15 Surprising Reasons You Can't Get A Good Night's Sleep

There are a handful of obvious reasons why you might be struggling with insomnia. Now, it's time to consider the concrete reasons behind why you're having a hard time getting deep sleep on a regular basis. If you have a partner who snores throughout the night, that could be the culprit. It's pretty tough to fall and stay asleep if someone is snoring at an obnoxiously loud level right next to you. If you spend your nighttime hours scrolling on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, that could be the cause of your issues, too. Most phone screens emit blue light, which is incredibly destructive to your natural ability to fall asleep. There's also a chance you might see something while scrolling that causes you to feel shocked, alarmed, angry, or excited. These emotions are not conducive to the drowsiness you need at bedtime. If you sipped an iced coffee within a few hours of bedtime, that's another obvious reason for your lack of sleepiness.


Interestingly enough, there are several more unexpected causes of insomnia that you might not already be aware of. What's more, Live Science says that over 25% of people in the United States have reported their occasional inability to get enough sleep. WebMD adds that although some people believe insomnia is strictly a mental issue, that viewpoint is completely false. Instead, here's what you should know about some of the most surprising reasons you're not able to get a good night's sleep.

You use peppermint toothpaste

Peppermint-flavored toothpaste is incredibly popular among consumers. Having minty fresh breath before bed feels nice and invigorating. Unfortunately, your peppermint toothpaste might be the reason you're having a hard time falling asleep at night. Dr. Chris Winter, a medical advisor for Sleep.com, reveals that peppermint toothpaste actually stimulates your brain in a big way. "Peppermint is a plant that gets its distinctive flavor from its high menthol content, among other compounds/chemicals. This stimulation of cognitive functioning is probably not a positive when it comes to trying to settle the mind and sleep," he explains.


The Alternative Daily explains that since peppermint oil stimulates the mind and body, it reduces the natural desire to become sleepy. If peppermint toothpaste is your thing but you're struggling to fall asleep, you might want to consider other popular toothpaste flavors. Minty toothpaste might be the standard, but there are also several brands that sell fruit-flavored toothpaste as well.

You sleep on polyester bedsheets

Your choice of bedsheets could very well be getting in the way of how much sleep you're getting. House of Pillows says that polyester bedsheets certainly shouldn't be in your bedroom. What you might not know about polyester is that it's technically a form of plastic. It's man-made and produced at the cheapest possible levels. The worst part of all is that it's 0% natural. If you're curious to know whether or not polyester is toxic, the short answer is that, yes, it definitely is. Mattress Clarity says that even if you've considered purchasing polyester bedding in order to save a bit of money, you should reconsider cutting corners in this department. 


Unfortunately, polyester fabrics trap heat and make it so that your bed becomes way too hot. When your body feels hot, it's difficult to get a comfortable night's rest. If you wash polyester sheets without a dryer sheet, they can also trap static electricity. Your best bet would be to purchase bedsheets made of organic cotton, natural hemp, silk, or bamboo material. These fabrics will keep you cool throughout the night, unlike polyester.

You're exercising too close to bedtime

Who would've guessed that exercising could be one of the things holding you back from a good night's rest? It turns out that the time of day you choose to exercise can really have a negative impact on you. Train Right opens up the dialogue about why you might have trouble sleeping after a super hard workout. Exercise ramps up your heart rate and affects your hormonal system. When you exercise, you release a stress hormone called cortisol. It's a natural consequence that comes along with exercising, and it's not something you want floating around inside your brain when you're trying to fall asleep. 


The release of adrenaline also comes into play when you're exercising. Adrenaline rushes are the last thing you want to be dealing with at bedtime. Harvard Health Publishing says that exercising at night is simply not part of good sleep hygiene. If you insist on having an evening workout, it should be more than three hours before you settle down for bed. You have to give your body a chance to slow down, cool off, and relax if you want to soundly fall asleep.

Your bedroom temperature is too warm

If you're the type of person who prefers to feel warm and toasty before going to bed, you might need to switch things up. Sure, a warm temperature can make your bedroom feel cozy and comfy, but it might not be ideal for you if you're struggling with insomnia. According to the Sleep Foundation, warmer temperatures in the bedroom can lead to restlessness and discomfort. Sleeping in an overly warm bedroom will cause fatigue because your body's thermoregulation abilities have been interfered with. Dr. Alon Avidon told WebMD, "If someone told me that they slept in a temperature between 70 to 75 degrees, I'd say that's a range that promotes insomnia."


In other words, when your bedroom is way too warm, you can expect to have a slew of sleep issues. It's important to note that sleeping in a warm room forces you to stay in the lighter stages of sleep. It's easier to be prematurely woken if you're stuck in the lighter stages, which means your sleep simply isn't as deep as it should be.

