Anyone who has suffered from chronic insomnia can tell you it can be a miserable condition. When a person has insomnia, she or he may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Deficits in sleep can add up over time, eventually affecting the person’s waking life and making it difficult for her or him to function during everyday activities.
What causes insomnia? Insomnia can be a short term or a long term condition. There can be many underlying causes behind it. Some common reasons for insomnia are:
- Anxiety, stress, or depression
- Mania associated with bipolar disorder
- Jet lag
- Poor sleeping conditions, such as loud noise or uncomfortable bed
- Changes in work shifts
- Withdrawal from a substance
- Medical conditions
Individuals with insomnia often seek remedies to help cure their disorder. There are many insomnia treatments . Among these are sleeping pills or sleep aids and behavior therapy.
Several medications are available to help with sleep. You may be able to find over the counter sleep aids at your pharmacy. Diphenhydramine, also know by the brand name Benedryl, is a common ingredient in non-prescription sleep medication. A drug commonly used to treat allergies, one of the side effects of this antihistamine is drowsiness. Some individuals find success when using this for mild cases of insomnia.
More serious cases may require a prescription from your doctor. Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata are the brand names of some of these drugs. These can definitely help with sleep, but may have unwanted side effects. The drugs are generally safe, but some patients have reported unusual sleep walking behaviors, extreme drowsiness, agitation, and difficulty thinking.
Before taking sleep aids or sleeping pills you may find it helpful to speak with your doctor about the best course of action. Your doctor may prescribe medication for short term or long term use or he or she might recommend that you seek out behavior therapy before or while you are using medication as an insomnia treatment.
There are several types of behavioral therapies that have been proven helpful in the treatment of sleep disorders.
First and foremost, it’s important to develop solid sleep patterns and habits. Small changes, such as reducing or cutting out caffeine or alcohol, can be incredibly helpful. Other good sleep habits include getting exercise in during the day, going to bed at the same time each night, making sure that you use your bed for sleep and sex only, and not eating too much close to bedtime.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy or (CBT) is a type of therapy based in the idea that thoughts cause certain feeling and behaviors. This may be helpful in cases of insomnia when individuals have stressful thoughts about sleep itself that make it difficult to fall asleep. CBT can help these individuals replace worrisome thoughts with more positive ones.
It also may be useful for an individual who is suffering from insomnia to learn to practice meditation or relaxation techniques so that he or she is in a more restful state of mind at all times.