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Sleepless Nights? Simple Remedies That Can Help

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Insomnia, in simple terms, is a condition that involves difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep or both.  Although adequate amount of sleep varies from person to person, most adults need about seven to eight hours.  Most adults have experienced insomnia at some point in their life.  

The following simple remedies focused on changing some daily habits can help reduce sleepless nights:

Establish a set sleep schedule:  Have a consistent bedtime and more importantly a fixed wake up time on daily basis, including on weekends.

Buffer zone:  Create a transition time (usually 30-60 minutes) between your day activities and sleep, to help you prepare for sleep.  A relaxing bedtime routine during this time is desirable, such as reading, soft music, meditation or prayer.  Avoid screen time (computers, TV, smart phones and tablets) close to bedtime.

Stress management:  Work on reducing the stressors in your life.  Writing down and making list of all the things on your mind, earlier in the evening might be helpful in reducing thought-racing at night.

Do not look at the clock at night:  Set your alarm and then turn the clock away.  Knowing what time it is when you are awake at night or that you have to get up soon increases anxiety and does not help.

Go to bed when you get sleepy and do not stay in bed if you are not sleeping:  If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed after approximately 15-20 minutes or whatever seems reasonable and go back to doing activities listed in buffer zone.

Sleep Restriction:  Limit your time in bed in order to get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.  The harder you try to sleep, the more difficult it may be to fall and stay asleep.  

The bed should only be used for sleeping or sex:  Do not read, watch TV, eat, do work assignments, use computers or smart phones in bed.

Avoid or limit naps:  If you absolutely need to nap, keep the nap time before 3pm and limit nap to less than 30 minutes.

Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol and nicotine intake: Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that make insomnia worse. Alcohol may initially make you drowsy, but it usually causes increased awakenings during the later part of the night.

The bedroom and the bed should be comfortable:  Keep the bedroom dark and reduce any disturbing sounds.  The temperature should be kept comfortable.  Usually a cooler bedroom promotes sleep.

Get regular exercise:  Daily routine of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise may help.  Avoid exercise in the four hours before bedtime.

Avoid large meals and drinks close to bedtime:  Eating and drinking too much and too late can disrupt sleep.

If the problem persists, consult your physician:  Keep a two week “sleep diary” and take it to your appointment.  This will help the doctor identify your sleep pattern and sleep habits.

You can learn more about sleep disorders, services and resources on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Sleep Medicine website.

This blog post is contributed by Manpreet Sanghari, M.D., a physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Sleep Center. Dr. Sanhari is board certified in Family Medicine and Sleep Medicine.

Manpreet Sanghari, M.D.

 

 

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