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5 Alternative Therapies to Improve Insomnia (the fourth is easy to learn)

Changing your sleep habits and addressing any issues that may be associated with insomnia, such as stress, medical conditions or medications, can restore restful sleep for many people. If these measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, medications or both, to help improve relaxation and sleep.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that includes dissatisfaction with the amount or quality of sleep and is associated with one or more of the following subjective complaints: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or being unable to fall asleep again after waking up in the morning.

Features of insomnia also include significant pain or dysfunction, as well as daytime symptoms, including fatigue, lethargy, cognitive impairment and mood disorders

The prevalence of insomnia is estimated to vary. About 30% to 43% of people report at least one symptom of night insomnia. Women are 1.4 times more likely to suffer from insomnia than men. The elderly have a higher prevalence of insomnia.

It is estimated that most patients with insomnia (approximately 75% to 90%) have a higher risk of comorbid diseases, such as hypoxemia, dyspnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The current treatment of insomnia includes behavioral, psychological and pharmaceutical interventions, as well as various supplements. In empirical medicine, what alternative therapies may help, please refer to the article analysis for details


What are the alternative therapies to improve insomnia?

  1. Melatonin (Melatonin)

Melatonin is a kind of methoxyindole synthesized from tryptophan in pineal cells. It can regulate circadian rhythm (such as sleep/wake rhythm), neuroendocrine rhythm or body temperature cycle through the action of receptors

When the secretion of endogenous melatonin is reduced (such as the elderly or using Beta receptor blocking drugs), or the natural circadian rhythm of melatonin is affected, such as shift workers or blind people, exogenous melatonin is often used To improve sleep

A meta-analysis of literature (meta-analysis, including 19 randomized placebo-controlled trials, with a total of 1683 patients with primary insomnia) pointed out that

Compared with placebo, melatonin can help reduce the waiting time before going to bed, increase total sleep time, and improve overall sleep quality. Note 1

In addition, although the effectiveness of melatonin for improving sleep disorders is lower than that of insomnia drugs, it causes relatively few side effects

Another literature review and meta-analysis (including 7 randomized controlled trials, a total of 205 patients with secondary sleep disorders) pointed out that compared with placebo, exogenous melatonin reduced the time required to fall asleep. And it increases the total sleep time, but it does not significantly help sleep efficiency. Note 2

*Conclusion: For primary or secondary sleep disorders, oral melatonin may bring positive help, but due to the small number of samples and potential biases, more accurately designed trials are needed to prove it

12 kinds of effects and side effects of melatonin (be careful when using contraindications at 18:00)

  1. Valerian

Valerian is a perennial herb, distributed in North America, Europe and Asia. It is mainly sold as a sleep aid, while in Europe it is used to treat restlessness, tremor and anxiety.

It is generally believed that valerian can inhibit sympathetic nervous system neurons by changing the transport and release of the neurotransmitter: Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA).

A meta-analysis of the literature (including 18 randomized controlled trials) pointed out that valerian is effective in the subjective improvement of insomnia (using dichotomous variables, whether or not as a measurement standard), although its effectiveness is not quantitative Or objective measurement proof. Note 3

*Conclusion: Valerian may be helpful for improving insomnia, but limited by the small number of samples, more high-quality trials are still needed to prove it

  1. Lavender

Lavender is a plant of the mint family, mainly produced in the Mediterranean region and Southern Europe. There are more than 30 varieties. It is widely used in cosmetics, food industry, aromatherapy, etc.

Take the most commonly used lavender essential oil as an example. It is believed to have anti-fungal, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, analgesic, and beneficial immunomodulatory effects on wound healing.

A systematic literature review (Systematic Review, including 3 randomized placebo-controlled trials) pointed out that for menopausal and elderly women, the use of lavender (aromatherapy inhalation or ingestion in capsule form) can improve the quality of sleep (in Pittsburgh sleep Quality index measurement, Pittsburgh sleep quality index, PSQI). Note 4

*Conclusion: For menopausal and older women, the use of lavender may help improve sleep quality, but it is limited by the small sample size, and more studies are needed for further verification

The 5 effects and side effects of lavender essential oil (the first one most people want to ask)

  1. Baduanjin (Baduanjin)

Baduanjin is a kind of traditional Chinese qigong, with a history of more than 1,000 years. It is characterized by the interaction between symmetrical physical postures and movements, allowing movements, thoughts and breathing to be exercised in a harmonious way.

Baduanjin Qigong is relatively easy to learn, and has less physical and cognitive requirements because it only contains eight simple movements created based on the theory of Chinese medicine

As the number of Baduanjin Qigong practitioners grows globally, there is a large amount of scientific research on the health benefits of practicing Baduanjin Qigong.

These studies examine the effects of Baduanjin Qigong on different aspects of health, including mental health, cardiovascular parameters, quality of life, sleep quality, osteoarthritis, cardiorespiratory health, physical performance, balance and flexibility

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (Meta-Analysis, including 14 studies, a total of 1182 participants) pointed out that Baduanjin significantly reduced the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score, and compared the PSQI scores. The components, including subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbance and daytime dysfunction, showed significant positive effects. Note 5

The underlying mechanism may be related to Ba Duan Jin regulating autonomic nerve activity, regulating respiratory function, body metabolism, relieving stress, relaxing the body and mind, and increasing serum melatonin levels

*Conclusion: Baduanjin may help improve insomnia, but due to the small sample size, more well-designed long-term studies are still needed to provide further evidence

Watch the Baduanjin video teaching

  1. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

The concept of Mindfulness has existed in the Buddhist tradition for 2500 years. It is currently an emerging concept in the field of healthcare and has attracted attention in the fields of emotion research, clinical science, and social cognitive-emotional neuroscience.

The core concept of mindfulness is to “clearly perceive” one’s body, thoughts, emotions, and everything in the world, emphasizing to face oneself and the world with a compassionate, peaceful, curious, friendly, tolerant, non-judgmental attitude and a broad perspective

In the United States, the most studied form of mindfulness training is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which is an organized mindfulness training group project developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness decompression is the integration of Buddhist meditation, meditation and yoga. Participants learn to cultivate mindfulness and use mindfulness to face stress and illness

A meta-analysis of literature (including 7 randomized controlled trials, 497 patients with chronic or primary insomnia) pointed out that mindfulness decompression therapy can significantly improve sleep quality, depression and anxiety. Note 6

*Conclusion: For chronic or primary insomnia, mindfulness decompression therapy may be positively helpful, but limited by the small sample size, more accurate long-term large-scale trials are still needed for further verification

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