There are a lot of things that may keep people from sleeping. It could be issues related to family, work or even leisure. Due to these circumstances, people usually encounter sleep debt that is accumulated once it is lost. At the same time, some people experience some inconsistencies. They carry over a large sleep debt but when the chance to sleep comes, they find it difficult to do so. They usually are tired but can’t sleep. They can lay in bed for hours without falling asleep on several occasions.

Why Am I Tired but Can't Sleep?

To learn why you are tired but can’t sleep, you should master sleep. Some of the insomnia causes are emotional – anxiety, stress and depression. However, your habits during the day, your routine of sleeping and physical health condition may also have contributed a lot to your sleeping tendencies. Try to look out for the possible causes of your failure to sleep. It is important to identify the root cause before choosing the best remedy. The possible causes could be:

  • You may be having a lot of stress

  • You may be having chronic anxiety and worries

  • It could be a result of a recent traumatic situation

  • It could be a result of some medications you are taking

  • A health complication

  • A noisy and uncomfortable environment

  • Failure to spent enough time in the sunlight during the day and in darkness during the night

  • Irregular sleeping times and duration

What May Happen If the Condition Persists

I’m tired but i can't sleep. Well, this tired but can’t sleep condition can last for some days especially when it is connected to an obvious temporary cause like stress over a one-time activity, a jet lag or a painful breakup. However, a lack of sleep may persist for long leading to a chronic situation connected to a physical or mental situation. These could be:

  • Psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Medications such as cold and flu medications with alcohol content, antidepressants, and pain relievers contain caffeine like Excedrin and Midol, diuretics, thyroid hormone, medications of high blood pressure and corticosteroids

  • Medical complications like allergies, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, allergies, kidney diseases, hyperthyroidism, cancer and acid reflux

  • Sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy and sleep apnea

Tired but Can't Sleep, What to Do?


Have a Regular Bedtime

Regular bedtimes help your circadian system to work well. Make sure that you go to bed almost the same time without fail. It should be done early enough to get enough amount of sleep time. This consistency must be maintained for the best results.

Your body’s circadian system functions just like a 24-hr clock as it regulates body temperature process and those of the heart rate. This system produces melatonin that is usually used by your body to internally enhance the sleeping process. Having a consistent bedtime ensures that the process of sleeping is not disrupted.


Keep All the Electronic Devices Off Your Bed

You cannot relax while watching television from your bed during sleep time. Stop playing games on your phone or checking mails while in bed as it would interfere with your sleep patterns.

This will help you a lot on physiological terms. The exposure of light linked with these night activities prevents the production of melatonin. This is very evident for any kind of light particularly the blue wavelength light mostly found in these gadgets and particularly when the light source is close to you. Your sleeping process will never be affected if you don’t use them during that time.


Avoid Non-Sleep Activities

Strengthen the connection between sleep and bed as much as possible by avoiding other non-sleep activities. Take the case of Pavlov’s dogs and apply it – he paired a meat powder stimulus with a bell stimulus in a repeated scenario. The relationship created became very strong to a point where the dogs could automatically salivate when they heard a ring of the bell even without the meat powder.

Pairing your sleep with the bed in the absence of other activities makes your body adapt to such an association. The body will adapt to sleep even when you did not feel like sleeping.


Don’t Take Stimulants Before Bedtime

Don’t take any substance that has some stimulating characteristics, especially before you go to sleep. Avoid caffeine and nicotine substances because they will make it hard for you to fall asleep. Coffee has a particular metabolic half-life for a number of hours – about five. Therefore, don’t take coffee five hours to sleep time.

Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine cause physiological arousal and sympathetic activation of the nervous system that oppose your chance of getting sleep. The relaxation effects caused by these stimulants leads to a physiological arousal that keeps the body awake hence preventing sleep.


Avoid Exercises Before Bedtime

While exercises have great health benefits, they should not be done a few hours before bed. Plan to end them early enough so that you can regulate your sleeping patterns. Reduce the time and amount of exercise to be done if you have to do them at such a time.

Exercise arouses the body physiologically hence making it a challenge to sleep during the night. Exercises will certainly delay your start of falling asleep hence making you lose some sleeping hours.


Determine Your Sleeping Position

If you are feeling so tired but can't sleep, establish a good sleeping position. Most of the time, we do not realize that we sleep in a position that may even interfer with our sleep.

Your back should be straight and your neck in a neither too high nor too low position. For a very firm or soft bed, cover it using foam or consider sleeping using a body pillow to make the bed comfortable.


