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Losing sleep? Here's some tips to help better your bedtime routine

Posted: 8:20 AM, Dec 04, 2020
Updated: 2020-12-06 13:38:12-05

Not only are people across the country dealing with a pandemic, the news of the most recent election, holiday stress and the time change as we hop into winter are all reason's why some of us may be stressed and losing sleep.

There's lots of stress in people's lives right now, whether its financial insecurity, health concerns or worrying about their loved ones. Dr. Raya Wehbeh, medical director of sleep medicine at GBMC says that there's been a lot of disturbance in people's everyday routine.

"People are working from home, sometimes that actually gives the perception of insomnia because you will have the luxury to stay asleep a little bit later in the morning," she explained. "So if you stick to your regular bedtime, you may not fall asleep as easily because you're not as exhausted."

Dr. Wehbeh said that some people have the opposite problem to that as well. Some people develop some mood problems and that by itself also can lead to some problems with insomnia.

The doctor says there's a bit of a difference when it comes to "having trouble sleeping" and actual insomnia or a chronic insomnia problem. She says you should have trouble falling or staying asleep at least three nights a week for at least three months for it to be called a chronic insomnia problem.

The treatment of insomnia depends a little bit on what they think the cause for insomnia is.

"Sometimes the insomnia is caused or at least exacerbated by other conditions, which could be a medical condition such as conditions that can cause pain or breathing problems, which could be a mood problem like depression or anxiety," Dr. Wehbeh explained. "Some sleep disorders could cause insomnia such as sleep apnea, which is a very known to cause trouble staying asleep particularly and that goes undiagnosed a lot of times or under-recognized."

She says when they find any of those situations, they try to the cause. If it's found that the person has insomnia, she says there's two treatments, one by medication and the other by cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

"[That] is a type of therapy that targets certain behaviors and thoughts that may have developed over time and people who have insomnia," Dr. Wehbeh said. "We work on changing these thoughts and behaviors and adjusting them to help the individuals to fall asleep naturally on their own. And that actually proved in studies to be more effective than medication therapy even."

In terms of tips to help better your sleep, Dr. Wehbeh says they always tell people to stick to a regular sleep schedule, try not to sleep too late and not to stay up too late, because you want to give your body the message that this time of your day is allocated for sleep.

"You want to avoid doing things other than sleep in bed, such as eating, drinking, watching TV, checking emails, doing work in bed, or even preferably in the bedroom," she explained. "These are, these are all things that if you do them, you give them the wrong message to the body."

She says something she recommends is establishing a bed time routine that you do every night in anticipation of falling asleep. It can be something along the lines of taking a shower, reading, drinking water, etc. prior to going to bed.

Dr. Wehbeh says that helps the body anticipate sleep as the next step.

She also recommends journaling ideas and schedule a "worry time" where you can focus on the things you're stressed about for the following day.

Wehbeh says that if you have insomnia or if you are laying frustrated in bed, always remember that the natural response for the body is to make up for the lost sleep.

"You might not feel as pleasant or as happy the next day, but you'll be able to get through your day and remember that you are going to fall asleep the night after, or even if it's not that then the night after, if the problem is persistent, then consult your physician because there's a lot of times things that you may not be aware of that may be happening that we could help with."