Insomnia can be caused by menopause or problems such as depression, anxiety, and sleep apnea. Treating these conditions may get rid of your sleep problem. This topic is for people whose sleep problem can't be treated by fixing something else.
Insomnia is a problem with falling asleep or staying asleep. You may wake up during the night or wake up too early the next morning. Without enough sleep, you may feel sleepy during the day. This can make you more likely to have an accident, and it also makes driving dangerous. You may feel grumpy from lack of sleep. Some people have trouble remembering things, don't get as much done, and don't enjoy being with family and friends.
Some people use caffeine to help them get over feeling tired, but this may make their sleep problem worse.
Almost everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. Stress, for example, can keep you from sleeping well now and then. The problem can last for days or weeks. It often gets better in less than a month.
But trouble sleeping can turn into a long-term problem, especially when you worry about not sleeping well. A long-term sleep problem is called chronic insomnia. It is often a symptom of another health problem, such as depression or chronic pain. Chronic insomnia is less common than short-term sleep problems.
Sleeping pills work well to help you sleep.1 They can help for a short time to break the cycle of bad sleep. But over time, the medicine doesn't work as well as lifestyle and behavior changes do.
Your doctor may have you take a sleeping pill every night for a few weeks. Or you may take them for only a few nights each week. This is called intermittent treatment. Make sure to take the pills exactly as your doctor says.
The best long-term way to sleep well is to make lifestyle and behavior changes. There are several things you can try, including:
Sleeping pills may:
Your doctor may recommend sleeping pills if:
|Take sleeping pills||Don't take sleeping pills|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I used to have a stressful job and would wake up at night after a few hours of sleep. I couldn't go back to sleep. The same thing happened night after night. My blood pressure went up, and I was tired all the time. I have since changed to a less stressful job, but I still didn't sleep all night. I bought a better mattress hoping that would help, but I would still wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. I talked with my doctor several times about my insomnia and decided to try sleeping pills."
— Liz, age 45
"I kept many bad habits I had picked up in college. I would stay up late with friends, often while drinking. The next day at work I would drink coffee all day to help keep me going. I ate meals whenever I could spare the time. As a result I wasn't sleeping regularly. I thought about taking sleeping pills, but I didn't like the possible side effects. So I decided to make changes in my behavior. I go to bed at about the same time every night, exercise after work 3 days a week, and limit how much alcohol and coffee I drink."
— Alejandro, age 25
"I used to worry about not going to sleep at night. So I would sit up late at night watching TV in bed. The more I worried about not being able to go to sleep, the longer I would stay awake. My doctor said I may be depressed and told me that counseling might help. He also suggested that I take sleeping pills for a short time to help me get the rest I need."
— Chris, age 33
"I have several health problems and have started taking medicines for them. Since I started the medicines, I have a hard time going to sleep at night. My doctor believes that one of my medicines may be causing me to stay awake. So she recommended I try a different medicine to see if that would help. She also suggested that exercise might help, so I've started walking around the neighborhood after my evening meal."
— Sophie, age 66
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take sleeping pills
Reasons not to take sleeping pills
I've tried lifestyle changes, and I'm still not sleeping enough.
I want to give lifestyle changes more time to work.
I need to sleep better now, because lack of sleep is hurting my life.
My life isn't suffering because of my lack of sleep.
I'm not concerned about getting addicted to the pills.
I'm very concerned about getting addicted to the pills.
I'm not worried about side effects from sleeping pills.
I am worried about side effects.
I don't mind taking medicine to help me sleep.
I just don't want to take pills to help me sleep.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
Taking sleeping pills
NOT taking sleeping pills
1. Is it best if you take sleeping pills only for a short time?
2. Will lifestyle and behavior changes work best over time to help you sleep?
3. Is there a risk of getting addicted to sleeping pills?
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry|