The treatment of insomnia depends on the precipitating factors: relief of pain, control of anxiety and depression, treatment of dyspnea and nocturnal urination, control of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux, etc.
In any case, to treat sleep disorders it is necessary to carry out the so-called sleep hygiene, that is, a series of tips to achieve an effective and restful sleep.
Tips to avoid sleep disorders
- Avoid heavy meals shortly before bedtime. On the other hand, you should not go to bed hungry either.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, tea, and chocolate at least 6 hours before sleeping.
- Avoid drinking alcohol shortly before bedtime. While it may initially make you sleepy, alcohol keeps your brain in a shallow and unrefreshing sleep.
- Avoid nicotine at night. This includes both tobacco and smoking cessation systems like nicotine patches. Nicotine is a stimulant, like caffeine. Smokers often have trouble sleeping because the length of a good night’s sleep is longer than their bodies want to endure without a cigarette and they wake up early due to a lack of nicotine.
- Exercise in the early hours of the day, on a regular basis; avoid it right before going to sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (do not take naps or, in any case, make sure they do not last more than 30 minutes).
- Use the bed only for sleeping or sexual activity.
- Don’t turn your time in bed into a time to solve your problems. Make a list of the things to do the next day and then try to put them out of your mind.
- If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity like reading or listening to music.
- Get just enough sleep to be rested and clear the next day. Limit presence in bed to a maximum of 8 hours.
- Make sure that the bedroom is quiet and without excess light, with a comfortable temperature. It is advisable to sleep in a comfortable bed and with suitable pajamas, which do not constrict and do not hinder movements.
- Don’t try too hard to try to sleep; If after about 30 minutes of being in bed you are unable to fall asleep, get up and do some relaxing activity such as reading, taking a warm shower or listening to music until you feel sleepy again. Avoid constantly looking at what time the clock shows.
- Limit your fluid intake before going to bed to avoid waking up at night to go to the bathroom.
Only when the above has not been successful will drug treatments be used to alleviate sleep disorders , and always under prescription and medical supervision.
Taking benzodiazepines with a short half-life or other drugs, in addition to being carried out at the lowest possible dose, will be prescribed only in the case of transient or short-term sleep disorders, or short-term in chronic insomnia, intermittently, as long-term use of such treatments can lead to drug dependencies and worsen problems falling asleep and staying asleep.