Insomnia—the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep—is a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States. According to data from the National Sleep Foundation, 30% of Americans experience sleep disruptions, and another 10% struggle with insomnia.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than a third of American adults do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.2 Older people and those with chronic health conditions are especially prone to insomnia.
The typical adult should get about seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health.3 Sleep is essential for learning and memory formation, emotional wellbeing, physical growth and development, immune function, and cardiovascular health. Sleep is also integral to cellular repair processes and helps regulate insulin and other hormones that control appetite. Sleep deficiency can dramatically diminish a person’s quality of life. Insufficient sleep also increases risk of a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity.4-10
Insomnia can lead to a variety of symptoms such as not feeling well-rested after waking, daytime fatigue, irritability, depression or anxiety, excessive uneasiness about sleep, difficulty performing school or work tasks, and increased risk of accidents, especially involving an automobile.11
Despite the major toll insomnia takes, conventional treatment options remain far from ideal. For instance, popular hypnotic sleep aids, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and temazepam (Restoril), have been consistently associated with significantly increased risk of death and other serious adverse effects.12-14 However, people who use hypnotic sleep aids often have poor overall sleep quality, which could explain some of these associations.
These alarming findings highlight the need for safe and effective strategies to improve sleep quality, especially as up to 10% of U.S. adults use hypnotic sleep aids.14 Hypnotic sleep aids are by no means a cure for chronic insomnia.
In this protocol, you will learn about the causes of sleep problems and simple lifestyle changes that can improve your sleep quality.15,16 You will also discover emerging therapies that have achieved prolonged improvements in sleep quality, with potentially fewer side effects than some popular sleep drugs.17 In addition, you will read about several natural compounds that modulate sleep biology which may be safer than some pharmaceutical treatment options.