Insomnia - Understanding Insomnia -- Treatment

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Antidepressant drugs may be used in people with depression to help with sleep. They are not approved for the treatment of insomnia. These may cause daytime sleepiness or other side effects.

Ramelteon (Rozerem) is an insomnia medication that works differently than the other sedative medications. It is less likely to cause morning sleepiness or to be addictive.

Over-the-counter sleep drugs usually contain an antihistamine. Antihistamines are often used for allergies, but they have a side effect of drowsiness. These medications may cause daytime sleepiness and dry mouth along with other side effects.

Relaxation

Many poor sleepers simply need help relaxing. If you're a habitual insomniac and trying to get to sleep just makes you more anxious and awake, try these alternative choices to help reduce your worry about sleep while relaxing your body and mind. If the root cause of insomnia is stress, any treatment must address the problem of stress in your life.

Breathing exercises can promote relaxation. Here's a routine you can do anywhere, anytime:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Inhale through your nose to a count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
  5. Repeat the cycle three times.

Exercise

Moderate exercise can help you sleep better and give you more energy while awake. Aim for a 20- to 30-minute routine three or four times a week. Tailor the workout to your physical condition, and exercise in the morning or afternoon, not close to bedtime. Check with your doctor about how much and what type of exercise is right for you.

Mind/Body Medicine

Meditation, yoga, and biofeedback may reduce tension and promote better sleep. Visualization or guided imagery, during which you hold a peaceful image in your mind before bedtime, can also be an effective path to relaxation. You can learn these techniques from an instructor, online sites, a how-to book, or an instructional tape.

Good Sleep Habits

Be sure your bedroom is quiet and dark. Eye shades may help since light comes in even through closed eyelids.

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