What You Can Do continued...
Keep a sleep log to see if you can identify any patterns to discuss with your doctor. Track when you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you awake at night, what time you get up, how you feel when you wake up, and if you take a nap during the day.
Depending on the cause of insomnia, your doctor may prescribe a sleep medication to provide short-term relief. He or she may also refer you to cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and offer strategies to improve your sleep hygiene.
Sleep is important for your overall health and lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to illness, including heart disease.
"We hear so much about diet and exercise," says Conroy. "Sleep is as important as your nutrition..."
Boost Your Sleep Hygiene
Many Americans have poor sleep habits. Tracey Marks, MD, psychiatrist in Atlanta and author of Master Your Sleep, shares her tips to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Keep your bedtime the same each night (even on the weekend) for consistency's sake.
- Cut out caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime.
- Don't exercise right before bed.
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex. Don't bring work or gadgets into bed.
- Adjust your thermostat to a comfortable temperature, usually 68-74 degrees.
- Turn the lights off and use eye covers to keep the room dark.
- If it's taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, don't stay in bed. Go to another quiet room and engage in relaxing activity until you feel drowsy.
- If your mind is busy, write down your thoughts on a problem-solving worksheet.