The Impact of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on Insomnia: A Systematic Review

Insomnia is identified by difficulty in maintaining sleep and early morning awakenings [1]. Consequently, it further causes workplace absenteeism, accidents, and a decline in productivity which imparts tremendous societal and economic impact [2]. One-third of the general population encounter insomnia symptoms across their lifespan [3]. Insomnia should not be confused with sleep deprivation, the former being the inability to sleep adequately, either in length or quality [4]. Most studies suggested predominance rates of insomnia disorder from 5% to 15% [5-7]. Insomnia could be a persistent issue in 31% to 75% of patients, with more than two-thirds revealing side effects for at least one year [6-8]. Due to the increasing work pressure and social challenges in an advanced society, most of the masses cannot get adequate sleep and suffer from sleep disturbance [9-12]. A detailed study shows that around 30% of adults suffer from sleep disturbance [7]. It mainly affects females and is increasing with advancing age [8]. Insomnia may be acute or chronic, and primary or secondary [1]. Primary insomnia can be defined as an individual experiencing a sleep disorder due to stress or emotions, while secondary insomnia can be due to co-morbid conditions or prior illness [1]. Insomnia has been associated with many comorbidities such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, and diabetes [2]. It can also lead to alterations in attention with episodic memory, and these cognitive impairments are clinically significant [1,2]. Hence, to maintain an individual’s overall health, the treatment of insomnia is necessary [9, 10]. Conventional methods of treating insomnia generally involve either pharmacotherapies or psychological interventions [11]. The use of such kinds of drugs can cause serious adverse effects such as cognitive impairment, oversedation, daytime drowsiness, rebound discontinuation, and psychomotor disturbance [12]. In recent years, benzodiazepines (diazepam and related drugs) or nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics (zolpidem or zopiclone} have been chosen over older barbiturates which can cause death in cases of overdose. In older patients, sedating antipsychotics, e.g., olanzapine or quetiapine, and sedating anti-depressants with older tricyclic drugs, are generally regarded as “off label” [11, 12]. The new treatment guidelines evolved for benzodiazepine include low doses of sedating antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers [11]. Although pharmacotherapies and psychological interventions remain essential for conventional treatment, due to various motivational factors, interest in using alternative therapies and products for insomnia has developed over the last two decades.

One common treatment group used by patients with insomnia is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) [5-7]. Research on adult insomnia patients has found that 4.5% of them practised CAM to treat their condition [9]. CAM use can be seen extensively among patients with mental disorders, commonly for managing depression or insomnia. CAM generally includes extensive therapies based on different geographical regions from various schools of thought [8]. Common CAM therapies for insomnia include herbal and nutritional medicine, acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, tai chi, and mind-body practices [10]. Mind-body interventions such as

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