I can’t sleep. Can anyone offer some help?

I haven’t slept well In years, but now that I am almost 70, I am having more and more trouble. Several years ago I took Ambien fairly often, but weaned myself off of it. I do everything the experts say to do to get a good night’s sleep, but I still can’t sleep well at all. Lately it has been much worse.

I take melatonin and magnesium but they don’t help much. I either spend hours trying to get to sleep or I wake in the night and take hours getting back to sleep.

I don’t think this is diabetes related. Once in a while, my glucose levels will drop and that awakens me, but I try to not let that happen. Usually I am not stressed about anything, unless it is about the fact that I can’t sleep. Then my mind will find things to stress about which mean very little to me during the day.

I go to bed around the same time and get up about the same time, I sleep in dark rooms, I don’t eat at night, I turn off my computer and or TV most of the time an hour before going to bed, I get at least an hour of exercise most days. I have tried meditation and listening to music or rainstorms. I wouldn’t fret about this, but I am beginning to not function well during the day and am thinking about taking Ambien again.

Does anybody have any other suggestions for me? Thank-you.

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Ambien! I haven’t slept well in years, but knee surgery kicked the problem up a couple of notches, beginning in late November. In desperation I asked the surgeon for something, so he Rx’d 5 mg Ambien. That helped me sleep until about 2 AM. I then asked for the stronger version, 10 mg. That allows me to sleep most nights until around 6 AM. It’s been a huge improvement for me. My only concern is the effects of long-term usage. I’ve taken other drugs that supposedly have long term effects, yet I’ve not encountered any, so I’m not stating here that I know I’ll have issues with Ambien if taken for a long period of time. I’ll discuss it with some of my docs, in the near future.

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Have you had thyroid levels tested recently to rule out as cause?


edit- added link


Oh yes, I have spent years balancing thyroid and adrenal levels. Thyroid is more balanced than it has ever been. I have been on thyroid meds for years and spent literally years getting the right product and dosage. My adrenals are fine too.

I share a similar challenge. I find my optimal sleep time is 7.5 hours but I often only get 6 hours. In the last few months I stopped taking three different meds/supplements to help me sleep. I was regularly taking Unisom, amitriptyline, and melatonin.

When I consulted with a naturopath, she recommended getting off of all three and hopefully restore the body’s natural sleep. She didn’t even like the regular melatonin use because she said that it interfered with the body’s natural release of melatonin. I think that introducing external meds to sleep does not produce the same quality of rest that natural sleep does.

I did read one idea that sounds persuasive but I have not been able to consistently test it. The idea is to go outside in the morning and exercise. Exposure to the sun or even the natural brightness on a cloudy day is a powerful cue to sync up our natural circadian rhythms.

You’re not alone. Since the first of this month (20 nights), I have only been able to sleep over 7.5 hours four times. I understand that as we age, many of us cannot sleep the typical 7.5-8 hours that many younger adults enjoy. And maybe we don’t need the full night’s sleep we’d like.

I have a sense that the outdoors morning exercise may well have some merit. I’ve been establishing many new health habits lately and have used up most of my motivational bandwidth with other newly adopted habits. I need to stretch to make this happen, but I think if it produces dependable sleep, then it will be well worth it.


Hi Terry, yes 6 hrs of broken sleep is becoming the norm on a good night! It definitely isn’t enough for me. We are on the coast right now, so except for today we have had a lot of cold, dark, wet mornings. We do get out in the morning to go to the gym, but I doubt that that counts for exercising in the sunlight!!

I can’t imagine trying to sleep without melatonin spray, but maybe I should try it. We have a few Ambien that the doctor gave my husband, and I might take one tonight out of desperation. We were going to go to the cannibus store, but I don’t know if that would help. Last week I actually got 7 hrs in a row of good sleep, but that is the first time that has happened in ages. It was wonderful.

I didn’t sleep well when I was younger either, so this isn’t new, but my body and mind are getting worn out.

Also, my naturopath put me on melatonin spray because he said that at our ages, our bodies don’t make enough melatonin. Go figure.

