Insomnia treatments really depend on the type of insomnia you have, and its severity. In treating insomnia, your decisions may also depend on your health, the cause or causes of insomnia and your own beliefs.
When it comes to treating chronic insomnia there are several approaches.
Doctors will generally take a two-part approach in treating insomnia. Lifestyle changes regarding your diet and sleep habits will be implemented to support good sleep.
They are also likely to treat your insomnia with short-term sleep aids.
This is only a short-term solution to help get you back to sleep.
The longer-term solution is to modify your sleep habits and determine the underlying cause of your insomnia.
Regardless of the nature of your insomnia, it's a good bet that some lifestyle changes are going to be at the top of your list for your insomnia treatments.
-Whether they're prescribed by your doctor or otherwise; Your lifestyle, especially your daily exercise, your eating and drinking, as well as television and internet habits can play an important role in how you sleep each night.
This is known as your sleep hygiene; or the preservation of your health through the control of all the behavioral and environmental factors that predicted your bedtime, and it's a big factor here.
-It can and quite often does, interfere with a good sound sleep.
Insomnia treatments start with good sleep hygiene.
-How well you slept last night has a huge impact on how you feel, both emotionally and physically, and on how you perform throughout your day.
If you’re having a hard time getting yourself to sleep lately, try applying some of the lifestyle changes in the following list of changes, for a little insomnia self-help.
Common Lifestyle Changes Include:
#1 Exercise -The first recommendation by most physicians, will more often than not be ...daily exercise. This one simple addition may often cure insomnia, or at least help. (Many other health ailments as well.)
Starting a daily exercise program of even 15-20 minutes a day can be a real good start to a more restful and uninterrupted sleep.
#2 Diet Modification -Elimination of certain foods and beverages from your diet may often be all that is needed. For example, sometimes removing or even just reducing your caffeine intake may cure mild insomnia for many.
#3 Sleep Routine Changes -Creation of a better sleep routine that supports good sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
-Also, remove the television and computers from the bedroom and read instead for 15 minutes before bedtime. No eating at least 4 hours prior to turning in for the night can really help too. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the evening as much as possible. These may not always interfere with actual sleeping, but definitely do in the quality of sleep.
#4 Relaxation Exercises -Yoga and deep breathing exercises can be a big help for sleep, especially when done a few hours before bedtime.
#5 Massage -Naturally, a professional masseuse is preferable, but even a gentle relaxing massage by your significant other will do the job.
#6 Meditation and Guided Imagery -These techniques can help quiet your mind and really aid in a quality nights sleep.
#7 Positive Thinking Techniques -Because stress and anxiety are quite often causes of insomnia. Learning to manage these through positive thinking and a positive approach to the events of the day, at home and at the workplace, can much improve sleep. (also see Hypnosis below)
#8 Acupuncture -Insomnia treatments with acupuncture have been shown to be of significant help to a great many people, even curing some.
-Many of these insomnia treatments you can initiate yourself. Take a look at your sleep habits. Do they really support a good nights sleep?
Insomnia Tips: Start a Sleep Diary
-Keeping a journal for a week or two, of your coffee intake; television and computer habits, your wake sleep cycle each day, your daily diet, any stressful events etc. -All of these can be great tips to help you to determine the cause of your sleeplessness.
-They can be very useful in helping you to choose the right insomnia treatment, and getting you back to regular restful sleep.
-Often, it's a long-time habit you may not even be aware of; the two cups of coffee after dinner each night, surfing the Internet before bed or even arguing with your spouse before bedtime. (or their snoring)
Herbal Remedies and Natural Sleep Aids
Insomnia affects almost everyone at one time or another. It is a common problem that may be just an occasional issue or chronic insomnia.
-Many people turn to medication to treat insomnia. However, natural sleep aids and home remedies may work just as well for many people.
