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You may not even need any treatment for acute insomnia. In mild cases, it can be cured with good sleep habits (see below). If your insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day because you are tired, your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time. These quick-working, short-acting drugs can help you avoid next-day drowsiness. But avoid using over-the-counter sleeping pills for insomnia. They may have side effects, and they tend to work less well over time.

Good Sleep Habits for Beating Insomnia

Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you get a good night's sleep and beat insomnia. Try these:

  • Go to sleep about the same time each night. Get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day, because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from nodding off. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and leads to poor sleep.
  • Get regular exercise. You'll feel more tired at night. Just don't exercise within about 3 or 4 hours of bedtime. It may rev you up when you need to wind down.
  • Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day. Eat dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help you sleep.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a "white noise" machine to cover up outside sounds.
  • Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep. For example, read a book, listen to music, or take a bath.
  • Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.
  • If you can't fall asleep and don't feel drowsy, get up. Read or do something quiet until you feel sleepy.
  • If you find yourself lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help take away worries overnight.