Inability to sleep; Dyssomnia; Sleeplessness; Wakefulness
Try changing your nighttime sleeping habits and other behavior before taking drugs for insomnia. For example:
- Avoid emotional upset or stressful situations before bedtime.
- Avoid using alcohol in the evening. Avoid caffeine for at least 8 hours before bedtime. Give up smoking, because nicotine is a stimulant.
- Eat a light snack before bedtime.
- Establish a regular bedtime, but don't go to bed if you feel wide awake.
- Exercise regularly, but not in the last 2 hours before going to bed. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been shown to make people fall asleep faster and get deeper and more restful sleep. Sex can be a natural sleep inducer for some people.
- Relax by reading, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music before going to bed.
- Take your TV or computer out of your bedroom. Otherwise, your brain becomes used to the stimulation and starts to expect it when you are there. This makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Use the bedroom for bedroom activities only. Once in bed, use creative imagery and relaxation techniques to keep your mind off unrestful thoughts. Avoid staying in bed for long periods of time while awake, or going to bed because of boredom.
IN INFANTS AND CHILDREN
- Avoid going in to your child's room throughout the night.
- Avoid sending your child to bed as punishment, which can lead to poor sleep.
- For children who have trouble falling asleep, try to make the bedroom as quiet as possible. A sound machine can help mask outside noises.
- Never give a child sleeping medicine without asking the doctor first. It's usually not a good idea to treat the problem with drugs.
Call your health care provider if
Call your health provider if:
- Your sleeping problem becomes persistent and affects your quality of life, despite behavior changes
- Your sleeping problem occurs more than 3 nights per week for more than 1 month
- You have other worrisome symptoms, such as
chest painor shortness of breath
Review Date: 03/31/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Michelle Benger Merrill, MD, Instructor in Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.