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6 Remedies for Sleep Problems—Do They Work?

By Rachel Johnson, Ph.D, M.P.H., R.D., March/April 2008

Can anything we eat or drink help? Here’s what the science says.


READER'S COMMENT:
"For years I have woken at around 2-3 am. I am usually awake for hours, 2-4. I used to try to get comfy and follow my breathing, dream about a warm island holiday etc, hoping to drop off. But I find it is my mind that keeps me awake with...

4. Take a ‘sleep supplement’

Shelves in supplement stores are stacked with sleep formulas. According to one NIH survey conducted in 2002, 1.6 million people tried complementary or alternative therapies like these, and over half of them reported their insomnia improved “a great deal.” However, those glowing anecdotes haven’t been backed up by rigorous scientific study; evaluations of most nutritional supplements haven’t shown any effects whatsoever. The one exception is valerian root, which seemed to help improve sleep with rare, and mild, side effects, such as stomach upset. But finding an effective formulation of valerian root is tricky, since the FDA doesn’t regulate herbal supplements. Don’t waste your money on sleep supplements; hold off on using valerian until standardized formulations become available.

Next: 5. Have a nightcap »



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