10 Rules for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep that You Need to Start Following Now

Is there really any better part of your day than the moment you get to slide between the sheets and curl up under your blankets? If this happy moment is marred by the thought of yet another restless night’s sleep, then there are clearly some changes you need to make to regain that peaceful end-of-day feeling.

Skip Sleeping In

That may sound like torture, but having an unreliable sleep schedule causes more harm than good for your sleep cycle. A steady bedtime and wake up will help your sleep cycles stay rhythmic and let you sleep more soundly.

Monitor Your Caffeine Intake

Drinking caffeine within eight hours of bedtime can keep your brain racing while you’re desperate for some shut eye. Studies have shown that caffeine lasts at least 8 hours, meaning your mid-afternoon pick me up is doing more harm than good. Make 2 PM your cutoff time for soda or coffee and try a more natural wake up like a brief spot of exercise or a healthy snack.

Skip the Nightcap

You might feel like you wind down better with a glass of wine or a nip of scotch, but studies have shown that dropping alcohol levels signal your body to wake up, meaning that wine you finished an hour before bedtime will later wake you up just as you start sawing logs. Make sure your last glass of alcohol is finished at least two hours before bed.

Have a Snack

A full tummy has been shown to help you drift off to sleep and stay asleep. The ideal snack before bed is a combination of a carbohydrate and a protein or calcium source with the sleep inducing hormone typtophan. Good pre-bedtime nummies include whole grain toast with peanut butter, a whole grain cereal with milk, or crackers and cheese/turkey.

Have Someone Read You a Bedtime Story

This works on adults, too! Load your iPod with an audiobook of a story that you know inside and out. The repetition of a story you love will relax your mind and help you drift off to sleep a lot more quickly. A well-known story will distract you without revving your mind up.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Waking up hot is miserable, and obviously being hot disturbs your sleep. Experts say the ideal room temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees (we recommend 68 degrees, because it’s cool enough to promote sleep, but not downright cold).

Keep the Room as Dark as Possible

Any light source can sneak through your closed eyelids and disturb your sleep. Avoid having electronics on your nightstand; if you can’t bear to have your cell phone out of reach, keep it turned over and on silent to avoid any light if someone texts you.

Change Pillows

Your pillow should keep your neck and shoulders aligned. Have your sleeping partner check your alignment as you snooze and change pillows if your neck is flexed.

Do What Feels Right If You’re Having a Restless Night

If you’re lying awake in bed for more than 15 minutes, do what will relax you. If that means staying in bed or getting up for a glass of milk, do what feels right.

Skip the Naps

Long naps can keep you awake long into the night, but some studies are showing even short power naps affect your sleep quality. If you’re having a hard time sleeping even after a brief nap, consider cutting it out completely.

The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.

The Truth About Sleeping Pills

As far as health topics go, few things are as misunderstood as sleeping pills. What you really need to know is whether sleeping pills are safe and effective, and where you should buy them.

Are sleeping pills safe?

Safety is the most important factor when it comes to taking any kind of pill. It’s also one of the most ambiguous topics, particularly in the case of sleeping pills. Due to their development over the past few years, sleeping pills in 2014 are completely different from sleeping pills in the 1990’s. Still, you should always practice caution when taking them. Mayoclinic.org, a website featuring health-related content, states how you should approach sleeping pills:

“Today’s prescription sleeping pills don’t carry the same level of risks of dependence and overdoses as sleeping pills of the past. But risks remain — especially for people who have certain medical conditions, including liver or kidney disease. Always talk with your doctor before trying a new treatment for insomnia.”

Do sleeping pills really work?

Assuming that you’ve already spoken to your doctor, you can start to look into the effectiveness of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can cause a state of drowsiness to help you fall asleep. They’re particularly effective for short-term use or for minor cases of insomnia.

But as Aristotle once advised: “all things in moderation.” Here’s what the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has to say about long-term sleeping pill use:

“For short-term insomnia, doctors may prescribe sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills stop working after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term use can actually interfere with good sleep. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits.”

