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Too Young For Sleeping Pills: Any Other Sleep Solutions?

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 27 Jul 2011 | comments*Discuss
Students Age Relaxation Sleeping Pills


I can never seem to sleep anymore. I am at home at the moment but usually living in university halls. At home it seems too quiet and in halls I have to have music on to cover the noise but it doesn't seem to work.

At uni I can go 4 days without sleeping; I feel grumpy and tired all the time and can't concentrate. I am only 19 so the doctor won't give me anything to sleep. I've tried everything they've said: making my bed a place I sleep not hang out, having a bed time routine hot milk... everything. I can't carry on not sleeping it's effecting me as a person and my studies.

I don't know why I'm not sleeping, I just can't shut down. I have dyslexia and someone said that it could cause it as I think too much about things. Is there anything you could suggest?

(K.W, 20 April 2009)


Sleep can be evasive, and the harder you look, the harder it seems to find. Doctors are naturally reluctant to prescribe pills as they can have side effects and do not provide the long-term help that many people require. This reluctance may have little to do with age but the doctor's professional assessment of the problem.

It sounds like anxiety may be contributing to the sleeplessness. Indeed, worrying about sleep can be one of the biggest reasons why people don't sleep! First, try to assess how you feel during the day. If you are able to carry on your normal daily activities, perhaps you are getting sufficient sleep for your individual needs. Everyone varies in how much they need and many young people get by with what appears to be little regular sleep.

Irregular sleep may be followed by long lie-ins at the weekend or even daytime naps. Shift workers, students and new mothers may also notice disruptions in sleep, which will mean trying to catch up at more convenient times.

Worrying is also not helping. Many people worry about not getting enough sleep and actually underestimate the amount they do get. A Sleep Diary often helps. Write down any problems from the day, releasing the mind from dwelling on these, then create a record of how much sleep you get. This can also be used to show your GP what is happening.

Many people believe they are getting less sleep than they are actually are, as it is impossible to live without sleep. Try to relax a little more and enjoy some peaceful time without challenging yourself to sleep. Learn how to Relax By Doing Some Yoga and meditation and, if possible, take a few naps during the day to refresh.

Environment certainly helps but this is not always the same for everyone. Peace and quiet and a feeling of security will help you relax and without the pressure of trying to sleep it just might happen!

If this does not help, go back to your GP and ask to be referred to a Sleep Laboratory. They will be able to assess how much sleep you are having and whether you need any help. If you are suffering from anxiety (and many students have a lot of pressure to cope with) talk to a counsellor or ask your GP to refer you for cognitive behaviour therapy. Sometimes just taking a first step and talking about your worries and concerns can help.

Make sure that you are getting plenty of fresh air and exercise, as many students find it difficult to take time off from their studies. Try to avoid too much coffee and alcohol but don't completely change your life, as 'moderation and balance' are what is right for you, not a prescription that suits everyone.

I know it is easy to say 'don't worry', but sleep changes throughout life and some people appear to be better sleepers than others. Get the help you need and learn what is right for you, then you will be able to enjoy your days and nights. Good luck!

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