Most of us know how it feels to not be able to fall asleep, especially when there is a long day ahead. For many, the problem resolves in a few days as the stress level goes down. However, some people may experience sleep issues on an ongoing basis or may have recurring episodes of difficulty falling asleep. It is important to maintain good sleep quality for improved health and to prevent conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Difficulties with sleep could be due to several reasons such as stress, irregular sleep schedules, lifestyle habits, mental health disorders, physical illness and pain as well as the effects of medications and other underlying sleep disorders. Insomnia is the most common cause of sleep issues. It is characterized mainly by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and trouble falling back asleep after waking up. It is further classified as episodic, persistent, or recurrent based on the duration of symptoms.
Certain lifestyle factors can have a significant impact on our sleep and could be contributory to insomnia. Here is a list of a few lifestyle measures that could help improve the quality of our sleep.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Sleep Quality
Blue Light and Poor Sleep Quality
Light exposure decreases the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. Blue light in particular suppresses melatonin stronger compared to other lights. Avoiding bright screens from cellphones about 2 hours before sleeping can help promote sleepiness. If using your phone is necessary, you can turn on the blue light filter or use brightness dimming apps like Night Mode (Android) and Dimmer (Apple).
Using Sleep Medications
Melatonin is one of the common over-the-counter sleep medications and is made synthetically in a lab. It is more widely available in pill form. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and some people who experience sleeping problems have low levels of melatonin. Therefore, melatonin as a sleep aid can help promote sleep. Melatonin should not be used for individuals who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an autoimmune disorder, have seizure disorders, have high blood pressure.
Always ask a doctor to know how sleep aids may interact with other medications, personal health conditions and the dosage to take. It is important to note that over-the-counter sleep aids are only a temporary solution for insomnia and are not intended for long-term use. Consistent use of sleep aids can also lead to tolerance which will decrease the effect of the medication. Additionally, do not consume alcohol when taking sleep aids.
For more information on insomnia, therapy options and medications available, please visit Guildview pharmacy or contact our pharmacists.