Sleep

One in five Americans sleeps less than six hours a night—a trend that can have serious personal health consequences. Sleep deprivation increases the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If you have trouble sleeping, the following strategies can help you get more sleep.

Check for underlying causes. Some conditions or medications may be interfering with your sleep patterns. Treating a condition or adjusting a medication may be all it takes to restore better sleep.

Practice good sleep hygiene. Use your bed for sleep and sex only, block as much noise and light as possible, go to bed and wake at the same times each day, and get out of bed if you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes.

Nap if needed. If you like to nap, get your daytime shut-eye in midday. Naps late in the day can interfere with sleep later. If your problem is difficulty getting to sleep at night, then not napping can make you sleepier at bedtime and more likely to stay asleep.

Exercise earlier, not later. Exercise stimulates the body and brain, so make sure you finish exercising at least three hours before turning in.

Watch your diet. stay away from foods that cause heartburn. Ban caffeine-rich food and drinks (chocolate, tea, coffee, soda) at least six hours before bedtime. Don't drink alcohol for at least two hours before bed.

See a sleep specialist. If your own efforts aren't working, you'll want the help of a sleep professional to both diagnose your problem and propose behavioral and possibly drug treatments.

Sleep Articles

Is it dementia or something else?

People often fear that memory lapses, such as forgetting your keys or people’s names, are related to dementia. But there are also many more benign reasons for forgetfulness. A lack of sleep, certain medications, or even stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to memory problems. People experiencing memory lapses should see their doctor to investigate potential causes. (Locked) More »

The highs and lows of medical cannabis

In recent years, more states have legalized medical cannabis, and more people have turned to it for help, especially older adults. There are different ways to take it, from smoking to eating to applying oil or cream. While the science behind its effectiveness continues to grow, people should consult their doctor and familiarize themselves with their state’s law to determine if medical cannabis is something they should explore. (Locked) More »

Music to your health

A favorite tune can stir up positive memories, boost mood, and create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Now science has found that listening to music can stimulate brain regions that change how people think and move. Used in specific ways, music can help people in various health-related areas, such as improving exercise performance, sleeping better, and coping with medical procedures. (Locked) More »

Will these surprising factors really raise your blood sugar?

The Internet contains many claims about factors that increase blood sugar. Some, however, just don’t hold up. For example, stress from sunburn pain, not drinking enough water, and using steroid nasal sprays will not make blood sugar spike. Likewise, it’s unclear if caffeinated coffee, artificial sweeteners, or gum disease will increase blood sugar. However, it is well established that some factors do raise blood sugar over time, such as overeating, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. (Locked) More »

Reset your schedule, reset your health

Changes in daily schedules can have a big effect on health. For example, an inconsistent sleep schedule can lead to insomnia and changes in metabolism and hunger. Schedule changes may also affect whether someone exercises or takes medication. It’s important to commit to a routine set of hours for sleeping and waking, eating, exercising, and working. Ideas for sticking to a schedule include tying medication doses to daily activities, such as teeth brushing, and keeping a food journal to track meal times. (Locked) More »

The beat goes on

Exercise can help lower a person’s resting heart rate, which ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute for most adults. But using an estimated target heart rate to gauge exercise intensity is not necessarily reliable. Instead of trying to reach an arbitrary number, people should exercise based on their perceived effort. Another metric to consider checking is heart rate recovery, which assesses how quickly the heart rate drops or recovers after intense exercise. (Locked) More »

What are the long-lasting effects of COVID-19?

Fewer people who get COVID-19 are dying, but not all of the survivors are recovering fully. Some people are left with evidence of injury to the heart and kidneys. It is too soon to know whether the damage is permanent and whether it will affect their level of function. And some people, called "COVID long-haulers," experience debilitating symptoms for many months after beating COVID-19. Symptoms include fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and trouble sleeping for many months after beating COVID-19. (Locked) More »

Dreaming of a good night’s rest

Sleep problems are an all-too-common reality for most older men. They often sleep less deeply and are more easily awakened. They also are more likely to suffer from conditions that affect sleep, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Adopting several lifestyle and behavioral changes can help men maintain a proper and healthy sleep cycle. More »

Is there a cure for my nightly snoring?

Snoring can be improved by making lifestyle changes. These include sleeping on the side instead of the back, avoiding alcohol or medications that may relax the airway muscles, and maintaining a healthy body weight. (Locked) More »