Treatments for Insomnia

Treatments for Insomnia


Insomnia is a pretty common sleep disorder affecting 10% to 30% of adults. People who suffer from insomnia have issues with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or quality. As a result of lack of sleep and poor sleep quality, these people experience extreme daytime sleepiness and aren’t able to do their best during the day.

That said, we may conclude that insomnia could be very frustrating and challenging. For that reason, we’ve come up with the following article on insomnia treatment options to help you find the right for you and finally get the rest you need.

Insomnia Treatment Options

In short, there’s no such thing as ‘the best insomnia treatment option’. Indeed, treatment recommendations vary according to the type of insomnia, the cause, as well as the medical history of the patient. Now, let’s have a closer look at those options:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i)

The first-line insomnia treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy as it doesn’t carry any side effects linked with sleep medication. In general, CBT for insomnia is provided by a licensed expert, i.e., a psychologist who has done training for this specific type of therapy.

The main goal of CBT-i is to identify the anxieties that insomnia patients have about sleep and replace them with more positive beliefs and thoughts. To achieve this goal, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia may include one or more of these segments:

  • Sleep hygiene – Following a healthy sleep schedule and lifestyle habits is essential for fighting off insomnia symptoms. Hence, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even at weekends. Similarly, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals for at least a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Stimulus control – As most insomnia patients experience anxiety about not being able to fall asleep which then exacerbates and prolongs their symptoms, stimulus control is also needed. It involves taking steps to reduce this anxiety and build a positive relationship with sleep.
  • Sleep restriction and compression – Both sleep restriction and compression focus on reducing the time a person lies in bed awake. The psychologist providing the therapy may use records from a sleep diary to identify the amount of time a patient sleeps each night compared to the time spent in bed awake.
  • Relaxation techniques – Plenty of relaxation techniques could provide numerous benefits to insomnia patients. Some techniques that may help you reduce insomnia symptoms and improve sleep include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, etc.

Medications for Insomnia

Medication is the last resort after trying all of the CBT-I methods and not being able to find any relief. However, as there are health risks associated with medications, you must consult your doctor or sleep specialist before trying any of these. In short, insomnia medications are divided into the following categories:

  • Benzodiazepines – BZDs are psychoactive drugs with short -, intermediate-, and long-acting effects, but not recommended for long-term use due to abuse potential.
  • Nonbenzodiazepines – Known as Z drugs, these provide the same relief as BZDs but without many side effects and abuse potential.
  • Melatonin agonist – Melatonin is called the sleep hormone so it is more than logical that these medications can help with sleep onset.
  • Orexin receptor antagonist – Orexin is a neurotransmitter that controls sleepiness and wakefulness and is used to improve sleep onset and maintenance.
  • Off-label treatments – Some medications, like antidepressants and antipsychotics, are initially used to treat other conditions but can also help with sleep.

To conclude, insomnia treatment focuses on two main goals: improving sleep quantity and quality. CBT-i is typically the first treatment option and if it doesn’t provide any relief patients move on to medications.