Having Trouble Sleeping?

We've got expert shut-eye solutions to six surprising sleep wreckers that might be keeping you up at night.

From the WebMD Archives

Ah, the insomniac's plight: waking up with a hangover without having had a drop to drink. A poor night's sleep can have you starting your day feeling drained before your feet even hit the floor. Other mornings, you could swear you got a peaceful eight hours, yet your body tells a different story.

Too many of us are missing out on sweet dreams. Nearly one-third of Americans say they lie awake at least a few nights each week. Getting a poor night's sleep means more than just a bad day ahead. The quality of your sleep can harm your health long-term; sleep deprivation is linked to obesity and high blood pressure, poor concentration, and lack of energy for exercising, healthy eating, and leisure activities.

Why are we having a hard time catching the zzz's we need? Here are six surprising sleep wreckers that might be keeping you up at night.

Stress and Sleep

Who's stressed? Who isn't? Three in four U.S. adults say they felt moderate to high stress levels in the past month, according to a 2009 stress survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. Even teenagers find that school and family finances are stressing them out, with nearly half of teens polled saying their worries have gotten worse over the past year. The result? Many of us hit the sheets with our minds still churning, too wound up to sleep.

"No one sleeps well with worries," says Joyce Walsleban, RN, PhD, associate professor of medicine at NYU's School of Medicine. "They are too alerting. They will either keep you up or wake you up later on."

Stress hormones shoulder some of the blame. When you're stressed out, your adrenal glands release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which keep you amped up and struggling to snooze.

Completely eliminating stress and anxiety from your life isn't realistic. But learning how to place your worries up on a shelf for the night can help you manage them so they don't ruin your sleep. For starters, bar your work life -- a common cause of stress -- from your bedroom.

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