If you or your spouse is having difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep during the night this information should help.
Poor sleep habits are not well understood and are often the cause of insomnia, not being able to stay asleep or awakening too early in the morning. Many Americans stay up too late and get up too early. Taking various kinds of drugs and chemicals (too much caffeine), working late, watching TV and other late evening or night activities overstimulate ourselves and result in sleep problems.
Suggestions that help most people fall asleep, sleep better and sleep longer.
Do not be one of those people who allows bedtime and awakening time to drift. The body "gets used" to falling asleep at a certain time, but only if this is relatively fixed. Even if you are retired or not working, this is an essential component of good sleeping habits.
If you nap throughout the day, it is no wonder that you will not be able to sleep at night. The late afternoon for most people is a "sleepy time." Many people will take a nap at that time. This is generally not a bad thing to do, provided you limit the nap to 30-45 minutes and can sleep well at night.
Many people believe that alcohol helps them sleep. While alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect, a few hours later as the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall, there is a stimulant or wake-up effect.
This includes caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate, so be careful.
These can affect your ability to stay asleep.
Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoon, can help deepen sleep. Strenuous exercise within the 2 hours before bedtime, however, can decrease your ability to fall asleep.
Uncomfortable bedding can prevent good sleep. Evaluate whether or not this is a source of your problem, and make appropriate changes.
If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, it can keep you awake. A cool (not cold) bedroom is often the most conducive to sleep.
, and eliminate as much light as possible.
Don't use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room. Let your body "know" that the bed is associated with sleeping.
Warm milk and foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as bananas, may help you to sleep.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing and others may help relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension.
Leave your worries about job, school, daily life, etc., behind when you go to bed. Problem solving or even thinking of disturbing things can keep you awake. If you must think of something pick relaxing and fun things to think about—even phantasies can help you sleep.
Pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can help you sleep.
If you don't fall asleep within 15-30 minutes, get up, go into another room, and read until sleepy.
Getting up in the middle of the night
Most people wake up one or two times a night for various reasons. If you find that you get up in the middle of night and cannot get back to sleep , then do not remain in the bed "trying hard" to sleep. Get out of bed. Leave the bedroom. Read, have a light snack, do some quiet activity, or take a bath. You will generally find that you can get back to sleep 20 minutes or so later. Do not perform challenging or engaging activity such as office work, housework, etc. Do not watch television.
Many people fall asleep with the television on in their room. Watching television before bedtime is often a bad idea. Television is a very engaging medium that tends to keep you up, particularly if the programming is stimulating.. Some people find that the radio or music helps them go to sleep.
Physical, psychological and medicinal factors
- Several physical factors are known to upset sleep. These include arthritis, acid reflux with heartburn, menstruation, headaches and hot flashes.
- Psychological and mental health problems like depression, anxiety and stress are often associated with sleeping difficulty. In many cases, difficulty staying asleep may be the only presenting sign of depression. A physician should be consulted about these issues to help determine the problem and the best treatment.
- Many medications can cause sleeplessness as a side effect. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications you are taking can lead to sleeplessness.
- To help overall improvement in sleep patterns, your doctor may prescribe sleep medications for short-term relief of a sleep problem. The decision to take sleeping aids is a medical one to be made in the context of your overall health picture.
Follow the advice of your physician and other healthcare professionals. The goal is to rediscover how to sleep naturally.
- For more information or to arrange for a sleep consultation for adults call 410-706-4771. For children, call 410-706-3285.
Primary Content source:
University of Maryland Medical Center