Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why can't I sleep at night?"
I am a 22 year old full time female student, that works part time on the side as a waitress. I haven't been able to sleep for the past 6 months and have been waking up after only a couple hours if I do fall asleep. I have been trying over the counter medicine but it doesn't seem to work. Should I see a psychiatrist?
A sleep medicine doctor would likely be a better fit to help you with your insomnia, and your primary care doctor would likely have options to try first, as well as referral information if the initial tips are not sufficient. A psychiatrist would be valuable if you feel that your insomnia is due to mental health concerns or anxiety, and indeed, many people become so concerned about their inability to sleep that they do ultimately seek professional counseling to decrease this concern (which can become detrimental in and of itself). For many people, improving sleep hygiene is sufficient to help them be able to sleep better. A few quick tips include trying to sleep for no more than 20 minutes at a time, and then taking a break to read a book or another activity that is not productive (don't eat, watch TV, or do work, as these "reward" you for not being able to fall asleep). Also, avoid watching TV before bed, drinking caffeine, or exercising. If all of these are not effective, discuss your problem with your primary care doctor to make sure that there is nothing else that is contributing and to see what more can be done.