When was the last time you tossed and turned in bed, unable to fall asleep? If this problem is an ongoing, nightly ritual, take note: Sleep is essential for your body to recuperate and regenerate itself to remain and stay healthy.
Lack of sleep is associated with many chronic, life-threatening diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity.
If getting and staying asleep is elusive, ask yourself, are you doing everything possible to help yourself get a good night’s sleep? Are you:
- Going to bed at approximately the same time each night?
- Keeping your bedroom as dark as possible?
- Turning down the thermostat to 68 degrees?
- Exercising regularly?
- Getting off social media and all electronics at least one hour before bedtime?
- Avoiding alcohol during the evening?
If you are following the checklist of what can help you fall asleep easily and stay asleep too, and you are still having difficulty getting to sleep, here are important steps of what you need to do next:
- Stay in bed and rest
Falling asleep once your head hits the pillow is the best way to enter dreamland. But, when sleep is not happening, learn to relax, let your thoughts wander, and enjoy the comfort of resting in your bed. Resting is good for everyone. Too many of us lead busy, stressful lives. It’s good for the body to “chill out” and to lay in bed with your eyes closed. During this time, allow yourself to think, pray, meditate, or run through a gratitude list, which can be quite relaxing and eventually will result in your dozing off into a deep sleep.
- Keep away from all electronics
No matter how tempting it is to grab your cell phone or the TV remote to scroll social media or catch a late show when having trouble falling asleep, don’t. The bright lights from electronics or a TV also called blue light, interfere with your ability to fall asleep. That’s because blue light from electronics suppresses melatonin, a hormone helping regulate your sleep-wake cycle, essential for a full night’s sleep.
- Your bed should only be used for two things
Your bed is personal, and there are only two activities it’s used for – sleep and sex. So you pull back the covers each night and slip in between the sheets. This simple act tells your body, “time to sleep” or if you’re lucky, “time for intimacy.” However, if you are in the habit of bringing your laptop or cell phone or eating a snack in bed, within time, your brain will associate your bed as a “do it all” sanctuary instead of just for sleep and sex.
- Get up and get out of bed
On the one hand, you can continue to stay in bed. But once 20 minutes have passed and you’re lying in bed wide awake, unable to relax, it’s time to get up out of bed. Once you’ve left your bed, avoid turning on bright lights and do an activity relaxing you. This might include reading a book, deep breathing, or meditating. Once you feel sleepy and relaxed, return to bed. But if sleep is still eluding you, try not to let it worry you. Everyone has had a sleepless night for various reasons. Remember, insomnia happens sometimes. It’s how you react to it that matters. See your doctor if your insomnia is occurring nightly for at least two weeks. Have them evaluate your situation to devise a plan to help you get the sleep you need.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.