If you suffer with insomnia, you are not alone. In additional to traditional sleep aids, many people have sought out help from alternative therapies. This can include acupuncture, guided imagery, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage and many others. There a few alternative therapies shown to help ease your sleepless nights.
- Herbal Supplements: Some studies suggest that valerian root helps get you to sleep and keep you to sleep, as well as other herbs like passionflower, hops, ginseng, lemon balm and skullcap. The most commonly known herb for treatment of insomnia is Chamomile, found is any night time lotions and calming teas. Some herbal supplements can interact with medications so be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any herbal treatments.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a critical role in the regulation of your sleep-wake cycle. Although the effects of taking a melatonin supplement are still inconclusive, research shows this supplement may help with sleep disturbances caused by jet lag. Adverse effects from melatonin are minimal, but more information is needed about the long term effect of a melatonin supplement.
- Acupuncture: Recent studies show that acupuncture has had very positive effects in treating insomnia. This procedure involves the insertion of very fine needles (sometimes in combination with electrical stimulus or with heat produced by burning specific herbs) into the skin at specific acupuncture points in order to influence the functioning of the body.
- Relaxation and Meditation: Muscle tension and your mind running on overtime can interfere with sleep. Therefore, it is not surprising that techniques aimed at relaxing muscles (progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback) and quieting the mind (meditation) have been found to be effective treatments for insomnia. Most people can learn these techniques with a little practice and studies have shown that people who meditate actually have higher blood levels of melatonin, an important hormone that regulates sleep.
- Exercise: Exercise reduces stress and helps physically tire out your body. Although consistent exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, most experts advise exercising at least three to four hours before bedtime to avoid interference with sleep.
Remember, not all alternative therapies have been approved by the FDA so please talk with your doctor before starting any alternative therapies.
REFERENCES: Sonne, Leonard J. MD (Jan. 1, 2007) Sleep Disorders: Alternative Treatments for Insomnia. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/alternative_treatments_for_insomnia?page=2