Good Sleep: Can It Still Be Simple?
All's quiet, yet you still can't sleep. Do you really need a NASA-designed pillow or a computerized bed to fix your sleep problems?
Traveling in Comfort
When it comes to sleep, "we're creatures of habit," says Russell Rosenberg, PhD, director of the Northside Hospital Sleep Medicine Institute in Atlanta. "When you're traveling, you want a sense of familiarity... sounds, smells, bedclothing. Some people travel with a modified version of the pillow they use at home."
He suggests packing a few amenities for your hotel room:
- An eye mask to block out light. If you travel overseas, this is a must.
- A sound-generator to mask ambient noise. "Sharper Image stores carry one that reproduces wave and babbling brook sounds," he notes. "For hard-core city dwellers, there's one with honking cars and city noises."
- A tiny battery-operated fan. It gives you the feeling of a breeze blowing over your body -- and creates a bit of white noise.
- A neck pillow. It supports your neck on plane flights, so you snooze without straining it.
- A scented plug-in candle. "It doesn't have to be any particular scent ... whatever makes you comfortable," says Rosenberg.
"These days, it's hard to travel with all sorts of gadgets, but one or two might help," he tells WebMD.
Also, if you're a sensitive sleeper, ask for a room away from the main corridor and vending machines, Rosenberg advises. "Ask which side of the building faces a major road - and whether your room can be back where the garden is."
When Snoring Is the Issue
An assortment of snoring-stiflers (oils, sprays, nasal strips) are available over the counter, says Twery. "The problem is they may decrease the snoring sound. But if the breathing problem isn't corrected, that's a potentially serious medical condition. You need to discuss it with your primary care doctor to find out what might be an appropriate treatment. You may have sleep apnea or allergies."
There are pillows with space-age foam technology that can help, Twery suggests. Actually, propping any bed pillow behind you, so you don't roll flat on your back, can help reduce snoring, he says. "When you lay on your back, your tongue relaxes, falls backward, and obstructs the airway," he explains. "Sleeping on your side may or may not take care of your snoring problem. It just depends on what causes it."
If you're seriously snoring, see a sleep specialist, doctors advise. "Sometimes people go to a primary care physician who may not pick up on sleep apnea," says Lorenzo. "These people have been snoring all their lives, waking up all their lives, what's the big deal, they think. But sleep apnea gets worse with age -- typically in overweight men.