Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Weekly Health Report: Seven surprising sleep stealers

  • You could do the usual routine of getting ready for bed and then lie awake for hours. Some people have a difficult time getting to sleep and others have problems staying asleep all night.
    • email print
  • There's more to getting a good night's rest than a dark room and drinking warm milk before bed. There could be surprising sleep stealers that are sabotaging your ability to sleep well.
    You could do the usual routine of getting ready for bed and then lie awake for hours. Some people have a difficult time getting to sleep and others have problems staying asleep all night.
    Being robbed of sleep can make getting through the next day difficult. Blurry vision, stress, unclear thinking and low energy are signals that could indicate you're not getting adequate sleep.
    Taking medications can affect sleep. Steroids, beta blockers, high blood pressure medications thyroid hormones and even nasal decongestants can cause insomnia.
    There are quite a few medication classifications that can affect sleep. Check the drug information given by the pharmacy, or talk with a pharmacist or your family doctor about whether your sleep might be affected by the medication. If sleep trouble is a chronic concern, they may be able to use a different type of medication or assist in some way to avoid adding more difficulty to your sleep schedule.
    Increased age can change sleep habits. Many adults over the age of 65 need more sleep than they did 20 years earlier. Napping during the day is common, which can alter the ability to achieve deep sleep during the night. As we age, the proportion of time spent in the deeper stages of sleep is reduced while time spent in the lighter stages of sleep increases. Older adults who nap during the day may not need as much sleep at night.
    The pep that energy drinks give can cause problems when it's time to relax. Some drinks have the caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee.
    They also may have other ingredients that are meant to enhance energy or alertness. The affects of caffeine are felt soon after you ingest it but you may experience lingering affects as much as six hours later, a concern if the amount of caffeine is high. It's best to approach energy drinks with caution. In healthy individuals, they may not cause many problems, but because they are loaded with sugar and caffeine, they aren't healthy and shouldn't be used frequently, if at all. In many cases, they can cause problems with sleep.
    Acid reflux can cause chronic sleep problems. This is a classic sleep stealer because the individual may not even be aware there is a problem, but they know they aren't sleeping restfully. Acid reflux causes the body to partially awaken from sleep as the body tries to digest. In the morning, the food has been digested, relieving your body of the asymptomatic heartburn problem, but you don't know why you didn't sleep well. Recent studies show that up to 25 percent of people who report sleeping poorly without a diagnosed cause have sleep-related acid reflux. Avoid acid-causing foods, such as heavy sauces, spicy food or tomatoes for a while and seeing if that tends to help. Also, it's best to avoid eating for at least two hours before going to bed.
    Page 2 of 2 - Drinking alcohol can make you feel sleepy soon afterward, but it has a rebound affect disrupting sleep during the second half of the sleep cycle. Moderate doses of alcohol, which is considered two drinks, consumed as much as six hours before bedtime can increase wakefulness during the night. The individual may have an easy time getting to sleep but difficulty staying asleep. Alcohol is also known to exacerbate sleep apnea and snoring.
    Worry and stress can cause you to be wide-awake for hours. Once in bed, your mind can have difficulty shutting down for the night. The tension and anxiety can cause your mind to jump from one problem to another robbing you of the hours you need to rest.
    Stress management techniques are helpful, such as thinking through the source of the stress to see if there is anything you can do to relieve the problem. Changing negative thought patterns can often help. Avoid generalizing situations to the point that you make them larger than they should be. Once the stressors are identified, you can take steps to reduce them.
    Lack of exercise can inhibit sleep. In studies, a sedentary lifestyle affected how soon a person was able to fall asleep. Those who were active during the day reported falling asleep much faster. Exercise helps reduce stress which calms the mind and it causes the body to be fatigued, which is beneficial in promoting sleep.
    By Jason Ramm, MD, family medicine physician with The Cypress Clinic in Sulphur and medical staff member of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital
Terms of Service

    Events Calendar