Tools for Sleep Health
MARCH 1, 2010
I walked through the airport security detector and then waited while a group of uniformed security officers hovered near the luggage x-ray. I was taken over to the side of the security area where my bag was inspected for something suspicious that had shown up on the scan.
As the security guard unzipped my bag, my pillow jumped out first. Then, after some digging around, the officer pulled up a round, electronic devise. He looked up at me as I explained. "It's my sound machine. I sleep with white noise." A look of understanding crossed his face as he managed to shove my pillow back into my bag and hand it back to me.
In spite of the momentary embarrassment, I knew I would manage to sleep tonight in a strange city, in a strange room, in a strange bed. I travel with my sleep tools!
In this month's issue, we've included some great sleep tools for you! Read on for help with your sleep health.
It's never fun to lay awake in your bed, watching the clock when you should be sleeping. Gather up the sleeping tools that work for you and make "sleep health" a goal. Don't forget to talk to your doctor about your struggles if you find sleep too much of a challenge.
Here's to better sleep for you!
Why Sleep Matters
MARCH 1, 2010
It’s normal to have occasional sleep disruptions, but when the sleep troubles last, you can experience serious problems.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by a difficulty falling and / or staying asleep. Insomnia that accompanies a surgery is described as secondary insomnia because it is brought on by the pain and medications associated with the surgery. Insomnia is classified as acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is short term, lasting from one night to a few weeks. Chronic insomnia is longer term and is identified by a person experiencing at least 3 nights a week for a month or longer.
People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
Difficulty falling asleep.
Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep.
Waking up too early in the morning.
Feeling tired upon waking.
Sleepiness during the day.
Problems with concentration or memory.
Chronic lack of sleep is unhealthy and can be dangerous. Sleep deprivation can contribute to the likelihood of being in auto accidents and other mishaps. And, it certainly compromises your feeling of well-being and jeopardizes your overall quality of life. It is a medical fact that insomnia is caused by an underlying condition. Your doctor can work with you to uncover that condition and treat it with the appropriate therapy. If the underlying condition is successfully treated, the insomnia will go away.
So, if you find that you don’t start getting “quality shut-eye” soon, do see your doctor so that you can be helped. After all, you deserve to be the best “you” that you can be, and getting sufficient sleep is part of the formula.
Turn Down the Heat of Night Sweats
MARCH 1, 2010
Menopause doesn't "let up" just because you've gone to bed. In fact, hot flashes, the most common menopause-related symptom, can occur even in your sleep. Hot flashes that occur at night, and may be strong enough to wake you up, are called night sweats. If you're experiencing moderate to severe night sweats, it's important to talk to your doctor about all the ways you can manage them, including estrogen therapy.
A hot flash is a sudden wave of heat that's sometimes followed by a red, flushed face and sweating. Up to 90% of American women experience hot flashes following surgery-induced menopause. A night sweat is simply a hot flash that occurs at night. Night sweats are often accompanied by heavy perspiration that can soak your clothes and bedding. Do you think you might be experiencing night sweats?
Luckily, there are options available that may reduce your night sweats. Estrogen therapy is proven to be the most effective treatment for hot flashes and night sweats.
In addition to using hormone replacement therapy, try the following tips to help manage night sweats:
Keep your bedroom cool at night
Keep a glass of water bedside
Wear light cotton clothes to bed
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods
Use layered bedding
Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program or making changes to your diet.
Struggling with Insomnia? Help Yourself Catch Some Zzzzzzz’s . . .
MARCH 1, 2010
Lying in bed for hours, watching the minutes and hours pass by, worrying about what time you have to get up in the morning, and then dragging through the next day—sound familiar? Or, are you struggling with sleep while recovering from your hysterectomy? If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, maybe some of these tips can help.
Have good daily habits There are several things you can do to enhance your chances of good sleep, ranging from your daily activities to your sleeping area itself.
Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day.
Exercise in the morning or late afternoon can promote good sleep.
Turn your alarm clock around so it is not facing you; do not look at the clock during the night, as this can cause more stress and anxiety about your sleep.
Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to music, or read.
Make sure your sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, with the room neither too hot nor too cold.
Establish set times for waking and sleeping
Set the stage As you start to wind down your day, your activities make a difference as well. Having a nice relaxing dinner with a glass of wine, followed by some time on the computer, may sound like a perfect evening—but it might be adding to your sleep problems.
