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December 8, 2017 | Sleep Medicine
Are you having trouble sleeping? Many people find it difficult to sleep at night. Some may struggle with falling asleep, whereas others have problems staying asleep. Three main factors can cause you to have a hard time sleeping:
If your body becomes overstimulated prior to going to bed, it can be difficult to fall asleep. It is important to avoid drinking caffeine after lunch and avoid having more than 200 milligrams in the morning. Some common sources of caffeine include soft drinks, coffee, energy drinks, tea and chocolate. Some medicines, including many pain relievers, also contain caffeine, so avoid taking them before bed if possible. Nicotine can also cause your body to become overstimulated; avoiding products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco can help you fall asleep faster.
Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly; however, exercising too close to bedtime can make it more difficult for some people to fall asleep. It is best to avoid exercising within six hours prior to bedtime to avoid overstimulation. Not enough exercise can also make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Eating large meals too close to bedtime may cause sleeping difficulty in some people. If you must eat right before bed, a light snack is your best bet. Though some people find that alcohol helps them fall asleep due to it slowing down brain activity, it can cause problems with being able to stay asleep later in the night. It is best to avoid alcohol within 4-6 hours of going to bed.
Sometimes your mind can make it difficult to fall asleep. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes, it is best to get up and do a quiet activity. Once you feel tired, you can return to bed and try to sleep again. Having a routine at night to help you relax can make it easier to fall asleep. Some of these rituals may include taking a warm bath or shower, reading or having a light.
It is important to also make sure you create a good environment before going to sleep. Avoiding bright lights, including electronics, at least 30 minutes before bedtime can help your body begin to wind down. If your room is too bright, black out curtains or an eye mask can be helpful. If you find that there are a lot of noises, wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine may help you sleep better as well. Finally, for most people it is best to have a cool room to sleep in (around 68 F). However, some people prefer it slightly hotter or colder, so adjusting the temperature to what is comfortable can make it easier to fall asleep.
AUTHOR: Jennifer Despain, RPSGT, RST
If you continue to experience problems falling and staying asleep after trying these solutions, talk to your doctor to find out if you may have an underlying sleep disorder causing you to have a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.