GARY ZAMMIT, PhD: The person with insomnia who tosses and turns in bed for a couple of nights begins to associate the bed and the bedroom with wakefulness rather than sleep. So stimulus control tries to break those associations by making sure that the sleeper gets out of bed whenever he or she is awake.
DANIEL BUYSSE, MD: People will talk on the telephone, watch TV, balance their checkbook. And all of those things keep us awake in bed when what we're really trying to do is train ourselves to be asleep in bed. So eliminating bedtime activities that have nothing to do with sleep is one important aspect of sleep hygiene.
ANNOUNCER: But changing habits can take time.
DANIEL BUYSSE, MD: Behavioral treatments for insomnia can be very effective for people who are highly motivated and people who are able to practice the techniques that are given to them. The downside of behavioral treatments is that they require some time with a practitioner and it's important for patients to realize that these techniques don't work overnight, so to speak.
ANNOUNCER: For some, prescription medications may offer relief.
DANIEL BUYSSE, MD: The only drugs currently approved for treatment of insomnia are hypnotic drugs that tend to fall into one of two classes. One class is benzodiazepine drugs that are similar to some of the older drugs like Valium, Librium or Ativan.
Interestingly, the most common side effect is also the desired effect. That is, if a drug makes us sleepy at night, it's a therapeutic effect. If it makes us sleepy into the next morning, we consider that to be a side effect.