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Insomnia, or sleep disorder, comes in many forms. It includes (1) a difficulty of falling asleep, (2) no problem of falling asleep but difficulty in sustaining the sleep, with many awakenings, and (3) waking up too early, not able to get back to sleep.

There are 3 medically recorded types of insomnia:

  • Transient (ranging from a night or two to a week)
  • Short-term (lasts from a few days to a few weeks)
  • Chronic (can last for years)

We know how irritating or frustrating it is to not to be able to sleep, especially if you have had a long day, and your body is telling you that it is tired but your brain just refuses to rest. In the end, you spend the whole night tossing and turning in bed, trying to find a position to fall asleep in, only to end up feeling more frustrated because no matter how many different positions you've tried, none of them worked! What can you do if you suffer from insomnia? Here are some advice commonly given to patients suffering from insomnia.

For those suffering from transient or short-term insomnia, you might like to try the following:

  • Have a glass of warm milk before going to bed.
  • Try not to eat too much during the evening, especially if you take late meals (which also means that it is advisable to refrain from eating supper). The reason for abstaining from a heavy meal is simply that it can cause stomach distress or indigestion which would lead to sleeplessness.
  • Abstain from alcohol or beverages containing stimulants like coffee or tea.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Drink warm herb tea. It helps you to relax, making sleeping easier.
  • Take a warm bath, or get a massage. This helps your body to relax too.
  • Keep your bedroom well-ventilated, and wear clothing that you makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.
  • Keep regular bedtime hours. Once your body system gets accustomed to a sleep pattern, it would be easy for you to fall asleep every night.
  • If you really can't sleep, do not lie on the bed. Get up and do something, like reading a book or watching television.
  • Musical therapy - listen to soothing music that helps you to relax.
  • Deep breathing.

If none of these works, you might be suffering from chronic insomnia. In this case, you should consult a doctor as he or she would be able to prescribe proper medication to correct your sleep disorder. Do keep track of your sleep patterns, and let the doctor know how well you have been sleeping, the number of hours you sleep each day, etc. This should be helpful for the doctor in determining what prescription to give to you.

Some Useful Links:

Virtual Hospital: Iowa Health Book: What to Do When You Can't Sleep

Health Central - Centers -- Sleep Disorders

Northside Hospital Sleep Medicine Institute