Mailbag - Questions About Sleep

Q. I want to make more efficient use of my time. How can I take a nap at will?

A. It’s not always possible to coax a period of sleep in the middle of the day and you may have to practice this skill before you can do it whenever you want. A place conducive to napping (dark, quiet) may help.


Q. My husband sleeps much more since he retired. Is that normal?

A. Yes. Without the structure of a job many people find themselves sleeping more and taking daytime naps. This is not a sign of a sleep disorder, necessarily, or an indication that sleep debt is being repaid.


Q. How can I not sleep so much?

A. Try sleep restriction therapy to increase your sleep efficiency and spend less time in bed awake. Keep a sleep diary to find out what lifestyle choices might make you sleep more, e.g. timing and intensity of exercise, diet. Experiment and learn.


Q. What is the best alarm clock?

A. We are not aware that any formal study has been done about which method of awakening is best. From anecdotal reports, we have heard good things about systems that gradually increase light levels and temperature in the bedroom at the time of desired awakening.


Q. Should I use the snooze button?

A. People prone to sleep inertia are more likely to use the snooze button – it takes time for these people to wake up. Using the snooze button may be better than oversleeping if you have an appointment to get to, but in general it is probably better to try to avoid the snooze button and cultivate the habit of getting out of bed when you wake up. If the alarm is going off too early and not allowing you enough sleep, either go to bed earlier or set the alarm for later.


Q. I often nod off in a movie theater / at a lecture / in church. Is something wrong with me?

A. Falling asleep at inappropriate times can be a sign of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, a hallmark of many sleep disorders including insomnia. Questions on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and other subjective measures probe into whether falling asleep when not in bed is a problem.



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