What should I do if surgery has caused chronic insomnia?

This question was asked in Inverness, Florida on 10/15/2012.
I have always been a restless sleeper, but since having back surgery recently, the most I've been able to sleep at night is about 4 hours, if that. Over the counter sleep aids have the opposite effect on me, keeping me awake rather than promoting sleep. I have tried taking Melatonin, but it doesn't really help. I toss and turn constantly and then just have to get up for a while before trying again. This is not necessarily due to back pain as my surgery is almost completely healed. At times it seems I get the best sleep from about 4am until around 8am.

Doctors Answers (2)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/17/2012

I would be presumptuous to assume that the anesthetic, medications or the surgical procedure had an effect on your sleep center which is in your brain. Sleep and wakefulness are related to brain function only. Hopefully, this is a transient problem. Treating your sleeplessness with over the counter agents is not advised as they adversely affect sleep stages. Treating your problem with FDA approved hypnotics is suggested. By 4AM you are so sleep deprived that sleeping from 4-8AM is understandable. A sleep specialist and cognitive therapist can help you.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 10/16/2012

Schedule an appointment to meet with a Board Certified Sleep Specialist to discuss treatment options.