Treatments For Sleep Disorders


Weight loss can improve — but may not adequately treat — sleep apnea. You may be prescribed a device called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP provides a continuous stream of air pressure to keep your airway open. This prevents your airway from becoming too narrow and allows you to sleep without interruption.

Except in rare cases, surgery doesn’t adequately treat anything more than the mildest degrees of sleep apnea (though it may be more effective for troublesome snoring).

An oral appliance that holds your lower jaw forward during sleep, for some people, is an increasingly helpful option for mild to moderate sleep apnea, as well as snoring.


Practice good sleep hygiene and/or behavioral therapy. This includes sticking to a regular bedtime schedule. Try to get out of bed at the same time each morning, even if it’s a weekend or holiday.

  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid stressful activities and vigorous exercise for 2 hours before going to bed. Do exercise regularly, but earlier in the day.
  • Before going to bed, try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Use earplugs or eye shades if needed.
  • Leave the bedroom if you can’t sleep. Go into another room and read, or do something relaxing and quiet.
  • Avoid substances that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, or diet pills.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine before bed.

Behavioral therapies alone may not be enough. Treating insomnia with medication is the most common treatment for these sleep problems, particularly once a combination of behavioral approaches has been tried. Sleep medications for the treatment of insomnia are called hypnotics. All hypnotics induce sleep and some will help to maintain sleep. They work by acting at areas in the brain believed to be involved in sleep promotion. They are the drugs of choice because they have the highest benefit and the lowest risk as sleep-promoting drugs. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects of taking hypnotics, such as morning sedation, memory problems, headaches, sleepwalking and a night or two of poor sleep after stopping the medication


Cutting your caffeine intake may help. Other self-help measures may include a warm bath or relaxation exercises before bed. Hot or cold packs on your legs may provide relief. Several effective medications are available (including Horizant, Klonopin, Mirapex, and Requip), but they may have side effects that should be discussed with your doctor.


Often, naps help relieve the sleepiness of narcolepsy. Your doctor may also prescribe stimulants such as Ritalin or dextroamphetamine to make you more alert during the day. Provigil (modafinil) and Nuvigil (Armodafinil) are new wakefulness-promoting medicines that have less addiction risk or abuse potential than other traditional stimulants. Antidepressants may be used to treat cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control) or feelings of paralysis upon waking. Xyrem is approved to treat excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle tone (cataplexy) caused by narcolepsy.