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

Fight chronic inflammation and cholesterol to protect your heart

High cholesterol and chronic inflammation together raise the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and related problems. Several approaches can fight both at the same time. One is eating a heart-healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins (fish and poultry), low-fat dairy foods, and olive oil. Another is controlling weight, since fat tissue triggers chronic inflammation. Other approaches include increasing physical activity and addressing sleep and stress issues. (Locked) More »

Optimize your exercise routine

People new to exercise should do it whenever they feel motivated and energized. Morning workouts may help people feel energized and creative and lead them to make more careful food choices throughout the day. But people’s joints and muscles may feel more limber in the afternoon, and an afternoon workout can provide a healthy, energizing substitute for a 3 p.m. snack. More »

Is it dementia or something else?

People often fear that memory lapses, such as forgetting your keys or people’s names, are related to dementia. But there are also many more benign reasons for forgetfulness. A lack of sleep, certain medications, or even stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to memory problems. People experiencing memory lapses should see their doctor to investigate potential causes. (Locked) More »

The highs and lows of medical cannabis

In recent years, more states have legalized medical cannabis, and more people have turned to it for help, especially older adults. There are different ways to take it, from smoking to eating to applying oil or cream. While the science behind its effectiveness continues to grow, people should consult their doctor and familiarize themselves with their state’s law to determine if medical cannabis is something they should explore. (Locked) More »

Music to your health

A favorite tune can stir up positive memories, boost mood, and create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Now science has found that listening to music can stimulate brain regions that change how people think and move. Used in specific ways, music can help people in various health-related areas, such as improving exercise performance, sleeping better, and coping with medical procedures. (Locked) More »

Will these surprising factors really raise your blood sugar?

The Internet contains many claims about factors that increase blood sugar. Some, however, just don’t hold up. For example, stress from sunburn pain, not drinking enough water, and using steroid nasal sprays will not make blood sugar spike. Likewise, it’s unclear if caffeinated coffee, artificial sweeteners, or gum disease will increase blood sugar. However, it is well established that some factors do raise blood sugar over time, such as overeating, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. (Locked) More »