What Restless Sleep Mean & How to Deal With It

3 min

When most people are tired after the day and go to sleep, they hope they will get a quality night’s rest to wake up refreshed and full of energy for the day ahead. But this is not always happening. Restless sleep is a common experience in modern society. That is because our world requires us to stay stress-resistant and work hard regardless of what is happening.

Since 2019, the number of people struggling with sleep issues has greatly increased. Restrictions, isolation from friends and remote work have become challenging transitions for most people. As a result, some may notice an activity-filled night’s sleep that leaves them feeling tired and unfocused the next day. Restless sleep has several symptoms but usually means struggling with falling asleep, waking up multiple times at night, tossing and turning, and waking up feeling worse than before going to sleep.

If you have ever experienced this or it is a constant situation, this guide will help you find answers to why this happens, what restless sleep means and how to cope with it. Even though some experts have started to consider restless sleep as a “restless sleep disorder (RSD)”, it isn’t a recognised medical disorder.

Restless sleep can affect everyone regardless of age, life habits, sleep conditions and other factors. But you don’t need to struggle with it anymore. Let’s explore how to deal with it.

What Is Restless Sleep?

Restless sleep refers to a subjective experience, but is usually measured through poor sleep quality, nightly sleep disruption, tossing and turning, waking up several times and daytime impairment. Since restless sleep isn’t classified as a medical disorder yet, there are no drugs that can help with it.

However, in most cases, people just need to reconsider their pre-sleep routine and sleeping conditions to fight restless sleep. Restless sleep is usually defined as poor-quality sleep that disturbs nighttime rest and makes people feel tired in the morning.

What Causes Restless Sleep?

Restless sleep not only affects your morning energy but can also lead to increased appetite, less focus, mood swings and low productivity. But if it becomes chronic in nature, it can also cause diseases, negatively affecting health and wellness. Before diving into how to cope with restless sleep, let’s explore the most common causes:

Sleep Environment

Experts say that the ideal sleep environment is a little cold, dark and quiet. The ideal sleep environment is dark, quiet, and cool. That is why if your sleep conditions are noisy, light, uncomfortable bedding, heat, or extreme cold may limit a person’s ability to get a quality night’s rest.

Medical Condition

Even though restless sleep is usually caused by other reasons, some people having some medical conditions are more prone to have this sleeping issue. These conditions can be physical, mental, or emotional, and one of their symptoms can be restlessness at night.

These include:

  • Sleep apnea;
  • Insomnia;
  • Delayed sleep phase disorder;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Sleepwalking;
  • Pain.


Stress is another reason why you may experience restless sleep. A 2007 review published by the Behavioral Sleep Medicine journal found that people experiencing high-stress levels on a daily basis have higher chances of experiencing restless sleep.

That is because stress causes tension and racing thoughts, making it much harder for your body to relax and fall asleep. In addition, negative thoughts keep your brain active, limiting its ability to get quality sleep.


Exercising is great for energy. However, you should include your intensive exercises in your morning routine. Since exercising boosts energy, it may damage your ability to fall asleep. Even though you will probably feel tired after a workout, experts recommend exercising at least 4-5 hours before sleep.


Napping for less than 30 minutes during the day can help boost energy, improve focus and reduce fatigue. However, if you nap for longer and late in the evening, you may experience issues with falling asleep and staying asleep.

How to Deal with Restless Sleep

Create Cosy Sleeping Conditions

The first step you need to take when trying to fight restless sleep is organising cosy and comfortable sleeping conditions. This includes buying a high-quality pillow, bed, and mattress to help give your body a comfortable place to sleep. You can also make sure that the sleeping room is dark. Add aromatherapy oils and humidifiers into the room to make conditions even more comfortable.

Practice Relaxation Methods

Since one of the most popular causes of restless sleep is not being able to relax, you should practice relaxation methods to help your body and mind calm down. These techniques have been shown to reduce racing thoughts, physical and mental symptoms of anxiety and stress. For example, you can practice deep breathing, yoga, stretching, meditation and visualising.

Use Sleeping Apps

Sleep issues are common in modern life, so the digital market offers various applications designed to help people deal with restless sleep. A fall asleep app is crafted with easy-to-use tools that have been shown to help people relax and improve sleep quality. Other applications, like mesmerize app, include soothing psycho-acoustic music combined with uniquely hypnotic visuals and guided meditations designed to calm down, reduce tension and achieve a restful night’s sleep.

Turn off the Devices

While devices can be distracting with their notification, they also provide a light that confuses our circadian rhythm (inner clocks). That is why it is always best to run off all devices for at least one hour before going to bed, so you will be able to relax and easily fall asleep.

Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule

There are several factors that can negatively impact your sleep and inner clocks. Having a constituent sleep schedule helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up. In addition, following this schedule also helps in keeping your body relaxed and allows you to wake up refreshed.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet means having enough nutrients. Since most of us tend to eat snacks during the day, this may damage our sleep and overall health. In addition, it is recommended to eat a light dinner which will satisfy you yet won’t cause a heavy stomach.

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