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

Answers to the top questions about cannabis extract

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating plant chemical that comes from hemp or marijuana. It is used to help reduce symptoms of many conditions, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, arthritis, diabetes, a muscle disorder called dystonia, seizures, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia. CBD is considered generally safe and well tolerated, though it’s not clear yet how much CBD is safe and for how long, or if it is safe specifically for older adults. CBD has some known side effects and drug interactions. (Locked) More »

Does exercising at night affect sleep?

New research suggests that people can exercise in the evening without it affecting their sleep as long as they avoid vigorous physical activity for at least one hour before bedtime. More »

Losing steam? Avoid these energy zappers

Lifestyle habits may be to blame for some daily fatigue. For example, eating too much processed food can increase inflammation, which impairs the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the molecule that delivers energy to cells throughout the body. Getting too little sleep or being too stressed out all the time can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which also reduces production of ATP. Eating a healthy diet, getting more sleep, and reducing stress can reduce fatigue. So can avoiding dehydration, exercising more, and staying socially connected. More »

Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help

Companies are promoting weighted blankets as a means of reducing anxiety and stress and helping people sleep. While evidence on the efficacy of these blankets is scarce, there are few risks in trying them. Weighted blankets and vests are in use by medical professionals to treat children with autism spectrum disorder and other behavioral disorders. People with certain medical problems should check with a doctor first. More »

Time-sensitive clues about cardiovascular risk

When a person’s behavior or environment is out of sync with their internal clock, it’s known as circadian misalignment. This phenomenon may explain why heart attack rates rise on Monday mornings and the week after daylight savings time begins. Certain habits such as late-night eating or light exposure into the wee hours can also throw the body’s natural rhythms out of whack, which may affect cardiovascular risk factors. (Locked) More »

Heart palpitations: Mostly harmless

Heart palpitations are common heart rhythm disturbances. Most often people experiencing them feel a sensation like the heart is flip-flopping, skipping beats, or racing. If someone experiences these symptoms alone it typically doesn’t signal a problem, but if they are persistent or are accompanied by dizziness, weakness, or fainting, they should be checked out by a doctor. (Locked) More »