7 tips to get better sleep — and what to do if they don’t work.

woman lying awake in bed

Few things are more frustrating than lying awake, waiting for sleep to come, while the minutes (and hours) creep by. If you have trouble sleeping, try putting these better sleep habits to work for you. If you still can’t sleep, you may have a sleep disorder — which the Covenant Sleep Center can help you overcome (see “Sleep Disorders” below).

Tips for Better Sleep

  1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, every day. While it’s tempting to sleep in on weekends and holidays, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day conditions your body to be ready for sleep at bedtime. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
  2. Use your bed only for sleeping, relaxation and recuperation from illness. This will teach your mind and body to associate your bed with sleep — not reading emails, watching TV or talking on the phone.
  3. Go to bed only when drowsy. Once again, you want your mind to associate your bed with sleepiness. If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, leave your bedroom and go do some other quiet activity until you are drowsy again.
  4. Create a pre-sleep ritual. Include calm, relaxing activities like a warm bath, a few minutes of light reading, or having a light snack (don’t eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime). Do your ritual every night so it becomes a signal for sleep.
  5. Get regular exercise during the day. Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. However, don’t exercise within four hours of bedtime — this will energize you just when you’re trying to wind down.
  6. Avoid caffeine, tobacco and alcohol in the evening. All can interfere with the quality of your sleep in the night.
  7. Limit the use of electronic devices before bedtime. Blue light from devices like your phone, tablet, laptop or TV interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps your body feel sleepy.

Sleep Disorders

So what if you’ve already tried all these tips and you’re still having sleep problems? You may have a sleep disorder. The Covenant Sleep Center offers help for patients whose sleep has been disrupted by disorders like:

Sleep apnea and snoring. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by the airway closing during sleep. These closures result in decreases in oxygen levels in the blood, frequent short awakenings from sleep to open the airway, and finally, gasping for breath. The decrease in oxygen levels can lead to changes in heart rate or rhythm, impaired memory and inflammation in the arteries. Commonly noted symptoms are snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, weight gain, depression or mood disorders, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Chronic insomnia. Long-term difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can be caused by psychological or environmental issues, or by an underlying health problem.

Narcolepsy. If you have frequent, uncontrollable urges to sleep at inappropriate times—such as at work, while driving or while engaged in other activities—you may be suffering from narcolepsy. Narcoleptics sometimes experience hallucinations, terrifying dreams or a brief sense of paralysis at the onset of sleep. It is a lifelong medical disorder that responds well to treatment.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). People with PLMD (nocturnal myoclonus) experience involuntary muscle spasms in their arms or legs that can range from the barely visible to wild kicking and flailing.

Parasomnias. Parasomnias include nightmares, night terrors (usually affecting children), sleep talking, sleepwalking and bedwetting. Though these issues may be caused by benign factors, they can also be a symptom of sleep-related epileptic seizures. A sleep study can help determine the cause.

If you or your child is having difficulties sleeping that you believe may be caused by a sleep disorder, contact the Covenant Sleep Center at 989.583.2907. Our sleep specialists can help determine the cause of your problem and prescribe treatment.

Posted Date: 6/30/2020

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