Treatment will depend on the cause of the insomnia. A combination of behavioural approaches and medications are usually offered.
Nearly everyone can benefit from an improved sleep hygiene. People with sleep disorders should work with their doctors to diagnose the problem and treat conditions that may be responsible.
If your doctor diagnoses primary insomnia, consider behavioural therapy first, then discuss the proper use of prescription sleeping pills.
These simple tips can help you get a good night’s sleep:
1. Do not go to bed unless you are sleepy.
If you are not sleepy at bedtime, then do something else. Read a book, listen to soft music or browse through a magazine. Find something relaxing but not stimulating to take your mind off of worries about sleep. This will relax your body and distract your mind.
2. Use your bed only for sleeping and sex and never for reading or watching TV.If you are not asleep after 15 - 20 minutes, get out of bed. Find something else to do that will make you feel relaxed.
If you can, do this in another room. Read quietly with a dim light, but do not watch the TV since the fullspectrum light emitted by the TV has an arousing effect.
Similarly, using your phone just before your bedtime is not recommended due to the arousing effect from the light emitted. When you feel sleepy, get back into bed.
3. Do not nap during the day unless it is absolutely necessary.
Even then, restrict your nap to 15 - 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
4. Begin rituals that help you to relax each night before bed.
Establish a regular bedtime and a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music.
Whenever possible, wind down late in the day, such as by scheduling stressful or demanding tasks early, and the less challenging activities at a later time.
5. Get up at the same time every morning.
Do this even on weekends and on holidays.
6. Eat properly and practise healthy habits.
7. Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
Your bedroom should be wellventilated and kept at a constant, comfortable temperature.
Try using a sleep mask or ear plugs to compensate for any problems in your sleeping environment.
8. Above all, do not worry about sleep.
Watching the clock never helps. Except when keeping a sleep diary, do not keep track of the amount of time you spend trying to sleep. Instead, rest quietly and peacefully.
Try not to lie in bed reviewing your problems and plans. If you are overloaded, get out of bed and make a list. Then return to bed and think of something relaxing and pleasant.
Learn deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation. These techniques help to reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension.
Relaxing your mind at bedtime will help you drift off to sleep. It takes much practice to learn the techniques and to achieve effective relaxation.
Stimulus control therapy
Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Do not read, watch the TV or snack in bed. Get up at the same time every day, no matter how little sleep you have had.
Avoid daytime napping. This technique helps to recondition you such that you associate the bed and bedtime, with sleep only.
Sleep restriction therapySome people suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep. If this is the case for you, reduce your time in bed to the estimated total time you sleep in an average night (minimum five hours) by going to bed at a later time.
Get up at the same time every day. Maintain the same bedtime every night for a week, and then move it 15 minutes earlier every week until you get a satisfying, relaxing amount of sleep. Then maintain the same schedule every day.
Learn to replace negative thoughts about sleep (‘I will never get to sleep tonight’, ‘I will not be able to function tomorrow’, or ‘I will fall sick unless I sleep eight hours a night’) with positive thoughts (‘If I relax peacefully in bed, my body will take care of itself’).
People have used sleeping tablets for many years, but we now know that:
Sleeping tablets should only be used for short periods (less than two weeks) - for instance, if you are so distressed that you cannot sleep at all.
If you have been on sleeping tablets for a long time, it is best to slowly cut down the dose after discussing it with your doctor. In some cases, antidepressant tablets may be helpful.
are not usually recommended, for the treatment of insomnia.
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