Insomnia

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if these problems occur occasionally, or if you’re anticipating a major event in your life. But if these problems persist for a month or more, see your physician or behavioral sleep medicine expert.

What are the generally recommended methods of treatment?

Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques are usually the first ones recommended because they are effective for a wide variety of causes of insomnia. This approach involves a combination of techniques such as stimulus control instructions, sleep restriction therapy, and addressing the cognitive aspects of sleep problems such as the tendency to worry about insomnia and misconceptions about sleep.

Medications can be effective in many cases. There are many on the market that are safe and effective. Sleeping pills or sedating antidepressant medications vary in how fast they act and the duration of their action. Therefore, choosing the right medication, the dose and timing its administration will depend on the characteristics of the sleep problem.

There are circadian rhythm treatments such as exposure to bright light or the ingestion of melatonin, which reset the body clock to allow you to sleep better at night and function during the day.

For some people, the cause of insomnia is a mood disorder or problems in living, and they may find it helpful to seek psychotherapy where they can talk about these issues. There are psychiatric drugs that are effective in treating mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

The important thing to realize is that you don’t need to suffer from insomnia. There are effective treatments available. Addressing insomnia may take some effort, but it’s well worth it.

-- Arthur J. Spielman, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychology at The City College at the City University of New York. .

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