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

How to overcome grief’s health-damaging effects

Grieving over the death of a spouse, friend, or family member exposes people to many months of constant stress that can lead to anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and general aches and pains. This can place people at a greater risk for a heart attack, stroke, or even death, especially in the first few months of losing someone. Adopting several mind-body strategies designed to help lower and manage stress can help people get through the grieving process. (Locked) More »

Is your pillow hurting your health?

Pillows are useful tools for comfort and positioning. The right sleeping position can help stave off symptoms of heartburn and some conditions that cause dizziness. But pillows can cause harm if they provide too much or too little support, leading to back or neck pain. And pillows can’t eliminate health problems such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea—even though some pillows are marketed as solutions to snoring and sleep disorders. The only way to address sleep disorders is to talk to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. More »

Recharge your sexual energy

Men’s sexual drive can stay high late in life, but often their energy for sex gradually diminishes because of low testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction, poor sleep, or lack of exercise. Addressing these issues with their doctor and communicating with their partner to find mutual satisfaction can lead to increased sexual energy and intimacy. More »

Positive outlook may mean better sleep

People who feel they have more meaning and purpose in life have fewer sleep problems. The connection could work two ways: people who feel good about their lives tend to be more proactive about maintaining good health, which is linked to better sleep, and people who battle issues that lower one’s outlook on life, like depression and heart disease, tend to have more sleeping problems. More »

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 »

The health hazards of insufficient sleep

Sleep experts say we should get at least seven hours of slumber each night. But as many as one in three Americans routinely sleeps for less than six hours—a trend that can have serious health ramifications. A single night of poor sleep can leave you feeling cranky and unmotivated. You may be too tired to work efficiently, to exercise, or to eat healthfully. And over time, continued sleep deprivation raises the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Insufficient sleep can also leave you more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. There's even some evidence that insufficient sleep makes your more prone to the common cold if you're exposed to the cold virus. More »