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 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 »

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 »

Beyond CPAP: Other options for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects over 18 million adults in the U.S., according to the National Sleep Foundation. The most common treatment recommended for this condition, which can range from mild to severe, is the CPAP machine. But because it can be bulky, loud, and uncomfortable to wear, most patients don't stick with it. Depending on numerous factors, though, there are some alternative treatments to CPAP. Some are more convenient, while others are more invasive. But before exploring sleep apnea treatment options, it's important to know the more about the condition itself. More »

5 Internet recommendations for joint pain: Do they work?

Some methods touted on the Internet to relieve arthritis pain may do little to help with joint problems, even though they seem sensible. Music therapy and meditation may provide temporary distractions to pain. Eating a high-fiber diet can help with loss of excess weight, which can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms in weight-bearing joints, but there’s no evidence it will reduce arthritis inflammation. Therapeutic massage can make sore muscles, tendons, and joints feel better, at least temporarily. Getting more sleep is important to overall health but probably won’t relieve arthritis pain. (Locked) More »

Is it time to consider using medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana use among older adults is increasing, especially to treat insomnia or pain. The term "medical marijuana" refers to either the dried flowers of the unprocessed marijuana plant, which contains hundreds of chemicals; or two specific chemicals of marijuana that are known to have medicinal properties: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces a high; cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce any sort of high or cognitive impairment. (Locked) More »

Can hot baths protect your heart?

A study published March 24, 2020, by the journal Heart found that people who took a daily warm or hot bath had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk of stroke, compared with people who didn’t take frequent tub baths. More »

In search of sleep

Many factors, including hot flashes, mood disorders, and sleep apnea, can disrupt sleep in women who are going through menopause. Getting treatment for chronic sleep problems is crucial to long-term health. Women who don’t get enough sleep may be at higher risk for a number of medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and dementia. More »