Take Two and Go to Bed — Or Not!

Taking a couple of aspirin or other pain or cold medicine and going to bed is fairly time honored. When it comes to sleep and snoring problems, however, taking two of anything — whether it be sleep aids (pills) or a couple of stiff ones — might help temporarily, but eventually the sleep aids can lose effectiveness and/or become addictive, and sleep-inducing alcohol actually never results in a deep, restorative sleep since it’s a depressant.

If you find yourself being too tired in the daytime, there’s an excellent chance that it’s related to your sleeping habits and sleep hygiene, which of course are intimately intertwined.

Before we get to the more serious issues of sleep apnea or other sleeping disorders, let’s look at steps everyone can take to have a better night’s sleep and therefore enjoy a vigorous day at the office, or wherever you find yourself in the daytime.

First, don’t shortchange yourself or your body. No matter who you are, you need eight or nine hours of solid sleep a night. In fact, insofar as your body is concerned, the more hours the merrier! Just ask professional models who make their living on their good looks and robust, healthful appearances — and good sleep habits.

Second, don’t consume alcohol, or any caffeine drink, within hours of bedtime. Though the alcohol can indeed induce sleep, it interferes with REM, the deep sleep that restores energy and bodily functions. Caffeine can have the opposite effect, keeping you awake when you need to doze off. Dinner also should be finished four or so hours before bedtime for the best sleep results.

Bright lights  (or for that matter, any light source) are detrimental to sleeping as they send the body the wrong message — light means waking time. Your bedroom should be dark. Turn off the TV, laptop, tablet, cell phone or whatever emanates light and involves your senses.

Also, keep to a regular routine. Go to bed the same time every night and get those nine hours of restorative rest. Your body likes a regular routine of sleeping and waking periods.

For a long-term solution, lose weight (if you’re overweight), exercise regularly, and watch your diet for optimal health.

Back to sleep apnea: If after learning and employing these good sleep-hygiene habits, you’re still dog tired in the daytime, then it’s probably a signal that you should seek out a sleep specialist and diagnose what’s going on. An at-home or clinical sleep evaluation might be ordered if sleep apnea is suspected, but other causes for sleeping and snoring problems can often  be diagnosed during an office visit.

The bottom line is that your body needs to spend a third of its time sleeping, so don’t think you’re gaining anything life-wise by cheating on your sleep. You’ll pay for your lack of sleep in all your other pursuits in life. So adopt good sleep hygiene, and if needed, seek professional help.


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