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Tossing and turning during the night or having trouble falling asleep can make you sleepy and grouchy during the day. You may have tried some things to help your insomnia that haven't worked. The good news is that there are many treatments to help you sleep better. But first it helps to know the reason why you don't sleep well. If you have a medical problem, such as chronic pain, or an emotional problem, such as stress or depression, treating that problem may help you sleep better.
Treatment options for insomnia
Treatment options include behavior and lifestyle changes, medicines, and complementary medicines.
Behavior and lifestyle changes
Getting ready for bed means more than turning down the sheets. Sleep experts know that there are many things that affect how well you sleep. Behavior and lifestyle changes improve overall sleep quality and the time it takes to fall asleep—without the side effects of sleep medicines. Perhaps most important, these improvements last over time.
To improve your sleep, here are some things you can try:
In some cases, taking sleeping pills for a short time helps you get some rest, while behavior and lifestyle changes can help you over the long term. Doctors recommend taking sleep medicines only now and then or only for a short time. They are not the first choice for treating chronic insomnia.
This advice about medicines applies to everyone, but especially to older adults. Anyone can become dependent on sleep medicines, and these medicines can affect how well older people think during and after long-term use.1
Many sleep medicines cause side effects, such as low blood pressure, anxiety, and nausea. These medicines also may become less effective when your body gets used to them and may cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them.
Sleep medicines include:
To help you decide if you should use sleeping pills to treat insomnia, see:
Other treatments for insomnia may include complementary and alternative medicines. Two of the most popular alternative medicines are:
Don't rely on alcohol
Some people use alcohol to help them sleep, but that's not a good idea. At first, drinking alcohol may make you sleepy and help you fall asleep. But when you drink alcohol, you are more likely to wake up later in the night and have a hard time falling back asleep. This can leave you feeling tired the next day.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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