Insomina is not only caused by a stressful day or PTSD, as common media may lead you to believe. Seemingly menial factors like your daily diet and lifestyle may be the reasons you're not getting a good night's rest.

Carl E. Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. says:

"We know that certain foods that we consume can interfere with sleep. The most obvious one in terms of stimulating wakefulness would be caffeine, and then there's nicotine."

Indeed, experts recommend a thorough evaluation of your lifestyle habit and environment in order to address your poor sleeping patterns. Keep these tips in mind if you want to achieve good sleep hygiene:

  • Only go to bed when you are tired.
  • Set a regular schedule to get up in the morning, even on weekends.
  • Don't nap during the day.
  • Don't take caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine at night.
  • Don't perform highly engaging tasks like watching TV, eating, or reading in bed.
  • Set aside a special bedtime routine for each night.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise three hours before bedtime.
  • Get out of bed if you can't fall asleep

And here are a few food items to avoid if you want to sleep well.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine promotes wakefulness which makes it ideal for mornings but drinking it in the evenings should be abolished. Yet even though this is common knowledge, many people fall victim by unknowingly consuming foods that contain caffeine. This duly prompted the expert suggestion that it's usually not a late night cup of coffee that causes insomnia but unsuspected items like drinks and sweets.

2. Nicotine

Like caffeine, researchers report that nicotine is often a silent cause of insomnia. Therefore, smoking within a few hours of bedtime should be prohibited or better yet, stop smoking.

3. Alcohol

A common misconception is that a nightcap can help you sleep better. The tricky part of this concept is that although alcohol may initially act as a sedative, there'll be a "rebound" effect of wakefulness that lasts for even longer.

4. Spicy and Acidic Foods

Foods that have high acid content or that are too spicy can cause heartburn which is worsened by lying down, subsequently making sleep difficult to achieve. Furthermore, this heartburn is especially problematic for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux.

On a final note, it is important to stress on how exercise can greatly improve your sleep hygiene. Although exercising at night is contraindicated for good sleep hygiene, exercising in the daytime will stave off debilitating health conditions that can negatively interfere with sleep.

Overall, experts suggest you shouldn't exercise less than three hours before bedtime because exercise will keep you alert!