Why Am I Sleepy but Can’t Sleep: 21 Things to Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep

Do you lie awake and wish for a good night’s sleep? Perhaps your circadian rhythm may be off. You may wonder, Why am I sleepy but can’t sleep? There are a number of reasons that this may happen. We can look at 8 causes of insomnia, how insomnia affects our fitness and our health, and 21 proven sleep-inducing methods of dealing with insomnia so you can get a better night’s rest.

As many as 35 percent of American adults suffer from insomnia at one time or another. Are you one of them?

Why You Need a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is as important as every other good health routine. Getting too little sleep on a regular basis is linked to all kinds of health issues, from Type 2 Diabetes to increased blood pressure and heart problems. Weight gain or your likelihood of catching a cold may also be related to your lack of adequate rest.

Sleep is important for us to be fit and healthy. We should do what we can to see that we get the rest that we need. Some reasons for this may be difficult for us to control, while sometimes we can quite easily remedy the situation and get a good night’s rest.

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What is the Main Cause of Insomnia

Some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia are often stress, daily life, or poor habits.

#1 Stress

A common cause of insomnia is stress. You might be occupied with concerns of school, work, finances, or family. This may keep your mind distracted at night when you should be sleeping.

#2 Shift-Work

Your sleep habits often suffer when you must work during the night. If you need to sleep when the sun is shining, or you regularly must adjust your shift work on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, your body has a hard time adjusting.

#3 Sleep Apnea or Restless Legs Syndrome

These two conditions also cause disturbed sleep. Those with restless legs find it hard to settle down to sound sleep, and those with sleep apnea are often wakened during the night.

#4 Chronic Pain.

If you have health issues that leave you in chronic pain, you may find that sleep evades you. Magnesium creams or arnica creams help with painful muscles.

The occasional use of Tylenol may help reduce pain and then your body can relax and get some rest. There are many pain relievers available.

With this in mind, you must take into consideration, that over-the-counter drugs put extra stress on your organs and should be used only when needed.

#5 Hormones

If you are a woman, monthly hormonal shifts may make sleep disrupted as well as during pregnancies.

#6 Eating a Heavy Meal Right Before Bedtime

When the digestive system is hard at work digesting a heavy meal, it is difficult for the rest of the body to shut down for a good night’s sleep.

#7 Jet Lag.

Travel is often to blame when you travel out of your normal time zone. Your circadian rhythm is disrupted. The sleep-wake cycles of your internal clock must readjust to a new time zone.

#8 Your Own Irregular Habits

Staying up late for social functions, watching TV until late at night, too much screen time, these things could all be the cause of insomnia. In fact, extra exposure to “blue light” puts stress on your circadian rhythm.

How Does Insomnia Affect Fitness

Reaction Time

If you have insomnia, you are not going to be able to perform at your peak. You will have slower reaction times, which would affect sports and daily activities like driving. A higher risk of accidents is reported by those who have inadequate rest.


How Does Insomnia Affect Health

Health Risks

Affect Your Immune System

According to the Mayo Clinic, a lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that if you are lacking in good quality or proper quantity of rest, you body will find it harder to fight off viruses, such as the common cold.

If you do get sick after getting exposed to the common cold virus, how quickly you recover may in part, depend on getting a good night’s rest and consequently staying fit and healthy.

Increased Risk of Chronic Disease

To reduce stress, blood pressure, control blood glucose levels, and decrease inflammation in your body, you need to be well rested. With this in mind, sleep, health, and fitness, go hand in hand. You need to be in charge of getting to bed in good time so you can get a healthy amount of rest for you to function without adding stress to your body.

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Some Proven Sleep-inducing Methods

Here are 21 home remedies that you can try so your 40 winks can last the entire night!

#1 Bedtime Rituals

Have a routine as you prepare for bedtime. Make your bedroom a pleasant place to be. It is not a good idea to share your bedroom with your workspace.

When your computer is in your bedroom, it signals that your workday is not over. Then your mind will keep pace, and not want to relax. We need a good place to unwind.

#2 Have a Regular Bedtime

Have a regular bedtime. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Be consistent even on weekends. Set the alarm to wake up the same time each morning to train your body to wake up at a consistent time each day.

#3 When is it a Bad Time for a Nap?

A twenty-minute nap early in the afternoon may help you make it through the rest of the day. Naps in the late afternoon can keep you awake at night.

Limit the number and length of naps you have during the day. It may seem like a great way to catch up on lost sleep, but it will affect the quality of the coming night of sleep.

#4 Exercise Early in the Day

Exercise early in the day will help you sleep better during the night. Get regular exercise at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime so you give your body time to slow down to a relaxed pace before bedtime. Whereas exercise right before bedtime will get your heart rate up and make it harder to fall asleep at night.

#5 Plan Ahead

Plan your next day before you go to bed. Write down in a list the agenda for tomorrow. That list will be there in the morning, so your mind does not have to actively concentrate on what needs to be done in the morning.

To tell the truth, I like to take a pen and paper and put it on the nightstand. I find if I wake up during the night with something concerning the following day, it works wonders to write it down during the night. Then I can go right back to sleep and deal with it the next day.

