How To Treat Insomnia In 4 Steps
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Insomnia is a difficult condition to have because of the challenges when experiencing daytime sleepiness and other side effects. Chronic insomnia can have a real impact on your life, from damage to relationships, difficulties with work or school, and overall clumsiness. Discovering how to treat insomnia quickly and effectively is crucial to getting better sleep and seeing improvement in your day to day life.
- Change Your Habits
You may be surprised to find that people with chronic insomnia can benefit from just a few lifestyle changes. There are a number of habits that individuals seem to pick up often that can have a negative impact on the quality of sleep that they receive. To get a good night’s rest, trying to make a few changes is a great start.
Use Your Bed For Sleep
Many people with insomnia use their beds for a number of activities. From watching television to working, browsing social media to tossing and turning, beds are used as a multi-tasking location. However, using your bed in this manner can tell your mind that it is a place of action, not resting. By keeping your bed as a place of sleep, you will likely find that falling asleep at night comes far easier.
Be Conscientious Of Lighting
Evening lighting can be detrimental to your quality of sleep. In fact, common treatments for insomnia involve lighting. Lighting that can hurt sleep includes bright lights from both your home and your devices. By making a point to dim any and all lighting at least an hour before attempting sleep, you may experience better sleep at night. Avoid using devices or bright e-readers before bed as well. Putting a dim nightlight in your bathroom may help you to get through your nighttime routine and can help you to fall back asleep faster if you wake in the night with the urge to go to the restroom.
Discontinue Daytime Naps
Although enjoyable at the time, daytime naps can make sleeping well at night difficult. Even when you find daytime sleepiness taking hold, it’s important to avoid naps at all costs so that sleep at night is more possible. Insomnia treatment often includes challenging patients to avoid sleeping outside certain hours. Skip the nap and get your full 8 hours at night to help rid yourself of insomnia and improve daily life.
Decrease Caffeine Intake
Although caffeine intake seems like an obvious hurdle to getting the sleep you need, there is caffeine in more items than you might think. Calculate the caffeine that you take in throughout the day and think about cutting it down. If you need a hot beverage in the evening, try chamomile tea instead. However, try to drink your tea well before your regular bedtime so that you aren’t awakened in the night with a full bladder.
- Pick Up New Habits
Changing old habits is crucial, but adding new habits can make a huge impact on your sleep as well. It can be difficult to add so many new components to your life at once, so it may be better for you to add each new habit gradually. You may discover the addition of the following habits can help you to fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up later.
Add A Morning Workout To Your Routine
Exercise is not only good for your physical and mental health, but it can make falling asleep easier. However, the timing of your workout is crucial. An evening workout that is a couple of hours within your regular bedtime can keep you up later than necessary. A workout that is done in the morning or early afternoon gives your mind and body the time to settle down before sleeping.
Stick To A Schedule
It feels nice sometimes to stay up later on the weekends and sleep in. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive to those attempting to get rid of their chronic insomnia. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Set your alarm for the same time each morning and avoid hitting snooze. Having a firm schedule reminds your internal clock of its job and avoids any confusion. Remember to allow yourself the necessary sleep time, which is commonly 8 hours for adults. If you plan to fall asleep around 11 pm, set your alarm for 7 am to get the sleep you need.
Clean Your Room!
Your sleep environment should be a comfortable place where relaxing is easy. This often means a clean, temperature-controlled, dark room for sleeping. A messy room can make it stressful, creating the opposite environment from what is needed. Keeping clothes off the floor and trash where it belongs helps those in the room to get better sleep. The bed should also be comfortable, so that body aches refrain from keeping you awake. If you are unable to purchase a good mattress, consider putting a pillow between your knees and using a properly sized pillow under your head to prevent back and neck pain.
Spend More Time In The Sun
Sunlight does a number of things for your body and mind that promotes better sleep. For one, serotonin is released in the presence of sunlight, which improves your mood and helps you to feel calm. This allows for a better night’s sleep because the calmness of the day can carry into the night. Sunlight also assists your body’s internal clock to know when you should be awake. Getting plenty of daily exposure to the sun can help you to avoid daytime sleepiness.
- See A Counselor Or Therapist
Not many individuals consider therapy when thinking of insomnia treatment. In fact, most people go straight to a medication when treatments for insomnia are brought up. Truthfully, therapy can be far more helpful when it comes to insomnia than other treatments. Considering therapy or counseling to fix your sleepless nights might be the best option for you.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Insomnia
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, is one of the most successful forms of insomnia treatment. The biggest reason CBT-I is so successful is that it aims to dig out and treat the root issue of your sleepless nights. It isn’t just about getting you to sleep – it’s about getting you to sleep every night for the long-term. The root issue could be any number of things, from a mental illness, stress, poor habits, or more. A counselor or therapist will encourage you to write a sleep journal so that the issue can be drawn out, and solutions can be taken to solve the problem.
Lightbox therapy is a way for chronic insomnia patients to mimic the sun’s light with a brightly lit box. The process involves sitting close to the lighted box for a set time each day to learn when to be awake. It is commonly used for those unable to get daily exposure to the sun, such as sufferers with seasonal affective disorder.
- Consider Medication
Medication can be helpful for many that have insomnia. It is commonly considered a last resort, however, as it tackles the symptoms of insomnia and not the reason behind it. Medication is a temporary solution to sleepless nights.
The most commonly used supplement for sleep is melatonin. Melatonin occurs naturally in the body when exposed to the dark, much as serotonin occurs in the daylight. Supplements for melatonin can be purchased over the counter from any drug store. You may wish to ask your doctor the best dosage for you, as a variety is available. Many doctors would suggest you start with the smallest dosage available to see if the supplement might help your condition.
Prescription medication for insomnia treatment can help you to fall asleep at night. If your doctor prescribes you a sleep-inducing medication, you must take it as directed. Complications can come with prescriptions that cause you to sleep, including problems operating a motor vehicle. If you have to drive to work first thing in the morning, you may want to ask your doctor about the safety of sleeping pills and daily activities before getting a prescription.
How To Decide If Your Insomnia Requires Treatment
Many people suffer from insomnia. How do you know if you need treatment? There are two kinds of insomnia to consider: acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia is a short-term condition in which you may experience sleepless nights for a couple of weeks before returning to normal. Chronic insomnia is when your sleepless nights stretch to more than a month. This kind of insomnia can get dangerous, like forgetfulness, clumsiness, and sleepiness can take over.
Acute insomnia doesn’t always require treatment. Most doctors would suggest you make some habit changes and see if it helps. Although chronic insomnia might be helped with the same changes, it is often necessary to get treatment. Reaching out to a medical or mental health provider can verify your need for further action. Consider the idea of therapy to treat your insomnia, and perhaps you’ll learn how to sleep better.