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Home > Resources > Healthy Living > Expert Knowledge > Can't Sleep? What to Do About Insomnia

Can't Sleep? What to Do About Insomnia

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Changes to sleep patterns are a normal part of the aging process, and many older adults have difficulty falling or staying asleep. However, your need for sleep doesn’t decline as you get older. Take a look at the symptoms in this article and talk to your doctor if you think you may have a sleep problem.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep problem that can cause people to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or not feeling rested when they wake up. Insomnia is not about the number of hours of sleep a person gets. Everyone’s sleep needs are different.

12 tips for sleeping better

  • Sleep only long enough to feel rested, then get out of bed
  • 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 sleepy again
  • Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each day—even weekends
  • Have coffee, tea, and other foods that have caffeine only in the morning
  • Solve problems before going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening and before bed
  • Avoid smoking, especially in the evening
  • Exercise regularly for at least 20 minutes— preferably 4-6 hours prior to bedtime
  • Adjust bedroom environment—keep the room cool, quiet, and dark
  • Avoid television, electronic devices, eating, and working in bed
  • Keep a log of your sleep habits to share with your doctor
  • Talk to your doctor to figure out what may be causing your problems with sleep

What are some causes of insomnia?


  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Bladder/prostate problems
  • Joint disease/pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia/Alzheimer's
  • Sleep apnea


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Death of spouse/family member
  • Stress

Medications & substances

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Some antidepressants
  • Stimulants
  • Diuretics (water pills)

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 the techniques described on this page. You should always discuss the potential risks and benefits of sleep medications with your doctor. Also avoid using sleep medications every night for long periods of time; it is possible to become dependent upon them for sleep.

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How Our Plans Can Help

Annual Wellness Exam

Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred plans cover an Annual Wellness Exam each plan year. This is a more comprehensive doctor’s office visit designed to develop or update a personalized plan to prevent disease or disability based on your current health risk factors.


Cardiovascular Screening

Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred plans provide coverage for an annual visit with your primary care physician to help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. During this visit, your doctor may discuss aspirin use (if appropriate), check your blood pressure, and offer tips for a healthier diet. 

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