How is insomnia treated?

Acute insomnia may not require treatment. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits (see below). If your insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, your healthcare provider may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time. Rapid onset, short-acting medicines can help you avoid effects such as drowsiness the following day. Some medicines may be less effective after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term safety and effectiveness have not yet been established. Avoid using over-the-counter sleeping pills for insomnia.

Treatment for chronic insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing insomnia. If insomnia continues, your healthcare provider may suggest behavioral therapy. Behavioral approaches help you to change behaviors that may worsen insomnia and to learn new behaviors to promote sleep. Behavior therapy is commonly used to treat psychophysiological insomnia. Other techniques such as relaxation exercises, biofeedback, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning can be tried. Although these techniques require some effort and take time to work, they do provide a means of coping with insomnia that helps people return to more normal sleep patterns.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/15/2015.


  • Avidan, Alon Y; Zee, Phyllis C. Handbook of Sleep Medicine. 1st edition. Philadephia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. May 2006.
  • Foldvary-Schaefer N. The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. New York: Kaplan Publishing, 2009
  • American Sleep Association: Insomnia
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Insomnia

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