What negatively impacts sleep? The insights

Heather Campbell
 min read

What negatively impacts sleep? Many things can prevent a good night’s sleep.

What negatively impacts sleep? InsightsThe most frequent wrongdoers are well-known in our daily life. Among the most common are coffee, certain painkillers, and decongestants.

Others include stress, drugs, menopause, menstrual cycle, chronic and psychological conditions, environment, and lifestyle.

Read on to learn more about each of these. After discussing those, we’ll also arm you with a number of sleep tips to help you sleep at night.

What negatively impacts sleep? The insights


Some lifestyle factors can deny a person the sleep they need. The most common lifestyle mistakes are large meals or excessive exercise just before bed. These habits can make it harder to fall asleep.

This may sound contradicting since daytime exercise improves sleep at night. Still, it is proven that intensive exercise at night can delay sleep onset for many reasons.

Suppose you don’t get enough sleep or don’t fall asleep early enough. In that case, you may overfill your daytime with activities and deny yourself the relaxation you need to fall asleep well.

Most people say that it is easier to fall asleep if they can relax before bed. Relaxing in a warm bath or having a warm, caffeine-free drink before bed can help.

In addition, the body temperature drops after a warm bath. This temperature drop also happens when you fall asleep. As a result, you might fool your body into thinking it will fall asleep soon.

Most likely for these two reasons, many people say they fall asleep more quickly after a hot bath.

What negatively impacts sleep? Alcohol

It’s known that alcohol is a sedative, making falling asleep easier. On the other hand, alcohol prevents deep sleep and REM sleep, allowing only the lighter phases of sleep.

In addition, people who often drink alcohol also tend to wake up in the middle of the night. This is the case when the effects of their alcoholic drink(s) wear off.

Menstrual cycle

The hormones of the menstrual cycle can also affect women’s sleep.

Progesterone is known to induce sleep. There are higher progesterone levels in the female body in the second half of their menstrual cycle. As a result, women can sleep better during this phase of their menstrual cycle.

In addition, many women report difficulty sleeping the night before this cycle begins.

This disruption may be caused by the drop in progesterone levels just before menstruation.


People who feel stressed usually spend less time in deep and REM sleep.

Many people report difficulty sleeping if, for example, they have recently lost a loved one, are going through a divorce, or are stressed at work.

What negatively impacts sleep? Drugs

Some commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications contain ingredients that can keep you awake.

These medications include decongestants, steroids, and other drugs containing caffeine to relieve headaches.

In addition, beta-blocker medications for the heart and high blood pressure can also make you struggle to fall asleep and cause more disruptions during the night.


Women in their late 40s and early 50s report more difficulty sleeping (mainly insomnia) than younger women.

These difficulties may be related to menopause because the progesterone levels are naturally lower.

Women in their menopause can also suffer from hot flashes. These symptoms can also cause sleep disturbances and other sleep issues.

Chronic conditions

People with asthma or chronic bronchitis also have more difficulty falling and staying asleep than healthy people. This is often caused by their breathing difficulties or their medications.

Other chronic, painful, or uncomfortable health issues can also cause sleep disruption. For example, arthritis, congestive heart failure, and sickle cell disease.

Psychological disorders

Several psychological disorders are known to be sleep disruptors. The most common are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Depression can lead to insomnia, while insomnia can also lead to depression. These psychological disorders will more likely disrupt REM sleep.

Psychological stress also hinders sleep, making falling or staying asleep more difficult.

What negatively impacts sleep? Environment

Your environment can also affect your sleep.

Clear your room of any potential sleep distractions like:

It can also be a big help to have a comfortable mattress and pillow.

Also, don’t forget about the quality of your bed structure, this can be a problem especially if you’re plus-size. Make sure to check out our other post What’s the best sturdy bed frame for obese person?

You should also sleep better if your room temperature is cool.


Many people are addicted to caffeine, which can be found in coffee, cola, or tea (being addicted to cola is a thing!!). They need it to wake them up or keep them awake.

