Insomnia is a widespread sleep problem among adults. Nearly 40% of men and women in the U.S. experience some symptoms of insomnia in a given year, and as many as 15% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia. Relaxation techniques are considered a standard form treatment for insomnia by sleep professionals, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
- Muscle relaxation exercises
- Deep breathing exercises
- Imagery and visualization
These effective therapeutic practices are inexpensive, drug free, easy to learn and integrate into a daily routine, and can be very effective in improving sleep. Non-pharmaceutical sleep remedies are attractive to many people who don’t want to use medication to treat their insomnia and other sleep problems.
Despite its popularity, we don’t know a great deal about how people use relaxation techniques and CAM, including what health problems they're being employed to treat. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine sought to remedy this by conducting this study to assess how people with insomnia use relaxation techniques and CAM to treat their sleep disorder. They found that while many adults with insomnia are using these therapies, only a small percentage of them are using them specifically to treat insomnia.
Researchers collected information about reasons for using relaxation and CAM, and whether people used these therapies specifically for insomnia. Finally, they asked whether people who used these treatments had informed their physicians about their use. They found that use of both relaxation and CAM techniques are common among people with insomnia—more common than in people without insomnia.