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  • Adriano dos Santos

Why am I so tired but can’t sleep?

Here I describe factors that might be causing this hyperactivity of your wake-system.

Stress and Anxiety High levels of stress or anxiety can lead to a racing mind, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Worrying about work, relationships, or other concerns can keep you awake, even though you feel tired.

Caffeine and Stimulants Consuming caffeine or other stimulants, such as energy drinks or certain medications, close to bedtime can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. These substances can keep your brain alert and awake. Remember that some of us metabolise caffeine poorly which means caffeine stays active in our brain for longer than we can feel.

Poor Sleep Hygiene Irregular sleep patterns, irregular bedtimes, and inconsistent sleep routines can disrupt your body’s internal clock, making it difficult to fall asleep, even when you’re tired.

Electronic Devices Exposure to the blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and computers before bedtime can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. This can make it harder to fall asleep despite feeling tired.

Physical Discomfort Physical discomfort, such as pain from an injury or a medical condition, can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position and fall asleep.

Medications Some medications, especially stimulants or medications taken for certain medical conditions, can cause insomnia as a side effect.

Alcohol and Substance Use Alcohol, particularly when consumed in excess, can disrupt sleep patterns. Similarly, the use of certain substances, including recreational drugs, can interfere with sleep.

Mental Health Conditions Conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect sleep and lead to difficulty falling asleep despite feeling tired.

Medical Conditions Underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, restless legs syndrome (RLS), or sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling tired.

Shift Work or Jet Lag Irregular work schedules, such as shift work, or frequent travel across time zones can lead to circadian rhythm disruptions, making it hard to sleep at the desired times.

Excessive Napping Napping for extended periods during the day can reduce your sleep drive at night, making it difficult to fall asleep.

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