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.
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.
With sleeping pills getting bad press these days, the race is on to find more nonpharmacologic, alternative treatments for insomnia. One area of interest is diet and nutrition. Are there foods that could help us sleep?
The evidence for a relationship between food and sleep is mixed, say authors that reviewed 21 studies on the topic. But a new randomized controlled study of the effects of diet on sleep suggests that foods high in fiber, saturated fat, and sugar may significantly affect the quality of our sleep.
If you have insomnia, you’ve probably heard it’s best to avoid naps. Maybe you heard it from your doctor in a conversation about the rules of “good sleep hygiene,” or maybe you read it in a magazine. Is the advice to refrain from napping really sound advice and, if so, do you have to swear off napping completely to get a better night’s rest?
There are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions, say researchers who recently reviewed the evidence behind the recommendation to avoid napping and other sleep-related do’s and don’ts. It depends on your age and situation.
As habits go, cigarette smoking is one of the riskiest. Despite the many reasons people give for smoking—it provides relaxation and stress relief, increased stamina and concentration, weight control—the costs are steep. Cancer, emphysema, and heart disease top the list.
Whether smoking also causes insomnia remains to be seen. But research has shown it harms sleep quality. Two teams of scientists—one at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the other based in Freiburg, Germany—set out to measure smoking’s impact on sleep, and here is what they found.
Ask insomnia sufferers what they want, and the first thing on their wish lists is “more sleep.” Or “more deep sleep”—the kind associated with feelings of rest and restoration.
I’ll go along with that. But my wish list contains a few more items.
Looking for an objective test of insomnia?
New research suggests there’s a relationship between insomnia and sleep spindles—sudden bursts of fast electrical activity that occur in the brain mostly during stage 2 sleep. Investigators at Concordia University in Montreal found that students with lower spindle activity reported more stress-related sleep problems than students whose spindle activity was high.
Lesley Gale was a light sleeper who began to have insomnia about 8 years ago. She consulted doctors and tried the remedies they proposed, but nothing seemed to work. Investigating on her own, she came upon a treatment called sleep restriction therapy, or SRT.
“I had heard of SRT before,” Gale wrote in an e-mail, “having seen a couple of documentaries on TV about it, and then did further reading on the Internet. But for years I dismissed it instantly as being absolutely impossible for me.” Napping was off limits during SRT, and this was a deal breaker.