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What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia can manifest as difficulty falling asleep (takes more than 1 hour to fall asleep), difficulty staying asleep, or waking up too early. As a result of having poor sleep, insomnia can cause daytime fatigue and trouble concentrating.
Patients are diagnosed with insomnia when the sleep difficulty happens at least 3 nights per week and occurs for at least 3 months. The sleep difficulty occurs despite having an adequate opportunity for sleep.
How is Insomnia treated?
Insomnia should be treated with lifestyle changes first. Patients struggling with insomnia should avoid consuming too many caffeinated beverages. 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise during the morning or afternoon will help improve your sleep. Try to avoid doing cardiovascular exercise at least 2 hours prior to your planned bedtime. Avoid daytime naps, as they disrupt your circadian rhythm, and can cause difficulty falling asleep at night.
Patients struggling with insomnia should also implement a proper bedtime routine. They should try to reserve the bed for sleep only, and avoid watching TV or doing homework while in bed. Patients should perform relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing exercises, 30 minutes prior to the planned bedtime. Often times, using aromatherapy with lavender essential oil, 30 minutes prior to the planned bedtime, will help relax your mind into sleep. Some patients find that drinking Chamomile Tea, 30 minutes prior to the planned bedtime, also helps relax your mind into sleep.
If patients are still struggling with insomnia despite implementing these lifestyle changes, taking over-the-counter Melatonin, 30 minutes prior to the planned bedtime, can be effective for treating insomnia. Instant-release melatonin is useful for treating patients who struggle with falling asleep. Extended-release melatonin is useful for treating patients who struggle with falling and staying asleep. Please consult a qualified psychiatrist or sleep disorder specialist, before starting over-the-counter Melatonin.
If patients continue to struggle with insomnia despite implementing these lifestyle changes and taking over-the-counter Melatonin, then, certain prescription medications can be effective for treating insomnia. Patients should stop taking the over-the-counter Melatonin, if they take a prescription sleep medication, to avoid excessive daytime drowsiness. Please consult a qualified psychiatrist or sleep disorder specialist to learn more about prescription medications used to treat insomnia.