Understanding Insomnia

Looking for More Sleep Because of Your Insomnia?

Looking for more sleep because of your insomnia?

People 60+ years of age are more likely to experience insomnia, and women are more likely than men.

The sleep-wake cycle

Neurotransmitters in your brain play a role in sleep-wake cycle. These are chemicals that carry messages from one cell to another. Two types are thought to work together to help regulate sleep:

Sleep Neurotransmitters

tell you to sleep and stay asleep.

Wake Neurotransmitters

tell you to wake up and stay awake.

Under regular conditions, sleep occurs when the wake neurotransmitters turn down and sleep neurotransmitters ramp up and take over, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

As you get older, these systems can stop working properly, which can result in insomnia.

Many factors contribute to insomnia. Science suggests that when insomnia occurs, your sleep neurotransmitters may be signaling your brain to sleep, but your wake neurotransmitters may not be turning down like they should. When this happens, it can be hard for your brain to transition from the “awake” mode.

This could be contributing to your insomnia, and help explain why you just aren’t getting as much sleep.

Know the signs of insomnia

Symptoms include:

  • trouble falling asleep (called onset insomnia)
  • trouble staying asleep (called maintenance insomnia)

How much sleep do you need?

As you get older, your body’s clock tends to move forward (falling asleep early and waking up early). But you still need about the same number of hours.

Recommended hours of sleep

 Recommended range

 May be appropriate

Recommended Hours of Sleep

Young Adults

18-25 years


26-64 years

Older Adults

≥65 years

If You're Having Trouble Sleeping, Talk to Your Doctor About Lifestyle Changes or Medicine

If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes or medicine.

Selected Risk Information

BELSOMRA may cause decreased awareness and alertness. The morning after you take BELSOMRA, your ability to drive safely and think clearly may be decreased. You may also have sleepiness during the day.

  • Do not take more BELSOMRA than prescribed.
  • Do not take BELSOMRA unless you are able to stay in bed a full night (at least 7 hours) before you must be active again.
  • Take BELSOMRA within 30 minutes of going to bed.

BELSOMRA may cause serious side effects, including:

  • worsening depression or suicidal thoughts and actions. Call your doctor right away if you have any worsening depression or thoughts of suicide or dying.
  • complex sleep behaviors, including sleep-walking, sleep-driving or other activities while not fully awake. Call your doctor right away if you experience a complex sleep behavior.
  • temporary inability to move or talk (sleep paralysis) for up to several minutes while you are going to sleep or waking up.
  • temporary weakness in your legs that can happen during the day or at night.

Do not take BELSOMRA if you fall asleep often at unexpected times (narcolepsy).

BELSOMRA is a controlled substance because it can be abused or cause dependence.

Before taking BELSOMRA, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have a history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts
  • have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction
  • have a history of a sudden onset of muscle weakness (cataplexy)
  • have a history of falling asleep often at unexpected times (narcolepsy) or daytime sleepiness
  • have lung or breathing problems
  • have liver problems
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed

Medicines can interact with each other, sometimes causing serious side effects. Do not take BELSOMRA with other medicines that can make you sleepy unless your doctor tells you to.

Do not drink alcohol while taking BELSOMRA. It can increase your chances of getting serious side effects.

Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, do anything dangerous, or do other activities that require clear thinking after taking BELSOMRA.

You may still feel drowsy the next day after taking BELSOMRA. Do not drive or do other dangerous activities until you feel fully awake.

The most common side effect of BELSOMRA is sleepiness the next day after you take BELSOMRA.

How Should I Take BELSOMRA?

  • Take BELSOMRA exactly as your doctor tells you to take it.
  • Only take BELSOMRA 1 time each night, if needed, within 30 minutes of going to bed.
  • Only take BELSOMRA when you can get a full night’s sleep (at least 7 hours).
  • Do not take BELSOMRA if you drank alcohol that evening or before bed.
  • BELSOMRA may be taken with or without a meal. However, BELSOMRA may take longer to work if you take it with or right after meals.
  • Call your doctor if your insomnia (sleep problem) worsens or is not better within 7 to 10 days. This may mean that there is another condition causing your sleep problem.
  • If you take too much BELSOMRA, call your doctor right away or get emergency treatment.

Please read the accompanying Medication Guide for BELSOMRA and discuss it with your doctor. The physician Prescribing Information also is available.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.