The Women's Journal

Treating Insomnia Without Using Prescription Medication

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By Rosemarie Richichi, Sleep Clinic Manager

Although sleep is one of the most basic human needs, many people treat it as optional. We’ve all had the occasional sleepless night. But when tossing and turning in the night or having trouble falling asleep becomes chronic, you’re likely suffering from insomnia.

If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a press release stating that one in three adults in the U.S. gets less than seven hours of sleep per night.  

Many insomnia sufferers seek relief with sleeping pills, among the most commonly prescribed medications in the US. However, these rarely help the situation, adding less than 35 minutes of sleep per night – and they often create new issues, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Countless articles tell of the hazards of sleep deprivation, but then, they don’t share information about what to do about it. The good news is that there are solutions! The very first thing you should check out is whether or not you have sleep apnea, which is very serious and dangerous. One in 15 Americans have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Undiagnosed, it can lead to major health problems and even death! Getting diagnosed is easy. Discuss it with your physician, and, if it is indicated, a sleep study can be done to determine the diagnosis. 

If apnea is not an issue, but you still can’t sleep well, don’t resort to drugs. For many, just getting more natural daylight may help their sleep. Spend 20 minutes in the morning sunlight. In the winter, use a daylight simulating device. There are a number of lamps on the market for just that purpose. At our Sleep Disorders Centers, we use something called Luminette, a pair of light emitting glasses that reset your circadian rhythm to adjust to whatever sleep schedule suits your needs. 

If you have trouble falling asleep, there is a fabulous pillow called the “Dreampad.” Once your head is relaxed on the pillow, music travels internally, signaling your body’s natural relaxation response​ so you can ease into a great night’s sleep. Through Bluetooth, sounds are delivered to the pillow, but you don’t hear them, at least not in the regular way. The sounds aren’t “heard” until you lay your head down, and then you “hear” the vibrations. Added plus: it’s for your ears only; your sleeping partner won’t hear a thing! It comes in a variety of sizes and comfort levels (firm, soft, memory foam, etc.) and is my personal favorite. 

The ultimate experience is found with the ReST Bed smart mattress. It has internal technology that can be set for comfort and pressure in various areas of your body (head, shoulders, lumbar, hips, and legs). And it can detect what position you’re in and adjust accordingly. It has a layer of cooling gel-infused memory foam for temperature control. It literally reads your body. Also, the bed sends data to your phone by Bluetooth regarding your sleep, which gives you valuable information to make changes. This is especially a savior for those with pain issues.

There is something available for almost any sleep problem and more and more devices are becoming available all the time. Explore your options so you too can have sweet dreams.

Rosemarie is currently working at Delaware Sleep Disorder Centers where she is the Sleep Clinic Manager and an Insomnia specialist. Rosemarie is committed to working with patients to achieve optimal sleep and overall health and wellness. She attended Wesley College in Dover, DE where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. She continued her studies at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania where she graduated with honors with her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Psychology. Rosemarie uses CBT-I and other methods to help Insomnia patients to achieve an optimal night sleep and has helped with beta testing the EBB insomnia therapy device. Rosemarie hopes to continue to educate patients in the importance of good quality sleep and to find the best treatment option for their specific needs.


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