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Dr. Janet Kennedy talks about the common habits that cause trouble sleeping, like smoking or coffee.
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Hi, I'm Janet Kennedy. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City. You can find out more about me and my work on my website, nycsleepdoctor.com. If you're having trouble sleeping, it's a good idea to look at your habits and the things that you're doing all day long that might be interfering with your sleep. There's all kinds of things that we do unknowingly that can compromise the quality of our sleep. There are three main culprits when it comes to habits. The first is caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to be beneficial in some ways, but it is important to limit it because it can really interfere with your sleep. Even if you're able to fall asleep at night after having a caffeinated drink, it might be compromising the quality of your sleep because caffeine is a stimulant and it changes the structure of your sleep so that you're not getting into the deep sleep stages that make you feel refreshed in the morning. It also takes longer than you think to metabolize caffeine, so it's in your system for several hours, and as you get older, that can take even longer. A good rule of thumb is limiting it after 4 p.m., and if you're still having trouble, try cutting back even more. The next one is smoking, and there are a million good reasons to quit smoking this is another one. Nicotine is a stimulant, and it will change the sleep structure just like caffeine. Nicotine also causes withdrawal when you don't have it for a long time. Nighttime is the longest stretch of the day when you're not having a smoke, so you're body is going to wake you up when you're in withdrawal, and having a smoke in the middle of the night is not a good solution, because again, you're stimulating your body with the nicotine. Alcohol is another one, and although alcohol makes your sleepy, it does also change the structure of your sleep. It causes you to wake up sooner than you otherwise would, and it keeps you from getting the deep sleep that you would normally want. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so you're going to have to go to the bathroom more frequently than you otherwise would, even with another kind of liquid. So, trying to keep those three habits under control can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.