Habits, environs can interrupt sleep

Dear Dr. Gott: I am an 87-year-old male in good health for my age. My main problem is sleep, or rather, a lack of it. I get the most sleep in a La-Z-Boy chair because when I get into bed, I can’t stay more than a few minutes most times. I get up to go to my chair, get two or three hours sleep, wake up, go to bed, and ultimately get a couple of hours sleep. My doctor can’t say what is wrong.

Dear Reader: There are countless reasons for an interruption in sleep. Let’s consider some of the most common ones. Do you eat your dinner later in the evening and finish with a piece of chocolate, cup of coffee or caffeine-containing products? Is your bedroom dark and quiet, or do you tend to sleep with a television or radio on? Do you use the time when you get into bed to problem-solve or go over issues of the day? Are things going on in your home that you can hear or be distracted by at the time you choose to retire for the evening? Are you on any medications that could have an effect on your sleep patterns? Is there something in the bedroom that you find distracting that makes your recliner more comforting? Is a situation going on that you feel you are accepting of, yet it contributes to sleeplessness? Do you go to bed at the same time each evening, or does the schedule vary? You may not be ready to fall asleep and stay asleep, preferring quiet activity such as reading for a short time before calling it a night. Review your activities to determine whether a pattern develops that might provide an answer.
I’m sorry to say you should be visiting your physician yet again. He or she may be missing the underlying cause for your sleep deprivation. Perhaps you have restless legs syndrome, an annoying condition that interrupts sleep and literally forces a person to move his or her legs when in bed. Perhaps the elevation of the foot of the recliner allows your legs to relax. If this is the case, a wedge placed at the foot of the bed to prop your legs up might do the trick.
There are countless sleep aids available over the counter; however, speak with your physician first and seek an opinion regarding melatonin. This sleep aid appears safe when taken according to the manufacturer’s directions.
To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Sleep-Wake Disorders.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: I have a friend who broke out with a staph infection. Antibiotics prescribed by his doctor didn’t work, but Dial soap did. To his surprise, the condition cleared up. Perhaps this will help some of your readers.

Dear Reader: Anyone can have a staph infection, of which there are more than 30 types. While the infection does not typically cause disease, if it enters the bloodstream, it may lead to sepsis, pneumonia, endocarditis, osteomyelitis and toxic-shock syndrome. Damage to the skin is more common. People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, vascular disease, cancer and more, may have difficulty treating the disorder.
The bacteria don’t always respond to antibiotics. Your friend apparently was helped by keeping his body clean with an antibacterial soap, allowing the infection to clear.

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