Stay away from large meals close to bedtime.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol 4 hours before bedtime.
Avoid using electronic devices one hour before bed.
Check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications like Tylenol PM, Sominex, or herbal products. Just because products are sold without a prescription doesn’t mean that they are safe and appropriate for everyone to use in all situations.
Help, I’ve fallen asleep and woken back up! What if you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep?
Keep a notepad and pencil by your bed to write down any thoughts that may wake you up at night so you can put them to rest.
Get out of bed. Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy again.
Stay off the computer!
The Princess and the Pea Having difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep, is common among hysterectomy patients, particularly during the early post-op weeks. The trauma of surgery combined with the residual effect of anesthesia and pain medications compounded by hormonal disruption (even if you retained your ovaries) can throw your body completely “out of whack.” Even if you have never been plagued by sleep problems before, after you return home from the hospital you may find yourself lying in bed wide awake for most of the night.
For most women, this problem gradually goes away as they continue to heal and recover from the surgery. However, for temporary aid, many of the HysterSisters have found these remedies effective in promoting a good night’s sleep:
Drink a cup of Ovaltine at bedtime, a mug of hot milk, or “Sleepytime” or other herbal or de-caf tea.
Have a few slices of turkey on crackers as a bedtime snack.
If your doctor has cleared you to take baths, take a warm bath (whirlpool if you have one) before bed.
Light a scented candle and play some soothing music to enhance the soothing atmosphere.
Try relaxation exercises or listen to relaxing music.
Take extra steps to make your sore and hurting body more comfortable in bed, such as using extra pillows.
If you start taking HRT after your hysterectomy, the hormones “should” help alleviate your insomnia. However, bear in mind that it may take up to three months for HRT to reach its full effectiveness. With or without HRT, if your insomnia persists, it is important that you see your doctor about this issue.
Whether your insomnia is long-term or is part of your hysterectomy recovery, you deserve to be well-rested. If your sleep problems interfere with your daily life, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Sleep Apnea: A Serious (but Treatable) Condition
MARCH 1, 2010
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which the sufferer stops breathing while sleeping. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) there are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive is the most common.
Despite the differences in the root causes of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep—sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep.
The most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Waking with an unrefreshed feeling after sleep
Problems with memory and concentration
Morning or night headaches
Heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth at night
Swelling of the legs
Getting up during the night to urinate (nocturia)
Sweating and chest pain while you are sleeping
Symptoms of sleep apnea that others may notice include:
Episodes of not breathing (apnea), which may occur as few as 5 times an hour (mild apnea) to more than 50 times an hour (severe apnea)
Snoring- almost all people who have sleep apnea snore, but not all people who snore have sleep apnea Restless tossing and turning during sleep
Nighttime choking or gasping spells
Sleep apnea affects over 12 million Americans but is often left untreated because the public and healthcare professionals are not well-educated about it. Quite often, sufferers believe that they are just not getting enough sleep or attribute their symptoms to stress and long work hours.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several treatments for sleep apnea. For milder cases, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking. If these measures don't improve your signs and symptoms or if your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available. Certain devices can help open up a blocked airway. In other cases, surgery may be necessary.
The most common treatment is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. With CPAP, the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, and it is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical disease and can have many life-threatening consequences. High blood pressure, stroke, complications during and after surgery, falling asleep while driving or operating machinery are just a few. If you have any of the symptoms described above, please contact your healthcare provider immediately. Diagnosis is usually made by performing a sleep study in a hospital or clinic designed especially for sleep disorders. There are other methods of diagnosing sleep disorders including at-home diagnostic tools.
Healthy sleep patterns are as essential to a healthy life as are eating right and exercising. Take your sleep style seriously and be sure it’s one of the most important factors in taking care of you!
From the HysterSisters Forums
MARCH 1, 2010
I had my hysterectomy November 16, 2009. Very seldom have I slept soundly throughout the night. My energy level and motivation is almost non-existant! My attitude is positive but honestly I prefer to putter around the house and not go to the office. I'm taking protein, vitamins and I continue to be so tired (due to lack of sleep). As I yawn while typing this message - I would like to know if this is normal?
Join the Discussion
More Discussions to join about insomnia:
Hot Flashes - Not Sleeping
Can I get some sleep please?
Post Op Meds and Insomnia anyone?
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MARCH 1, 2010
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