Everyone experiences occasional sleeping problems. However, when you have a sleep disorder, it's important to find ways to get better sleep. A disorder is actually a general term for many kinds of sleep problems, including insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Narcolepsy, which refers to falling asleep suddenly during the daytime, is in this disorder category as well. Many of these sleeping problems need specific remedies. For example, stretching, getting leg massages or taking a hot bath can help you sleep better when you have restless legs syndrome. Taking short naps during the day for approximately 15 minutes can help when you have narcolepsy.
Sometimes anxieties, whether about work or your personal life, can cause you to have sleepless nights. When those things aren't the problem, you don't have to daydream about getting great sleep. There are some self-help sleep remedies available to help anyone who has trouble falling and/or staying asleep.
Better ways to get sleep with a disorder
Insomnia involves the inability to fall asleep at night. You have the tendency to feel "revved up" or too hyped to fall asleep. Even when you have insomnia, you can have a good night's sleep. However, sleeping through the night may cause you to lose sleep the next night. For example, once you have a good night's sleep you become anxious about the next night because you're worried your insomnia will return. One way to achieve better sleep with insomnia is to only go to bed when you're sleepy. If you don't fall asleep instantly, stay in bed for 20 minutes. After the time elapses, go to another room and try a relaxing activity like reading, and then try again. Also, avoid daytime napping. This makes it harder to sleep at night.
While you're sleeping, your breathing stops one or several times during the night because of upper airway blockage. Making lifestyle changes when you have sleep apnea helps you get better sleep. For instance, rest on your side, not your back. This helps your upper airways. Lose weight, as this can improve symptoms. Avoid smoking, alcohol and herbal supplements. These things make it harder for your airways to stay open while you're sleeping.
Self-help sleep remedies
Self-help sleep remedies can work regardless of the type of disorder you have. Often times, you can fit ways to get better sleep into your daily routine. Try keeping a sleep diary log to get clues on which disorder you have if you haven't been diagnosed. Also, keep a record of your daytime and nighttime sleep patterns and habits. You want to include a log of the following:
- When you went to sleep and woke up
- The number of hours you slept
- What you ate or drank during the day
- How long you spent awake
There a good chance you're doing something like drinking too much caffeine, which hinders your sleep at night. Regardless of whether you keep a journal or not, you can make some lifestyle chances to get better sleep.
For example, decide how much sleep is enough. Most people need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. You want to go to bed and wake up at the same time each night.
Turn off all your "can't live without" gadgets a few hours before you go to sleep. This means turn off your computer, TV, iPad and smartphone before going to bed. Even if you're not paying attention to the items, they can interfere with your internal clock. For instance, the TV screen stimulates your brain and decreases melatonin production. Thus, you're not sleepy because you're half-paying attention to what's on TV. Your bedroom should stay dark and quiet at night. You want to create an atmosphere for getting better sleep.
Sleeping pills warning
Using sleeping pills comes with a warning. You should always consult your family physician before trying sleeping pills. Yes, they may help you sleep better; however, the pills are only a temporary solution. In fact, your body can build up a tolerance to or over-dependence on the pills when used daily.
When to call a physician about getting better sleep with a sleep disorder
Schedule an appointment with your family physician or sleep specialist when you've tried self-help remedies but have no success. It's important to prepare for your doctor's appointment. Write down information about your sleep patterns and what self-help remedies you've tried. If you experience daytime sleepiness, experience sleep apnea or fall asleep at inappropriate times, your doctor may refer you to a sleep clinic.