12 Steps to Sleeping Better

Dr. James Stewart is more than just a family dentist. While caring for the smiles of families from Livonia, Michigan and the surrounding areas is one of Dr. Stewart’s top priorities, he is also a healthcare provider with a special interest in sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

In fact, Dr. Stewart is considered to be an expert in the field. With extensive technology at his dental office to help diagnose and treat patients with sleep apnea, Dr. Stewart has treated countless individuals with varying forms of dental-related sleep conditions. From diagnosing the problem with a sleep study, to getting to the root of the condition, to treating it using a sleep apnea device or other solution, Dr. Stewart provides his patients with the best care in an effort to overcome this debilitating condition.

Because of this, Dr. Stewart knows the importance of a good night’s sleep. Follow these tips to sleep more soundly and get the rest that you deserve:

  • Pick a relaxation ritual. Engaging in a relaxing activity, preferably with dim lighting, helps separate sleeping times from times that elicit excitement, stress, or anxiety. Don’t tackle anything that is too physically or emotionally stimulating right before bedtime. Instead, turn to soothing activities like talking a warm bath, meditating, or reading. Whatever you do, stay away from bright light because it signals the brain that it’s time to awaken.
  • Turn everything off. If you can view a clock from your bed, move it. In fact, getting rid of the clock is effective for 90 percent of people who have difficulty sleeping. Also, be sure to turn off all other electronics and other items that could distract you or wake you from sleeping. If it’s necessary to leave something turned on, be sure it’s dimmed and the volume is turned down.
  • Stick to a schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, and even on weekends when possible. This practice is all about circadian rhythms, which means that sleep, like other homeostatic processes, is regulated by our daily patterns.
  • Create a safe haven. Sleeping soundly requires the right environment- dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool. It helps if distractions, including exposure to light, uncomfortable temperatures, poor air circulation, or a snoring partner, are limited, as well. While some potential sleep disturbers are beyond your control, blackout shades, earplugs, humidifiers, and fans can help block out the major offenders.
  • Get comfy. When it comes to sleep, comfort is key. To ensure optimal comfort, make sure your mattress is in good shape, your sheets are a comfortable thread count for you, and your pillows are your preferred firmness.
  • Write it down. Instead of dwelling on the day’s drama right before bed, set aside a “worry time” earlier in the day. This frees you from having to think about those concerns when you get in bed at night. Writing, drawing, or listening to music often helps people deal with stress and worry.
  • Watch what and when you eat. Don’t eat anything two to three hours before your regular bedtime. The same rule applies to liquids. You don’t want to disrupt your slumber because of the need of a bathroom trip. If you suffer from heartburn, avoid eating spicy foods for dinner, as they may prevent you from lying down and sleeping comfortably.
  • Set the stage for sleep. Keep work, computers, TVs, and other distractions out of the bedroom. Reserving the bedroom for sleep and sex actually helps strengthen the association between bed and sleep. Reading in bed, for example, is fine if it helps you fall asleep, but the bottom line is: When you’re in the bedroom, engage in activities that help you relax.
  • Use your imagination. Your typical waking and sleeping times are programmed in your subconscious mind. Instead of counting sheep, try resetting the program. Hypnosis and guided imagery- even listening to an imagery CD as you fall asleep- can help you change negative sleeping patterns and achieve more restful slumber.
  • Fit in fitness. Fitness is important, but don’t partake in physical activity right before bed. Studies show that people who are more physically active get better sleep. A good time for exercise is during the late afternoon, especially since it takes your body a while to fully cool down, and a cooler body temperature is associated with the onset of sleep.
  • Say no to smoking. If you need one more reason to stop smoking, here it is: Nicotine disrupts sleep. So do caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate. These substances, plus certain medications, activate and mobilize your system, making it harder for you to fall asleep.  If you must consume these substances, do so earlier in the day.
  • Enjoy the daylight. The body’s natural sleep hormone, melatonin, is secreted in darkness and inhibited in light, so getting sufficient exposure to light during the day can help you stay awake and alert. On the same token, Keeping your bedroom as dark as possible at night can help promote the production of melatonin and the onset of sleep.

If you suffer from snoring and sleepless nights, call Dr. Stewart at (734) 425-4400 to schedule an appointment. With years of experience helping patients overcome sleep apnea, Dr. Stewart can examine your sleeping habits and determine the right treatment to help you reclaim your life and sleep better.