Why You May Not Be Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep Steward Health Care

Ever wonder why you may not be getting a good night’s sleep? One of these conditions may be contributing to your lack of sleep.

Sleep Apnea

A serious sleep disorder, sleep apnea is characterized by snoring, interrupted breathing during sleep, excessive urination at night, headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness.  Sleep apnea is more often under diagnosed or misdiagnosed in women than in men.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

RLS, a neurological movement disorder that affects as many as 12 million Americans, is characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes, overwhelming urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily in the evening when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night.

Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleep problem. Women are more likely than men to report insomnia. Sometimes, women begin to have sleepless nights associated with menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause and find it difficult to break poor sleep habits. Fortunately, there are a number of approaches to eliminating insomnia that don’t have to include taking medication. These include establishing regular bed and wake times, dietary changes (less or no caffeine and alcohol), and improving your sleep environment.

Signs of sleep disorders include:

  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • The sleep itself feeling light, fragmented, or exhausting
  • Needing to take something like sleeping pills, a nightcap, or supplements to get to sleep

Ways to Improve

If you haven’t been diagnosed with one of the above sleep disorders and are having trouble sleeping, try following these sleep tips:

  • Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day. Also, avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep. This will strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may be helpful to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime ritual. Take a warm bath or listen to calming music.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes. A short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
  • Exercise. As little as ten minutes of simple aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, may dramatically improve nighttime sleep quality.
  • Avoid food that can be disruptive right before sleep. Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion and/or heartburn that disrupt sleep.
  • Be comfortable. Create a sleep environment that is quiet, dark and cool with a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Avoid bright or LED light from lamps, cell phones or other devices, and TV screens. The blue light that LED screens give off can slow or halt the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals our brain that it’s time for bed.

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