Can't Sleep? What To Do About Insomnia

Man having trouble sleeping

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep problem that can cause difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or not feeling rested after waking up. Insomnia is not about the number of hours of sleep a person gets. Everyone’s sleep needs are different. However, your need for sleep doesn't decline as you get older. Most adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night to feel rested.

8 tips for sleeping better

  1. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark
  2. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day—even weekends
  3. Avoid forcing sleep—if you cannot fall asleep in 20 minutes, get up, go to another room, and read or find another relaxing activity until you feel tired again
  4. Have coffee, tea, and other foods that have caffeine only in the morning
  5. Avoid alcohol in the evening and before bed
  6. Exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes—preferably 4–6 hours prior to bedtime
  7. Avoid television, electronic devices, eating, and working in bed
  8. Sleep only long enough to feel rested, then get out of bed

What can cause insomnia?

A variety of conditions can cause insomnia. Physical causes include bladder, prostate, or cardiovascular problems, joint pain, and conditions such as sleep apnea, epilepsy, and dementia. Mental causes include stress, anxiety, or depression. Certain medications and substances can also cause insomnia such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and some antidepressants.

Are there medications to treat insomnia?

There are drugs that may help with insomnia but they should only be tried after consulting with your doctor and trying some of the natural techniques listed above. You should always discuss the potential risks and benefits of sleep medications with your doctor—using sleep medications for extended periods can cause you to become dependent upon them for sleep.

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