Sleep Problems, Age 12 and Older
Sleep Problems, Age 12 and Older
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. 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.
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
- Get regular exercise but not within 3 to 4 hours of your
- Wind down toward the end of the day. Don't take on
problem-solving conversations or challenging activities in the
- 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
- Try using a sleep mask and earplugs at night.
you take medicine that may be stimulating, such as antihistamines,
decongestants, or asthma medicines, take them as long before bedtime as
- 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
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.
Avoid activities that might keep you from a good night's
- Do not take naps during the day, especially in
- Do not drink or eat caffeine after 3:00 p.m. This
includes coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate.
- Do not smoke or
use other tobacco products. Nicotine can disrupt sleep and reduce total sleep
time. Smokers report more daytime sleepiness and minor accidents than do
nonsmokers, especially in younger age groups. For more information, see the
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
It may make you sleepy but also will probably wake you up after a short
nonprescription medicine, such as Nytol, Sleep-Eze, or
Sominex. Use nonprescription medicines wisely since they can cause daytime
confusion, memory loss, and dizziness. Continued use of sleeping pills may
actually increase your sleeplessness (rebound insomnia). If you take any
prescription medicines, talk with your doctor before trying any nonprescription
Melatonin is a popular herbal remedy
for sleep problems. Experts disagree about its usefulness for sleep problems.
Before using any treatment, it is important to consider the risks and benefits
of the treatment. For more information, see the topic
If you have several nights of
trouble sleeping, review all of your prescription and nonprescription
medicines with your doctor or pharmacist to determine whether the medicines you
take could be the cause of your sleep problem.
You may have sleep
problems after traveling (jet lag), especially if you change time zones.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- Your sleep problem becomes
- Your sleep problem lasts longer than 4
- Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
November 27, 2012
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