5 treatment methods that may help cure insomnia quickly
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. A lack of quality sleep can affect your daily life and make it difficult to manage important responsibilities like going to work.
Insomnia often has a connection with another underlying condition, such as anxiety or depression, so it may be difficult to cure overnight. However, there are several steps you can take to help promote better sleep quality. This includes practicing relaxation techniques, making sure your bedroom is comfortable and cozy, and limiting your screen time before bedtime.
While lifestyle changes may help improve your sleep and provide better rest, speak with a doctor if you experience chronic insomnia, which is insomnia at least three times a week. They can suggest treatment options that help address the underlying cause.
The following methods may be able to help with insomnia:
1. Create a sleep-conducive environment
Making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature can help you fall asleep. It can also be helpful to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including during the weekend. This can help rebalance your sleep-wake cycle.
You may also consider creating a bedtime routine to help you wind down and increase your relaxation. Your routine can include having a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music before bed.
2. Consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
People with insomnia often develop negative thoughts about going to bed due to previous negative experiences. This may include avoiding going to bed as they are convinced they will not be able to sleep. CBT can help change sleep patterns and transform negative beliefs into constructive thoughts.
A 2022 study reported that CBT for people with insomnia is an effective option that typically improves sleep quality within 4–8 weeks from the start of the treatment.
3. Avoid blue light and electronic devices
Blue light helps your body control its melatonin production and sleep-wake cycle, called the circadian rhythm. When you have exposure to blue light, your body boosts your brain function and increases your alertness, thinking it is daytime and keeping you awake.
Blue light sources include screens from devices like laptops, smartphones, and TVs. Avoiding screen exposure before bedtime can help your body understand it is time for you to go to bed and make it easier for you to sleep.
4. Promote relaxation
Treatment methods for anxiety and stress that you can incorporate into a bedtime routine include:
- deep breathing exercises
- taking a bath
5. Avoid food and drink before bed
Eating large meals or drinking alcohol before bedtime can reduce your sleep quality. Indigestion and heartburn may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, while drinking alcohol at bedtime may wake you up as well as increase the number of your trips to the bathroom.
If you experience insomnia and drink alcohol, aim to avoid it 4–5 hours before bedtime.
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What medications can help?
Several medications can help treat occasional and long-term insomnia. Some over-the-counter options are marketed for occasional insomnia, which may include melatonin or antihistamine medications with a drowsy effect, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or doxylamine (Unisom). The antihistamines may lead to a hangover feeling when you wake up and may cause restlessness at bedtime.
However, if you have chronic insomnia, doctors may prescribe medications called hypnotics, such as:
- benzodiazepine receptor agonists, such as eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien)
- melatonin receptor agonists, such as ramelteon (Rozerem) and tasimelteon (Hetlioz)
- benzodiazepines, including alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
- orexin receptor antagonists, such as daridorexant (Quviviq) and suvorexant (Belsomra)
- low dose antidepressants, such as doxepin (Silenor)
Doctors can recommend the most appropriate treatment based on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying causes of insomnia.
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When to speak with a doctor
Contact a doctor if you experience insomnia that occurs at least three times a week or that lasts longer than 3 months. This may be a sign of chronic insomnia or another underlying condition. Long-term insomnia can cause several health complications, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
If you often experience difficulty falling asleep and it does not get better after making improvements to your bedtime routine, speak with a doctor to find the cause of your sleeping issues.
A doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment based on the causes of insomnia to improve your symptoms and sleep quality.
If you have long-term insomnia, several measures may help improve your sleep quality. Examples include making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet, limiting alcohol, avoiding exposure to blue light, and practicing relaxation exercises.
However, speak with a doctor if these methods aren’t working for you. A doctor can prescribe medications for insomnia or recommend CBT to help improve your sleep quality.
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- Insomnia. (2022). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/insomnia
- Kaur H, et al. (2023). Chronic insomnia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526136/
- Rossman J. (2019). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia: An effective and underutilized treatment for insomnia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6796223/
- Walker J, et al. (2022). Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I): A primer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10002474/
- Zhou Z-C, et al. (2018). Research progress about the effect and prevention of blue light on eyes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6288536/