Insomnia is not a disease, and no test can diagnose it. But when you
can't sleep well, it often has to do with some other cause. Your doctor will
probably assess your current health and ask about any health problems you have
had and any medicines you are taking.
Sometimes a doctor will do a
physical exam, blood tests, and, in some cases, sleep studies to help find out
if you have a health problem that may be causing the insomnia.
Your doctor may also ask about your sleep history—how well you sleep, how
long you sleep, your bedtime habits, and any unusual behaviors you may have.
Your doctor may ask you to keep a sleep journal, which is a record of your sleep
patterns, for a week or two. He or she may recommend a counselor if your
symptoms point to a mental health problem, such as depression or
Treatment for insomnia focuses on the reason why you don't sleep well. If
you have a medical problem, such as chronic pain, or an emotional problem, such
as stress, treating that problem may help you sleep better. You may be able to
sleep better by making some small changes. It may help to:
- Go to bed at the same time each
- Get up at the same time each day.
- Avoid caffeine
and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
- Get regular exercise
(but make sure you finish the exercise at least 3 to 4 hours before you go to
- Avoid daytime naps.
Some people may need medicine for a while to help them fall
asleep. Doctors often prescribe medicine for a short time if other treatment
isn't working. But medicine doesn't work as well over time as lifestyle and
behavior changes do. Sleep medicine can also become
habit-forming. Medicine works best as a short-term treatment combined with
lifestyle and behavior changes.
Your doctor may also recommend
counseling, which can help you learn new habits that may help you sleep
Talk to your doctor about your sleep problems and any
other health issues you may have. This is important, because lack of sleep can
lead to depression, accidents, problems at work, marital and social problems,
drinking more alcohol than usual, and poor health. Treatment may help you avoid
these problems and feel better.