Treatment for Insomnia

Treatment for insomnia can be approached in several ways, depending on your individual circumstances and the severity of your case. Below are the most common ways to cure insomnia.

Transient and Intermittent Insomnia

Transient and intermittent insomnia may not require treatment since episodes last only a few days at a time. For example, if insomnia is due to a temporary change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, the person's biological clock will often get back to normal on its own.

However, for some people who experience daytime sleepiness and impaired performance as a result of transient insomnia, the use of short-acting sleeping pills or medications for insomnia may improve sleep and next-day alertness. As with all drugs, there are potential side effects from drugs for insomnia. The use of over-the-counter sleep medicines is not usually recommended for the treatment of insomnia.

Chronic Insomnia Treatment

Possible ways to cure insomnia that is severe:

  • First, diagnosing and treating underlying medical or psychological problems.

  • Identifying behaviors that may worsen insomnia and stopping (or reducing) them.

  • Possibly using sleeping pills, although the long-term use of sleeping pills for chronic insomnia is controversial. A patient taking any sleeping pill should be under the supervision of a physician to closely evaluate effectiveness and minimize side effects. In general, these drugs are prescribed at the lowest dose and for the shortest duration needed to relieve the sleep-related symptoms. For some of these insomnia medicines, the dose must be gradually lowered as the medicine is discontinued because, if stopped abruptly, it can cause insomnia to occur again for a night or two.

  • Trying behavioral techniques to improve sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning.

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into different points on the surface of the body. These points lie along conduits called meridians. When these points are stimulated, the benefits are endless.

When treating insomnia using acupuncture, points of the heart or pericardium are commonly chosen. According to some acupuncturists, some of the points that calm the mind also have the effect of helping heart to pump blood more efficiently.

Acupuncture alone will not totally solve your insomnia, but can greatly increase your chances of dealing with it. Changes in diet in lifestyle will also have to be maintained for the best results.

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Swanson, Jennifer. Sleep Disorders Sourcebook. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1999.