The evidence is now solid: short sleepers are far more susceptible to colds than average sleepers. Results of a study published this month in the journal Sleep show that people who sleep 6 hours or less are over 4 times as likely to catch a cold as people who get over 7 hours a night.
Here’s more, including steps you can take to dodge the bullet this year as cold and flu season begins.
A friend recently called to talk about insomnia. Her problem, she said, was that she couldn’t sleep past 3 a.m. Her doctor recommended taking melatonin and she wanted to know what I thought of this advice.
If you’ve got the type of insomnia where you wake up too early or too frequently (sleep maintenance insomnia), you may be interested in this update.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is now the gold standard in drug-free treatments for insomnia. The benefits are often long lasting.
Researchers have created and are now testing a briefer form of CBT-I called brief behavioral treatment for insomnia (BBTI). BBTI isn’t widely available yet. But with health insurance companies clamoring for providers to rein in costs, BBTI is the wave of the future.
Nothing ruins the night more than an overactive bladder. If you’re lucky you’ll fall right back to sleep when you return to bed. But getting back in the groove is not always easy. Sometimes your mind latches onto a problem and you lie awake for hours.
Here’s how to reduce the urge to go at night and get a better night’s rest.
It’s pretty well established now that exercise is good for sleep. Compared with couch potatoes, exercisers generally fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, and feel more alert during the day.
The timing of your workout can also affect your sleep. Lack of exposure to sunlight can be a setup for insomnia, and now that the days are short, you may be able to improve your sleep by making exercise more regular or exercising at a different time of day.
I roll my eyes when I see articles about how we humans are prone to miscalculating sleep time—in particular, people with insomnia. We tend to underestimate how long we sleep, and the conclusion is often that if we knew how long we were really sleeping, we wouldn’t complain so much.
That’s not the message of the latest of these articles, written by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Thompson looks at how the quest to prolong sleep ties in with the use of sleeping pills—but I think his analysis falls short.
When it comes to sleep, I’m convinced that quality is more important than quantity. Hands down, I’ll take 5 ½ hours of sound slumber over restless dozing that stretches out for 7 hours.
So I have mixed feelings about sleeping pills. Many meds invented to give us more sleep degrade the Zzzz’s we get and can actually worsen insomnia.
Of all the botanicals used for sleep, valerian is the one we hear about the most. I tried it myself several years ago on a trip to Japan. The inky black tincture stank up our bedroom like a pile of ripe wet socks, tasted bitter, and, taken at bedtime, didn’t do a dime’s worth of good for my sleep. So I tossed it on my heap of failed alternative treatments for insomnia and moved on to the next thing.
Now I’m toying with the idea of trying valerian again.