How to cure insomnia?
Short term insomnia can be cured by identifying and removing the physical or physiological stressor that is disturbing sleep. With severe cases, short-term use of a sedative medication can also help minimize the effects of poor sleep. Chronic insomnia may also be cured by removing the contributing factors. However, in most cases of chronic insomnia there is either no identifiable trigger or the insomnia may be a symptom of other comorbid illnesses. Therefore, the treatment shifts to management of symptoms.
How to deal with insomnia?
Minimizing stress and keeping a regular schedule are the best ways to deal with insomnia. Lifestyle changes that can help improve insomnia symptoms include:
- Sleeping in a cool and quiet place
- Avoiding blue light from electronic devices
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even weekends)
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
- Exercising regularly during the daytime
- Avoiding long naps
- Eating meals on a regular schedule
- Limiting how much fluid you drink before bedtime
Are there any natural remedies for insomnia?
Melatonin, cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are recognized as potential natural remedies for insomnia. There are various other dietary supplements that are marketed for insomnia but there is not sufficient evidence to support their efficacy. It is also important to note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA so the concentration or purity of the ingredients is not guaranteed.
How to treat insomnia?
Insomnia should be treated in a step-by-step approach. The first step to treat all types of insomnia is to try to minimize any contributing factors or comorbid illnesses that may be getting in the way of optimal sleep. Lifestyle changes can often help improve short-term insomnia. In chronic insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and prescription medication are the main treatment options if the attempts to manage contributing factors are not sufficient.
CBT treatment for insomnia
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the first treatment option for chronic insomnia. CBT is a multi-component approach that addresses common thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep. It is commonly delivered over 4-8 sessions with a qualified professional. Components of this therapy include:
- Cognitive therapy
- Relaxation or meditation therapy
- Sleep education
- Sleep restriction therapy
- Stimulus control therapy
Medication treatment for insomnia
While prescription medication should not be the sole treatment for insomnia, it can be very helpful as part of an integrated approach that includes behavioral strategies and treatment of comorbidities. There are various types of medications that can help treat insomnia. They include:
- Over the counter sleep aids
- Prescription medications approved specifically for the treatment of insomnia
- Off-label prescription medications
- Dietary supplements