Why Do I Toss and Turn All Night?
If you've ever wondered why you toss and turn all night, you may be peeved to find out that the answer isn't straightforward. While practicing good sleep hygiene can help us tackle sleep concerns, we may have to dig a little deeper to find out what's causing restless sleep so that we can finally enjoy a restful sleep.
What Is Restless Sleep?
Restless sleep isn’t a medical term. According to medical associations like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it isn’t an identified sleep disorder either. The lack of a concrete definition makes its meaning highly subjective. You may be tossing and turning all night because of anxiety, stress, and overstimulation, but it could also be due to a host of other issues.
While restless sleep is more common in senior adults, it can happen at any age. Since low sleep efficiency is linked to higher mortality, you must familiarize yourself with its symptoms.
Do you experience poor quality sleep, have trouble falling or staying asleep, experience racing thoughts, or experience frequent nighttime awakenings? If so, it may be time to look at some of the root causes of why you may be tossing and turning in bed all night.
Why Am I Tossing and Turning at Night?
While an inconsistent sleep schedule can lead to tossing and turning all night, it's not the only reason for it. Many factors can lead to poor sleep quality. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common culprits.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
Poor sleep hygiene is a common cause of insufficient or poor-quality sleep. Here are some sleep habits that lead to less restless sleep which can keep you tossing and turning all night long.
- Having an inconsistent sleep schedule
- Using mobile phones and other electronic devices that emit artificial blue light
- Consuming too much caffeine and/or alcohol
- Having an uncomfortable room temperature for sleeping
- Loud noises and bright lights
- Not being active enough during the day
- Eating dinner too late at night
The solution? Good sleep hygiene. Practicing proper sleep hygiene means having a bedroom environment and sleep habits that are conducive to sleep. It’s about having a consistent sleep schedule, choosing bedroom essentials that help you get that golden, uninterrupted night of sleep, following good sleep habits, and ensuring that your bedroom is free from all distractions.
Stress and Sleep
With one-third of Americans experiencing extreme stress, it’s one of the most important factors that keep us tossing and turning all night long.
All that stress makes it harder for us to fall asleep by keeping our minds awake with racing thoughts — a phenomenon sleep specialists call “ruminative thinking.” This takes the focus away from sleep signals and cues from our bodies and makes us unable to settle in comfortably for sleep.
Diet and Sleep
Nutrients from the food we consume play a vital role in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin as well as other important transmitters that regulate sleep. An imbalance in these nutrients can lead to trouble falling and staying asleep.
Here are some food items that can interfere with your sleep quality:
- Drinking caffeinated beverages and energy drinks late in the day can disrupt your biological clock and delay the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle. This can cause tossing and turning as well as morning exhaustion.
- Indulging in alcoholic beverages can increase waking during the night and lead to light sleep.
- Eating fried food, black beans, grapefruit, pizza, tomatoes, and other food items that can cause acid reflux may lead to heartburn and discomfort which can contribute to sleepless nights.
It’s good practice to ensure that you don’t eat dinner after 7 PM. This will give your body plenty of time to digest food without risking heartburn and acid reflux.
Underlying medical conditions like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS) can lead to poor sleep quality. Let’s take a closer look at these conditions.
Restless Leg Syndrome
RLS causes sufferers an overwhelming urge to move their legs. Since this need for movement commonly manifests itself when the body is at rest (sitting or lying down), it can lead to frequent tossing and turning during bedtime. This sleep disruption can interfere with daily activities which can affect one’s quality of life.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
During sleep apnea, patients experience an obstruction in breathing. How does this occur? The soft tissues in the throat intermittently relax which leads to blocked airways. As breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping, it limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the lungs. This can result in restless sleep. When you get up to catch your breath, you may find it difficult to ease back into a deep sleep and start tossing and turning instead.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation isn’t the only side effect of sleep apnea. When left untreated, it can also make a person feel grumpy and groggy the morning after while increasing their risk of stroke, diabetes, and several other diseases.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and bad lifestyle habits can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle which in turn can impact your circadian rhythms — the body’s internal clock. A misaligned circadian rhythm can occur if you work night shifts, are pregnant, are on medication, have mental health disorders, are going through menopause, or have jet lag after traveling across at least 2 time zones.
