- Does it take you more than 45 minutes to fall asleep at night?
- Do you wake up a lot during the night, and have trouble falling back to sleep?
- Do you wake up too early in the morning?
If you have these symptoms but still feel rested during the day, don’t worry. But if you feel chronically tired as well, perhaps your insomnia needs attention.
If these conditions last for two or three nights or even a few weeks, the cause is often worry and stress. If they go on for months or years, common causes may be general anxiety, depression, or side effects of medications.
What to do
- Only sleep as much as you need to feel refreshed the next day.
- Each day, get up at the same time, no matter what – even on weekends until your body learns the pattern.
- Don’t sleep during the day.
- Get more exercise (but not within two hours of bedtime).
- Don’t drink caffeine after noon (and go easy on it before that); caffeine in the evening disturbs sleep, even in those who do not feel it does.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may help falling asleep faster, but leaves you feeling unrested.
- An occasional sleeping pill may help, but long-term use is at best ineffective, and may make the problem worse.
- Ask a pharmacist if any medications you are taking could be the cause of your insomnia (e.g., decongestants)
- Try a glass of warm milk at bedtime.
- Rather than trying harder and harder to fall asleep, go do something else in another room until you feel sleepy.
- If noise is a problem, try a white noise machine or ear plugs.
- Excessive room temperature, hot or cold,may disturb sleep.
When to seek medical help
- If you can’t solve the problem after a month of trying the above tips.
- If you snore loudly and feel exhausted during the day. This could be sleep apnea – a blockage of the upper airways – and can be helped with medical care.