Insomnia treatments help relieve the symptoms of this common sleep disorder, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia cures may include behavioral changes and sleep medications.
Insomnia is often a symptom of another medical condition. To provide insomnia relief, remedies must address the underlying causes of the disorder. When a clear cause isn’t evident, insomnia treatments attempt to reduce sleep disruption as much as possible.
Possible Insomnia Remedies
Changes in lifestyle and sleep habits are possible insomnia remedies, and are usually considered before sleep medications are prescribed. Steps to reduce insomnia symptoms include:
- Avoiding eating large meals before going to bed
- Avoiding naps
- Engaging in relaxing activities before going to bed
- Exercising more during the day
- Limiting use of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
Insomnia Cures: Stimulus Control
Stimulus control helps create an environment that is conducive to sleep. This may involve preventing light from entering the room and controlling the room’s temperature. The bedroom should be used only for sleeping and sexual activity. Avoid TV watching, reading or other activities in the bedroom. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, get up and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Many people living with insomnia worry about their inability to sleep. Anxiety about insomnia can worsen symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy provides insomnia relief by helping people change their attitudes toward sleep.
Sleep Restriction Therapy
Sleep restriction therapy for insomnia involves limiting the amount of time spent in bed. Setting rigid bedtimes and getting up even if you still feel tired causes partial sleep deprivation. This sleep deprivation makes you more tired the following night, which should make it easier to fall asleep. Gradually, the amount of time you spend in bed is increased, until your sleep schedule returns to normal.
Insomnia treatments may also include sleep medications, although drug therapy is rarely used as a long-term remedy for insomnia.
Several sleep medications exist. Non-benzodiazepine sedatives such as eszopiclone (LunestaÂ®), zolpidem (AmbienÂ®), and zaleplon (SonataÂ®), are common prescription sleep aids that work quickly and are less likely to be habit forming.
Benzodiazepines are potent sleep medications that are also sometimes used to treat insomnia. These medications include triazolam (HalcionÂ®), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (KlonopinÂ®).
Antidepressants are sometimes used to relieve insomnia symptoms in people who also suffer from depression. In addition, some people use over-the-counter sleep aids, such as antihistamines with sedative effects, to treat insomnia symptoms, but these medications can cause side effects such as next-day drowsiness and dry mouth.
Other Sleep Aids: Melatonin and Ramelteon
Melatonin is a hormone released at night by the brain’s pineal gland. Melatonin appears to control the body’s sleep cycle, and decreases with age.
The prescription drug ramelteon stimulates melatonin receptors in the brain, promoting sleep, and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat insomnia. Melatonin supplements have also been touted as sleep aids, although clinical trials are needed to evaluate their long-term effects and safety.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Insomnia. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/insomnia/DS00187.
Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. (2008). Insomnia. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec06/ch081/ch081b.html.
Nabili, S. (2008). Insomnia. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/insomnia/article_em.htm.