The Optimized Gentleman

Can’t Sleep, Even Though You Feel Tired? Here’s Why:

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Sleep influences every single quadrant of a man’s life. His confidence, productivity, concentration, and overall health are all directly connected to how well you sleep.

Despite the importance of sleep, it’s not uncommon for men to have trouble falling asleep due to many unaddressed causes. In fact, men tend to get less sleep than women, which affects the quality of their lives. This leads many men to ask themselves:

“Why can’t I sleep, even though I feel tired?”

This frustration increases even more when you’re already tired and feel you should’ve fallen asleep already. Yet, for some reason, you find yourself unable to!

So, in this article, we’ll show you all the potential reasons why you may have trouble falling asleep – even when you’re tired. We also will reveal the solutions to your most annoying nocturnal issues.

The Short Answer

If you have trouble falling asleep when you’re tired, chances are you’ve thrown your circadian rhythm off-balance. This can happen by engraining bad habits – like excessive napping, lack of exercise, immoderate caffeine consumption, smoking, unhealthy diet, or late-night blue light exposure.

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Depression or anxiety also contribute to you feeling drowsy and unmotivated throughout the day. But for most active, driven men in a healthy psychological state, this is unlikely your issue.

See, a lot of men don’t see the correlation between their daily habits or mental state, and how well they sleep. So, if you know you should be falling asleep, but constantly have trouble doing so, let’s jump into all the possible reasons – so we can learn how to fix them!

Some of the Possible Reasons You Can’t Sleep

Reason

Example

Excessive napping

  1. You nap for longer than 20 minutes.
  2. You nap in the late afternoon.

Lack of exercise

  1. You don’t exercise regularly.
  2. You spend most of your day seated.

Immoderate caffeine consumption

  1. You drink coffee or energy drinks later in the day or 6 hours before sleep.
  2. You drink too much caffeine in the day.

Smoking

  1. You’re a frequent smoker.
  2. You smoke at night.

Diet

  1. You eat big meals close to bedtime.
  2. You drink too much water or fluids close to bedtime.
  3. Or, you eat too many spicy, acidic, or fatty foods.

Blue light

  1. You use blue light screens right before bed.
  2. You never rest your eyes from blue light.

Depression

  1. You’re already depressed
  2. You acquired depression due to sleep problems.

Anxiety

  1. You’re dealing with anxiety.
  2. You have something stressful going on in your life.

Let’s unpack these one by one…

  • Napping in itself isn’t bad. However, when you nap excessively, it can definitely throw off your circadian rhythm and interfere with your ability to sleep at night.
  • Many men only consider exercise when taking care of their aesthetics. However, most men don’t realize how good regular exercise is for sleep. Exercise leads to the good kind of tiredness that makes you sleep like a baby at night.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant that delays your ability to sleep at night by interfering with your circadian rhythm. If you need caffeine to function, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep, which tends to happen with excessive caffeine consumption. Caffeine consumption and sleep problems are often a vicious, repeating cycle.
  • Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that causes sleep disturbances and makes it significantly more challenging to initiate sleep. Nightly smoking also shortens sleep duration and increases the severity of insomnia.
  • Eating and drinking close to bedtime, especially if it’s a spicy, acidic, or fatty food, can cause heartburn, which gets much worse when you lie down. This leads to you not being able to sleep at all.
  • Blue light from screens interferes with your circadian rhythm, by inhibiting melatonin production. This hormone is chiefly responsible for regulating sleep. The blue light signals to your brain that you’re still experiencing the daytime, so you remain alert.
  • Depression and sleep problems have a complicated relationship because they both feed off of each other. Depression causes sleep problems, and poor sleep can lead to you developing depression.
  • Men with anxiety disorders often find it hard to fall or stay asleep. And this tends to be more challenging to sleep at all with a racing mind.

Solutions to Your Sleep Problems, According to Their Causes

Luckily, most of the experiences you’re having now can be totally resolved with some simple lifestyle changes. Let’s go through them one by one.

Limit Napping

Napping can be quite tempting when your actual bedtime feels far away. However, the disruptions that excessive napping causes to your sleep cycle are never worth it. So, try as much as possible not to nap during the daytime.

If you have to nap, in order to make up for a previous poor night’s sleep, or to stay alert in a late shift… try to keep it to no more than 20 minutes at a time. Also, never nap in the late afternoon, so that your night sleep isn’t affected by your napping.

If you have to nap every day because of your work schedule, try to schedule your own napping, so your body is accustomed to it (instead of being negatively affected by it).

Make a Sleeping Schedule

If you don’t structure your sleeping and wake cycles, you’ll find yourself tired and drained during the day, or unable to fall asleep at night. Yes, this can happen even if you slept 8 hours the night before, or feel exhausted!

This structure is important when it comes to your circadian rhythm.

And this is exactly why you need to make a schedule and stick to it all the time – even on weekends! The ideal sleeping schedule for an adult male is to fall asleep somewhere between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. and wake up 7 to 9 hours afterward.

Exercise Regularly

As we’ve discussed above, lack of exercise or physical activity on a daily basis makes it harder for men to fall asleep at night.

So, make it a daily habit to exercise, preferably outdoors, in the sun. This resets your circadian rhythm to normal cycles, and helps regulate your healthy patterns. Doing so will improve not only your fitness but also your sleep at nighttime. Regular exercise is the key to feeling more energized during the day, and more relaxed at night.

Try to incorporate aerobic and resistance training into your daily routine for the best results. Also, try to exercise only in the daytime because exercising at night may interfere with your sleep.

