Insomnia: Improving Your Sleep

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Insomnia is the inability to sleep well. Insomnia may make it hard for you to get to sleep, stay asleep, or sleep as long as you need to. This can make you tired and grouchy during the day. It can also make you forgetful, less effective at work, and unhappy.

Insomnia can be linked to many things. These include health problems, medicines, and stressful events.

Treatment may include treating problems that may be linked with your insomnia. Treatment also includes behavior and lifestyle changes. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I uses different ways to help you change your thoughts and behaviors that may interfere with sleep. Your doctor can recommend specific things you can try. Examples include doing relaxation exercises, keeping regular bedtimes and wake times, limiting alcohol, and making healthy sleep habits. Some people decide to take medicine for a while to help with sleep.

How can you sleep better?

There are many steps you can take that may improve your sleep. Follow the treatment plan that you and your doctor made to help you sleep better. Here are a few examples.

  • If your doctor recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, follow your treatment plan.

    Your plan will likely include a few things that you can try at home.

  • Make a sleep schedule.

    Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning. Do not take naps during the day.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.

    Don't read, watch TV, or use your phone in bed.

  • Give yourself about 15 to 20 minutes to fall asleep.

    If you can't fall asleep (or fall back to sleep) after about 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet task until you feel sleepy. This will help you to not link being in bed with not being able to sleep.

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.

    It can help teach your body and mind that it is time to wind down. For example, before bed, take a warm shower, listen to soothing music, or have a cup of herbal tea.

  • Try meditation or other relaxation techniques before you go to bed.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.

    If that's not possible, try using a sleep mask and earplugs to help you sleep.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

    Don't use them at all late in the day or in the evening.

  • If you take medicine to help you sleep, take it exactly as prescribed.

    Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.