PHILADELPHIA — Given the limitations of pharmacotherapies in treating insomnia, alternative therapies that do not involve medications should be contemplated to provide relief, according to a presenter here at the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
“Insomnia makes a real impact on our society in terms of cost, in terms of things such as lost productivity at work, in terms of motor vehicle and occupational accidents,” Paula Demasi, BSN, MSN, APN, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, told Healio Family Medicine in an interview. “Though it’s hard to quantify and measure, it’s a true problem.”
Medicinal approaches, such as sleep aids, can lead to increased falls among the elderly, she added. Other medications such as benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse and misuse; antihistamines can cause dizziness and confusion; antihistamines can cause daytime sleepiness and antipsychotic agents have what Demasi called a “considerable” side effect profile.
With these adverse events in mind, she stressed the importance of sleep hygiene and nonpharmacologic options.
“Patients with insomnia should avoid sleeping with pets, and should consider getting a new mattress, sleeping in a cool, dark room; playing white noise or music that lulls them to sleep; participating in yoga or receiving acupuncture,” Demasi suggested. “If you can do these without medications it’s good … if you can get better sleep more naturally, like with a vitamin, supplement or chamomile tea, that is preferable.”
According to the Sleep Management Institute, an estimated 30% to 50% of the general U.S. population is affected by insomnia, while 10% of this group have chronic insomnia. The condition generally affects women more often than men, tends to increase as a person gets older and is typically more common in chronic alcoholics, lower income groups, and patients with mental health disorders. – by Janel Miller
Demasi P. “Insomnia: The Yawn of a New Age.” Presented at: American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference; Jun. 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.
Sleep Management Institute Webpage on Insomnia (accessed 06-22-17)
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