Sleep Wrecker 2: Alcohol and Nightcaps
As a cause of sleep loss, this is often a surprise to people. Doesn't drinking make you drowsy? Isn't that why people have nightcaps? Isn't that why college parties always end with everyone passed out on the floor?
But the body's response to alcohol is more complicated than you might think. "Alcohol affects the rhythm of sleep," says Mindell. "It acts as a sedative at first, but then a few hours later when blood alcohol level drops, it will wake you up again."
To prevent your glass of wine from waking you up later, stop drinking two to three hours before bedtime.
Sleep Wrecker 3: Undiagnosed GERD
People who have GERD -- gastroesophageal reflux disorder -- often find the nights difficult. Once they're lying down, the acid can back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and pain. Some try to sleep propped up on pillows to cope.
" Acid reflux is a biggie when it comes to disturbed sleep," says Ronald Kramer, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and specialist at the Colorado Sleep Disorders Center in Englewood, Colo. "Whenever I see a person with sleep problems, I always screen for it."
What you might not know is that GERD doesn't always cause such dramatic symptoms. Some people might only have one constant symptom: disturbed sleep.
"Even if you rarely have pain, the acid can still be waking you up at night," says Kramer. GERD can cause other nondescript symptoms too, like chronic cough. If you have GERD that’s interrupting your sleep, getting treated for it is important. Not only will treatment help you sleep, but it will reduce the risk of serious health problems later.
Sleep Wrecker 4: Medicine, Vitamins, and Supplements
Some of the most common causes of disturbed sleep are in your medicine cabinet, but you might not suspect them at all. Common drugs, like steroids for asthma and beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart problems, can keep you up at night.