5 Sleep Stealers to Avoid

by Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H. Medical Professional

Need Sleep?

Try to stay away from the following stimulants, which can contribute to poor-quality sleep.


Food, beverages, drugs, and supplements that contain caffeine can activate a part of the brain that causes you to feel alert.


Decongestants, diet pills, and other drugs that contain stimulants keep you awake.


Certain types of antidepressants can suppress REM sleep. Talk to your doctor about a different type if you’re having trouble sleeping.


Heavy smokers sleep lightly, have shorter REM periods than nonsmokers, and waken after three to four hours as they experience nicotine withdrawal.


Although a nightcap may lull you into light sleep, it prevents progression into deep and REM sleep stages.

Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.
Meet Our Writer
Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H., is a professor at the Erickson School of Aging of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and professor of psychiatry, part-time, and founding director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He previously held the Richman Family Chair at Johns Hopkins. He is also a member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Rabins received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and his degree in public health from Tulane University School of Public Health. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Oregon. Dr. Rabins has spent his career studying psychiatric disorders in the elderly. His current research includes identifying causes of dementia after age 85, frontotemporal lobar dementia, and autism in the elderly. Dr. Rabins has published extensively in such journals as The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. He founded the Peter Rabins Alzheimer’s Family Support Center at Johns Hopkins to provide practical information and support for caregivers.