But caffeine blocks the cell receptors that adenosine (a substance in the brain) uses to activate its sleep-inducing signals.

As a result, caffeine makes the body believe that it isn’t tired. It can take 6 to 8 hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off completely. For example, drinking a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can prevent you from falling asleep at night.


Nicotine is another chemical that can keep you up at night. It also leads to lighter sleep, and heavy smokers wake up too early because they need nicotine.

What negatively impacts sleep? Tips for sleeping well at night

Don’t exercise at the end of the day

Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, but no later than 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

Take a hot bath before bed

After getting out of the bath, the drop in body temperature can help you fall asleep. Bathing can also help you relax and therefore sleep better.

Don’t stay awake in bed

Do you find yourself still awake after more than 20 minutes in bed, or are you starting to feel anxious or worried? Then we recommend getting up to do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

If you feel anxious about not being able to sleep, it will only get harder to fall asleep.

What negatively impacts sleep? Avoid alcoholic drinks before bedtime

Having a sip of an alcoholic drink before bed can help you relax. But excessive alcohol use robs you of deep and REM sleep, causing you to stay in the lighter sleep phases.

Heavy drinking can also contribute to respiratory failure at night, even causing sleep apnea! People also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol have worn off.

Have a healthy sleeping environment

Eliminate anything that might keep you from sleeping in your bedroom, for example:

  • noise
  • bright lights
  • an uncomfortable bed
  • electronic devices
  • hot temperatures

You will sleep better if the room temperature is kept cool. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can contribute to a good night’s sleep. Having distractions like a TV, phone, or computer in the bedroom can keep you from falling asleep.

People with insomnia often look at the clock when they’re trying to fall asleep. Solve this problem by turning the clock face away, so you can’t worry about the time.

What negatively impacts sleep? Avoid large meals and late-night drinks

A light snack is acceptable, but a big meal can cause indigestion and meddle with your sleep.

Drinking too much at night can cause frequent waking to visit the bathroom.

Relax before bed

Don’t overload your day! It’s essential to have some time to relax. For example, relaxing activities like reading or listening to music should be part of your bedtime ritual.

Get good sun exposure

Daylight is essential to regulate your day/night cycle and create healthy sleep patterns. Try to get at least 45 minutes of natural sunlight a day. We recommend waking up with natural sunlight. If this isn’t possible, use very bright lights in the morning.

Sleep experts recommend getting an hour of sunlight in the morning and turning off the lights before bed, especially if you have trouble falling asleep.

What negatively impacts sleep? Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can be found in many products, like:

  • coffee
  • cola
  • some teas
  • chocolate

Its effects can take up to 8 hours to wear off completely. So that innocent cup of coffee in the late afternoon can prevent you from falling asleep at night.

Nicotine is also a stimulant that may prevent smokers from falling asleep. In addition, smokers often wake up too early in the morning because of a lack of nicotine.

Stick to a sleep schedule

Maintain a specific sleep schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Humans are creatures of habit, so it’s hard to adapt to changes in our sleep patterns.

Sleeping later on the weekend will not fully compensate for the lack of sleep during the week. It will also be more challenging to get up early on Monday morning.

What negatively impacts sleep? Don’t nap after 3pm

Naps can help compensate for sleep loss, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

What negatively impacts sleep? Conclusion

In this post, we discuss many things that can negatively affect your sleep, including:

  • your lifestyle and environment
  • psychological and chronic conditions
  • drugs, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol
  • menstruation and menopause
  • stress

Do you have continuous trouble falling or staying asleep? Or do you feel tired or unrefreshed during the day? Then you may have a sleep disorder even though you spend enough time in bed at night.

Even though we’ve provided many tips to help you get back your sleep, you should see an expert if your sleep issues continue. There is no need to struggle through this on your own.

Your family doctor or a sleep expert should be able to help you. It’s important to rule out any other health or psychiatric problems that may be affecting your sleep.

Related: What to do when you can’t fall asleep?

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More