What do you do to help you sleep?  (Photo credit: schnappischnap)

When it comes to treating sleep disorders, there is no one size fits all solution.  As with most other medical conditions, the treatment plan that is right for one person will be based around the sleep disorder they have been diagnosed with and other factors specific to the person being treated.  Just like any medical problem, diagnosis and treatment recommended and monitored by a medical professional are the keys to overcoming the challenges posed by sleep disorders.

There are, however, some types of treatment that go across many different sleep disorders.    Here are 4 of the most common.


1.     Medication

Based on information provided by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the most common treatment of all the major sleep disorders, with the exception of Sleep Apnea, is medication.  While the type of medication used to treat the various disorders differs, the use of medication in conjunction with other types of treatment is very common.  Here are the major sleep disorders that use medication as a primary treatment option and a brief explanation of each.

  • Insomnia –The type of medication used to treat this disorder are called hypnotics and they induce sleep and can also help people remain asleep.
  • Narcolepsy – Stimulant medications are used to help decrease the effects of daytime sleepiness while antidepressants are used to combat other narcolepsy symptoms like cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hypnogogic hallucinations.  People with narcolepsy are also often prescribed medication to help induce sleep to improve the overall quality of their sleep.
  • Periodic Limb Movement – Medication is effective in treating this disorder but is generally only used when it is accompanied by another disorder.
  • REM Behavior Disorder – Medication like Clonazepam is almost always effective at eliminating this disorder and when it is not, other medications can be used to control behavior.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – There are medications specifically created to treat RLS that can be used in addition to other medications that have been shown to alleviate RLS symptoms.
  • Sleepwalking – Medications like sedatives and anti-depressants may be effective at treating sleepwalking.


2.     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Many sleep disorders are closely connected to a pattern of behavior which is why cognitive behavioral therapy is a common treatment used to help people learn to manage several different sleep disorders.  Therapy is commonly used to treat insomnia and narcolepsy, but may be used to help people with other sleep disorders develop coping strategies and deal with the emotional and social consequences of having a sleep disorder.


 3.     Sleep Hygiene and Sleep Routines

Almost everyone who has been diagnosed with a sleep disorder can benefit from practicing good sleep hygiene and developing routines that are supportive of getting the sleep they need.  Some sleep disorders, like insomnia, can cause anxiety about sleep which can be managed by having a good routine in place.  Sleepwalkers have also shown improvement in symptoms by practicing good sleep hygiene.  For some sleep disorders, like narcolepsy, developing a supportive sleep routine may include things like scheduled naps.


4.     Relaxation, Meditation, and Exercise

The symptoms of several sleep disorders including insomnia and RLS can be minimized in some people by using relaxation techniques, practicing yoga, meditating, and using guided imagery exercises.  Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality in people without sleep disorders when done early in the day and it can be used to help those with insomnia get more sleep and reduce stress.


About Valley Sleep Center:

Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients.  Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems.  They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare.  For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900;


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