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Lifestyle Choices That May Be Affecting Your Sleep

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You are not on any medications that interfere in sleep, and you do not have a medical or psychiatric condition that affects your quality of sleep.

So why are you having so much trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Certain lifestyle choices you may be making, such as having that cup of coffee at the end of the day, may be the cause of your insomnia.

Chemicals That Interfere With Sleep

Several different chemicals act as a stimulant, which can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Some products that act as stimulants are obvious, such as drinks and food that contain caffeine — tea, soda, coffee and chocolate — and nicotine products like cigarettes.

But alcohol can also act as a stimulant. Harvard Medical School noted that “after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.” So even though alcohol is a sedative, it can have negative effects on your sleep.

If you plan to use products with these chemicals, try limiting how much you use and when in the day. Harvard Medical School recommended stopping caffeine consumption four to six hours before going to bed, and stopping alcohol consumption three hours before going to bed. If drinking alcohol, limit the number of drinks to one to two a day.

Eating Too Much Late at Night

Eating a lot of food before going to bed may be the reason why you are not getting restful sleep. That large meal before bedtime may be affecting your sleep in two ways.

First, having too much food that late at night can make you feel uncomfortable when you are lying down. Second, late night eating may cause heartburn, in which food and acid flow up from the stomach into the esophagus.

So what should you do if you are hungry at night? Stick to lighter snacks instead of heavy ones, and avoid foods that have caused heartburn in the past. If possible, have dinner several hours before you plan to go to bed.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.