If You Have Trouble Sleeping, Join the Club [POLL/AUDIO]
If you're struggling to get enough sleep these days, you're not alone.
Recent studies show as many as one million Garden State residents may be suffering from various sleep disorders.
"There is no simple answer for why people have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, but in many cases it's related to stress - from a variety of sources. I think we live in a 24-7 culture where our normal circadian rhythm of being up for a while and then going to bed and sleeping at night is challenged," says the Associate Director of the Cooper Hospital Sleep Disorder Center, Dr. Steve Akers.
He points out while sleeping pills are generally safe, they can have side effects, and many times they're not effective, or lose effectiveness over time.
So what's the best way to try and get enough sleep?
"If you're having a problem falling asleep or staying asleep, the first rule is to not go to bed until you feel tired and ready to go to sleep," he says. "Many people make the mistake of trying to make up for lost sleep by going to bed early, and if you go to bed before your body and your mind are ready to go to sleep, you won't fall asleep, you'll toss and turn, you'll become frustrated and anxious and you'll actually make the problem worse."
Dr. Akers says if you do get into bed and you haven't fallen asleep within half an hour to 45 minutes, "you literally need to leave the bedroom - go to another part of the house, and wait until you become sleepy and tired again.
"If you're tossing and turning, without quite realizing it the bed becomes associated in your mind, somewhat unconsciously, with not sleeping, but actually with being awake."
To promote good sleep he recommends getting up at the same time each morning, and he points out recent research confirms that exercise promotes good sleep, but it should not occur too late at night because that can wake you up.