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Missing the zzz factor? Here’s how to get some sleep

by Allison Hatfield | December 20, 2019

A friend recently underwent a home sleep study to determine if he has sleep apnea — a stressful-sounding ordeal involving body bands, a nose tube, and what he deemed “a torture device” on one finger revealed that he does not have sleep apnea. Nevertheless, he’s not sleeping well and feels exhausted during the day.

And he’s not alone.

According to Baylor Scott & White Health, some 40 percent of Americans suffer from sleep disorders. But even if your sleep isn’t disordered, you may not be getting enough quality sleep — and that can be detrimental to your health. The recommendation for adults is seven to nine hours a night. Many people can’t even imagine that.

Dr. David Luterman, medical director of The Sleep Medicine Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, has seven tips for catching more zzz’s.

  1. Allow enough time for sleep. People who work long hours or take care of children find this especially challenging, but if you’re watching a lot of TV or browsing Facebook when you could be sleeping, be aware of that.
  2. Wake up at the same time each day. Having a normal wake-up time is even more important than a set bedtime, Dr. Luterman says.
  3. Don’t nap during the day. If you have this luxury and also find yourself lying awake at night, try cutting back on your afternoon siestas.
  4. Save your bed for sleeping. Don’t read or watch TV in bed. When you get in bed, turn off the light, close your eyes, and practice deep breathing.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. The former is obvious, and though the latter may help you fall asleep, it will disturb your sleep later, as your liver works to detox.
  6. Exercise — but do it early in the day. Frequent workouts help with sleep, but exercising after work can leave you feeling amped up and unable to get to sleep in time to get seven to nine hours.
  7. Find ways to relieve stress. According to Dr. Luterman, some people learn insomnia during times of high stress, but when that stress lessens, they find that they’ve got an insomnia habit. Meditation and yoga help some people shut down.

Pro tip: Make a to-do list before you go to bed. Psychologists at Baylor University did a study that showed that people who jotted down their to-do lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote about tasks they’d completed.

Need more help? Baylor Scott & White offers services for sleep disorders at several locations in North Texas.

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