While it would be nice to blame insomnia on things we can't control, stress is the leading cause of insomnia. Many cases of insomnia also stem from lifestyle habits:

  • Caffeine: This is the most widely known cause of insomnia; if you are tossing and turning at night, start by tossing out the caffeine. An ingredient in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and some medications, caffeine is a stimulant and a nightmare for the sleep-deprived.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol is tricky. You may argue that liquor acts as a sedative and initially helps to induce sleep. However, alcohol actually lightens and fragments sleep, causing you to wake up as your body metabolizes it. Besides, read some alcohol facts. Turns out it's not so great for your brain, either.

  • Eating: Yes, you tend to feel sleepy after a heavy meal, but the trick's on you: heavy meals actually keep you awake as your digestive system puts in some overtime. Keep track of what you're eating before bed. Also, avoid spicy and fatty foods that cause heartburn, MSG (found most commonly in Chinese food), and foods that cause gas. If hunger bothers you at night, have cottage cheese, soy nuts, chicken, pumpkinseeds, milk, and turkey.

  • Smoking: If you won't listen to the American Lung Association, at least pay attention to the bags under your eyes. For the light sleeper, nicotine has to go. It's a stimulant that increases blood pressure, speeds up the heart rate, and stimulates brain activity. Of course, there's also the whole cancer thing. There's plenty of online "quit smoking" support groups, so join one and kick the habit.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise is a sleep promoter. But if you work out too close to bedtime, the increase in your heart rate and metabolism will make your body too excitable to sleep. So exercise in the late afternoon is ideal, because you then have time in the evening to settle down.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW cure your insomnia?