Harvard Women's Health Watch

Better sleep-without pills

Before you reach for sleep aids, try these techniques to improve your slumber.

The world looks very different at 3 a.m. when you're lying in bed staring at the ceiling—or worse, the clock. All you do is worry, "How will I make it through tomorrow without any sleep?"

If you often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep—as more than 60% of older women do—you might have thought about trying sleeping pills. Although these medicines can help you drift off to sleep, they also can have side effects, including an increased risk for falls and morning drowsiness that can make next-day driving dangerous. That's why the FDA in January began requiring manufacturers to lower the recommended dosage of hypnotic sleep aids containing zolpidem (such as Ambien).

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »