A lot of people would like to improve their sleep quality. Many of us have tried various tricks to get better sleep, often with mixed results. In this report Dr. Roy V. Hakala with Minnesota Craniofacial Center in St. Paul, MN explains some proven methods that anyone can use to get a better night’s sleep. He also mentions a few things that don’t really work as you would expect.
In the category of home care, Dr. Hakala explains that one of the most important things that people can do is to maintain a schedule. The human body has a circadian rhythm, an internal clock that prepares us, biochemically and emotionally, to go to bed at night and to wake up about the same time each morning. So it is important for people to go to bed at more or less the same time every night and to get up at more or less the same time every morning.
It is not a problem to sleep in occasionally on a weekend. However, Dr. Hakala says, it is destructive to make a practice of staying up late and then sleeping late. But, he says, “if you had to pick one of the two as the more important factor, it’s more important to get up at roughly the same time each morning.” People who need extra sleep should go to bed a little earlier rather than sleeping in.
Exercise is another important consideration. The old theory used to be that exercise in the evening was a bad idea because it would speed up the metabolism and make it difficult for someone to go to sleep. However, Dr. Hakala says, more recent studies have shown that the old theory is not true. A regular exercise program at any time of the day improves sleep quality “pretty dramatically.” Exercise in the evening is fine, provided you don’t work up a sweat, develop a rapid heartbeat, and then try to go right to sleep.
Sleeping pills are another method some people try. Dr. Hakala says that sleep aids can help in the short run. These pills are only intended for intermittent use. Dr. Hakala points out that the body has an amazing ability to rebound. If you take the same medicine every night, the body will find ways to work around the medicine. The body then becomes dependent on the medicine. The medicine is difficult to quit but is not really helping with sleep problems.
Some people like a glass of wine, or something similar, before bed. Dr. Hakala says that alcohol is not the answer to sleep problems. Alcohol is not only a sedative, it’s a muscle relaxant. So the throat muscles relax, and that tends to close off the airway. The result is that the person who had the drink before bed sleeps poorly. A typical sleep pattern might be sleeping for about four hours, but with poor breathing, then waking up briefly and then sleeping poorly the rest of the night. Dr. Hakala suggests that no one should have any alcohol within four hours of going to bed.
Dr. Roy V. Hakala graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1975 and has been working in the field of TMJ disorders and obstructive sleep apnea ever since. He established the Minnesota Craniofacial Center, P.C., specifically for the treatment of these disorders in 1994. Dr. Hakala is, among other things, a Diplomate of the American Board of Craniofacial Pain and a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He spoke with Sleep Better TV, providing online sleep breathing disorder video news content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.