There are plenty of over the counter and prescription insomnia treatments. (See Medicinal Insomnia Treatment). However, these insomnia treatments should not be your initial options and should rarely be used for more than a couple of weeks. Instead, you should try the following behavioral insomnia treatment, which is non-invasive and may actually prove superior in treating chronic insomnia.
4 Behavioral Insomnia Treatment Practices
1) Good Sleep Practices – Improving your sleep could be as simple as adopting good sleep practices. These good sleep practices include maintaining a regular sleep/wake routine, avoiding sleep saboteurs, and exercising regularly. (See the How to Sleep Better).
2) Reconditioning – Reconditioning strengthens the link between the bedroom and falling asleep. There are six basic rules:
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy
- Do not nap during the day.
- Use the bed only for sleep and sex; do not eat, read, watch TV in bed.
- If you do not fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and move to another room.
- Do something relaxing until you are sleepy, and then return to bed.
- Set your alarm and get up at that time no matter how much or well you slept.
3) Restricted Sleep – Most people with insomnia spend a lot of time in their bed tossing and turning without actually sleeping. Sleep restriction limits the amount of time you spend in your bed to promote more quality, efficient sleep. The basic steps are as follows:
- Estimate how much sleep you’re getting. Let’s say it’s 5 hours.
- Determine when you need to wake up. If it’s 6:30 A.M. on your first night of sleep restriction, go to bed at 1:30 A.M no matter how sleepy you are before then.
- Once you sleep well for 4-5 days at the 5 hour restricted sleep time, add another 15 minutes, but make sure your sleep doesn’t become fragmented (waking up one or more times during the night).
- If sleep becomes fragmented, take a step back. Remove 15 minutes and wait until sleep is no longer fragmented.
- Repeat the process until you’re up to your desired amount of sleep.
4) Relaxation – It’s hard to fall asleep if your mind is racing. If insomnia is caused by anxiety, stress, or worry, relaxation therapy can help to relax the body and mind before bed. You can perform either Progressive Muscle Relaxation Therapy or Deep Breathing.
- Muscle Relaxation Therapy: Follow these simple steps to perform muscle relaxation.
- Find a place to sit or lie down in a comfortable position
- Take several slow breaths through your nose and exhale with a long sigh through your mouth.
- Begin by focusing on your feet and ankles. Tighten the muscles briefly (5 to 10 seconds) and then relax them.
- Work your way up your body: calves, thighs, hips, pelvic area, lower back, abdomen, middle back, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and forehead.
- Continue to focus on your breathing throughout the process.
- Deep Breathing: Follow these simple steps to perform deep breathing relaxation.
- Lie down on your back with your feet slightly apart. Rest one hand on your midsection and the other on your chest.
- Slowly inhale through your nose making your midsection rise. Pause for one second.
- Gently exhale through your mouth allowing your midsection to fall. Pause for one second.
- Repeat this process for a few minutes.
EMG’s Sleep Homepage: Importance of Sleep
Updated: April 10th, 2015