What can I do to manage my insomnia?

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.
Terry W. Smith, MD
Family Medicine
To manage insomnia you need sleep hygiene and a regular sleep schedule with no naps during the day. If you have other conditions that may be causing insomnia, such as hot flashes, enlarged prostate or frequent urination at night, these conditions need to be addressed. Simply taking a sleeping pill isn’t the answer. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) can cause insomnia as well as a spouse snoring, the dog in the bed and working different shifts. If elements such as these are accounted for and treated appropriately and if insomnia is still occurring, melatonin can be tried in some patients. Not all doctors believe that melatonin tablets work, as they may be degraded by stomach acid. Melatonin should be taken sublingually for best absorption and each patient will have to start with a low dose and work his or her way up to find out what dose works. For that small percentage of patients for whom these approaches don’t work, a prescription sleeping pill may help.
HealthyWomen
Administration
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).

Some basic sleep hygiene tips for insomnia include consistent sleep times, cutting caffeine, exercising regularly and not eating close to bedtime. Watch sleep behavior expert Lisa Medalie, PsyD, share these tips and what to do if you need more help.

 

RealAge
Administration
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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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.