Sleep is important for your physical and emotional health. Sleep can help you stay healthy by keeping your immune system strong. Getting enough sleep can help your mood and make you feel less stressed.
But we all have trouble sleeping sometimes. This can be for many reasons. You may have trouble sleeping because of depression, insomnia, or fatigue. If you feel anxious or have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may also have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Whatever the cause, there are things you can do.
Your sleeping area
Your sleeping area and what you do during the day can affect how well you sleep. Too much noise, light, or activity in your bedroom can make sleeping harder. Creating a quiet, comfortable sleeping area can help. Here are some things you can do to sleep better.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
- Move the TV and radio out of your bedroom.
- Try not to use your computer, smartphone, or tablet to compute, text, or use the Internet while you are in bed.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Use curtains or blinds to block out light. Consider using soothing music or a “white noise” machine to block out noise.
Your evening and bedtime routine
Having an evening routine and a set bedtime will help your body get used to a sleeping schedule. You may want to ask others in your household to help you with your routine.
- Try to not use technology devices such as smartphones, computers, or tablets during the hours before bedtime. The light from these devices and the emotions that can result from checking email or social media sites can make it harder to unwind and fall asleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. You might want to take a warm shower or bath, listen to soothing music, or drink a cup of noncaffeinated tea.
- Go to bed at the same time every night. And get up at the same time every morning, even if you feel tired.
- Use a sleep mask and earplugs, if light and noise bother you.
If you can’t sleep
- Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant scene. Focus on the details and feelings of being in a place that is relaxing.
- Get up and do a quiet or boring activity until you feel sleepy.
- Don’t drink any liquids after 6 p.m. if you wake up often because you have to go to the bathroom.
Your activities during the day
Your habits and activities can affect how well you sleep. Here are some tips.
- Get regular exercise. Figure out what time of day works best for your sleep patterns.
- Get outside during daylight hours. Spending time in sunlight helps to reset your body’s sleep and wake cycles.
- Limit caffeine (coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas) during the day. And don’t have any for at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco, especially in the evening. Nicotine can keep you awake.
- Don’t take naps during the day, especially close to bedtime.
- Don’t take medicine that may keep you awake, or make you feel hyper or energized, right before bed. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine may do this and if you can take it earlier in the day.
If you can’t sleep because you are in great pain or have an injury, or you often feel anxious at night, or you often have bad dreams or nightmares, talk with your doctor.
Restless Legs Syndrome: Getting More Sleep
Having a sleepless night now and then can be annoying. But when you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), going without sleep night after night can make life miserable. You may be so tired that you just feel like crying.
If restless legs are robbing you of sleep, you’re not alone. But there may be some things you can do for yourself to make it easier to get a good night’s sleep, especially if your symptoms are mild.
How can you make changes to sleep better?
If your RLS symptoms are mild, you may be able to get a good night’s sleep most nights by making some changes in your lifestyle. Make sure to follow these general sleep tips:
During the day
- Don’t drink liquids that have caffeine (coffee, tea, some sodas), especially 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Don’t use tobacco, especially near bedtime or if you wake up during the night. Nicotine is a stimulant, which means it makes you more alert and more awake.
- Don’t drink alcohol late in the evening.
- Get plenty of sunlight in the outdoors, especially in late afternoon.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. A light snack may help you sleep.
- Don’t go to bed thirsty, but don’t drink so much that you have to keep getting up to go to the bathroom.
- Set aside time for solving problems earlier in the day so you don’t carry anxious thoughts to bed. Try writing down your worries in a “worry book,” and then set it aside well before bedtime.
- Do relaxing activities before bedtime. Try deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, or muscle relaxation techniques. Take a warm bath. Play a quiet game, or read a book.
During the night
- Reduce noise in the house, or mask it with a steady, low noise such as a fan running on slow speed or a radio tuned to static. Use comfortable earplugs if you need to.
- Keep the room cool and dark. If you can’t darken the room, use a sleep mask.
- Use a pillow and a mattress that are comfortable for you.
- If watching the clock makes you anxious about sleep, turn the clock so you can’t see it, or put it in a drawer.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleeping and sex. A bit of light reading may help you fall asleep, but if it doesn’t, do your reading elsewhere in the house. Don’t watch TV in bed.
- If you can’t fall asleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t get back to sleep quickly, get out of bed and go to another room until you feel sleepy.
- Regular exercise is important, but very hard workouts may make your symptoms worse. Try to figure out what level of exercise works for your symptoms and at what point exercise makes them worse.
- Bathing in hot or cold water before bedtime may help. Or try using a heating pad or ice bag. Some people find that having a heated mattress pad on the bed helps.
- Change your sleep schedule. If your symptoms usually get better around 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., try going to bed later than usual or allowing extra time for sleeping in to help you get the rest you need.
- You may be able to control your symptoms by gently stretching and massaging your limbs before bed or as discomfort begins.
If your symptoms don’t get better, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe drugs to control your RLS and help you sleep.
Education and support are important components in the treatment of patients. By becoming more informed regarding their health and receiving support materials and links to outside resources, patients are better able to cope with their diagnoses. They also have the ability to make more informed decisions along their healthcare journey, helping them to achieve their treatment goals.
At CNSM, we believe in support not just for the patient, but also for the caregiver. Caregivers often keep track of medical information and treatment appointments and bear the responsibility of gauging the patient’s emotional well-being. This is often a large responsibility taken willingly, but one that needs additional support and strategies to help them cope.
We encourage all patients and caregivers to establish information and support networks by tapping into our resources or finding other avenues that work best for you. Please feel free to discuss any additional support needs with your physician or physician assistant.
Our goal is to make the financial aspect of care as seamless as possible for all of our patients. To achieve that goal we participate with most major insurance plans and will advocate on your behalf with the insurance company, whenever appropriate. At the same time, because of the way the managed care system is organized, there is often a need for the patient to become actively involved in this part of care, particularly if your insurance company requires a referral to be seen by a specialist.
The first step is to schedule an initial consultation with one of our providers. Please have your insurance cards and your referral with you when you call for your appointment. If you have been referred for testing only, please also have your physician’s order handy when calling. To help make your first visit with us go as smoothly as possible, our courteous scheduling staff will collect all of your demographic information during your initial phone call, and our highly trained billing staff will verify your insurance coverage for you prior to your visit.
Your first consultation will last approximately 30-60 minutes, during which time the doctor or physician assistant will talk with you about your medical history and will perform a complete neurological examination. The provider will discuss with you their findings and impressions, and will outline a plan for treatment and/or possible further testing. Appointments for testing can last anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on what testing your provider has requested. Our scheduling staff will help you understand what to expect during your visit.
To provide you with the best possible care and a more comprehensive initial consultation, we strongly encourage you to bring the following items with you to your appointment:
- Completed new patient packet (can be downloaded here):
- New Patient Packet
- Any medical and surgical records related to your current problem
- A diary of your symptoms
- A list of your current medications with strengths and dosages
- Actual films of any MRIs or CT scans, if applicable to your current problem
- Your insurance card(s)
- Insurance referral from your primary care doctor, as required.
- Please read and sign our Office Policies Document