What Causes Restlessness at Night?

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Getting a good night's sleep is essential to your well-being and overall health. If you get sufficient sleep, you can excel in your performance during your waking hours; you are mentally sharp, more productive and stress resistant.

Various factors, such as medical conditions, and your diet and lifestyle, influence the quality of your sleep. You may have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep or going back to sleep. Knowing what causes restlessness may help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is characterised by an uncomfortable sensation in your legs that tends to get worse at night. This neurological disorder causes itching, aching and tingling of your legs. When you lie down to go to sleep the discomfort tends to start as soon as you start feeling relaxed. It may force you to toss and turn and even get out of bed. According to the Help Guide website, the condition, which is more common in women, is caused by a chemical imbalance.


Exercising early in the day helps you sleep better at night. Exercising late in the day can leave you restless at night; you may have a hard time falling asleep. Exercise increases your body temperature, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, it can take six hours for your temperature to cool down to the point where the onset of sleep occurs. They recommend exercising early in the evening, at least three hours before bedtime.


According to The Better Sleep Council, 65 per cent of Americans lack sleep due to stress. High stress levels can bring on restlessness at night. Worrying about obligations and responsibilities associated with everyday life, whether it is your personal or professional life, influences your night's rest. Because stress increases your cortisol and adrenalin levels, you toss and turn and are unable to fall asleep. Reduce stress before bedtime; take a bath, listen to soft music or read a book.


Eating a large meal before bedtime can bring on acid reflux and heartburn when you try to sleep. This may result in problems falling asleep. Consuming caffeine from coffee, tea, certain sodas and chocolate can also leave you restless. Many people consume a cup of coffee in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, not knowing that by the time bedtime comes around, it may cause sleep problems. Alcohol can bring on sleep, but as soon as it wears off, you wake up. It also reduces the quality of the sleep you get, and upon waking up, you may still feel tired.

Insomnia and Depression

Insomnia and depression are both linked to restlessness. According to WebMD, people suffering from depression often suffer from insomnia and vice versa. They state that the combination of depression and insomnia is most likely caused by the brain chemical serotonin. You may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. During your waking hours, you may feel fatigued and tired due to the lack of sleep.


If a female is pregnant, going through menopause or menstruating, it affects her hormones and may result in restless nights. Pain from menstrual cramps can keep you up at night. Menopause and pre-menopause symptoms, such as sweating and hot flushes can also cause discomfort at night, keeping you from a good night's rest. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and wearing loose clothing at night can help reduce symptoms.