What should I do if I have insomnia?

This question was asked in Allendale, Indiana on 06/13/2012.
I can't get to sleep at night after I work during the day and always feel tired. I always want to take a nap during the day on the days I don't work.

Doctors Answers (3)

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 6/15/2012

You should read and start with sleep hygiene. Sometimes a sleep study is needed to see if there is something wrong with the sleep that can be fixed such as sleep apnea or limb movement disorder. If you see a sleep doctor he'll best help you figure out the cause of insomnia and make a treatment plan for you.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/14/2012

What you do if you have insomnia depends on how long you have had it, when it occurs (at bedtime or later in the night) and what you have done thus far to address the problem. As you mention, insomnia is not just having difficulty sleeping but also how it affects your daytime. If you slept for only two hours and felt great for 22 hours you would not have a problem. How much sleep we need is thought to be genetically determined. Some persons need only 5-6 hours of sleep and others may need 9-10 hours to allow for normal daytime performance. Primary insomniacs (those who suffer for no known reason such as pain, anxiety, depression or adverse living conditions) are generally not able to nap in the daytime. They may feel tired but not truly sleepy. The fact that you can nap suggests that there is a reason for your insomnia. This could include sleep disordered breathing, limb movements, medication effect and sleep deprivation (meaning that if allowed to sleep as long as you like you may not have a problem). Insomnia is not the same as sleep deprivation. You should start with your primary care physician who may solve your problem easily. If not, then seek consultation with a sleep specialist who can find the cause. Often, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective. This includes teaching methods to relax and make the brain ready to sleep.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 6/14/2012

Insomnia is a sleep disturbance of sleep onset or sleep maintenance that not only affects nigthtime sleep but daytime function as well. Adults should be getting anywhere from 7-9 hours per night of continuous sleep without interuption to funciton best during the day without napping. If this is not the case, and has been going on for more than 30 days then you may have chronic insomnia. A check up with your primary MD to rule out any other medical or psychiatric problem first would be to your benefit. Otherwise, you could see a sleep specialist to have you keep sleep logs at night to examine your sleep or lack there of over time. Cut out tobacco, alcohol and caffeine intake wherever applicable and try to maintain a uniform bed time and rise time everyday including weekends. If this still is not sufficient then a sleep aid like Melatonin or Cognitive Behavioral therapy CBT may be needed to combat this problem. I can't recommend prescription sleep aids as they are addictive and not designed for long term use.