Getting a Good Night's Sleep (Part 3 of 3) | HealthNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 16.04.2012

Getting the right sleep is crucial to both being well and feeling good. But, if you’re
having trouble sleeping, there are steps you can take today to make sleeping tonight easier.
Here’s Dr. Holly with more.
One way to find out how much sleep you really need is to let yourself sleep until you wake
up on your own...without an alarm clock. If you feel rested when you wake, you’ve found
your answer. But finding the reason why you’re having
trouble sleeping in the first place isn’t always as easy. Practicing what’s called
good sleep hygiene should be your first step. Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe
a set of simple steps to make sure you get a full night’s sleep. We’ll talk about
some of those steps now, and you can pause at any time to take notes. And, while some
of these suggestions may mean a little bit of a lifestyle tune up, the tradeoff can make
a world of difference. First, use your bed only for sleep and sex,
nothing else. Things like eating, and watching TV can make it harder to associate your bed
with sleep.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the afternoon or early evening. These are all
stimulants and they can keep you awake at night.
Exercise can help tire the body out, but it’s best to schedule your workouts at least three
hours before it’s time for bed. That gives your body time to cool down.
Design a regular, and relaxing bedtime routine. This will help you to unwind and it sends
a "signal" to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
Avoid the “jet lag” effect. Do your best to go to bed and wake up around the same time
every day to help reinforce your body's sleep—wake cycle.
Avoid exposure to bright light before bedtime and try taking a hot bath.
If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes or so of trying, don’t stay in bed tossing
and turning. Instead, try to do something relaxing like reading or listening to soothing
music. If you’ve taken these steps, but you’re
still having trouble sleeping, you should talk to your doctor. Usually they will recommend
a visit to a sleep lab or sleep center for formal testing. You’ll have to stay overnight
so the doctors there can monitor your heart, brain, and your breathing as you sleep.
Depending on the severity of your sleep disorder, you may be prescribed a medication. Like all
drugs, these new medications can trigger symptoms, like grogginess or slight changes in vision.
Ask your doctor to help decide what’s best for you.
The first are Over-the-counter medications, like antihistamines. These can make you drowsy
by working against the central nervous system. They're most effective for occasional sleepless
night. And, the more you take them, the less effective they actually become.
Benzodiazepine hypnotic medications are an older class of sleeping pills. They cause
drowsiness or headaches the next morning, at times and they can be very habit forming.
Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic medications are the newest class of sleeping pills. There’s
been a lot of publicity about these pills in recent years. They quiet the nervous system
and they have fewer side effects the next day. They’re only meant for short-term or
intermittent use. Some low doses of antidepressants may ease
insomnia, even if you don’t have depression. And some people also find relief with dietary
supplements like melatonin, valerian root, chamomile and kava. Again, it’s very important
to talk to your doctor about any of these supplements, because there are interactions
that could be dangerous.
Remember, sleep and treating sleeping problems is different for everyone. Use the tips you
learned here, and be patient… it may take some time as you figure out what works for
Now that we know the different types of sleeping problems, work with your doctor to determine
the next step you should take to get the rest you need.
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