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What are some natural alternatives to prescription sleep medication?

There are low-cost, effective, nonchemical alternatives to prescription sleep medication. Drug therapy for sleep is just one option for treatment, and in some cases it will be the best option. But don’t overlook these alternatives:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Studies show that CBT can be as effective or even more effective than drug therapy. And this type of therapy doesn’t always have to be an extended, long-term endeavor: Research shows that targeted, short-term behavioral therapy can improve sleep for people with insomnia.
  • Meditation and relaxation: Mind-body therapies such as meditation and relaxation can also help to improve sleep and diminish symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disorders. Relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and visualization techniques are recommended treatments for sleep by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This is a growing area of sleep research, which shows promise in treating sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
  • Sleep restriction: This is a behavioral therapy that limits time spent in bed as a way to improve sleep. Rather than tossing and turning in bed, feeling frustrated and anxious at not falling asleep, get out of bed. Find a quiet place to relax (not in front of the television) until you feel ready to go back to bed and sleep. Sleep restriction also involves keeping regular morning wake times and not staying in bed longer in the morning to make up for sleep lost at night.

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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.