Sleep Education
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Ask A Specialist

After I lost my job, I started having a hard time falling asleep. Now I have a new job, but I still stay awake in bed. I worry that I will not be able to fall asleep and will not sleep enough to do well during the day. Should I see a sleep specialist?

It sounds like you have psychophysiological insomnia. This form of insomnia can be ongoing and increase in its intensity over time. Worrying too much about sleep may lead to other bad behaviors like staying in bed too long. It might also lead to excessive medication or drug use or other bad sleep behaviors. Persistent insomnia also increases the risk for depression.

First, you may want to discuss your sleep problems with your family doctor. Tell him or her how you worry too much about sleep. Your doctor will likely ask you many sleep and medical questions. He or she may first suggest that you change any behaviors that may be making your insomnia worse. You can often sleep better by simply following the practices of good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep.

Your doctor may suggest that you take a medication. He or she may also want you to see a psychologist for behavioral treatments. You may be so tired that you are unable to function well during the day. In this case, you may want to ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep specialist.

By Sharon L. Schutte-Rodin, MD
Updated September 2, 2005

   Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Sleep Medicine