Take a Warm Relaxing Drink

A glass of milk has been the choice of many people. However, herbal tea would be the best beverage to drink before going to bed. You could also try the following:

  • Chamomile tea is regarded as an insomnia buster. It has been useful in reducing anxiety symptoms.

  • Herbal teas such as ginger, raspberry ginger and lemon could also work on well.

  • You can also use melatonin supplements about an hour before going to bed.


Eat High-Complex Carbohydrates Foods with Low-Medium Proteins

Carbohydrates are useful in providing tryptophan in the brain while proteins usually produce opposite effects. The following meals would thus be most appropriate to make you relax in the evening and prepare for a good sleep:

  • Pasta and parmesan cheese

  • Toast with peanut butter

  • Hummus alongside whole wheat pita bread

  • Cottage cheese with baked potato

  • Sesame seeds taken with salad and tuna chunks alongside whole wheat crackers


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  • David Sep.17 01:59
    I am dead tired all day, go to bed around 10, but I don't fall asleep till 11 or 12. Then I wake up at 2:00 and don't fall back to sleep till 4. Back up again at 5:30. I have stayed away from caffeine, exercise at night, drink milk before bed, even bought the most comfortable bed out there. And yet I get about 3-4 hours a night, hopefully. Over the counter meds don't do it and my doctor won't prescribe anything. Thanks for repeating everything I have already read.
  • ChickyJun.29 04:29
    Hey I'm sick but I took Motrin before bed will that affect me sleeping because I have school tomorrow at 6am plz help
  • AryaJun.10 13:07
    It's so frustrating not being able to makes me even morreeeee tired.thats the problem. I really wish I could fall keeps on bugging me everyday ????????????????????????????
  • JamesMay.26 18:15
    I don't want to seem rude, but it bothers me so badly that you call it "sleep debt." If you were to read anywhere on the internet where an expert has given tips on ridding yourself of insomnia, you would read the exact words, "You don't have some kind of sleep bank. Once you lose sleep, you can't just make up for it. You can do things to fix your schedule and get results quickly, but once you lose sleep, it's gone.
  • LeannApr.18 04:18
    *sobbing grossly* I haven't been able to sleep within 30 minutes of going to bed for since 4 years ago, no big event or anything. I usually just sit there in the dark till the next thing I know its morning (I must pass out from exhaustion or something).
  • Staid Apr.10 01:21
    1 month from now, if I count the hours I slept won't reach 12hours which means I slept 3hrs in a week.Now it is 4.30 Am and I can't sleep. So any sort of help I will have appreciated
  • KaitlynApr.5 02:47
    I cant sleep eather for the past 2 days im tired but I cant sleep its so fustrating
  • BraxtonSep.29 02:32
    I don't want ways to solve the problem, I want a reason as to why I have the problem. Every night, I get tired around 9:30, but when i get into bed and try to sleep, and trace of tiredness leaves my body and I end up actually falling asleep around 11. Every morning I wake up at 6:30 for school, but on weekends I sleep in until about 8 and I always feel like death. I've tried all the tips I could find, and nothing's worked. It's not insomnia, because I can always fall asleep at night, but it's frustrating to have to have a battle with my brain EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT! I don't know when I'll be able to go see a doctor about this, but it won't be any time soon. It is now 10:30 when I'm writing this, and still cannot sleep. Sorry if this makes me seem a bit standoffish, I really need sleep.
  • LydiaMay.1 13:06
    @ : I hope you solved your problem until now. If this gives you any insight, when I overwork or am too physically tired, I can't sleep. This issue is likely tied to the adrenal system. Fight or flight is the condition in reaction to stress. Stress makes copper levels rise, especially in the brain, relaxing minerals levels (magnesium, calcium and zinc) go down, and this sets the brain on fire, you cant seem to stop your train of thoughts and just relax and let go. When one is exposed to stress for too long and this goes on and on, this is called sympathetic dominance. Then the parasympathetic system, which is in charge for repair, detox and rest, has difficulties to take over. This is a huge reason why so many people are sick and why "detox" is so big in our culture. The parts of the body in charge of cleansing and repair do not function well because of constant stress, so many people are poor sleepers, constantly tired and have underlying toxicity. Unfortunately "detox" is not the solution, but a healthy lifestyle is. The things that the author mentioned here, like blue spectrum light at night, maybe do not fix the problem alone if eliminated, but they certainly do aggravate the problem. The main problem for most people is chronic stress and it throws the body out of whack. Hope this helps, take care.
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