Scott Ross, M.D., family medicine physician, identifies some common issues that keep us from sleeping well and offers tips to help combat those problems that may affect our getting quality rest.
Q. How much sleep do adults really need?
A. On average, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Some people feel best with eight consecutive hours, while others do well with six or seven and a nap.
Q. What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
A. Short-term problems can include lack of alertness, impaired memory, relationship stress, diminished quality of life and a greater likelihood for car accidents. Long-term problems can become serious. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity and depression.
Q. What are some common myths about sleep that aren’t actually true?
A. Some people claim they can get by on five or less hours of sleep a night, but this actually poses a health risk. You should aim to get at least seven consistent hours of sleep. Another one is that snoring is harmless – it can actually be a sign of sleep apnea. Also, a common belief is that having an alcoholic drink will help you sleep better. It might help put you to sleep but prohibits deep, restful sleep.
Q. What are some common sleep disorders?
A. Sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, sleepwalking, sleep terror and teeth grinding are the most common sleep disorders.
Q. What are some remedies to getting better sleep?
A. Some tips to keep in mind if you’re having trouble sleeping include:
- Stick to a sleep schedule; go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day.
- Avoid heavy meals within a couple hours of bedtime, and avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening.
- Create a restful environment in a room that’s ideal for sleeping, cool and dark.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Q. If getting good sleep is a problem, at what point should I call my doctor?
A. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping for an extended period of time, it’s time to make an appointment with your primary care provider. He or she can perform a physical exam to help identify what is affecting your sleep. If necessary, they can refer you to a sleep specialist or order a sleep study.
Scott Ross, M.D., is a family medicine physician with MidMichigan Physicians Group. He sees patients in Midland. Those who would like to schedule an appointment may contact his office at (989) 839-3500.