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Making behavior and lifestyle changes can improve your overall sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster. These changes don’t have the side effects that sleep medicines can cause. And the improvements last longer over time.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a type of therapy specifically used for insomnia. It can help improve your sleep patterns until you’re able to get more quality sleep.
One part of CBT-I is learning to have good sleep hygiene, which includes getting rid of distractions in your room and keeping a consistent sleep schedule. You also focus on goals such as:
Changing thoughts and behaviors that interfere with good sleep.
Creating a sleep schedule that gradually helps you sleep more over time.
You can work with a therapist who helps you identify and change thoughts and behaviors that keep you from getting good sleep.
Making simple lifestyle changes may help you sleep better. These may include:
Changing your sleep area or schedule. Keep regular bedtimes and wake times every day, and try not to nap during the day.
Avoiding big meals or too much fluid later in the evening.
Avoiding alcohol before bed. Drinking alcohol may make you sleepy. But when you drink alcohol, you are more likely to wake up later in the night and have a hard time falling back asleep.
Doing relaxation exercises. For example, you can try progressive muscle relaxation. This may help if you lie in bed with your mind racing.
Behavior and lifestyle changes can best help you improve your sleep over the long term. In some cases, though, taking sleeping pills for a short time can help you sleep. Doctors recommend taking sleep medicines only now and then or only for a short time. They are not the first choice for treating ongoing (chronic) insomnia.
Your doctor may recommend prescription or nonprescription sleep medicines. Or you may take other medicines that can help you relax and fall asleep, such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants.
Many sleep medicines cause side effects, such as low blood pressure, anxiety, and nausea. These medicines also may become less effective when your body gets used to them. They may cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them.
Complementary medicines are sometimes used to treat insomnia. They include dietary supplements, such as melatonin or valerian.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.