Insomnia Treatment: Non-Pharmacological and Pharmacological Options

Rahul Shivkumar's profile picture
Rahul Shivkumar
Dec 27, 20223 min read

Insomnia Treatment: Non-Pharmacological and Pharmacological Options

At Dawn, our mission is to help you get back to the sleep you deserve. Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling rested. We know, because it’s why we started Dawn. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Insomnia can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being, so it’s important to seek therapy if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping (we can help!). In this article, we will lay out the non-pharmacological (drug-free) and pharmacological (drugs) treatment options for insomnia.

Non-Pharmacological Treatment Options for Insomnia

There are several drug-free approaches that can be effective in treating insomnia, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is an evidence-based therapy approach that treats insomnia by identifying and changing habits and thinking patterns that prevent you from falling asleep. It can include techniques such as stimulus control (establishing a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding screens before bed), relaxation techniques, and cognitive restructuring (challenging negative thoughts about sleep). Our expert, trained Therapists are here to help you through this process in a friendly and personalized way.
  • Sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene involves establishing healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help to calm the mind and promote sleep.

Treatment Involving Drugs for Insomnia

If non-pharmacological approaches are not sufficient in treating insomnia, pharmacological interventions may be considered. These can include:

  • Sleep medications: There are several types of sleep medications that can be used to treat insomnia, including benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, and melatonin agonists. Benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam and temazepam, are fast-acting and can be effective in promoting sleep. However, they can be habit-forming and may cause side effects such as dizziness and memory impairment. Non-benzodiazepines, such as trazodone, zolpidem and zopiclone, are also fast-acting and have a lower risk of dependence and side effects compared to benzodiazepines. Melatonin agonists, such as ramelteon and tasimelteon, are medications that mimic the effects of the hormone melatonin, which helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. They are generally well-tolerated but may cause side effects such as dizziness and nausea.
  • Melatonin supplements: Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body and helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements can be used to help improve sleep in people with insomnia, particularly those with disrupted sleep-wake cycles due to shift work or jet lag. Melatonin supplements are generally well-tolerated but may cause side effects such as dizziness and nausea. Always look for a reputable, 3rd-party tested company.
  • Another over-the-counter sleep medication to consider is Dyphenhydramine, a sedating anti-histamine.
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To finish, keep in mind that insomnia is a common sleep disorder. While it can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being, it is also treateable. Both non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches can be effective in treating it, and the best approach will depend on you. Schedule a session with a Dawn Sleep Therapist today and get your personalized plan.


Rahul Shivkumar's profile picture
Rahul Shivkumar

Software Engineer & Sleep Enthusiast

It’s time to stop blaming the night monsters.

Let’s work together to transform your sleep for the better.