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Let’s take a moment to talk about sleep eating.
You drift off at night like a newborn baby yet can’t recall the last time you woke up truly refreshed.
It may not seem that weird: “People tend to assume that because our modern lives are so hectic, nobody
feels rested,” says Meir Kryger, MD, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. But the reality is, you
might have a sleep disorder and not even know it. There are a handful of problems that can cheat you out of
quality slumber, leaving you more tired in the morning than you were when you went to bed. Find out what
could be going on between your sheets and how to catch more restorative z’s, starting tonight.
Sleep Problem No. 1: You snore like a saw
Those snuffle-snorts mean that your slack tongue and throat muscles are narrowing your airway, possibly
due to the shape of your soft palate or any extra weight you’re carrying.
Although you’re likely to wake up if you get short of breath, it may not be for long enough to remember.
Some people wake dozens or even hundreds of times a night—a disorder known as sleep apnea that
increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and possibly osteoporosis, according to a new study in the Journal
of Bone and Mineral Research. “Those repeated awakenings are as disruptive as someone pinching you
every two minutes all night long,” says Safwan Badr, MD, chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care
and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.
Sleep aid: If you rarely wake up feeling bright-eyed, see a specialist to get checked for sleep apnea.(Three to
9 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 70 suffer from it.) If you have the condition, a CPAP
machine and mask can help by keeping your pharynx open with a steady stream of air.
To quiet your snore, avoid rolling onto your back—a position that makes your airway more likely to
collapse. Rachel Salas, MD, associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine, suggests this little trick: Sew a tennis ball into the pocket of a sweatshirt and wear it backward to
Sleep Problem No. 2: You grind your teeth
Do you wake up with a sore jaw or get chronic headaches? If so, you may be gnashing your ivories
overnight. All that clenching can cause enough pain to interfere with your shut-eye (not to mention wear
down your enamel). Experts believe that teeth grinding, which about 16 percent of us do, is associated with
anxiety—though an abnormal bite and antidepressants can also play a role.
Sleep aid: A dentist will fit you with a mouth guard. If you’re clamping down because you’re overwhelmed
and overloaded, find a healthier way to manage stress, urges Michael A. Grandner, PhD, an instructor in
psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s also crucial to spend
plenty of time winding down before bed so you drift off in a calm, relaxed state,” he adds.
Sleep Problem No. 3: Your body clock is off
Not even drowsy until the wee hours? Delayed sleep-phase syndrome (DSPS) is the technical term for this
disorder, which afflicts 10 percent of people who seek help for insomnia. It involves a biological glitch that
prevents your body from making melatonin (the sleep hormone) until 12 a.m. or later. A prime sign you’ve
got DSPS: You’ve been a night owl since high school. The syndrome is common among teenagers and
sometimes persists into adulthood. If you’re not squeezing in at least seven hours of z’s a night, you’re at
greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. What’s more, a recent study published in Cognitive
Therapy and Research found that people who nod off late (and get less sleep as a result) tend to experience
more negative thoughts.
Sleep aid: Begin by improving your sleep hygiene. Cut back on caffeine. Avoid tech and television starting
90 minutes before bedtime. Create a soothing wind-down routine. And get some sun first thing in the
morning to help reset your body’s 24-hour rhythm. “In 80 percent of cases, these strategies lead people to
conk out earlier,” Dr. Badr says. If they don’t do the trick, a specialist may prescribe synthetic melatonin, as
well as light therapy with a medical lamp to use in the morning.
Sleep Problem No. 4: Your legs feel jittery at night
That creepy-crawly feeling—aptly called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)—troubles as many as 1 in 10
people and is thought to be linked to a dysfunction in the way the brain processes the neurotransmitter
dopamine. However, in some cases it suggests a nutritional deficiency, Dr. Kryger notes: “With people who
have low iron, there seems to be overactivity in parts of the brain that results in an urge to move the legs.”

Sleep aid: Benzodiazepines (aka tranquilizers) can sometimes help. Rosenberg. this condition often strikes women on a diet. and so does getting more sleep. 5: You sleepwalk—and even sleep eat For reasons that aren’t completely understood. you may not need medication.” Also. Called sleep-related eating disorder. 1 to 3 percent of people who experience such a zombie-like state actually raid the kitchen. DO. baking cookies). The behavior. too.Sleep aid: Ice packs. a bath—any of these remedies might help. Dr. who go to bed hungry. Be sure to mention your current prescriptions because some meds (including certain antidepressants) reduce dopamine activity.” If you’re a nighttime roamer. author of Sleep Soundly Every Night.” Sleep Problem No. As long as your nocturnal adventures don’t involve anything risky (like. says David N. somnambulists are partially aroused in the night—often from the deepest stage of slumber (called slow-wave)—and proceed to wander around the house. which may affect up to 4 percent of the population. for example. massages. Neubauer. . warm packs. Another trigger: taking zolpidem (one of the most popular sedatives). Get your iron levels checked. Additionally. let your partner know that the ideal approach is to gently lead you back to bed. according to Robert S. talk to a sleep doc about trying an RLS drug. appears to run in families and is more likely to occur with sleep deprivation. MD. Feel Fantastic Every Day. associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: “Different things seem to work for different people. Gardner advises: “Sometimes a supplement is the only treatment necessary. Rosenberg says: “Just make sure you safety-proof your home by clearing out clutter and stowing away sharp objects.