Symptoms and Signs of Insomnia Medication

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/8/2021

Doctor's Notes on Insomnia Medication

Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both that results in inadequate sleep; the problems are the signs and symptoms of insomnia. Transient insomnia lasts less than 3 weeks (usual is 1 week) while chronic insomnia lasts more than 6 months. Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint and is itself a symptom associated with variety of medical, psychiatric and sleep disorders.

There are many potential direct and associated causes of transient and chronic insomnia. For example, any short-term or chronic stress can trigger insomnia, mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar and others are associated with insomnia, older people (due to medical illnesses, social stressors) have a higher rate of insomnia, hormonal changes (more often in women), long distance travel (jet lag) and night shift workers are associated with an increased risk of insomnia. There are many other potential risk factors.

What Are the Treatments for Insomnia?

Treatments vary from behavior therapy to include prescription medications. Some patients may require combination therapy. The first line treatments are as follows:

  • Sleep modification at home
    • Stress reduction
    • Reduce activity a few hours before bedtime.
    • Regular bedtime schedule
    • Relaxation with biofeedback like slower breathing
    • Light therapy like doing activities when it is evening but still light out
    • Avoid or change medications that stimulate wakefulness. Address this action with your doctor before you act.
  • Medications to help get to and/or remain asleep (Caution: Doctors usually prescribe these for short times [weeks], and some patients may abuse the drugs as they can be habit-forming.)

You and your doctor can devise a treatment plan best for your condition.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.