Your bedroom temperature is too cold

A cold bedroom doesn't always lead to a night of deep sleep. Although most people have a better shot of falling asleep in a cold room, you still have to be careful with how cold your room actually is. Dallas Sleep says cold weather and frosty temperature dips make it harder for your body to attempt to get a good night's rest. Sleep Advisor says that if your bedroom is way too cold, you'll be forced to bundle up. Those extra blankets can lead you to get overheated later on in the night. 


A room that's way too cold might also leave you shivering, Body chills make it hard to sleep as deeply as you'd like when you don't have enough blankets to wrap up in. You shouldn't feel like you're stuck in an igloo when you're settling down for bed. Ideally, your bedroom should stay at a temperature somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees for those who want to experience a night of restful sleep. Anything lower than that might feel a little too cold, and anything higher than that is potentially a bit too warm.

You just watched a scary movie

Scary movies simply aren't for everyone. If you already know you're someone who can handle them though, you might want to rethink watching them right before going to bed. The content of horror movies might not bother you at the surface, but it's possible those movies are the reason you're experiencing insomnia. Right as Rain says that the suspense included in horror flicks naturally increases physiological arousal in your body. This is the exact opposite of what you need in order to feel sleepy. 


"The release of adrenaline involves physiological changes like a racing heart and muscle tension, as well as mental changes, such as negative thoughts and catastrophic thinking," psychologist Jonathon S. Abramowitz tells Well & Good. Since our brains can't tell the difference between real threats and perceived threats, you have to be incredibly careful with what you're absorbing before bedtime. If scary movies are causing your heart to race and your muscles to tense up, it's also likely that they're contributing to your insomnia.

You ate refined carbs or sugary treats before bed

We've all been there. We're getting ready to head to bed, but the sweet treats on the kitchen counter start basically shouting at us in the most tempting way. What are we supposed to do? Ignore the cupcakes, brownies, and donuts? The truth is that for those of us who struggle with insomnia, self-control against refined sugars and carbs is an absolute must. If you don't struggle with sleep issues, it probably won't bother you much at all to enjoy a chocolate croissant minutes before bed. If you do struggle with sleep issues, you have to take a moment to consider if the sweet treat is actually worth it or not. 


Research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine explains that people who have high sugar diets tend to sleep less deeply than others who avoid sugar. People who eat a lot of sugar are also reportedly more restless at night. Healthline states that high glycemic diets (which are diets that contain a lot of sugar) trigger an inflammatory response in the body. The response isn't conducive to sleep as it creates imbalances in your intestinal bacteria. It's already common knowledge that eating too much sugar leads to unwanted weight gain. Now, sugar's reputation has gotten even worse.

You're taking a new medication

Have you recently started taking a brand new medication? If so, it could be the reason you're struggling to get drowsy at night. Good RX Health explains that there are several different medications that could be messing with your brain at bedtime. SSRI antidepressants, stimulants, nasal decongestants, and oral decongestants are only some of the possible culprits. 


Luckily, some medical professionals have specifically studied this. Dr. Brynna Connor is one family medicine specialist who knows a thing or two about this issue. "Drug-induced insomnia is just what it sounds like –– insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, caused by taking certain medications," she told SingleCare, So, is there a way to solve this problem? Your best bet is to ask your doctor if there's an alternative medication you can take that won't cause continual sleep issues for you. If that's not possible, your doctor may subscribe an additional medication that would be dedicated to helping you fall asleep at night.

You have anxiety about an upcoming event

Your college roommate is getting married and your ex-boyfriend is going to be there. You have an interview scheduled for a job that will pay you $25,000 more per year than your current position. You've been feeling very fatigued lately and your blood test results will be available any day now. These are just a few examples of upcoming events that might stir up a sense of anxiety inside your brain. We can all pretty much agree that anxiety is the worst. 


Psychology Today describes the connection between sleep loss and anxiety as being a vicious cycle. Not getting enough sleep leads to anxiety. Having anxiety leads to your inability to fall asleep. Furthermore, the Sleep Foundation notes that anxiety is birthed from our exposures to traumatic life events, our genetics, and our family history. If you're struggling with anxiety at bedtime, the first thing you should know is that it's not your fault. The second thing you should know is that anxiety can be overcome. Talk therapy, EMDR therapy, journaling, meditation, prayer, and anti-anxiety medications are some of your options.

You're dealing with a lingering COVID-19 symptom

Most people who caught COVID-19 and recovered from it are able to report a lot of the same symptoms. If you experienced fever, chills, coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headaches, loss of taste or smell, and a sore throat, then you were in good company with millions of others around the world. If you started having sleep issues with your COVID-19 diagnosis as well, you're not alone there either. Sleep medicine specialist Dr. Cinthya Pena Orbea told the Cleveland Clinic, "Sleep disorders are one of the most common symptoms for patients who've had COVID-19. They report insomnia, fatigue, brain fog and sometimes we even see circadian rhythm disorders."