Reduce Caffeine Intake

We recognize that it can be quite difficult to reduce your caffeine consumption. This is doubly true if you’ve become dependent on it to wake up on a daily basis. However, if you drink too much caffeine, your sleep will always be disrupted (no matter how tired you feel!)

So, if you drink 400 mg of caffeine, or four cups of coffee daily, take it down to three cups, then just two. You’ll gradually find it easier to sleep and feel less agitated or restless during the day.

Another cool tip to try is to switch to caffeine-free options, so you can still have something to drink that won’t keep you up at night. These options include decaffeinated coffee, fruit tea, herbal tea, and detox water.

Limit (Ideally Eliminate) Smoking

One of the main reasons many men start smoking is the sense of heightened energy and a rush or buzz that smoking provides them.

Nicotine is a stimulant, which means that it does give you a push the way caffeine does.

However, this push comes at the expense of your ability to have a good night’s sleep, because it keeps you in lighter sleep more deep sleep. Plus, smoking increases your risk of sleep apnea!

So, if you want to fall asleep at night, it’s best to reduce your smoking as much as possible, or ideally quit this harmful habit altogether, as smoking cessation increases sleep duration and improves its quality.

In fact, your whole body will thank you. Your lungs will operate at better capacity, helping your exercise durations, thereby helping you sleep more soundly!

Improve Dietary Habits

How many times have you eaten the wrong kind of food at night? And how many times have you eaten right before going to bed, instead of a few hours before?

For instance, chocolate is tasty, but packed with caffeine. Spicy foods are delicious, but they raise your body temperature at a time when it’s supposed to cool you down for sleep.

Fried food is the best for your taste buds, but the worst for your digestive system at night. Likewise, acidic foods will trigger your acid reflux and keep you up at night from heartburn, making you think twice about your food choices.

The solution is to make a few changes to your diet and eat healthy, balanced meals. Instead of saturated fats, consider unsaturated fats, protein, or carbohydrates.

Also, try to replace big meals with smaller ones. Drinking gallons of water right before bed will lead you to wake up in the middle of your sleep to urinate. If you want to hydrate, which is important for your overall health and quality of sleep, you should do so throughout the day.

More importantly, whatever you eat needs to be at least three hours before bedtime, so your body has time to digest the food – instead of working hard to do so while you’re trying to sleep.

Limit Screen Time

In 2021, almost no one can resist using their smartphones right before bed.

What used to be a habit that was only associated with kids and teens has swept across all demographics, including adult men on their purpose. It’s something that connects you to the whole world, helps you make money and progress – plus it’s right there, so why not?

Because. According to a 2016 study, “longer average screen-times during bedtime and the sleeping period were associated with poor sleep quality, decreased sleep efficiency, and longer sleep onset latency.”

The reason is the counterproductive blue light, that smart devices and electronics emit.

Blue light suppresses your melatonin production, delays the onset of REM sleep, and shortens your sleep cycles. Most smartphone addicts find themselves waking up in the middle of the night just to use their devices again and “check something quickly”.

The solution is to stop using any and all blue-light device at least two hours before bed. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs should be avoided close to bedtime at all costs.

If you have to use them for work purposes, consider wearing a pair of blue-light blocking glasses at night, to trick your brain into thinking you’re not using a screen. Or, simply use an app like F.lux.

Nowadays, recent Mac and iPhone models (as well as Android) automatically have this option programmed into their software – just set it to your time zone, and you’re good to go!

Cope With (And Treat!) Depression & Anxiety

Men with depression and anxiety may find falling asleep one of the most difficult things to do. In fact, sleep and mental disorders are almost always linked to insomnia.

So, if this is something you’re dealing with at the moment, consider counseling or psychiatry to treat the causes. Also, certain medications can make it easier to fall asleep, so talk to your doctor to get the proper prescriptions according to your needs. Better to go the natural route first, and really solve the underlying cause for good.

Related Questions to Sleeping When Tired

How Do I Get a Night of Sound Sleep?

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You can take great care of yourself and your natural sleep cycles, by:

  • DESIGNING a clear sleeping schedule,
  • EXERCISING at least an hour daily,
  • EATING healthy food (but not before bedtime!),
  • LIMITING or ceasing caffeine & nicotine intake,
  • REDUCING your blue light exposure, and
  • ADDRESSING any mental disorders that interfere with your sleep

Also, if you’re really into lifting weights, calisthenics, or other strength-focused exercises, you can experiment with muscle relaxers, to help you nod off and restore your muscle tissue effectively!

Is Drinking Water at Night Bad For You?

Not at all. Staying hydrated day and night is important for your overall health.

It’s also important to drink water, so you can sleep well. That said, drinking water right before bed has the opposite effect and will keep you up at night or wake you in the middle of the night.

What Are Some Things You Can Do When You Can’t Sleep?

Try to do breathing exercises to calm yourself down. Meditation can be quite helpful; there are countless guides online for that, as well as different practices. Yoga, binaural beats, or calming music can help a lot as well. Also, try to lower the temperature of the room if it’s too high. Play a sound machine or a free alternative on your phone to distract yourself with some white noise.

Conclusion to Getting A Sound Night’s Rest, When You’re Actually Tired

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons you’re having trouble falling asleep, despite feeling tired…

You could be excessively napping, not exercising enough, drinking too much caffeine, smoking a lot, eating the wrong foods too close to bedtime, getting too much blue light exposure at night, or dealing with depression or anxiety. Or, it could be y0ur own unique combination of any of the above.

However, know that all of these reasons are manageable.

Leading a healthier lifestyle with sleeping schedules, regular exercise, and better diets can definitely make it easier on you to fall asleep. Also, remember to get help from a professional if you’re having any mental health issues, to see a tangible improvement.

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