It’s the caffeine. It was perfect with that apple pie. But at 3 a.m. when you’re still awake? Not so much. Caffeine lurks in lots of places like tea, chocolate, soda, and energy drinks.
A “nightcap” is the perfect way to end the evening, right? Wrong. Alcohol messes with deep sleep, which is important for restfulness, memory, and other things your brain does. It can make you drowsy enough to fall asleep, but it often wakes you up just a few hours later.
Artificial light at night can be bad for sleep. But the “blue light” on smartphones and computers is particularly bad -- televisions, too. Shut down bright screens 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to get your body ready for snoozing.
It's a great way to catch up on a little shut-eye. But if you take one after 3 p.m., it might affect you later on. So, no naps and no coffee. A splash of cold water on your face or a brisk walk can get you moving again.
You’ve probably noticed it’s harder to fall asleep when it’s hot. But did you know it can hurt your sleep quality, too? High humidity can make it even worse. Like so many other good things in life, if you want to get good rest, you gotta stay cool.
A little bit is probably fine. But a big meal or snack can supercharge your metabolism and speed up your brain, which could lead to indigestion and even nightmares. But it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. If you’re a midnight snacker, keep a diary of what happens when you eat late to see if it bothers you.
If you’re supposed to take meds before bed, you should. But some prescription drugs can keep you from getting quality sleep, and some over-the-counter medications are loaded with stimulants. Check with your doctor about what you’re taking and when before you change or stop any medication.
Exercise is usually good for your sleep. It can boost your mood, lessen anxiety, and wind you down at bedtime. It also helps set a regular pattern of going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day (circadian rhythm).
Though exercise is good for your sleep, exercising too close to bedtime can ruin it. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but if that sounds like you, try to finish up your workout at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
You’re more likely to have sleep problems if you have untreated mental health issues. It might be a condition like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Or it could be a difficult period in your life, like losing your job or partner. Whatever the cause, talk therapy, medication, or both might help. Ask your doctor what’s best for you.