Sleep Disasters: 13 Habits That Are Keeping You Awake at Night

Sleep is essential for your health and daily performance, but certain habits may be interfering with your ability to sleep well. If you find yourself struggling to get a good night’s rest, it might be because of some habits you may not even be aware of. In this list, we discuss 15 habits that could be keeping you awake at night and provide tips on how to adjust your routine for better sleep. By making small changes to your daily habits, you can improve the quality of your sleep and feel more rested and refreshed each morning.

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#1 Excessive Screen Time

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The blue light emitted from electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, or computers close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle. This blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime, suppressing the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals sleepiness. The combination of blue light exposure and mental stimulation from these devices can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

#2 Irregular Sleep Schedule

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Going to bed and waking up at inconsistent times throws off your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm. This internal clock regulates feelings of sleepiness and alertness throughout the day. When your sleep schedule is erratic, your body has a hard time knowing when to wind down and prepare for sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

#3 Caffeine Consumption

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Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, so consuming caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or soda in the late afternoon or evening can make it difficult to fall asleep or cause you to wake up frequently during the night.

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#4 Heavy Meals Before Bed

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Eating a large or heavy meal close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep in a few ways. First, a full stomach can cause discomfort and indigestion, making it difficult to get comfortable and stay asleep. Second, the digestive process can rev up your metabolism and keep your body working when it should be winding down for sleep. Spicy or acidic foods can also trigger heartburn or acid reflux, further disrupting your sleep quality.

#5 Alcohol Consumption

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Drinking alcohol before bed can disrupt your sleep in several ways. While it may initially help you fall asleep, alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle, reducing the quality of restorative REM sleep. This disruption often leads to waking up during the night and feeling less rested in the morning. Additionally, alcohol can exacerbate sleep disorders like sleep apnea and contribute to dehydration, further impacting sleep quality. For better sleep, it’s advisable to avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

#6 Stress and Anxiety

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Racing thoughts, worries, and feelings of anxiety can be a major barrier to sleep. When your mind is preoccupied with anxieties, it can be difficult to quiet your thoughts and relax enough to fall asleep. Stress can also trigger the release of hormones like cortisol that keep your body alert and awake.

#7 Excessive Napping

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Taking long naps during the day, especially in the late afternoon, can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Long naps can leave you feeling less tired in the evening, reducing your sleep drive. If you must nap, aim for a short power nap of 20-30 minutes earlier in the day to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep.

#8 Physical Activity

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Regular physical activity promotes better sleep, but not too close to bedtime. Engaging in moderate-intensity exercise during the day helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. However, exercising too close to bedtime can be stimulating and make it harder to wind down. Aim to finish your workouts at least a few hours before bedtime.

#9 Uncomfortable Sleep Environment

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Your sleep environment plays a significant role in sleep quality. A room that is too hot, too cold, too noisy, or brightly lit can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. The ideal sleep environment is cool, dark, quiet, and clutter-free. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to create a more sleep-conducive atmosphere.

#10 Using Your Bed for Non-Sleep Activities

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Your bed should be associated with sleep and relaxation. Using your bed for activities like working on your laptop, watching TV, or scrolling through social media can confuse your brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Reserve your bed for sleep and intimacy to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep.

#11 Sleeping with Pets

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Sharing a bed with pets can lead to sleep disturbances, especially if your pet is active or restless during the night. Movements such as shifting positions or getting up and down from the bed can disrupt your sleep and prevent you from entering deep, restorative sleep cycles. Additionally, pets can take up space and affect your sleeping posture.

#12 Using Nicotine Products

smoking cigarette

Nicotine, a stimulant found in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products, can interfere with sleep. Nicotine can disrupt sleep architecture, reducing deep sleep and REM sleep stages. The effects of nicotine can also last for several hours, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

#13 Unaddressed Sleep Disorders

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Certain medical conditions like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or insomnia can significantly impact your sleep quality. Sleep apnea involves pauses in breathing during sleep, while restless legs syndrome causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs. Insomnia is a general term for difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Disclaimer – This list is solely the author’s opinion based on research and publicly available information.

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