There are many alternative treatments that can work to treat the symptoms of insomnia and its underlying causes. Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation, massage, or a warm bath before bedtime may help a person fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep. Likewise, certain herbal teas and natural supplements have been proven to encourage relaxation and improve sleep.
As is the case with many alternative treatments for any disease or condition, opinions are often mixed as to the efficacy of some treatment methods, and research is often minimal in comparison to traditional medicine treatments.
However, many people have had success in using alternative treatments in the management of many diseases and conditions, including insomnia. Before trying any alternative treatments, you should always check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right for you.
Mind & Body
Stress and anxiety are one of the most common underlying causes of insomnia. Relaxation techniques such as massage, meditation, deep breathing, or a warm bath have been found to calm the mind and body and help induce sleep. Light yoga or stretching are other methods of relaxation, or try reading to wind down before bedtime.
Herbs & Supplements
There are a number of over-the-counter herbs and supplements that have shown promise in relieving symptoms of insomnia. However, much of the research is ongoing and inconclusive. Always consult a doctor before trying any alternative treatments to find out if they are safe.
Melatonin is a non-prescription supplement that’s sold as a sleep aid. Your body produces melatonin naturally and releases it into your bloodstream in increasing amounts starting in the evening, continuing through the night, and decreasing toward morning. Melatonin has been successful in improving sleep for many people.
Some studies have shown that melatonin can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and reduce the number of awakenings, but not necessarily lengthen total sleep time. Other studies show no benefit at all with melatonin.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is an herbal supplement marketed as a sleep aid. The supplement is prepared from the roots of the valerian plant and is usually packaged in a capsule. Studies about its effectiveness in treating insomnia are inconclusive.
Herbal teas made from chamomile, hops, passion flower, or St. John’s Wort, have all been proven to induce relaxation, which in turn can promote a restful night’s sleep.