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Sleep & Rest: Why do I feel tired even after a good night's sleep?

Have you wondered why you wake up tired even after a good night's sleep? And you are probably on energy drinks the next day to keep you going? The reason is simple, your sleep doesn't give you rest. While rest can be achieved through sleep, sleep doesn't guarantee rest. 

But worry not, we have organised a read on how to go about this. Simple actions to help set you up for a restful night. 

In this article

  1. Basics about sleep and rest
  2. Why you are getting sleep without rest
  3. How to get better sleep

Basics about sleep and rest

Maslow's hierarchy indicates sleep as one of the physiological requirements of a human. Getting restful sleep according to the circadian rhythms enhances quality of life. Deficiency of restful sleep is associated with diseases and poor quality of life. It is therefore important to be sure your sleep is restful. 

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Why you are getting sleep without rest

The science of sleep allows us to fall asleep even when our minds are racing. Either through a circadian rhythm or the sleep wake homeostasis, with each hour a person is awake, pressure to sleep builds up. Hormones like melatonin are released in the evening which communicate sleepfulness to the body. 

The amount of melatonin peaks as the night gets darker and the person will eventually sleep. That is the science of sleep. It is in such a way that we will always have to fall asleep regardless of how we feel mentally.

However going deeper, there are detailed reasons as to why one might not get restful sleep. We will look at them here: 

Exposure to light

The retina of the human eye has specialized cells that are designed to process light and communicate to the brain cells about day and night. Bright light is processed and communicated to the brain as day time and therefore wakefulness or sleep that's not filled with rest. 

Sleep environment 

Restfulness in sleep can be affected by our sleep environment. Sleeping in an environment with loud sounds such as music, crying babies or racing cars has a great effect on the quality of sleep one gets.

Additionally can be the nature of our beddings. You might relate that on nights where your bed is covered with clean bedsheets, maybe white in color, you might be able to get more restful sleep than on nights where the bed is covered in unclean bed sheets. 


The other cause of lack of restful sleep could be the medication you are taking. In some instances, your Doctor might start you on medication without telling you what side effects it has. Some of the medications we take might have a great effect on the nature and quality of sleep we get.

These medications can include anti-depressants,anti-hypnotics, caffeine, ethanol, decongestant nasal sprays like pseudoephedrine and supplements of ginseng. This is why you should ask your Doctor what side effects your drugs might have on your normal body functionality. 

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What you eat especially as you draw closer to bedtime has a great effect on the nature and quality of sleep you get. Eating sugar rich foods such as carbohydrates, alcohol, juices and sugar itself have a degrading effect on the nature of sleep. 

This is because the body and gut system focus more on digesting this food than calming down for sleep. Such is how you get a whole night of sleep but without rest. The body has been digesting rather than calming down and resting. 

How to get better sleep 

As a person who is struggling getting restful nights, here are a few steps from sleep experts to help you maximize rest in your sleep:

Minimal light 

Adopt a culture of sleeping with minimal light distractions. Keep away your phone or laptop one hour before bed time and use dim lamp shades in your bedroom. 

Having minimal light will help you maximize rest when you sleep.

Monitor and change diet appropriately 

Choose lighter foods that are lesser in carbohydrates and sugars for dinner. Experts recommend foods like non starchy vegetables, lean protein and little carbohydrates. If you are having troubled rest in your sleep, try to change your diet and monitor how restful your sleep gets.

Manage stress and thoughts

In order to get restful sleep, try to manage your thoughts and stress levels. As earlier explained, the science of sleep will let us sleep even with stressed minds, the effect is you won't benefit from this sleep in terms of rest. This is why you need to manage stress for better sleep.

Meditation, yoga, talking to a colleague about your stress, looking after plants and pets, stress relief supplements, exercising and listening to calming sounds can all help manage stress. 

Improve sleep environment 

Use clean bedsheets, reduce noise and sound distractions in your bedroom. This will help maximize the rest you find in sleep. 

However, as established by research studies, sleep environment starts in your brain. Relaxing your brain is the first step in improving your sleeping environment. You can relax your brain by meditating, making peace with the day's Ls and listening to calming sounds. 

Also, if you believe in the power of nature, you can choose herbs that relax the brain.Research shows that there is a multiplier brain calming effect in herbs of ashwaganda, lavender and kava kava. Such herbs have been designed into capsules on the market. You can look out for some. 

Melatonin hormone, the sleep hormone too, has an effect on your brain’s calm. Eat fruits rich in melatonin prior to bed. You may also try melatonin rich dosage forms, either as a single component or as combinations. These are the best natural sleep aid products.

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If you are an alcohol lover, try to reduce the amount of alcohol you take as sleep hours approach. 

Patients on antidepressants should try to monitor tolerance and talk to their health care providers for help regarding their medication. 

Keeping away from caffeine and energy drinks containing the element has been shown to improve sleep quality. Try as much as you can to reduce caffeine especially as sleep hours approach. 

Take away

As we navigate the journey of trying to find restful nights, remember it's one step at a time. You can start with changing your beddings or your diet, you may start with optimising light in your bedroom or using a mind calming supplement. Whatever you start with, it's one major step towards restful nights.

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