Insomnia

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Insomnia Pictures: 10 Tips to Avoid Insomnia

Quick GuideInsomnia Pictures Slideshow: 10 Tips to Avoid Insomnia

Insomnia Pictures Slideshow: 10 Tips to Avoid Insomnia

How is insomnia treated?

The treatment of insomnia depends largely on the cause of the problem. In cases where an obvious situational factor is responsible for the insomnia, correcting or removing the cause generally cures the insomnia. For example, if insomnia is related to a transient stressful situation, such as jet lag or an upcoming examination, then insomnia will be cured when the situation resolves.

Generally speaking, the treatment of insomnia can be divided into non-medical or behavioral approaches and medical therapy. Both approaches are necessary to successfully treat insomnia, and combinations of these approaches may be more effective than either approach alone.

When insomnia is related to a known medical or psychiatric condition, then appropriate treatment of that condition is in the forefront of therapy for insomnia in addition to the specific therapy for insomnia itself. Without adequately addressing the underlying cause, insomnia will likely go on despite taking aggressive measures to treat it with both medical and non-medical therapies.

What are non-medical treatments for insomnia?

There are several recommended techniques used in treating people with insomnia. These are non-medical strategies and are generally advised to be practiced at home in combination with other remedies for insomnia, such as medical treatments for insomnia and treatment for any underlying medical or psychiatric disorders.

Some of the most important of these behavioral techniques are sleep hygiene, stimulus control, relaxation techniques, and sleep restriction. Behavioral sleep specialists may also be available in some clinics and can be very helpful in managing the non-medical treatment options. They may use additional techniques dealing with cognitive behavioral therapy, including some biofeedback methods that help patients with insomnia relax and transition to sleep.

What is sleep hygiene?

Sleep hygiene is one of the components of non-medical treatments for insomnia and includes simple steps that may improve initiation and maintenance of sleep. Sleep hygiene consists of the following strategies:

  • Sleep as much as possible to feel rested, then get out of bed (do not over-sleep).
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time daily.
  • Do not force yourself to sleep.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages or other stimulants in the afternoon or evening.
  • Do not drink alcohol prior to going to bed.
  • Do not smoke, especially in the evening.
  • Adjust the bedroom environment to induce sleep.
  • Avoid watching television in bed and for 30 minutes before bed.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but avoid foods that may cause reflux.
  • Resolve stress and anxiety before going to bed.
  • Exercise regularly, but not 4-5 hours prior to bed time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2015
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