Psychophysiological insomnia; Learned insomnia; Chronic insomnia; Primary insomnia
The following tips can help improve sleep. This is called sleep hygiene.
Do something relaxing just before bedtime (such as reading or taking a bath) so that you don't dwell on worrisome issues. Watching TV or using a computer may be stimulating to some people and interfere with their ability to fall asleep.
If you can't fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and move to another room. Engage in a quiet activity until you feel sleepy.
One method of preventing worries from keeping you awake is to keep a journal before going to bed. List all issues that worry you. By this method, you transfer your worries from your thoughts to paper. This leaves your mind quieter and more ready to sleep.
If you follow these recommendations and still have insomnia, your doctor may prescribe medications such as benzodiazepines.
You should be able to sleep if you practice good sleep hygiene. See a doctor if you have chronic insomnia that does not improve.
It is important to remember that your health is not at risk if you do not get 6 - 8 hours of sleep every day. Different people have different sleep requirements. Some do fine on 4 hours of sleep a night, while others only thrive if they get 10 - 11 hours.
Sleep requirements also change with age. Listen to your body's sleep signals and don't try to sleep more or less than is refreshing for you.
Daytime sleepiness is the most common complication, though there is some evidence that lack of sleep can also lower your immune system's ability to fight infections. Sleep deprivation is also a common cause of auto accidents -- if you are driving and feel sleepy, take a break.
Call your doctor if chronic insomnia has become a problem.
Wilson JF. In the clinic. Insomnia. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(1):ITC13-1-ITC13-16.
Morgenthaler T, Kramer M, Alessi C, Friedman L, Boehlecke B, Brown T, et al. Practice parameters for the psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: an update. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine report. Sleep. 2006;29:1415-1419.
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