Sleep is something we all need. It is vital to our health for a variety of reasons. For instance, when you sleep, you form new pathways in the brain that help you remember information and learn new things. Sleep also allows your body to repair itself.
But many people have problems sleeping. In fact, getting good rest is a bit of a mystery to many of us. Learning more about sleep issues and how to deal with them may help you get the slumber you need. Below are some common sleep questions answered.
Why Do I Wake Up With a Headache?
Headaches in the morning are fairly common. A study in JAMA of Internal Medicine involved 18,980 people over the age of 15. The participants completed a series of questions on their frequency of morning headaches, substance abuse, and mental health issues. The results indicated that 7.6 percent of study participants reported chronic morning headaches. (1)
Morning headaches can occur for several reasons. For example, migraines are often a cause of morning headaches.
According to the American Migraines Association, the morning is the most common time for a migraine to develop. (2)
Another reason you may wake up with a headache is due to bruxism, which is the medical word for teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can occur during waking hours or sleep. According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, usually, teeth grinding decreases with age. It tends to be highest during childhood and occur the least in people over the age of 65. (3)
Morning headaches can also occur due to sleep apnea, stress, and alcohol and drug use. If you have morning headaches regularly, talk with your doctor. Treatment will vary depending on the cause.
Why Do I Have Trouble Falling Asleep?
If you are wondering how to fall asleep fast, you are not alone. Most people have problems falling asleep, at least occasionally. But for others, trouble falling asleep is chronic. Insomnia can occur for many reasons, such as stress, poor sleep habits, and work or travel schedules. Medical conditions, medication side effects, and drinking too many caffeinated beverages can also make it harder to fall asleep.
Checking your phone before bed may also be a sleep stealer. The light from your phone can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime and reduce the amount of melatonin your body produces. Here are a few simple fixes that may help.
- Try to develop a consistent sleep/wake time.
- Limit caffeine several hours before bed.
- Find ways to relax before you hit the sack.
If sleep is elusive, stressing over how to fall asleep fast, usually makes things worse. Instead, get out of bed, do something relaxing and try to get to sleep a bit later.
For people that have trouble falling asleep frequently, it is best to see your doctor. Lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication may also help.
How Can I Prevent Snoring?
How to prevent snoring is a big concern for many people. If you snore, it can affect the quality of your sleep. Plus, if you share a bed with someone, it can also affect their sleep.
Snoring occurs due to the vibration from air flowing past the relaxed tissues in the throat. Mouth anatomy, nasal problems, and sleep apnea can cause frequent snoring.
To prevent snoring, the Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping on your side, using nasal strips, and raising the head of your bed. Additionally, treating underlying sleep apnea, such as using CPAP or oral appliances to decrease airway obstruction may also prevent snoring. (4)
Why Do I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night?
Some people fall asleep easily, but find they wake up in the middle of the night. We all wake up during the night from time to time. It may be from overheating, indigestion, or to use the bathroom. Other causes of waking up in the middle of the night include sleep disorders, stress, and alcohol use.
If it happens a lot, and you have trouble getting back to sleep, it can interfere with getting proper rest. According to John Hopkins Medicine, about one in five people that wake up during the night report having difficulty getting back to sleep. (5)
When you wake in the middle of the night, try these remedies to help you fall back asleep.
- Avoid watching the clock, which may make you anxious about missed sleep.
- Practice some deep breathing.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation to help you drift back to sleep.
Are Naps Bad for You?
Sometimes a nap feels great, especially if you slept poorly the night before. A nap can help you recharge, but it can also spell trouble for falling asleep at bedtime.
When you nap during the day, you may have trouble falling asleep at night. If you don’t sleep well during the night, you will be sleepy the next day and most likely nap again. This process can turn into a vicious cycle that starts a pattern of poor nighttime sleep.
While naps are not always a bad thing, it is best not to overdo it. Napping too long or too close to bedtime can create a problem. Your best bet for falling asleep fast at night is to keep naps brief.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a power nap of 15 to 20 minutes is best to avoid waking up groggy or interfering with nighttime rest. (6)
Moving Past Sleep Issues
Getting enough sleep is essential to your overall well-being and health. Don’t allow poor sleep to affect your quality of life. If you have questions or concerns about your sleep, talk to your doctor. Whether you snore, have insomnia, or other sleep problems, it is treatable. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes, including better sleep hygiene, solves the problem.
- American Migraine Association. Sleep Disorders and Headache. (2019). https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/cluster-headache-2/
- Ohayon, M. M. (2004). Prevalence and risk factors of morning headaches in the general population. Archives of internal medicine, 164(1), 97-102. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/216451
- American Academy of Oral Medicine. Teeth Clenching or Grinding. (2015). https://www.aaom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=129:tooth-clenching-or-grinding&catid=22:patient-conditioninformation&Itemid=120
- Mayo Clinic. Snoring. Diagnosis. (2017). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/diagnosistreatment/drc-20377701
- John Hopkins Medicine. Up in the Middle of the Night? How to Get back to Sleep. (n.d.) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-andprevention/up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-how-to-get-back-to-sleep
- Cleveland Clinic. Are Long Naps Bad for You? (2018). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-long-naps-bad-for-you-and-if-so-why/