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March 3, 2009
I have chronic sleep problems, and nothing seems to help. I don't want to take prescription medications. Does integrative medicine address sleep problems? If so, what's the approach? Have any natural remedies been shown to be effective?
Sleep is such a crucial part of health and often not something medicine addresses until it is a significant problem. Medications can be helpful in breaking a sleepless cycle, but integrative approaches can be very helpful in the long run.
First, of course, you should be certain you are practicing what is called good "sleep hygiene." Be sure to use your bed only for sleep (and sex!), but don't use your bed as your office, for example. You want crawling into bed to signal to your body that it is time to sleep. Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same times every day, and don't exercise too close to bedtime. Once you've gone to bed, if you can't sleep after 20 to 30 minutes, get up and do something boring. This is often better than staying in bed and getting increasingly agitated that you are not sleeping.