Living with insomnia: How to get a good nights sleep

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Insomnia, chronic trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, can leave you desperate for a good night’s rest, according to a report on WebMD. But how do you get it?

If you think a cocktail before bed will offer relief, think again. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it causes a disturbed sleep pattern, causing you wake up in the middle of the night.

Stress is the No. 1 reason for insomnia, however, other things can cause insomnia, as well, including illness, drug side effects, chronic pain, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Regular exercise improves sleep, but you should avoid working out too late. Try working out two or three hours before you plan on going to sleep.

The computer or watching TV before bed can actually stimulate your brain and make it difficult to fall asleep.

Today's sleeping pills are safer and more effective than many older drugs, but they all have potential risks, including addiction. Over-the-counter sleep aids can help insomnia, but they also can leave you a "hangover" in the morning.

It’s difficult to fully catch up on sleep you’ve lost. Sleeping in for a few days over the weekend might seem like a good idea, but it can upset your natural body clock, making it harder to get to sleep.

A brief 20-minute nap taken at midday can be refreshing however; a late-afternoon nap can disrupt nighttime sleep. A longer nap of one to two hours will disrupt nighttime sleep.

We are all born with a set sleep need. Some people need five hours, while others need at least eight hours. You don’t learn to get by on less sleep.

If you can’t sleep, get out of bed. It’s fine to get up to read and listen to relaxing music. Staying in bed may lead to frustration and clock-watching.

Train your body to associate certain restful behaviors with sleep. The key is consistency. Read for an hour or take a warm bath before bed. Don’t expect insomnia to go away on its own. Try to find out what is causing it.

Dr. Art Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log on to