Sleep quality
April 1, 2005 7:15 PM   Subscribe

How can I improve the quality of my sleep?

I'm not sure of all the reasons, but the quality of my sleep over the last 10 years seems to have declined. I wake up feeling exhausted in the morning, and--if there's no compelling appointment or place to be--usually try to fall back asleep, sometimes with success, and sometimes not.

I definitely don't have sleep apnea, and I don't take any drugs, drink caffeine after noon, or do the other things that all the sleep-related websites and books tell you not to do.

I get enough hours, and I have regular sleep habits, but the sleep I do get doesn't seem to refresh and renew me. This seems to have gotten worse over the years. Melatonin doesn't help, and the feelilng of fatigue has really impacted on the quality of my life.

Has anybody else had a similar problem? How have you dealt with it?
posted by curtm to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Seroquel has changed my life, see your doctor.

You may also want to check about sleep apnea.
posted by corpse at 7:28 PM on April 1, 2005

I would see a doctor. Respirologist, maybe. They have compact monitoring equipment nowadays that you can take home for a night or two. The doctor can then see and interpret detailed graphs of your sleep: pulse, respiration, movements, etc. If you want a simpler idea, sew half a sock onto the back of your nightshirt, and insert a tennis ball. This will prevent you from sleeping on your back, which tends to be the most disturbing position for many. See if there's an improvement.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:32 PM on April 1, 2005

How is your diet and exercise? Are you eating a healthy diet? Working out okay?

I'd see a doctor. My constant fatigue turned out to be a low-grade mono and type II diabetes!
posted by cajo at 7:39 PM on April 1, 2005

Do you worry a lot?

I don't know if there's a lot of scientific evidence behind it, but a lot of people I know that spend a lot of time worrying about everything in their life tend to sleep worse than the rest. It might be the amount of time it takes your brain to turn "off" or something to that effect, but if you're a worrier, you might want to check into ways to curb your worrying.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 7:41 PM on April 1, 2005

You might want to try going to a sleep clinic.

You're going to spent 1/3 of your life asleep, you might as well do it right!
posted by Marky at 7:53 PM on April 1, 2005

I swear I just posted about this topic on another thread. I'm sure you'll find that information useful.
posted by sjvilla79 at 8:13 PM on April 1, 2005

In the Buteyko breathing approach they claim that sleeping with your mouth open causes hyperventilation. What they suggest doing is placing some medical tape on your mouth to keep your lips shut during sleep and prevent this effect. I did this for a number of years and recommended it to a few friends who have all reported very positive results. Give it a try for a night or two, and see what results you get. They also recommend sleeping on your stomach or left side. See this site for more information on the Buteyko method.
posted by blueyellow at 9:02 PM on April 1, 2005

I have always had erratic sleep patterns but I've found, even under selfdefeating circumstances (indulgences. extended waking time, constant house moving & lots of stress), that the best quality sleep for me derives from a firm mattress and a good pillow - how old/worn are yours?
At present, for various reasons, I don't have these and I am suffering during awake times because of it.
These are price/quality/musculoskeletal system integrity sensitive items - that could be discussed with a Doctor, Chiropractor + bedding salesman.

And on preview... +\- what Marky said.
posted by peacay at 9:13 PM on April 1, 2005

Clear your head and basic things you have to do before going to bed.

For instance, clean up your room a bit. This has helped me becasuse I would look around me and see less things that bothered me before I layed down.
posted by Dean Keaton at 10:58 PM on April 1, 2005

sjvilla79 posted this link. Check that out.
posted by Dean Keaton at 11:05 PM on April 1, 2005

You really do not know if you have sleep apnea until you have been to a sleep clinic. Trained sleep lab techs can point out people in public who have sleep apnea, because they know what to look for.

No offense, but you cannot empirically claim that you do not have some form of apnea. Consider the sleep lab. There's no reason a sufficient number of hours of sleep are not helping, except perhaps a treatable and diagnosable sleep disorder. Its ok, it happens to thousands of people. The sad thing is, most never bother to get a sleep study done. It only takes one night, usually, and I would say it is worth it. If your health insurance policy covers it, go for it.
posted by tweak at 12:47 AM on April 2, 2005

I was suffering chronic headaches and rather lousy sleep as well. As some of the other posters on this thread mentioned in roundabout form, a big part of my problem was that my mind went nuts thinking about things as I tried to drift off.

After many rounds with a chiropractor and deep-tissue massage (felt great, but non-lasting -- glad insurance covered most), my doctor started me on 1mg of Klonopin at bedtime.

It has truly been a godsend. Six years later, without any need to increase the dose, I still get ~seven hours of quality sleep a night, I can usually fall asleep within 30 mintues, and my tension-induced headaches are a thing of the past.

YMMV, but talk to your doctor. Getting a regular good night's sleep has improved my quality of life dramatically -- work, sex, fun, etc..
posted by SpookyFish at 2:24 AM on April 2, 2005

Try those BreatheRight strips, those funny things that go over your nose. They help you to breathe really well.
posted by recurve at 7:10 AM on April 2, 2005

I have had maddening sleeping problems since I was a small child including wicked insomnia and sleep paralysis, and the best way I've discovered to regulate my sleep pattern and get a good night's sleep is honestly smoking pot 2-3 hours before I'm ready to go to bed.
posted by baphomet at 9:42 AM on April 2, 2005

tweak: Trained sleep lab techs can point out people in public who have sleep apnea, because they know what to look for.

Anyone know these telltale signs?
posted by Gyan at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2005

A terrible sleeper all my life, within the last year I found two things that, in tandem, ensure a good night's sleep (for me, ymmv): A "memory foam" mattress topper, and 20mg of amitriptyline every night.
posted by jtron at 10:39 AM on April 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've seen a doctor and take some medication. But sleep hygiene is what some the literature says is key.

Sleep Hygiene test
National Sleep Foundation
Sleep Health Centers - 10 tips for good sleep hygiene
Good luck.
posted by gleenyc at 7:03 PM on April 2, 2005

I recently lost 50 pounds by dieting and found that many aspects of "growing older" were actually aspects of "growing fatter". Since losing the weight, I sleep better, have stopped snoring (according to my wife) and my morning aches & pains (which were a daily occurrence) are no more. I don't know if you've gained weight in the last 10 years, but it could be a contributing factor. (BTW- The 50 lb. I lost represented about 20 years of weight gain, and I was able to drop it in 3 months. YMMV, but significant weight loss in a relatively short period is not impossible. In my case, it came down to diet [South Beach] and about 20 minutes of exercise per day.)
posted by Doohickie at 8:20 PM on April 2, 2005

Yay! I'm a "best answer"!
posted by Doohickie at 8:23 PM on April 7, 2005

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