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.
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:
Chronic insomniacs will have heard these messages before: “Don’t nap.” “Avoid caffeinated beverages later in the day.” These are good rules of thumb for most people with insomnia. If you catch yourself drifting off during the 6 o’clock news, it’s better to get up and walk around the block than drink coffee or indulge in a full-blown nap.
But some situations warrant breaking the rules.
When people ask what insomnia treatment helped me the most, I mention sleep restriction therapy (SRT) and exercise.
But I’d never seen SRT and exercise paired as equal partners in a therapeutic intervention for insomnia until last week. Trolling the Internet, I came across a study conducted in China to determine whether adding an individualized exercise program to SRT would result in better outcomes than SRT alone. The investigators came up with interesting results.
People with insomnia typically worry about not getting enough sleep. It’s easy to understand why. The media are are full of stories warning of the perils of insufficient sleep: obesity, diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease.
But a study of sleep in 3 traditional societies published in October suggests that humans may need less sleep than we think we do—which should give insomniacs food for thought.
We often hear that Americans are not getting enough sleep. Electric lights (and now screens) are usually cited as the culprits, and Thomas Edison gets blamed for saying we should all sleep less. But the Catholic saints had the same opinion. The shorter their nights were, the more time they could devote to prayer and charitable work.
I just finished reading Father Aloysius Roche’s Bedside Book of Saints, and it’s clear to me that the saints would take issue with several ideas promoted by sleep experts today, including advice for insomnia sufferers looking for a better night’s sleep.
Ever notice that on some days you’ve got better impulse control than on others? I see this when it comes to my resolve to avoid certain foods.
Sometimes my reserves of willpower feel abundant. That last piece of chocolate cake? Save it for the husband. Other times I turn into a slavering Homer Simpson. The cake is so enticing that in a red-hot minute it’s down the hatch.
A new review article by researchers from Clemson University suggests that not just impulsive eating but a lack self-control in general may be attributable to poor sleep habits and poor sleep. This claim will resonate with many insomnia sufferers, so here’s a summary of the authors’ key points.