As a physician who treats sleep apnea and snoring, Dr. David Volpi, head of New York’s EOS Sleep center and co-author of “Wake Up! You’re Snoring,” knows the havoc insomnia wreaks.
“People who don’t get quality sleep eventually get serious health problems,” he warns. “Also, poor sleep decreases libido and energy levels. It causes mood swings and irritability, which are not good for healthy relationships.”
Indeed, how much damage are we inadvertently doing to ourselves by not getting enough shut-eye? National Sleep Awareness Week, taking place this week, seeks to draw attention to the critical role rest plays in our health. Sleep allows the body to repair and reorder everything from mental to digestive functions, and a healthy lifestyle is impossible without a good quality sleep of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour cycle.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might blame the world we live in. The most common cause of insomnia is overstimulation.
“Don’t take your phone, BlackBerry or computer into the bedroom. No TV either,” warns Dr. Volpi. The bright lights from the screen can keep you awake longer than you’d like. “A quiet, cool room with comfy bedding is best,” he adds. “Things like yoga, meditation or biofeedback help, but if the problem persists a sleep psychologist might be needed.”
Should you use a pill?
“I don’t recommend pharmaceutical sleep aids,” says Dr. Volpi. “Sometimes they’re OK for a short-term fix, maybe for jetlag. But taken over months there are too many side effects and they can lead to a vicious cycle of dependancy.” A natural remedy might be better: “Natural sleep remedies incorporate nonhabit-forming ingredients, which help the body regain its circadian rhythm and promote a normal sleep cycle,” says Andrij Stefanyshyn, natural health consultant for Manhattan’s City Drugs.
What’s the deal with snoring?
Is it a big problem, or just an annoyance? Does anything relieve it? Dr. Volpi weighs in.
“Loud snorers need evaluation. But try not eating a big meal at night and don’t drink alcohol before bed. Alcohol relaxes the muscles and increases snoring.”