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Health & Wellness

4 Reasons You're Not Getting Enough Sleep

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Do you get enough sleep?

Skimping on shuteye not only makes you irritable, but also increases risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity and diabetes. According to new standards set by the National Sleep Foundation, adults ages 26 to 64 need between seven and nine hours sleep while those over 65 should get between seven and eight hours. If you have trouble falling to sleep or staying asleep one or more of these sleep stealers may be at work.

1. You fall asleep in front of the TV

Sleeping on the sofa is bad for several reasons, says Allen Towfigh, MD, board certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital, NYC. "For one, the bright light from TV suppresses the release of key hormones such as melatonin, which are necessary to trigger sleep." In addition, exposure to bright light stimulates the brain to stay awake. Use an iPhone app such as Relax Melodies to help you snooze instead.

2. You enjoy a nightcap before bedtime

A glass of wine sounds like a good way to unwind, but it can actually have the opposite effect. After the initial relaxation wears off, alcohol creates a rebound effect, says Towfigh. "This causes you to wake up prematurely." The result disrupts sleep and contributes to fatigue the next day. Stop drinking alcohol three to four hours prior to bedtime to sleep soundly.

3. You light up before bedtime

Along with smoking's many well-known health related issues it may also keep you up at night. "Although people often smoke to 'calm' themselves, nicotine is actually a stimulant," says Peter Fotinakes, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. "Therefore, nicotine too close to bedtime can prevent sleep." Snuff out butts before dozing -- or quit for good.

4. You take your meds at night

Certain medications such as over-the-counter cold medicines and memory boosting agents can increase alertness and make it difficult to sleep, says Towfigh. "These may be better taken in the morning than before bedtime." Ask your doctor if you feel your meds are keeping you up at night.*

In addition to these surprising sleep saboteurs, don’t ignore obvious sources of bedtime stimulation such as noise and light, says Fotinakes. "And be sure to keep the room temperature comfortable (65 degrees) as excess heat or cold can prevent a good night's sleep." Sleep tight!

*If you think you experienced a medication adverse event, you should contact your healthcare provider and report it to FDA MedWatch.


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