MORE THAN 1.6 MILLION USE CAM FOR INSOMNIA AND SLEEP DISORDERS
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are used by over 1.6 million American adults to treat insomnia and related sleep disorders, concludes a recent study appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine September 18 sleep theme issue. Those using CAM are more likely to use biologically based therapies including herbs and vitamins, or mind-body practices such as guided imagery, meditation, yoga, Taijiquan, visualization, hypnosis, or other relaxation techniques.
Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, analyzed information on 31,044 U.S. adults from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey to examine how common sleeping disorders were and how often people used alternative techniques to treat them. Findings revealed that 17.4 percent of adults reported difficulty sleeping in the last 12 months and 4.5 percent of those, or an estimated 1.62 million people, used some form of CAM to treat their condition.
Insomnia or sleep difficulties are most often associated with significant health conditions, including hypertension, congestive heart failure, anxiety and depression, and obesity, according to the survey data. The study findings could have implications for treating these comorbidities rather than alleviating insomnia as a health condition unrelated to other chronic illnesses.
The two most common reasons people gave for using CAM to treat insomnia were they thought it would be interesting to try (nearly 67 percent) and they thought CAM combined with a conventional treatment would be helpful (nearly 64 percent). Of those using herbal medicine or relaxation techniques, almost half reported an improvement in their sleep condition. The 2002 survey findings indicated that five relaxation techniques and imagery, biofeedback, and hypnosis were used by more than 30 percent of the adult U.S. population.