In many cases, struggling to get to sleep at night can lead people to medication and GP approved treatments. Some of the more popular methods for using medication to treat insomnia include sleeping tablets and hypnotics, as well as benzodiazepines, which act as tranquilisers. Some Z medicines can also be used to induce a sleep state, and include melatonin. However, there are many other options that you can pursue to get a good night’s sleep, which include cognitive behavioural therapy, changes to your sleep routine, and investments in new beds and mattresses.
In terms of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), therapists can work with you to explore the root causes behind your insomnia; it may be linked to particular types of stress, as well as to persistent negative associations between your bedroom and sleep. CBT can consequently work to reestablish positive connections between you and your sleeping patterns, and can be combined with stress reducing activities like yoga or reflexology.
Other methods can be developed in consultation with your GP and sleep clinics; some of the approaches that might be tested include adjusting your sleeping routine in dramatic ways, as well as your environment. Poor habits like sleeping in or staying up late can be targeted, as can avoiding eating meals late at night, and cutting down on caffeine or alcohol before you go to bed. Building a regular exercise regime can also help, in this respect.
Your sleeping environment can similarly be changed to try to encourage healthier sleeping patterns; this can involve fitting new blinds and curtains, which can block out streetlights and the sun if you’re having problems sleeping through the night. Ear plugs can also be effective, as can making sure that your bedroom isn’t getting mixed up with other activities like watching television, eating or playing on your computer.
Other methods for improving your insomnia without having to resort to medication can involve changing the thickness and weight distribution of your mattress; extra soft mattresses with support for your back can also be a good idea, as can experimenting with different thicknesses of sheets, and with materials for your bedding. It may be the case that you’re using duvets and sheets that are too thick for the season, making it difficult to get comfortable.
Exploring these methods, and consulting with your GP and sleep clinics, can consequently represent a great alternative to medication. If you do persist with medication for sleep problems, you may find that you’re experiencing frequent side effects that make it difficult to break patterns of behaviour. General sluggishness, nausea, and loss of appetite might be some of the symptoms that build up around medicated sleep treatment. While it may be that you can use medication for short term sleep problems, making positive changes to your routine and outlook on sleeping is recommended in the long term.
Rosette is a freelance writer who’s had experience of dealing with sleep problems.