How to Treat Insomnia

woman not sleepingWhen you have trouble falling asleep one or two nights, it usually a problem. However, being unable to fall asleep or sleep soundly through the night on a regular basis can be a serious sleep disorder, known as insomnia.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia is often thought of as not being able to fall asleep at all, but it can show up in other ways. When you have this sleep disorder, you might have trouble getting to sleep at night or wake up frequently during the night. You might find that you keep waking up too early or feel sleepy after you get up. Other symptoms that can occur with insomnia include:

  • Feeling sleepy during the day
  • Developing anxiety or depression
  • Becoming more irritable from a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Making more errors at work or school

Causes of Insomnia

You can end up with temporary or acute insomnia after experiencing a traumatic or stressful event. When you have chronic or long-term insomnia, this can be due to a number of reasons. Some causes of long-term insomnia include:

  • Chronic stress
  • Work schedule that disrupts your internal clock, such as working the midnight shift
  • Jet lag after traveling through different time zones
  • Bad sleep habits, such as staring at a screen before going to sleep, having an irregular sleep schedule or taking naps later in the day
  • Drinking caffeine late in the day or having too much to eat before bedtime
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants or blood pressure medications
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, thyroid problems or heart disease
  • Anxiety or other mental health disorders

Risks of Insomnia

Going without a good night’s sleep night after night can seriously affect your physical and mental health. Insomnia can lower your quality of life and increase your risk of developing health problems. You might make more mistakes at work or have more injuries due to daytime sleepiness. When you struggle with insomnia, it’s important to seek treatment, so that you can improve your sleep quality.

Treatment for Insomnia

There are different approaches to treating acute or chronic insomnia. These include lifestyle changes, medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s important to seek care in order to find the right treatment plan for your insomnia. Lifestyle changes that your doctor might recommend include having a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine later in the day, and not eating before bedtime. Other lifestyle changes that can help ease insomnia include getting regular physical activity, avoiding naps later in the day, and reading or doing something relaxing before going to sleep. Keeping your room dark and cool can also help.

Medications for insomnia include over-the-counter sleep aids and prescription medications. These medications are not meant to be used for long periods of time, but they might provide some relief from insomnia and help you sleep better. However, you should not rely on medications alone to treat insomnia, especially on a long-term basis.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you build healthy sleep habits while also learning to recognize behaviors that are contributing to insomnia. This type of therapy is a long-term strategy that can help you find lasting relief from insomnia.

If you need more information on treatment for insomnia, please contact Sleep & Neuroscience Associates in Greenwich. We provide help for those who have acute or chronic insomnia.

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