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How can I treat my insomnia?

Insomnia can affect daily activities, including motivation, road safety, interpersonal relationships, judgement and performance. When suffering from insomnia, it is common for people to resort to taking sleeping tablets, or other medication to provide some relief. However, these drugs don’t address the underlying problem and they can have unpleasant side effects. They can also become less effective over time. Pharmacological therapy (treating the problem with medication) is generally not recommended for the long-term management of insomnia

In the UK, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advise against drug intervention for episodes of insomnia lasting more than four weeks, and instead recommend the use of psychological treatments. In particular, the most widely recommended treatment for insomnia is a special type of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia – CBTi.

CBTi is different to other forms of CBT that you might have heard about or tried in the past. It’s safe, effective and supported by over 30 years of sleep science.

Sleepstation is an online CBTi programme and our online version is just as effective as clinic-based psychological therapy. Sleepstation’s online sleep improvement programme can effectively resolve even the most chronic insomnia, with long-lasting benefits for the patient and fewer side effects than medication (pharmacological interventions). In fact, Sleepstation is clinically proven to be more effective than pharmacological therapy.

In the US, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also recommend referring to a psychology specialist for cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia.

NICE recommendations are as follows:

  • Manage any underlying cause of insomnia where possible.
  • Advise the person not to drive if they feel sleepy.
  • Refer to psychological services IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) for a cognitive or behavioural intervention.
  • Advise good sleep hygiene and regular exercise in addition to cognitive and behavioural interventions.
  • Pharmacological therapy is generally not recommended for the long-term management of insomnia.

What can I do to help myself?

There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night’s sleep if you have insomnia. These include:

  • setting regular times for going to bed and waking up.
  • following a bedtime routine.
  • making sure that your bedroom environment is dark, cool and quiet.
  • avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise close to bedtime.
  • avoiding using bright screens close to bedtime.
  • not napping during the day.
  • writing a list of your worries and any ideas about how to solve them before going to bed, to help you forget about them until morning.

If you’ve tried all of this and you’re still struggling to sleep then you might need our help to tackle the problem. Start by answering a few questions to find out how we can help.

The following treatments aren’t normally recommended for insomnia, because it’s not clear how effective they are and they can sometimes cause side effects:

  • Antidepressants (unless you also have depression)
  • Chloral Hydrate
  • Clomethiazole
  • Barbiturates
  • Herbal Remedies, such as Valerian Extract
  • Complementary and alternative therapies, such as Acupuncture, Hypnotherapy and Reflexology.

Further information

What would happen if you didn’t sleep?
It’s estimated that 30% of adults across the developed world are regularly sleep-deprived…

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