The first step in treating insomnia is to find out whether the problem is being caused by an underlying medical condition. If it is, once the condition has been treated, your insomnia may disappear without the need for further medical help.
Good sleep hygiene
Your GP will be able to advise you about what you can do at home to help you sleep. This is known as good sleep hygiene and includes:
- Establishing fixed times for going to bed and waking up (try to avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep)
- Trying to relax before going to bed
- Maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright)
- Avoiding napping during the day
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late at night
- Avoiding exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise in the middle of the day is beneficial)
- Avoiding eating a heavy meal late at night
- Avoiding watching or checking the clock throughout the night
If you have long-term insomnia (lasting more than four weeks) your GP may prescribe a short course of sleeping tablets for immediate relief or to manage a particularly bad period of insomnia; however, they aren’t recommended for long-term use. He/she may also suggest a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or Hypnotherapy or a combination of the two.
Insomniacs generally respond very well to hypnotherapy. A hypnotherapist can create a programme of personalised treatment that identifies sleeping patterns and teaches self-management techniques which make a big difference not just to how long you sleep but the quality of sleep you enjoy.
Research shows that hypnosis combined with cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for insomnia.