DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - The U.S. Center on Sleep Disorders and Research did a huge study on people who have problems sleeping*. The group did the "10 minute tension tamer" just before bedtime. It involves mentally focusing on a serene and inviting place and very slow, deep breathing.
The study showed 65 percent of those interviewed improved their perceived stress by 6.6 points, while 34 percent were worsened by 4.6 points.
For those who reduced their stress levels, there was an increase in sleep quality, less fatigue, and less time needed to fall asleep.
Sometimes the sleep problems can be so serious that you need to go to a sleep clinic and actually be studied by trained professionals.
Dr. Hunter Hearn is a sleep specialist at Decatur/ Morgan Hospital's sleep center.
"One thing that people do that makes their sleep more difficult is a variable sleep and wake time - when they go to bed too early and when they sleep in too late. When they take day time naps, those tend to disrupt their normal sleep rhythms," Hearn said.
Sleep tips begin with your surroundings.
"They can make sure the environment they sleep in is conducive to sleep can be really be helpful - quiet, dark, comfortable mattress, good temperature," added Hearn.
He said if the problem is chronic, get it checked.
"But sometimes there's more than just stress. There could be underlying sleep disorders or other medical disorders," he said.
A lack of sleep could be associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, highway accidents, and more. According to the U.S. National Center on Sleep Disorders' research, about 30 to 40 percent of adults have some symptoms of insomnia
In the lab we see the result of an overnight sleep study where eye movements, brain waves, snoring, leg movements and breathing are all measured, according to Dr. Hearn.
"What this shows us is that over and over this person is having a blockage in their airway, not able to breathe. It's Obstructive Sleep Apnea," Hearn said. "There are a lot of studies coming out supporting the role of enough sleep with weight management, with cardiovascular health, so certainly trying to burn the candle at both ends can be dangerous - for not just when you're driving or at work with falling asleep, but your overall physical health."
Hearn recommends becoming a creature of habit.
"Our bodies love routines. And so doing a similar thing every night, a wind down period so to speak, can be very helpful," he said.
*Because this study was presented at a medical meeting and not published in a peer-reviewed journal, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary.