• Reviewed on 12/12
    By Dr. Harrington

Insomnia: FAQ


Question: I don't have trouble falling asleep but I wake up after several hours and then can't go back to sleep. Is this insomnia?

Answer: Insomnia is a sleep disorder that includes several types of sleep problems. People with insomnia may experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early or consistently feeling tired upon waking.


Question: What are some helpful tips for having a better night's sleep?

Answer: Try some of the following for a good night's sleep:

  • Establish a bedtime routine that allows you to wind down and prepare for sleep.

  • Include regular exercise or physical activity as part of your daily routine but avoid exercising close to bedtime.

  • Don't have caffeine, tobacco or alcohol close to bedtime.

  • Get up at the same time every morning, including weekends and holidays.


Question: How do I know if I'm getting enough sleep?

Answer: Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Signs that you may not be getting adequate sleep include low energy, daytime sleepiness, trouble concentrating and moodiness.


Question: I've heard that some medical conditions can cause sleep problems and insomnia. What are some of these conditions?

Answer: Medical disorders that cause nighttime pain or discomfort, such as heartburn, arthritis and fibromyalgia, can also cause sleep problems. Depression and chronic anxiety can result in difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Men who have an enlarged prostate may experience sleep disruption due to frequent urination and trips to the bathroom. Hormonal changes and hot flashes often cause sleep difficulties for women. Because many health conditions can interfere with a good night's sleep, an evaluation for a chronic sleep problem should include evaluation for underlying medical disorders.

Question: Is melatonin a good treatment for insomnia?
 

Answer: Many people take a melatonin supplement (available as an over-the-counter dietary supplement) as an aid to help them sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the brain and assists with regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. When taken before bedtime, it is believed to signal the brain that it's time to be sleepy. Clinical research has shown that melatonin may lessen sleep problems associated with insomnia related to circadian rhythm sleep disorders. As with any over-the-counter medication or supplement, check with your healthcare provider before taking.

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