• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

Sleep Problems

 Woman sleeping on a couch

 

Print and Share (PDF 474KB) 

En Español

 

 

Basic Facts about Sleep
 
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  Not everyone gets the sleep they need.
 
Once in a while, you may have trouble sleeping due to:
  • Stress
  • Health Problems & Medicines
  • Long work hours/ Shift work
  • Light or noise
  • Drinking alcohol or eating too close to bedtime
 
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights, you may have a sleep problem called insomnia.
 
Some people have more serious sleep problems. Talk to your doctor if you:
  • fall asleep during the day.
  • snore or make choking sounds in your sleep.
  • have odd feelings in your legs or feel like you need to move your legs.
 
 
Medicines to Help You Sleep
 
There are medicines that may help you fall asleep or stay asleep. You need a doctor’s prescription for some sleep drugs. You can get other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription.
 

Prescription

 
Prescription sleep medicines work well for many people but they can cause serious side effects.
 
  • Talk to your doctor about all of the risks and benefits of using prescription sleep medicines.
  • Sleep drugs taken for insomnia can affect your driving the morning after use.
  • Sleep drugs can cause rare side effects like:
           - Severe allergic reactions
           - Severe face swelling
           - Behaviors like making phone calls, eating, having sex or driving while you are not fully awake
 
 

Over-the- Counter (OTC)

 
OTC sleep drugs have side effects too. Read the ‘Drug Facts Label’ to learn more about the side effects of your OTC sleep medicine.
 
 
Tips for Better Sleep
 
Making some changes to your night time habits may help you get the sleep you need.
 
  • Go to bed and get up at the same times each day
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime.
  • Do something to help you relax before bedtime.
  • Don’t exercise before bedtime.
  • Don’t take a nap after 3 p.m.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before you go to sleep.

 

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have trouble sleeping almost every night for more than 2 weeks.