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Categories > Sleep Disorders > Insomnia

Nighttime nuisances
{1} Sleep stealer: Pain.
{2} Sleep stealer: Bladder trouble.
{3} Sleep stealer: Insomnia.
{4} Sleep stealer: Snoring.

The dangers of a restless night
The dangers of a restless night

Lack of sleep can start a vicious cycle that can lead to other health problems. Here are some side effects of sleepless nights to watch for:

  • weight gain
  • cardiovascular disease
  • high blood pressure
  • morning headaches
  • daytime drowsiness and dysfunction
  • waking at night and feeling confused
  • inability to concentrate and loss of memory
  • irritability and depression

Throughout adulthood, your sleep needs stay the same. Unfortunately, due to physical changes that come with aging, it can be harder to fall—and stay—asleep. In many cases, you can get back on track by making simple changes to your daily routine. Here are common reasons you might find yourself awake at night and tactics you can try to get more shuteye.

{1} Sleep stealer: Pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may have found that lying down doesn’t always bring relief. For many who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, heartburn can be its worst at bedtime, and trying to sleep with muscle and joint pain from fibromyalgia is also challenging.


  • If you tend to get heartburn, avoid eating large meals before bed.
  • Sleep in a quiet environment, as sound can aggravate pain.
  • Exercise regularly. If you have fibromyalgia or arthritis, try low-impact activities like walking, swimming or yoga.
  • Relieve back pain by sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs.
  • If you’re taking pain medication, be sure to use it as prescribed.

{2} Sleep stealer: Bladder trouble.

Urinary problems not only wake you, but force you up and out of bed. In a National Sleep Foundation poll, nearly two-thirds of older adults said they wake to use the bathroom at least a few nights per week. Why? As you age, your body produces less of an antidiuretic hormone that allows you to retain fluid, which means you produce more urine at night.


  • Drink your normal amount of liquid, but try to have most of it early in the day.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee and tea at night—these stimulate urine production.
  • Keep a diary of what you drink, how much and when, and share it with your healthcare provider so that he or she can determine if medication might help.

{3} Sleep stealer: Insomnia.

Maybe your problem isn’t that your sleep is being disturbed, but that you can’t fall asleep to begin with. Your condition could be acute insomnia (lasting a few days or weeks) or chronic insomnia (lasting over a month). Insomnia can be caused by anxiety, or it may be a side effect of medication or illness.


  • Exercise at least three hours before bed so your body can cool off. A cool body temperature helps bring sleep on faster.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks three or four hours before bed.
  • Try not to drink alcohol in the evening—it can cause you to wake up later in the night.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes of being in bed, get up and read or listen to music until you feel sleepy; then try again.
  • If your problem is serious, your healthcare provider may prescribe a sleep aid.

{4} Sleep stealer: Snoring.

If you’re snoring at night, you’re among approximately 37 million Americans who say they regularly snore. Snoring is noisy breathing and is not necessarily associated with deep sleep. In fact, it may lead to broken, unrefreshing sleep. Snoring is a problem for both genders, though more men complain of the condition.


  • Try not to sleep on your back, as this position may lead you to snore.
  • Alcohol and some medicines act as muscle relaxants, which can cause snoring, so avoid these before bed.
  • Maintain a healthy weight—snoring is commonly associated with obesity.
  • Your snoring may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that may require that you sleep with a device that blows air to the back of your throat.