Try modifying your nighttime sleeping habits and other behavior before resorting to drugs to cure insomnia. For example:
Avoid using alcohol in the evening. Avoid caffeine for at least 8 hours before bedtime. Give up smoking, because nicotine is a stimulant.
Establish a regular bedtime, but don't go to bed if you feel wide awake. Use the bedroom for bedroom activities only. Once in bed, use creative imagery and relaxation techniques to keep your mind off unrestful thoughts. Avoid staying in bed for long periods of time while awake, or going to bed because of boredom.
Take your TV or computer out of your bedroom. Otherwise, your brain becomes used to the stimulation and starts to expect it when you are there. This makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Relax by reading, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music before getting to bed.
A snack before bedtime helps many people. Foods such as warm milk or turkey have a natural sleep inducer called L-tryptophan.
Exercise regularly, but not in the last two hours before going to bed. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been show to make people fall asleep faster and benefit from deeper and more restful sleep. Sex can be a natural sleep inducer and helps some people.
Avoid emotional upset or stressful situations prior to bedtime.
In Infants and Children
Avoid being readily available to a child during the night. Otherwise, the child may become dependent on attention and become sleepless if deprived of it.
For children who have trouble falling asleep, try to make sure that the child is not disturbed by unnecessary noise. Leaving a radio playing soft music may help cover up disturbing noises.
Avoid sending a child to bed as punishment which can result in poor sleep caused by fear.
Never give a child sleeping medicine without consulting the doctor first. Generally, it is unwise to treat the problem with drugs.
Medication should be a last resort.
Over-the-counter sleep medicines can have side-effects, including a "hangover" effect the next morning.
If these fail, you may want to ask you health care provider to recommend other options.
Avoid all sedatives, including the benzodiazepines, during pregnancy.
Call your docto if
A sleeping problem becomes persistent and unbearable, despite home treatment
A sleeping problem occurs more than 3 nights per week for more than 1 month
The insomnia is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath