10 Sleep Stealers
Having trouble getting the shut-eye you need? The culprit may be right under your nose, as they say. See if any of these sleep inhibitors are what causes insomnia in your life.
1. Electronics. It’s almost impossible to get away from backlit screens and beeping gadgets in the home, but good sleep demands that you do. Turn off the TV and put your phone on silent an hour before bedtime, and resist the urge to bring your laptop into the bedroom for a little late-night shopping. Your teenagers should follow the same guidelines. (We actually recommend having your teen “park” their phone for the night somewhere besides their bedroom to prevent texting past bedtime.)
2. Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, and some are more sensitive to its effects than others. Try eliminating caffeinated beverages after mid-afternoon to avoid nighttime wakefulness.
3. Temperature. Is your bedroom too hot? Too cold? Try adjusting the temperature. Many fitful sleepers report resting best in a room a few degrees cooler than the normal daytime thermostat setting.
4. Daytime Napping. If you must grab a cat nap to get through the day, keep it under an hour and don’t nap after 3 pm.
5. Evening Exercise. While exercise in general contributes to better sleep, exercising too late in the day can actually disturb it. Try to wrap up your workout at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
6. Hunger or Fullness. Going to bed hungry can make falling asleep tough, but so can eating a full meal right before crashing. If you’re a hungry late in the evening, have a small snack, and make it something easily digestible, like bread or cereal.
7. Alcohol. That late night glass of wine may make you feel temporarily drowsy, but it actually works against allowing your body to settle into the deep sleep you need to feel fully rested. Treat it like caffeine and don’t imbibe after dinner.
8. Stress. Your mind needs to slow down in the couple of hours before bedtime, so avoid activities that induce stress in the evening. Instead, try a hot bath to relax before getting in your pjs.
9. Erratic Schedules. Going to bedtime at different times every night keeps your body’s internal clock confused. Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it.
10. Medications. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause insomnia. If you take a particular drug regularly, talk with your doctor to see if it may be part of your sleep problem.