Why Can't I Sleep?
Updated: Mar 28, 2018
Sleep is a natural thing for the body to do; but why has it become common for people to have sleeping problems?
I have heard too many people with sleeping problem and that concerns me. Sleep is not just important for you to feel fresh the next morning but it is also an important state that the body enters to begin repairing, eliminating and balancing work.
So why is it that some people can fall asleep so easily but some can't?
When the night come, our body will automatically secrete a hormone call melatonin. When melatonin is secreted, your nerve activity will start to slow down; your muscle will be loosen up to enable you to slowly move into a relaxing and ready-to-sleep state. Cortisol on the other hand should fall at this time because the body need NOT be alert but to rest instead.
However, in this modern world, people are not allowing their melatonin to rise at night. One of the reasons is because we are constantly exposed to bright light such as from our phone, TV and lap top etc. Yet, our sleeping and waking cycles are set by light and dark. In the evening, the "darkness" will stimulate the pineal gland to secrete melatonin to prepare you for rest and sleep. If we are exposed to bright light at night, the pineal gland would be confused and NOT do its work.
Another reason why we can't sleep is because we are not switching our mind off from work; or from our worries and stress. When the mind is busy thinking about problems and worries, the body experience it as stress and the cortisol (stress hormone) will constantly be in the rise and affect the secretion of melatonin. When cortisol is high and melatonin is low, it prevents the body from entering the ready-to-sleep state because the high cortisol in the blood is giving us alertness and extra energy as the body thought that we are in danger. When you are in danger, it's only natural for you to stay awake in order to ensure your safety than to be sleeping and resting; and that's what the body is doing for you.
Your body do not differentiate what kind of stress you are experiencing: be it financial, relationship stress or work stress; as long as there is STRESS, your body experience it as 'DANGER'. It then triggers the body to respond to it by secreting stress hormones to help you fight or flight the 'danger'.
In fact there is NO real danger. Our danger is imagined; our danger is thinking about what happened during the day; what needs to be done tomorrow; what people might be thinking of us etc. Thoughts about the future and the past are creating stress to the body but in the physical environment, there is NO real physical threat. But the body doesn't know that, so it keeps secreting stress hormones and keeps you alert at night because your body thought that you might need the extra energy to fight or flight.
When your body is giving you that extra energy at night, how can you sleep?
This is why more and more people are having sleeping problems. The body and mind is not even trying to help you sleep, but to help you be alert instead because of the wrong signal that you are giving it by the worrying thoughts that you are thinking. In order to sleep, it is important to learn how to switch off the mind, and only use the mind to think about problems and solutions during the day.
Your body has already worked very hard to help you deal with all kinds of stress during the day. Let it have some time off to rest, refresh and rejuvenate at night; so that you can have better mental clarity the next day and stronger physical body too.
Not sure how to unwind from work or stop unwanted thoughts in order to have better sleep? You can learn HOW here.