Many people have had the unpleasant experience of being unable to sleep despite total exhaustion. If you are overtired, falling asleep or staying that way can be paradoxically difficult for many reasons. Stress, lack of proper nutrition and not taking good care of your body can all affect your sleeping patterns, especially when you are too tired.
It is important to understand why you are so tired to begin with. If you are going through a stressful time at work or in your life, your exhausted brain may seem unable to shut down and let you sleep. Being overtired as a result of stress is common, if you are experiencing emotional or mental trauma, you may temporarily lose the control to relax.
Fatigue can also lead to an inability to sleep because you are trying too hard. If you have ever experienced a night where you lay awake thinking, “I must go to sleep. Why can’t I sleep?” then you may be maintaining consciousness through your efforts to force yourself into sleep. This may also be related to anxiety over not getting enough sleep, knowing that you must get up in a few hours and need all the sleep you can manage.
In some situations where you are overtired, you are likely to have neglected to properly take care of your body. Even though you may not feel hungry or thirsty, lack of good, healthy food or sufficient hydration can be enough to keep you awake. If you are in a busy or stressful period, try to make sure you get a healthy dinner at the very least, and make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Stress on the body can lead to stress on the mind, which may in turn prevent you from sleeping when you most need it.
Many people who are too tired try to make up for it during the day by drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee. While this may get you through the day, it can actually be counterproductive as it can lose you another night of rest and leave you even more exhausted the next day. If you are overtired, try to stop drinking caffeine by the early afternoon, to make sure it will be out of your system by bedtime. Drink water or low-sugar, cold beverages to wake yourself up, if necessary.
Fatigue can also lead you to neglect good exercise habits. You can certainly get exhausted sitting at a computer all day, but this isn’t the same as fatigue caused by physical exertion. If your body is not maintaining an adequate rate of physical activity, it may not feel the need to shut down and rest even though you would very much like it to. Even if you are overtired, try taking a thirty minute walk after work or when you have time. Be sure not to do highly aerobic activity just before bedtime, however, as it can be counterproductive.
To help you sleep when you are overtired, give yourself time for focused relaxation before bedtime. Instead of flopping down with the television, try reading an old favorite book, doing some light yoga or meditation, or taking a long bath. Help set up your bedroom to be a sleep-inducing location by keeping it clean, uncluttered, and peaceful. Dairy products like milk are high in tryptophan, which can help make you sleepy. Making a cup of warm milk with a bit of cinnamon a nightly habit can be a great way to get calcium and help you fall asleep.