Medical news: Sleep medications may kill

A medical study published in February in the British Medical Journal, came to the conclusion that use of sleeping pills is associated with a fourfold increase in mortality. Even less than 18 doses of hypnotic (sleep) medicine per year increased mortality. Cancer incidence also increased with the use of sleeping pills, with an overall increase in cancers of 35% among those prescribed high doses of hypnotics. For more information press here.

Information about Insomnia

Insomnia is often defined as the inability to fall asleep, or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia can be a symptom of another disorder (secondary insomnia), a disorder of its own (primary insomnia), or be seen independent of another presented disorder (co-morbid). There are over 80 defined sleep disorders and insomnia is one of the most common. One in ten adults suffer from chronic insomnia, though children and adolescents can suffer from sleeping problems as well.

Insomnia in any of its forms can result in impairment during the day, chronic fatigue, and higher levels of stress and irritability. Lack of sleep can cause drowsiness interfering with driving as well as difficulty in operating machinery.

The estimated cost of insomnia for a patient (cost of medications, missing work, use of disability programs) is about $1200/year.

Causes of Insomnia

Poor sleep quality can be attributed to several factors, depending on the type of insomnia.Commonly used substances, such as caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol may be the cause. Out of the medical causes for insomnia, chronic pain and sleep apnea (difficulty breathing at night), are the most common.

Secondary insomnia can also be attributed to psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. Certain medicines taken for various disorders may cause insomnia as a side effect.

Primary insomnia, being independent of another disorder, can be caused by a number of issues, such as stress or lifestyle changes.

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic and Acute Insomnia

The difference between chronic insomnia and acute insomnia is the amount of time the symptoms are in effect. If symptoms are present 3 nights or more per week, chronic insomnia may be diagnosed. Any less than that may be acute insomnia.

Symptoms of insomnia include:
Trouble falling sleep
Sleeping for short periods
Waking several times at the night
Unable to sleep for most of the night
Waking up too early
Unusually light sleeping
Waking up tired

Therapies and Treatments for Insomnia

While it may be difficult to cure insomnia, simple lifestyle changes, such as giving up coffee or alcohol can help.

A successful treatment of insomnia that has become more popular in recent years is brain music therapy. Converting brains own waves to music lacks side effects and is effective in about 80% of the patients. See here for more information on Dr. Ghelber’s brain music therapy program.

Herbal treatments for insomnia such as chamomile or valerian are available but mostly non efficient. Over the counter sleep aids and sleep pills work for some insomniacs, but also carry the risk of dependence, as well as possible interference with any other medications you may be taking.

Melatonin produces insignificant benefits for primary insomnia and none for secondary insomnia. Meditation, yoga and Tai Chi are among the most effective complementary and alternative medicine means to improve insomnia symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps target the thoughts and actions that are disrupting the normal sleep patterns. Many insomnia cases are treated with medication, though this may not be the best route for everyone. Medications come with the risk of dependence and possible withdrawal.

If you are suffering from insomnia, call 817-659-7344 and make an appointment with Dr. Ghelber in Fort Worth, TX today to get back on the path to healthy sleeping.

More information on Insomnia:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Library of Medicine
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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