What are the Treatment Options for Insomnia?
Depending on your symptoms, medical history, and severity of complaints (among other factors), treatment may include the following:
- Sleep restriction. Many people go to bed earlier than recommended, but this does not allow for “faster” sleep to occur. Sleep restriction is a method that sets the bed time a little later than usual with the same wake time each morning. The slow build-up of sleep pressures helps to allow for sleep onset to occur more naturally and decreases the frustration of just laying there trying to sleep. This method should be monitored carefully so as not to induce to much fatigue or sleepiness the following day.
- Sleep hygiene. Proper sleep hygiene addresses factors that may interfere with sleep, including taking naps or substances (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, nicotine) in the evening.
- Stimulus control. Electronic usage is well-known to interfere with natural sleep onset and the ability to cycle in and out of sleep.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I generally involves the help of a psychologist (a non-medical doctor); one with sleep certification is beneficial. This method addresses ideas and behaviors built up around sleep that may interfere with sleep onset or sleep maintenance. CBT-I is to reframe the goals and behaviors around sleep to allow for natural sleep to occur.
- Exercise. It is very important in life to get plenty of exercise when it comes to sleep. When you exercise, your body naturally tires out and helps with sleep at night.
- Medications. Over-the-counter supplements are not always helpful and can interfere with natural sleep. Prescription medications should be discussed with an experienced physician to maximize benefits and reduce any theoretical risks.
Talk to a trained sleep doctor to determine what the best treatment option is for you.
Take some time to ask yourself these questions:
- How long have you had insomnia? How long has this been going on?
- Can you identify any triggers that make it worse? Is it better during the weekend and worse during the week?
- Look at substances you are using every day including nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine. What times of day are these substances being taken?
- Is the insomnia related to your mood or stress?
- Is the insomnia related to your medical issues? Many medical issues affect sleep including thyroid issues, menopause, endocrine issues, heart problems, lung problems, etc.
- Take a look at your medications and ask why you are taking it during the day versus at night. Talk to your doctor about timing of these medications.
- See a sleep doctor to discuss diagnosis and treatment options – do NOT ignore it, as chronic insomnia is not something that will just “go away”