Insomnia: Alternative Medicine Popular
More Than 1 Million Adults Use Complementary or Alternative Medicine for Insomnia
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 18, 2006 -- Many Americans toss, turn, and try complementary and
alternative medicines to ease insomnia.
More than 35 million U.S. adults regularly had insomnia in 2002, and 1.6
million of them tried complementary or alternative therapies to get some
Those figures come from Nancy Pearson, PhD, and colleagues at the National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National
Institutes of Health.
Pearson's team checked data on more than 31,000 U.S. adults from a 2002
government health survey.
One of survey questions was, "During the past 12 months, have you
regularly had insomnia or trouble sleeping?" About 17% of participants said
That equals more than 35 million people in the general public, the
Insomnia was more common among women than men, and among people who were
obese or had high blood
pressure, congestive heart failure,
anxiety, or depression.
Complementary and Alternative Approaches
Participants with insomnia were asked if they had used complementary or
alternative medicine in the previous year.
Complementary and alternative medicine was defined as including vitamins,
herbs, massage, and mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback,
Nearly 5% of participants with insomnia said they had tried complementary or
alternative medicine to help them sleep.
That translates to 1.6 million people in the general public, Pearson's team
Almost two-thirds of survey participants who tried complementary or
alternative medicine used biologically based therapies (including herbs and
vitamins). Nearly 40% said they tried mind-body therapies.
As those numbers show, some participants apparently tried both biological
and mind-body therapies.
Did It Work?
Participants with insomnia who reported using complementary or alternative
medicine were asked if they thought their treatment had helped them sleep.
Nearly half of those who used herbal therapies or relaxation therapy said
they felt that their therapy had helped their insomnia "a great deal,"
the researchers write.
The study doesn't show participants' satisfaction rate for other
complementary or alternative approaches to insomnia.
However, more than half said that their complementary or alternative therapy
was "very important to maintaining their health and well-being."
The findings are "interesting" and deserve more study, but don't
scientifically prove effectiveness, the researchers note.
The NCCAM recommends that patients tell their doctors about any use of
complementary or alternative medicine to allow for complete medical
About 60% of survey participants said they had told their doctor about their
use of complementary or alternative therapies for their insomnia, the study