Mayo Clinic Q&A: Insomnia — What To Do When You Can’t Sleep

From Mayo Clinic News Network
Mayo Clinic News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Insomnia is defined as having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep three nights a week or more for at least three months. The Mayo Clinic shares its best ways to battle the condition.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Dear Mayo Clinic: What is the best way to eliminate insomnia? For almost a year, I’ve had trouble getting much sleep. I’ve tried over-the-counter medications, but they aren’t very effective.

A: Although sleep medications may be useful when you have occasional trouble sleeping, they aren’t meant for long-term use. A better approach is to change your behaviors to cultivate quality sleep. An evaluation with your health care provider to check for underlying issues that could be negatively affecting your sleep also could be valuable.

Insomnia is defined as having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep three nights a week or more for at least three months. When dealing with insomnia, it’s important to rule out medical issues that could be driving it.

For example, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are two common problems that can lead to insomnia. Some medications also can cause sleep problems. See your health care provider to review any medications you take, and investigate whether a medical condition could be contributing to your sleeplessness.

If an evaluation doesn’t reveal an underlying cause of insomnia, you may benefit from behavioral changes. These changes get your brain to associate your bed and nighttime with sleep.

First, establish a bedtime routine. For example, about 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed, turn lights low. Turn off the TV and other electronic devices. Brush your teeth and wash your face. Change into pajamas and get into bed. A consistent routine each night gives your brain clear signals that sleep is coming.

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