Getting Better Sleep

Tossing, turning, and not getting enough sleep?

There can be a lot of causes for it, including work, stress, children, and medical issues.

“As a nation incredibly sleep deprived, our sleep debt is close to our national debt,” said Dr. Francis Janton of PinnacleHealth Neurology and Sleep Medicine.

Lack of sleep is blamed for lowering economic productivity; its effects likened to DUI.

“Individuals, they start hallucinating, seizures could happen,” Janton said.

Psychologist Dr. Melissa Brown of PinnacleHealth talks about some of the causes.

“Anxiety, so people overthinking things or worrying about things or having a traumatic event happen in their life. One thought triggers another thought; worried about paying bills or how are they going to get food. We’ve seen an increase in our office because of the post-election and results; patients that are talking about it and just being anxious about their future and worried about what’s going to happen to our country,” Brown said.

Also an issue: poor sleep habits. So, what are the signs you are not getting restful sleep?

“The first sign is excessive sleepiness during the day,” Janton said.

Yawning a lot? Need a nap? Downing mega doses of caffeine?

“You can’t sit up and watch TV in the evening without dozing. You can’t read. You’re falling asleep in meetings, hopefully not in the car while you’re driving.”

And before you reach for sleep aids:

“Certain sleep aids lead to sleepwalking, sleep eating, other bizarre behaviors, also driving while asleep in the morning because there is a residual leftover,” Janton said.

To avoid a drug hangover, start with changing your sleep environment. Set a schedule and stick to a routine an hour or so before bedtime. Reduce caffeine early. Take a relaxing shower or bath. Sip a non-alcoholic beverage. Open a book for “boring” light reading. You don’t want to stimulate your brain. Drop the room temperature. When’s the last time you bought a comfy mattress and pillows?

The last one is tough: no electronics, no television, no computer, no cell phone – no light.

“What’s happening with the light and the flashing from the TV is real. That actually keeps our brain alert and awake,” Brown said.

The reality is there are times when you will burn the candle at both ends and won’t get that coveted deep sleep.

“Yes, you can function for a short period of time with limited sleep, but eventually, you’re going to have to pay that sleep debt,” Janton said.

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