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Simple ways to combat insomnia

Men and women who experience trouble sleeping may find that their inability to get a good night's rest affects every aspect of their daily life. Their performance at work often suffers when men and women fail to get enough sleep, and interpersonal relationships with family and friends may suffer as well. A disorder characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, insomnia may be the culprit when men and women cannot get adequate sleep.

While a host of things, from a cold to external noise to an upset stomach, can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, insomnia is often a sign of something more significant and, unfortunately, longer lasting. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks, but insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer is considered chronic. Men and women who suspect they might be suffering from insomnia should contact a physician, who can help determine the cause of the insomnia and develop a course of treatment. In the meantime, there are a few things men and women can do that may help them get a better night's rest.

* Establish a routine. According to the Sleep Council, establishing a sleep routine in which you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day can program the body to sleep better. Stick to this routine as closely as possible, even on weekends, when you may be tempted to sleep in or stay up later.

* Replace an old or uncomfortable mattress. Some people struggle to get a good night's rest because their mattress is no longer conducive to sleep or because a new mattress simply isn't the right fit. If you find yourself shifting throughout the night in an attempt to find a comfortable sleeping position, then your mattress might be the culprit behind your insomnia.

* Exercise. Moderate exercise can help relieve stress, which is a common cause of acute insomnia. But try to avoid working out too close to bed time, as vigorous exercise shortly before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

* Avoid alcohol late at night. Alcohol should always be consumed in moderation, and it's not just how much you drink that can affect sleep patterns but when you drink as well. Alcohol consumed right before bed might help some people initially fall asleep. However, such sleep is less restorative and likely to be interrupted during the night when the effects of the alcohol have worn off or if you need to use the restroom.

Insomnia can affect nearly every aspect of daily life, but there are ways to beat insomnia and get back to enjoying a restful night's sleep.