Category: Recent Studies

Insomnia and mental decline can be alleviated with exercise

Exercise Improves Sleep, Preserves Mental Fitness

You may have been a couch potato for most of your life, but now, if you’re middle-aged and envisioning a healthy retirement, you’d better change your ways.

Moderate-to-vigorous exercise can mitigate some effects of aging, including poor sleep quality and cognitive decline. Research generally supports this claim, so especially if you’re prone to insomnia, you’ll want to check this out.

Insomnia may respond to treatment with ashwagandha

An Ayurvedic Herb for Better Sleep

Might Ayurvedic medicine—traditional medicine practiced in India for 3,000 years—offer an effective treatment for insomnia?

If you’re looking for an alternative treatment vetted by scientists in controlled clinical trials, the answer is no. But an Indian herb called ashwagandha is receiving attention as a substance that might help people with several health conditions, including chronic stress, anxiety, and memory loss. It’s also being studied as a possible sleep aid. Here’s more about it.

Insomnia may persist even after successful sleep apnea treatment

Insomnia or Sleep Apnea, or Both?

Let’s say that after years of experiencing insomnia you go in for a sleep study only to find out you have obstructive sleep apnea. Who knew? You’re outfitted with a breathing mask, you wear it as prescribed, and your sleep improves . . . somewhat.

But your insomnia symptoms are persistent, and you don’t have the kind of stamina you’d like during the day. What then?

Genetic variants may be an underlying factor in insomnia

Insomnia and Your Genes

If you suspect there’s a biological component to your insomnia, you’re probably right. Although talk about insomnia is mostly confined to situational triggers as well as habits and attitudes that keep insomnia alive, all models of chronic insomnia assume the existence of predisposing factors. Some of these factors may be inherited at birth.

What evidence is there for genetic involvement in insomnia, and where might it lead? A review published recently in Brain Sciences brings us up to date.

Sleep may be deeper and memory better by listening to timed exposure to pink noise at night

Pink Noise Enhances Sleep and Memory

An acoustic device may be able to accomplish for older adults what sleeping pills still cannot: enhance both sleep and memory.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago conducted a study of 13 healthy older adults whose sleep deepened and whose recall of word pairs improved with timed acoustic stimulation at night. The discovery holds promise not just for older people with insomnia but also for everyone concerned about aging and memory impairment.

Persistent trouble sleeping can develop from years of shift work

“Sleep Was Easier to Give Up Than the Job”

Several people I interviewed for The Savvy Insomniac blamed their insomnia on stress at work. A trial lawyer attributed his nighttime wake-ups to “mostly job related stress.” A 52-year-old woman on Social Security disability saw her insomnia as resulting from 14 years of shift work as a dispatcher with emergency services.

Work can interfere with sleep in many ways, including shortening sleep duration. The CDC has just released a report on the categories of work most likely to shorten people’s sleep. Here’s what they are and how they may relate to chronic insomnia.

Nonrestorative sleep may or may not be a form of insomnia

When 7-Hour Nights Aren’t Good Enough

To many insomnia sufferers, the prospect of sleeping 7 hours a night sounds great. Insomniacs who write to me with news that they’ve achieved this feat after undergoing some type of insomnia treatment are thrilled.

Other people are not so thrilled about 7-hour nights. No matter how long they sleep, they wake up feeling unrested. Insufficiently refreshing sleep is the main symptom of people diagnosed with nonrestorative sleep.

New guideline for sleeping pills may change doctors' prescribing habits

Sleeping Pills: New Prescribing Guidelines

Let’s say you go to the doctor hoping to get a prescription for sleeping pills to relieve your insomnia. You’ve been through cognitive behavioral therapy and it has helped. But there are nights when you’re wound up so tightly that nothing—push-ups, meditation, a hot bath—will calm you down enough so you can get a decent night’s sleep. What then?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently released a clinical practice guideline for the medical treatment of chronic insomnia in adults. Here’s what the academy now recommends.