Alaska Sleep Education Center

Top 5 Habits That Interfere With Your Sleep

Posted by Sandra Manson on Aug 3, 2020 8:57:00 AM

Old Habits - New Habits signpost with forest background.

There is a close link between health and sleep. The vast majority of people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to feel functional and active during the day. Poor sleep affects the immune system, heart, the endocrine system, memory and can cause attentional issues. If you have noticed it’s difficult for you to fall asleep, look at things that you are doing all day long. There is a high possibility that one of these ‘harmless’ habits is the reason you can’t sleep properly. Read on to find out what habits can cause sleep problems and how to deal with them.


Caffeine is beneficial in many ways, but don’t forget it’s a stimulant, with all the attendant consequences. Every caffeinated drink you have might be compromising the quality of your sleep. Typically, caffeine doesn’t let to take a snooze. Still, there are a few people who may fall asleep right after having a cup of coffee. But the structure of their sleep would be different. Instead of a deep sleep, they get into the REM sleep, which can’t make them feel chipper in the morning. Also, it takes hours to metabolize caffeine. To make the night’s rest wholesome and refreshing, doctors advise not to drink coffee after 4 p.m. For older people, it’s necessary to cut it back even more.

Nicotine And Alcohol

Nicotine is another stimulant that works like caffeine. It changes sleep structure too. And besides, it causes withdrawal. How does it work? Night sleep takes time, on average, 7-8 hours.  And when the smoker doesn’t have nicotine dose for such a long time, his body wakes him up. If you have a smoke in the middle of the night, you will stimulate your body again. There are many reasons to quit smoking, and the ability to have a restful sleep is one of them.

As for alcohol, it can even help you to fall asleep faster. But what kind of rest would it be? The answer is troubling. The thing is alcoholic beverages won’t let you get into a deep sleep. It will wake you up because of their diuretic properties.

Nighttime Snacks

Sleeping and eating are not compatible. That’s why snacking close to bedtime is a bad idea. When we eat, our organism has to work on that food. The stomach produces a lot of acid in response causing uncomfortable feelings. As soon as we go to bed, the digestive system must go into the so-called “housecleaning” mode and sweep down all the remains of the undigested food. Snacks, before you go to bed, can interfere with that natural sequence of events. Ideally, you have to stop eating 3 hours before you go to sleep. It’s a time needed for the stomach to empty. This period can be longer if you take fatty food or alcohol.


The light of smartphones affects your sleep more than you think. Imagine you browse, trying to find that special someone. You might think it’s a good idea to do it while you lay in bed at night. In fact, the stream of photons from your smartphone’s screen penetrates your eyes, tells your brain it’s still daytime, and you need to stay awake. You check your mail or social media because you still lay in bed and can’t sleep. As a result, sleep duration gets shorter as people who have a habit of lying in bed with smartphones fall asleep at 1 a.m. Such sleep makes the attention falter, the memory impaired, metabolism turned upside down, and the ability to think through problems challenged.

Anxiety And Stress

Everyone has some degree of stress or anxiety in their lives.  Worry is necessary because it serves as a function. It helps us to solve problems and take care of tasks. But when worrying becomes excessive, it creeps into the ability to relax and causes insomnia. Moreover, insomnia itself can be stressful. People worry about falling asleep and can’t relax in their bed because of that worries. This is how anxiety, stress, and insomnia become a vicious cycle. The good news is you can improve the quality of sleep.

Try to get rid of thinking through your day when you already lay down and get ready to sleep. If you think about the day’s events in your bed every evening, your brain starts to associate sleepy time with worry time.  You have to retrain your brain to worry elsewhere, not before your sleep. Processing through emotions and concerns during the day is a good idea. Don’t keep your mind busy and distracted throughout the whole day. The thing is anxiety will pop up anyway, and it’s better if you deal with it when you are awake. Make a few minutes each day to worry on purpose and write down what makes you anxious. Then, separate the worries you can act on from just theories and philosophy, and try to take reasonable preventative measures. Plan your worries, care for it, and it won’t disturb you at night.


We all live in a culture of distraction where people look to their phones all day long. We have entertainment running when we are driving, exercising, and even eating. It’s not unusual for modern people to take their phones to the bathroom with them and look for a naughty date because two minutes of sitting there seem too boring. Every minute of the day is taken by the efforts to get distracted and entertained.

What happens when you finally have nothing else to distract yourself with? The brain makes you anxious about all the things you haven’t thought about during the day. Worries pop up at night and trigger the stress response that keeps you awake. So slow down during the day, spend some time away from your devices, and let your brain work on your plans and worries before you go to bed.


Millions of people suffer from sleep disorders in the modern world. Heavy workload during the day, the rapid pace of life, anxiety, unhealthy diet, and internet addiction are among the most frequent reasons that interfere with your sleep. Forewarned is forearmed. It’s in your power to make a positive difference.


Topics: sleep habits, sleep hygiene

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