Insomnia treatments – a world that can be hard to navigate, to say the least! There are so many solutions on offer out there, so many people ready to give their advice… finding an effective solution can be hard. In this article, we take you through an objective look at all the insomnia treatments and solutions out there so you can go out into the world, informed and ready to tackle your insomnia.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: CBT-I
We decided to start this guide with the most effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is recognized as the most effective insomnia treatment by the medical community. Traditionally performed face-to-face with a therapist, recent years have seen a rise in digital CBT-I. A standard course of CBT-I lasts around 6-8 weeks and its main goal is to break the vicious insomnia cycle by addressing the thoughts and behaviours linked to bad sleep, then helping you restructure your sleep and put in place new habits for lasting better sleep with exercises like sleep consolidation and stimulus control. But that may still seem a little theoretical, we’ve dedicated an entire series to CBT-I that explains everything you need to know.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: Sleeping pills
Around 9 million Americans are taking prescription medication to help them sleep per year. Sleeping pills are the main port of call for insomnia sufferers, prescribed by doctors and providing short term, immediate relief. Beyond the fact that sleeping pills are a quick fix, not really working on insomnia with any real depth, the risks and dangers associated are multiple and significant. Here’s a quick run-down of some statistics and studies:
- Addiction: 30% of overdoses involve commonly-prescribed sleeping pills.
- Increased mortality risk: A two-fold increased risk of mortality.
- Degraded sleep quality: Sleeping pills have been shown to modify sleep architecture and diminish deep sleep.
- Increased risk of cancer: Shown to be 35% higher for users of benzodiazepines in a US study.
- Alzheimer’s: The risk of Alzheimer’s increases with the length of exposure to benzodiazepines.
- Drowsy driving: Sleeping pills have been shown to increase the risk of a road accident by 40%.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: Melatonin
Perhaps due to the dangers of sleeping pills becoming more widely known, melatonin has, in recent years, seen a rise in popularity.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain that contributes to your sleep-wake cycle which tells you when to sleep and wake up. The body produces more melatonin in the evening and at night and levels drop when it’s time to wake up.
Studies show very mixed results on the efficacy of melatonin especially for the treatment of chronic insomnia. And it’s also worth mentioning that like sleeping pills it does nothing to tackle underlying issues behind insomnia. Addressing these issues gives the insomnia patient more autonomy in handling their own sleep moving forward.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: Homeopathy
Lavender, lemon balm, verbena, orange blossom, chamomile, lime-flower, hops… the list goes on. Herbal teas, essential oils- there is a ton of homeopathic options that are supposedly insomnia solutions. Do they work? Well, no.
But it’s worth talking about the psychological benefits of taking actions. Installing a sleep-friendly environment and creating an evening routine are an important part of healthy sleep and are topics covered in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. Homeopathy, when used in this context in the shape of herbal tea or lavender essential oil in a diffuser, can have a positive effect on sleep or in the very least don’t do any harm. But to call homeopathy in itself an insomnia treatment or solution is a stretch.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: Meditation/ Sophrology
As we mentioned in our last article, stress and anxiety play major roles in insomnia. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and sophrology can provide relief and help the brain unwind before bedtime, marking a cut-off point of the stresses of the day and sleep time. In fact, these tools play an important role in CBT-I, teaching the patient coping strategies to manage their stress in the long-term.
Insomnia treatments and solutions: Acupuncture
In China, insomnia is commonly treated with acupuncture. Studies have shown acupuncture to have an effect on insomnia when measured subjectively. What’s more, acupuncture has been shown to increase the production of aminobutyric acid, the neurotransmitter that people with primary insomnia have less of. Larger-scale, more detailed trials are needed to investigate the efficacy of this treatment.
Insomnia treatments and solution: Hypnosis
Say hypnosis and images of people who believe they’re a chicken clucking on stage or swinging pocket watches are immediately conjured up. The truth is a lot less sinister! Hypnosis is a therapeutic tool used for the treatment of insomnia, in which you listen to verbal cues from the hypnotist to lull you into a trance-like state of relaxation. Once in this hypnotic state, you are more receptive to behavior-modifying messages. If you’re interested in hypnosis, be ready to pay for several sessions out of your own pocket. Large-scale studies of the effectiveness of hypnosis on insomnia are lacking but clinical trials do show promise.
Hypnosis has also shown to work well when partnered with CBT-I, as they both emphasize the behavioral patterns behind insomnia.
What Dreem can do?
Like CBT-I, the Dreem 2 solution aims to address the thinking and actions behind problematic sleep. By using exercises like sleep consolidation, stimulus control, relaxation therapy and sleep hygiene advice which are personalized in function the headband wearer’s objective sleep data, Dreem 2 is able to provide effective help for people looking to improve their sleep.