Education Is Key
Insomnia is one of the most common presenting symptoms in the primarycare setting as well as in psychiatric offices. Whereas the incidence of persistentinsomnia can be as high as 10% in the general population, rates canbe as high as 20% in primary care settings and 50% in psychiatric settings.
Treatment options for insomnia include pharmacotherapy, behavior therapy,and psychological interventions. Although medication is used most frequentlyin both primary care and psychiatric settings, behavioral and psychologicalinterventions, along with alternative therapies, can be beneficial.
One alternative is sleep hygiene education, which is intended to provide informationabout lifestyle and environmental factors that may interfere with or promotesleep. Sleep hygiene guidelines include avoiding all stimulants, includingcaffeine and nicotine, several hours before bedtime; not drinking alcohol aroundbedtime, because it fragments sleep; exercising regularly, especially in the lateafternoon or early evening; finishing eating at least 2 to 3 hours before regularbedtime; keeping the bedroom environment quiet, dark, and comfortable; andsleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow.