There have been several studies recently that link sleep deprivation with an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.
That’s rather scary when you consider 3.5 million Americans suffer from insomnia.
With regard to the obesity cases, researchers have found that even mild sleep deprivation can disrupt the hormones ghrelin and leptin that regulate appetite. Sleep deprivation may also increase substances in the blood that indicate increased inflammation which is associated with diseases like colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Not all experts agree with the findings, claiming that the link between health problems and sleep problems could be caused by other factors. However, most experts agree that further studies need to be done.
More Bad News
Sleeping difficulties may be a red flag for a serious illness. In a recent Harvard Medical School study involving 82,000 nurses, they found an increased risk of death among those who slept less than six hours a night.
What About Pills?
The most popular way to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders is with sleeping pills. It’s a $2.1 billion a year business. The most common drugs are Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. Although they are not as addictive as the barbiturates prescribed in the past (the kind Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley took), most experts agree that the new drugs have not been tested enough for long-term use.
Melatonin is a popular over-the-counter sleep aid, but it is not regulated or approved by the FDA and there are no reliable studies that show it works. Something to consider when using melatonin are the purity levels and correct usage. Most people take it 30 minutes before bed when they should take it several hours before bed.
Any Good News?
There is a non-drug therapy that seems to be working for sleep disorders that are caused by stress, depression, or other psychological factors. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy and is showing some promising results. In one study, researchers found patients got to sleep faster after the therapy than after taking Ambien.
The treatment includes training patients how to calm their mind and body and teaching them how their thought patterns can cause sleeplessness. Other therapy actually restricts the amount of time you spend in bed. The goal is to get six great hours of sleep rather than six hours of poor sleep spread over an eight hour period.
Actually, that’s the theory behind the book “Powerful Sleep”. If you can go to sleep quicker, sleep deeper and wake up feeling refreshed every morning in just 6 or 7 hours, then why would you want to toss and turn for 8 or 9 hours?
If you have an interest in learning more about how your internal sleep clock works and what you can do to enjoy a better night’s sleep, click on the link below to get the first two chapters of “Powerful Sleep”.