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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Nearly everyone, at sometime in life, has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, a condition known as insomnia. Insomnia can be short-term, lasting anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks, or long-term, lasting months or even years. Problems sleeping tend to get worse with age because of changes in sleep patterns. Older people generally get less deep, or non-R-E-M, sleep, and are often taking medications that contribute to sleeplessness. However, troubled sleep may be a sign of an emotional or physical disorder rather than old age. Although sleeping aids such as sedatives can be beneficial, it is easy to become dependent on them, which can cause confusion and memory impairment during waking hours. If you're taking sedatives, you should remember never to mix them with alcohol or other drugs. However, as an alternative to sleeping medications, you may wish to try exercise, relaxation techniques, and limiting your caffeine consumption before bed. For more information about sleeping difficulties, consult a physician.

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