Beyond the obvious sleep-wreckers like bad hotel beds and booze, a lot of things stand between you and a good night’s rest. Here are seven surprising factors that keep you from catching a solid 8 hours a night.


1. You Pop B Vitamins at Night

Think of B vitamins as energizers: They help form red blood cells and assist in the process of making energy from the food you eat. When the vitamins are doing their job correctly, they also regulate your sleep schedule. If you take them at night, though, they can keep you up. Leafy green vegetables, beans, fish, and poultry are usually packed with B. But if you’re taking a supplement, make sure to pop it in the A.M.

2. She Comes, You Don’t

Sometimes sex sets you up perfectly for a good night’s sleep. After you do the deed, your body is relieved of stress, and your brain surges with oxytocin and serotonin, which have powerful sleep-inducing effects.

But Men’s Health sleep advisor W. Christopher Winter, M.D. says that recently, some of his patients have complained about one partner climaxing and then conking out before returning the favor. That could keep the other partner up.

Why? If you don’t quite get there, your blood is still flowing, there’s a buildup of pressure, and your brain is saying, ‘sex’—not ‘sleep’.

 3. You Read Non-Fiction

Stick to made-up stories before bed, advises sleep expert Michael Breus, M.D. Having a heated conversation prior to pillow-time is known to keep you up, but the same can go for what you’re reading. “Non-fiction—self-help books, books about finance—may be too much about yourself,” says Dr. Breus.

Emotional, absorbing topics can also keep you awake, he adds. With fiction, on some level you know what you’re reading is imaginary, which removes the emotional connection, he explains.

4. You Share Your Bed with Your Cat

A study from the Mayo Clinic recently found that 10 percent of patients reported their pets disturbing their sleep at night. Common annoyances included snoring, whimpering, wandering around the house, and begging to go outside. But Dr. Breus says that more than any other animal, cats seem to be the most disruptive.

“Dogs usually sleep through the night. Cats like to move around more and are much more nocturnal,” he says. Since you have to worry about more than just small paws walking on your face, keep your critter outside the bedroom to protect your shuteye.

5. Your Thermostat Is out of Whack

Temperature is a big factor not just for comfort, but for sleep quality. “Keep the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees,” Dr. Breus advises. “But don’t go below 65 or above 75—it disrupts the sleep cycle.”

During REM sleep, there’s no thermal regulation ability in your body, so your body heat drops. If you’re too cold, you shake and shiver to generate heat—and if that doesn’t work, you wake up (to move around and generate heat). When you’re too warm, you start sweating, lose water, become dehydrated, and get up in search of H2O, says Dr. Breus.

6. You Had Mexican for Dinner

Tacos, beans, and guacamole seemed like a great call at the Mexican joint, but they won’t do your nighttime routine any good. “Heartburn affects the quality of your sleep,” says Dr. Breus. But it’s not just the acidity that causes discomfort, says Gary W. Falk, M.D., a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

When you’re upright, gravity helps keep your food down. When you swallow, saliva also acts like a natural antacid, clearing your esophagus. But when you lie down in bed, you lose the gravity and no longer make saliva, Dr. Falk says.

If you’re going to go for Mexican, make it an early dinner. Recent research suggests that people who ate 6 hours before bed experienced significantly less reflux throughout the night compared with those who chowed down 2 hours before.