Effective Treatments for Insomnia

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Medications, therapy and lifestyle changes that can help individuals who have trouble sleeping.

According to Barron's Dictionary of Medical Terms, Insomnia is a condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having seriously disturbed sleep patterns. There are many different treatments for this condition including; therapy, medications and lifestyle changes.

Behavior Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been a successful treatment for many individuals that suffer from Insomnia. CBT teaches healthy sleeping habits and techniques that can be used to minimize sleep anxiety. Individuals also get the chance to talk to a professional about their thoughts and feelings concerning sleep and their habits. These sessions may be one on one, group therapy or a mixture of the two.

Medications

The medication given to the individual with insomnia symptoms varies according to the cause of the condition. Lunesta, Rozerem, Sonata and other sleeping pills are given to help individuals fall asleep. Lunesta can also be given to help individuals stay asleep. Other medications to help individuals stay asleep include; Ambien CR, Tamazepam and Estazolam.

Before prescribing sleeping medications, doctors do a complete medical history. Some medications are not safe for pregnant women, recovered alcoholics, and other medical conditions and histories.

Sleeping medications can have various side effects which can include; dizziness, drowsiness, bloating, nausea, headache and unusual sleep behaviors such as sleep walking. 

Alternative Medications

Melatonin and Valerian are available for purchase in most department stores and pharmacies. There is some debate on whether or not these supplements are effective sleep aids, however, some doctors do find melatonin to be an effective sleep aid for individuals who have ADHD. Side effects of melatonin include; dizziness, daytime drowsiness and headaches. Side effects of Valerian include; headaches, uneasiness and heart disturbances.

Lifestyle Changes

Here are a few changes in your everyday life that can help with symptoms of insomnia:

-make a sleep schedule

-use the bedroom only for sleeping

-refrain from eating or drinking large amounts of food close to bedtime

-avoid caffeinated beverages

-exercise regularly

-limit alcohol/ smoking cigarettes

Small changes in lifestyle habits can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of sleep. Obtaining a full night of sleep is worth the effort needed to make lifestyle changes.

Other Remedies

There are many simple activities you can try to help you sleep better at night. These activities include:

  • Drinking chamomile or other decaffeinated tea before you go to bed.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Have some quiet time before you go to bed where you can relax and read a book.
  • Try meditating before bed.
  • Listen to soft, relaxing music.
  • If noise is an issue, try using ear plugs.
  • Make sure your room is dark.

References

Mikel A. Rothenberg and Charles F. Chapman, Barron's Dictionary of Medical Terms, 4th Edition (New York, Barron's Educational Series, Inc,2000), 290.

MayoClinic.com. Insomnia Treatment: "Cognitive behavioral therapy instead of sleeping pills" Accessed October 12, 2010.

MayoClinic.com. Adult Health. "10 Tips for Better Sleep" Accessed October 12, 2010.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute of Health. " Insomnia Treatment " Accessed October 12, 2010.

Discovery Health. "26 Home Remedies for Insomnia" Accessed October 12, 2010.

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Sheila Buck

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