New Insomnia Clinic Uses Yoga and Meditation to Relieve Insomnia

Can’t sleep? Natural remedies for insomnia such as yoga, are often successful as alternate therapies to help people get a good night’s rest. Now a Chicago hospital offers a comprehensive new program of natural remedies for insomnia, including yoga.

Everyone knows that sinking feeling – you need to wake up early for a special project or presentation only to find it impossible to fall asleep. It’s bad enough to experience this occasionally, but many people regularly suffer from chronic sleeplessness, or insomnia. The good news is that more doctors are appreciating the value of natural remedies for insomnia, such as yoga, to help people suffering from insomnia.

The Sleep Disorder Center at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital recently opened the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic offering an across-the-board program for treating insomnia. Dr. Ramadevi Gourineni, an insomnia expert, established the clinic to provide natural insomnia treatments.

“I kept hearing from my patients that they felt dismissed by their physicians for complaining of sleep problems, and when physicians did offer help, it was always in the form of medication. We wanted to spread the message to patients and physicians that there is help, and that simple lifestyle changes can replace the need for medications to achieve a better night’s sleep,” she says.

Only 35% of American adults get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Those with insomnia consistently have trouble falling asleep, even if they feel tired. Others symptoms include waking repeatedly throughout the night or awakening too early. Because their minds and bodies are not properly rested, insomniacs frequently have trouble concentrating and performing daily tasks.

To help these patients, the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic first conducts an initial screening to rule out problems such as sleep apnea, psychiatric illnesses, depression, and other medical issues that can interfere with sleep. Physicians then counsel patients in changing behaviors that can cause sleeplessness, such as eliminating caffeine at bedtime and not working or watching TV in the bedroom.

The clinic is unique in that it also emphasizes relaxation techniques including yoga and meditation, to relieve stress and reduce nighttime anxiety and worry. Dr. Gourineni led a small study that showed when subjects practiced deep relaxation techniques during the day, their sleep quality and total sleep time increased, and their depression decreased.

Clinic patients learn about individual relaxation techniques, including yoga for insomnia, and choose one that they feel would be helpful to them. While this approach takes some time and commitment on the part of the patient, Dr. Gourineni has seen dramatic improvements in those that participate in the program.

The clinic is looking to expand by working with local yoga teachers in Chicago to create a network of yoga centers for students to continue their practice outside of the clinic.