Why Are Chronic Sleep Problems So Common?

How to tackle chronic sleep problems.


Many patients have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. In our stressful world, people rush from putting children to bed or completing projects and then either want time for themselves or worry about yesterday or tomorrow. They eat and exercise too late at night and are involved in stimulating activities that make falling asleep more difficult. Alcohol before bedtime can be a problem. While it can help people fall asleep, they are likely to awake in the middle of the night as the alcohol level drops in their brain tissues; they become hyperalert and cannot fall back asleep.

Melatonin, a brain hormone, can help some people fall asleep, but only if they are in a totally dark room or wearing black eye cover. That's because light striking the retina blocks much of melatonin's effect. Benadryl, a wonderful old antihistamine you can buy over the counter, has sedating side effects. Although it is not addicting, some people feel groggy the next day and don't eliminate the Benadryl until noon.

Don't forget about warm milk at bedtime. It is soothing to the stomach and has a protein that has a high concentration of the amino acid tryptophan, which has sedating properties. A cooler environment that's quiet and dark makes people sleep better.

A fascinating effect of quinolone antibiotics such as Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox is that they can intensify the photon-stimulating effect of light striking the retina. Since many people who are sick and on antibiotics watch television or read in bed at night, they inactivate melatonin and do not become sleepy.

Normally, we will feel sleepy near bedtime, and we should go to sleep then. Do not fight through the feeling to finish a project, chapter, or program; let the sleepiness work.

Health Advice Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for the general information of the reader and to help patients become better informed to consult with their own physician. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship, and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating… Read more >>