CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Too much work, too much stress, and not enough sleep — sounds normal for many people.
According to the National Library of Medicine for Biotechnology Information, between 30% and 48% of adults suffer from some form of insomnia. But there are ways you can achieve better and more restorative sleep in the new year.
Many people struggle with turning their brains off at night. Dr. Michael Breus, also known as the sleep doctor, said the No. 1 question patients ask him is, “How do I turn off my brain at night?”.
“This is very common, especially during times like the pandemic, when we have unusually large amounts of stress. So not only do we have our everyday stresses of life, but we now have stressors of health. We’re worried about our health, other people’s health, things like that. So what we’ve seen is a very big increase,” Breus explained.
“As a matter of fact, there’s been almost a 20% increase in sleeping pill prescriptions written since COVID started so we’re not fooling around here. People are definitely having a problem sleeping,” Breus continued.
If you’re struggling to turn your brain off at night, Breus said there are several things to think about when you wake up in the middle of the night, and one of them is lowering your heart rate.
“So the easiest way to get back to sleep and turn off your brain is to focus on something different. One of my favorite techniques is called four-seven-eight breathing. This is where you breathe in for a count of four, you hold it for a count of seven, you breathe out for a count of eight,” Breus explained.
Breus explained this method helps lower your heart rate, and if you’re trying to fall asleep, you want a heart rate at 60 or below in order to enter into a state of unconsciousness.
“So, doing distracting things, believe it or not, yes, I’m the only sleep doctor that says it’s OK to fall asleep with the television on, as long as you have the timer set,” Breus said.
Breus also recommends counting backward from 300 by threes because it’s mathematically so complicated you can’t think of anything else, and it’s boring.
Breus said if you feel like your sleep is being disrupted more than three times in a given seven-day period, it’s probably a good time to talk to your doctor from an insomnia perspective.