Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why can?t I sleep at night?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy can?t I sleep at night?


Do I have insomnia? I?m only sleeping like 3 hours a night and just can?t fall asleep. What can be done about insomnia? Should I take sleeping pills?


Insomnia is a very common complaint. Most people experience this on occasion. However, if there is continued and troublesome insomnia that is affecting your life -- this needs to be evaluated. I would recommend that you see your primary care doctor as there many causes that can be potentially treated. Sleeping pills are not recommended in general. While some work to transiently help you sleep -- they are simply "covering up" the problem. It may be appropriate to take them, but the important thing is to first figure out why you have insomnia. For this, I would recommend discussing this with your primary care doctor. If appropriate, he or she may prescribe you some sleeping pills. As to what is causing it -- there are many causes. A big distinction is if you have trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep -- as the two types of insomnia have different causes. Some of the common causes include:1-depression ; 2- thyroid problems; 3-gastric reflux 4- urinary problems, 5- lung problems such as sleep apnea and many more. However arguably the most common cause of insomnia is poor "sleep hygiene." This is a term used when people are setting themselves up to not sleep i.e. having bright lights on, napping in the day, eating/drinking before bed etc. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.