Eight Tips for Getting Your Best Sleep

May 2016

Everyone needs sleep, but unfortunately, not everyone gets a good night’s sleep. Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or just simply getting enough sleep are common problems experienced by many.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 million to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems, but only a small percentage are diagnosed and treated. If you suffer from sleep issues or are just simply tired of being tired, it’s recommended that you speak to your physician or seek treatment from a sleep professional. 

“Sleep is important because we have to do it. There is not a single animal that does not need sleep,” says Oscar Schwartz, MD, BJC Medical Group sleep disorder specialist and medical director of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center. “Most importantly, if someone does not get a sufficient quality or quantity of sleep, they may face future medical issues often associated with inadequate sleep.”

Individuals not getting a good night’s rest might find themselves facing issues such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and weight gain.

“At some point, a person not getting adequate sleep might find themselves developing further complications often associated with these issues, such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease, to name a few,” Dr. Schwartz says.

May is Better Sleep Month. If you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, Dr. Schwartz recommends you try to address the issue before complications arise. You may try to make changes on your own or, if needed, seek help from a professional such as the fully accredited, nationally-recognized Sleep Disorders Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, where sleep medicine experts can help you find a solution through a thorough evaluation.

Patient benefits at the Sleep Disorders Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital

  • Comprehensive testing onsite in a private bedroom.
  • Home sleep testing to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Team of board-certified sleep physicians is available to consult with patients before and after any treatment or testing.
  • Minimal wait times; appointment scheduled in a matter of days -- not weeks.

Eight Tips for Getting Your Best Sleep 

  1. Prioritize and plan your sleep:   Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep a day. Anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep is considered normal.  Although they don’t have to be consecutive hours, if you make up sleep with a nap, make sure you nap before 3 p.m. and limit it to no more than an hour.  Take a sleepiness quiz to determine if you are getting enough sleep.
  2.  Identify if you are at risk for common sleep disorders:   Sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome include warning signs, such as loud snoring; stopping breathing or gasping for breath during sleep; feeling sleepy or dozing off while engaging in daily activities; difficulty sleeping three nights a week or more; unpleasant tingling, creeping feelings or nervousness; and the urge to move your legs when trying to sleep. If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may want to consider a sleep study.
  3.  Address behavior changes that may affect your sleep, such as caffeine and alcohol intake. Both can have stimulating effects that can impact your quality of sleep, as well as your ability to stay asleep and fall asleep.
  4.  Be aware of sleep aid side effects:  Over-the-counter sleep aids can actually be more problematic than helpful because of possible side effects, such as grogginess the next day.
  5.  Eat less food in the evening hours:  You don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you also don’t want to eat right before bed. Your lightest meal of the day should be the closest one to bedtime.
  6.  Read a book or listen to music before bed:  Exposure to light, such as the use of electronics and watching television can impact your sleep. It’s suggested that screen time or other electronic device use be limited prior to bedtime.
  7.  Man’s best friend should sleep in their own bed:  If you allow your pets to sleep in your bed, you may have difficulty staying asleep. Pets have a habit of waking us up throughout the night, so have them sleep in their own beds.
  8.  Know your own sleeping habits:  If you sleep alone, consider asking a relative or friend to observe your sleeping habits and identify whether you snore or stop breathing at night. They can help you determine if you might be experiencing a sleep disorder.

If you are interested in participating in a sleep study or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schwartz or one of our sleep physicians, call 314.542.WEST (9378) or toll-free 844.542.9378 or request a call for an appointment.

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