Stop chasing Zzzs and get better quality sleep

Did you know that a third of adults in the United States report that they typically get less than the recommended amount of sleep? Sleep plays a critical role in our mental and physical wellness by regulating and repairing the body.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to to fall or stay asleep. Most cases of insomnia are related to poor sleep habits, anxiety, lack of exercise or certain medications. The development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression have been linked to insufficient sleep.

There are several symptoms that are associated with insomnia, some of which include: difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking earlier than desired, still feeling tired after a night's sleep, poor concentration, irritability, depression, daytime fatigue or sleepiness and tension headaches.

Getting sufficient sleep is a necessity and it should be thought of as a "vital sign" of good health. Sleep hygiene refers to the promotion of regular sleep. The following is a list of sleep hygiene which can be used to improve sleep.

  • Each day, go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing environment in the bedroom; quiet, dark and neutral room.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and avoid using it for other activities, such as reading, watching TV or listening to music. Limit using electronic gadgets before bedtime. 

It's important to practice good sleep hygiene, but if your sleep problems persist or interfere with how you function during the day, you should seek evaluation and treatment by a sleep disorders doctor. There is no  definitive test for insomnia. Doctors use many different tools to diagnose and measure insomnia symptoms, including:

  • Asking you questions in an office setting.
  • Having you fill out a sleep log and questionnaire.
  • Blood tests
  • Overnight sleep study 

These tests can help your doctor to understand your personal experience with insomnia and create the right treatment plan.

If you believe you may have insomnia take this comprehensive Sleep Self Quiz or to schedule an appointment with the SMH Sleep Disorders Center by calling (985) 280-8823.