Michael Morgenstern, MD
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Michael Morgenstern, MD

About the author: Dr. Michael Morgenstern is double board certified in Neurology and Sleep Medicine and the founder of the American Sleep Apnea Society. He is the Director of the Morgenstern Medical in Lake Success, NY, where he treats patients with sleep disorders and other neurological conditions.
Michael Morgenstern, MD
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If you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep you are not alone. Most people experience brief periods of “Insomnia.” It can interfere with your ability to function during the day, reduce your energy level and affect your quality of life. Insomnia may be caused by stress, changes in your environment or other medical reasons. When difficulty falling or staying asleep occurs regularly or interferes with your daytime mood or function, seeing a specialist can help. Besides from affecting your daytime function and performance, Insomnia can actually harm your health. While some people resort to over the counter “sleep aids” such as Benadryl, they can sometimes cause more harm than good. Similarly, prescription sedative medications like Ambien can have unwelcoming side effects and usually fail as an effective a long-term solution.

Symptoms of insomnia may include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at bedtime
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Lacking energy
  • Daytime tiredness
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Increased accidents

Treating insomnia

Treating insomnia can sometimes be as simple as changing one thing around. Common sense solutions such as going to bed in a dark and quiet room go a long way.  Reducing exposure to substances that are known to keep one awake at night is another good tool to beat Insomnia. For example, people with Insomnia are usually hypersensitive to caffeine. Avoiding soda, tea and even chocolate (which contains caffeine) after the morning hours may be the only solution that is needed. Avoiding nicotine can have a similar effect. However, other times the solution is often more complex. There might be multiple causes involved.  Sometimes, the reason that someone is having difficulty falling or staying asleep is due to Sleep Apnea or another sleep disorder which they are not aware coexists with their Insomnia.