Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Insomnia treatment

Most people are able to revert to normal sleep by changing their sleep habits and addressing any insomnia-inducing factors, such as stress and medications. If self-care doesn’t work, healthcare providers may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)19 or prescribe medications to help you fall and stay asleep.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia

CBT is usually recommended before medication as a treatment for insomnia. This form of therapy typically works as effectively as sleep medications (and, in some cases, even better). CBT involves learning ways to manage the conditions that keep you awake, such as worrying thoughts and stimulating activities. CBT can also help you change beliefs that may contribute to your inability to sleep, such as “I’ll never get enough sleep.”

Some strategies used in CBT include:

  • Stimulus control therapy to recondition your mind to welcome sleep at appropriate times
  • Relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and control breathing, heartbeat, muscle tension, and mood
  • Sleep restriction to induce sleep by limiting the amount of time spent in bed
  • Paradoxical intention to reduce the worry associated with not being able to fall asleep
  • Light therapy to reset the biological clock (circadian rhythm)

Insomnia medication

Prescription medication for insomnia (or “sleeping pills”) can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. While healthcare providers typically don’t recommend relying on prescription sleeping pills to treat your insomnia for more than a few weeks, several medications for the condition have been approved for long-term use.

Your provider may prescribe the following medications for insomnia:

May be prescribed

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Over-the-counter medication for insomnia

While some OTC medications may help temporarily improve the signs and symptoms of insomnia, they are not intended for regular use. This is because they contain antihistamines, which may cause a number of unwanted side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness during the day, confusion, difficulty urinating, and cognitive decline.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.