Insomnia--difficulty falling or staying asleep--can wreak havoc on people's lives. And with the coroner's finding that Michael Jackson died from a lethal dose of the anesthesia medication propofol (Diprivan), which the pop star reportedly received routinely because of his chronic inability to sleep, it's a good time to revisit safe ways to help cure insomnia.
About 30 percent of adults experience some degree of insomnia at some point in their lives, and about 10 percent have problems that are severe enough that their waking hours are affected, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which published guidelines for the treatment of insomnia last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. "Almost everyone who walks the face of the Earth will have at least a very transient period of sleep disturbance at some point in their lives," due to stress, pressure, worry, or even medical problems that cause pain and distress, says Michael Sateia, a coauthor of the AASM's insomnia guidelines and chief of sleep medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. For most people, sleep problems are short term and go away on their own. But about 10 percent of adults have chronic insomnia, defined by sleep interruptions at least three times per week for a month or more. Some people experience the problem for years or even decades.