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Trouble Sleeping? 5 Things That Could Be Keeping You Awake

Updated on July 1, 2013
Dogs never have trouble falling asleep!
Dogs never have trouble falling asleep! | Source

The more involved our lives become, the harder it is to turn it off at bedtime in order to fall asleep. But did you know that having trouble sleeping might not be only because you're thinking too much? Take a look at the five things below to remove from your nightly routine when you just can't sleep.

Caffeine Can Affect Sleep

Caffeine would have to be the most obvious reason for keeping a person awake at night. If you roll out of bed longing for a coke or a cup of coffee to fuel your morning jets, then obviously it wouldn't be a great choice when you're trying to relax and get some sleep. You can find caffeine in coffee, tea, most dark sodas and energy drinks, and chocolate (including hot chocolate and chocolate milk).

"Caffeine can affect your sleep by keeping you awake longer," writes Elizabeth Scott, M.S. on About.com, "thereby shortening the amount of sleep you get, and giving you less time in the restorative stages of sleep, which takes a toll on your level of alertness the next day and overall health."

Aspirin Causes Insomnia

If caffeine is the most obvious, aspirin would have to be the least known in causing insomnia. Some believe it helps in getting a good night's rest, and it does. Temporarily.

"Aspirin, bromides, etc., taken for this purpose may seem to help for a time," Jack Stowe writes on Ezine Articles, "but their effect is to deaden the nerves, [so that] every dose taken makes the condition decidedly worse and finally they lose their effect altogether."

Read what Woman's World magazine said about it: "Aches and pains keeping you up? Skip aspirin, it can cause insomnia! Try 350 mg of muscle-relaxing magnesium instead."

You're probably already aware of the health benefits of taking aspirin. Even doctors advise certain patients to take one aspirin a day to help reduce the risk of heart attacks. But there's a conflicting issue: Should you take it at night, which helps prevent heart attacks? Or should you take it in the morning, which won't keep you up at night?

If you're taking it nightly, Bayer Low Dose might be a better option for insomniacs with heart conditions, but as always, consult with your doctor first.

Eating Before Bed Will Keep You Up

This one might seem strange, considering a lot of people want to take a nap after a big meal, but having dinner too late at night can "activate the digestive system and keep you up," according to WebMD.com.

WebMD says, "Do not eat or drink right before going to bed. Eating a late dinner or snacking before going to bed can activate the digestive system and keep you up. If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or heartburn, it is even more important to avoid eating and drinking right before bed since this can make your symptoms worse. In addition, excessive drinking prior to bed can overwhelm the bladder, requiring frequent visits to the bathroom."

Sugar Gives Energy, Not Rest

Too much sugar at night can have the same effect as too much caffeine. Because it gives a boost of energy, any sweet cravings should be eaten earlier, as it "will raise blood sugar and inibit sleep," Dr. Mercola writes on Mercola.com. He continues, "Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep."

Put Your Computer to Sleep Earlier

This section actually applies for all electronic use at night. In an article about late night computer gaming, Dr. Alexandre Rocha Abreu stated, by way of US News and World Report, "The computer screen tends to simulate sunlight, so even at night you can delay your sleep phase."

Not only so, Kansan.com's Mark Dent reports: "Recent studies by the British Sleep Council have shown that the prevalence of electronic devices in bedrooms causes [people] to take longer to fall asleep. Dr. Carole Guillaume, a staff physician at Watkins Memorial Health Center certified in family and sleep medicine, agreed with the study's results and said the subject has been studied several times. She said TVs, cell phones, computers, music players and other devices inhibit the ability to fall asleep for people of all ages, including college students, because they take away the transition time from the hectic pace of life to the sleep world."

In other words, if you want a good night's rest, cut out the snacks, the computer and TV, and dare I say it? Read a book. Not only will this cause your mind to become sharper over time, it will also help you to set aside the day's stresses and worries in order to relax and fall asleep.

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