Mayo Clinic: What is the best way to eliminate insomnia? For
almost a year, Iíve had trouble getting much sleep. Iíve
tried over-the-counter medications, but they arenít very
Although sleep medications may be useful when you have
occasional trouble sleeping, they arenít 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.
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, itís 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.
evaluation doesnít 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.
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
reduce the amount of wakeful time you spend in bed. If you get
into bed and donít fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get
up and go to another room. Keep your surroundings quiet and
dimly lit. Donít turn on the TV or other electronic devices.
That will wake up your brain, rather than getting it ready for
sleep. Instead, do some light reading, listen to quiet music
or engage in relaxation techniques. Perform these activities
sitting up, rather than lying down.
your eyes get heavy and your head starts to bob, get back into
bed. Donít go back to bed when youíre just feeling tired.
Wait until youíre sleepy. If you canít sleep once you get
into bed, or if you wake up again and cannot fall back to
sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, repeat the cycle.
minimizing the amount of time you spend in bed awake, youíre
teaching your brain to associate your bed with sleep.
Sometimes, people think itís a good idea to be in bed at
night ó even if they are not sleeping ó because they are
getting some rest. But that conditions your brain to associate
being in bed at night with being awake ó the opposite of
what you want.
way to condition your brain to associate your bed with sleep
is to avoid other activities in your bedroom. Donít read,
watch TV or spend much time in your bedroom during the day.
When your alarm goes off, get up, start your morning routine
and get out of the bedroom as soon as possible. Do this even
when you havenít slept well. Dozing in bed between snooze
alarms wonít provide quality sleep, and it reinforces poor
pay attention to other health habits. Sometimes when you are
not sleeping well and feel tired the next day, youíll
increase your caffeine intake. While this may help you during
the day, it can complicate sleep at night. Work to reduce or
eliminate caffeine in your diet. If you continue to use
caffeine, consider gradually reducing the amount over time or
try switching to half-caffeinated beverages. It is also a good
rule of thumb not to consume caffeinated drinks after 3 p.m.
or six to eight hours before bedtime.
donít rely on sleep medication to cure insomnia.
Prescription and nonprescription sleep medications are only
intended for occasional, short-term use ó typically no
longer than four to five weeks at the most. Over longer
periods of time, these medications can contribute to sleep
problems and lower the quality of your sleep.
continue to have insomnia after trying behavior modification
for several weeks, talk to your health care provider or
consider consulting with a health care provider who
specializes in sleep disorders.