Can’t sleep? Alternative tips to beat insomnia
Supplements, songs, stretching — science suggests all may help you overcome insomnia, and they've gained acceptance in sleep medicine circles.
"Alternative methods are fairly mainstream," says Robert J. Thomas, a highly rated sleep specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Rest easier with these non-Rx sleep aids:
• Yoga. The slow, deep breathing reduces hyperarousal and preliminary research indicates it may improve sleep quality. So practice your poses. You can't just dabble, Thomas says. "You have to get good."
• Music therapy. Evidence indicates soothing rhythms can help older adults and children sleep. Thomas suggests jazz, classical music, nature albums. "Heavy metal probably won't work," he says.
• Aromatherapy. Preliminary research suggests essential oils from herbs such as lavender or chamomile have some sleep-inducing effects as aromatherapy, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but more study is needed.
• Light treatment. This involves sitting or working near specially-designed bright lights beginning in the morning. The lights are turned down in the evening to shift the circadian rhythm and get the body ready for sleep.
• Melatonin. The widely used supplement mimics the internal hormone that's linked to the regulation of circadian rhythms. It's widely used and research suggests it helps patients with insomnia, but experts debate its effectiveness.