Alternative Therapies for Sleep Disorders

Over 50 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, including insomnia, excessive drowsiness, sleep apnea, and restless movement during sleep. If you happen to share the same room with such a person, you're more than aware of how their problem is also disturbing the continuity of your sleep. Many people resort to using sedative hypnotics (sleeping pills), however, medication often hides the root cause of a sleep disorder and leads to even more dangerous health risks and/or dependencies.

Before you resort to drastic measures, such as surgery, you may want to explore some of the alternatives. According to many practitioners of alternative medicine, these disorders often are related to nutritional or behavioral factors, and may be remedied by addressing the various causes and symptoms underlying the condition.

Does your spouse complain about your snoring, or wake you up just to tell you that you're snoring... or does s/he simply head off to the guest room or sofa to sleep? If so, you're not alone. It's estimated that some 45 percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons and is caused when the soft palate of the mouth vibrates and makes a noise while the person is asleep. However, snoring is sometimes a result of "sleep apnea," which is a more serious condition resulting in intermittent cessation of breathing during sleep forcing you to repeatedly wake up to take breaths of air.

While there are no alternative therapies for snoring, there are a few self-help tips:

* Sleep on your side. Prop an extra pillow behind your back so you won't roll over.
* If you must sleep on your back, raise the head of the bed by putting bricks or blocks either under the head board or between the mattress and box springs. You can also buy a wedge especially made to be placed between the mattress and box spring to elevate the head section. Elevating the head prevents the tongue from falling against the back of the throat.
* If you are heavy, lose weight. Excess fatty tissue in the throat can cause snoring.
* Don't drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal within 3 hours before bedtime.
* Try over-the-counter nasal strips. These keep the nostrils open and lift them up, keeping nasal passages unobstructed.


Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder, is characterized by an inability either to fall asleep or to remain asleep during the course of the night, and can be the result of a number of factors.

Diet is especially important when treating sleep disorders, and it is essential to rule out food intolerances as a cause. Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O., of London, England, recommends a combination of nutritional adjustments to aid sleep, including:

* A marked reduction in alcohol consumption
* Avoiding caffeine in all forms (tea, coffee, cola, chocolate)
* Taking a protein-rich snack at bedtime (yogurt is one example)
* Taking one gram of niacinamide (vitamin B3) at bedtime (for the type that sleeps easily but wakes and cannot get back to sleep)

Suggested Supplements for Sleep Disorders:

There are many alternative treatments for sleep disorders, all worth looking into. Some experts suggest nutritional supplements which are known to aid sleep:

Calcium - For adults, approximately 600 milligrams of liquid calcium.

Magnesium - 250 milligrams
B6 - 50 to 100 milligrams daily can help to prevent insomnia.

B12 - 25 milligrams supplemented with 100 milligrams of B5 can serve as an effective anti-insomnia vitamin regimen.

Additional Net Resources

Health World Online offers its viewers "possible prescriptions" to induce a peaceful and restful sleep - Restless Leg Syndrome

This fact sheet provides an overview of the use of valerian for insomnia and other sleep disorders.

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