Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 10:13 UK

Doctor's diary: Sleep surgery

By Dr Jane Duckenfield


"My patient was working late into the night, then not sleeping"

The doctor's diary is a weekly insight into life in a busy GP practice.

This week Dr Jane Duckenfield gives expert tips on how to get a good night's sleep.

Sleep problems are very common. Often people come to me asking for sleeping pills, but there are simple measures you can try first. Perhaps keep a sleep diary for a week, which you can discuss with your doctor at a consultation. You can also work out your sleep efficiency - the proportion of time spent asleep compared with the amount of time spent in bed. A sleep efficiency of 80-85% is optimal.

Other things to try:

  • Keep to a regular timetable of sleep
  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • Avoid large meals or exercise late in the evening

If there are still problems, relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy may be helpful. Sleeping pills are for short term use only, and may have side effects. They may be useful in some cases.

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