Conquering Sleep Problems
Lack of sleep can contribute to more than a bad mood; it can also negatively affect energy levels, the ability to concentrate and even overall health.
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you regularly have trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or feeling drowsy during most days, you likely aren’t getting the sleep you need.
“Some simple changes in your daily habits may be effective in helping you rest easier,” said Dr. Skantha Manjunath, a pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine specialist with Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital. She offers some helpful tips on getting a good night’s rest.
Exercise early. Activity too close to bedtime can make it difficult to relax. Try to exercise in the morning or early evening. Regular exercise at these times may even help you sleep better.
Be aware of what you eat and drink. Eating a large meal or drinking caffeinated beverages a few hours before bedtime can keep you up. Drinking alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first, but it could disrupt your sleep.
Help your mind stop racing. Try not to take problems to bed. Instead, make time earlier in the evening to write down worries and potential solutions, or make a to-do list for the next day.
Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day — even on weekends.
Create a pre-bedtime routine. Reading a book, listening to soft music, dimming the lights, brushing your teeth and washing your face can help your body slow down before going to bed. Avoid using electronic readers, if possible, as they may be more distracting than calming. To improve sleep, resist the urge to work in bed and stop using electronics at least a half hour to an hour before you go to sleep. Silence your phone and turn it over so the backlight won’t interrupt your sleep.
Make your bedroom comfortable. Many people sleep best in a room that is cool, dark and quiet. A fan or white noise machine can help block out distracting noises or help lull you to sleep.
Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths; you may even want to count them. Relax the muscles in your body—slowly working your way up from your toes to your head.
Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, go into another room to read or participate in another quiet activity. Go back to bed when you feel sleepy.
Keep a sleep diary. “If you need more help to break the cycle of poor sleep, start a sleep diary to identify problems that you can discuss with your doctor,” Manjunath said. “Your doctor may also do a physical exam.”
Common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Not getting enough sleep can put you at higher risk for conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It can also lead to falls or slow your reaction time when driving, increasing your risk for an accident.
In some cases, medication or behavioral therapy may be prescribed. Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter sleep aids or herbal supplements to avoid a bad interaction with other medications you’re taking. Your doctor may recommend an overnight sleep study in a sleep lab to help rule out sleep disorders and/or determine effective treatment.
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe, including, screening all patients; ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office; wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care; reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing—and implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
The Houston Methodist Sleep Center at Baytown, located in its new, technologically advanced facility (4201 Garth Rd., Independence Plaza 1, suite 112), is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It is staffed by experienced, registered polysomnography technologists and features a quiet, four-bed facility for conducting sleep studies.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist, visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown or call 281.428.4510.
About Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and east Harris, Liberty and Chambers counties with excellent medical care since its opening in 1948. The hospital continues to grow to meet the health care needs of its growing community through an ongoing construction and renovation program that has seen the opening of a new emergency center, outpatient center and medical-surgical units. A new five-story patient tower is scheduled to open in 2023. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides the most advanced and innovative procedures while never wavering from its focus on compassionate care and providing a safe, patient-centered healing environment. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.