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

Is that mood change a sign of something more serious?

Mood-related symptoms can come and go in response to everyday stresses. If they occur for long periods, cause significant distress, or interfere with daily functioning, it’s an indication to seek help. Mood changes may be the result of a psychiatric disorder, a sleep disorder, a medication’s side effect, or changes in brain structures or chemical neurotransmitter systems. A significant mood change that lasts for more than a few weeks should be evaluated by a health care professional.   More »

How to kick the sleeping pill habit

When people who use risky sleeping pills are provided the right information, they are more likely to work with their doctors to taper off the medications and adopt safer methods to combat insomnia. (Locked) More »

Caffeine IQ: How much is too much?

A safe amount of caffeine intake each day is 200 to 300 milligrams (mg). More than 500-600 mg per day may increase the risk of negative side effects. Such side effects include insomnia, jitters, nervousness, dehydration, and irritability.  Stopping caffeine intake suddenly can cause headaches, which can be cured by another jolt of caffeine, but may result in a dependence on the compound. But not everyone is affected by caffeine the same way. There is a broad range for an individual’s limit of caffeine due to built-up tolerance as well as genetic differences in ability to break down caffeine. (Locked) More »

Insomnia or jittery nerves? Use tranquilizers with caution

The sedating medications called benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. They have fallen out of favor because they can cause falls in people with impaired balance or vision. They can be used for short periods for sleeplessness and anxiety, but only for two or three weeks at most. Long-term users may need to taper off these drugs gradually to prevent unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Alternatives are available that are just as effective and less risky. (Locked) More »