Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    What to Do About Insomnia

    Nobody sleeps well every single night. But if you often find it hard to drift off, don’t stay asleep all night, or wake too early in the morning, you could have a sleep disorder called insomnia.

    If so, you won’t just feel sleepy. A lack of quality sleep can also cause fatigue, low energy, a dip in your mood, and trouble with focus. You’ll find it harder to do a good job at work or school. It also raises the odds you’ll go on to have health problems like heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia, depression, and anxiety.

    Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

    Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter

    Pushing through the night to study, work, or respond to an emergency can feel downright heroic. You did what you had to do, against the odds. But once the adrenaline wears off and daylight comes, you may suddenly be a little unsteady on your feet. Surviving the day after an all-nighter can be more difficult than it was to stay awake in the first place. A night of sleep deprivation affects your brain -- how quickly you can react, how well you can pay attention, how you sort information or remember...

    Read the Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter article > >

    Most of the time, insomnia is a symptom of another problem, rather than its own illness. To stop it, you’ll need to figure out what’s keeping your brain in its “wakefulness” cycle and preventing the sleep you need.

    Causes of Insomnia

    Sleep troubles can start for many reasons. These include:

    Health issues. Plenty of medical conditions can disrupt your sleep, such as allergies, asthma, stomach issues like acid reflux, chronic pain, and sleep apnea. Mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, can keep you from getting enough rest, too.

    Stress. Worrying about work, money, loved ones, or big life changes keep your mind going long after you turn the lights out.

    Food and drink. Alcohol may make you fall asleep quickly, but it disrupts your deep sleep. So do caffeine and heavy meals.

    Drugs. Some prescribed medicines will make it harder for you to sleep. Over-the-counter drugs, like ones you take for allergies or pain, can also cause insomnia.

    Daily habits. Small choices you make every day can sabotage your sleep. For instance, the blue light from your tablet or phone screen tells your brain to “wake up” before bed. Long afternoon naps or working night or rotating shifts can also mess up your natural sleep cycle.

    Find Out What Keeps You Awake

    To figure out the cause of your insomnia, try keeping a sleep diary. For a week or two, jot down details like:

    • When you go to sleep and wake up each morning
    • How quickly you fall asleep
    • Do you feel rested when you wake up?
    • Does another person or a pet share a bed with you?
    • Did you read or use a screen while in bed?
    • What wakes you up (like worries, noise, or pain)
    • If you drink alcohol or caffeine or smoke tobacco before bedtime
    • Your exercise schedule
    • When you nap
    • Any new or different sleep medications you take
    • Your mood each day

    You can write this down in a notebook or find an online sleep diary to fill out. When you’re done, look back through it to see if you notice any patterns.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    bald woman smelling flowers
    Complementary therapies to ease symptoms.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes highlighted
    4 early warning signs.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    Senior woman using diabetes test kit
    Each one takes 10 minutes or less.
    woman having a good day
    Revitalize your life.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.