They have the added benefit of helping, without any harmful side effects or the risks often seen with prescription medications. If you're suffering from chronic insomnia, or even just an occasional sleepless night, consider these naturalsleep aids for your insomnia treatments:
#1 Regulate Lighting -Melatonin is produced by the body's Pineal gland and regulates our wake sleep cycle. Its production is controlled by our exposure to light. If we do not get enough natural light during the day, an inadequate amount of melatonin is produced, thereby making it more difficult to sleep. (Can also cause seasonal affective disorder or SAD)
Especially in the winter, insomnia treatments that increase your daily exposure to the sun can be very productive, or try getting full-spectrum or SAD lighting. Limit the artificial lighting during the evening hours. Too much television, bright lights etc. can slow melatonin production and throw off the wake sleep cycle.
#2 Melatonin -Can also be purchased and taken orally as natural sleep aids. It is usually taken 1-2 hours before bedtime. Melatonin side effects are usually temporary and can be relieved by reducing the dosage.
#3 Good Nutrition
Research shows that 80% of the people who complain of chronic fatigue, actually get adequate sleep. The problem may lie in nutritional deficiencies that can often be remedied with proper diet and the addition of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. Increase your intake of vitamins B, C, folic acid, zinc and try a calcium supplement before bed.
#4 Chamomile Tea
One of many herbal remedies for sleep. Chamomile tea is an herbal tea that can promote relaxation and help you get a good nights sleep.
#5 Lavender Aromatherapy
This herb has been known to help to induce relaxation and calm the mind, ease stress and tension and provide a good sleep for many people. Research confirms the sedative effect when its scent is inhaled.
#6 Valerian Root
Often one of the most popular insomnia treatments, Valerian root is another herb that is also commonly recommended as one of the natural sleep aids. You can buy valerian over the counter in your supermarket or natural foods store. You can also drink valerian tea.
-Many people swear by it, for relieving muscle cramps and even Restless Leg Syndrome, both common problems for many insomniacs.
Be forewarned though, valerian may smell a bit like your dads' old socks, but it works very well for a lot of people to aid sleep naturally.
It's been said that if you eat a large leaf of lettuce about a half an hour prior to bedtime it will encourage a peaceful sleep. That's why it's been added to so many natural sleep aids on the market.
#8 Milk and Honey
Many have found that a glass of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey can help induce sleep. The protein and the fat from the milk help relax the body. The honey may assist the proteins in the milk to be absorbed.
#9 White Chestnut (Flower essence)
For naturally occurring nervous tension, persistent thoughts, worries and anxiety, a few drops in water goes a long way for a restful night.
#10 L-Tryptophan -Is an essential amino acid, meaning that it cannot be synthesized by the human body, and therefore must be a part of the diet. It is a precursor for both melatonin and serotonin, increasing serotonin circulation almost immediately.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved with sleep and mood.
L-Tryptophan has been shown to maintain levels of serotonin, and in the process, improving both mood and helping people fall and stay asleep.
-Unavailable due to a controversial importation ban in 1989 concerning negative reactions, L-Tryptophan had been one of the more popular insomnia treatments. This importation ban was lifted in 2006 making Tryptophan available once more.
*L-Tryptophan is very powerful amino acid, and for those taking any prescription medicines or non-prescription sleep aids, as well as those taking anti-depressants, especially SSRIs (selective-serotonin-reuptake-inhibitors) consulting with a doctor or pharmacists is necessary.
#11 A Hot Bath (full or even a foot bath)
One of the oldest and most well known insomnia treatments. When heat is applied to the muscles it relaxes them. One of the reasons many people struggle to fall asleep is because they're tense. (or achy) A hot bath can really work wonders to help relax your body naturally from head to toe.
-Additionally, when a hot bath becomes a nightly ritual it can help signal your body that it's time to begin the wind down process. Add Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) for even more muscle relaxing benefits.
If a hot bath isn't for you, try a hot shower or even an electric blanket.
