If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a whopping one in three American adults aren’t getting enough shut-eye.
So why is America so sleepy? Sometimes the stress and anxiety of everyday life—like work, family and social obligations—can get in the way of a restful night’s snooze. Other times, lack of sleep may be due to something a little simpler. Here are five surprising sleep thieves—and what to do about them.
You indulge in screen time right before bed. Do you check your Facebook before bed? Watch TV? Catch up on email? Whether you’re using your phone, television or laptop, the harsh blue light from the screen stimulates your brain, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep. Turn off your tech at least 30 minutes before bedtime to help your mind switch to sleep mode.
You get your caffeine fix too late in the day. We all feel a natural dip in energy in the afternoon, which may be a sign that it’s time for coffee. If you sip too late, though, it may affect your ability to sleep later. Caffeine stays in your system for six hours or longer, so avoid drinking coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages (like soda) four to six hours before bed.
You went out for happy hour. Sure, drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep, but your sleep quality will suffer. Booze before bed blocks REM sleep. It may also cause you to wake up often in the middle of the night. Adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain, increases when you imbibe, which causes drowsiness, but subsides soon after you fall asleep, triggering you to wake up. Here are other myths about alcohol you should promptly ignore.
You eat heavy or spicy foods at night. Eating a heavy or spicy meal can cause discomfort from indigestion, which can keep you up. If you get hit with a late-night craving, opt for a sleep-inducing snack like whole grain bread with a nut butter or a bowl of oatmeal.
Your bedroom is not conducive to sleep. Is the temperature of your room too hot or too cold? Are there disruptive noises, lights, or bedfellows nearby? For optimal sleep, your bedroom needs to be cool, comfortable, and quiet. Use earplugs and an eye mask to block unwanted disturbances.
Occasional sleeplessness is normal. If you’ve tried these tips and you’re still not getting adequate sleep, check with your doctor.