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I don't have trouble falling asleep, but I can't stay asleep. Why? 

"Ask the Experts" at East Jefferson General Hospital [Web Exclusive Content]

There are a few things that we do that can be disruptive to our sleep and prevent us from have a restful night's sleep. Some of these are substances that might come as a surprise to you because you may think they usually help you relax and fall asleep.

1.ALCOHOL may make you sleepy, drowsy and might help you obtain sleep faster, but you will remain in the first phases of sleep, which is a light sleep, and never enter deep restorative sleep. So alcohol actually disrupts your sleep cycles and phases.

2.NICOTINE stimulates your nervous system, and instead of helping you sleep, it helps keep you awake. It has the same effect as a cup of coffee. Smokers will also stay in a light sleep and spend less time in deep sleep, and may never enter delta sleep, which is the most restorative sleep that you can have. Most smokers will also wake up 3-4 hours after falling asleep as a result of going into nicotine withdrawals.

3.CAFFEINE increases heart rate, diuretic effects (makes you urinate more), raises body temperature, increases alertness, and stimulates the central nervous system. Caffeine is a stimulant and is used often to fight sleepiness and should not be taken at bedtime.

4. SUGAR is not a stimulant, but its effects are stimulating and sugar will raise you insulin level to metabolize it leading to energy production.

5. EXERCISING AT NIGHT can have an adverse effect on your sleep. Exercising increases your adrenalin, which will keep you awake. As a rule, exercise 3 hours before going to bed. It is much better to exercise in the morning.

6. STRESS is a big factor in keeping us awake at night.

7. TELEVISION can be very disruptive to your sleep. It will cause you to have frequent awakenings during the night. The tone of the television and the changes in the lighting from the television can wake us up as well.

For questions regarding sleep disorders please contact Sadie Ramsey, CRTT, RPSGT, and lead respiratory therapist at East Jefferson General Hospital’s Sleep Disorder Center at 504-849-8700.


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