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About 5 Percent of Adults with Insomnia Use Alternative Therapies

CHICAGO - More than 1.6 million U.S. adults are estimated to use complementary and alternative therapies to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping, according to the results of a// national survey published in the September 18 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a theme issue on sleep.

Approximately 10 to 34 percent of Americans regularly experience difficulty sleeping, also known as insomnia, according to background information in the article. Treatment options include prescription and non-prescription medications, antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, defined as those practices that are not scientifically proven and are not currently considered part of conventional medicine, also are used to treat insomnia. Such therapies include herbal medicines and relaxation techniques.

Nancy J. Pearson, Ph.D., and colleagues at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., analyzed data from a national survey of 31,044 adults conducted in 2002. Respondents answered one question about whether they had difficulty sleeping in the past 12 months and completed a 10-minute supplemental survey on the use of 27 types of CAM therapies. The interview also included questions about five other health conditions: depression and anxiety, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity. Four items assessed behavior and motivation for using CAM therapies.

Of the adults interviewed, 17.4 percent reported that they had insomnia or trouble sleeping in the past year. Difficulty sleeping was more common in women than men, most prevalent between ages 45 and 64, and was associated with obesity, hypertension, congestive heart failure and anxiety or depression, but not diabetes. Of those with insomnia or trouble sleeping, 4.5 percent reported that they had used CAM to treat the condition, which
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