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

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 »

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 »

Shorter sleep may cause dehydration

Adults who sleep only six hours per night may have a higher chance of waking up dehydrated, compared with those who sleep longer. Besides getting more sleep, drinking at least one full glass of water upon waking up can help. More »

Updated exercise guidelines showcase the benefits to your heart and beyond

The 2018 exercise guidelines say that even short bouts of activity lasting just a few minutes can count toward the recommended goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. The steepest drop in heart disease risk occurs at the lowest, initial levels of activity. In addition, a single bout of exercise seems to confer immediate benefits in four factors linked to heart health, including blood pressure, anxiety, insulin sensitivity, and sleep. More »

5-minute fixes for better health

Focusing on small ways to improve health may feel less daunting to some people than taking on big lifestyle changes. Ideas include doing five-minute bursts of a helpful activity. These include five minutes of exercising, meditating, removing fall hazards in the home, moisturizing the skin, watching an educational video about an unfamiliar subject, calling a friend, throwing out expired medications, removing a junk food item in the pantry, and tossing spoiled foods from the refrigerator. Another suggestion is to get five more minutes of sleep each night. More »

Drugstore sleep aids may bring more risks than benefits

Over-the-counter sleep aids are commonly used but may have side effects and risks, including daytime grogginess. They have also been associated with impaired thinking and memory loss. Improved sleep practices and even cognitive behavioral therapy are safer and more effective long-term strategies to address insomnia. More »

Strategies for sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, which often causes loud snoring and daytime sleepiness, is closely linked to cardiovascular problems. The gold standard treatment, called positive airway pressure, can be challenging for people to use. Tips for using the bedside machine may help people use the treatment more consistently. These include making sure the mask fits properly and treating nose, mouth, or throat discomfort caused by the treatment. (Locked) More »