You should seek help if your insomnia has become a pattern, or if you often feel fatigued or unrefreshed during the day and it interferes with your daily life. Many people have brief periods of difficulty sleeping (for example, a few days after starting a new job), but if insomnia lasts longer or has become a regular occurrence, you should ask for help.
Start by calling your primary care physician or bringing up the topic of sleep at your next well visit if you have one scheduled. If your doctor is knowledgeable about sleep disorders, he or she will guide you through the next steps, which may involve an assessment and further testing, or a referral to a sleep specialist. Your doctor may also start by giving you some basic information and resources about healthy sleep habits—these behavioral tips may help certain people with insomnia—or discussing potential medical treatment options to consider. Your doctor could refer you to a psychotherapist if your sleep struggles seem connected to anxiety, depression, or a major life adjustment.
If you don't feel satisfied after your conversation with your primary care physician, ask for a referral to a doctor who specializes in sleep medicine or consult other available resources. It's important to find a doctor who has the proper knowledge and training to treat your insomnia.
Many cities also have sleep centers and clinics (sometimes connected to a hospital) that offer assessments, testing, and treatment. An Internet search will help you locate the nearest center.
There are psychological and behavioral techniques that can be helpful for treating insomnia. Relaxation training, stimulus control, sleep restriction, and cognitive behavioral therapy are some examples.
Some of these techniques can be self-taught, while for others it's better to enlist the help of a therapist or sleep specialist.
Relaxation training , or progressive muscle relaxation, teaches the person to systematically tense and relax muscles in different areas of the body. This helps to calm the body and induce sleep. Other relaxation techniques that help many people sleep involve breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation techniques