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You are tossing and turning, almost falling asleep and three seconds later you are wide awake again. You lie down again, but no, this is not comfortable. Your pillow is too thick, then too flat, your duvet is too warm and without it you get cold. Pffff… restless sleep. We all suffer from it sometimes. How come and above all: what can you do about it?
Table of contents
There are numerous causes that can cause restless sleep. Because it is storming hard outside or it is very hot, mosquitoes that are buzzing around your head, a nasty cold or a snoring partner on the pillow next to you. But sometimes the cause is not so clearly identifiable and you have a strange feeling when falling asleep or a restless feeling in your body, while you are actually very tired.
Do you wake up broken after a night full of troubled dreams? This can be caused by stress. If you whine or worry a lot, your dreams often become more restless. Try to schedule rest moments during the day and take the time to relax before going to bed. And if you suffer from bad dreams, you can also try to send them.
Clinical psychologists and nightmare researchers Jaap Lancee and Annette van Schagen have developed a therapy to control nightmares. You can do the treatment yourself, all you need is a pen, paper and a little imagination. The idea is that you write down what you have dreamed about every morning. Was it a neutral dream? Then a short description will suffice. Was it a nightmare? Then try to write down your dream in as much detail as possible.
If you’ve had more or less the same nightmare more than once, you’re going to make up your own new ending. The beginning and middle part remain the same, but the end of your nightmare is up to you. Everything is possible and allowed, as long as it is a denouement that you are completely happy with. Did it work? Then rehearse this scenario five times a day. According to the aforementioned research, more than half of the participants get rid of the nightmares in this way.
It is not proven, but you can also apply it to busy and restless dreams. Come up with a calmer ending and rehearse your relaxed dream a few times a day.
Moving in your sleep and turning over a few times at night is nothing to worry about. It does become a problem if you toss and turn all night and can’t fall asleep. It can be caused by (yes, there it is again…) stress, but also by certain foods, too much coffee or alcohol or products that contain a lot of histamine, such as red wine, aged cheese, yogurt, blue cheese or sauerkraut.
Below we describe a number of causes that cause restless sleep and we give one or more solutions for each cause. Everyone is different, so take the time to try out what works for you. Restless sleep often also causes you to experience too little deep sleep, so that you wake up tired.
There are countless causes of stress: money problems, a complicated relationship, a busy job with many responsibilities and so on. If you’re stressed during the day, it can be harder to relax at night. That’s because of your sympathetic nervous system. Simply put, that nervous system is a kind of survival mechanism. It is turned ‘on’ as soon as you are ‘in danger’ and it increases your muscle tone. Super useful if a dangerous animal is coming at you, because that increased muscle tension can make you run away very fast. But if you are under a lot of stress during the day, that sympathetic nervous system remains on, making it very difficult to relax your body.
How can you ensure that you can still relax when you lie in bed at night? If you read the article above, you already know it: very consciously relaxing. Try to include moments during the day in which you completely relax and are not busy with all the hustle and bustle. For one this is half an hour of exercise and the other prefers to meditate. Do what suits you.
If you like to exercise, it is better not to do it right before going to bed. In the evening, just before going to bed, it is better to do sleep meditations, such as Mindfulness or breathing exercises. You can find countless of them on the internet.
Sleeping on a full stomach is not recommended. You can safely eat something before going to bed, but try to avoid salty and greasy snacks, chocolate, red meat and vegetables with lots of vitamins before going to sleep. These foods give you an energy boost and that makes falling asleep a lot more difficult. In addition, you can also experience bloating and because most people do not sleep upright, you are more likely to experience belching and heartburn.
But if you’re hungry, you can’t sleep either, so feel free to have something if you feel your stomach growling. A sensible bedtime snack is something low in carbohydrates such as chicken or turkey breast, a handful of almonds or a banana.
