Learning to Sleep
If sleepless nights are darkening your days, you may need to do more than count sheep to get the rest you need. “Sleep is essential to good health,” says Edward Stepanski, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
How essential? New research suggests there may be profound health consequences when people consistently get less sleep than they biologically require. Most adults need seven to eight continuous hours of sleep each night, Stepanski recommends. Without sufficient sleep, everyday tasks often become difficult. Concentration drops, memory falters and reaction times slip. Sleep deprivation can interfere with work, driving, social activities and other things.
Sleep disorders affect at least 40 million Americans every year.
Tips for sleeping better
There are a number of ways to tackle insomnia. For instance, try to get on a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. “The biggest thing is to maintain reasonable sleep/wake habits,” Stepanski says, “and to keep that schedule consistent on weekends. Don’t start taking afternoon naps, going to bed early or getting up late.”
You can also improve sleep by:
- Avoiding drinks that contain caffeine
- Sleeping on your side
- Taking a warm bath or reading before bedtime
- Keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
- Not eating a heavy meal before bed
Try to relax and wipe your mind clean of worries before settling between the covers, advises Stepanski. For example, avoid dealing with financial matters or engaging in heated conversations close to bedtime.
What we can do
Since 1978 RUSH’s team of health care professionals has been helping people overcome sleep disorders, with experts in psychology, neurology and pulmonary medicine who work together to develop individualized sleep management plans for every patient.
With eight private bedrooms and a state-of-the-art monitoring room, the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center offers full services for everyone. From sleepwalking to sleep apnea, kids and adults can get the help they need to manage their sleep.
Interactive Information for
Find out more information about your particular sleep problems with our unique, interactive conversation about sleep. This Web-based tool uses a friendly, conversational tone to help you explore your personal sleep issues in depth by asking pertinent questions that lead you to targeted information.
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