Parkridge Medical Group March 01, 2015

If you’re one of the 50 million to 70 million Americans who suffer from sleep disorders, you know the power of a good night’s sleep and the repercussions of the lack thereof. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) may provide an answer to getting a better night’s rest.

Some may see sleep as the body’s reward after a long day, but the truth is a bit more complicated. Sleep is linked to learning, memory and mood, and getting an adequate amount can help you maintain a healthy body and mind.

How much sleep is enough? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

  • 16 to 18 hours a day for infants
  • 11 to 12 hours a day for preschool-age children
  • 10 hours a day for school-age children and adolescents
  • 9 to 10 hours a day for teenagers
  • 7 to 9 hours a day for adults

Alternative Therapies

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, approximately 1.6 million Americans have turned to CAM for help with sleeping problems.

Commonly used therapies include aromatherapy, herbal supplements, melatonin supplements, acupuncture, music therapy, yoga and relaxation techniques. Research suggests there may be some benefit to using CAM therapies to treat sleep disorders; however, it is important to check with your regular physician before beginning an alternative therapy. He or she can refer you to reputable practitioners or advise which herbal supplements may be helpful.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Choose a time to go to bed and a time to wake up, and stick to them each day. Creating a soothing environment may help you have more success nodding off. Try taking a warm bath before going to bed, which can simulate the experience your body goes through falling asleep. In the bedroom, remove all bright lights, televisions, cell phones and computers to create a dark, quiet place.

Avoid eating large meals, exercising or napping close to the time you plan on going to bed. Substances such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and certain medications may interfere with sleep patterns. Check with your physician or pharmacist to identify potential conflicts.

See a physician if you still experience sleep issues. To find a physician near you, visit