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I Can't Sleep

The holidays are winding down and it is time to get back into our "normal" routines. Hopefully this includes getting at least eight hours of quality sleep every night. Sleep is a necessary process in life and can often be difficult to achieve. There often aren't enough hours in a day to get done the tasks you want or need to do so often that means cutting back on sleep. It is recommended to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night but the average adult in the United States gets much less than that. What about when you want to sleep but you can't? Different approaches to this issue will be discussed in this article.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to sleep on a chronic basis. This does not mean you are too busy to sleep, but rather it means that you lie down to go to sleep and are unable to do so. It may also present with being able to fall asleep but waking after just a few hours of sleep and being unable to fall asleep again. It is an increasing problem throughout the country. Decreased amounts of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, weight gain, decreased performance at work or school, and many other negative side effects.

What are the causes?

Insomnia is sometimes caused by depression, anxiety, or stress. If you feel that this is a reason for your insomnia, visit with your primary care provider to determine if medications to treat your underlying cause can be beneficial. Sleep apnea can also be a cause of poor sleep and can be evaluated and treated by your physician.

What can I do to fight insomnia?

In order to promote good sleep, you need to have good sleep hygiene. Try to avoid exercising within 2 hours of going to bed. Instead, exercise earlier in the day as regular exercise helps induce good sleep patterns. Also, avoid eating heavy meals within 2 hours of bedtime as this can be cause for problems. If you are hungry before sleep, try a small snack instead of a large meal. Also, avoid caffeine intake, tobacco use, sugar intake and excessive alcohol intake before bed as they can lead to inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Try to have a bedtime routine each night to let your body know it is time for bed. Also, avoid watching TV, reading, doing homework, or other things that don't need to be done in the bedroom. Instead, do these things in a different room of the house so that you get good sleep in your room.

If you have tried promoting good sleep hygiene and are still having chronic problems, contact your primary care provider. A good night's sleep is key to having energy and alertness during the day. If you aren't getting good sleep, your health may be at risk so visit with your primary care provider today.

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