Insomnia Treatments

Insomnia Treatments

Treatment and Prevention

  • Types of insomnias may go away on their own if they are due to disruptions in your sleep schedule. These types are known as transient and intermittent insomnias. If the insomnia is affecting your daytime performance or you experience daytime sleepiness, your doctor may prescribe short-acting sleeping pills.
  • Anyone taking sleeping pills or other medication for insomnia should be under close supervision to evaluate the effectiveness and side effects of the drug. Doctors will usually give you the lowest dose possible to relieve your symptoms.
  • If your insomnia still isn’t going away, keep a diary of your sleep history. A doctor may also want to interview your partner about the quantity and quality of your sleep.
  • Your doctor will want to diagnose and treat any underlying medical or psychological problems, such as depression, and identify behaviors, like caffeine consumption or TV-watching, that may worsen the insomnia.
  • Certain behavioral techniques can improve your sleep.
  • Relaxation therapy can relax your body and mind and stressed out muscles. There are several ways of using the therapy but they all center on non-directed relaxation. A patient would concentrate on a repeated word, sounds or muscle movements. By not blocking out other thoughts or feelings, the focus is on relaxing through accepting the thought or feeling.
  • Breathing exercises, acupuncture, massage therapy or some forms of yoga can also help to relieve stress and tension.
  • Sleep therapy involves allowing a few hours of sleep during the night and gradually increasing the time until you reach a normal night’s sleep.
  • Reconditioning alters how people with insomnia associate the bed and bedtime with sleep. With this therapy, you don’t use the bed for anything but sleep and intimacy, you go to bed only when sleepy, and you leave the bedroom if you can’t sleep. You are also taught to avoid naps and sleep at the same time each day.

Herbal Recommendations – Please see Herb Safety

  • Valerian: This herbal tranquilizer may help muscles relax.
  • Melatonin: The pineal gland produces this hormone. Small amounts can help regulate the sleep cycle in people who have a deficiency or in people with jet lag.
  • Chamomile: This soothing and calming tea is used in Europe and the U.S. to invite rest.
  • Kava Kava: A Pacific island root that may help alleviate anxiety, and set the stage for restful sleep.

Consult with your physician before taking any vitamins, supplements or herbal products for treating insomnia. If your condition is severe, do not delay seeking help from a doctor or sleeping disorder clinic.

Brain and Mental Health

References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health

last update: February 2009

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