Ask the Expert: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Almost everyone has trouble sleeping every so often, but for many Americans having a hard time getting to sleep or waking in the middle of the night is a significant problem.
To help, board certified sleep specialist Dr. Russell Rosenberg, Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation, offers answers to some questions about insomnia:
What is insomnia?
Insomnia involves difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, waking too early, trouble getting back to sleep or lack of refreshing sleep, as defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Are the symptoms of insomnia the same for everyone?
Insomnia may affect people differently. Some complain of waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling back asleep, while others have trouble initially getting to sleep.
What can I do to help me fall asleep at night?
Establish a regular bed and wake time. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable. Allow time at night to “wind down” before climbing into bed. Doing work, watching TV and using the computer, both close to bedtime or in the bedroom, can hinder your ability to fall asleep. Avoid violent shows and news reports before bedtime as they can be agitating.
If I wake up in the middle of the night, what are some tips to help me fall back to sleep?
If you wake up in the middle of the night and stay in bed, don’t stare at the clock. Also, do not watch TV and use your computer or cell phone, because use of these technologies can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall back to sleep. Avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine or alcohol. Most importantly, you should try to relax.
What can I do during the day to help my insomnia?
Good daytime habits may help with both types of insomnia. “I tell my patients to avoid caffeine after lunch,” stresses Rosenberg. Also, get regular exercise, but avoid rigorous exercise close to bedtime, and always check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
If those suggestions don’t help, what else should I do?
You should speak with your healthcare professional if you are having trouble sleeping. He or she can determine whether or not you suffer from insomnia and if treatment is needed.
Where can I learn more about insomnia?
For more information regarding insomnia, visit the National Sleep Foundation website at www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/insomnia-and-sleep.