8 Reasons You're Losing Sleep

Posted by Next Avenue on

E-Readers

(This article previously appeared in Grandparents.com)

As if there weren’t enough things keeping you tossing and turning each night, here’s a new one: Using short-wave, blue light-emitting e-readers, like the iPad, iPhone, Nook Color, Kindle and Kindle Fire before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep, according to a December 2014 study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

"When blue light hits the optic nerve, it tells the brain to stop producing melatonin," which is "the key that starts the engine for sleep," says Michael Breus, diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "This is especially problematic, since as you get older, the ability to produce melatonin becomes even more compromised."
 
Fixes: Open up a real book instead. (Remember those?) If giving up your e-reader is impossible, look for screens and glasses that can block the sleep-stealing blue light on websites like Lowbluelights.com.

(MORE: 6 Habits That Ruin a Great Night's Sleep)

Being Overweight

Carry extra pounds, especially in the neck and trunk section, and it’s more likely you’ll suffer from sleep apnea, which causes your airway to become blocked or obstructed during sleep, robbing you of quality deep sleep. The condition affects 90 percent of obese men, though it's not purely a man's disease. The Cleveland Clinic reports that after menopause, it’s just as likely to affect women. Even more disturbing, it goes undiagnosed in as many as 80 percent of those who get a lousy night’s sleep.

"Sleep apnea can mask itself as fatigue, trouble with concentration, dry mouth or even depression," Breus states.

Unfortunately, the relationship between sleep apnea and obesity is a bit of a chicken-egg scenario. Do sufferers have problems because they’re obese, or is their obesity stoked by their compromised sleep? No one knows for sure, but what is known is this: Poor sleep makes people less motivated to increase physical activity, which can lead to more weight gain. Additionally, reduced sleep is associated with elevated levels of the hormone leptin, which helps regulate appetite.

Fixes: Among the various treatments for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air pressure via a mask that sits over your nose or mouth while you sleep. Other treatment options include losing weight, oral appliances (that resemble mouthguards), and Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation (USA) therapy, a new FDA-approved implantable device.

(MORE: A Good Night's Sleep Could Ward Off Alzheimer's)

Medications

Many popular over-the-counter pain medications, like Excedrin and Bayer Back and Body, may contain caffeine, which helps the medication get absorbed more quickly, but can cut into your sleep, according to Breus (who suggests always checking the label first). If you’re feeling under the weather, beware of nasal decongestants and daytime cold or flu medicines, as well, which can contain pseudoephedrine; you’ll feel jittery instead of tired.

Diuretics, water pills for heart disease and high blood pressure, and ADD medications like Adderall and Ritalin can also disrupt sleep, says Dr. Hrayr Attarian, a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Ill. Other culprits include steroids and some medications for depression or asthma. "As with any new medication, always check with your doctor first," Attarian says. 
 
Fixes: If your meds are causing sleep problems, "First, I’d suggest talking to your physician to see if your medication can be changed or the dose adjusted," Attarian says. "If that doesn’t work, you can go to a sleep clinic to discuss treatment options that may or may not include sleep aids. Taking a sleeping pill is not always the right thing right away, especially if you are taking other medications to manage health conditions."

(MORE: 6 Foods and Medications That Don't Mix)


A Warm Bath

Body temperature naturally begins to drop before bedtime, preparing us for sleep. Although a warm bath can relax and calm you, taking one too close to bedtime will not give your body enough of a chance to cool sufficiently to bring on slumber.

Fixes: To reap the full benefits of your bath, the National Sleep Foundation recommends finishing up your soak at least an hour before climbing into bed. While you’re at it, keep your room cool. "We sleep better in cool rooms," says Dr. Patrick D. Lyden, chairman of the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif..

(MORE: Can't Sleep at Night? Look at Your Day)

Choosing the wrong foods

If you like to snack before bed, watch what you eat. Loading up on foods that contain excessive salt or fat can stimulate brain waves, bringing on nightmares instead of sweet dreams, says the National Sleep Foundation. Choose foods that contain tryptophan (an amino acid linked to sleep quality), whole-grain carbs (which help boost serotonin production) and certain minerals (like calcium and magnesium, which can have a calming effect). Examples include half a banana and a handful of almonds, whole-grain crackers and peanut butter, a mug of warm milk, or half a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

Fix: In general, stick to a routine of eating early in the evening and try to avoid sugar at night. "Late meals are more likely to make it harder to sleep; snacking in the middle of the night can worsen insomnia," says Dr. Andrew J. Westwood, a member of the American Academy of Neurology and American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Additionally, eating too much can make you feel physically uncomfortable when you lie down, and may cause heartburn, contributing to wakefulness.

