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

5 steps to long-lasting independent living

Older adults who want to continue to live independently need to focus on five areas of their health that can ensure their continued well-being and, ultimately, the preservation of their lifestyle. These five areas are staying mentally engaged, being active, sleeping well, eating right, and being current with health exams. (Locked) More »

The far-reaching effects of a little bit of weight loss

Losing 5% of one’s total body weight can result in clinically significant physiologic changes. For example, losing a little weight can reduce heartburn, knee pain, blood pressure, and diabetes risk. Losing 5% of one’s body weight may also lead to better sexual function, more restorative sleep, extra energy, and more self-esteem. To reach a 5% reduction in total body weight, it helps to exercise; eat a healthy diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds; and get enough sleep. (Locked) More »

Top 7 reasons you have a headache

Migraine, tension, and cluster headaches can have many triggers. For example, stress can cause tight muscles in the shoulders and neck, which often leads to tension headaches; hunger can trigger a migraine or tension headache; and something in the environment may trigger a cluster headache. Understanding headache triggers can help people avoid headaches in the future. Keeping a diary to note the day, time, symptoms, and circumstances surrounding a headache may help; so can living a healthy lifestyle. (Locked) More »

Tips to keep lost weight off in the New Year

Maintaining weight loss can be more challenging than losing it in the first place. This is the case because your body drives you to store more fat. Unless you address that underlying regulatory problem, you will likely regain the weight. Some common causes of the underlying metabolic problems are stress, poor sleep, or medication. (Locked) More »

Are you getting enough sleep?

People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep nightly face a higher risk of heart disease, as well as other, often co-occurring conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Strategies such as avoiding bright lights at night and only getting into bed when drowsy may help. People with insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which teaches people to change the unproductive thinking patterns and habits that get in the way of a good night’s sleep. More »

Is your CPAP machine making you sick?

Using a dirty continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system can lead to illness. Germs can grow in the mask or in the water reservoir in the CPAP pump. Cleaning the CPAP system regularly will help reduce illness risks. The CPAP mask, water chamber, and tubing should be washed with hot, soapy water every morning. The CPAP headgear and filter should be washed once a week. There are also two types of machines that automatically sanitize CPAP components at the touch of a button. (Locked) More »