BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.
You've watched the clock say 2:30 a.m. Then 3:00. Then 3:30, and you have to get up at 6. Forget the warm milk. Instead, find a therapist, and you might be snoozing in no time.
OK, it's a little more complex than that, but people who took sleep drugs for six weeks and talked to a therapist about sleep habits saw insomnia diminish — even after they discontinued the drugs (but kept talking). This suggests that keeping the talk alive may be able to keep your head peacefully on the pillow.
In this study, insomniacs did cognitive behavioral therapy — meaning they looked at (and changed) their thoughts and behaviors about sleep. You can do some of that right now, even if you can't spring for a therapist. For instance, ask yourself what your expectations about sleep are, and make sure they're realistic (some people think they absolutely must have eight hours a night, when they might function fine on less every now and then). Also, try to be objective about the ramifications of insomnia (maybe all your problems aren't due to lack of sleep).
And like the successful sleepers in the study, make sure you're courting sleep with the right conditions: a cool, dark room with no TV or Internet. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex, and if you can't sleep, get up and go into another room until you're sleepy, and then go back to bed. And get on a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same times every day.
The YOU Docs — Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz — are authors of "YOU: Being Beautiful — The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty." To submit questions and find ways to grow younger and healthier, go to www.RealAge.com, the docs' online home.