The first step in treatment for insomnia involves diagnosing and treating any underlying medical or psychological problems that may be contributing to your insomnia. The key to treating insomnia is to determine what is causing it and then eliminating those factors from your life. Often once the causes, such as jet lag or stress, are dealt with, insomnia goes away on its own.
However, there are some cases when other treatment is required. In addition to identifying the causes of insomnia and then trying to eliminate or reduce them, treatment may include the following.
Typically, sleeping pills are prescribed at a low dose and for a short duration of time. They are not recommended for long-term use and should be taken under the close supervision of your doctor.
Behavior techniques may help to improve your sleep and include relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy and reconditioning.
Relaxation therapy can be used to reduce or eliminate nighttime stress, body tension and anxiety, and prevent your mind from racing, so you are able to fall asleep.
Sleep Restriction Therapy
You may find that if you are unable to fall asleep or wake up in the night, you spend a lot of time in bed trying unsuccessfully to sleep. If so, you may benefit from a sleep restriction program that initially allows only a few hours of sleep during the night. Gradually this time is increased until a normal sleep period is achieved.
Reconditioning aims to condition your body to associate the bed and bedtime with sleep. For most people, this means using the bed only for sleep and sex. People are advised to go to sleep only when very sleepy, wake and go to bed at the same time every day, and if they are unable to fall asleep, to get out of bed and leave their bedroom and not return until they feel sleepy again. Napping is not recommended during this process.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Find tips on improving your sleep hygiene such as, sleep as much as needed to feel refreshed and healthy during the following day, and more.
Melatonin and Sleeping Pills
Melatonin is a hormone naturally found in the brain. In the absence of light, the pineal gland secretes melatonin, which may make you sleepy. Learn more here.
Overnight Sleep Study
At the UCSF Sleep Disorders Center, one of the methods we use to diagnose sleep disorders is an overnight sleep study. Learn more here.
This quiz has been designed to help you identify potential sleep problems. Check the symptoms here that describe how you sleep.
An estimated 20 percent of the population snores. Snoring is a symptom of a narrow or closed airway that can be caused by a number of things. Learn more here.
Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
Patients with sleep problems can follow some simple guidelines for a better night's sleep including: maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding naps.
Seeking care at UCSF Health