(MORE: 6 Healthy Foods to Put in Your Grocery Cart)

Clutter

The ideal bedroom should be simply furnished and decorated, so there’s not much to distract you from the primary reason you’re in there — to sleep. Excess clutter and mess can often cause anxiety, and remind you of all your unfinished business, making it harder to fall — and remain — asleep.

(MORE: Take the 30-Day Declutter Challenge)

Exercise

Sure, being physically active can make you tired, promote sleep and improve the quality of your rest, but exercising vigorously too close to bedtime can rev you up instead. "Aerobic exercise can raise your core body temperature long after you’ve finished," says sleep specialist Rubin Naiman.

Fixes: Naiman suggests completing exercise at least three hours prior to bedtime. However, gentle exercise like yoga, he says, can be helpful to promote relaxation and sleepiness.

(MORE: The Best Exercise to Protect Your Bones)


Stress

When you’re stressed, your body secretes cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. This can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm, says Naiman. "Cortisol is naturally produced in the morning. It peaks at around 8 a.m., when it can be helpful to naturally energize us,” he explains. "But at the wrong time—like nighttime—it can make us hyper-aroused and disrupt our sleep."

Fixes: In addition to yoga for relaxation, a new study in adults over 55 finds that practicing a popular form of meditation known as mindfulness meditation can reap improvements in sleep quality and reduce insomnia and fatigue. Mindfulness meditation can also help reduce stress, according to a 2009 Massachusetts General Hospital study. Visit Mindful.org to learn some basics.

(MORE: 6 Health Risks of Poor Sleep)
 
If meditation is not your thing, there’s always a good old-fashioned belly laugh; laughter actually induces physical changes in your body, says the Mayo Clinic. It cools your stress response and can increase positive thoughts, which, in turn, causes your body to release neuropeptides to help fight stress.
subscribe to sdpb email updates food and cooking banner image learning blog link living blog link news and information blog link science and technology blog link sports blog link image

The Latest From SDPB Radio News

Smoke Covering Black Hills From Montana Fire

Smoke from several fires in Montana is blanketing the Black Hills this afternoon. Spearfish Fire Chief Mark Sachara...

Night Moves

John Pelant and Micky Alfano are the core of Minneapolis-based Night Moves. Formed in 2009, Night Moves released...

In The Moment ... Moment In Sound With Bo DePena

In The Moment ... July 21, 2017 Show 139 Hour 1 SDPB’s Steve Zwemke talks with musician Bo DePena. His latest EP is...

Personalities: Gloria Mackoy, a Gospel Country Heart

Gloria Mackoy, a country gospel singer and songwriter and former De Smet resident, visited Chuck Anderson in-studio...

Rounds: Senate GOP Still Working To Overhaul ACA

Following a lengthy meeting at the White House Wednesday night, South Dakota US Senator Mike Rounds says Senate...

Peregrine Falcons found in South Dakota

Peregrine falcons have been confirmed nesting the South Dakota Black Hills. These are the first nesting locations to be confirmed in the state in the last fifty years....

In The Moment ... Adoption In South Dakota

In The Moment ... July 20, 2017 Show 138 Hour 1 Today we talk adoption in the state, going beyond the politics of...

SD Supreme Court Overturns Bosworth Perjury Convictions; Other Convictions Stand

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overturned Annette Bosworth's perjury convictions but upheld other charges...

Task Force Abandons Legislation To Place Cap On Ballot Questions

The legislative task force looking into the ballot measure process in South Dakota will not consider limiting the...

PS015: Tyler Read Joins Us At The Potuck Society

This week at The Potluck Society we talk to a manual laborer, a graffiti artist, and a community arts engagement specialist. What do they have in common? They're all...

The Latest from NPR News

House And Senate Reach Deal On Sanctions For Russia, Iran And North Korea

The sanctions would punish three countries; the bill also aims to prevent President Trump from relaxing sanctions...

Fate Of Poland's Supreme Court Is Now In President's Hands, Despite Protests

The U.S. State Department issued a statement urging all sides "to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate...

U.S. Airstrike Kills Afghan Police Members; More Than A Dozen Killed

The strike hit Afghans who were in a compound that local media describe as a security outpost in a village that had...

NAACP Holds First Trump-Era Convention With New Interim Leader

The nation's oldest civil rights group is facing questions about its leadership and next steps under Trump as it...

Rural Californians Want Price Relief From GOP Health Bill, But Most Won't Get It

GOP efforts to repeal the ACA are still in flux, and there's more talk now of trying to work out bipartisan fixes...

What Really Happened At That Robotics Competition You've Heard So Much About

The controversy surrounding a highly anticipated robotics competition for teens from around the globe sometimes...