Better Sleep by Labor Day
WebMD tells you how to combat insomnia during the lazy, hazy days of summer -- and beyond.
Common Summertime Sleep Woes -- and Solutions continued...
While people tend to use the first few days of a holiday to catch up on lost sleep, they soon start staying up into the wee hours, Ohayon says. "Without a regular work schedule, you start sleeping when you want and eating as much as you want," he explains. Late evenings are often accompanied by a few too many nightcaps, a midnight pepperoni pizza, or long talks over caffeinated cappuccino – all of which can make matters worse. Long naps during the day can add further insult to injury.
"Respect your own cycle of eating and sleeping," he advises. "Seven hours [of sleep] is good; more than nine hours is actually bad." Adds Kryger, "You do not want to feel too full before bed. HeartburnHeartburn or acid refluxacid reflux can both keep you from falling asleep and wake you from sleep."
Kryger bemoans the fact that many people don't deal with accumulated sleep debt during their summer vacations. "A holiday is the perfect time to sleep in and catch up on lost sleep as well as to learn and practice good sleep habits that can help year round," he says.
Sleep Woes That Know No Season
Some sleep woes, like those associated with tireless toddlers who jump into your bed at sunrise, can hit any time of year. In his new book, Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, Breus tells you how to get sound sleep, night after night, no matter what the season.
The program is divided into two parts, the first of which discusses key culprits to disordered sleep that you can do something about right here, right now, Breus tells WebMD. Each section offers quizzes to identify problems and action plans to solve them.
Culprit 1: Anxiety
"Anxiety can prevent sleep and even if you get sleep, it may not be quality sleep," he says. After you hit the sack, try counting backwards from 300 by 3's, he advises. "This forces you to focus so you can't think about things that make you anxious."
Culprit 2: Caffeine
"Drink responsibly," Breus urges, which translates to less than 300 milligrams of caffeine or 3.5 to 4 cups of "regular" brewed coffee a day. Keep in mind that soft drinks, chocolate, and even some medications contain hidden caffeine. And not all cups of coffee are created equal: A grande Starbucks coffee packs a whooping 550-milligram jolt, for example.
Culprit 3: Being a Woman
"Women, in particular, experience an enormous array of fluctuating hormones throughout their lives -- from puberty to menopausemenopause -- that can affect sleep patterns," he says.
The program suggests action plans for each stage of life. "If night sweats are a big issue in menopause, for example, you can stay cool by keeping a damp cloth and an extra set of clothes near the bed," Breus says. In fact, this strategy can help men and women alike when a summertime heat wave strikes.