I can’t say any more than you, but one thing that I used to have happen that would make it hard for me to sleep was not low BGs, but high BGs. It took me a while to realize this, but once I did (and fixed it), it made sleeping much easier.

What do you do during that hour in between? If you try doing stuff all the way up until immediately before going to bed, would you be more tired (hopefully making it easier to get to sleep) when you went to bed?
You may or may not have tried some of these things, but they are the first things I would suggest trying.

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Thanks so much for replying. For the past 20 yrs I rarely have high glucose readings, so I know that isn’t part of my problem. After I turn off my electrical devices I almost always read a book. I am very careful not to do much more.

@Marilyn6 have you explored a sleep study with a specialist? I used to get 3 to. 4 hrs/night and was always exhausted. I went to a sleep clinic and now get 6.5/night on average. Possibly they can pinpoint an unseen issue?

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That might be a good idea El Ver, but I doubt very much that I would be able to sleep at all during a sleep study. My husband has done one, because he has sleep apnea, but I show no signs of having it. I am pretty tightly wound, and never sleep easily. He can sleep anywhere at anytime. I would probably have to be drugged in order to fall asleep.

I wonder what a sleep study can find as a cause, if a person doesn’t have sleep apnea.

There are more causes of sleep disorders than OSA. I did a sleep study and got 48 minutes of continuous deep rem sleep in a 8 hr period. I have done several over the last decade, and sleep much better now

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Thank-you. I will talk to my doctor about it.

I think it is common to sleep less as we age. I actually don’t fight it and occasionally watch a movie from 2-4am when my husband is traveling. As long as I don’t nap in the daytime, I assume that I am getting enough sleep. So I have decided not to stress over it. Occasionally I listen to meditation music with ear phones in the middle of the night to reduce anxiety and/or to drown out my husband’s snoring. I look forward to getting access to the Dexcom G6 and Basal IQ on my Tandem Pump to reduce Dexcom alarms in the night. No doubt that diabetes tech interrupts my sleep a lot.


I’m reading a book called Why We Sleep, written by a scientists who has studied sleep for most of his career, and the author states that even though older people often have trouble sleeping, sleep does matter to them just as much as younger people, and maybe even more. It also talks about melatonin and how studies show it’s not actually all that useful outside of specific situations (and I do believe older adults and jet lag were among the situations mentioned). I sort of skimmed that section since I don’t take melatonin.

It’s a really interesting and well-written book, should anyone be interested in reading it. I’ve been working on my sleep hygiene a lot lately (although I generally do not have a problem getting enough sleep except for once or twice each month related to hormones) and have found some of its suggestions (all based on scientific research) interesting.


This agrees with my naturopath’s perspective. Although I’m not taking melatonin now, I will use it when traveling, especially when I cross 8 time zones in April.

I did take a melatonin dose recently when I woke up after 6 hours and tried to get more sleep. It didn’t work.

Hmmm, I read this quote as saying that melatonin might help older people because we are one of the specific situations.

It is great that you don’t stress about it. I begin to stress about it when my body gets worn down. I too never nap during the day although I am tired. My naturopathic doctor told me that she read that some ancient people believed in getting a few hours of sleep, getting up for a couple of hours and then returning to bed for more sleep. I try to remember this when I can’t sleep.

I see your point. My brain latched onto the first part of Jen’s statement and blew off the second. I do believe, however, that if you can simply use melatonin on an as needed basis that it would be better overall. I think this is one of those individual circumstances.

One of the things that I don’t like about melatonin is that it only seems to last about 4-5 hours for me and then i wake up. But if I take another dose upon waking, it doesn’t always lead to more sleep. I had another short night of sleep last night: 5 hours and 45 minutes.

I had several stimulating conversations yesterday and found myself stimulated during the evening. I also stayed on my computer for too long. Well, today is another opportunity to get this right. I think I’ll wait till the sun comes up and I’ll go out for a walk and see if that might help tonight.

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If you try the cannabis route I would recommend staying away from THC and just using CBD, preferably a high dose of CBD at least 1,000mg. There have been some studies about THC disrupting sleep patterns, so you might want to just try the CBD first.