Understand Sleep Disorders- Psychological strategies and medications are the two treatment options for sleep disorder. Doctor select the treatment option depending upon the type of disorder.
Sleep problems or sleep disorders are not uncommon, but many people with sleep disorder do not seek any treatment. Consulting a sleep specialist can help identify the root cause of a sleep problem and get you treated appropriately to improve your sleep, health, and quality of life.
Treatment depends on the specific type of sleep disorder, which a person has and may include both psychological strategies and medications, but there are some common principles of treatment of sleep disorders. Following are some of the strategies for the treatment of sleep disorders that are undertaken only after medical problems as the cause of the sleep disorder have been ruled out.
Good sleep hygiene (habits)
These are practices you can adopt to help you sleep better.
- Have a scheduled bedtime and try to wake up at the same time every morning (even on weekends) regardless of the amount of sleep you indulge in at night.
- Avoid taking naps in the daytime.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid any stressful activity and vigorous exercise for about two hours before your sleep time.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation before sleeping.
- Make your bedroom comfortable (dark, quiet, and cool)—if needed use earplugs or eye masks for sleeping.
- If you can’t sleep, avoid lying awake in the bed. Leave the bedroom and go into another room and do something relaxing and quiet (such as read a book) and return when sleepy.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, coffee, tea, soft drinks, or diet pills before bedtime.
There are several kinds of medications, one of which is a sleeping pill that can be be prescribed or bought over-the-counter and can help you sleep better; but most of these medications can get addictive or become a habit and can also cause several side effects due to regular usage. Therefore, avoid using medications without consulting your doctor.
Sleeping pills are useful for short-term use such as during an overnight airplane ride, jet lag, or when you are in a crisis. These can probably prevent an acute problem from turning into chronic insomnia. Doctors do not recommend the use of sleeping pills for chronic insomnia and even if used, it should be brief. Most long-term users have some medical problem such as generalised anxiety disorder or a chronic physical illness worsened by anxiety such as arthritis and heart disease.
Benzodiazepines are hypnotics and sedatives that are used to induce drowsiness. Diazepam (Valium) and temazepam (Restoril) are some of the benzodiazepines that are used as sedatives. Long-term use, however, should be avoided as they become ineffective within a few weeks because of tolerance. Zolpidem (Ambien) and some preparations containing antihistamines are also used as sedatives. In people with sleep disorders due to depression, antidepressant drugs that double up as sedatives such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and trazodone (Desyrel) are often prescribed. Antipsychotic drugs (neuroleptics) can help to induce sleep in anxious, hallucinating manic or schizophrenic patients.
Your doctor will recommend treatment based on your sleep disorder. Do not take any medication without consulting your doctor for sleep related problems and inform your physician about all your medications (over-the-counter and prescribed medications).
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