How is Insomnia Treated?
Acute, or short-term insomnia may not require treatment. But if your insomnia makes it hard to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, your health care provider may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time. The rapid onset, short-acting medications now available avoid many of the earlier problems with continuing effects (like feeling drowsy or groggy) the following day. Some medications may be less effective after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term safety and effectiveness has not yet been established. Side effects of sleeping pills (and over-the-counter sleep medicines) can be a problem, too. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits (see below).
Treatment for chronic (long-term) insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia. If insomnia continues, your health care provider may suggest behavioural therapy or medication. Most medicines that are used for sleep have side effects and must be used with caution. It is not recommended to use over-the-counter sleeping pills for insomnia. Behavioural approaches to treatment focus on changing behaviours that may worsen insomnia and learning new behaviours to promote sleep. Techniques such as relaxation exercises, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning may be useful.