MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Now that it’s summer and many of us are taking some vacation time, you’d think we’d be sleeping better. However, the summer months tend to make it even harder for us to get a good night’s rest — and it’s because of what we tend to do in the evenings.
Dr. Michel Cramer-Bornemann is the director of the new HealthEast Sleep Center in Maplewood, which looks more like a hotel than a clinic. It’s where doctors can do an overnight analysis of patients who are truly struggling with sleep issues.
But for many of us, there is a lot we can do to improve our sleep on our own.
Cramer-Bornemann pointed out that summer is a time when we have our windows open, so we hear the activity out on the neighborhood streets. We also have fans going or the air conditioning coming off and on, also creating noise.
There are those cookouts in the backyard, where we tend to eat later in the evening and drink some type of alcoholic beverage.
If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, sleep experts suggest avoiding stimulating brain activity.
First, stop looking at the clock. Block your view of it. Otherwise, you end up doing math to figure out how many hours of sleep you have left and that stimulates brain activity.
“Though we have a tendency to look at the clock, what we want to do is remove behaviors associated with negative reinforcement — the clock being a prime example of that. We want to remove it from the bedroom or only use it to awaken us during the day,” Cramer-Bornemann said.
Also, if you are tossing and turning for more than 15 minutes, get up and go to another room to do something quiet, like reading. You can even watch a little TV as long as it is something that is mellow.
But you shouldn’t get on your computer or do chores, like pay bills.
What should we do about noise or the light coming in from outside? For the sunlight, you can keep an eye mask by your bedside. For the noise, doctors recommend ear plugs.
“The idea there is that you want to minimize the bed with a negative experience. The bed should really only be associated with positive experience. Either good consolidate sleep or positive experience of intimacy,” Cramer-Bornemann said.
For more information about the HealthEast Sleep Center in Maplewood, click here.