8 Home Remedies for Insomnia

What else can I do to help sleep through the night?

Certain lifestyle changes may also help reduce your symptoms of insomnia. You may wish to give these a shot before seeking out supplemental or medicinal options.

Tips and tricks

  • Avoid chemicals that disrupt sleep, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Eat lighter meals at night and at least two hours before bed.
  • Stay active, but exercise earlier in the day.
  • Take a hot shower or bath at the end of your day.
  • Avoid screens one to two hours before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool, and try to use it only for sleeping.
  • Get into bed only if you’re tired.
  • Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes.

When to see a doctor

If your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks or worsen, consult your doctor. Persistent insomnia may be the result of an underlying health concern.

This includes:

  • heartburn
  • diabetes
  • asthma
  • arthritis
  • chronic pain
  • thyroid disease
  • cardiovascular disease
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • kidney disease
  • neurological disorders
  • respiratory problems
  • hormonal changes associated with menopause

Prescription and over-the-counter medications may also interfere with sleep quality.

If left untreated, insomnia can increase your risk for:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • heart failure
  • high blood pressure
  • substance abuse

Your doctor can help you to get to the root cause and decide how best to treat the issue.

How is insomnia traditionally treated?

If lifestyle changes aren’t working, your doctor may suggest behavioral therapy.

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy can help you to develop habits that improve the quality of your sleep. Your therapist will work with you over the course of a few months to figure out which thoughts and behaviors are contributing negatively to your sleep patterns.

A cognitive behavioral treatment plan may include:

  • sleep restriction
  • relaxation therapy
  • sleep hygiene education
  • sleep scheduling
  • stimulus control

This usually has better long-term outcomes than medicine alone.

Medication

Sleeping medication should only be used occasionally and for no more than 10 consecutive days.

Over-the-counter options include diphenhydramine, such as in Benadryl, and doxylamine succinate, such as in Unisom SleepTabs.

Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills to be used while you’re adjusting to behavior and lifestyle changes.

Common prescription sleep medicines include:

  • doxepin (Silenor)
  • eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • zolpidem (Ambien)

Learn more: Lunesta vs. Ambien, two short-term treatments for insomnia »

Outlook

In many cases, making positive changes to your lifestyle can relieve insomnia. Infrequent insomnia typically lasts for a few days or weeks. In more severe cases, it can last three months or longer. If your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, consult your doctor.

You may find it beneficial to have plan for what to do when you can’t sleep. You may decide to focus on relaxing in bed without sleeping, move to another room to do something relaxing, or get up and do something more active and productive. Find what works for you.

Keeping a sleep journal may help you identify any factors contributing to your insomnia. Be sure to record your nighttime routine, anything you had to eat or drink, and any medications you may be taking.