Are there alternative treatments for sleep disorders?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If you have trouble sleeping and your sleep has not improved by making changes to your diet and routine, there are still a number of other alternative treatments and therapies to try before you reach for sleeping pills, which have their own difficulties and side effects.

One of the most effective sleep therapies is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy based on the idea that a person's thoughts and beliefs directly impact how they behave.

When you see a therapist who uses CBT, he or she will help you recognize and change the ways of thinking that are interfering with your sleep and help you determine the perfect time for you to go to bed so you can fall asleep in 20 or 30 minutes. Studies have shown that CBT is more effective than sleeping pills.
In addition to CBT, there are other alternative therapies for sleep disorders, including:
  • Meditation, which may actually develop parts of the brain that help regulate physical health, including healthy sleep.
  • Light therapy, where you expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid light in the evening. (Avoiding light at night can be tough in today's world. Limit your exposure to computer and TV screens.)
  • Melatonin is effective in regulating the body's internal clock, especially when sleep cycles are disrupted by jet lag.
  • Yoga, which not only builds your strength, flexibility, and balance, but also incorporates breathing exercises and mediation that have been shown to improve sleep.
  • Acupuncture, which uses small needles to stimulate various points throughout the body. One study showed that acupuncture spiked the melatonin levels and reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Biofeedback, which involves devices that help patients learn to control their body functions, like heart rate and temperature.
Try out a few of these natural sleep remedies and see what effect they have on your sleep. Maybe a combination of yoga and melatonin would work for you. These therapies might also have other positive benefits on your health, like reduced stress and anxiety and increased energy and focus.

Depending on your particular sleep disorder, there may be alternative treatments for you to try. In general, lifestyle elements such as maintaining a normal weight, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and avoiding alcohol use before bedtime may help you sleep better. You may also want to consider maintaining a sleep schedule, in which your bedtime and wake time are the same every day. And if you work at night, you may want to switch to the day shift, if possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.