Ask the Expert

Excerpt from Today's Chicago Woman Magazine, April, 2014

Christina S. Cooper, PA-C

I have trouble falling asleep. My physician said I need to work on my "sleep hygiene". Please explain what that means.

Sleep hygiene involves habits that promote the best sleep possible. Most adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. One of the most important sleep hygiene habits is to maintain a regular sleep schedule. You should be aiming to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Another good habit is to avoid caffeinated drinks after lunchtime and any alcoholic drinks near bedtime. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it prohibits your body from entering into a deeper, more restful sleep, leaving you tired in the morning. Relaxation techniques before bedtime can also be helpful. You may want to try breathing exercises or light stretching. Avoid all electronic devices at least an hour prior to bedtime. This includes television, computers, tablets, and phones. The light emitted from these devices can trick your brain into becoming more alert, making it difficult to fall asleep. It may be necessary for you to see a neurologist or sleep specialist to rule out disorders affecting sleep such as sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Talk to your doctor to address specific concerns that may be affecting you.

Christa S. Cooper PA-C, MPH, Clinical Neurosciences, SC

Read the full TCW Magazine article