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

Refueling your energy levels

Everyone has the occasional low-energy day, but constant fatigue can make people less mentally and physically active, and diminish overall quality of life. To fight fatigue and increase your energy level, eat healthier foods, exercise regularly and be sure to get enough quality sleep. However, if you have unusual fatigue, it can be an early warning of a serious illness and should be checked out by a doctor. (Locked) More »

Are drugstore sleep aids safe?

An occasional night of sleeplessness may warrant the use of an over-the-counter sleep medication or a sleep-promoting dietary supplement. Sleep medications that are available over the counter use antihistamines as their main active ingredient. They are generally safe, but there aren’t a lot of data about their long-term use. Dietary supplements that may promote sleep include chamomile, melatonin, and valerian root. There aren’t a lot of data about the safety and effectiveness of chamomile and valerian root. Melatonin can be taken safely for the long term. It is meant to shift the timing of one’s sleep cycle. (Locked) More »

How to sleep through the night

Men tend to spend more time in light sleep as they age, which makes it easier to wake up in the night and harder to fall back to sleep. While men can’t change this new sleep cycle, they can address issues that often disrupt their slumber and interfere with sleep quality. These include sleep apnea, nocturia (waking up to use the bathroom), restless leg syndrome, diet, and poor sleep habits. More »

Is fibromyalgia real?

Fibromyalgia is a misunderstood but real condition that experts believe may be caused when the brain essentially overreacts to external stimuli that would not typically cause pain. (Locked) More »

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 »