Treating Insomnia: Getting the Sleep You Deserve

by Justin on December 21, 2016

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Getting enough sleep is important for the proper functioning of your body and your mind. However, sometimes even though we dedicate the right amount of time to it, insomnia strikes. Anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows that the tiredness and sheer frustration from not being able to attain reprieve to the constant never-ending fatigue and reduced brain functionality, is overbearing. Thankfully, there are techniques that you can try at home and therapies and medications that your doctor can recommend for more extreme cases.

  1. Relaxation Training

During these exercises, the person experiencing insomnia physically stimulates the body to relax and enter a more sleep conducive state. It is based on the affected individual willfully tensing and relaxing muscles all over the body, eventually bringing on sleepiness with its calming effect. Meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery are similar techniques that reduce stress and restore calm and peace in the mind and body. These can either be self-taught or instructed by a professional, depending on the person’s experience and the specific technique. There are some audio recordings available online that guide the insomniac through meditation or other relaxation training to help him or her fall asleep or return to it if they wake up at night.

  1. Controlling the Environment

Many people can pinpoint their insomnia to overstimulation- especially right before going to sleep. A way to manage this is to reshape the environment in which you reside, especially your bedroom or the space you spend time in before sleep. Professionals suggest removing all screens from the room, like laptops and TVs, using earplugs, or even hanging black-out blinds if the lights outside are distracting you from restful sleep. Only go to bed if you are feeling sleepy and tired, and get out if after 20 minutes you are still awake. The point is for the brain to associate the bedroom as a place of rest and sleep, not one of energy and wakefulness. Implementing a strict bedtime and waketime schedule should help regulate the act of sleeping, as the bedroom itself becomes a stimulus for sleep. That’s why limiting activities in the bed to sleeping and sex is something that sleep professionals repeatedly stress.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, has been applied to a number of different health issues, especially ones associated with the brain and mental health. The behavior and reactions of the body are shaped by the rational and cognitive training of the mind. With regular training and exercises, a person suffering from insomnia can change their mindset about sleep and by extension train the mind and body to react positively to getting into bed. A great thing about CBT is that it is available in a number of different modes, either through group therapy, individual therapy, or even online modular training.

  1. Medication

There is a range of medications that your doctor can prescribe for severe cases of insomnia, while over the counter solutions are available to those who are having temporary or mild cases. They range from melatonin, to benzodiazepine hypnotics and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. Consult your doctor to determine which is best for you based on your overall health, any underlying conditions, and your specific symptoms. At that time, also ask about potential side effects that accompany regular use of the specific medication recommended to you.

  1. Cranial electrotherapy

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation is a simple, effective, safe, and affordable alternative to medication for relieving insomnia. This solution sends a weak electrical current in the brain to stimulate the production of hormones which aid the body in sleeping soundly, such as seratonin, acetylcholine, and endorphins. And it all comes in a small portable machine that you can use at home as needed, because studies have shown that repeated treatments prolong and strengthen the effects of cranial electrotherapy.

Being able to sleep and rest properly is a gift that many of us don’t appreciate until we lose it. However, even if you are experiencing insomnia, there are things that you can do to minimize it, from relaxation training, stimulus reduction, CBT, even to cranial electrotherapy and medication. For guidance on how to best battle this issue, consult your family doctor and seek the help of a sleep specialist if needed.

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