Getting more sleep can contribute to better overall health, and there are several things you can do to make sure you are getting enough of it. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
We all want it, we all need it, but for some people, like Alicia Post, getting a good night's sleep is, unfortunately, just a dream.
"I have a lot of trouble sleeping," Post says. "I go to bed very late, probably between 2 and 4 in the morning, and then waking up is challenging. I just definitely don't get enough sleep."
So she came to Dr. Steven Feinsilver at the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. He's helping her learn how to change her habits to train her body to sleep better.
"Sleep is actually a very powerful biological drive," Feinsilver says. "If you don't mess it up, it tends to work. Unfortunately, we do a lot of things that really mess it up."
We asked him what some of those things are so we can all adjust our behavior to try and rest a little easier. First, he says the biggest mistake people make with sleep is scheduling. He says that our body clocks should not be adjusted more than an hour or so each day. So sleeping late on the weekends may feel good at first, but it sets you up for trouble. It's almost like putting your body into a state of jet lag. So stick to the same time no matter what.
Next, our sleep environment could also be the culprit.
"One of the worst things we can do for sleep is to do a lot of other things in the bedroom," Feinsilver says. "If I were a purist, I would actually have you eliminate everything from a bedroom, although most people like a television in the bedroom. Television can be OK if it's relaxing and fairly brief, but in general, anything that's stimulating should be out of the bedroom."
Another sleep killer is alcohol. It may help you fall asleep initially, but it will have you up during the night, and will certainly contribute to snoring.
We all know that caffeine has an effect on sleep, but most people don't realize what a big impact it has. Feinsilver says it can stay in our system for sleep for six to 12 hours. So that 2 p.m. cup of coffee could be the reason you're not falling asleep at night.
Instead of prescribing sleep aids, Dr. Feinsilver first instructs patients to track sleep schedules and adjust behaviors, something that is working well for Post.
In the next Wellness Report, we'll offer some more tips on how to get a good night's sleep, and how to tell when sleep issues are actually signs of a disorder.