For short-term or acute insomnia relief, lifestyle modifications are needed. These modifications can help you sleep easier and better and help you stay asleep the whole night.

One therapy named cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can address any anxiety issues you have that may be causing ongoing or chronic insomnia. Anxiety causes your insomnia to endure much longer.

There are medications that can be used to relieve insomnia and help you regain your normal sleeping schedule. If your insomnia is a side effect or symptom of another problem, then you may need to address the underlying problem to treat your insomnia. Your doctor can recommend prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to help you with your insomnia.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

This type of therapy zooms in on the actions and thoughts that may disturb your sleep. CBT promotes good sleeping habits and relies on several techniques to remove any sleep anxiety you have. Two of these techniques include biofeedback and relaxation training during sleep time to help lessen anxiety. These techniques help improve your mood, muscles, heart rate and breathing.

CBT also entails the use of positive thinking in lieu of sleep anxiety that conditions your mind to associate being in bed with being asleep. CBT also educates you in ways to help you fall asleep if you cannot fall asleep within a certain amount of time.

This therapy can also include consulting with a therapist in group or one-on-one sessions to help you consider your feelings and thoughts regarding sleep. CBT can enable you to describe your thoughts that race through your brain and describe them in how they sound, feel and look. The aim of this therapy is to prevent your mind from racing and to settle down instead.

CBT also teaches you to avoid falling asleep during the day. It utilizes a way to help you set a sleeping schedule. It may initially help you limit your total time in bed to the typical number of your sleeping hours.

You get more tired actually following this schedule because your sleeping time will be added to the time it takes you to fall asleep. However, this is deliberately done to make you more tired enabling you to fall asleep much faster. As time progresses, the number of hours of actual sleep is increased until you get a full night of sleep.

In order to get optimal results form CBT you need to consult with a therapist who can give you this therapy. The duration of CBT is around two to three months and done once a week. This therapy is much better than medications because its effects are long-term.

Individuals having major depressive disorder and insomnia may be given CBT along with antidepressants. This combination has proven effective for relief of these two problems.


Prescription Medications

Prescription drugs for treating insomnia abound. There are drugs for both short-term and long-term insomnia.

Consult with your physician about the side effects and benefits of insomnia medications. There are insomnia medications that make you fall asleep but they may also cause you to feel drowsy in the morning.

There may be side effects to these drugs although they rarely happen. They can include sleep walking, sleep eating or even driving while asleep. If you experience these side effects or if the drugs are ineffective, talk to your doctor about these problems. Your doctor usually will prescribe you a different medication. Some of these medicines may be habit-forming as well so you need to talk to your doctor about the benefits and side effects of these medications.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

OTC products for insomnia are also widely available. These medications usually contain valerian teas or extracts, L-tryptophan supplements and melatonin.  There are some OTC sleeping products that may include antihistamine ingredients and are labeled as sleep aids. You may need to first consult with your doctor before trying out these kinds of products and if they have any beneficial qualities for you. Antihistamines may be potentially bad for some people and they may not be the best treatment choice for your insomnia.

Alternative Treatments

Melatonin – This is a supplement that is bought over the counter and is touted as a product for insomnia. Melatonin is produced by the body in progressing amounts beginning at twilight and tapering off in the morning. Melatonin greatly benefits older people although no scientific proof yet has been established as to its efficacy. Doctors deem melatonin as a safe product to use at least for a few weeks; its safety is unknown if melatonin is used long-term. Melatonin is usually taken in dosages from 0.3 to 5 mg a day.

Valerian – Valerian is also a dietary supplement that is likewise marketed as an insomnia treatment. The reason is that it has sedative properties. This product has not yet been thoroughly investigated and it has been connected with liver damage in certain individuals. This does not mean though that valerian actually causes live damage. It is usually taken in dosages of around 400 – 900 mg each day daily with an extract containing 0.4% to 0.6% valerenic acid.

Acupuncture – An acupuncture treatment for insomnia involves the insertion of hair thin acupuncture needles into strategic points in the body. This popular but unique form of treatment has shown to be quite effective in treating insomnia in a lot of people and is endorsed by the World Health Organization as a valid treatment for insomnia and dozens of other health conditions.

Zuobiao (Roy) Yuan is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of chinese medicine in Edina, MN.