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Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Jun;39:69-81. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.07.004. Epub 2017 Jul 29.

Empirical research evaluating the effects of non-traditional approaches to enhancing sleep in typical and clinical children and young people.

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School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Electronic address:
School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


This paper examines the effects of non-traditional (non-behavioural and non-prescription pharmaceutical) approaches to sleep in children and young people (0-18 y). A systematic search identified 79 studies that met inclusion criteria. Seventeen percent of the studies were rated as having a conclusive level of evidence, forty-two percent with preponderant evidence and forty-one percent with only suggestive evidence. There were promising indications, with certain populations only, for aromatherapy, ketogenic diets, an elimination diet (few foods diet), elimination of cow's milk, avoidance of caffeine, tryptophan with adenosine and uridine, omega-3 and omega-6, valerian, music, osteopathic manipulation and white noise. Bright light therapy and massage returned some positive results. All of these interventions warrant further, more rigorous research. There was limited or no evidence to support acupressure or acupuncture, other diets or dietary supplements, exercise or weighted blankets. Caution is needed in interpreting some studies because poorer quality studies were more likely to return positive results. Suggestions are made for the improvement of large and smaller scale research, especially conceptualization around multiple physiological measures of sleep and the adoption of research methods which are of use in clinical settings.


Children; Complementary medicine; Research design; Sleep

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