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The Ultimate Guide to Insomnia Treatment

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Once you know you have a sleep disorder like insomnia, it can be treated in many different ways.

Researchers are trying to find more effective treatments all the time as we understand the root of sleep problems better.

I’ve summarized some of the most popular treatment options for insomnia on this page, with links to more detailed explanations that are backed by peer-reviewed studies.

In practice, doctors prescribe comprehensive treatment plans for insomnia that typically consist of at least one of the treatment methods on this page. The best treatment plan depends on the individual sleep issues and situation.

Non-Pharmacological Therapy Options for Insomnia

Most sleep medications come with the potential for dangerous side effects that sometimes rival insomnia itself.

Therefore, non-pharmacological therapies are preferred, as they rarely produce adverse effects.

And while there are some simple techniques to sleep better, those don't work reliably for most people. Instead, the most popular options that are prescribed are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) - If someone with insomnia only takes one type of treatment, this is the best option. CBT-i is safe and incredibly effective for the majority of insomnia patients.
  • Relaxation therapies - Many cases of insomnia are caused by stress and anxiety, and therapies that promote relaxation often help considerably. Current research indicates that the most promising options are acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, and yoga.
  • Hypnosis - While the study of this area is still relatively new, there is evidence showing that hypnosis may improve insomnia.
  • Light therapy - For cases of insomnia caused by circadian shift disorders, bright light therapy can help fix insomnia by essentially resetting the circadian rhythm.

Pharmacological (Medicine/Pills) for Insomnia

There are tons of sleep medications out there, and we haven’t examined them all on this site.

But here’s are links to a more detailed overview of few popular options:

Over the Counter Sleep Supplements

The sleep supplements that you can buy over the counter are typically either natural sleep aids of some form or a mild form of medication.

While many claim to really improve sleep quality, not many can back those claims up. We’ve written extensively about the evidence, or lack thereof, behind many sleep supplements:

Natural Sleep Aids (Foods)

People with minor sleep issues often find that certain foods help or worsen their sleep problems.

We’ve reviewed the research for quite a few natural sleep aids that some claim can improve sleep:

Physical Sleep Aids

Another area of treatment are physical sleep aids that are mainly used to make the sleep environment more comfortable.

Some people react strongly to them, while others find that they make sleep worse. The most popular options in this category are:

  • Ear plugs - The most popular option when trying to get to sleep in a noisy environment.
  • White noise - Another way to deal with a noisy environment is to drown it out with constant white noise. While it’s a bit mixed, there is some evidence that shows that white noise can help people sleep better.
  • Weighted blankets - These have become much more popular lately. Research shows that weighted blankets can improve anxiety and insomnia for many people. 
  • Sleep techniques - There are a variety of techniques to sleep better that work for some people. However, these are more of a gimmick and can stop working at any time.

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.