Everyday Health says that over 40% of people living with "long COVID" are still dealing with severe sleep disturbances, including insomnia. But what exactly is long-COVID?  It's what we call it when you were diagnosed with COVID-19 and supposedly recovered from it yet still deal with lingering symptoms. Your taste might be back and your cough might be gone, but your insomnia is battling it out inside your brain for a place to stay.

You're not exercising enough in general

If you're not moving your body enough on a regular basis, you might automatically have an answer for why insomnia is bothering you every night. Exercise during the day is vital if you want to fall asleep and stay asleep. The Sleep Foundation explains that getting good exercise will improve your core temperature, relieve anxiety and depression, and realign your internal body clock. If your natural circadian rhythm has been thrown out of wack, exercise can become your savior, especially if you choose to exercise outdoors in the sunlight. Moving your body during the day lets your body know when it's time to be active. If you reserve laying down and relaxing for bedtime, your body will better understand when it's time to fall asleep.


Johns Hopkins Medicine says you only need about 30 minutes of exercise to feel an improvement, though. This is good news for anyone who prefers lounging over vigorous physical movement. A 30-minute workout still leaves you with 23.5 hours in your day to do other things. Just keep in mind that any exercise you do shouldn't take place right before bedtime, as mentioned earlier.

You're taking scalding hot showers before bed

As tempting as a scalding hot shower before bed might be, you probably need to think twice. Dr. Rachel Salas is a sleep neurologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep and Wellness, and she explained the reason why extra hot showers can lead to sleep issues such as insomnia to The Washington Post. "If you take a shower close to bedtime and it's a very hot shower, that temperature can negatively affect your sleep. What you're doing is you're making your body temperature so different from baseline," she tells the outlet. Since scalding hot water can be overly energizing, it's best avoided before bed. 


This doesn't mean you can't talk a comfortably warm shower instead, though. A warm shower is a perfect thing to wash away the stresses of your day. Whatever problems you were facing at work or school can swirl right down into the drain. Warm water can be incredibly relaxing, which means you don't have to worry about amping up the temperature too high.

You're taking ice-cold showers before bed

A cold shower before bed might sound lovely to you for a handful of reasons. If you're coming home from a hot, sweaty day doing a laborious task, a cold shower might sound amazing to cool you down. If you've read about the positive impact that cold showers can have on your mental health from lifestyle gurus online, it's possible cold showers have become part of your nightly routine. Ice-cold showers might be the cause of your insomnia though, which means it's time to weigh the pros and cons. 


Best Life advises everyone to take showers in moderate temperatures if you're planning to call it a night soon. Moreover, the Sleep Foundation reveals that immersing yourself in cold water isn't the smartest thing to do before bed since cold water raises levels of cortisol and norepinephrine. These are the hormones that keep you energetically awake and alert. If warm showers really aren't your thing, lukewarm showers might be the best compromise.

You took a nap earlier in the day

Taking naps in the afternoon or early evening before bed might possibly be the reason insomnia is hitting you so hard at night. Napping during the day can be incredibly tempting, but it can really throw you off track. The Mayo Clinic explains that short naps don't necessarily impact your sleep patterns, but lengthy naps can wholeheartedly interfere. A 20-minute nap won't ruin your night, but a three-hour nap just might. How can you refrain from taking a long nap in the middle of the day, though? 


Your best bet would be to arrange a wake-up call from a trusted ally, set an incredibly loud alarm, or avoid napping altogether. RES Sleep says power napping can ultimately do more harm than good. Napping during the day can contribute to the perpetual cycle of insomnia at night. It's best to save your sleepiness for bedtime, rather than giving in earlier in the day.

You dabbled with nicotine or alcohol before bed

People dealing with sleep issues might need to reevaluate their interest in substances such as nicotine and alcohol. If you socially enjoy a cocktail at a bar, your sleep health probably isn't too heavily impacted, but if you are regularly smoking packs of cigarettes and throwing back shots of liquor, there's a chance your sleep health might be suffering. After all, You Can Quit 2 says that nicotine is directly linked to restless nights. 


Although ditching nicotine might feel a challenge at first, it will ultimately lead you down the path of deep sleep and restful nights, if you're willing to cut the habit and fight back against addiction. Alcohol Rehab Guide notes that alcohol can greatly complicate sleep issues that already exist. You might remember a time when you got home from a night of drinking and fell asleep instantaneously. It's true that alcohol can help you fall asleep –– but you won't be achieving REM cycle sleep, which is the deepest sleep of all.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).