#6 Deep Breathing

Reduce stress in your life. Deep breathing can calm your body down. Stress causes a lot of muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation helps you achieve a relaxed response, to say nothing of slowing your heart rate and decreasing your blood pressure to prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Deep breathing can help your body relax into quality sleep.

#7 Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Visualization, relaxation response, mindfulness, and breathing exercises are all ways to slow down your brain to get you to a place where you can lay the activities of the day aside and welcome a good night’s sleep.

#8 Music

Mothers know how gentle lullabies can soothe a baby to sleep. Quiet gentle music can help to slow your thought processes down and lull you off to sound sleep as well.

Gentle music slows your heart rate to help you fall asleep and give you a better-quality sleep.

#9 Slow Down Before Bedtime

Just before bedtime is not the time to watch horror movies. Even watching the late-night news can raise your pulse and get your mind active so it is hard to sleep. Because of this, it is a good idea to catch up on the news in the morning.

#10 Electronic Devices

How often do you reach for your electronic devices before bedtime to make a last-minute check on the latest of the day’s activities?

Turn off electronic gadgets at least 1 hour before bedtime Among the visible light spectrum, blue wavelengths have the most powerful effect on your sleep-wake internal body clock.

Natural and artificial blue light can boost your alertness. Too much blue light can keep you awake when it is time to go to bed.

Blue light blocks a hormone called melatonin, and it is melatonin that makes you sleepy. There are blue-light-blocking glasses that are sold online to help block out the blue light.

# 11Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and released into the bloodstream for use by the body.

Recently many people in North America have become interested in other sources of melatonin such as capsules or pills to address sleep issues.

In the United States melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement.  Although melatonin is not for everyone, it does seem useful in improving sleep in some. Current research shows that it may be useful in certain situations for both adults and children.

#12 Home Light Therapy Units

According to the Sleep Foundation, light therapy can be helpful for people with insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, and some types of depression. Your doctor may recommend light therapy if you experience some sleep related issues.

#13 A Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets are good to help you have a better quality of sleep. They have become quite popular in recent months, and are advertised, for just that reason, to promote better quality of sleep. This is one of Amazon choice weighted blankets.

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Occupational therapists have used weighted blankets for years to help their patients relax. Researchers at the Yale Child Study Center have been aware that weighted blankets have been useful to help some people with autism feel calm and more comfortable.

#14 Yoga, Tai Chi and Insomnia

In a study of 320 older adults, published by JAMA Network Open, found that practicing tai chi daily, helped those who practiced it to sleep more soundly and wake up fewer times during the night than those who did not practice tai chi.

Doing yoga before bedtime can help you relax for a good night’s sleep.


#15 Avoid Stimulants like Nicotine, and Caffeine

The effects of caffeine can last for up to 24 hours. There are significant chances that it will inhibit your sleep. It may also cause you to wake up numerous times during the night.

#16 Alcohol

Alcohol may have a sedative effect at the beginning of the night, only to lead to a night of disturbed, restless sleep. Alcohol interacts with numerous medications, so it is best to discuss its use with your doctor.


#17 Chamomile Tea

While there has been a limited amount of research on chamomile tea and insomnia, it does however seem to indicate that you can fall asleep quickly and waken less frequently during the night by drinking chamomile tea before bed.

Simply enjoy a refreshing cup of chamomile tea 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime and see if you can confirm these results!

#18 Cognitive Therapy

Try Cognitive Therapy. Speak with your doctor, counselor, or therapist to see if you can find help through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Treatment often takes from between 6 to 8 sessions. It can help you deal with the challenges of worry that may occur before bedtime, missed sleep from the day before, or anxiety about past experiences with insomnia.

After identifying these, you can evaluate them objectively, and deal with them in a positive manner.

#19 Accupressure

Accupressure is something that you can do on yourself if you have trouble sleeping. By activating certain pressure points on your body, it can help you relax for a refreshing night’s sleep.


#20 Aromatherapy

How does aromatherapy help insomnia?  As the aroma transmits signals to the brain, it can condition you to fall asleep with a certain kind of scent.

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Which essential oil helps you sleep? Lavender is one of the most popular and commonly used essential oil as a sleep aid. Studies have shown that lavender not only helps you fall asleep, but it helps you have a better quality of sleep throughout the night.

Studies show lavender to be helpful in reducing anxiety levels in people as well.

#21 Food and Insomnia

Most people have experienced how food and drinks can affect their energy and alertness. According to the Sleep Foundation, there are some foods that may make it easier to get a better night’s sleep.

Some research has found that kiwi are rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and vitamin C. People who ate 2 kiwis one hour before bedtime found that they fell asleep faster and had a better-quality rest.

Similar benefits were found from drinking one to two servings of tart cherry juice per day which can improve your quality of rest. Tart cherries have an above-average concentration of melatonin in them.

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If you find you still can not sleep. Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful.

If you haven’t fallen asleep within 30 minutes, don’t just lie there. Get up and do some quiet activity. You could:

  • Drink a cup of Chamomile Tea
  • Read
  • Do yoga poses
  • Stretches
  • Aromatherapy.
  • Quiet music

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Is Excess Weight Causing You to Snore and Wake Up?


