Dr. Siegel Keeps Audience Awake Talking About Sleep
Dr. Jason Siegel began his talk on July 11th, Improving Sleep as we Age, with a slide giving four objectives. Showing that he had a sense of humor, the fourth objective was “Put You to Sleep”. Over the next hour, his presentation was packed with information on the main three objectives – normal sleep in adults, common sleep maladies, and possible solutions to common sleep problems.
After relating the four stages of sleep, Dr. Siegel described how sleep patterns change as we get older. Although 7 to 8 hours of sleeps is recommended, 5 to 6 hours is acceptable. But breathing disorders, medications and several medical and mental issues can affect sleep. Not one to rush into prescribing medications to help people sleep, he gave other options that help many of his patients. However, he did discuss the various medications that promote sleep and described their side effects.
Louise Weston-Ferrill demonstrated some breathing exercises that help relax the body either from stress during the day or prior to sleep. She uses a deep breathing exercise when waiting at a red light. She had the audience participate with her, raising their shoulders and slowly inhaling a deep breath counting off five seconds, holding it for five seconds and slowly exhaling. When Dr. Siegel returned to the podium, he had a greater challenge of keeping the relaxed audience awake.
For those needing to improve sleep, Dr. Siegel gave 10 behavioral tips to try before seeing a doctor. These include not watching television or using computers, tablets or smartphones in bed. He said the bedroom should be for only two things – sleep and … well, you can figure out the other one. Other tips included cleaning your sinuses before bedtime, focused breathing, not eating or drinking anything except water after 7 pm, and taking a shower or bath.
For those who have sleep problems and have not yet consulted a doctor, Jason said the first thing to do is to start a sleep journal; many types are available on-line. Then optimize sleep hygiene and try the behavioral modification strategies like the tips given above. If none of these work, make an appointment with your doctor and take your sleep journal.