Thousands of Americans, from children to adults, seem to have trouble sleeping.  Lack of sleep leaves people feeling more than just tired. Without it you have difficulty focusing and making decisions, difficulty with moodiness and irritability. People who are overtired may eat more, spend more, or get caught up in surfing the net all night – leading to even further sleep deprivation.

People often say “I get along fine on 5 or 6 hours a night”. I usually respond that I’m sure they get along, but I would bet they could be much more effective, organized and healthy with 8 or more hours. Sometimes people come to see me complaining of depression, irritability and fatigue. When I refer them for a sleep study, it turns out have a sleep disorder.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, find yourself tired during the day, or have a spouse or partner complaining that you toss and turn all night, there are some things you can try.

First – have a sleep study. There are a number things that can interfere with sleep, from apnea and restless legs syndrome, to chronic pain, hot flashes or night sweats.

Next- practice good sleep hygiene. This includes:

-Go to bed at about the same time every night.

-Use the bed for sleeping, not watching TV or computer, not doing homework or studying.

-Have a pre-bed routine that is the same each night, that includes 30-60 minutes of quiet, reading, relaxing or chatting on the phone.

-Turn off the computer or i-pad.  Keep lights down and the room or house a comfortable temperature for you.

If you still have difficulty sleeping. See a therapist who specializes in sleep disorders. There are many ways to help people sleep, so they can be a brighter, happier person the next day.