What are the causes of a sleepless night?

October 19, 2020 4 mins read
What are the causes of a sleepless night?

Are you having yet another sleepless night and are starting to think that there must be a sleep-thief hiding under your bed?

Sleepless nights are a common occurrence of modern life. Our wind-down routines are not as perfect as they should be. With quick scrolls through Pinterest or a friendly nightcap, our nighttime habits could be inviting sleeplessness into our beds.

However, sleepless nights can also be a little bit more complicated than switching to night mode. Your personal health, genetics and age can intrude at various stages of your life and swap your sweet dreams for ceiling stare-downs. Allergies, sleep disorders and hormones can creep in, which can make getting better sleep feel like a new vocation.

But, let’s start with the basics, shall we?

5 causes of a sleepless night

If you aren’t sure what’s keeping you up at night, check out these five causes that may help rule out what could be raiding your rest.

Chronic pain

Do you suffer from bouts of chronic pain or cramps? If you have back issues, are prone to aches, cramping and pains, this could be the reason you’re not getting enough sleep. You may find yourself waking up often during the night to change position, or even waking up earlier than usual.


Do you suffer from the sniffles during allergy season? When springtime hops into our beds, it can create a sleep disaster.

During allergy season, hayfever runs rampant, getting up our noses, blocking our airways and even during sleep we can’t escape it. This is because cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone (helping us combat the devils of dust), is at its lowest level during sleep, causing a higher level of inflammation in our nose and lungs. As we lie down, we get more congested, making it difficult to breathe. Sounds like a sleep-thief to us!

Stressful work

Even though you may not feel stressed during the day, you can count on sleep to open the book of worry and anxiety. Stress in any form is a sleep-sapper of note. If you’re going through a particularly demanding phase at work, be sure to include some relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine to keep stress from interfering with your z’s.

Drinking too much caffeine

You’re probably thinking, “there’s no way I would drink coffee before bed.” But have you looked at other ways that caffeine could be creeping into your diet? Caffeine and stimulating ingredients come in many varieties such as chocolate, tea (green tea too) and soda. Besides caffeine, there are a few other foods to avoid before bedtime, which if you’re craving a good night’s sleep, you may want to steer clear of.

Too much screen time

Have you traded your hardcopy for a Kindle? Does scrolling through motivational quotes on Pinterest count as your bedtime relaxation technique? Just because you’ve managed to peel your eyes away from Netflix doesn’t mean that you’ve reduced your screen time. The artificial blue (and back) light from our screens, (yup, some Kindles too) interfere with our body clocks and production of melatonin (our sleep hormone).

Is it okay to have a sleepless night?

One, yes. Many, not really. Being in sleep debt can have numerous effects on your health, cognitive ability and even lead to more severe chronic sleep disorders. Even though one or two nights are more easily caught up, leaving your sleep issues unattended can incur some unwanted emotional (such as feeling easily irritated and grumpy) and even physical (weight gain, heart issues and diabetes) side effects.

If your sleep deprivation feels like it’s taking a turn down a long-term road, seek advice from your doctor who may be able to pinpoint the root of your sleeplessness and get you back on track to a life of healthy sleep.

How to deal with sleepless nights

We know, having a sleepless night is never fun. Although these common causes can be nipped in the bud, leading a perfect sleep life takes practice. But if you can ensure that you are aiming for the best possible sleep routine to wind-down your day and welcome sleep, you may find that it becomes a natural habit.

When sleeplessness does happen though, there are things you can do to survive the day after a sleepless night, from staying hydrated to getting some fresh air. (You got this!)