Table of contents:
- 1. Sleep Hygiene
- 2. Behavioral therapy
- 3. Relaxation Therapy
- 4. Alternative treatments
- When to use medication
Sleep therapy is made from a set of treatments that exist to stimulate sleep and improve insomnia or sleep difficulties. Some examples of these treatments are performing sleep hygiene, behavior change or relaxation therapies, which can help re-educate the body to sleep at the right time and have restorative sleep.
Treating insomnia is essential to regulate the body's hormone levels, recharge energies and improve brain function. However, it should be remembered that the use of medication, such as anxiolytics, should only be used when indicated by the doctor, due to the risk of side effects such as dependence and falls.
The main forms of sleep therapy are:
1. Sleep Hygiene
This method consists of changing day-to-day behaviors that impair sleep, avoiding sleepiness during the day, as they re-educate the body to have restorative sleep.
The main ways to perform sleep hygiene are:
- Sleep in a quiet place, without noise, and that it is dark, so that the body can relax, avoiding awakenings throughout the night;
- Create a routine, to educate the body to sleep and wake up always at the same times, avoiding sleeping during the afternoon, so that you can rest well at night;
- Perform physical activity during the day, as exercise is excellent for regulating hormones that improve sleep, however it should not be done at night because the body's stimulation can last a few hours and make it difficult to sleep;
- Eat light foods so that the body does not spend too much energy on digestion, in addition to avoiding smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages or stimulants after dark;
- Do not watch television,stay on your cell phone or computer before bed;
- Avoid using the bed for activities other than sleeping, such as studying, eating or staying on the phone.
In this way, the body is conditioned to feel sleepy at night, as good sleep habits are encouraged. Learn more about sleep hygiene and how many hours you should sleep a night for your age.
2. Behavioral therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a set of techniques to correct behaviors and attitudes that lead to insomnia, such as keeping a sleep diary, in which the person writes down sleeping and waking times, how often they woke up or what thoughts have when you have insomnia.This way it is easier to identify what may be influencing the sleep alteration.
On the other hand, sleep restriction therapy is a method that proposes that the person stays in bed only during the sleep period. In this way, it is avoided to lie down without sleeping for more than 30 minutes, being preferable to get up, do other activities and go back to bed when sleep returns.
In addition, there are programs known as Mindfulness, which are forms of group psychotherapy, consisting of weekly meetings to perform exercises, such as meditation, body and concentration exercises to solve chronic problems such as stress, depression and insomnia.
Psychotherapy is also a good way to treat insomnia, because it helps to resolve internal conflicts associated with this problem, and is very useful for children, especially those with hyperactivity or autism.
3. Relaxation Therapy
Some relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, massage, and reflexology help to improve physical and mental tension that may be leading to lack of sleep.
4. Alternative treatments
Despite little scientific evidence, alternative therapies can bring good benefits for the treatment of insomnia for many people, and may even make the use of medication unnecessary.
Plant-based treatments in powder, capsules or teas, such as chamomile, valerian or lemon balm, for example, are natural methods to increase relaxation and fight insomnia but should preferably be used with knowledge from the doctor.
Acupuncture is another technique that stimulates points on the body, which help to rebalance the body's energy and reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia, for example.
Orthomolecular therapy is another alternative form, which promises to treat hormonal or chemical imbalances in the body, from the replacement of vitamins and minerals.In the case of insomnia, it is important to maintain levels of magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin B3 and niacin, so that there is an adequate production of serotonin and melatonin, substances related to well-being and sleep. See the list of foods rich in tryptophan.
Phototherapy is also a type of treatment that consists of regular exposure to light, through special lamps, which help in the treatment of insomnia.
Check out some science-backed tricks to sleep better:
When to use medication
When sleep therapy does not bring results, it may be necessary to use medication, which can be antidepressants, such as Sertraline, Trazodone or Mirtazapine, for example, or anxiolytics, such as Clonazepam or Lorazepam, prescribed by the general practitioner, neurologist or psychiatrist.
Medication should be the last option, or used when there are neurological problems associated with insomnia, due to its ability to cause dependence.
These treatments help sleep and prevent the person from going without sleep for a long time, which can cause several he alth problems, because during sleep the brain reorganizes itself, regulates hormones and replenishes brain and muscle energy.
The amount of sleep needed can vary, but it is usually between 7 or 8 hours a night. In addition to the treatments mentioned, paying attention to food to stimulate sleep is also important.