Physician explains how to get those much-needed ZZZs

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says people who don’t get seven to nine hours of sleep per night are at risk for significant health problems, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Charles Davies, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Carle who specializes in sleep medicine, agrees, saying it’s important to commit to getting enough sleep, even if it means a lifestyle change.

“The most common reason for insufficient sleep hours is people don’t plan enough sleep time; they get too busy. But adequate sleep is very important to a person’s overall health, so they need to take this seriously,” Dr. Davies said.

Sleeping in is not the answer. “Catching up on sleep over the weekend doesn’t help. People need seven to nine hours of sleep each night,” he explained.

So, how do you get these precious hours of shut-eye?
“It starts with commitment. You have to want to get enough sleep,” Davies said. “That means you have to stop texting, watching TV, doing household chores or job-related work and go to bed.”

Dr. Davies recommends developing what he calls good sleep hygiene. “Be sure your bedroom is dark and quiet with no distractions.  Don’t read, text or watch TV in bed.  When you do that, you’re training your brain to be awake in bed, and it will be harder to fall asleep in bed,” he said.
“Also, don’t drink caffeine or eat chocolate before bedtime.”

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, it may be difficult to get enough sleep.

If you suffer from insomnia – difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, with morning fatigue – Dr. Davies encourages you to talk to your physician. Your doctor can refer you to Carle Sleep Medicine where sleep specialists can help diagnose and treat insomnia and several other sleep disorders.

“You don’t have to go through life exhausted,” Dr. Davies concluded.