Fighting Off Sleepiness: Myths and Facts
Myth: Exercise will only make me more tired. continued...
Shives advises patients to pinpoint the time they typically get tired in the
afternoon and to take an exercise break right before that time. "Don't wait
until you start to feel tired," she says. "Walk around the block or do some
stretches before your circadian dip hits, or you'll never get out of your
According to Miran, "Daily exercise is the best natural sleep aid there is.
Even a 20-minute walk taken at least four to five hours before the normal
bedtime will help you fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep." It is
important not to exercise too close to bedtime, because the stimulation can
disrupt your sleep. (Miran cautions that you should always check with your
physician before beginning an exercise regime.)
Myth: Sleepiness is normal -- I just have to live with it.
Fact: If you experience persistent sleepiness, you should consult your
doctor: It could signal an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Sleepiness may be a fact of contemporary life, but that doesn't mean you
should ignore it. If you often feel drowsy during the day, you should consult
your physician. Drowsiness could be a sign of an underlying health condition
that should be addressed.
Drowsiness is one of the primary symptoms of hypothyroidism, for example,
and Shives says that is one of the first things your physician is likely to
check for if you complain of persistent fatigue or sleepiness.
Depression and other mood disorders can also manifest themselves as
sleepiness and fatigue. Daytime sleepiness can indicate a sleep disorder, like
insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome, that is preventing you from
sleeping well at night, and anuntreated sleep disorder puts you at high risk
for a stroke or heart attack. Finally, recent research has found that excessive
day time sleepiness in an older person can be a symptom of cardiovascular
Dealing With the Facts: Get More Sleep
Of course, you may just be sleepy because, like so many other Americans, you
don't get enough sleep at night. If this is the case, you may want to make some
payments on your sleep deficit.
A growing body of research establishes how important sufficient sleep is to
our quality of life. Sleep deprivation can trigger depression and anxiety; it
can also impede performance and creativity. Finally, sleep deprivation can be
fatal. As many as 100,000 deaths each year are caused by drowsy drivers,
according to the National Safety Council.
It's never too late to begin developing good sleep habits. Why not start