Does this situation sound familiar?
You lie in bed watching show after show because you can’t fall asleep. You finally pass out, only to wake up a few hours later and do it all again.
Insomnia is common. And though your inability to fall — and stay — sound asleep may seem like an futile battle, here are five scientifically vetted causes for your sleepless nights.
Spoiler: while you might have to opt out of nightcaps, at least you get to keep the carbs.
According to Timothy Roehrs, director of sleep disorder research at Henry Ford Hospital, alcohol has a “paradoxical” effect on your sleep. While a late night drink might help you get drowsy for bedtime, it could also be the reason you keep waking up during the night. Roehrs says your body breaks down alcohol quickly, and once it’s metabolized, it disrupts your sleep. Depending on your body and alcohol tolerance, the amount of time it takes for your drink to wake you differs.
While getting your daily physical activity in can help you sleep soundly at night, if you’re exercising too late in the day, it’s actually hurting you. Exercise stimulates your heart, brain and muscles while increasing your body temperature: all things you want to avoid before snoozing. It’s best to leave the workout for the morning, or at least more than three hours before you go to bed.
It’s no surprise that caffeine hinders sleep, but could you be consuming it without knowing? Your liver absorbs 75 percent of caffeine after eight hours, so your morning coffee is still A-OK. But caffeine is also hidden in chocolate products, dietary supplements and painkillers. Limiting caffeine in all forms to at least six hours before bed will help ensure a sounder slumber.
Exposure to darkness is a key factor in regulating your sleep pattern. Watching TV late at night, or sleeping with it on, poses a major risk to a good night’s rest. Light affects your hormones by stimulating a nerve pathway from your eyes to your brain, and changes body temperature and other functions that control tiredness. Need another reason to stop binge-watching before bedtime? One study showed a link between unnatural light cycles and depression.
High fat and high protein snacks
Looking for an excuse to eat more carbs? Science is on your side this time, because foods high in carbohydrates increase the level of tryptophan — a sleep-inducing hormone — in your blood. Foods high in fat and protein, on the other hand, are harder to digest and can interfere with your sleep.