#12 Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback is a method of learning to control your body's own natural rhythms and responses. You can learn to slow your own heart rate and to control your body's stress and relaxation response. Insomnia treatments are then achieved by learning to relax the body. Using biofeedback therapy, many find they can go to sleep quite naturally.
#13 Relaxation Techniques
The mind plays a very important role in allowing the body to get to sleep. If your mind is actively engaged or stressed out about things, then your body is going to be too. How many times have you had trouble sleeping because your mind was racing?
-It happens to everyone. However, when you can learn to quiet your mind, sleep comes naturally. So how do you quiet your mind? There are many different insomnia treatments to try at bedtime:
Many people also find that specific sleep music can help them to relax and fall asleep naturally. There is music designed specifically to assist with sleep. Additionally there are "sleep machines" that play rhythmic sounds of the ocean, rain, tropical forests etc. to help induce sleep.
-If you're struggling with occasional or chronic insomnia consider trying one of these natural sleep aids. The solution to your insomnia might be a lot simpler than you think.
In some cases medical intervention may be necessary to treat chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is often a symptom of a medical condition.
-This means that in treating insomnia, the doctor must first determine what the medical condition is, that is causing it, and then to treat that condition. For example, your insomnia may be caused by Arthritis.
If this is the case, your doctor will treat the pain of your Arthritis, and hopefully the symptoms of insomnia will then disappear.
-Some prescriptions used for heath conditions may also be causes of insomnia, so your current medications may need to be adjusted.
Additionally, if your insomnia is a particularly difficult case, your doctor may feel a sleep aid is necessary. Common sleep aids include:
To mention a few, or possibly even over the counter sleep aids.
-Your doctor will prescribe based on your type of insomnia, your overall health condition, and any other medications you may already be taking.
Keep in mind these medications are not a cure for insomnia, and may even make it worse in the long run if used for too long a time. In fact, 50% of people who take pills for insomnia treatments, often find the condition worsens. -It is best to use them sparingly, and as a last resort.
-Using natural sleep aids and working to change any poor sleep habits will have a more beneficial and lasting effect.
If you're on a new medication or have other health conditions, make sure your doctor is aware of your sleep problems. The doctor can modify your treatment to help improve your sleep.
Hypnosis therapy may not work for everyone, but for those people that it does work for, it can truly be a godsend. Believe it or not, the simply act of thinking the words "I know I will sleep great tonight, I'm so tired", can go a long way in making the statement become fact.
-For many people with chronic insomnia, the stress, anxiety and worrying about not sleeping becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The constant worry actually causes the sleeplessness.
Positive conscious as well as unconscious thought can be among the most powerful insomnia treatments.
Psychological Insomnia Treatments
Cognitive behavioral therapy, often used for depression or eating disorders, is also an approved method for insomnia treatments.
-Though many people may not take insomnia serious enough to consider including therapy as a treatment, in certain cases it may indeed be the best treatment to use.
As with many health conditions and disorders, different treatments may work well for different people, dependent on the cause of the problem.
The Good News:
Quite often acute and transient insomnia can be treated successfully by diet modification and/or simply changing your sleep habits. Any insomnia treatments used should also include these changes, as they can often make a huge difference in sleep patterns.
-If however you suffer from chronic insomnia, your doctor should be included in the solution. A physician will help you determine if it's primary or secondary insomnia. If you are suffering from secondary insomnia your physician will then need to treat the cause.
If you're suffering from primary chronic insomnia your physician will likely combine natural remedies with a prescription. You'll be guided on steps to take to create good sleep habits. You may also need to keep a sleep journal (or take a sleep study) and to perform relaxation techniques.
Again, reassess your sleep habits. Do they really support good sleep?
Do you reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only? Do you keep electronic devices out of the bedroom; avoid stimulants in the late afternoon and evening?
If you maintain good sleep habits you'll often solve your insomnia problems before they start, without the need for any medical help.
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."
"Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds."
~JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom - 2002
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