A recent analysis of national survey data reveals that more than 1.6 million American adults use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat insomnia or trouble sleeping, according to scientists at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health. The data came from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The analysis appears in the September issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Survey results show that more than 17% of adults reported trouble sleeping or insomnia in the past 12 months. Of those with insomnia or trouble sleeping, 4.5%—more than 1.6 million people—used some form of CAM to treat their condition.

“These data offer some new insights regarding the prevalence of insomnia or trouble sleeping in the United States and the types of CAM therapies people use to treat these conditions,” said Margaret A. Chesney, PhD, acting director of NCCAM. “They will help us develop new research questions regarding the safety and efficacy of the CAM therapies being used.”

Other key points reported in the analysis include:
• Nearly 61% reporting trouble sleeping were women versus about 39% men.
• Insomnia peaks in middle age (45 to 64 years old) and a second increase appears in people 85 and older.
• African Americans and Asians appear less likely than whites to report trouble sleeping or insomnia.
• Those with higher education are less likely to report insomnia or trouble sleeping.