two women drinking coffee in cafe
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Drink Coffee After Dinner

It’s the caffeine. But you knew that when you ordered it, didn’t you? It was perfect with that apple pie -- but at 3 a.m., when you’re still awake? Not so much. Caffeine lurks in lots of places: tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and energy drinks. 

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brandy snifters
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Have a Nightcap

It’s called “nightcap” for a reason: It’s the perfect way to end the evening, right? Wrong. Alcohol delays and limits deep sleep, which is important for restfulness, memory, and other things your brain does. It can make you drowsy enough to fall asleep, but it often wakes you up just a few hours later.

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man working on laptop in bed
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Surf the Web

Any artificial light at night can be bad for sleep, but the “blue light” smartphones and computers glow with is particularly bad -- televisions, too. Shut down bright screens 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to get your body ready for snoozing.

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woman napping on sofa
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Take a Nap

It's a great way to catch up on a little shut-eye. But if you take one after 3 p.m., you can wreck your nighttime sleep. So, no naps and no coffee. A splash of cold water on your face or a brisk walk can get you moving again.

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man adjusting thermostat close up
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Turn up the Heat

You’ve probably noticed it’s harder to fall asleep when it’s hot. But did you know it can hurt the quality of your Zzz's, too? High humidity can make it even worse. Like so many other good things in life, if you want to get good rest, you gotta stay cool.

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man at refrigerator late at night
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Eat Before Bed

A little bit is probably fine. But a big meal or snack can super-charge your metabolism and speed up your brain, which can lead to indigestion and even nightmares. But it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. If you’re a midnight snacker, keep a diary of what happens when you eat late to see if it bothers you.

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senior woman taking pill close up
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Take Medication

If you’re supposed to take meds before bed, you should. But some prescription drugs can keep you from getting quality sleep, and certain over-the-counter medications are loaded with stimulants. Check with your doctor about what you’re taking and when before you change or stop any medication.

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woman in bed reaching for clock
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Sleep In

It may seem like a good way to catch up on rest, but it can mess with your sleep patterns. Keep regular hours, and you’ll probably snooze better and for longer stretches. Another good idea: Go for a run earlier in the day. Exercise can be a simple, healthy way to improve your shut-eye.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/24/2018 Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on June 24, 2018


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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research: “Alcohol and Sleep I: Effects on Normal Sleep.”

Harvard Health Publications: “Blue Light Has a Dark Side.”

Mayo Clinic: “Insomnia”

National Institutes of Health: “Effects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm,” “Opiates, Sleep, and Pain: The Adenosinergic Link.”

NIH MedlinePlus “Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep,” “Drugs, Herbs and Supplements.” “What Causes Nightmares?” “Seven Worst Sleep Habits.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on June 24, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.