Overview of Insomnia

Insomnia is an inability to sleep well. It’s a common problem, affecting almost everyone at one time or another. Many persons have an occasional restless night, often related to short-term stress. For some however, poor quality sleep is a recurring or even a lifelong problem.

Causes of insomnia include certain medications, medical conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, and some foods.

Signs & Symptoms

Insomnia can present in different ways:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
  • Waking too early in morning
  • Having unrefreshing sleep.

Insomnia can result in:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased rates of accidents
  • School/work absenteeism


  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
  • Avoid decongestants before bedtime (Sudafed)
  • Avoid naps
  • Don’t sleep in


  • Keep regular bedtime hours
  • Keep your bed a place for sleep
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Exercise daily but not right before sleep
  • Take a warm bath, listen to soft music
  • Eat a light snack before bedtime.
  • Try warm milk, yogurt, or herbal tea before bed
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid naps during the day if naps seem to worsen your insomnia.
  • Sleeping pills can help temporarily but they are not a cure for insomnia.
  • If you are still awake 30 minutes after trying to fall asleep, get up and go to another room. Sit quietly for 20 minutes and try going to sleep again. If the above interventions are not helpful, it is advisable to see a health care provider.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.