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Some people with insomnia have trouble getting to sleep, while others cannot easily sleep through the night. The key to getting insomnia relief is often to determine the underlying cause of the problem, such as too much caffeine or stress. A doctor treating this sleep disorder may recommend lifestyle remedies, such as a change in sleep habits. Medication may also help. Some people may also alleviate this condition with alternative remedies, such as vitamin supplements.
To help diagnose any underlying causes, the doctor will likely question the patient on his medical conditions, medications, and sleep habits, like whether he snores. The patient should disclose any other problems, such as whether he has experienced significant stress, depression, or physical pain. A sleep diary may aid the diagnosis. Patients should keep track of sleep patterns and evaluate daytime wakefulness for a couple of weeks.
If medications are determined to be a possible cause of insomnia, the doctor may recommend switching to a different prescription. Some drugs that may interfere with sleep include those that treat depression, high blood pressure, and allergies. Prescribing a medication to treat existing physical pain may also offer insomnia relief.
Stress can frequently interfere with healthy sleep. If this is the case, a patient may consult with a therapist to address the causes of his stress. Meditation and regular exercise may also help a person cope with this problem.
A change in sleep habits can also offer insomnia relief. People should ensure that their bedroom is a comfortable temperature and has minimal light at bedtime. Many doctors recommend that the room be reserved for bedroom activities only — that is, people should not watch television or work while in bed. White noise, such as that made by a running fan, may also help.
Patients may also develop a new sleep routine for insomnia relief. Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day can help train the body to sleep more readily. Some people also find it helpful to do the same bedtime routine every night. For example, a person may drink a cup of decaffeinated tea or take a warm bath later in the evening.
If changes in habits and treating an underlying condition is insufficient for insomnia relief, a doctor may prescribe medication. Some sleeping pills intended for short-term use include ramelteon, zaleplon, and zolpidem. Patients should be aware of possible side effects, such as night-wandering, allergic reactions, and balance problems.
Some dietary supplements may offer insomnia relief. Melatonin, which is produced naturally by the body, may be helpful in regulating the natural sleep-wake cycle. It is unknown if it is safe to use this supplement for more than three months. Valerian root may also help, however, some studies question its effectiveness. Before taking any alternative remedies, patients should discuss it with a doctor.