For the last week I have been writing articles about insomnia and the many reasons why people may develop insomnia. I thought I would take this opportunity to give different options for treatment.
Just as a reminder, let’s look at the definition of insomnia, which is a disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, or both.
Let’s look at conventional and alternative methods. Conventional prescription medications include Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata or Rozerem. These medications are generally recommended for a short period of time, usually not more than a few weeks. Some of the newer medications have been recommended for indefinite use however some may be habit-forming.
Side effects of these medications include extreme drowsiness, impaired thinking, agitation, and wandering during the night. Over-the-counter medications contain antihistamines that make people drowsy. These also have side effects that can cause daytime sleepiness, dry mouth or blurred vision.
Alternative medicine or natural methods include behavioral changes or supplementations. Behavioral changes, or sleep hygiene, can make improve the quality of sleep.
One of the biggest culprits is technology -- computers, cell phones and TV all have bright lights that impede the production of melatonin, which causes sleep in the brain. Technology needs to be turned off at least one hour before sleep.
The bed should be used for sleep and sex and nothing else. The bedroom needs to be comfortable and cool, which promotes sleep as well.
Studies have shown that 20-30 minutes of consistent exercise improves the quality of sleep. Avoid heavy meals, strenuous exercise, nicotine, or caffeine before bed.
Common supplements that I have been studied for insomnia are niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, 5-HTP, melatonin, valerian root or passionflower.
It is always important to look at the underlying causes of insomnia in order to treat it correctly. Hormonal issues in women can also play a role in insomnia. If you are having other medical problems or taking medications for another condition check to make sure that these are not the source of your insomnia.