Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. Almost everyone has gone through nights where they can’t seem to get the kind of sleep they want or they had when they were babies. Between the amount of coffee we consume to the stresses of our professional and personal lives to conditions out of our control (e.g. noisy neighbors), it’s just something people in our society have had to learn to live with.
If you’re having trouble sinking into a restful slumber and aren’t really suffering from the usual suspects (caffeine and stress), you might want to look at the possibility that it’s any of these five potential culprits:
1. Medicines and Supplements
They may not sound like the kind of things that can cause trouble for your sleep, but those medicines, vitamins and supplements you take for various health concerns can really mess up the quality of your night time respite.
Sad but true. The steroids you take to alleviate asthma, for instance, can keep you up for hours past bedtime. Same with the beta blockers the doctor prescribed to regulate your blood pressure.
Common supplement ingredients like ginseng and guarana are heavy stimulants, while vitamins B6 and B12 can give people disruptive dreams that may result in cutting your sleep short. This doesn’t even mention the caffeine that find their way into many OTC medicine and supplements.
It may not look obvious because a lot of alcohol will tend to leave people plastered and longing for their snooze. Beer parties end with everyone knocked out on the floor and drunk people are always in danger of falling asleep when they’re at the wheel. Alcohol’s effect on the body is not as simple.
At first, those four glasses of wine, three bottles of Bud, or two shots of whiskey might act as a sedative, lulling your body into sleep. Once blood alcohol level drops in a couple of hours, however, chances are high that you’re going to wake up again in the middle of the night.
What’s worse is, alcohol can wreak havoc on your REM sleep, the deepest stage of sleep where dreams take place. Basically, alcohol will cut the time spent in that stage, which could leave you restless and forgetful.
3. Fluids/water at Bedtime
Water is good. Not just good, in fact, but necessary for a healthy life. As such, there’s genuine wisdom in encouraging people to consume as much of it as they can keep down day after day. But, having too much of the good stuff at night can result in multiple interruptions in your sleep cycle, requiring you to take bathroom breaks at inopportune hours of the night.
Don’t worry, you can still drink water throughout the day just avoid drinking any fluids an hour and a half before you plan to get some sleep.
4. Spicy Foods
As a rule, spicy food are stimulants. They will stimulate your circulation and raise your body’s overall temperature, consequently causing plenty of discomfort during the night. They’re also believed to be partial stimulants, increasing the acuity of various senses that lead to an awakening effect. Spicy food lovers need not abstain, though simply consume your jalapeno burrito, chili bowl, or spaghetti at least three hours before hitting the sack, and you should be fine.
5. Aged and Fermented Foods
If you’re a fan of aged and fermented food items (aged cheese, cured and smoked meats and fish, etc.), then it is a good idea to avoid their consumption shortly before bedtime. Such food items can stimulate the brain, firing up your mind and keeping it racing throughout the night, even while you try to catch some much needed rest.