If you’ve had trouble sleeping this past year, you’re not alone. Even before the pandemic struck, ushering in all kinds of new worries, eastern Kentucky had one of the highest rates of sleep deprivation in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Poor sleep worsens your thinking, memory and mood,” said Jim Thompson, MD, sleep medicine specialist at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Sleep Care Center. “Good sleep is vital to your health, both physical and emotional. If you are tired, irritable and prone to drowsiness during the day, you may have a sleep disorder that is treatable.”
“We often see patients that report a years-long history of falling asleep throughout the day. There are a variety of conditions that can cause this. This includes very common problems such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Restless Legs Syndrome. Less common problems like narcolepsy are seen in our clinic as well.”
Sleep problems can co-exist with other chronic conditions and contribute to the outcomes, which is why seeing a doctor is important. Patients with sleep disorders often remain undiagnosed for years. It is important to request a referral to a sleep disorder specialist if you feel that you are sleepy or unrefreshed, regardless of how much sleep you get at night.
Better Sleep Requires a Routine
Getting on a regular sleep schedule is one of the best things you can do to ensure better sleep, night after night.
“A good sleeper will go to bed and be asleep within 20 minutes, and maybe only wake up once to go to the bathroom,” said Jim Thompson, MD, sleep medicine specialist and neurologist at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Sleep Care Center. “Ideally, after around eight hours, you’ll wake up without an alarm clock because you’ve had enough sleep.”
Dr. Thompson recommends taking the following steps to get your sleep on track:
- Go to bed and get up around the same time daily, even on weekends.
- Turn off your phone/tablet/computer/television at least an hour before bed.
- Start a calming bedtime routine with habits like reading, taking a shower and writing down what you need to do tomorrow.
- Skip caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Maintain a bedroom temperature of 65 to 67 degrees at night.
- Keep your pets off your bed.
- Swap out your mattress or pillows if they are uncomfortable.
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, our sleep medicine specialists can help. Make an appointment today at CHISaintJosephHealth.org/lexington-sleep-care.