In such instances, you may find yourself having trouble falling asleep, waking up multiple times during the night, getting restless sleep, being unable to ease back into a deep slumber, or feeling alert throughout the day.
Pain and sleep
Nearly 40 million people in the US experience severe levels of pain ranging from brief periods to long episodes. While chronic pain doesn’t necessarily mean poor sleep, the discomfort may cause sleep deprivation. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions can make it difficult for you to enjoy better sleep by causing you to toss and turn all night long.
Tackle your sleep concerns by trying multiple strategies to mitigate chronic pain before you hit the hay. Stick to holistic approaches if you can but make sure to consult a doctor if you need medication for it.
How Can I Fight Off Sleep Deprivation?
Chronic sleep deprivation can make us toss and turn as we try to get to sleep. If it goes on for extended periods, a lack of proper rest can be catastrophic for our physical and mental health. While everyone has different stressors that may lead to poor sleep quality and restless sleep, practicing good sleep hygiene is one of the best ways to naturally achieve restorative sleep.
Here are some changes you can make in your lifestyle to curb sleep disturbances and sleep soundly.
1. Put the Electronics Away Early
The blue light emitted from TVs, mobile phones, and other electronic devices is a powerful stimulant. It can delay the production of the sleep hormone melatonin which is the primary regulator of your body’s sleep-wake cycle. It can also cause mental stimulation which can make you toss and turn all night and lead to restless sleep.
To keep blue light from disrupting your bedtime, turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed to give your body and mind time to prepare for sleep. If you have trouble keeping the phone down, get a WiFi blocker. It will keep you from accessing your phone to play games, browse, and watch movies as your body transitions into sleep mode. If you still can’t stop tossing and turning, consider reading a book to speed up your sleeping process.
2. Make Sure You Have a Comfortable Mattress
Our body changes as we age. We often find ourselves having trouble sleeping because we’re suffering from various aches and pains. Luckily, we can make some lifestyle changes to make it easier for us to sleep. The first step to ending the cycle of tossing and turning all night long is to create a comfortable sleep sanctuary and maintain sleep hygiene.
Your bedroom should be conducive to sleep. The next time you go shopping, pick out a mattress that eases your physical discomfort, is ideal for your body type, and matches your sleep preferences. If you experience extreme stress and anxiety, you may also want to try weighted blankets. Weighted blankets offer deep touch pressure stimulation that can help people who are suffering from mental health issues fall and stay asleep faster.
3. Don't Work Out At Night
Exercising at night or within three hours of bedtime can raise your core body temperature, get your heart racing, and your blood pumping. This can interfere with your sleep schedule, pattern, and quality. That's why it is best to steer away from strenuous exercises during the night as it can increase cortisol levels and make it difficult for your body to enter into the calm state you need to be in to initiate sleep.
If you feel you have too much energy during the night, try morning exercise. A physical morning routine can help you stay on top of your fitness goals, improve your metabolism, relieve muscle tension, prevent sleep-disrupting cramps, and take care of your heart health. It can also improve sleep quality by tiring you out so that you can easily slip into a restful night of sleep.
Some exercises are recognized relaxation techniques. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to deal with your feelings and thoughts without judgment. You can also try guided meditation which entails visualizing calming objects or locations and can be combined with soothing sounds and music. Lastly, body scan meditation shows you how you can focus on parts of your body to bring greater awareness to each part of it.
4. Avoid Foods and Drinks That Are Likely To Keep You Up
Indulging in these items can interfere with your ability to wind down at night:
Caffeine: Coffee can affect your heart rate and blood pressure and make your brain alert. Limit your caffeine consumption to two to three cups a day and avoid caffeine intake at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime to stop tossing and turning all night.
Nicotine: Don’t unwind by smoking a cigar or cigarette. Nicotine is a stimulant that can have disruptive sleep effects similar to caffeine.
Alcohol: While alcohol may make you sleep faster, it can cause drowsiness and disrupt your normal sleep cycle. It can cause night sweat and nightmares, lead to tossing and turning, and even headaches. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 glass a day or skip it altogether to enjoy better sleep.
Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause indigestion and worsen acid reflux, a condition that occurs when the acid flows into the food pipe and irritates the lining of your digestive tract. It can elevate your body temperature and make it difficult for you to stop tossing and turning in bed.
High Fat Food: High-fat foods are generally heavy meals. They can lead to weight gain and make your digestive system more active leading to multiple nighttime trips to the bathroom and causing restless sleep.
Try to eat a balanced diet with sleep-promoting nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and essential vitamins. While you’re at it, make sure to keep your portions small as well as carbs and sugar minimal to avoid brain drain and post-lunch fatigue.
5. Try to Avoid Naps
Naps can be beneficial for our health but they may not be good for sleep deprivation. A few hours of sleep in the daytime can help us deal with daytime fatigue but can leave us feeling restless as our body isn’t completely ready to fall asleep by bedtime.
To improve a poor sleep schedule, avoid taking naps during the day. If you’re having trouble staying awake during the day, splash your face with cold water, stretch, move, or chew gum. This will take the temptation away and help you get a peaceful night's sleep.
6. Let Some Sunshine in Once You Wake Up
Waking up to natural sunlight in the morning can enhance your mood, improve your metabolism, and help your brain become more alert so open your blinds or curtains or spend some time outdoors to soak up some sunshine. When nights are longer in winter, consider using light bulbs that mimic sunlight to give your room a sunny feel.
If you experience anxiety, depression, and fatigue during the colder winter months when there’s less sunlight, you may want to invest in a lightbox to prevent seasonal affective disorder. A lightbox can help trigger a chemical change in your brain, thus lifting your mood and easing your symptoms.
7. Take a Warm Shower Before Bed
Cold showers stimulate your mind and body, awakening the sympathetic nervous system and creating an energizing effect that activates your fight or flight mode. They give you the jolt you need to feel awake in the morning, help you feel ready to take on the day, and can be handy when you’re experiencing hot weather by helping lower your body temperature.
Since a cool shower makes us feel more awake, stick to warm baths in the evening. If you suffer from congestion, the steam from a warm bath can also decongest your airways and help you breathe easier.
8. Get a White Noise Machine
Distractions can negatively affect sleep quality. If you have a noisy neighbor or are a light sleeper who wakes up to even the most muffled sounds, consider investing in a white noise machine. It will drown out all the annoying sounds that can make you restless, thus initiating a perfect night's sleep.
9. Sign Up For a Sleep Study
Chronic sleep conditions can impact your life and the life of those around you. If you’ve taken active steps to fight off sleep deprivation and continue to toss and turn in bed and experience excessive daytime sleepiness, it’s time to consult a doctor.
Your doctor will perform a series of tests like a sleep study to rule out potential underlying medical conditions. Once the cause of your sleeplessness is determined, your doctor may prescribe medication to curb the symptoms and help you find a treatment plan that addresses your sleep problems.
How Sandland Sleep Can Help You Get a Good Night's Sleep
If you’ve tried every trick in the book with little success, try Stay Asleep supplements from Sandland Sleep. Our products induce quality sleep with all-natural ingredients that promote relaxation, relieve stress, and calm the mind. Just take a pill an hour before bed. Once it's absorbed by your digestive system, you can enjoy 6 to 7 hours of peaceful sleep without worrying about feeling groggy or sleepy the next day.
How do Sandland Sleep’s Stay Asleep supplements work? Stay Asleep contains sleep-promoting ingredients like:
- Hemp-derived CBN (cannabinol) encourages relaxation without the high and addicting effect of cannabis
- Terpenes are calming stress-relieving aromatic compounds
- Peppermint provides aromatherapy as the supplement melts sublingually
We also offer a 30-day good sleep guarantee. If you feel that your sleep quality didn’t improve even after taking their supplements consistently, Sandland Sleep will issue a hassle-free refund. This means that you can try their supplements without the risk of paying for an ineffective product. Give the supplements a try. We assure you, it’s a decision you’ll be glad you made.
An uncomfortable mattress, poor sleep habits, noise, and light as well as excess heat or cold can make your body feel uncomfortable when you’re trying to sleep.
Yes. Anxiety can make your body and mind feel restless which can have a significant negative impact on your sleep quality and duration.