How to Beat Insomnia and Get Back to ZZZZZZ…

zzzOne of the most common complaints among my patients is that of poor sleep.  From difficulty falling asleep to middle of the night awakening to restlessness with poor sleep quality–the complaints keep coming!

Whether you are an expectant mother struggling to sleep, or a new mom trying to get much-needed rest, there are several things you can easily do to prepare yourself to drift off to sleep.

Women of all backgrounds and age groups are affected.  Many turn to home remedies and sleep aids, most with little improvement in sleep.  Upon questioning patients about their sleep habits, I often find lots of room for improvement in “”sleep hygiene”.

So here are the top 10 suggestions for more restful and fulfilling sleep…

1. Ban pets from the bedroom.  Our furry friends are so sweet and cuddly, but their nighttime antics (much of which we are not consciously aware) can affect our sleep.

2. Avoid stimulants like caffeine (including chocolate) and alcohol close to bedtime.  Resist drinking alcohol to help you sleep. Though consuming a few glasses of wine seems to put you in a nice dreamy, calm state, the alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycles and lead to middle-of-the-night arousal.

3. Try to minimize late night stimulating activities.  Let the few hours before bedtime be a time of physical and (more importantly) mental peace. Avoid serious conversations at bedtime, especially with your partner. These interactions lead to nights of sleeplessness as you lay awake replaying the conversation in your head.

4. Leave the bed for two activities…sleep and sex.  Avoid reading in bed and doing other mentally taxing activities in that location. Turn the TV, mobile devices, and computers off.  Or better yet, keep them out of the bedroom altogether.

5. Keep your sleep environment pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable.  Make sure the room is not too hot, too cold or too bright.

6.  If you awaken in the night, don’t obsess over the time on the alarm clock.  If unable to fall back asleep in about 20 minutes, go to another calm room with dim light and do a peaceful non-productive activity until you feel restful again and head back to the bedroom to try to fall asleep again. If unable, repeat.

7.  Try to get plenty of natural light during the day.  This is especially true for those of us who work indoors and may not be exposed to sunlight during the work day.

8. Keep a schedule.  Try to go to bed and wake up at nearly the same time every day.  Maintain those times even on weekends when you could sleep in late.  Sleeping too much can be just as detrimental to your daytime wakefulness as sleeping too little.

9.  Engage in some sort of regular cardiovascular exercise, preferably in the morning or late afternoon.  Relaxing exercise like yoga at bedtime can help create a restful sleep pattern.

10. Avoid napping during the day as it can disrupt nighttime sleep. If you do choose to nap, try to take a very brief nap in the early afternoon.

Hope these tips help!   If you struggle with sleeplessness, consider referral to a sleep specialist for further evaluation.

We are happy to help direct you to local resources.  Talk to us!

-Reena Talreja-Pelaeaz, M.D.