Although over-the-counter medications can help with the occasional episode of insomnia, they are never a good idea to take for an extended period of time. As your body gets used to them, and begins to rely on them more and more, rebound insomnia is often resulted. There are a lot of insomnia treatments available; some are quick and easy home remedies you can do to promote better sleep, others are things you will want to discuss with your physician or a sleep specialist.
• Chamomile – Safe for children and adults, chamomile can be used in a tea, added to a bath or inhaled.
• Hops – A primary component in beer, hops pillows can be made in addition to making a tea.
• Passion Flower – This is one of the best insomnia treatments when mental stress or nervous exhaustion is to blame. Passion flower is safe for adults and children.
• Lavender – There is nothing quite like lavender to invoke deep relaxation. It can be inhaled, used as a compress or massage oil or made into a tea.
• Wild Lettuce – Safe and calming, wild lettuce is a preferred herb for children with insomnia.
• Others – Valerian, California poppy, kava kava, St. John’s wort and melatonin are all said to treat insomnia as well.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Studies suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can often control sleeping disorders better than hypnotic medications. Patients are instructed on how to improve their sleep habits, thereby resulting in long-lasting benefits. This is considered a first choice of treatment for insomnia.
At least 95 percent of insomniacs rely on medication for a restful night sleep.
• Benzodiazepines – These are commonly prescribed however, they can cause physical dependency and side effects including daytime drowsiness, falls and fractures, cognitive impairments and motor vehicle crashes. Although they can initiate sleep, with prolonged use, they can ultimately increase light sleep while decreasing deep sleep. Benzodiazepines must be discontinued gradually to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
• Non-benzodiazepines – These are often prescribed for mild to moderate insomnia symptoms. These drugs can cause both physical and psychological dependency as well as morning sedation and cognitive and memory disturbances.
• Opioids – When insomnia is the result of pain, opioids such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone are often prescribed. This should only be used as a short-term solution as long-term use of opioids can cause a disturbance in sleep patterns.
• Antihistamines – Non-prescription medications like Unisom and Benadryl are commonly used. Although there is a question as to whether dependency is an issue, the effectiveness with extended use is decreased.
• Atypical Antipsychotics – In some cases, a typical antipsychotics may be prescribed but they offer a danger of cognitive, metabolic and neurological side effects, so they are typically a last resort.
• Others – Additional insomnia treatments in this category include L-arginine, L-Glycine and magnesium supplements.
Doctors and sleep specialists typically try to start with non-pharmacological insomnia treatments first. This includes evaluating the sleep environment, stimulus control, sleep restriction therapy, behavioral interventions, relaxation therapy, paradoxical intention and EEG biofeedback.
In addition to these, simple meditation and breathing exercises have become some of the most popular treatments for insomnia today.