National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

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New Findings on Sleep Disorders and CAM

Based on a national survey, NCCAM scientists found that over 1.6 million American adults use some form of CAM to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping.1 Nancy Pearson, Ph.D., Laura Lee Johnson, Ph.D., and Richard Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., of NCCAM evaluated results of the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, which was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and included questions on participants' use of CAM. Among the NCCAM authors' other key findings:

  • Over 17 percent of adults reported insomnia or trouble sleeping in the past 12 months. In this group, 4.5 percent used some form of CAM to treat these problems.
  • Nearly 61 percent of those who had insomnia or trouble sleeping were women. About 39 percent were men.
  • People with a higher level of education were less likely to report having insomnia or trouble sleeping. Also, people who identified their race/ethnicity as White were more likely to have insomnia or trouble sleeping than those who were Black or Asian.
  • The CAM users were most likely to use biologically based therapies (nearly 65 percent), such as herbal therapies, or mind-body therapies (more than 39 percent), such as relaxation techniques. Most who used these two types of therapies said they were at least somewhat helpful for insomnia or trouble sleeping.
  • The survey indicated that insomnia or trouble sleeping hit its peak in middle age (45-64 years old), with a second increase in people 85 and older.
  • The odds of having insomnia or trouble sleeping were significantly higher for people with high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, anxiety and depression, or obesity.

1 See also “Can't Sleep? Science Is Seeking New Answers” in the Summer 2005 issue of CAM at the NIH.


Publication Date: 
September 18, 2006

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