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Insomnia Treatment Overview

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Treating insomnia

Insomnia is often treated with a combination of different approaches. These include behavioral treatments (known as sleep hygiene), cognitive behavioral therapy, OTC and prescription medications, and relaxing apps you can use before bedtime.

Insomnia treatment usually begins with changing your sleep hygiene, which includes your bedtime routine, limiting screen time, limiting caffeine, and other daily habits that can affect sleep. It can take 2–4 weeks for your sleep to improve, so try to be patient and have consistent sleep habits.

There are also OTC medications for insomnia, like melatonin.

Insomnia treatment next steps

If you’re not getting to sleep any faster after about 4 weeks of making these changes, you should see a healthcare provider.

It is especially important to understand if other conditions may be causing your insomnia, such as anxiety or obstructive sleep apnea.

There are different types of healthcare providers who can help people with insomnia, including primary care physicians, mental health professionals, and neurologists. You may need to see a medical doctor and a therapist.

The most effective treatment is a combination of a type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and prescription medications if needed. It can take some trial and error to find medications that help and that don’t have side effects that you cannot tolerate.

Medical tests & labs

Your doctor may suggest a sleep study, which can be done at home or at a sleep laboratory. This can identify an underlying issue, most commonly obstructive sleep apnea.

Depending on the results, a doctor will discuss with you what medications you should try and other ways to treat the problem.

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