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Sleep problems common but treatable, our survey finds

Consumer Reports News: July 05, 2012 06:08 AM

Can't sleep? Join the club: 59 percent of the 26,451 subscribers we recently surveyed said that at least three times a week they woke up tired or had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Work stress, health problems, and financial worries were the top things keeping people up at night. The good news: Most problem sleepers found at least one treatment that helped.

Solutions included prescription sleep medications, along with a number of alternative methods like regular exercise and meditation. In addition to finding what worked for our readers, here are a few do's and don'ts to help you get a more restful night.

Things to do:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Exercise earlier in the day. Being active during the day does improve sleep at night. But working out within 2 to 3 hours of bedtime can interfere with slumber by raising your body temperature.
  • Unwind before bed with something that you find relaxing like a warm bath or a good book.
  • Use your bed only for sex and sleep.
  • Turn off your phone and other electronics, since light-emitting screens discourage sleep. Nearly 40 percent of respondents with sleep woes admitted to falling asleep with the TV on while 31 percent left their cell phone on while they slept and 8 percent checked that phone during the night.

Things not to do:

  • Drink caffeine within 6 hours of going to bed.
  • Nap after 3 pm.
  • Eat a big meal right before you bed. But a small snack made up a carbohydrate and a protein, such as peanut butter on crackers, is OK and might even help.
  • Drink alcohol within 4 to 6 hours of bedtime.

Read more about how to cope with sleep problems. And see our Best Buy Drugs recommendations for sleeping pills.

Nicole Sarrubbo

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