Q: As a sole and solo caregiver to an ailing Dad, I have been suffering many a sleepless night. Any tips to get over my insomnia?
You are certainly not alone. Roughly 40 million people suffer from some sort of sleep disorder in the United States, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And sleep problems affect women more often than men.
Insomnia, defined as trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep and/or waking too early in the morning, is the most common sleep disorder in our country. It has many causes including: stress, anxiety, hormones, late-day caffeine fix, certain medical conditions and a poor sleep environment.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with insomnia:
1. Try to keep your body on a schedule. Partying late at night and sleeping into the morning can throw your body's natural rhythms off. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night.
2. Deal with your stress. Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep, so learn to chill out. Exercise, do yoga or pilates, enjoy a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea. Find what works for you to take the edge off.
3. Skip the grande double espresso at 9 pm! Caffeine can definitely leave you tossing and turning at night. Skip the coffee, diet Coke and chocolate while you're at it--for at least a few hours before going to sleep.
4. Do not exercise right before bedtime. Studies show that exercising right before going to sleep can actually prevent you from sleeping soundly. Move up your workout to at least 4-5 hours before hitting the sack!
5. Make your bedroom dark and quiet. Noise and lights can disrupt your sleep too. So create a quiet, dark environment. Use ear plugs or a sound machine to block out noise, if need be.