Complementary and alternative medicine for sleep disturbances in older adults

Clin Geriatr Med. 2008 Feb;24(1):121-38, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2007.08.002.


Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are frequently used for the treatment of sleep disorders, but in many cases patients do not discuss these therapies directly with their health care provider. There is a growing body of well-designed clinical trials using CAM that have shown the following: (1) Melatonin is an effective agent for the treatment of circadian phase disorders that affect sleep; however, the role of melatonin in the treatment of primary or secondary insomnia is less well established. (2) Valerian has shown a benefit in some, but not all clinical trials. (3) Several other modalities, such as Tai Chi, acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and meditation have improved sleep parameters in a limited number of early trials. Future work examining CAM has the potential to significantly add to our treatment options for sleep disorders in older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Humans
  • Meditation
  • Melatonin / administration & dosage
  • Melatonin / blood
  • Phytotherapy
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Tai Ji
  • Valerian
  • Yoga


  • Melatonin