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Palm Beach County doctor gives advice on how to get a good night's rest

Implementing routine habits during the day can be key
Posted at 11:01 AM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 11:09:18-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.  — With so much change and uncertainty in our daily lives, it’s likely a good night’s rest has been hard to come by.

The anxiety and angst surrounding a pandemic can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. But, there are some ways to get better rest, and it actually begins with what you do in the morning, no necessarily at night.

“Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and try to get up at the same time every day. One of the things that’s very important is to get outside early in the morning and take a walk or get exposed to sunlight. What that does is, it moves up your biological clock, and then it will make you more likely to get sleepy at night,” says Dr. Noah Schreibman.

Schreibman helps to oversee the Intensive Care Unit at Delray Medical Center and serves as the medical director of the sleep lab at both Delray Medical Center and West Boca Medical Center. He certainly knows about routine change from the coronavirus pandemic and how it affects your sleep.

“I’m like radioactive when I get home. You know, I park my car, the clothes come off in the garage. I go right in the shower, I can’t kiss anybody. I sleep in a separate room and, you know, like anybody else it’s driving me crazy. We have to just get a look at the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Schreibman.

Aside from the power of that positive thought, Schreibman says to take control of the parts in your day that you can still control right now and implement routine habits. For example, he recommends not going into the room that you sleep in until you actually feel tired.

Schreibman says to avoid any intense work before sleep and do not eat anything within 30 minutes of bedtime. He also says to avoid drinking alcohol late at night because while it may make you feel tired in the short term, it can actually cause a lot of middle of the night awakening.

If you fall asleep just fine but have been waking up with your mind racing and can’t get back to bed as easily as you typically would, Schreibman says to actually get up and out of bed.

Dr. Noah Schreibman
Dr. Noah Schreibman

“Go somewhere else and try not to focus on it. Once you get tired again, then you go back into the room. These are all time-honored behavioral methods that have been proven to work in people that have insomnia,” said Schreibman.

If you have been having vivid, unusual dreams there is explanation for that being connected to the stress brought on by a pandemic too. Schreibman says while it may startle you, there is no evidence it can harm you.

“When your sleep pattern is altered, sometimes you can actually get what’s called REM rebound. We can get a big rush of a higher percentage of REM sleep then what you would ordinarily get,” said Schreibman.

Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, is the cycle of sleep associated with the most vivid dreaming.

While everything else in your life may be changing, such as working remotely, out of work and homeschooling, try to keep as much as you can, the same.

For example, Schreibman says if you are not a coffee drinker, don’t start drinking three cups a day because you are stressed out. Or if you don’t typically eat red meat, don’t start eating hamburgers and steak. He says these behavioral changes will have an affect your sleep.

Schreibman said when someone is experiencing short term insomnia, it is best to change your habits at home versus seeking professional help unless it is affecting your ability to function. Additionally, he does not recommend using over-the-counter sleep remedies in the short term without medical guidance from a doctor.