Getting enough sleep is important for good health. Insomnia, or disturbed sleep, can lead to problems with concentration, memory, mood and judgement.

If you are experiencing insomnia, it is important to tell your doctor. He or she will look for the cause of your sleep problems before recommending any treatment. Keep a sleep diary with the following information to show your doctor:

  • When you fall asleep and wake up
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Waking throughout the night
  • Naps during the day
  • The quality of your sleep, including vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • How much caffeine you drink during the day
  • When you normally eat
  • Medical problems (including pain and mental health issues)
  • Medications you are taking

Your doctor should also give you a physical exam and blood tests to check for cardiovascular, respiratory or hormonal reasons, especially thyroid function, that may be causing sleep disturbance.

Many people think sleeping pills are the answer to insomnia and your doctor may prescribe them for a short time to help re-establish a pattern of sleeping. However, sleeping pills become less effective over time and can be addictive, so they are not usually recommended on an on-going basis. In addition, they can interact with HIV drugs. There are other things you can do to improve your sleep.


  • Sleep only enough to be refreshed
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
  • Get some exercise daily
  • Make your bedroom as quiet and comfortable as possible
  • Seek help if you are suffering from depression, stress or anxiety
  • Learn relaxation techniques


  • Drink anything with caffeine or alcohol before bedtime
  • Go to bed hungry
  • Smoke close to bedtime
  • Nap during the day

Adapted from HIV i-Base at