And you know the obvious behaviors that can throw your circadian rhythm in a tizzy: no caffeine after 3p.m., avoid late-night spicy foods if you don’t want to be up with indigestion, and kick the blanket-hogging dog out of the bed.
But if you’re practicing good sleep hygiene and still tossing and turning at night (or feel exhausted every. single. morning.) one of these other factors could be robbing you of rest.
1. You don’t keep a regular bedtime
You’re up until 2a.m. one night, so you tuck in the following night at 8:30p.m. hoping to catch up, right? Bad idea, says Breus: “You’re messing with your circadian rhythm, which can leave you feeling wired and tired. And when we can’t fall asleep we get annoyed, which adds to arousal.” Worse yet: A brand new study in the Journal of Clinical Enocrinology & Metabolism found that even “routine” sleeping habit changes (like waking up earlier on the week days for work and sleeping in on the weekends) can put you at risk for metabolic issues ranging from diabetes to heart disease.
Always try to go to bed within 30 minutes of your normal bedtime to stay on schedule, even if you only got a few hours the night before.
2. You’re snacking wrong
Going to bed hungry can keep you up—but so can grabbing the wrong late-night grub. Packing on the protein (as in, munching on all the leftover steak from dinner) can make you feel more alert. Pick something that’s easy to digest, like a bowl of cereal, says sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D. “The ideal sleep snack has around 250 calories and is 80 percent carbs and 20 percent protein.” For a sleepy boost, pick tart cherries (which have sleep-enhancing melatonin) or kiwis, which have a high serotonin content and can help regulate your sleep cycle.
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