Sleep Disorders Insomnia

What's Keeping You Up?

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Summary & Participants

Sometimes we know what is standing in the way of a good night's sleep. But sometimes we don't. So what's keeping you up? The answer may surprise you.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults. Insomnia is reported by a third of all adults.

ANNOUNCER: And one reason for that could be our own busy lives. We all have so much to squeeze into a day. Which is why lots of us are squeezing it into our nights as well. Paying attention to what we do just before bedtime is one way to start sleeping better.

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: You don't want to make your bedroom your activity room. Don't balance your checkbook while you're sitting on your bed. You should read somewhere else then go to bed, that's where you sleep. You don't necessarily want to talk on the phone and have all your conversations while you're in your bedroom.

RICHARD ROSS, MD: It's important to try as best you can to keep the stimuli of the bedroom more sleep-related, rather than stimuli-related.

ANNOUNCER: Preparing for a good night's rest might mean putting yourself on a media curfew.

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: People staying up all night on the internet, in chat rooms and doing all their work at night, "I stayed up all night last night," "I was watching a concert from Australia" or "in a chat room all night." And not only does that impact on the normal routine of going to bed, it may induce psychological stress and anxiety as well.

ANNOUNCER: Even something as healthy as exercise might be keeping us up.

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: Exercising too close to bed actually raises your body temperature and causes hormones to be released that make sleep initiation difficult.

ANNOUNCER: Luckily it turns out that one form of exercise may actually promote sleep.

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: If you have sex, there's pretty good evidence that it's easier to get to sleep and that sleep is deep. It seems that sex is an arousing, stimulating thing, but maybe it causes a drop in body temperature right afterwards and it's easy to get to sleep.

ANNOUNCER: Activities before bedtime are just one part of the sleep picture. Making your bedroom sleep-friendly is another.

PATRICIA MURPHY, PhD: It is difficult to sleep in a light room, so if you can have heavier curtains or shades or blinds on your window. You want to keep the temperature comfortable, typically, a quieter room will prevent awakenings, prevent sleep fragmentation.

ANNOUNCER: The clue to your insomnia can even lie in what you're eating or drinking, and when.

RICHARD ROSS, MD: You definitely want to avoid anything with caffeine in it after five in the in the afternoon. You definitely want to avoid alcohol before going to sleep. Certainly alcohol has an immediate hypnotic effect. It makes people feel sleepy. But it's a terrible hypnotic drug, because it wears off within a few hours, and then a person is often awakened in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep.

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