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

A good night’s sleep: Advice to take to heart

Sleeplessness can detract from productivity and quality of life. The hazards of poor sleep extend well beyond a cranky mood. Research shows that an irregular sleep pattern that varies from the seven- to nine-hour norm is linked to cardiovascular risks, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. (Locked) More »

Alzheimer’s wake-up call

Research has shown an association between poor sleep and a higher risk of accumulating beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain sweeps out excess amyloid proteins during slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep phase where memories are consolidated. It is still not clear if improving poor sleep or practicing good sleeping habits can protect against Alzheimer’s. Until more is known, experts suggest paying attention to sleep problems, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and nocturia (which causes people to wake up to use the bathroom). More »

Setting the stage for sounder sleep

Older people get less sleep than younger people, probably because they wake frequently and for longer periods during the night. To minimize wakefulness, follow bedtime rituals and schedules, make the bedroom quiet and comfortable, and avoid bright light, especially blue light from electronic devices. (Locked) More »

Learn the risks of sleep aids

There are many ways to get more sleep. One way is to stop eating, drinking, or exercising too close to bedtime. Another way is to limit napping to about 40 minutes in the middle of the day. People who have signs of sleep apnea, such as gasping for breath during sleep, should report the symptoms to a doctor. There really is such as thing as a sleep debt, and the amount of sleep that is lost takes the same amount to restore the debt. More »

What’s your sleep IQ?

There are many ways to get more sleep. One way is to stop eating, drinking, or exercising too close to bedtime. Another way is to limit napping to about 40 minutes in the middle of the day. People who have signs of sleep apnea, such as gasping for breath during sleep, should report the symptoms to a doctor. There really is such as thing as a sleep debt, and the amount of sleep that is lost takes the same amount to restore the debt. (Locked) More »

The finer points of acupuncture

The ancient practice of acupuncture has been used to help heal and manage ailments such as chronic pain, low back pain, and arthritis. The treatment involves inserting hair-thin needles into specific points on the body to help release energy that may be blocked because of illness or other imbalances. While the supporting research is ongoing and mixed, men may benefit from the treatment either by itself or as part of traditional pain therapy. (Locked) More »

How to reset your internal clock to combat jet lag

Jet lag, caused by a misalignment between the external environment and the body’s internal clock, is triggered by crossing several time zones. Adjusting sleep patterns days before the trip or fasting 12 to 16 hours before landing may minimize symptoms. (Locked) More »

Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea

There are many treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The gold standard in treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), but some people have trouble adjusting to a bulky CPAP mask. Other options to treat OSA include weight loss, sleeping against a wedge pillow, disposable nasal valves, an oral appliance, and surgery. The latest treatment is an implanted pacemaker that stimulates the tongue to tighten when a person breathes, keeping the tongue from blocking the airway. (Locked) More »

At-home testing for sleep apnea

Home sleep tests to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may reliably detect the disorder even if a sleep specialist is not involved. Marked by loud snoring and breathing lapses during sleep, OSA can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. More »