Other Treatments for Managing InsomniaEn Español (Spanish Version)
Insomnia is a classic symptom of depression and stress-related psychological illness. Psychotherapy involves meeting with a licensed professional on a regular basis in an individual or group setting. Psychotherapy works to identify and resolve the psychological factors that contribute to the depression or other psychological illness causing the insomnia. Medication for the underlying problem is often prescribed as an adjunct to the psychotherapy.
There are specific and effective techniques that may help to reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension. These can include meditation, visualization, and deep breathing. These techniques can help your mind to stop "racing," allow your muscles to relax, and allow restful sleep to occur. It takes some practice to learn these techniques and achieve effective relaxation.
Some people suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep. They may benefit from a sleep restriction program that at first allows them only to stay in bed for the number of hours the person actually sleeps (as opposed to the number of hours the person spends in bed tossing and turning). The minimum number of hours for sleep is usually about 5 hours. A person would gradually add more time to their starting amount until a more normal night's sleep is achieved.
Another treatment that may help some people with insomnia is to recondition them to associate the bed and bedtime with sleep. For most people, this means not using their beds for any activities other than sleep and sex. As part of the reconditioning process, you are usually advised to go to bed only when sleepy. If unable to fall asleep, get up, stay up until sleepy, and then return to bed. Throughout this process, you should avoid naps and wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Eventually your body will be conditioned to associate the bed and bedtime with sleep.
When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Transient and intermittent insomnia often occur in response to a short-term event (like jet travel or a job evaluation) and usually resolve in several days. But if you have sleeplessness that continues for more than a week, contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation and consultation about your treatment options.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ .
National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/ .
Last reviewed May 2007 by Janet H. Greenhut, MD, MPH
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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