Older insomniacs may want to scale back on use of over-the-counter sleeping pills

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids Aren’t Harmless

Americans love over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids. In 2015 we spent $427 million on products like ZzzQuil, Unisom, and Sominex.

These drugs are advertised “for relief of occasional sleeplessness.” Yet many Americans—particularly older adults—use OTC sleep aids several nights a week and may want to consider scaling back because of the side effects.

Very worried middle-aged woman

Q&A: Can Poor Sleep Show in the Face?

Can chronic insomnia make you less attractive? speed up the aging of skin? cause irreversible damage to your face?

I heard these concerns as I interviewed insomniacs for my book. But recently I decided to check into them after receiving an email from a woman whose anxiety about her appearance was extreme:

Use a light box early in the morning or in the evening, depending on your insomnia symptoms

Insomniacs, Let There Be Light

If you’re prone to insomnia when it’s chilly outside, the problem may have to do with too little exposure to daylight in the colder months of the year. Working in well-lit conditions and using a light box may help to relieve your insomnia symptoms.

Sleeping pills are viewed differently in Australia and the US

Sleeping Pills: Too Risky, or a Red-State, Blue-State Affair?

How do people with insomnia feel about sleeping pills?

Attitudes toward sleep medications differ from one American to the next, and between Americans and Australians, it turns out. Here’s a brief comparison that I hope will start a conversation.

Insomnia sufferers may want to try a sleep aid called Zenbev Drink Mix, made from pumpkin seeds

Could Pumpkin Seeds + Carbs = Better Sleep?

Let’s begin with a caveat: no organic sleep aid on the market has been shown to cure insomnia.

But if you like warm, nonalcoholic, caffeine-free liquids, and if drinking a beverage is part of your evening routine, you might be interested in trying Zenbev Drink Mix. Here’s more information about it.

Insomnia may respond to acupuncture treatments

Acupuncture for Insomnia: An Update

This summer I saw a cousin of mine who lives in San Francisco. He was using acupuncture for insomnia and happy with the results.

I’ve always wondered about acupuncture as a potential treatment for insomnia, so now and then I check the literature. Here’s a summary of recent thinking about it.

pet scan

Is Insomnia a Hybrid State?

Some research suggests that insomnia is a hybrid state, when the brain is neither fully asleep nor fully awake.

Now there’s new evidence for this claim. A new study suggests that insomniacs’ inability to quiet the brain at night is linked to pockets of activity that show up in PET scans while the rest of the brain is asleep.

BDNF levels may distinguish insomniacs from normal sleepers

Is Low BDNF a Marker of Insomnia?

We’re often told there’s no objective test of insomnia.

But now a research group in Switzerland is claiming they’ve found an objective marker of insomnia: brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.