When suffering from insomnia, it is common for people to resort to taking sleeping tablets, or other medication to provide some relief. However, these drugs don't address the underlying problem and they can have unpleasant side effects. They can also become less effective over time.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advise against drug intervention for episodes of insomnia lasting more than 4 weeks, and instead recommend the therapeutic treatment which is used in Sleepstation - CBTi (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia). Their recommendations are as follows:
- Manage any underlying cause of insomnia where possible.
- Advise the person not to drive if they feel sleepy
- Refer to psychological services IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) for a cognitive or behavioural intervention.
- Advise good sleep hygiene and regular exercise in addition to cognitive and behavioural interventions.
- Pharmacological therapy is generally not recommended for the long-term management of insomnia.
There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night's sleep if you have insomnia. These include:
- setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
- following a bedtime routine
- making sure that your bedroom environment is dark, cool and quiet.
- avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise close to bedtime
- avoiding using bright screens close to bedtime
- not napping during the day
- writing a list of your worries and any ideas about how to solve them before going to bed, to help you forget about them until morning.
If you're still struggling to sleep, and want to find out if you might have insomnia, take our free sleep assessment.
The following treatments aren't normally recommended for insomnia, because it's not clear how effective they are and they can sometimes cause side effects:
- antidepressants (unless you also have depression)
- chloral hydrate
- herbal remedies, such as valerian extract
- complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, hypnotherapy and reflexology.