Sleep Problems, Age 12 and Older - Home Treatment

How much sleep a person needs varies from person to person. The number of hours you sleep is not as important as how you feel when you wake up. If you do not feel refreshed, you probably need more sleep.

Feeling tired during the daytime is another sign you are not getting enough sleep. Talk to a doctor if you are sleepy during the day and this gets in the way of the normal things you do. It's especially important that you do not drive or use machinery while you are drowsy.

The average total nightly sleep time is 7½ to 8 hours. Healthy adults can require anywhere from 4 to 10 hours of sleep. Many times, simple home treatment can help you get the sleep you need.

If your sleep problem does not require a visit to your doctor, establish a routine to promote good sleep habits:

  • Set a bedtime and time to get up, and stick to them, even on weekends. This will help your body get used to a regular sleep time.
  • Get regular exercise but not within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime.
  • Wind down toward the end of the day. Don't take on problem-solving conversations or challenging activities in the evening.
  • Take a warm bath before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Remove distractions, such as a clock, telephone, or radio, from your bedroom.
  • Use a humidifier or "white noise" machine to block out background noise in your bedroom throughout the night.
  • Try using a sleep mask and earplugs at night.
  • If you take medicine that may be stimulating, such as antihistamines, decongestants, or asthma medicines, take them as long before bedtime as possible.
  • Reserve the bedroom for sleeping and sexual activities so that you come to associate it with sleep. Go to another room to read, watch television, or eat.
  • After getting into bed, make a conscious effort to let your muscles relax. Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant scene. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.

When you can't get to sleep, try the following:

  • If you are still awake after 15 or 20 minutes, get up and read in dim light or do a boring task until you feel drowsy. Don't lie in bed and think about how much sleep you're missing or watch TV.