Other Products: Insomnia



Everyone experiences difficulty sleeping at some point in life. Chronic insomnia— frequent difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep—can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily routine tasks.

Getting enough sleep each night is vital to one’s overall health and well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 22% of Americans experience insomnia almost every night.

Signs and Symptoms

Although they vary from person to person, common signs and symptoms of insomnia include the following:

  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Awakening too early
  • Not feeling well rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety

Cause/Common Triggers

Insomnia becomes more common with age. The various factors that may contribute to or exacerbate insomnia are classified as psychological, physical, and environmental. Following are some common factors among individuals who experience insomnia:

  • Episodes of stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Alterations in environment, routine, or schedule
  • Certain medical conditions, such as untreated or undiagnosed sleep apnea, arthritis, congestive heart failure, gastric reflux disease, respiratory disorders, psychiatric disorders, nocturia, and restless leg syndrome
  • Use of certain medications
  • Use of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
  • Poor sleep habits

Tests and Diagnosis

Because insomnia can negatively impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily routine tasks, sleep-deprived individuals who experience frequent or chronic episodes of insomnia should consult their doctor.

Your doctor will ask you about your sleep habits and medical and medication history. He or she may also order blood tests to check for certain medical conditions that may cause insomnia and possibly order a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.


  • Prior to retiring, ensure that your sleeping environment is conducive to sleep. Minimize both light and noise, and regulate room temperature for comfort.
  • Establish a bedtime ritual by going to bed at the same time each evening.
  • When possible, avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Practice relaxation techniques prior to retiring for the evening.
  • Avoid the use of any caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol within 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Do not exercise within 2 to 4 hours of bedtime.

Treatment and Care

Treatment for insomnia depends on the cause, so the initial step is to determine the cause, which may be a medical condition or a medication you are taking. Other strategies may include changing your sleep habits, practicing relaxation techniques, and using prescription and nonprescription medications. Your doctor will determine the best treatment for you.

Homeopathic and Alternative Remedies

Many patients who experience insomnia rely on alternative forms of treatment, including herbal remedies and homeopathic medicine. Alternative remedies may include the following:

  • Melatonin
  • Valerian
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation

Patients should always check with a pharmacist or physician before taking any supplements, including herbal and homeopathic remedies, to prevent potentially harmful interactions or contraindications.


Nonprescription drugs marketed for insomnia are indicated for the treatment of transient and short-term sleep disorders in individuals who occasionally have sleep problems. The available formulations include single-entity antihistamine products containing diphenhydramine or doxylamine. To prevent drug interactions or contraindications, it may be helpful to consult with a pharmacist before using any sleep aid.

Resources for Patients

  • National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
  • American Sleep Association
  • National Sleep Foundation

Resources for Health Care Professionals

  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • National Sleep Foundation for Healthcare Professionals
  • National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
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