5 Things You Do That Keep You From Sleeping

From having a boring diet to watching too much TV, there are plenty of reasons you’re not getting enough shut-eye.

Reasons why you're not getting enough sleep—besides a snoring bedside partner—range from not being in a stable relationship to having a boring diet. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Yesterday marked the start of National Sleep Awareness Week, the National Sleep Foundation’s annual campaign to tout the benefits of sleep. We already know why sleep is oh-so-wonderful, but the problem is most of us aren’t getting enough of it. According to new research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of US adults report getting less than seven hours of sleep; in DC, 25 percent of adults said they didn’t get sufficient sleep for more than 14 days in a 30-day period. So what’s keeping us all up at night? It could be one (or more) of these five things.

1) Your diet is too fatty.
Research published last year found that a high-fat diet reduced sleep quality in the study’s participants. Granted, said participants were rats, but the findings were still notable. The rats on a high-fat diet did sleep more, but in fitful stages. They were also likely to be sleepier during the day, a common characteristic observed in obese humans.

2) Your diet is boring.
There’s a reason nutrition experts recommend your plate be filled with the colors of the rainbow. A study published this month found that people who eat a large variety of foods sleep better. Researchers found that those who slept the least drank less tap water and ate less lycopene (found in red and orange foods) and total carbohydrates. But they also managed to consume the most calories in general.

3) There’s too much late-night TV happening.
If your kid is still bouncing off the walls late at night, consider how much time he’s spending in front of the TV before bed. A study published in Pediatrics this year suggests that children who have more screen time—time spent at the computer or watching TV—before bed fall asleep later. It’s likely that the longer someone’s brain is engaged, the harder it is to “turn it off” to fall asleep.

4) You don’t have a sleeping partner.
Research has shown that married couples tend to be in better health. A 2009 study also found that stable couples are more likely to have better sleep quality than singles, too. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that women who were single throughout the study or had lost or gained a partner were less likely to get a good night’s rest compared with women who were in a steady relationship. 

5) You had one too many glasses of wine with dinner.
Plenty of winos will blame their sleepiness on wine, but drinking alcohol actually causes us to have a restless night. Research published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that while alcohol helps us doze off more quickly, it makes for a worse second half of the night. More than one or two drinks can reduce our time spent in the REM stage, when most dreams occur and memories are stored.