Understanding Insomnia: An Overview


Steps to Manage Your Sleepless Nights

Step 1: Make lifestyle changes to improve your sleep.

  • Try not to worry about sleep when you go to bed.
  • Avoid clock-watching. Turn your clock around and use only the alarm.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep. Keep it dark, quiet, and not too cold or warm. Use a sleeping mask to block light or use earplugs or a fan to block noise.
  • Relax before bedtime by reading, listening to relaxing music, bathing, or doing another relaxing activity.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day; a light snack before bedtime may help with sleep, though.
  • If you can’t sleep and don’t feel drowsy, avoid lying in bed. Get up and read or do something that’s not stimulating until you feel sleepy.

Step 2: Keep a sleep diary.

If you’ve made lifestyle changes and still have sleep problems, write down in a journal:

  • Time you went to bed
  • Approximate time you fell asleep
  • Time you woke up
  • Number of times you woke up during the night
  • Amount of time you stayed awake during the night
  • Total amount of sleep you log per night
  • Any grogginess upon waking in the morning or during the day
  • Naps and their duration
  • Any daytime incidents of dozing off and where it happened
  • Any comments about particular sleep problems or quality of sleep

Step 3: Create an action plan with your doctor.

Share your sleep diary with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor will try to address and treat your sleep problem or any underlying cause.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD on May 22, 2015



Centers for Disease Control.

Merck Manuals Online: “Insomnia.”

Cleveland Clinic: “What Is Insomnia?”

American Sleep Association: “Insomnia.”

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Insomnia.”

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