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

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 »

Fighting fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom that can be caused by a whole host of factors, from medical conditions to stress and poor sleep. In order to ease ongoing fatigue, it’s important to investigate and treat the underlying cause. Fatigue that doesn’t respond to interventions or is severe or persistent should be brought to the attention of a doctor. It may be caused by a medical condition. More »

How do I improve the quality of my sleep?

Experts recommend an average of seven to nine hours of total sleep per night, but you also want your brain to reach a stage called deep sleep. During this stage, the brain creates and stores new memories, makes a hormone that helps tissues grow and regenerate, and "flushes out" toxins and waste products that have accumulated during the day. One can take several steps to improve sleep quality, including going to bed and waking up at the same time each day; avoiding mobile phone use, exercise, or caffeine intake too close to bedtime; and using a noise machine to increase deep sleep. (Locked) 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 »

Obesity is still on the rise among American adults

American adults are gaining weight, according to data from the CDC. The prevalence of obesity is still on the rise, and in 12 U.S. states, 35% of the population is now obese, compared with just six states in 2017 and nine states in 2018. More »

Worries on your mind

People who worried a lot about the future or repetitively thought about unchangeable past events were more likely to experience a significant decline in cognitive function and memory in a 2020 study. People with these negative thinking patterns also had more beta-amyloid and tau protein deposits in the brain, which can be a sign of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. It’s possible, study authors said, that these negative thinking patterns raise stress hormone levels, which may lead to changes in the brain. (Locked) More »