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What can I do to manage my insomnia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

If you have chronic insomnia, you may want to talk to your doctor about treatment options. Follow their advice to relieve your symptoms. Because you may have trouble concentrating or staying awake, use caution when driving or doing other potentially dangerous tasks.

Insomnia doesn't have to be a lifelong condition. In fact, there are several steps you can take immediately to help yourself enjoy a good night's rest. For starters, try these:

  • Find out what is causing your sleeplessness.
  • Make gradual improvements to your sleep hygiene.
  • Keep a sleep diary and use the information to track and overcome obstacles to sleep.
  • For a temporary bout of insomnia, take an over-the-counter sleep aid. But be careful you don't start to depend on medication for regular, healthy sleep.
  • If minor aches and pains are keeping you from sleeping, take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Warm or cool compresses may also soothe minor discomforts.
  • Try a natural sleep remedy, such as valerian or melatonin. Like medications, natural remedies can cause side effects, and may interact with other treatments you're using, so talk to your healthcare provider about your options before trying anything new.

If self-help methods don't provide relief of your symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for an evaluation.

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Medications can help relieve insomnia but should not be considered a long-term solution. Try these lifestyle changes for a more long-lasting solution:

  • Drink less caffeine (a stimulant) and alcohol (which causes frequent nighttime awakenings).
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine is also a stimulant, and you'll sleep better and enjoy better health the sooner you can quit.
  • Don't drink a lot of fluids close to bedtime.
  • Avoid spicy or heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly (but at least three hours before bedtime). It will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
  • Find a relaxing routine at night (such as a hot bath).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.