Having Trouble Sleeping?
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Have you ever spent the night listening to the clock tick on your bedside table? If so, you know how frustrating restless nights are.
Stress and everyday life events create restless nights once in a while. Lack of sleep zaps your vitality. Without enough rest, you become more forgetful and have problems focusing. It can also make you feel cranky or more apt to have accidents. Aging, certain health problems, and medicines can all interfere with a good night's rest.
Sleep disorders are common. There are many different ones. The most common are:
Insomnia symptoms include:
Insomnia may be short term (a few days or weeks) or long-term (more than 4 weeks). It makes it hard to function during the day.
Sleep troubles may seem like only an annoyance. But long term insomnia can affect your health. It needs to be treated.
Treatments for insomnia include changing sleep habits, avoiding stimulants, and sometimes sleep medicine.
Sleep apnea is a disorder with pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last for 10 to 30 seconds at a time. It interrupts sleep often and leads to daytime sleepiness. If untreated, it may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and early death.
People with sleep apnea often snore loudly or wake up gasping for air. If you or your bed partner has any of these symptoms, call your doctor.
There are many effective treatments for sleep apnea. They include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, dental devices, lifestyle changes, medicines, or surgery. Treatment will also lower your risk of problems.
Why Sleep Becomes Hard to Get
Many people do not have a sleep disorder, but still have trouble sleeping. A number of health problems can cause problems sleeping, including:
Making Good Sleep Habits
Certain habits can help you get better sleep. It is important to stick to them. This will help them become a part of your routine. Good sleep habits include:
Sleep Medications and Herbal Remedies
Changing sleep habits is often the best treatment for insomnia. It should be used before medicines and supplements. Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary of your sleep and wake habits. This may help find the cause of your sleeplessness and its solution.
Some people use melatonin, valerian, or other supplements to help them sleep. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any supplements.
Sleep is very important for your health. Do not settle for a few hours of sleep per night. Sleeplessness and sleep disorders are treatable. Try different methods. If you still have problems, call your doctor.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
National Sleep Foundation
Better Sleep Council Canada
Canadian Sleep Society
Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/insomnia-in-adults. Accessed June 9, 2021.
Insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/symptoms. Accessed June 9, 2021.
Melatonin. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-databases/natural-alternative-treatments. Accessed June 9, 2021.
Melatonin: what you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. Available at: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin#hed1. Accessed June 9, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 6/9/2021
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