29 February 2016

Sleep Hygiene Tip of the Week: Sleep Hygiene FAIL and what to do about it

So you've tried everything you can think of to improve your sleep hygiene. 

You've managed to keep regular bed time and rise time habits. 

You've started using a white noise machine to cover up the sound of your night owl neighbors thumping around in the apartment upstairs.

You practicing yogic breathing and mild stretches as soon as you turn off all your backlit electronic devices and start the process of relaxing into sleep.

You've eaten a light meal at least two hours before bedtime.

You've jotted down the worries and gratitudes of the day.

Dog gone it, but you even bought some fab new sheets and a really great pillow, and you can't wait to crawl into bed.

So you pull up the covers, turn out the lights, and what happens?


You can't sleep a wink. Or... you fall asleep (nice!) but then you are wide awake at 3am, or you are up three or four times a night to use the bathroom, cursing the tea that helped you fall asleep for waking you up. Or you fall asleep, wake up, toss, turn, and for what? It feels like you haven't slept a wink, or maybe only a few winks, versus the thousand you were hoping for.

When you have taken charge of all the conditions conducive to good sleep, and you still can't sleep, what then? Are you doomed to be sleep deprived?

The answer is simple. Talk to your doctor. Tell them, listen, I've done this and this and this... Give them the full list of your efforts.

Even better, include two weeks of a diary you kept of your sleeping habits for your doctor to review. Mark the time you went to bed, the time (or times) you woke up, and any observations (how many trips to the bathroom? bad dreams? leg cramps?). Share these details with your doctor.

They should ask you some more questions to help further nail down why you can't sleep and, ultimately, they may refer you to a sleep specialist, who will more closely examine what's going on with you. There are literally dozens of sleep disorders which could explain your predicament. That is why there are sleep specialists; they hone in on the likelihood that you have one or more conditions based on the history they take and a number of other factors they are trained to identify.

The specialist may have you participate in one or more sleep studies, which are comprehensive diagnostic exams very well known for generating accurate data and diagnoses.

Sleep hygiene is a great practice, and we here at SleepyHeadCENTRAL.com absolutely wish everyone would try each and every little tip they can get their hands on if they are struggling to achieve quality sleep even when given ample opportunity for it.

But we also recognize that sleep problems are not simply a side effect of lifestyle and home decor decisions.

Your poor sleep might be caused by a health concern you aren't even aware of (the curator's was, or instance).

Or there might be a pharmaceutical explanation or an unidentified drug interaction to ferret out in a visit with a sleep specialist.

Who knows? People do have genetic predispositions for certain kinds of sleep disorders; maybe you do not know your parents or their health history and, therefore, cannot know that restless legs or insomnia run in the family. Don't rule out the possibility: you might have a sleep disorder.

Certainly, sleep hygiene can't fix actual sleep disorders. Sleep hygiene exists to improve our chances for better sleep, but all the most perfect sleep hygiene in the world won't amount to a hill of beans if we have real medical problems that are going untreated.

If you do has a sleep disorder, you will want to know what it is so you can nip it in the bud. Sleep disorders are treatable and today's therapies are much more comfortable and effective than those from the past.

Don't shortchange yourself the opportunity to sleep better and gain all that good sleep has to offer: energy during the day, lighter mood, sharper focus, and much better overall health and well-being.