Medical Moment: 10 Ways to Better Sleep

Medical Moment: 10 Ways to Better Sleep

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Dr. Sharon Grundy, Medical Director of Primary Care, Board Certified in Internal Medicine

Dr. Sharon Grundy, Medical Director of Primary Care, Board Certified in Internal Medicine

Dr. Sharon Grundy addresses “10 Ways to Better Sleep”

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Sleep is affected by mental health, stress, pain and medical conditions. The amount of sleep a person needs varies tremendously, age being a huge factor. Although some people need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours!


General Sleep Requirements

Infants: As many as 16 hours a day

Teenagers: 9 hours

Most Adults: 7 – 8 hours


10 Ways to Get Better Sleep

  1. Reduce caffeine: Consider decreasing afternoon caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness.
  2. Eliminate alcohol: Alcohol is a sedative and can induce sleep, however it prevents deeper stages of sleep, causing you to wake in the middle of the night.
  3. Eliminate nicotine: Nicotine is also a stimulant and can make you more alert.
  4. Diet: Eating too much, too late can cause you to feel physically uncomfortable and precipitate acid reflux, which is hard to sleep through.
  5. Unwind: Life stressors can cause the body to secrete hormones produced by the adrenal gland, which disturb sleep cycles. Journaling before bed, meditation with deep breathing and simple biofeedback techniques can help with calming the endocrine system.
  6. Create good space: Your sleep environment is important. Consider the noises, lighting, a restless partner or the animal in your room and make changes accordingly. Bright clocks or even a view of your smart phone in the middle of the night can activate the brain.
  7. Keep a regular schedule: Creating a sleep schedule trains the brain to rest. It is also common for people who travel through time zones regularly, night shifts or have repetitive late nights  to have symptoms of insomnia. Limit daytime naps. Go to bed when you are sleepy, without making yourself sleep.
  8. Change the way you think: Worrying about sleep can affect your ability to sleep. This is a hard cycle to break. Distractions such as reading can help.
  9. Unplug: We are exposed to increased amounts of “blue light.” Greater exposure to blue light inhibits melatonin (our “sleep neuro- hormone,”); creates changes in our circadian sleep rhythms; effects alertness; and can even lead to psychological and disease susceptibility disturbances.
  10. Move it:
    Regular exercise has been shown to promote better sleep, with improved sleep imitation and a deeper sleep. My only warning is to limit exercise just before bedtime.

Medical issues that cause sleep issues:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg
  • Drug side effects
  • Chronic pain
  • Major Depression or Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Supplements and herbs that can assist:

  • Valerian
  • Chamomile
  • Hops
  • Melatonin

Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health.

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