Old lamp

What are you doing that’s costing you sleep? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling exhausted all day and then once you finally crawl into bed, finding yourself unable to sleep.  You toss and turn staring at the ceiling for hours, only to finally drift off just hours before the alarm alerts you it’s time to wake up.

Sleep deprivation is almost endemic to American culture.  In a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 87% of participants reported having trouble sleeping at least a few nights a week.  As more and more research confirms how critical sleep is to our health, getting enough sleep should be high on everyone’s to do list.  But it isn’t always easy to see what is keeping you from getting the sleep you need.  Sleep stealers can be sneaky and subtle, but if you know what to look for they are easy to spot.  Once you know what is keeping you up, a few simple changes should eliminate your need to count sheep.  Here are four common mistakes you might be making that are keeping you from getting to sleep.

1.     Taking Your Troubles to Bed with You

Many experts consider stress and anxiety the primary cause of most short-term sleep problems.  From worrying about our jobs to concerns about the economy, a mind filled with problems has trouble shutting down and settling into sleep.  Rather than letting stress keep you spinning, let stress go with these three tips:

  • Keep a notebook by the bed to write things down to get them off your mind.
  • Avoid watching television, especially the news, right before bed.
  • Focus on relaxing activities that encourage calm like reading, meditation, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises.

 2.     Using Alcohol as a Sleep Aid

Many people believe that since alcohol makes you drowsy, it also helps you sleep.  Unfortunately, while a nice glass of wine or two might help you fall asleep, it will actually steal your quality of sleep.  Alcohol interferes with the production of key sleep hormones that manage our sleep cycles.  Once the initial drowsiness wears off, sleep may become elusive.  Instead of sipping scotch, try warm milk or herbal tea.  Warm non-caffeinated beverages can help make you drowsy without the after effects of alcohol.

3.     Choosing Caffeine After Lunch

If you suffer from the 3PM slump and use something caffeinated as a pick me up, you may be sacrificing sleep later that night.  Stop the slump in the first place by getting the sleep you need and if you need a pick me up, take a walk instead of refilling your coffee mug.

4.     Leaving the Light On

When it’s time to go to bed, anything with a light is going to keep your body from producing the hormones needed to signal sleep.  This means that surfing the internet on your laptop, reading email on your blackberry, or working on the computer in bed are all sure ways to lose sleep.  Keep electronics out of your bedroom and let your natural sleep wake cycle take care of the rest.

About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; https://valleysleepcenter.com.


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