’re tossing and turning. An hour ago, you felt like you might fall asleep, but now you’re worried you’ve jinxed yourself. Cyclical thoughts run through your head and it feels impossible to turn them off.
What are you supposed to do? Counting sheep doesn’t necessarily work.
If you find yourself asking "why can’t I go to sleep at night,” you’re not alone. There are several common reasons why REM sleep evades us. The sooner you understand the reason behind your restless nights, the sooner you’ll be able to find a solution to help you catch some ZZZ’s.
In this short guide, we’ll go over 8 possible reasons why you’re not sleeping at night, as well as some potential solutions.
If sleepless nights have become an unwelcome recurrence, the root of the issue might be stress. Worrying about work, finances, relationships or rehashing interactions can make it feel impossible to turn off your mind and find a peaceful slumber.
According to sleep experts at the Mayo Clinic, stress is one of the leading causes for chronic sleepless nights.
Why do nerves keep us up? The science is straightforward.
- When we perceive a threat—whether it’s a literal snake in the grass or a fleeting stressful thought—our Autonomic Nervous System kicks in.
- Our bodies release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
- Once we’re in “fight or flight” mode, we’re unable to fall asleep. This is an evolutionary trait: our mind and body can’t let down their defenses which keeps us from falling into a state of deep sleep.
This can create a vicious cycle: you start to get stressed about the very fact that you’re still awake, making it more difficult to reach a place of calmness and sleep. A remedy for this is to learn how to manage stress effectively.
Tip: Create a calming bedtime ritual so that you hit the sheets as relaxed as possible. Our favorite is avoiding blue light from phone screens and meditating before bed. We like to top off our bedtime routine with our Drops+Sleep.
#2 Irregular Sleep Habits
If you have trouble getting an adequate amount of nighttime sleep, it’s tempting to catch a few hours of rest by sleeping in on a Sunday or napping in the afternoon.
However, an inconsistent sleep cycle can actually reduce your ability to fall and stay asleep over time. When you sleep in, it may be harder to fall asleep at bedtime the following night. The same goes for napping—your body may be well-rested after an afternoon nap until late into the evening.
For optimal sleep, it’s best to maintain a consistent schedule. That means you should:
- Get in bed at the same time every evening.
- Set your alarm for the same time in the morning --Yes, even on weekends! If you have difficulty falling asleep, don’t cheat! Get up with your alarm anyway.
It’s all about creating consistency so your body starts to settle into a healthy circadian rhythm.
Tip: Focus on a realistic bedtime and wake-up time. If you currently go to bed at midnight and wake up at 9 AM, you’re not going to become an early riser right away. Once you start getting good, consistent sleep, you can start to think about rolling your bedtime and wake up time back in easy to adapt to 15 minutes increments
#3 Caffeine Consumption
When you’re not getting enough sleep, caffeine feels like the only thing that gets you through the day. Whether you’re drinking coffee, matcha or energy drinks, caffeine can help you overcome sleepiness and tackle your daily tasks with energy and stamina.
That is, until it wears off and you need another cup or two.
Drinking caffeine throughout the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Adding caffeine to your system just six hours before bedtime can have a significant impact. That means that if you’re aiming for an 11 PM bedtime, drinking a cup of coffee at the end of your workday might make your goal of a good night's sleep less achievable.
Tip: Try not to drink any caffeine after lunchtime. Instead, turn to nutritious foods and natural supplements like our Stay Sharp hemp and herbal capsules for energy and focus.
#4 Using Alcohol to Unwind
Whether you’re hyped up on caffeine or strung out from stress, it might be tempting to turn to alcohol for a bit of relaxation. A beer or a glass of wine can definitely help you feel sleepy, and may even make you doze off. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived, alcohol can seem like a helpful aid.
However, alcohol reduces sleep quality.
A 1997 study in Nature showed a direct correlation between alcohol consumption, poor sleep, and poor concentration the following day.
Alcohol dependency comes with its own issues, which means that alcohol is not a sustainable or healthy sleep-aid.
Tip: Try trading your nightcap for a natural alternative like CBD for sleep.
#5 Physical Discomfort
If you suffer from a stiff back, sore joints or even aching muscles from one too many pushups at the gym, it can be hard to get your mind off the specific sensation. Even the minor physical irritation of a sunburn or a bug bite can keep you up throughout the night.
