Want a Good Night's Sleep? Avoid These 5 Things

If you have primary insomnia, that is, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and it's not due to a medical problem, it is quite possible that one of your routine habits is to blame. Eating big dinners, drinking alcoholic beverages, sleeping in a hot room, exercising late in the day, and smoking cigarettes can all prevent you from getting a good night's sleep. Change these habits, and you may begin enjoying more and better quality sleep.

Although alcohol may relax you and make you feel drowsy so that you fall asleep more easily, it also prevents you from reaching the deeper stage of sleep, known as REM sleep. When you're not in the REM stage of sleep, you wake up easily and perhaps often throughout the night. Even if you do sleep through the night, you may not feel rested when you get up. If you can't avoid drinking alcohol altogether, drinking less and drinking earlier in the evening may help you sleep better.

Like any stimulants, food and beverages that contain caffeine can keep you awake at night. Caffeine stays in your body for at least 4 to 6 and as many as 12 hours, so that cup of coffee you drank after dinner, or maybe even as early as three in the afternoon, could be the reason you're still up at midnight.

Extreme Temperatures
Sleep hygiene, a term that simply means the conditions under which you sleep, plays an important role in the quality of your z's. A room that is uncomfortably warm or cold can prevent you from falling asleep and can also cause you to wake up time and again throughout the night. Try to maintain a consistently dark, cool, and comfortable sleep environment.

Heavy Meals
A large meal, especially if you eat it late at night, stimulates your digestive tract at a time when you want your body processes to slow down. Lying down too soon after a meal can also cause food to back up and result in heartburn or discomfort from indigestion. Drinking water or other fluids with a late-night meal can also disrupt sleep if you to have to get up and use the bathroom during the night.

If you smoke, you're likely to be a light sleeper to begin with. Being a smoker also makes you susceptible to early risings as your body begins to suffer from nicotine withdrawal.

Other activities that can keep you awake at night include routinely taking antihistamines or other medications that potentially reduce the quality of your sleep, taking your troubles to bed with you, sleeping with a restless partner or pet, exercising too close to bedtime, or simply going to bed too early. Since chronic insomnia can affect your physical and mental health, as well as your personal and professional relationships, it's important to do whatever you can to control the conditions that prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.



National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Web. 9 September 2011

National Sleep Foundation: Can't Sleep? What to Know About Insomnia. Web. 9 September 2011.

Smith, et. al.; "Insomnia Management"; The University of Louisiana at M0nroe College of Pharmacy. Insomnia Series, P1. July 2008. Web. 9 September 2011