Senior couple laying in hammock

"I just can't fall asleep at night, and I'm always sleepy during the day."

"My spouse keeps me awake snoring, and sometimes even wakes himself up."

"I can't stop moving my legs. It feels like my skin is crawling."

Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so, you or your partner may have a sleep disorder. We all need sound sleep to restore our bodies and minds, but more than 100 million Americans regularly do not get a good night's sleep.

An occasional bad night's sleep is no cause for concern, but a continued sleep disorder can affect your health and the quality of your waking hours.

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center's Sleep Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Our doctors and technologists are dedicated to helping people with sleep problems. Specialists from several fields of medicine are available, depending on the patient's sleep problem.

A variety of testing is offered, ranging from equipment which patients can take home to record what happens while they sleep, to sophisticated computerized monitoring in our Sleep Lab.

In order to get a good night's sleep, make sure you are doing everything you can to promote a restful night. Here are some tips to help:

Napping

  • Avoid naps, except for brief 15-minute naps at least eight hours after you wake up. In some sleep disorders, naps can be beneficial. Check with your doctor first.

Exercise

  • Get regular exercise, preferably 40 minutes of daily activity that makes you sweat.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise after 6 p.m.

Your sleep rhythm (Circadian factors)

  • Keep a regular bedtime and waking time every day of the week.
  • Restrict your sleep period to the average number of hours you actually slept per night the week before. Too much time in bed can decrease your sleep quality the next night.
  • Do not expose yourself to bright light if you have to get up at night.
  • Get at least one half-hour of sunlight within thirty minutes of your waking time.

Smoking, caffeine, alcohol and sleep

  • Do not smoke to get yourself back to sleep. Do not smoke after 7 p.m. or give up smoking entirely. Smoking can keep you awake, and make it impossible to breathe properly to sleep.
  • See if caffeine is one of the culprits. Avoid caffeine entirely for a four-week trial period. Then limit your caffeine use to no more than three beverages, no later than 10 a.m.
  • Alcohol can disturb your sleep later in the night. Practice light to moderate use.

Sleep setting

  • Keep your clock turned away from you. Don't try to find out the time when you wake during the night.
  • Keep your room dark, quiet, well ventilated, and at a comfortable temperature throughout the night. Use earplugs and eye shades if they help you.
  • Distance yourself from your problems and 'to do' lists by writing them down and putting them aside until the next day.
  • Do not try too hard to sleep. Instead, concentrate on the pleasant feeling of relaxation.
  • Avoid unfamiliar sleep environments.
  • Be sure the mattress is not too soft or too firm, and that the pillow is the right height and firmness.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep.

Bedtime rituals

  • Practice a bedtime ritual. Reading before lights-out may be helpful.
  • Take a hot bath to raise your temperature before bedtime. A hot drink may help you relax.

Eating habits

  • Do not eat or drink heavily at least three hours before bedtime. A light bedtime snack may help.
  • Be especially careful to avoid heavy meals and spices in the evening.
  • Do not go to bed too hungry or too full.

Sleep aids

  • An occasional sleeping pill is probably alright. Use only as directed.

If you’re not sure that you need an appointment at our Sleep Center, these assessments can provide answers. Check your level of sleepiness by taking the Epworth assessment and learn more about getting a better night's rest with our sleeping tips.

Snoring scale

The person affected by their partner’s snoring should take this questionnaire from the Journal of Laryngology and Otology. Add the scores assigned to each of your answers to get the Snoring Scale Score for your partner. Pick the answer that best describes your partner's snoring:

How often does your partner snore?
  1. Every night - 3
  2. Snores on most nights (more than 50% of nights) - 2
  3. Snores on some nights (less than 50% of nights) - 1
  4. Snores very rarely or never - 0
How much does your partner snore?
  1. Snores all the time throughout the night - 3
  2. Snores most of the time throughout the night (more than 50% of the time) - 2
  3. Snores some of the time during the night (less than 50% of the time) - 1
  4. Hardly snores or no snoring - 0
How loud is the snore?
  1. Snoring can be heard throughout the floor/flat or louder with the bedroom door closed - 3
  2. Snoring can be heard in the next room with the bedroom door closed - 2
  3. Snoring can only be heard in the bedroom - 1
  4. There is no snoring noise - 0
Results

A score of 5 or more suggests that your partner should be evaluated by a physician for a possible sleep problem.

This questionnaire has been taken from The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, April 1999, 113(4):336-40.