Sleep Problems: Diagnosis and Treatments Explained


For some people, it helps to wear a dental brace that holds the lower jaw forward during sleep.

For others, an implanted device called Inspire is now available. The device, called an upper airway stimulator, delivers mild stimulation to nerves that control airway muscles, keeping them open. There are also several types of surgery available for sleep apnea.


People with narcolepsy fall asleep when they don't want to. Naps can help.

Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help you stay awake and treat the sudden loss of muscle control when you wake up.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Cutting down on caffeine may help. So can taking a warm bath or relaxing before bed. Hot or cold packs on your legs may provide relief.

Prescription medicines that might help include:

These may have side effects, so talk about the pros and cons with your doctor.

Nightmares and Night Terrors

If your child has a nightmare or night terror, comfort them. If they have those dreams often or if they're severe, tell your child's doctor.

Pregnancy and Sleep

It's normal to not sleep well during pregnancy. Take afternoon naps, drink warm milk, or relax in a warm (not hot) bath before bedtime. Exercise during the day should help, too. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

You may be more comfortable sleeping on one side, with a pillow supporting your head and abdomen, and another pillow between your knees.

If you're pregnant, never take sleeping pills or any herbal remedies without talking with your doctor first.


Your sleep patterns may change as you get older. That's normal -- it doesn't mean you have a sleep disorder.

Exercise helps you sleep better at any age.

Elderly people who don't sleep well at night may find afternoon naps helpful. Don't nap too much, or it will make it harder to sleep at night.

Get outside in the sunlight during the day, particularly in the morning, too.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 23, 2015



American Academy of Family Physicians. 

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 

Lucile Packard Children's Health Services. 

Medline Plus: "Narcolepsy." 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

American Sleep Apnea Association.

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