Sleep problems helped with alternative therapies

Problems sleeping? Natural therapies can aid sleep

Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. An estimated one in four people have trouble getting to sleep and many are becoming dependent on sleeping pills to overcome their problem. Asking your GP for sleep medication isn’t necessarily the best way to get some sleep as there can be unwelcome side-effects, dependency and even a long-term tolerance to the pills that will mean they stop working.

Sleep disorders generally have an underlying root cause that should be explored and treated to enable you to get a proper night’s sleep. Holistic, alternative and complementary therapies can help you to identify those causes as well as providing remedies that will aid sleep in a safe and natural way. In this article we’ll look at some of the ways you can improve your sleep and what therapies will help to treat your sleeping disorder.

Sleeping habits, how to change them and therapies that can help

‘Sleep hygiene’ – a common term you may hear health professionals use to describe sleep habits and the ways in which you can improve them. Before seeking help, examine your sleep hygiene to see if there are things you can change to improve your sleeping pattern.

Read our top tips for sleep hygiene here

If you still find that getting to sleep is difficult or your sleep is disturbed, there are various alternative medicine therapies that can help. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and is the term used to describe problems getting to sleep and staying asleep. Insomnia is often caused by poor habits or through physical or emotional problems (anxiety, stress, depression etc.).

Herbal Medicine is an effective therapy to help with the problem of insomnia through the use of herbs taken as supplements or teas. If you already take prescribed drugs you should consult with your doctor and a herbal medicine practitioner before taking any herbal remedy as it may interfere with your medication. If it is safe to do so, consider extract of ‘Valerian’. Valerian has been found to be as effective as certain anxiety drugs in helping with the onset of sleep. Chamomile taken as a tea is extremely beneficial for aiding good sleep and is a known relaxant. Essential oils used in Aromatherapy can also prove beneficial for a good night’s sleep. Lavender and Passionflower are traditional oils that can be calming just before you go to sleep and maintain relaxation while you are sleeping. Sedative properties can be found in plants such as catnip, hops and linden flower and have been proved effective for insomnia patients when combined with valerian.

The root cause of sleeping problems

If your sleep is disrupted due to factors that you feel are out of your control then they need to be identified and examined. Stress and anxiety is a major cause of sleeping problems and it could be that there are emotional challenges in your life that are preventing you from a proper night’s rest (redundancy, financial worries, relationship problems etc.). Talking to a counsellor or psychotherapist can help you find the underlying problem and then work towards overcoming it. Hypnotherapy is another beneficial way to treat sleep problems. Hypnosis can access the subconscious part of your mind where a problem that is preventing you from sleeping may reside. The subconscious cannot be accessed in our normal waking state but a hypnotherapist can induce a trance-like state that will enable you to explore your deep-rooted problem safely and effectively.

But what if physical stress is the root of your sleep disruption? The body needs to relax equally as much as the mind. Physical therapies such as physiotherapy, reflexology and massage can remove tension in the body and also teach you relaxation techniques to help when away from the therapy session. Yoga postures can exercise the body, focus the mind and improve breathing which will help you to relax – indeed regular exercise can play a big part in your overall health. Ask anyone who takes part in physical exercise on a daily basis and they’ll tell you how well they sleep.

Another stress relieving alternative therapy is acupuncture. Used for thousands of years, acupuncture has been an effective way of treating insomnia for many people. By inserting ultra-fine needles into specific areas of the body, an acupuncturist can improve circulation and other bodily systems to aid relaxation.

Alternative medicine and complementary therapy for sleep problems

Before considering which natural therapy is suitable for you, visit your doctor to make sure your sleeping problem is not being caused by a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once you have discussed your problem with your GP, let them know that you would like to try some holistic therapies so they can work with your local therapist to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
21/11/08

Learn more about insomnia and the therapies that can help here


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