For many women, it’s tough to get a good night’s sleep. Studies show that women may be 20 percent to 50 percent more likely to have insomnia than men.
One culprit behind women’s sleep difficulties can be fluctuating hormone levels. With optimal levels of estrogen and progesterone in your system, the time it takes to fall asleep and the number of awakenings during the night decrease. But hormone fluctuations occur for many reasons, including monthly menstrual cycles, use of birth control pills, pregnancy, and perimenopause—the five to 10 years before and up to one year after menstrual periods end.
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, simple changes in your daily and nightly habits may result in better sleep. The January issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers these suggestions:
Skimping on sleep can slow certain types of learning, a new study in rats shows, and the difficulty seems to arise from a lack of new brain neurons.
Rodents that got half their normal amount of shut-eye had a harder time remembering how to navigate a maze than well-rested rats, Dr. Ilana Hairston of the University of California at Berkeley and colleagues found.
Since sleep apnea is associated with heart failure, patients who take a single dose of acetazolamide -a mild diuretic and respiratory stimulant—before going to bed exhibit less sleep apnea, improved blood oxygen levels and fewer daytime symptoms of sleepiness.
The results of the double-blind, placebo-controlled study appear in the second issue for January 2006 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
People with a brain defect called Arnold-Chiari Malformation often develop sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing interruptions during sleep and can lead to daytime sleepiness. In Arnold-Chiari Malformation, abnormalities cause the cerebellum portion of the brain to protrude through the bottom of the skull against the spinal cord. This protrusion can cause compression on the brain stem, including the areas that control breathing.
A new study, published in the January 10, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows that surgery to remove the compression on the brain stem can also improve sleep apnea.
Therapies focused on changing sleep habits may be a good alternative to sleeping pills for older adults with insomnia, a research review suggests.
The review of 23 clinical trials found that behavioral therapies aimed at changing people’s habits and attitudes regarding sleep were generally effective in helping older adults get a better night’s sleep.
A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. A short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power, reports the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
While more research is needed to explore the links between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that sleep is too important to shortchange. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
The spate of new sleeping pills on the market are effective treatments for insomnia, but they have different effects and no one drug stands out as the best, according to a new review of studies on drugs including Sonata, Ambien and Lunesta.
Reviewers from the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center at the Oregon Health and Science University concluded that the drugs were better than placebo pills at treating insomnia symptoms such as trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Young children are getting about nine hours of sleep a night, substantially less than the 12- to15- hours of shut-eye experts recommend, a new study shows.
While it’s not clear that children actually need a dozen hours of nightly sleep, Dr. Christine Acebo of the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Research Laboratory in Providence, Rhode Island told Reuters Health, the findings do raise the possibility that some young children may be sleep-deprived.
New research shows that aging women who sleep well and/or have strong social ties have lower levels of interleukin-6, an immune system protein that promotes inflammation and that tends to increase with age.
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been linked to a variety of diseases including osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. People who have relatively high levels of IL-6 are at greater risk for these diseases.
Researchers at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston have discovered that toddlers with sleep apnea experience more respiratory disturbances when they sleep on their backs than in other positions. Their findings, which contradict earlier studies on the subject, were published in this month’s issue of Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a serious medical problem affecting 500,000 children every year in the United States. Pediatric OSAS is commonly caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids and is characterized by episodes of partial or complete upper airway obstruction that occur during sleep, including snoring, cyanosis (a bluish color of the skin and mucous membranes), and poor sleep quality. Daytime symptoms can include mouth breathing, behavior problems, hyperactivity and excessive daytime sleepiness.
For older people, the risks outweigh the benefits of taking sleeping pills and other sedatives, say researchers in this week’s BMJ.
Insomnia can often affect the quality of life for older people and between 5% and 33% of older people in the UK are prescribed sleeping pills such as benzodiazepine.
Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of death from stroke or other causes, whether the sleeper has hypertension or not, according to research reported today.
Equally disquieting was the news that in patients with both central sleep apnea and heart failure, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improves both sleep and cardiovascular function, but does not improve survival.
Treatment of long-standing or severe sleep-disordered breathing, also known as sleep apnea, cannot always eliminate the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and death, according to two studies in The New England Journal of Medicine this week.
People with sleep apnea involuntarily stop breathing dozens of times each night, causing them to gasp for breath. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway becomes blocked by tissue such as the tonsils or base of the tongue, whereas central sleep apnea occurs when the respiratory system stops working in the absence of a blockage.
Worries over the safety of prescription sleep drugs may be leading many older adults to self-medicate with such homespun remedies as alcohol or soothing music, according to results of a survey released today.
In all, one in four Americans reported having a sleep problem in the national telephone survey that included 1,003 adults ages 50 or older. The results were statistically adjusted to be nationally representative.
Patients with sleep complaints but no heartburn symptoms suffered episodes of nighttime acid reflux according to research presented at the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.
In a separate study, researchers found that symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) are common and frequently severe in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.