We used to call it a nightcap, but now we know better. Alcohol really doesn’t make you sleep better. Okay, you do fall asleep quickly after a night of tossing, but you sleep less deeply, so you are less well-rested when you wake up. In addition, alcohol suppresses REM sleep, which you need for your mental recovery.
The solution speaks for itself: stop drinking alcohol before going to sleep and if you do want to drink, keep it to a maximum of two glasses of alcohol. If you were used to drinking heavily before going to bed, your body will really have to get used to it. There is a good chance that you will sleep even worse the first nights, but hang in there! After a few weeks, your body is used to falling asleep without alcohol and you will notice that you sleep better.
While most people are asleep, thousands of people are at work every night. You can think of people in healthcare, the catering industry, transport, security, but also employees in distribution centers. In 2019, no fewer than 1.3 million people worked a night shift. But those night shifts can seriously disrupt your biological clock. A good example is your liver, which knows in advance when a meal will arrive and prepares for it by making enzymes to digest that meal. If you go to work at night, there is a good chance that you will also get hungry and eat and that gives an energy boost, so that you cannot sleep when you get home. Moreover, the sun rises when you go to bed and the whole world wakes up when you try to fall asleep.
There are several things you can do to help your body fall asleep a bit. Eat easily digestible foods at the end of your night shift so that you don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Make sure your bedroom is well darkened and, if necessary, wear earplugs so that you are not bothered by the noises of your roommates.
And did you know that there are glasses with blue light? That blue light that seems to keep you awake when you look at your mobile, just before you go to sleep, is also available in the form of glasses. You can put on such glasses for a while during your night shift, which gives you an energy boost. You cannot perform all actions with those glasses, but night workers can put them on for a while to get over that natural dip.
Where you can use blue glasses at night to stay awake, in the morning when it gets light you can fool your brain a bit by wearing orange glasses, because they block that particular blue light and if you , half an hour before you go to bed, wear orange glasses with a blue light filter, chances are that your brain thinks it is dark, so that it still produces melatonin and you fall asleep.
The temperature in your bedroom is very important for the quality of your sleep. If it is very hot or extremely cold in your bedroom, you need all your energy to keep your body at the right temperature. As a result, your brain no longer has energy for REM sleep, which is very important to process all the events of the previous day. This ensures that you wake up less well-rested if it is too cold or too hot in your bedroom. The ideal temperature to fall asleep varies from person to person. One sleeps best at fourteen degrees and the other at eighteen degrees. The lower limit is twelve degrees and the upper limit is 23 degrees.
During the menopause, your hormones can be quite confused. Your body makes less estrogen and progesterone and that can cause serious sleep problems. Progesterone makes you sleepy and estrogen helps you fall asleep more deeply. In addition, you can suffer from nightly hot flashes, which make you suddenly soaking wet with sweat.
You can’t completely prevent these sleeping problems, but it helps to drink less coffee and alcohol and do relaxation exercises before going to sleep. Also avoid spicy food and make sure your bedroom is nice and cool.
Is sleeping really going to be a problem? Don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor!
We have already mentioned a lot of tips that can help you fall asleep more peacefully. If you integrate all the tips below into your lifestyle, one by one, you have a good chance that you will sleep more peacefully in a few weeks:
A mattress can also affect your sleep. A mattress that feels too warm, too hard or too soft can be a serious problem for falling asleep. Does your mattress need to be replaced for the reasons mentioned above? Then we advise you to try the Morningstar Stellar mattress. You can do this for 100 nights for free. That way you don’t have to stress about a possible bad buy and you can sleep well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 4 hours before going to bed. Keep a cool room. No phones or tablets within an hour of bedtime. Do not eat carbohydrate-rich, fatty, salty, spicy or vitamin-rich foods right before going to sleep.
The cause is often stress. Writing down your thoughts can help immensely. Do you often suffer from nightmares? Write them down and if it is often the same dream, make up your own ending for this dream.
Do not eat carbohydrate-rich, fatty, salty, spicy or vitamin-rich foods right before going to sleep. Also check whether your mattress does not simply need to be replaced.
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