5 Strange Reasons You Can’t Sleep

Sometimes the reason you’re tossing and turning at night is clear. Maybe you’re leading a huge meeting the next morning, or you ate a huge meal way too close to bedtime and feel too bloated to lie down.

Other times, the culprit for your insomnia isn’t quite as obvious. You hit the gym, had a great day at work, unwound for an hour or two before bed… And yet you’re left staring at the ceiling, mentally calculating how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you can force yourself to drift off now. Sound familiar? If so, one of these five sleep thieves may be to blame.

Your toothpaste is super-minty

The fresh scent of peppermint is invigorating—so much so that it may keep you up longer than you’d like. In one study, people who smelled peppermint oil while hanging out in a dark room for 11 minutes felt much less drowsy than those who smelled nothing. No one is suggesting not brushing your teeth before bed, but consider using a less-minty paste to make dozing off easier.

There’s a full moon

People actually cop about 20 fewer minutes of sleep when there’s a full moon, according to researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The study authors don’t know why, but say your body’s circadian clock may be tied at least partially to lunar cycles. Luckily, you only have to worry about this sleep disruptor once a month.

You have restless leg syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition characterized by an unpleasant urge to move your legs or walk around, and symptoms tend to peak at night or when you’re resting. But even after treating those symptoms, many RLS sufferers still have trouble sleeping, research from Johns Hopkins University shows.

That’s likely because most of the meds used to treat the disorder focus on regulating levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter thought to be responsible for the urges to move) but do little to lower levels of glutamate, a compound that can keep you awake. If you feel compelled to get out of bed frequently at night, or if you know you have RLS but still have trouble sleeping, consider seeing your doctor for treatment.

You take your multi at night

If your multivitamin pill has vitamin B12 in it, take it in the morning or early afternoon rather than before bed. The nutrient offers a quick energy boost, which can keep you up if you pop it too late at night.

Your pillow is the culprit

Two words: dust mites. If you aren’t cleaning and replacing your pillows regularly, they’re probably packed with the irritating little critters. Besides being gross to think about, dust mites are also one of the most common allergens out there. And research in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that people with allergies are about twice as likely as those without to have insomnia, probably because the symptoms of an allergy attack (such as congestion) make it hard to doze off.

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