By Stacey Robinson, Contributing Writer
The statistics are staggering: Sixty percent of us get inadequate sleep and 10 to 30 percent suffer from chronic insomnia. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body increases the production of stress hormones, and that can lead to headaches, heartburn, anxiety, depression, weight gain and high blood pressure. If you are suffering, here are some things to consider.
Figure out how much sleep you need. Most people feel well-rested after 7-8 hours, but some need more, some need less.Re-evaluate and prioritize activities. If you think you don’t have time to sleep enough, then you are doing too much.
Practice good “sleep hygiene.” Noise, temperature, light exposure, exercise and diet can affect your ability to sleep.
Rule out medical conditions and medication side effects. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, acid reflux, depression and chronic health issues can affect sleep. Also, some medications used for seizures, depression, anxiety, asthma and thyroid disorder can cause sleep disturbances. If you think you have a medical condition or you take medications that are interfering with your sleep, talk to your doctor.
Watch for alcohol use: Alcohol and other sedatives interfere with the body’s ability to get into deeper stages of sleep, so although alcohol may help you fall sleep, your sleep will be less restful.
Try relaxation techniques: Many cases of insomnia are caused by stress, which increases the release of hormones that cause you to feel anxious and awake. Stress also inhibits release of the “sleep hormone” melatonin. Stress-reduction techniques such as controlled breathing exercises and progressive relaxation can naturally help reduce stress hormones and increase melatonin.
Supplements or medications:
Melatonin, valerian and other herbal combinations, such
as supplement SerenX by Xymogen, may help stress-induced insomnia.
Over-the-counter medications are almost always a sedating antihistamine and can cause daytime grogginess or fatigue.
Prescription sleep medications are most often central nervous system sedatives, and also cause grogginess and fatigue. They can also worsen insomnia when you stop taking them.
Stacey Robinson, MD, is founder of Robinson Concierge Medicine in St. Petersburg. Her website is RobinsonMed.com.
Live Local! is a publication of LocalShops1, Tampa Bay's leading advocate for small businesses.