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Insomnia Treatment Tips

How to Deal with Insomnia

The strategies for overcoming insomnia include both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic practices. Understand that insomnia can be severely debilitating and that symptoms can be indicators of primary issues, such as physical or medical conditions, sleep disorders, and psychological problems like depression, anxiety, and stress.

Distraught.

You’re not advised to self-medicate chronic insomnia symptoms—those that last more than a month. See your doctor and talk about treatment options that work for you AND root causes for the sleep disturbance.

Tips for Dealing with Insomnia:

  • Clean up your sleep act. Doctors call it “sleep hygiene.” What this means is evaluating your behaviors about sleep and bedtime. Good sleep hygiene: establish a routine bedtime, don’t watch TV while you’re trying to go to sleep or while sleeping, eliminate stimulants like caffeine and sugar from your diet before bed, get on a routine exercise schedule, avoid alcohol before bed.
  • Create an inviting bedroom or sleep space. At the end of the day you should be tired. The last thing you want to deal with is cleaning a pile of clean clothes off your bed, dealing with bright lights or noise from outside and other stressors. Make your bedroom a sanctuary you are only too happy to retreat to.
  • Try some home remedies to help you relax before bedtime: warm bath with or without Epsom salts, warm milk or cocoa, a couple cookies, some chamomile tea with honey.
  • Deep relaxation and music therapy CDs might help create an atmosphere in which you are able to relax and naturally go to sleep.
  • If you take over the counter sleep aids or a sleep inducing antihistamine, don’t use them as long-term solutions for chronic insomnia.
  • Talk to your doctor about natural remedies versus prescription sleep medications. Melatonin, valerian, St. John’s wort, and other herbals have been effectively used to treat insomnia for centuries. Many of today’s most popular drugs have been derived from natural herbs.
  • If you are prescribed a prescription sleep aid like Ambien or Lunesta take them just before going to bed. If you take sleeping pills too early or while operating a motor vehicle you endanger yourself and others. These drugs are hypnotics and designed to be extremely fast-acting. Follow your doctor’s instructions for dosages and monitor yourself for adverse side effects. The FDA warns against stopping taking them without first contacting your doctor—many of these potent drugs are also quite habit-forming and may require you be weaned from them.

Insomnia is not a sleep disorder, but it can be relieved with certain lifestyle changes, short-term sleep aids, therapeutic behavioral modification or a combination of these.