Sleep specialists share tips to help fall asleep

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Many Americans have trouble sleeping through the night, but doing so is important to living a healthy life.

Health care officials have developed a number of methods to help you get a better night's sleep.

Sleep specialists at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said there is a sleep-deprived epidemic in the Mid-South and across the country. They recommend adults get 7-8 hours of sleep and kids get closer to 10 hours per night.

"Adolescents who are sleep deprived are not going to perform as well academically," Dr. Merrill S. Wise said. "They are somewhat in a fog, they are not going to be able to attend to what's going on in the classroom."

Dr. Wise has a few tips to help you fall asleep:

  • Turn off digital media closer to bed time.
  • Do not start intense or stressful projects at night.
  • Start your day with exercise.
  • Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed.
  • You can also try a warm bath or shower, or you can read a book.

"We need to turn off things that have an on/off switch, we need to lower the light levels, Wise said, "Sometimes taking a nice, warm bath or shower will help relax the person and then we want to shift into even lower gear with maybe some quiet reading."

If you still have problems, melatonin may be able to help you.

"We all make melatonin naturally; it is a signaling molecule," Wise said. "By administering melatonin in the earlier part of the evening we can actually try to move that circadian clock earlier to a more traditional bedtime and therefore a better rise time."

Of course, you should consult your primary care physician about your problems with sleeping before you take any supplement or medication.

Sleep specialists also say Mid-Southerners have unique challenges to getting a good night of sleep. With so many FedEx, law enforcement, and health care workers, a non-traditional sleep pattern is commonplace in the area.

"The key thing is to follow a consistent pattern that allows enough time to get that 7-8 hours of sleep each and every day or night," Wise said.

Doctors said you should strive to achieve the three prongs of health--balanced diet, regular exercise, and 7-8 hours of sleep.

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