Is it better to buy over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills?

Next you have to choose which pills you’re going to buy. There are clear financial benefits of purchasing over-the-counter pills and a crucial psychological benefit of purchasing prescription pills. Over-the-counter pills are much cheaper and may be just as effective as prescription pills. On the other hand, there’s a certain peace-of-mind knowing your doctor recommended and prescribed a specific pill.

But you should also be aware that there are also differences in the ingredients of the two pills. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, over-the-counter pills contain either antihistamines or melatonin. The latter is a hormone that helps bodies regulate the sleep cycle.

On the other hand, prescription pills contain benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepine, melatonin-receptor agonists, and antidepressants, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Make sure you ask your doctor about possible side-effects, such as dependency.

So what does all of this really mean for you? It means that you should consult your doctor before purchasing any sleeping pills. If your doctor recommends (or prescribes) pills, you should use the medication as directed by the instructions on the label. As long as you do these two things, you can safely take sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest.

The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.

Five Common Sleep Disorders

A good night’s sleep is everybody’s requirement, as it helps in refreshing the mind and preparing the body for the next day’s energy demands. However, quite a lot of people these days are not blessed enough to enjoy a sound sleep and suffer from various sleep disorders. Tossing about in bed, easily disturbed sleep, and difficulty breathing may leave many of you frustrated and irritated apart from affecting your overall health. Though temporary sleep disturbances may be due to stress or bad lifestyle habits, such as consuming caffeine or alcohol, or may be due to certain medications or other illnesses, prolonged sleep deprivation is a reason of worry and needs to be dealt with immediately. We are listing the five most common sleep disorders for your reference and ways to deal with them.

  1. Insomnia: Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is the most commonly encountered sleep disorder and is mainly due to stress, anxiety, depression, or certain dietary or lifestyle choices. Though temporary insomnia usually goes away gradually on its own, it is the chronic, or long-lasting, insomnia that requires proper attention. The patient experiences difficulty falling or staying asleep or wakes up at odd, early hours and is unable to sleep again. Curing insomnia is relatively easy, as it mainly requires certain routine modifications, such as changing sleeping habits, adopting relaxation techniques, eating a light meal before going to bed, etc.
  2. Sleep Apnea: This is a type of disorder wherein the breathing is interrupted during sleep, waking the patient. A suffocated feeling or gasping for breath during sleep might indicate some obstruction in the respiratory passage, leading to difficulty in breathing.  The condition can turn fatal and thus, the treatment includes a CPAP device that delivers a constant flow of air to regulate breathing in sleep.
  3. Restless Leg Syndrome: People with this disorder feel abnormal sensations in their legs while resting at night or during sleep urging them to move the limbs constantly. As movement relieves the tingling, burning, pricking, or crawling sensation experienced in the legs, patients may be required to get up and move around for relief, thus affecting their sleep. Certain medications or limiting the intake of caffeine or alcohol help in overcoming this disorder.
  4. Narcolepsy: This is characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day, causing uncontrollable spells of sleep even while talking. It is a neurological disorder affecting the brain mechanism that controls sleep and wakefulness and is a serious condition that requires adequate medical treatment.
  5. Night Terrors: Generally affecting children of ages 3 to 12 years, night terrors are manifested by frequent episodes of crying or screaming in sleep due to fear. The child appears to be awake as he/she cries while sitting up in bed with open eyes. Though it does not affect the sleep, night terrors can be dangerous, as the child can jump out of the bed or fight or beat those around. The condition may resolve on its own as the child grows older, but in case where it persists or worsens or if the aggressive patient becomes uncontrollable, medical intervention is essential.

Sleep deprivation can lead to a disrupted lifestyle and has serious implications on the health of the patient and, therefore, needs to be checked at the earliest sign.

The Sleep Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, this website provides general information for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding any medical condition or treatment.