Sleep – A Family Affair

We are a sleep deprived society & it’s getting worse; even with important information from the National Sleep Foundation & other reputable organizations we don’t change our behavior. What’s up with our lack of zzzs and how does it impact your health and that of your family?

Parents set the stage for their family’s sleep. They can teach good sleep hygiene to their children from an early age. Establishing good patterns begins in infancy. Routines are imperative. Sleep must be at the top of your ‘to do’ list. If you are up doing laundry at midnight you may want to reevaluate your priorities. It is difficult to be the kind of parent you want to be & truly enjoy life if you are chronically sleep deprived. You must take care of yourself.

  • For optimal health we need adequate sleep as much as we need regular exercise & a reasonable diet.
  • According to a 2005 study, adults are getting less sleep than 1998, short of the recommended 7-9 hrs/night.
  • Sleep difficulties are the rule- 75% of people have trouble with sleep 2 or more nights/wk
  • Women have more sleep problems than men; their sleep is often impacted by children, high stress levels, multitasking & hormones.
  • Children & teens need more sleep than adults.
  • Electronic gadgets are interfering with the sleep patterns of adolescents impacting their daytime school performance & mental health
  • Chronic truncated sleep contributes to day time fatigue & sleepiness along with interfering with the Big 5:
    • memory & cognition
    • heart health
    • mood
    • immunity
    • weight
  • So what can you do? Start with good sleep hygiene:
    • Go to bed & get up the same time each day, even on weekends
    • Have a restful bedtime routine & ‘power down’ for an hour before going to bed
    • Use bed for sleep & sex (not TV, paying bills or emailing on your laptop)
    • Get regular exercise, preferably earlier in day & in sunlight
    • Avoid caffeine after lunch
    • Avoid excess alcohol & don’t use it as a sleep aid
    • Keep temperature in your bedroom cool, especially if you are having hot flashes
    • Avoid sleeping during the day; a 20-30 min ‘power nap’ is OK
    • If you are not asleep in 15 minutes get out of bed & do something boring till you’re tired
    • Talk to your health care provider; review your meds & supplements with them. Consider a referral to a sleep specialist to rule out primary sleep disorders like Restless Leg Syndrome or Periodic Leg Movements, both more common in women. And the incidence of sleep apnea goes up for women after menopause.
    • A referral to a psychiatrist may be helpful if you are concerned about significant depression or anxiety problems.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term psychotherapy that works as well as prescription sleep aids as shown in several recent studies.
  • Prescription sleep aids can be helpful on a short term basis but some can be addictive & just compound your problem.

Chronic sleep problems are no laughing matter. You can set a good example for your children so that they can learn good sleep hygiene from early in life. Sleep impacts your quality of life, health & safety.

May your sleep be restful and plentiful.
National Sleep Foundation: www.sleepfoundation.org


Lesley Schroeder, M.D. is a board certified psychiatrist, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis and a North American Menopause Society(NAMS) credentialed menopause practitioner. She has had an active private practice in Sacramento since 1982. She specializes in health/mental health issues across a woman's life cycle & issues of the OB/GYN-psychiatry interface, such as PMS, depression in pregnancy & postpartum, peri/menopausal difficulties and sexuality. She has a special interest in holistic health maintenance/wellness, complementary medicine and advocacy; she has a passion for teaching.

Dr. Schroeder provides extended consultations for patients and offers a variety of workshops & consultation groups for psychotherapists. She is a national speaker for the CA Academy of Family Physicians. She is a CE provider with the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences and CA Board of Registered Nursing. She can be reached at 916-454-1013 or wisdom-wellness@comcast.com. Please check out her website: www.lesleyaschroeder.yourmd.com

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One Response to Sleep – A Family Affair

  1. Lesley A. Schroeder, M.D. on May 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I have a new website and blog! Please come visit.

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