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‘How can I sleep better at night?’

‘How can I sleep better at night?’

Dan, 30, is having trouble sleeping at night. He gets exhausted working all day as a cab driver, but then has trouble relaxing when back at home. Is there anything he can do to make sure he gets a good night’s rest?

My advice:

Dan, what time you go to bed at night and what you do for a living can both have a lot to do with how well you sleep. Not to mention, if you are drinking a lot of coffee or taking stimulants, which can really disrupt sleep cycles. The other thing is, you sound like you’re very stressed. Stress can cause your thoughts to race at night.  You can’t turn things off and so you toss and turn for hours.

My recommendation for you is to not go directly home after work. Instead, go to the gym. I know you don’t work out, but exercising will exhaust your body. You’re a cab driver and don’t have much physical activity. Your right foot probably has more muscles than the whole rest of your body! Do at least 45 minutes of aerobic activity every day coupled with some weight training, and I promise that you’ll be exhausted and ready to sleep that evening.  Not only that, of course, but you’re going to feel better and look better.

It doesn’t matter when you’re working out, as long as you can keep the practice up daily. If you can weight train 3 – 5 times a week when you find the time, you’ll find sleep will come to you much more naturally.

Here are a couple of things to watch out for. Don’t take naps during the day—they disrupt your body’s natural cycle. Don’t drink coffee or any other caffeine after the morning, either. In fact, see if you can wean yourself slowly off of caffeine altogether…just go slowly so you don’t get rebound headaches.  And don’t use Tylenol PM or any other sleeping pills or medications, as these can be habit-forming.

If you try exercising and you still have trouble sleeping, then over-the-counter melatonin may not be a bad idea. Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound found in our bodies, and this is an essential nutrient needed to maintain healthy sleeping patterns.

Remember, sleeping is extremely important for men because we produce testosterone while we’re asleep. So, if you’re not sleeping, you’re not creating testosterone, which can set you up for low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction. If these problems continue, please see your urologist so he can prescribe something specific to your symptoms. I want you getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night, so go to the gym and start exercising.  You’re going to feel a whole lot better, I promise.

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