Pharmacological Treatments Of Insomnia

In many cases, if ordinary measures do not cure insomnia, it means that it is necessary to resort to pharmacological treatments. In this article we will talk about the current alternatives for curing insomnia, their effects and their risks.
Pharmacological Treatments of Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most common conditions and affects a large part of the population. It is helpful to learn about the pharmacological treatments for insomnia, as well as other alternatives.

Insomnia can be defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Sometimes this condition is related to other physical illnesses or psychological or psychiatric problems.

Other times, however, it manifests without any apparent cause. Some of the symptoms that can be included in the term “insomnia” include the following:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • poor quality or unsatisfactory sleep
  • short sleep
  • waking up in the middle of the night
  • fatigue on waking
  • problems during the day related to sleep deprivation, such as:
    • fatigue
    • lack of concentration
    • decreased motivation
    • headache
    • fear

Some experts believe that in order to diagnose insomnia, these problems must last at least a month. However, there are many different classifications and the diagnostic criteria can vary from one individual to another.

According to research, about 30 percent of adults have suffered from insomnia at some stage in their lives. The prevalence of this condition increases significantly with age and is much higher in women than in men. In addition, some risk factors increase the likelihood of insomnia, namely:

  • mood disorders
  • chronic diseases
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • chronic headache
  • menopause

Insomnia is a condition that can affect the patient’s quality of life. In fact, the risk of depression and even heart disease increases in individuals dealing with this sleep disorder.

Types of treatments

In order to determine an appropriate treatment for insomnia, it is vital to get a proper diagnosis and determine its causes or triggers. Sometimes it is very difficult to find out what is causing it, which can lead to misuse of pharmacological treatments for insomnia without justification.

Today, however, there are many resources that can help diagnose this condition more quickly. This process is essential as it determines what type of insomnia the patient is suffering from so that the treatment best suited to their needs can be identified.

The first step in establishing treatment for insomnia should always be to identify the underlying causes, the conditions that may be causing or affecting the sleep disorder.

Treatment should first focus on non-pharmacological measures. We call this sleep hygiene. Some sleep hygiene recommendations include:

  • Maintain a sleep routine. In other words, specific times to go to bed and wake up.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet.
  • Avoid drinking stimulant drinks, such as caffeine or alcohol.
  • Do not eat large amounts of food before going to bed.
  • Avoid using technological devices, such as cell phones or television, before going to bed.
  • Try doing relaxation techniques.
  • Don’t take naps.
A woman sits up in bed in the dark

Pharmacological Treatments of Insomnia

In many cases, sleep hygiene is not enough to remedy this condition and it is vital to resort to pharmacological treatments. However, this type of treatment should only be followed when prescribed by a doctor. Self-medication for insomnia can be very harmful.

Many different drugs are used in the pharmacological treatment of insomnia, such as:

1. Hypnotic

  • Benzodiazepines:
    • Short acting, such as Alprazolam, Lorazepam.
    • Intermediate acting, such as Lormetazepam, clonazepam.
    • Prolonged action, such as Bromazepam, chlorazepam.
  • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, such as zolpidem.

2. Antidepressants

  • Tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Trazodone.
  • Mirtazapine.

3. Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin.

4. H1 antihistamines, such as doxylamine and diphenhydramine.

5. Melatonin and Derivatives.

6. Valerian and other natural products.

A man who lies awake at night

Problems associated with the pharmacological treatment of insomnia

Although the pharmacological treatment of insomnia is effective, it can cause side effects. This has undoubtedly caused great controversy.

For example, benzodiazepines are often associated with effects such as lethargy during the day or rebound insomnia once treatment is discontinued. Some experts also associate their use with memory problems.

These problems can be exacerbated, especially when the patient suffers from other illnesses besides insomnia. However, if a medical professional tries to treat insomnia without investigating or modifying the actual causes, the side effects can be even worse.

In general, it is best to start with non-pharmacological therapies, using more natural products such as melatonin or less problematic drugs such as H1 antihistamines.

In case you have to resort to benzodiazepines, it is best to turn to drugs with a short half-life, such as alprazolam or lorazepam.

If you or someone you know suffers from insomnia, do not hesitate to consult a doctor. He or she can help you and prescribe the treatment that best suits your case and needs.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button