Complementary Medicine Used to Improve Sleep

A study shows increased use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to alleviate insomnia.

For a study published in the September 18 sleep theme issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (2006;166:1775-1782), Nancy Pearson and colleagues from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) analysed data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, and found that 4.5 per cent of people who reported having trouble sleeping said they turned to some form of CAM.

When this is expanded into the general population, it equates to 1.62m adults.

A total of 31,044 adults participated in the survey, which included one question on insomnia or sleep difficulties, 50 questions on other health conditions, and a ten minute survey on use of 27 different kinds of CAM.

17.4 per cent of respondents reported having experienced insomnia or sleep difficulties in the preceding 12 months, there were more women sufferers than men, and it was most common in people aged between 45 and 64 years.

However younger, educated people were more likely to use CAM to help them sleep.

Other health conditions frequently reported by those who had sleep troubles were obesity, hypertension, congestive heart failure, anxiety and depression.

Of those who said they used CAM, 65 per cent used methods termed as biological, which include herbal medicines, dietary measures and vitamins.

The study did not specify what products the participants may have been using.

CAM users tend to focus on dietary supplements such as valerian, kava, passion flower and lemon balm, as well as melatonin.