Consumer Watch: Free ways to fix your sleep, when you need help

Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. There is a link between not sleeping enough and many other health problems. (kokh)

Health issues that may come from habitually not getting enough quality rest can amount to expensive problems as you age.

There is a link between chronic conditions and not getting enough sleep, according to the CDC. In Oklahoma many more chronic conditions like heart attacks, depression, and arthritis are more common in people who sleep less than seven hours a night.

Your bed should be a place of rest that helps you in recharging you for the next day, but if the tossing and turning is getting to be too much, you could have a sleep problem or even a sleep disorder.

“As we all find out as we age, we don't tolerate that so well, and it plays a huge factor in how we feel during the day,” says Alexis Stinnett, a clinical nurse specialist with Norman Regional and Oklahoma Sleep Associates.

When you recognize that you are not getting the amount or quality of rest that is healthiest, you should try a few free fixes.

  • Clean up your sleep routine, by avoiding your computer, cellphone, or television right before bed time, and definitely do not use these things while you are in bed.
  • Try ditching coffee or other heavily caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m.

Cleaning up that sleep routine can be all about timing on your activities throughout the whole day, and not just where caffeine is concerned. Exercise, for example, can help you get a good night’s rest, but not if you do it right before you are supposed to start counting sheep.

“You want to exercise more in the morning or early afternoons, definitely not two hours before you go to bed because those cortisol levels are up which actually decrease your sleep,” says Stinnett.

You may need a specialist and a sleep test if you get constant headaches, snore, feel like you aren't breathing during portions of your sleep, or have strange leg movements.

At Norman Regional and Oklahoma Sleep Associates, they take the sleep data and figure out what the physical problem might be. Sleep apnea is a common culprit, and might require a mask to help you breath while you sleep.

The cause of sleep apnea is usually a physical issue in your airways, but weight and age can play a factor, so if you have gained weight recently or don't feel like you sleep as well as you use to, as you have gotten older, you may have developed a sleep problem. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and the room should be fully dark and cool at between 72 and 65 degrees.

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