Sunday 13 December 2009, 23:01

Insomnia: how to get relief from it

An overview on the possible remedies for insomnia

Insomnia: how to get relief from it

Insomnia is a widespread condition that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. This sleep disorder may range from acute to chronic and from mild to severe. Moreover it may be primary in origin (primary insomnia) or, more frequently, may be the symptom of a underlying problem (secondary insomnia).


Insomnia may affect all daily activities and cause serious problems. Consequences of insomnia include: excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, impaired cognition (such as poor concentration and memory), anxiety, depression or irritability. It is therefore important to treat insomnia in order to avoid the symptoms and problems related to this sleep disorder.


Short-term insomnia may be effectively treated by changing lifestyle. Caffeine, tobacco and other stimulants should not be taken too close to bedtime. Heavy meals, too much alcohol and vigorous exercise should be avoided before going to bed. Pleasant bedtime routines (such as reading a book, taking a hot bath, listening to soft music) may help to relax and ease the transition from being awake to being asleep.


Long-term insomnia (often accompanied by daytime anxiety) may be effectively treated by cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is helpful for getting relief from both anxiety and insomnia, by helping patients to learn good sleep habits, to relax at bedtime and relieve sleep anxiety. CBT may also involve talking with a skilled therapist once a week for a couple of months. Therapeutic support may involve either individual or group sessions.


Patients with insomnia may benefit from taking prescription medicines or over-the-counter products. The last include melatonin, tryptophan supplements, magnesium supplements, valerian teas or extracts and lime herbal teas. But most importantly, if insomnia is secondary in origin, the underlying disorder has to be identified and properly treated as well.


By Chiara De Carli

Category: Health

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