7 Surprising Reasons You're Not Falling Asleep

by Leigh Weingus

I spend way too many nights tossing and turning.

Sometimes, something specific is keeping me up but other times I really have no idea why the hours are passing and I can't seem to fall asleep.

For the most part, I do everything right. I stop drinking coffee after 10 am, I don't watch TV before bed and I try not to check my email an hour before bedtime. I even have blackout shades in my room!

So, what gives? Well, sleep is a complex beast, and there's more to it than meets the eye.

Here are seven surprising reasons you're having a hard time falling asleep.


Honestly, there's nothing I love more than a nicely-sized chunk of dark chocolate after dinner. Plus, as far as desserts go, it's actually pretty healthy!

But a 2 ounce, 70 percent dark chocolate bar has 79 milligrams of caffeine (compared to an 8-ounce cup of coffee, which has 145 milligrams), according to SFGate.

In other words, there's not a lot of caffeine in dark chocolate, but it is worth seeing if sleep comes more easily when you cut out your midnight chocolate bar.

You sleep with your phone.

According to a 2015 report, 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones.

I know what you're thinking. You may sleep with your phone very close to you, but you're not looking at it! I hate to break it to you, but your mobile device is basically a little ball of stress.

Work emails, information about your ex and photos of people having fun without you are all at your fingertips. Get that thing very, very far away from your bed.

Your room is too hot.

Your toasty room may make you feel drowsy initially, but once you're under the covers it can be a recipe for a bad night of sleep.

If you have control over the temperature of your bedroom, try setting your thermostat below 70 degrees.

If not, try opening your window, using a fan or even investing in a temperature-controlled mattress pad (yes, those exist).

You're reading in bed.

Sure, reading in bed is usually better for you than watching TV in bed (that blue light is a b*tch).

But if you're reading a really good book that gets the wheels turning in your head, it can seriously disrupt your sleep. In other words, keep the murder mysteries in the living room. And if you really must read in bed, stick to a Russian novel.

Do your best to only use your bed for two things: sex and sleep.

Your toothpaste is giving you a jolt of energy.

You know that minty fresh toothpaste you use every night right before your head hits the pillow? It might be keeping you up.

There's some research that suggests mint stimulates our brains, which is great when you need to wake up in the morning... but not so great when you need to wind down at night.

If you have a feeling your toothpaste is to blame for your sleepless nights, consider switching to a less intense flavor or brushing a few hours before bed.

That glass of red wine.

I know, I know. Research shows one glass of wine every night is good for your heart and it makes you feel all drowsy and relaxed.

Let's clear something up here: While wine may make it easier for you to fall asleep at first, alcohol can lead to a less restful night overall.

You can still have your wine, just try to drink it a little earlier.

You don't have a bedtime.

What time do you go to bed -- 1o pm some nights, 1 am other nights, depending on what you have going on? Same.

We need to get it together. We're creatures of habit, so having a specific bedtime is important for your body's clock.

If you're really struggling with this one, try setting a "bedtime" alarm in the same way you set an alarm to wake up. You can only hit snooze so many times -- eventually you'll get into bed.

BRB, going to buy some new pajamas so I can celebrate the awesome night of sleep I'm going to get tonight.