Sleep plays a vital role in your health and overall quality of life. The amount of sleep you get can impact your relationships, job performance and overall happiness. Insomnia is fairly common. Nearly 50 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia, and almost 20 percent struggle with it every night.
In our quest for some shut-eye, we sometimes sabotage our own sleep. If you are relying on any of the methods below, you could be inadvertently robbing yourself of sleep.
Having a “Nightcap” Before Bed
It’s a long-standing misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. While a nightcap might help you feel sleepy, as the alcohol metabolizes in your system, it really messes with your ability to stay asleep. Alcohol before bedtime will cause recurrent awakenings and suppresses the rehabilitative stage of sleep, known as REM. Don’t cheat yourself; avoid alcohol before bed.
Watching TV to Fall Asleep
Watching TV or using your phone in bed is one of the worst things you can do when trying to fall asleep. It’s all tied to the blue light emitted by these screens. It prevents the release of melatonin from the pineal gland in your brain, which is what makes you feel sleepy. This is especially a problem for adolescents who take their phones to bed with them.
Using Sleeping Pills
Long-term reliance on sleeping pills is not the answer to your sleep problems. While it is OK to take an over-the-counter sleep aid if you’re having a few nights of bad sleep, you should not be relying on it nightly. If you are taking sleeping pills, try to wean yourself off of them slowly by lowering the dose and then start to reduce the number of days that you take it. If your sleep troubles persist after two to four weeks, talk to your doctor.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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