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Fatigue

How to get a good night's sleep

Having a perfect eight hours of restful sleep is anyone’s dream. But even with the help of sleeping aids, the advised amount of sleep is rare due to disruptions throughout the night.

In her book “Master Your Sleep,” Dr. Tracey Marks, psychiatrist with Stress Management Treatment of Atlanta, discusses not only how and why we sleep, but also about the many types and potential causes of sleep disruption.

“The ideal sleeping pill is one that puts you to sleep very quickly, lets you sleep all the way through the night, and then lets you wake up refreshed and ready to go,” Marks said. “There are some that get close, but there is really no perfect sleeping pill.”

While sleeping pills can help people fall asleep, they also can cause negative effects and can even trigger various disruptions during the night.

“They can lengthen the amount of REM sleep that you have. And actually sometimes that can have an effect on depression,” Marks said.

According to Marks, sleeping pills can also stop working completely over time.

“Usually it's self-limiting because they'll just stop working, and you'll build up a tolerance,” Marks said.

An alternative to sleeping pills is melatonin, a natural sleep remedy - and even teenagers can use it.

“Melatonin can be very effective for not only helping people fall asleep, some of them, or some formulations...but also regulating sleep,” Marks said. “For people who travel and they come back jet lagged, it can help reset you back into a normal sleeping pattern, which is very important.”

So why aren’t Americans sleeping well? According to Marks, it’s the technology that surrounds us 24/7 – cell phones, iPods and tablets. 

“Unfortunately, we create an environment that makes it harder for them to go against what's going on internally,” Marks said. “Just their habits keep them up late at night.”