For quality sleep, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed. If aches are keeping you up at night, try addressing the root problem. This could mean:
- Incorporating a gentle stretching or nidra yoga practice into your bedtime routine
- Solution-based support pillows for a stiff neck or back
- Giving yourself a bedtime massage to relieve muscle tension
Tip: Do you take over-the-counter medication at night to soothe your soreness? It may contain caffeine. If you take a pill at night, be sure to check the ingredients and side-effects. A great alternative would be to try using CBD for natural muscle pain relief.
#6 Travel and Work Schedule
If you work the night shift or frequently cross time zones, you already know this has an impact on sleep. It’s hard to go to sleep at night when your body thinks it’s the morning. Likewise, if your shift ends at 6 AM, the sun can keep you up.
In cases like these, you can’t necessarily change your work schedule—but you can change your sleep pattern.
- Avoid hacking your sleep schedule by pulling all-nighters
- Try to get sleep consistently during the most convenient hours
- Make sure the room where you sleep is pitch black
Tip: A rotating shift and travel schedule can make near impossible to adjust. Where possible, try to stick to a consistent schedule so that you can snag periods of stable, healthy sleep.
#7 Eating Habits
When you eat dinner can have a major impact on your sleep. When you think about it, asking your body to exert energy by digesting your food while you’re trying to fall asleep is kind of an oxymoron.
That’s not to mention the possible effects indigestion, acid reflux or an overfull tummy can have on sleep.
If you’ve gotten into a habit of eating right before you go to bed, try:
- Eating at least two hours before bedtime
- Making lunch rather than dinner your largest meal
- Avoiding high-fat foods at dinner time
Tip: Can’t resist a bite before bed? Try eating a light carbohydrate snack like crackers or toast.
#8 Medical Conditions and Medications
What if none of the above are relatable for you?
It’s also possible that a medical condition or prescription medication is interrupting your shut-eye.
If you’re still asking yourself why can't I go to sleep at night after making changes to your routine, be sure to consult with your doctor to rule out other causes.
Tip: Chronic inflammation is associated with both fatigue and sleepless nights. Try reducing inflammation through diet, and with natural alternatives like CBD topicals.
Developing a Better Sleep Routine with CBD
No matter the cause of your restlessness, finessing your bedtime routine can help you fall and stay asleep.
Once you’ve selected a bedtime, it’s helpful to develop rituals that cue your body for bedtime. Tips for a good night’s sleep include:
- Turning off screens
- Lighting a candle with a soothing lavender scent
- Taking CBD
To that end, CBD oil for sleep can be an incredibly beneficial tool.
CBD interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which helps regulate stress, sleep cycles and physical discomfort. Thanks to its soothing properties, CBD can address the root causes behind your sleepless nights.
Unlike alcohol, CBD won’t wake you up a few hours later. Instead, this natural sleep supplement can help support your new bedtime routine so you can drift off with ease.
As with any other routine, it’s important to create realistic goals, stick to them and forgive yourself after any slip-ups. With time and consistency, you’ll experience better sleep and more energy throughout the day.
Plant People Drops + Sleep: Formulated for Restful Sleep
At Plant People, we’re experts in plant medicine. Our Drops + Sleep tincture is formulated with high-quality CBD and CBN. These two cannabinoids combine with botanical herbs to create relaxing, sedative properties that help support healthy sleep cycles.
Made with organic hemp sustainably farmed in the U.S., Drops + Sleep connects you with the hemp plant’s full range of soothing properties. Combine it with our soothing CBD balm for a bedtime routine that delivers healthy sleep and sweet dreams.
The Mayo Clinic. Insomnia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
Sleep Foundation. What is circadian rhythm? https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed. https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.3170
Nature. Fatigue, alcohol, and performance impairment. https://www.nature.com/articles/40775
Plant People and its entire website (including this content you are reading) are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, prevention of a disease or ailment, nor cure, diagnose or fix any condition. If you have a medical condition, consult with a physician. Speak to a doctor prior to using Plant People products, or trying anything discussed on this site. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Plant People provides no medical advice - read more about this in our Terms & Conditions.