ZocdocAnswersWhat can I do to help me sleep?

Question

What can I do to help me sleep?

Help! I'm a 46 year old woman and I just suddenly developed trouble sleeping. I try reading, going for a walk, even calling friends on other coasts. I've been getting three hours max a night of sleep and I want to get better! What are some strategies people can try?

Answer

This sounds miserable! Insomnia can be very disrupting to one's quality of life, as it is hard to enjoy your daytime activities when you are excessively fatigued. Overall, since your insomnia is new, it would be best to see your primary care physician for an overall history and exam to make sure there's not a new issue with your health that could be contributing to your trouble sleeping. For example, patients with sleep apnea or other disorders may sometimes report insomnia. In general, promoting healthy sleep habits includes having a regular sleep routine (ie going to bed and getting up at consistent times from day to day), not spending time in bed or in your bedroom outside of sleeping, having dark shades (as necessary) to minimize light, avoiding eating or exercise before bed, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine several hours before sleeping. It sounds like you have tried several strategies without success, so you may want to talk to your physician about trying a sleeping aid. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor after a history and exam, but there are several options for pharmacologic management, including some medications such as Benadryl or trazodone with minimal side effects. Book an appointment with your primary care doctor today! Good luck!

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