Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that signals the body it’s time for sleep. It is not regulated by the FDA and a wide variety of supplements are available. Before considering melatonin it’s important to consult with your physician to be sure you are a good candidate. Although it is naturally occurring, additional supplementation may be associated with some side effects. Safety in the elderly, those with heart disease, and in pregnancy / breastfeeding has not been fully established. Better safe than sorry, check with your doctor.
One of the most common complaints I hear from my insomnia patients is “I can’t turn my mind off at night”! This is a very common problem and I’d estimate that about three quarters of the people I see in the sleep clinic suffer this to some degree. Whether we’re thinking about what’s happening the next day, worrying about big things like the health and welfare of our kids, or just random fleeting thoughts, the phenomenon of the overly active mind at night can really get in the way of falling asleep. Many patients have told me they wish there was a big switch in their head they could simply turn off at night. Unfortunately, such a simple switch hasn’t been invented yet.
A majority of people experiencing chronic insomnia can experience a normalization of sleep parameters through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) suggests a new study.
Results indicate that 50 percent to 60 percent of participants with chronic sleep onset insomnia, sleep maintenance insomnia or both experienced remission of their primary sleep difficulty.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, but despite advances in diagnosis and management, it often goes unrecognized and untreated. Left untreated, insomnia increases the risk of developing other illnesses including depression, diabetes, hypertension, and possibly even death in older adults. Therefore, much more needs to be done to identify and treat insomnia early, and to ensure that patients are treated according to clinical guidelines rather than with off-label drugs that have little evidence for their effectiveness, concludes a review of the evidence published Online First in The Lancet.
"In view of the high prevalence and substantial morbidities of insomnia, patients should routinely be asked about sleep problems by health-care providers," say Charles Morin from the Université Laval, Québec City, Canada and Ruth Benca from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, authors of the Seminar.
Madison, Wisconsin - Insomnia is a serious medical condition that should be treated with evidence-based medicine because it is linked to depression, diabetes, hypertension, drug abuse and even death, according to a review of recent research co-authored by a leading University of Wisconsin-Madison sleep researcher.
"This review underscores the fact that insomnia needs to be taken seriously, and that health care providers should routinely ask their patients how they are sleeping," says Dr. Ruth Benca, director of the Wisconsin Sleep laboratory and clinic.
An estimated 15 million Americans routinely work night shifts or rotate in and out of overnight shift work, and, as anyone who's ever been stuck working when others are sleeping can tell you, the odd hours can take a toll.
A study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that it's insomnia, rather than sleepiness, that has the largest impact on night shift worker productivity.
The study looked at several dozen permanent night workers, the majority of whom were diagnosed with "shift work disorder" - a condition whose symptoms include excessive sleepiness at times when the worker is supposed to be awake, alert and productive, as well as a lack of concentration and energy, irritability and chronic insomnia.
The best insomnia treatment is a well-kept secret. It’s not that anyone is purposely hiding it. It’s just that it has yet to find its way from the research world to the clinic and to the people who need it. Unlike sleeping pills that have huge sales potential and marketing budgets, effective non-drug interventions are not rapidly disseminated. So cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, or “CBT-I,” is not yet a household word.
Decades of research, including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses, have shown that CBT-I is effective at reversing insomnia. In fact, it is the first-line treatment in Canadian, American and British medical guidelines. It is recommended for chronic insomnia, ahead of sleeping pills. However, as yet, access to this excellent treatment is very limited.
One weekend afternoon a couple of years ago, while turning a page of the book I was reading to my daughters, I fell asleep. That’s when I knew it was time to do something about my insomnia.
Data, not pills, was my path to relief.
Insomnia is common. About 30 percent of adults report some symptoms of it, though less than half that figure have all symptoms. Not all insomniacs are severely debilitated zombies. Consistent sleeplessness that causes some daytime problems is all it takes to be considered an insomniac. Most function quite well, and the vast majority go untreated.
Whenever most people have serious trouble sleeping, they automatically reach for a sleeping aid, whether that’s a prescription or over-the-counter medication or a natural remedy.
But these solutions, as psychologist and sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D, explained, are anything but.
In fact, the preferred solution — the one that research also supports — is a treatment that many people, even medical professionals, are unaware of.
Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly effective for insomnia. (Effective results have been shown in a recent meta-analysis and article review.)
So you can’t sleep. An estimated 30 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, and the sensible, standard advice given to them is to practice sleep hygiene and simply try going to bed earlier. If (or when) this fails, there are of course dozens of sleep medications available over the counter or via prescription.
And yet the best treatment for chronic insomnia, according to the scientific literature, is one that most people haven’t tried, no doubt at least in part because it sounds insane: The secret to getting better sleep may be to purposefully get less of it, at least for a time.