Saint Vincent Hospital Drives Awareness of Chronic Insomnia During Better Sleep Month

May 6, 2024

Worcester, Mass.— May 13, 2024 – There’s nothing quite as frustrating as not being able to get to sleep and stay asleep. Insomnia happens to most people at one time or another in their life but is more common in older adults. During Better Sleep Month, Saint Vincent Hospital encourages individuals to live better lives by getting better sleep.

Insomnia is the most prevalent type of sleeping problem in individuals. With insomnia, people have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Some issues that lead to insomnia include worrying about certain things that makes your mind race or taking any new medication (either over the counter or prescription) that may be causing side effects. Sleep apnea can be another cause for lost sleep at night: When an individual suffers from sleep apnea, he or she stops breathing shortly while sleeping and subsequently wakes up after each cessation. Movement disorders, such as Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, are other causes of sleeplessness. Such conditions cause uncomfortable feelings in the legs that can lead to unsettled sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation states older adults may experience insomnia because of a change to their circadian rhythm. “Our body has internal clock that gives us signals when it is time to go to bed. As we age, these circadian signals become less efficient which result in elderly people going to bed earlier and waking up earlier,” says Dr. Anthony Izzo, Neurologist and Medical Director of the Saint Vincent Hospital’s Sleep Center.

According to Dr. Izzo, adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, individuals don’t get enough sleep for many reasons. People function better with the appropriate amount of sleep but when they go without sleep, they may be irritable, forgetful, depressed, and be more likely to have falls.

There are some steps adults can take to help sleep better. “Follow a regular schedule, going to bed at the same time each evening and waking at the same time each morning. Create a bedtime routine and follow it each night 30 minutes prior to going to bed. By doing a routine regularly, your body will begin to know when it’s time to sleep,” explains Dr. Izzo. Also, make sure the pillows and mattress are comfortable, exercise frequently, but avoid exercise three hours before bedtime, and be aware of when you eat. “Eating a large meal close to bedtime can prevent you from sleeping well,” he says.

Most importantly, Dr. Izzo urges, talk with your primary care physician to rule out any physical problems that may be causing the restless sleep patterns. Only a physician can diagnose some of the more serious causes of sleep disorders.

With a little work on your part and help from your doctor, you should be able to get a good night’s sleep without counting sheep.

The first line of defense when it comes to how to treat insomnia is behavioral changes. This includes things such as:

  • Limiting fluids up to 3 hours before bed
  • Avoiding caffeine and/or tobacco, especially within 4 hours of bed time
  • Not having a large meal before bedtime
  • Keeping your bedroom as quiet, dark, and cool as possible
  • Only use your bed to sleep and avoid using it to read, watch TV, or other activities
  • Being as active as possible during the day

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you’re not alone. More than 85 million Americans have trouble sleeping or suffer from a sleep disorder. For those who are experiencing sleep troubles, Saint Vincent Hospital’s Sleep Center can help. Click here to learn more. In order to see a sleep specialist at Saint Vincent Hospital, you must have a referral from either your primary care doctor or a specialist. Once you have a referral, call Patient Access Scheduling at (508) 363-9729 to set up an appointment.

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