For Patients

Your interest in learning more about sleep related conditions may be motivated by your concern about your own sleep health or that of a loved one. The staff of the Sleep Center are dedicated to improving your sleep quality and helping to identify and treat any sleep disorders that may be present. We hope you find the information below helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions »

How to obtain a referral to the Sleep Center

Your insurance plan may require a referral from your primary care physician. If you discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician they will be able to determine whether a sleep consultation is right for you.

If your insurance plan allows you to refer yourself directly, you may discuss your options with our staff.

Download our referral form »

Our clinical and diagnostic facilities are available to all patients regardless of financial status or health plan. The Sleep Center is a preferred provider for most health plans offered in the region and accepts Medicare assignment.

If you find you're having trouble sleeping, try these eleven tips to improve your Zzzz's.

Tips To Help You Sleep

1. Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a "circadian clock" in our brain and the body's need to balance both sleep time and wake time. A regular waking time in the morning is also called our anchoring time. Having a regular wake time strengthens our circadian rhythm and can making falling asleep easier at night. For these reasons, it's important to keep a regular bedtime and wake-time, even on the weekends when there is the temptation to sleep-in.

2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.

A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from the stimulation of being awake. Waking activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. Avoid exposure to bright before bedtime because bright signals the neurons that help control the sleep-wake cycle that it is time to awaken, not to be saleep. Some studies suggest that soaking in hot water (such as a hot tub or bath) before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep, but it should be done early enough that you are no longer sweating or over-heated.

3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.

Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep - cool, quiet, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise," humidifiers, fans and other devices.

4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy - about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you.

5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between being in bed and sleeping. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine. Do not engage in activities that cause you anxiety or are too alerting which might prevent you from sleeping.

6. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.

Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. It is best to avoid a heavy meal too close to bedtime. Also, spicy foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty falling asleep and discomfort during the night. Try to restrict fluids close to bedtime to prevent nighttime awakenings to go to the bathroom, though some people find milk or herbal, non-caffeinated teas to be soothing and a helpful part of a bedtime routine.

7. Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.

In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult. In addition to making us more alert, our body temperature rises during exercise, and takes as much as 6 hours to begin to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset. Finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime. Late afternoon exercise is the perfect way to help you fall asleep at night.

8. Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake.

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can produce an alerting effect. Caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, colas and chocolate, remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but they can affect some people up to 12 hours later. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can help improve sleep quality.

9. Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep

Nicotine is also a stimulant. Smoking before bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep. When smokers go to sleep, they experience withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, which also cause sleep problems. Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep, more awakenings from sleep, problems waking in the morning, and may also cause nightmares. Difficulty sleeping is just one more reason to quit smoking. And never smoke in bed or when sleepy!

10. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. Consuming alcohol leads to a night of less restful sleep.

11. Checking the clock for the time.

While it may seem very innocent, checking for the time during your sleep period is very alerting and can make it very difficult to relax enough to return to sleep quickly. This is probably the single most common problem area for most people. Cover or rotate your clock so you cannot see the time. Set an alarm if you need to control the time you need to awaken. A regular wake up time will also help with your circadian rhythms and anchoring your daily rhythms.

Resources For Better Sleep

These websites offer information on sleep disorders, treatment and research.

Sleep Apnea

The American Sleep Apnea Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing injury, disability, and death from sleep apnea and to enhancing the well-being of those affected by this common disorder.

Sleep Education

This Web site is designed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to be a valuable tool for patients and members of the public who are seeking dependable information related to sleep, sleep disorders, treatments and services.

Sleep Medicine Blog

The latest news and education on sleep and sleep disorders from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM)

Publication of papers with direct applicability and/or relevance to the clinical practice of sleep medicine

American Sleep Medicine Foundation

The charitable organization of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine established to support sleep research and education.

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM)

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) promotes research and the clinical use of oral appliances and upper airway surgery for the treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders (SBD) and provides training and resources for those who work directly with patients.

AADSM Blog

Official blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM)

American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST)

American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) is the premier allied health membership association of professionals dedicated to improving the quality of sleep and wakefulness in all people.

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