Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What can I do if I am having trouble sleeping?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat can I do if I am having trouble sleeping?


I don?t think I have a disorder or anything, but I can?t seem to get to sleep lately. I am a 22 year old male with no other medical issues. What could cause me not to be able to sleep? Should I not eat at night?


Trouble sleeping is actually a very common complaint heard by a primary care doctor. Your insomnia is sudden and recent. Have you done something differently lately? You are correct in your assumption that eating at night may keep you up. Did you do this before? Without an exam and a thorough medical history, it is difficult to pinpoint what could cause your insomnia, so I can provide medical information only. With no medical issues or disorder, there are a number of causes of this secondary insomnia. Some leading causes come to mind. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the body to cause people to be "wired" when they try to fall asleep. Drinking coffee even in the early afternoon can cause insomnia in people. Nicotine is stimulating the body in much the same way as caffeine, so smoking before bed can have the same effect as drinking coffee; that is, both elevate your heart rate and make your mind race when your body is tuned in to rest. Stress or anxiety is also an often-diagnosis of insomnia in many young adults. Do you have difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying sleep? Someone with a sleep-onset insomnia, which is a difficulty falling asleep as opposed to difficulty staying sleep is more likely than those without insomnia to focus on worries, problems, and noises in the environment prior to sleep, and to think about something that had happened during the day. Otherwise, other common causes of insomnia include, but not limited to, depression, emotional or physical discomfort, and extreme temperatures (hot or cold). Some medications may also interfere with sleep. If none of the mentioned causes is relevant to you, I would suggest practicing good sleep hygiene which includes setting a regular time for going to bed and getting up in the morning, avoiding shifting your sleep times on weekends, avoiding all caffeine in the afternoon or evenings, smoking before bedtime and late night meals or snacks, and minimizing television viewing in the bedroom prior to sleep. If your insomnia still persists, I would recommend a visit to a primary care doctor who may prescribe you some sleep medications or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist if warranted.

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.