Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Insomnia: Tips for better sleep

Alternative Names

Sleep issues; Difficulty falling asleep; Insomnia concerns

Information

Insomnia is difficulty falling or staying asleep. In many cases, changing a few behaviors can help you sleep better. Sometimes, medication is needed. Behavioral changes should be tried first.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if any of the following symptoms interfere with your ability to function during the day:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • History of falling asleep during the day at inappropriate times
  • Nightmares or disturbing thoughts that keep you awake
  • Pain, frequent urination, or unusual sensations that keep you awake
  • Significant trouble getting out of bed in the morning
  • Sleep that does not refresh you
  • Waking up several times throughout the night
  • Waking up early in the morning

Here are some simple tips to get a better night's sleep:

  • If possible, wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid performing activities such as eating and working in your bed.
  • Avoid strenuous activity 2 hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages in the evening.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals at least 2 hours before going to sleep.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that includes calming, relaxing activities.
  • Make sure your sleep environment is quiet, dark, and is at a comfortable temperature.
  • Don't go to bed more than 8 hours before you expect to start your day.

Do something relaxing just before bedtime (such as reading or taking a bath) so that you don't think about worrisome thoughts. Watching TV or using a computer may be stimulating and disturb your ability to fall asleep. If you can't fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and move to another room and engage in a quiet activity until you feel sleepy.

One method of preventing worries from keeping you awake is to keep a journal before going to bed. List all issues that worry you. By this method you transfer your worries from your thoughts to paper, leaving your mind quieter and more ready to fall asleep.

HOW MUCH SLEEP IS ENOUGH?

While 7 - 8 hours a night is recommended for most people, children and teenagers need more. Older people tend to do fine with less sleep at night, but may still require approximately 8 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. The quality of sleep is as important as how much sleep you get.

References

Morin CM, Benca R. Chronic insomnia. Lancet. 2012;379(9821):1129-41.

Updated: 6/15/2012

Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veteran Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com