Lifestyle Factors and Insomnia

Certain substances and activities, including eating patterns, can contribute to insomnia. If you can't sleep, review the following lifestyle factors to see if one or more could be affecting you:

Alcohol is a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may disrupt your sleep later in the night.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most people, but excessive caffeine can cause insomnia. A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that people who drank 4 or more cups/cans of caffeinated drinks a day were more likely than those who drank 0 to 1 cups/cans daily to experience at least 1 symptom of insomnia at least a few nights each week.

Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as 8 hours, so the effects are long lasting. If you have insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.

Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop.

Heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can cause discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.

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