Insomnia affects about 25% of American adults at some time in their lives, according to 2018 data from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. And many of these people will probably first resort to home remedies for insomnia. From drinking warm milk before bedtime to eliminating electronic light from the bedroom, treating insomnia at home gives you many options. However, doctors tell Bustle that in order for insomnia treatment to be effective, he must have a plan.
"There are many categories of insomnia, which require different treatments," Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist, tells Bustle. Insomnia may occur briefly or in chronic episodes, and may begin in response to stress, a health problem or for no apparent reason. It can also affect different aspects of your sleep, such as falling asleep or falling asleep deeply.
The first way to go if you want to treat insomnia at home, says Dr. Breus, is to educate yourself about what might be happening in your body. "Is it blue light? Is it anxiety? Is it pain? Is it a combination?" he says. Finding the source of your insomnia, if possible, will help you identify an attack plan to treat it. Take notes on the quality of your sleep and any life event that may affect you, use a sleep tracker and see if you can identify what can trigger your episodes of insomnia.
Taking this information directly to the doctor to get medication may be tempting, but it may not be the most useful approach. Your first attempt at treatment should not be medication, says Dr. Breus, particularly if you have not tried any home remedy first. He tells Bustle that many doctors prescribe insomnia pills because there are not enough qualified health professionals with training to treat the condition, and medications can also represent a quick, but not long-term, solution.
However, sleep experts can help you in your search to understand and treat your insomnia at home. Dr. Breus recommends speaking with a qualified psychologist or contacting your local sleep laboratory to request an insomnia expert with accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Proper therapy can also be useful. The World Health Organization recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a treatment for insomnia before medication use, and multiple studies have shown that it is effective. Experts suggest locating a CBT expert with experience in insomnia treatment therapies.
Other homemade techniques should also be explored. "There are many things that people suffering from insomnia can do at home," Dr. Richard Honaker, M.D., a primary care physician at the online medical consultant YourDoctors, told Bustle. "Include exercise during the day and resist the urge to take a nap, and be sure to prepare the scene for sleeping with a cool room that does not include technology screens." It has been shown that blue light and overheated rooms increase wakefulness, so eliminating them can help induce body signals to sleep. It also suggests conscious breathing practices, which were shown to help people with insomnia fall asleep in a 2019 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Experts also suggest avoiding alcohol as an aid to sleep if you have insomnia. Dr. Honaker tells Bustle that reducing alcohol consumption at night should be a key part of his attempts to combat insomnia, even if he believes that alcohol numbs him. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down the functions of your body in the way you feel conducive to sleep, but research shows that it does not improve the quality of sleep.
If you and your doctor decide that sleep aids are necessary to help cure your insomnia, Dr. Breus says it is important to talk with them about how to reduce their use over time as the problem begins to diminish. "I think sleeping medications should be used to break the insomnia cycle, and then decrease them," he says. This will gradually reduce your dependence on the medication and help you sleep well without it.
Taking insomnia at home may seem like a difficult task. However, with the right resources and help, experts tell Bustle that he can be banished from his room forever.
Black DS, O'Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. (2015) Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and deterioration during the day among older adults with sleep disorders: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 175 (4): 494–501. doi: 10.1001 / jamainternmed. 2014.8081
Mitchell, M.D., Gehrman, P., Perlis, M. et al. (2012) Comparative effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: a systematic review. BMC Fam Pract 13,40 doi: 10.1186 / 1471-2296-13-40
Trauer JM, Qian MY, Doyle JS, et al. (2015) Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 63: 191–204. doi: 10.7326 / M14-2841
Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., sleep specialist.
Dr. Richard Honaker, M.D. Primary Care Physician, YourDoctors Online