01/27/2012 11:03 am ET

5 Tips For Battling Dyssomnia

Dyssomnia is a common sleep disorder. It usually affects everyone at one time or another. We spoke to Roxanne Valentino, M.D., medical director of the St. Thomas Center for Sleep in Nashville, Tennessee, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you think you might have dyssomnia, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Shellie Braeuner

Dyssomnia is a term for difficulty getting or staying asleep. "Just about everyone suffers from dyssomnia from time to time," says Dr. Valentino. "Dyssomnia occurs when you feel tired but have a hard time settling into sleep, or keep waking up."


"It's frustrating when you want to sleep but you can't," Dr. Valentino says. "Unfortunately, that frustration makes dyssomnia worse." Instead, Valentino advises people to get up and perform a calm activity, like read a book. "But don't watch TV," she cautions. "Television stimulates the brain and keeps tired [people] awake."

Avoid Exhaustion

"Being overtired can contribute to dyssomnia," Dr. Valentino says, "especially in children." Instead, try to manage the day so that you, or your child, get enough sleep. Avoid keeping children up too late.

Set A Sleep Routine

According to Dr. Valentino, "Routine really helps with sleep." A set routine of activities helps tell the body it's time to relax and sleep. For children this may mean a sleep routine that includes bathing, teeth care and a story. For adults it may mean setting aside some time to wind down with a book.

Watch Daytime Stimulants

"Avoid stimulation before bed," advises Dr. Valentino. "For children this includes TV, computer games or rough play. For adults it means TV, work or computer time." Also watch sources of caffeine, including but not limited to coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks and energy bars.

See Your Doctor

"Anytime a sleep disturbance interferes with your life, it's time to get help," Dr. Valentino urges. "There are a lot of reasons for dyssomnia. But the good news is, there are a lot of ways to help."

Roxanne Valentino, M.D., earned her medical degree from the Ohio State University. She completed her residency at the Cleveland Clinic, followed by a fellowship at the Cleveland clinic specializing in sleep medicine and neurophysiology. Dr. Valentino is certified in clinical neurophysiology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder? What worked for you?