ZocdocAnswersDo I have insomnia if I have trouble staying asleep?

Question

Do I have insomnia if I have trouble staying asleep?

I am a 26 year old student and 4 years ago I was diagnosed with a mental illness. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been addicted to cigarettes and coffee. The doctor told me it may be due to my coffee consumption that I have trouble sleeping. I don’t take coffee after 3:00pm, and yet my sleep has been poor for months or longer.

Answer

Trouble sleeping is a very common problem that is encountered in the outpatient medical setting. There are a number of causes of insomnia, a few of which you have mentioned: coffee and cigarettes. Coffee is a significant source of caffeine, which acts as a stimulant to the body. Drinking coffee even in the early afternoon can cause people to be "wired" when they try to go to bed, and it is always advised to cut out coffee after breakfast time if it can be avoided. In addition, if you are having more than one cup of coffee per day, you should try to cut back slowly over the course of a month. Furthermore, cigarettes are overall terrible for your health for a number of reasons, and they act as a stimulant to your body in much the same way as caffeine. Smoking before bed can have the same effect as drinking the coffee, elevating your heart rate and making your mind race. If the above measures don't help your insomnia, then you should consider any medications that you may be on as a result of your mental illness. Some medications can have the side effect of interrupting with sleep; other alternatives without the same side effect profile may be available.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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