Why can't I fall asleep?

Why can’t I fall asleep?

This question has been asked increasingly during the last century. We’re busier, less active and more preoccupied.

With the dawn of the information age, we are increasingly surrounded by technology. With all of the great benefits that technology brings, there’s also a downside. Increasingly apps on our phones are demanding our attention, whether it’s a Whatsapp message, e-mail, facebook, instagram, twitter or a candy crush notification, we’re constantly bombarded by information. This might sound trivial, but think about how many times a day do you check your phone? Once you hear your cellphone ping, you can’t but resist to reach for it. Research has shown that on average users check their cellphones from 52-80 to times per day!

And yet, it does not feel that we’re doing it that often. We’ve conditioned ourselves to continuously checking our phones.

So what has this got to do with why we can’t sleep at night ?

Checking our phones provides a sense of instant gratification. App developers have been using this technique to get users to use their apps more frequently. Researchers at Harvard have found that this exploitation of the instant gratification loop is based on the release of dopamine. This means that we get a dopamine hit once we check our phones. If you’ve exercised, dopamine is those same endorphins you receive after a workout. They’re wonderful, but not good if you want to fall asleep. Dopamine creates a state of wakefulness instead of the sleepy state you want at night.

Dopamine is associated with wakefulness. Drugs that increase dopamine levels, such as cocaine and amphetamines, typically increase alertness.


Step 1, Reduce your dopamine levels when you want to fall asleep.

In the case of your cellphone, try to stop using your cellphone at least two hours before bedtime. This can be hard at first, but a gradual approach usually works well. Start off by not using a cellphone for a half-hour before going to bed, then gradually increase this time over the next couple of weeks. Another excellent tip is to not charge your cellphone in your bedroom. This prevents the impulse to ‘just quickly check your phone’.

Step 2, Increase your melatonin production

Your body produces melatonin to induce a sleepy state. As opposed to dopamine, serotonin is responsible for the production of melatonin in the body. Once you’re decreased your dopamine rush, serotonin can naturally produce melatonin.

Our bodies are conditioned to start producing melatonin once the sun sets. This is determined by the amount of darkness surrounding us, but due to artificial lighting, we are not being exposed to total darkness once the sun has set. This artificial lighting, street lights, TV/Computer screens, cellphones, any electonic/electrical device emitting light tricks our bodies into thinking that it is day time.

Scientists at Harvard University have determined the Blue light contained in the artificial light is particularly disturbing to our circadian rhythm.

At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.


The best way to kick start your melatonin production is to cut out all the artificial light when going to bed. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Invest in blackout curtains, switch off all electronics in your bedroom. A sleep mask can also help with cutting out artificial light. Sleep masks are portable and you can use it while you’re traveling or to catch a quick afternoon nap.

Although the sleep mask will cut out artificial light when going to bed, you’re exposed to blue light when working on your computer, using your cellphone, watching TV or just generally being under artificial light.

Night Swannies block the blue light to help your body regulate your circadian rhythm…

…leading to you getting the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had.

While Day Swannies block the blue all day long…

…leading to less eye strain and more productive days.

Not to mention, you’ll look pretty good in them too.

There are times when our bodies are not producing enough melatonin and we would need to supplement to kick start our natural production thereof. Using a supplement is an easy and convenient way to reap the benefits of melatonin, absorbed quickly into the bloodstream from under the tongue for fast-acting relief.

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