Skip to content

Health & Balance

Alternative Treatments for Sleep Disorders

Font Size
A
A
A

A health treatment that is not classified as conventional Western medical practice is referred to as an "alternative" or "complementary" therapy, although a strict definition of complementary medicine suggests that it is taken along with conventional treatments. Alternative medicine, also called alternative therapy, encompasses a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of alternative therapies include acupuncture, guided imagery, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and many others.

In the area of sleep disorders, some complementary and alternative therapies used include supplements, relaxation and meditation, acupuncture, and exercise.

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

Improve Your Memory

Sometimes I think my memory is actually too good. Like when I realize I still know the lyrics to nearly every song released in the '80s. Or that I can recite, verbatim, lines from at least half a dozen episodes of Seinfeld and Sex and the City. But then I'll go to transfer a load of laundry into the dryer and discover that it's already dry; seems I forgot to ever turn on the washer. Or I'll forget my neighbor's name — again. Could it be that sitcom dialogue and song lyrics are taking...

Read the Improve Your Memory article > >

Supplements for Sleep Disorders

Herbal Treatments

The effects of the root of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) have been examined in people with sleep disorders. Some studies have suggested that valerian helps with the onset of sleep and with sleep maintenance. However, more research is needed into valerian root's safety and effectiveness.

Chamomile and passionflower are other herbs commonly used in the treatment of insomnia. Although there has been no clinical investigation to support their use and long-term safety, there are considered mild sedatives that may help with sleep in the short term.

Other herbs promoted as effective sleep remedies include hops, ginseng, lemon balm, and skullcap. The German government has approved certain herbs (valerian, hops, and lemon balm) for the relief of sleep problems. However, clinical studies to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of herbs are scarce; in some cases, there is evidence of common, traditional use. More information is needed before these herbs can be recommended as a first line of treatment for insomnia.

Since herbal supplements can interact with certain medications, always tell your doctor if you are using any herbal supplements.

 

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that is synthesized by the pineal gland in humans and produced in animals and in plants. Although the effects of melatonin are complex and poorly understood, it plays a critical role in the regulation of your sleeping and waking cycle and other circadian rhythms. Melatonin has been studied as a possible treatment of circadian rhythm disorders and may be helpful in reducing sleep disturbances caused by jet lag.

Adverse effects of melatonin are minimal, but more long-term studies examining the effectiveness and toxicity of melatonin supplements are needed.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
jet plane landing at sunset
Slideshow
poinsettias
Quiz
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz