updated October 29, 2022
If you live somewhere that observes Daylight Saving Time, you may notice disruption in your sleep for a few days after we “spring forward” in March and when we “fall back” to standard time in November.
Like jet lag from travel, these time changes can interrupt our sleep schedule for a few days. And if you already have trouble sleeping, it’s even more of a problem.
Here’s a review of what sleep professionals recommend to help. But for persistent or severe problems, see your own doctor to get started.
This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice change as we learn new things. Discuss with your physician or appropriate healthcare provider.
These profiles are for your “information and inspiration”, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by me .
(Affiliate links are used in this post.It costs nothing extra to shop through these links and this blog may earn a small commission, which funds its existence. )
What is Chronic Insomnia ?
Most of us have trouble sleeping occasionally, but if you persistently have difficulty with sleep, you may have a medical condition associated with sleep disturbances. These include
- sleep apnea
- restless legs syndrome
- depression and/or anxiety
- post-traumatic stress disorder
Some people have true chronic insomnia, meaning persistent sleep difficulty not due to some other cause. There are various criteria to diagnose chronic insomnia but in general include
- difficulty falling or staying asleep
- at least 3 nights per week for at least 1-3 months
- with impairment of daytime function, such as fatigue/sleepiness, poor concentration, irritability, school or work dysfunction
How can you sleep better with chronic insomnia?
The first step for chronic insomnia as well as occasional difficulty sleeping is identifying and treating any underlying medical issues that might cause poor sleep. In addition to the ones mentioned above these include
- any painful condition
- heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux)
- congestive heart failure
- lung diseases like asthma causing nighttime breathing difficulty
- menopausal night sweats
Sleep specialists recommend non-drug management of chronic insomnia and reserve sleep medications for more resistant cases.
Sleep meds were one of the 7 drugs that are overused in my previous post.
(Read more about Ernest Hemingway’s preserved Florida home at this previous post)
Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity
Lifestyle for better sleep
Experts recommend sleep hygiene , basically lifestyle changes, as the initial treatment. Some people have developed bad habits in regards to sleep that need to be unlearned and new behaviors put in place.
For optimal sleep you should
- Engage in regular exercise- moderate intensity , tai chi , yoga and low-impact aerobic exercise
- Avoid evening large meals
- Limit caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
- Use the bedroom only to sleep and for sex
- Maintain a regular bedtime-awake schedule
- Avoid daytime naps
- Avoid distracting stimuli at bedtime-watching television, using electronic devices, talking on the phone
- Stay in bed only while sleep
How to dim the lights for better sleep
The light from electronic devices- clocks, thermostats, televisions, monitors-can disturb your sleep even after you turn off your phone and tablets. This light can be blocked by stick on light blocking covers than can block out the majority of it.
Light from my clock made it hard for me to fall asleep before I discovered these products. With them I fall asleep easier, and can fall back asleep if I wake up.
Maintaining a regular schedule helps to set or reset your sleep/wake cycle. So go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
However, if you can’t sleep, rather than lie in bed awake, you should get up, do a non-stimulating activity, then return to bed when sleepy.
If you have persistent sleep loss, consider more intensive therapy by a professional.
Cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia , CBT-I , significantly improves chronic insomnia and daytime functioning and is recommended as first line therapy.
CBT-I combines cognitive therapy with sleep restriction, relaxation training and stimulus control.
Treatment typically requires 5-8 sessions conducted by a health professional trained in its use. Patients need to participate by keeping a sleep diary and writing down daily thoughts in a journal, while continuing with the sleep hygiene practices mentioned above.
Another option provides CBT via an app
Somryst® is a prescription-only digital therapeutic intended to provide a neurobehavioral intervention (CBT-I) to patients 22 years of age and older with chronic insomnia. Somryst treats patients with chronic insomnia by improving a patient’s insomnia symptoms.from the website
SleepPhone by Acoustic Sheep
A physician, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai had trouble falling asleep after being awakened at night by calls from the ER. Her husband suggested listening to relaxing music to help her fall asleep.
She designed a comfortable headphone for her own use, and eventually started a company to make and sell them . You can try her SleepPhone made by her company AcousticSheep.
Manage stress, learn to relax
If you have occasional trouble sleeping due to stress, relaxation techniques can help you. Techniques include meditation, yoga, imagery, abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques . These can reduce tension and anxious thoughts that inhibit sleep onset and maintenance.
You may find these ideas from a previous post helpful .
5 steps to manage stress and strain
Expert advice from physicians
Think alcohol will help you sleep better ? Read this advice from a psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby.
The truth about alcohol and sleep
Curious about sleep apnea? Dr. Deborah Burton offers this review of another common sleep problem.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIFFERENT SLEEP APNEA TYPES
exploring the HEART of healthy sleep
My goal is to bring health and wholeness to everyone who seeks it and hope you will join me. Please visit my resources page.
19 thoughts on “Expert advice to sleep well every night-an update”
Thank you for sharing these science-based tips for getting a sufficient amount of healthy sleep. It’s such an important foundation for good health.
Thank you for sharing this post in the Talent-Sharing Tuesdays Link-Up 41.
You’re welcome Carol. I know from personal experience what a difference adequate sleep can make to one’s well being. When I was still practicing I encouraged my patients to make sleep a priority.
This is great info. So helpful for a common problem. Thank you for sharing!
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You’re welcome, Marielle, I appreciate that.
Thank you, Dr. Aletha – A helpful post for this common problem. We will feature your post on the next Blogger’s Pit Stop to help more bloggers.
That’s wonderful Kathleen, I hope it does. Especially now, sleep can be elusive, but we need it all the more.
Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
Thanks for posting — these are great tips and it also reminds us that we need to actively do things to help encourage and foster our deep sleep and rest rather than just expecting that we will automatically be able to sleep well. .
That’s an excellent point Paige. Sleep is not a passive activity, our brains are active during sleep; some experts belief that the brain repairs itself during sleep and this doesn’t happen when sleep is disrupted. Thanks for adding your insight.
Thank you so much for sharing this insightful post through #senisal. I suffer from sleep apnea and do use a sleep apnea machine, which does help, but from time to time, approximately once every week or two, I may have a night of tossing and turning until the early hours of the morning. I am at a loss why this happens and what triggers it.
You’re welcome Esme. I understand your dilemma. I too use a CPAP machine and while I sleep well most nights ,occasionally I have a restless night. For me, it’s usually if I get off my usual routine, like staying up too late, or having a troubling day. You might try keeping an activity/sleep diary for a few weeks to see if there is a pattern. Or perhaps talk to your doctor, especially if this is a new thing, or if you’ve never achieved consistently good sleep. Keep trying, and let me know what happens.
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Aletha, thanks for your response. Good info, and I will just do that and keep a log. I do have a high demanding day time job, many times, long and extended hours and then still trying to keep my blog active and going.
That’s too bad Dee, I hope you have found some ways to help.
I’m so glad to see this advice on getting a good night’s sleep, especially after the comments on my recent “Why am I so tired?” post. I had no idea that sleep problems were so common–at least among us mid-lifers. Thanks for sharing this on #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I will share on social media as well.
Thanks Christie. Yes, they are common, even in younger people. I believe much of it is lifestyle related, but many are medical issues also.