Longer Days, Shorter Nights, Less Sleep?

March 4, 2014

With spring’s arrival, the days are getting longer and the evenings are getting shorter. That could mean restless nights for some, but there are tricks to getting the sleep you need.

“Nearly one third of Americans have some kind of sleeping problem. It can be caused by anything from stress and physiological disorders to something as simple as an unsuitable sleeping environment,” said Adeel Khan, MD, of Mercy Clinic Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine. Dr. Khan is board certified in sleep medicine and pulmonology and treats patients with sleep disorders as well as diseases of the lungs and respiratory tract.

“Some people think they got enough sleep but they still feel tired,” he added. “If you’re feeling like you could use a nap while you’re at work, the sleep you had wasn’t deep and restorative.”

He said sleep is just as vital to a person’s health as proper nutrition and exercise. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. When people don’t get enough sleep, the consequences are impaired judgment and reaction time, memory problems, depression, a weakened immune system and increased sensitivity to pain.

People often turn to over-the-counter and prescription sleep aides to cure chronic insomnia. Before they do that, they should consider the risks and side effects. Frequent users have reported difficulties waking up and feeling groggy the next day. Over time, users can grow a tolerance for the active ingredient, causing them to need more to achieve the desired effect, and that can be dangerous. Dr. Khan recommends skipping the temporary relief of sleep aides and creating these effective habits for a good night’s sleep:

  • Do what you can to reduce and manage stress.
  • Be physically active during the day, not too close to bedtime, to promote a deeper sleep.
  • Limit fluids, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Keep a cool, dark and quiet bedroom.
  • Avoid naps and go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on days off, to set a natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual to clue the body to start winding down.

“If these steps fail, there could be underlying medical conditions. Snoring, sleep apnea or other issues could be the source of your tired days, or your partner’s tired days,” said Dr. Khan. “You may need a sleep study to accurately diagnose and treat your specific disorder or confirm what you suspect is keeping you tired.”

Sleep studies measure the depth of sleep and how a person’s body responds to sleep problems. Snoring and sleep apnea, for instance, can effect breathing during sleep and cause sufferers to have repeated nights of light sleeping. They can cause sleep deprivation even when people seem to be getting enough time in bed. Both can be diagnosed in a sleep study. For more information about sleeping better, talk to your primary care physician or visit /content/mercy/us/en/service/s/sleep-disorder-treatment.html.

Media Contacts

Tina Rockhold
Fort Scott, Columbus
Phone: 620-223-8094