Traditional Medicine Not Addressing Your Sleep Issue? Try Alternative Medicine
This entry was posted on April 4, 2016.
There are plenty of solutions available for those who are having trouble getting to sleep. Addressing issues of sleep hygiene and taking over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids seem to be the most popular and readily available, but unfortunately, they just don’t work for everybody. Insomnia has become a global issue and is increasingly recognized as having a significant impact on public health and safety, so as a result the medical community is recognizing that it needs to make a wider range of treatment approaches available. Sleep researchers continue to look for effective cures for the numerous sleep disorders that have been identified, and interestingly, a great deal of success has been found through the use of holistic and alternative treatment approaches. If you are a person who has already tried turning off the electronics an hour before bed and taking melatonin but you’re still struggling, then you might want to look into one of the approaches detailed below.
The Craniosacral System
People who believe in the power of the craniosacral system of therapy feel that because the nervous system is housed within the continuum of the cranium, the spine and the scrum, that that is where our fundamental sense of peace and relaxation come from. They believe that there is a rhythmic motion that perpetually flows between this system, through all of the bones, the tissues, the muscles and bodily fluids, and that when this motion is disrupted by injury or stress, the entire system enters a state of shock. The shock causes the craniosacral system to contract and freeze into a position of stress, and that ends up being a permanent state that is responsible for the inability to relax or feel at peace. To address the problem, craniosacral therapists do a type of massage that releases the compressed and contracted natural flow, allowing the body and soul to relax once again. Adherents to craniosacral therapy believe that once the system releases tension the positive impact will not only improve symptoms of insomnia, but will also carry over into all aspects of the patient’s life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been widely acknowledged as the single most effective method of treating insomnia. Specially trained psychotherapists employ a combination of sleep hygiene education, relaxation, sleep restriction therapy and traditional cognitive therapy to train the person suffering from insomnia to recognize what is preventing them from sleeping and take control of their own ability to sleep. Numerous studies have shown that the approach is not only more effective then many medications, but also has a much more long-term effect.
Meditation is getting a lot of attention these days for its ability to heal, and sleep is one of the areas where it has proven to be most effective. According to Dharma Singh Khalsa M.D. and Cameron Stauth, authors of the book Meditation as Medicine, regular meditation practice can eliminate insomnia symptoms in 75% of those who try it. Though it is not yet understood why the practice works, evidence points to it producing a reduction in lactate, which is an indication of bodily stress and anxiety, an increase in the body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, two essential sleep and mood hormones that contribute to a good night’s sleep, and a reduction in the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Many people believe that mindfulness and meditation are the same thing, and the two are often practiced together, but mindfulness has a greater association with stress reduction. According to meditation specialist Padma Coram, the focus on mindfulness and taking focus away from things other than what is happening in the specific moment allows the brain to let go of the day’s troubles and ease into drowsiness and sleep. The real advantage, says Coram, is that unlike medication, which provides a temporary effect, once a person learns mindfulness and meditation they can carry it with them and use it throughout their lives, and regular practice often entirely eliminates insomnia.
Acupuncture is a form of Ancient Chinese medicine that uses needles to stimulate energy flow into or away from different parts of the body. Though the practice is not well understood, it has been well established as an effective insomnia treatment. Practitioners, patients, and those who study acupuncture’s effects have differing theories on why it works, including the idea that it might stimulate the production of melatonin or of the centers in the body that produce endorphin. Others believe that it concentrates nitric oxide in the blood and brain and modulates the autonomic nervous system. Whatever the methodology and process, those who submit to acupuncture have found themselves more relaxed at bedtime and able to sleep through the night without awakenings. Sleep studies done on those who have undergone acupuncture also show that they experience longer deep sleep cycles.
Hypnosis has not been the subject of much sleep research, but there are those who believe that it is particularly effective for those whose insomnia is a result of stress. According to Ana Isobel, a renowned hypnotherapist, “Hypnotherapy helps individuals to deal with stress more calmly and with greater resilience.” Studies that have not centered on sleep have shown that it is helpful in the treatment of psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.
Though people who aren’t getting enough sleep rarely want to be told that they need to be more active, it has been well established that exercise plays a big role in our ability to fall asleep easily and stay asleep soundly. The challenge is that studies have shown that this is not an immediate effect, and that insomnia sufferers who have not previously exercised on a regular basis need to exercise on a consistent basis for a period of months before they see a change.