People with insomnia commonly present with difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, waking up early in the morning, and/or having unrefreshing sleep. It will be good to figure out the factors that contribute to your poor sleep and tackle those factors, rather than resort to taking a sleeping pill as a quick solution.
Common causes of problems with falling asleep include:
- excessive caffeine intake
- late night activities and exercise
- lack of exercise in the daytime
- too little time for unwinding at night
- anticipatory anxiety (e.g., the next day you need to go for an important job interview).
If you have difficulty maintaining sleep, the common reasons could be:
- snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
- need to urinate at night
- anxiety and depression
- alcohol intake
If you have a tendency to wake up early in the morning, the following could be possible explanations:
- advanced sleep phase syndrome (which happens in the elderly, where the person sleeps too early and wakes up in the early hours of the morning).
If you're regularly having trouble either falling or staying asleep, make an appointment with your family physician or psychiatrist. Treatment depends on eliciting the factors that precipitate and maintain your insomnia.
Behavior changes learned through cognitive behavioral therapy are generally the best treatment for persistent insomnia. Sleeping on a regular schedule, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine and daytime naps, and keeping stress in check also are likely to help. But there are times when the addition of prescription sleeping pills may help you get some much-needed rest.
The following two medicines are commonly used in the treatment of insomnia:
Circadin- prolonged-release formulation of melatonin; this has to be prescribed by a doctor
Trazodone- a sedating antidepressant that is used to help people with insomnia; it is not habit-forming.