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Is it possible to be too tired to sleep? © Getty Images

Is it possible to be too tired to sleep?

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Asked by: Helen Collins, Manchester

It’s perfectly possible to feel tired and at the same time have trouble dropping off. Certain life stresses and health problems can leave us feeling exhausted, but at the same time make it difficult to relax and get to sleep. Also, missing out on sleep can disrupt our natural rhythms, which can make us feel wide awake when we’d usually be sleeping.

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Finally, caregivers sometimes refer to their infants as being ‘too tired to sleep’. This happens when the baby has been awake for longer than their little bodies can cope with, resulting in stress and difficulties settling.

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Authors

Alice is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published two popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018 and Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow, 2019). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.

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