Sleeping difficulty

Having trouble falling asleep? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night without being able to fall back asleep? You’re not alone. Roughly every tenth adult has sleeping difficulties. 


APPOTEK can help you overcome sleeping problems.


We need sleep to allow both the brain and the body to recover. How much sleep we need varies. But adults sleep about six to nine hours a night. Children can sleep between nine to thirteen hours and infants sleep between twelve to seventeen hours.


The first stage is the light sleep that comes right after we fall asleep. Stage two is the medium depth of sleep. The third and fourth stages give us deep sleep. When we sleep deeply, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure decrease. During our deep sleep we recover the most. The fifth stage consists of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when the eyes move quickly. Respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure can vary and the brain is almost as active as in a waking state. Here, we are mentally active and dream.


There are many different causes of sleeping difficulties. Here you will find the most common:


Alcohol affects sleep. You sleep both more anxiously and superficially and wake up earlier than you would without alcohol.


Caffeine and nicotine negatively affect your sleep as they have an invigorating effect. To sleep well, do not drink coffee or tea for several hours before going to bed. If you use nicotine and stop doing it, you will notice that you sleep better.


Sound and light can affect sleep. If you are disturbed by traffic noise, you can hang up thick curtains. They reduce both noise and light. Earplugs available at pharmacies can also muffle sounds. Also don’t forget to turn off the sound on your mobile phone.


Long journeys can cause you to become imbalanced with time zones. If you are away for less than three days, you can try to stay in your home time zone for a day. If you are away longer, you will feel better if you adapt to the local time zone as soon as possible.


Diseases, such as colds and heartburn, can make you wake up or have difficulty sleeping. Try using non-prescription drugs that relieve the symptoms. For example nasal sprays or antacids.


Shift work interferes with your sleep habits. You can try to sleep a little before you start working, but also make sure you get enough sleep when you have finished work.


If you snore, you can not only wake yourself up but also disturb those sleeping around you. Snoring happens because the airways partially collapse as you breathe in. If there is a complete stop in the airways, you may get so-called sleep apnea. Then you should consult a doctor.


If you are overweight and snoring, losing weight can help manage it. Also, avoid drinking alcohol as it will make you snore more. 


Stress and anxiety cause sleeping problems. If you have sleeping difficulties for a long time and think it is due to stress and / or worry, you should seek help.


Some medicines may cause sleeping problems. If you think a medication is affecting your sleep, talk to your doctor.


If you sleep poorly/don’t sleep at all only occasionally, it is not dangerous. But if you sleep poorly or too little over a prolonged period, it can affect your health adversely.


Prolonged sleep problems include:


  • mood swings
  • falling asleep while sitting still
  • difficulty remembering things
  • difficulty concentrating
  • waking up several times during the night without being able to fall asleep

Prevention and protection

Try to create an evening routine that will prepare you for sleep. For example, you can relax for at least an hour before going to bed.


Maybe you can try doing relaxation exercises. It is also good to go to bed at the same time each day. For optimal sleep, the temperature in your bedroom should be between 14-18 degrees.


If you assume that your sleep difficulties are related to a stressful situation, exercises can help to reduce stress.


Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, is an effective treatment of any stress or anxiety that may be causing your sleep problems. If you have had trouble sleeping for a long time, sleeping pills can be an option. These are only prescribed after individual assessment by a doctor.

When to consult a doctor

Contact a doctor or psychologist if:


  • You have tried to change your sleeping habits without success
  • You have had sleeping problems for a long time
  • Your sleeping difficulties affect your daily life.

How APPOTEK can help

  • Consulting
  • Psychological treatment
  • Individual assessment and prescription medicines, if needed.

Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.