Why Aren't I Sleeping? - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Why Aren't I Sleeping?

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By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Hospitals

Does this scenario sound familiar? It's two o'clock in the morning and you're tossing and turning in bed, wondering when…if ever...you're going to get to sleep. To make matters worse, this is the third night this week you've had this problem and the lack of sleep is beginning to take its toll.

Trouble sleeping is a growing problem in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 50-70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that school-age children (5-10 years) need 10-11 hours of sleep daily, teens (10-17 years) need 8.5-9 hours, and adults need 7-9 hours. If you're not getting this much sleep, take heart. There are some simple things you can try to get your zzzz's back on track.

Researchers have identified a variety of practices and habits—known as "sleep hygiene"—that can help improve your sleep. These include:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning – seven days a week
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime
  • Avoid large, heavy meals too close to bedtime
  • Associate your bed with sleep – it's not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, surf the Internet, or talk on the phone
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, that isn't too hot or too cold 
  • Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle, so open your shades and let in the light first thing in the morning

It's important to note that problems with sleeping could signify the presence of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. If your sleep difficulties don't improve through good sleep hygiene, you may want to consult your doctor or a sleep specialist.

Be sure to watch the "Ask the Doc" video to learn more!

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