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About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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To get a better night’s sleep, first check your ‘sleep hygiene’

Dr. Philip Fuller

When patients arrive at Dr. Philip Fuller’s office for help with their sleep problems, he talks with them about their medical history, sleep history and medications.  Early in the conversation, he also talks about “sleep hygiene.”

These are the changes patients can make to their schedule, their bedroom or their eating and drinking habits that often result in better sleep.

Fuller and Dr. Maha Alattar are partners in the new Sleep Medicine Specialists, which opened last month in Fredericksburg. The practice is owned by Mary Washington Healthcare and is billed as the area’s first physician practice devoted exclusively to sleep problems.

Fuller and Alattar often send patients to a sleep lab for an overnight stay and diagnosis of their problems. But first, they said, are the basics:

Dr. Maha Alattar

* Avoid caffeine after lunch.

* Avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. It may make you sleepy, but it will cause fragmented sleep.

* Exercise daily but make sure it ends at least six hours before bedtime.

* Don’t nap.

* Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark.

* Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

* Don’t eat or watch TV in the bedroom. Keep it as a place for sleep.

* Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

(For more on new options locally for those with sleep problems, see the story soon in the paper. The website for Sleep Medicine Specialists is here.)

 

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