• January 8, 2024
  • MaheshMadusanka
  • 0

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. It affects up to 30% of adults and can significantly impact your quality of life.  Insomnia is rarely dangerous on its own, but chronic insomnia may increase your risk of other health issues like depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat insomnia without solely relying on sleep medications.

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:

Stress, Anxiety, and Depressio

Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are strongly associated with insomnia. Stress and racing thoughts make it difficult to relax at bedtime.

Environmental Factors

Noise, light, uncomfortable room temperatures, and uncomfortable beds can all interfere with quality sleep.

Health Conditions

Illnesses like chronic pain, acid reflux, Parkinson’s disease, and hyperthyroidism can lead to insomnia symptoms. Additionally, insomnia is common during pregnancy.

Medications

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause insomnia as a side effect. These include certain cold medications, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants.

Poor Sleep Hygiene

Irregular sleep schedules, late-night eating/drinking, daytime napping, and bedtime use of electronic devices can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms and cause insomnia.

Managing Insomnia

So, how can insomnia be treated? There are lifestyle changes and home remedies as well as various medical treatments available for effective treatment of this condition.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies for Better Sleep

Before trying medical treatments, make lifestyle modifications to improve sleep hygiene:

Maintain a Regular Sleeping Schedule

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily, including weekends and vacations. This reinforces your body’s circadian rhythms. Avoid daytime napping.

Limit Food and Drinks Before Bed

Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 2-3 hours before bed, as well as caffeine and alcohol. Warm milk contains tryptophan, which induces sleepiness.

Create an Optimal Sleep Environment

Use blackout curtains or an eye mask, set the temperature between 60-75°F, and use a sound machine or earplugs to block noise. Reserve your bed for just sleep and sex.

Limit Light Exposure

Dim lights 1-2 hours before bed, avoid electronic screens, and use low lighting if you wake at night. Exposure to blue light from electronic screens tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime.

Establish a Relaxing Routine

Take a warm bath, read a book, practice deep breathing exercises, meditate, or practice gentle yoga before bed to unwind. 

Get Regular Daytime Exercise

Aerobic exercise during the day helps promote deeper sleep at night. However, intense exercise too close to bed may disrupt sleep.

Be patient and stick with healthy sleep habits for several weeks before expecting improvements. If the condition lasts over 3 months, consult your doctor for guidance on additional treatments. With time, you can overcome insomnia and wake up feeling refreshed and restored.

Medical Treatments for Insomnia

If lifestyle changes are not effective, there are many medical treatment options available for insomnia including:

Prescription Sleep Medications

Medications like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and suvorexant (Belsomra) induce drowsiness and sleep. However, they may cause side effects and shouldn’t be used long-term.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally-occurring sleep hormone. Low doses taken at bedtime may help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. However, there’s limited evidence that it improves sleep quality.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps change negative thought patterns and behaviors that perpetuate insomnia. It may be equally or more effective for chronic insomnia than sleep medications.

Light Therapy

Exposure to bright light therapy in the mornings can help reset your body’s sleep-wake cycle if you have trouble sleeping at night and waking up in the mornings.

Conclusion

In summary, insomnia is a common but treatable sleep disorder. A combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes tailored to your specific symptoms and situation can help you overcome this condition and be able to sleep restfully. Be consistent and patient with healthy sleep hygiene habits. If insomnia persists despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. Sufficient and quality sleep is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing.

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