In a given year, over half the population will have difficulty falling asleep, and as many as one third of Americans have regular insomnia. Numerous medical studies have documented the health problems associated with lack of sleep. Too little sleep can be a risk factor for stroke, heart disease, dementia, and can contribute to obesity. Changes in sleep cycles can also be a symptom of underlying illness such as thyroid disease, anxiety, depression, menopausal changes, kidney disease, or liver disease. Given the complexity of health issues related to poor sleep, if this is a persistent problem, it may warrant a medical evaluation.
If sleep becomes elusive, first try some simple things to ensure a good night’s rest. Avoid caffeine late in the day and avoid alcohol consumption. Keep your bedroom quiet, well-ventilated and free of electronic distractions (no TV, laptops, cell phones, or e-readers.) Adopt a soothing bedtime ritual incorporating soft music, herbal tea, a warm bath, and progressive relaxation or meditation. Get out of bed if you are not asleep within 30 minutes and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel drowsy.
When a restful night’s sleep continues to be a problem and is affecting normal activities the following day, a formal evaluation is indicated. This should include a review of medications and baseline laboratory testing. Formal sleep lab studies may be needed to evaluate other issues such as sleep apnea. Medications may be beneficial, but these are recommended for short-term use and are not without side effects.
If you suffer because of inadequate sleep, please contact our office for consultation.