Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, but when it starts to interfere with everyday functioning, it is important to seek some sort of treatment. There are a wide variety of treatments for insomnia, which are often dictated by the different types of insomnia. Insomnia treatment typically starts with implementing lifestyle changes and good sleep habits, but further treatments include therapy and medication. Many people also find relief from a variety of at-home remedies that may also help reduce sleeplessness.
Insomnia can have many causes. It is sometimes caused by stress and anxiety, which can prevent us from feeling relaxed enough to sleep through the night. Certain types of therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), and lifestyle changes can help reduce the negative effects of insomnia.
CBT-I can help address underlying anxieties surrounding sleep and is thought to be equally as effective as prescription sleep aids.1 It has been known to help reduce negative feelings and thoughts surrounding sleep. CBT-I often involves learning relaxation techniques and various behavioral control strategies, such as stimulus control therapy. CBT-I can be a good first choice of treatment when it comes to treating insomnia.
Lifestyle changes are often included in CBT-I, but can also be implemented outside of a therapy environment. Some helpful lifestyle changes include creating a calm and restful sleep environment; reducing intake of alcohol and caffeine; and practicing good sleep hygiene.
There are several medications that can help treat insomnia. Sleeping pills, prescribed by a doctor, are often a go-to strategy for dealing with short-term, intense periods of insomnia. However, these are not recommended as a long-term solution, as many are habit-forming or have daytime side effects.2 There are some sleeping pills that are less habit-forming and have been approved for longer term use, such as Ramelteon (rozerem).3 Ramelteon is an FDA-approved sleep aid that is not listed as a controlled substance and has low potential for substance abuse.
There are also several over-the-counter sleep aids that can help treat insomnia. For example, antihistamines have been commonly used as a sleep aid, but these can come with severe daytime side effects, such as daytime drowsiness.4
Insomnia treatment differs between individuals. Its effectiveness depends primarily on the cause of insomnia. Many people have found ways to combat and cure insomnia using home remedies, although this approach does not work for everyone. Some basic at-home steps you can try include: creating a regulated sleep schedule, avoiding daytime napping, and avoiding stimulants near bedtime.
There are also natural sleeping aids that may bring reprieve from sleepless nights. One such home remedy to help you sleep is CBD. Some people have found that the use of CBD sleep gummies or CBD tea for sleep has helped them sleep peacefully through the night. There is no definitive research on the level of efficacy of these products.
Untreated insomnia may result in a wide range of effects. The insomnia may either go away on its own, or it can cause mental or physical difficulties that may require medical attention. In severe cases, untreated insomnia can lead to a higher likelihood of developing other, secondary medical or mental conditions.
Benzodiazepines are a commonly used short-term treatment for a combination of insomnia and anxiety. In small doses, they help to reduce anxiety, and in higher doses they can be an effective sleep aid.5 However, using benzodiazepines comes with some negative side effects. One significant drawback of this medication is that over the long term, they present a high risk for dependency, and can have withdrawal symptoms.
There are many at-home steps you can take to help you sleep when you have insomnia. For instance, making sure your sleeping environment is a peaceful and comfortable place may help you fall asleep. Make sure the temperature, light, or noise in the room is calming and non-disruptive. Relaxing activities before bed may allow your body to relax and sleep. Other relaxing activities may prepare your body and mind for bed. Some of these include yoga, listening to gentle music, or a warm bath.6 If these home remedies to help you sleep are not successful, you may wish to see a doctor about your insomnia.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.