Turning on the radio
A little background noise is sometimes the only way a person can fall asleep, hence the popularity of white noise machines and tracks, says Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, who’s been treating insomnia and sleep disorders for decades. And that sleep habit is generally fine but it depends on exactly what you’re listening to, he adds. There’s a big difference between sounds of ocean waves and a pop radio station. The former can help you lull you into dream land but sounds that are variable, involve talking, or playing fast music, may be too stimulating. He adds that for some people white noise isn’t helpful either, as they find it irritating. Falling asleep to sound is highly individual, but Dr. Buchfuhrer recommends going for something repetitive, soothing, soft, and as boring as possible. It’s not just the radio—here are 11 other “harmless” habits that can cause insomnia.
Reaching for a nightcap (of the alcoholic variety)
A glass of wine may be the most popular “sleep aid” around, but while booze may help you fall asleep faster, it will actually make your sleep worse through the night and over time, according to a recent study published in Alcohol. The problem is that it reduces quality sleep, disrupting the body’s natural homeostasis. “This may be part of why a hangover feels so awful,” Dr. Buchfuhrer explains. “The alcohol destroys sleep architecture, so while you may be spending plenty of time in bed you’re not getting much real rest, making you wake up groggy and tired.” Instead of drinking, try one of these healthy snacks shown to help insomnia.