About half of North American adults snore from time to time.

  •  If you are overweight or take some medications, it may make it more likely that you snore, sounding as if you are sawing logs.
  • If you have a stuffy nose, it is more likely that will you snore. Over-the-counter medications or nasal strips may help open those airways.
  • Sleeping on your back makes it more likely that you may snore. Side sleeping is a quieter way to get your rest.

Sleep Apnea

A more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which a person repeatedly stops breathing for brief periods of time as you sleep.

It may make you gasp for your breath or wake up during the night. Talk with your doctor if you think you may have sleep apnea. He may recommend that you use a device to help you breathe while you sleep. Occasionally they can correct the condition with surgery.

Consequently, if you think that you have sleep apnea, you should discuss this with your medical practitioner.

Why Am I Sleepy and Can’t Sleep?

We have looked at 8 causes of insomnia, how insomnia affects our fitness and our health, and 21 proven sleep-inducing methods of dealing with insomnia so you can get a better night’s rest.

So, if you are asking, “Why am I sleepy but can’t sleep?”, you should find quite a list above of things that you can try. Give these tips a try and see if you can find a natural home remedy for you to get a better night’s rest.

Please Leave a Comment

I would love to hear from you. What tips help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep until morning? What tip haven’t you tried yet? How do you think good fitness is related to how well-rested you are?

Why Am I Sleepy but Can’t Sleep – 21 proven sleep-inducing methods of dealing with insomnia so you can get a better night’s rest. Some of the most common causes of chronic insomnia are often stress, daily life, or poor habits. Read more about it here.

Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.


8 thoughts on “Why Am I Sleepy but Can’t Sleep: 21 Things to Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep”

  1. This is very helpful considering that I do work a night shift job and my sleep routine is awful. From 5 to 6 days a week I’m sleeping during the day and even on my nights off I may sleep later and get up later. And it has affected my health and I’m trying to be more disciplined in my sleeping now that I need it to exercise and get my weight down.

    • Hi Johnny, thanks for stopping by with a comment. Working shift work is hard on your body. It does help if you can have a regular sleeping schedule during the day, and a dark room to sleep in. There are meditation and relaxation techniques to help you relax and fall asleep quickly. 

  2. So glad I found this information.  I do have a question about electronics.  Does this include TV’s?  I have a TV in my room, and that is really the only time that I watch TV, before bedtime.  I also have melatonin which I find sometimes makes it hard for me to wake up in the morning.  I had never heard of using a weighted blanket.  That might be worth a try!

    • Hi Leahrae, thanks for stopping by with a comment! Yes, TVs in the bedroom are not encouraged probably for a number of reasons. They would detrimentally affect the quality of sleep that you get. Beside the blue light, the bedroom should be an oasis from a busy, hectic day and be a place you can unwind.

      I find it interesting that you say that taking melatonin makes it difficult to wake up in the morning. I have found that to be the case for me as well. Weighted blankets are helpful in getting a good night’s sleep. When we visited my grandma as a child, she had plenty of blankets on us at night, which also work similarly.

      Now I can unwind with a cup of chamomile tea. Breathing exercises helps me as well. I inhale to the count of four, hold my breath to the count of four, and exhale to the count of four. There are other variations of this as well. Another thing that works well for me is not eating after suppertime. This also gives my body a chance to relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

      All the best! Sweet dreams! Zzzzz!

  3. Waw, this is a great list. I have been suffering from insomnia since this year has begun. 

    Thank God I don’t do night shifts but my neighbor does and that is not a pleasant thing at all. 

    But anyway, I am glad that you actually recommend the afternoon naps. Lately, I was able to manage to have a 10 to 15 minutes nap and it is so powerful. 
    The thing is I used to sleep for an hour in the afternoon and that might have caused insomnia… I guess. 

    As going through your article I notice that my cellphone is right next to my head. Starting tonight I will leave the phone in the kitchen. 

    There is a lot of great advice here on how to fall asleep. I am sure I will get back to the article in a few days. 

    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Michal, thanks for stopping by with a comment. I am glad you found the post helpful. Yes, night shifts are hard on the body. If you sleep too much during the day, it is hard to get to sleep at night. (My daughter is finding that out with her toddler. 😉 )

      There are quite a number of things to try to help you sleep better. It can be as simple as turn off the TV and unwind with a cup of chamomile tea. 

  4. This article explains in deep the causes of why we can have insomnia and what to do to prevent this problem and how can we manage it. It is a common problem with so many reasons. Sometimes I experience that specially if I go to sleep right after I was in front of watching something on the computer or tablet. I tried chamomile and it works most of the time, there are some homeopathic remedies. Somebody recommended lettuce tea, and it worked too. Like you wrote, we have to go to sleep at the same time everyday; sometimes this is not possible. Thank you for the information.

    • Hi, and thanks for stopping by with a comment. I have not heard of lettuce tea. I suppose you steep lettuce leaves in hot (boiling water). We each must find what works for us. There are many tips and tricks to try. Insomnia is problematic for too many people. It is to our own good health if we can get a good night’s sleep. All the best!


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