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Understanding Insomnia -- Treatment

What Is the Treatment for Insomnia?

Treatment for insomnia may involve nonmedical therapy, such as developing better sleep habits or psychotherapy, and sometimes medications. If a medical condition like diabetes or menopause is causing your insomnia, treating those conditions may help. If insomnia is a side effect of a medication, changing the medication or its timing or reducing the dose may help. Always talk to your health care provider before making changes to any medications you are taking.

Short-term insomnia, often caused by travel or stress, usually improves once the stress is removed or after your body has adjusted to the new schedule. Short-term use of over-the-counter sleep remedies may help. Chronic insomnia, which disrupts sleep for extended periods of time, may call for a thorough physical exam, alteration of some lifestyle habits, medical treatment, and, perhaps, psychotherapy to identify a hidden cause. It is most important to treat any problem that is producing insomnia symptoms. Just treating insomnia symptoms without dealing with the main cause will not be helpful.

Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

Could Your Child Have Sleep Apnea?

When her son was in preschool, Cynthia Chin-Lee remembers teachers saying he would fall asleep during playtime. Now, 10-year-old Joshua is impossible to rouse in the mornings, saying, "I need to sleep 10 more minutes. Leave me alone." Joshua seems tired, he has bags under his eyes, and he's not doing well in school, explains Chin-Lee, 53, a manager at a software company in Palo Alto, Calif. Chin-Lee's husband had a theory: Maybe their son had sleep apnea, a condition with which her husband had recently...

Read the Could Your Child Have Sleep Apnea? article > >

Sleep Medications

Benzodiazepine sedatives such as triazolam (Halcion), estazolam, lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), flurazepam, and quazepam (Doral) and non-benzodiazepine sedatives such as zolpidem (Ambien, Intermezzo), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata) are drugs that can help induce sleep. However, these medicines may be addictive with extended use. Also they can be dangerous if you take them with alcohol or other drugs that depress the central nervous system. They can cause morning sleepiness, although side effects are generally less severe with the non-benzodiazepines. A prescription oral spray called Zolpimist, which contains Ambien's active ingredient, can be used for short-term treatment of insomnia.

Belsomra (suvorexant) is the first approved orexin receptor antagonist. Orexins are chemicals that are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and play a role in keeping people awake. Belsomra alters the action of orexin in the brain.

Doxepin (Silenor) is approved for treating people who have trouble staying asleep. Silenor may help with sleep maintenance by blocking histamine receptors. Do not take this drug unless you are able to get a full seven or eight hours of sleep. Dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to therapy.

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