Consuming large, heavy meals
Late-night eating might be a favorite pastime, but guess what? Your digestive tract was meant to be at rest when you sleep—not hard at work. In fact, the process of digestion (peristalsis) is at its lowest ebb during sleep, says Robert S. Rosenberg, MD, board-certified sleep medicine physician and author of The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety, so, when you just wolfed down a couple of tacos or slices of pizza, it’s not prepared to handle the volume. If you’re hungry before bedtime, a small amount of food may be helpful, suggests Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, but for those dealing with bladder control issues or prostate problems, avoid liquids after dinner time (or for five to six hours before bedtime). Doing so can decrease the need to get up and go to the bathroom, which often significantly disrupts sleep.
Knocking back a few drinks might make you feel sleepy, but later on, as in the early morning, it may trigger your sympathetic (fight or flight) system and make it near-impossible for you stay asleep, says Dr. Rosenberg. “It can also trigger disturbing dreams, as, at first, it suppresses dream sleep, but then you may develop increasingly vivid and disturbing dreams as the alcohol wears off.” This is sometimes referred to as REM rebound. It takes the average human body about one hour to digest one alcoholic beverage, says Dr. Breus, so if you have two glasses of wine with dinner, aim to enjoy your last sip by at least three hours before lights out. Here are some more innocent habits that are totally ruining your sleep quality.