Do you get enough sleep? - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Do you get enough sleep?

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Sleep aids that play soothing sounds can help some insomniacs. Sleep aids that play soothing sounds can help some insomniacs.
Stacey Washington Stacey Washington
INDIANAPOLIS -

From pills to sleep strips and even gummies that promise a good night's rest, we spend $32 billion on sleep aids, but too often, many of us are still up all night.

Some people try playing recordings of a gentle stream or a rainy night to lull themselves to sleep.

You can even buy so-called "Dream Water" - sleep in a bottle - but many of us still battle at bedtimtime.

Stacey Washington of New Palenstine, Indiana knows the overnight routine by now.  After four years of sleep trouble, she says she's tried everything.

Stacey says she's tried melatonin, all the PM medications you can buy at pharmacies, and nothing's worked long term.

"I just wake up, I mean in the middle of the night, at random times and sometimes I can't go back to sleep.  Sometimes for a couple of hours," she said.

Stacey says after a bad nights sleep, "it puts me in a bad mood.  I mean, you're not happy because you have not had enough rest and you know the littlest thing might tick you off.  And that just sets in for a bad day."

To fight the morning blues, many people are turning to prescription drugs and even sleep clinic tests to find the key to zzzzzs.

Dr. Hany Haddad is a specialist at Community North's Sleep Clinic.  He knows why people aren't sleeping, and he knows exactly how to help them get a good night's rest.

So we asked him what really works, and what doesn't.

First, prescription meds.

Dr. Haddad says they should not be used long-term, because of possible short-term side effects. He says the same goes for the PM products you can buy at all drug and grocery stores.

"The primary product is Benadryl and it has sometimes longer half-lives than you think, so you end up groggy the next few hours of the day, so it's not for everyone," he said.

What about the supplement melatonin?  It's usually helpful without the sleepy side effects, but Dr. Haddad says most people don't take it early enough in the evening. He encourages his patients to take it two hours before you hit the hay.

And that old-fashioned go-to, alcohol.  A glass or two of wine, even though it's the most common treatment for insomnia, Dr. Haddad says it isn't  the answer.

"It may help you fall asleep, but it won't help you STAY asleep," he said.

When you are trying to fight drowsiness, a power-nap can help, but no longer than 20 minutes, and not close to bed time.

And no surprise, Dr. Haddad says caffeine is the enemy of sleep. Even decaf coffee has caffeine.

Something Dr. Haddad says is important for those in middle age who long-ago accepted that with age comes some kind of sleep trouble: "It's not normal not to sleep when you get older.  There may be some sleep disorder that needs to be addressed. Talk to your physician about it and let them explore it."

See five top sleep tips here.

He adds, "You don't want a sleep problem to go on for too long, because the health effects can be permanent. The literature is full of data that if you sleep for four hours for three days it effects your memory, and even sometimes memory you don't regain when you finally go back to your normal sleep."

So how can you find out if you are getting a good night's sleep?  We had Stacey try a new device called Zeo, that claims to measure the quality of your sleep, how long your REM sleep is and how many times you wake up.

She says it was easy to use, and is surprised by how little sleep it shows she got.

"I thought I got seven but according to this I don't get that much. It's been between four and six." 

And if you don't get a good night's sleep, what happens if you just plan to sleep later on the weekend. Can you make up lost sleep?

Dr. Haddad says no.  "You cannot catch up on the weekends. This is a myth.  It's night by night, how you feel the next day is night by night."

So, bottom line: what should you do to get a good night's sleep tonight?

Experts say the single most important thing you can do is wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Lower the lights, both in the house, and on your e-readers.  That helps produce natural melatonin in your body which helps you sleep.

Keep your room cool and air moving by adding a fan.

And consider a white noise maker.

You no longer have to spend big bucks on a machine. You can download free apps on your cell phone.

Turn off the TV, computers and phones an hour before bedtime to avoid stimulation and the blue light that can interfere with sleep.

As for Stacey, she's giving up the gadgets.

"I am going to try to turn the TV off. I am going to start with that one," she said.

And hopefully a better night's sleep will follow.

See the top five sleep tips here. 

National Sleep Foundation - For more healthy sleep ideas.








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