New Year’s Resolution: Get a Better Night’s Sleep 

The majority of New Year’s resolutions focus on eating right, exercising or saving money. But what about making a goal this year for better sleep? 

Sleep is essential to maintaining our physical and emotional health. So, even the occasional sleeping problems can disrupt daily life. For many of us, sleep deprivation is linked to our lifestyles – whether we have jobs that require us to work late, indulge in late-night TV binges or just have difficulty settling down at night. 

A recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep Index study revealed that more than 1 in 3 adults rated their sleep as “poor” or “fair,” and 1 in 4 reported they did not wake up feeling refreshed at least once during the previous seven days. A continual lack of shut-eye can make you irritable and impatient, decrease your concentration, compromise your safety on the road, leave you fatigued at work and lead to health problems. 

Many times people disregard sleep problems as something to be expected, but there is a point when you should see your physician. 

A primary sleep disorder should be suspected if daytime sleepiness has worsened. If you’re struggling to catch your zzz’s, it’s time to see a doctor if you experience any of these other symptoms:

  • Struggle to stay awake during the day during routine activities
  • Loss of interest in activities and have poor sleep quality
  • Increase in snoring or excessive snoring
  • Observed apneas  (which consists of one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep)
  • Drowsiness when driving
  • Mental fogginess and inability to complete tasks
  • Trouble falling asleep out of proportion to typical stress with prolonged periods of wakefulness
  • Waking more frequently at night or having trouble maintaining sleep 
  • Worrying about sleep apnea with snoring and have other health issues such as hypertension or other heart problems
  • Excessive need to move legs out of proportion to level of activity
  • Need for increases in caffeine even when getting adequate sleep

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, with an additional 20 million reporting occasional sleep problems. Don’t prolong your sleep problem by ignoring it. 

Treatments for sleep problems vary depending on the individual. Find out more ways to become a healthy sleeper in 2017 by talking with your physician or contacting a sleep medicine specialist at St. Luke’s Sleep Medicine and Research Center at 314.205.6030.

Jamie Haas, MD, is a neurologist at St. Luke’s Sleep Medicine and Research Center. He treats all aspects of sleep disorders and conditions, including obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia. He has a special interest in the treatment of narcolepsy and other hypersomnia disorders.