Treatments for Insomnia
The treatment may depend on the cause. For example, treating an underlying medical condition may also cure it. Also, if a certain medication is to blame, switching to a different drug may help.
In other cases, over the counter or prescription medication may help treat it, especially in the short-term. Cognitive behavior therapy can also help some people overcome insomnia by decreasing anxiety and targeting the thoughts that cause poor sleep.
Self-Help Strategies for Treating Insomnia
In certain instances, self-help strategies may be all it takes to treat the sleep disorder. Following these non-medication-based actions is good first step to dealing with sleep problems.
Tips to treat your insomnia:
- Keep a sleep journal: Consider recording your sleep patterns for a couple of weeks. Keeping a sleep diary can help you identify things that may be interfering with your sleep and make the needed changes.
- Stick to a regular bedtime: Sticking to the same bedtime and waking the same time each day may help you get into a routine and improve your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine several hours before bed. Caffeine is often a sleep stealer. Caffeine can stay in your system for several hours. Your best bet is to limit caffeine about four or five hours before bedtime.
- Put away your cellphone, laptop and tablet: Your tech habits at bedtime may be preventing you from falling asleep. The light from your tech gadgets tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so the production of melatonin is decreased. Less melatonin may make falling asleep more difficult. Consider making your bedroom a tech-free zone.
- Relax before bed: With all the things on your plate, it can be hard to unwind. But relaxing before bedtime is essential to drift off to dreamland. It can be hard to fall asleep if you have a million things on your mind. Before hitting the sack, consider doing something that helps you relax, such as deep breathing, reading or listening to music.
If these actions don’t work, talk to your doctor as you may have issues that need to be addressed.
More About Insomnia
How is insomnia diagnosed? It can be diagnosed by your symptoms. The cause is a little trickier to determine immediately. Your doctor may ask you to keep a sleep journal to determine if any environmental factors are affecting your sleep. Blood tests may be performed to rule out any medical conditions causing insomnia. A sleep study may also be recommended to determine the cause of your insomnia.
How long does insomnia last? It can last all different lengths of time. It may only last a few nights or it can last months or longer.
Do children get insomnia? People of all ages can develop insomnia including children. Children get the sleep disorder for many of the same reasons as adults including medical conditions, side effects of medication and even stress.
Can insomnia affect overall health? Sleep is essential to function. When you don’t get enough rest, it can affect your health and overall quality of life. The good news is, in most cases, insomnia can be successfully treated.
What should I do if I have insomnia? If you have these sleep problems, the first step is talking to your doctor. If you have tried self-help strategies and they have not worked, treatment is available that can help you get the restorative sleep you need.Oftentimes, the sleep disorder can be diagnosed by simply answering a few questions: Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Do you wake frequently? Are you overly tired during the day? For confirmatory diagnoses, however, providers will often perform extensive interviews that include a history and physical exam, or they may order an overnight sleep study and EEG to properly gauge sleep cycles.
Keeping a sleep diary could be greatly beneficial in the identification and diagnosis of insomnia.
Sometimes, it is necessary to have sleep studies performed to determine if the sleep disorder and frequent awakenings throughout the night is caused by sleep apnea, as this sleep disorder is a common symptom of that condition.
Treatment for acute insomnia is relatively straightforward, and oftentimes does not require anything extensive. Usually, mild insomnia can be treated with practicing better sleep hygiene (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, for example). If difficulty falling asleep is interrupting daytime functioning, then sleeping pills and sleep aids like melatonin are sometimes prescribed.
Chronic insomnia or secondary insomnia is a little more difficult to treat, as the provider will first need to discover and treat the underlying cause. For the most part, if the primary problem is under control, then the symptoms will resolve on its own; however, if insomnia continues after the primary conditions are treated, then behavioral techniques are then employed, which can include anything from lifestyle changes to learning pre-bedtime meditation techniques.