There’s no doubt that insomnia affects the mind in a number of ways.

I was recently reading a news article that did a good job rounding up a number of the mental health consequences of insomnia.

The founder of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas claims that chronic sleep deprivation can turn you into someone that looks like they have early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Furthermore, the news article references a British study that found insomnia sufferers to be 5 times more likely to suffer from paranoid delusions.

Chronic sleep deprivation also affect memory retention, reaction time and cognitive function.

Long term, chronic insomnia is certainly something that should never be ignored.

Source: Center for BrainHealth

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Sleep deprivation affects the brain in a number of ways. Now it would appear that sleep deprivation can lead to the creation of false memories.

Researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine asked 104 individuals to look at pictures of a crime being committed. One group was allowed to sleep whilst the other was made to stay awake overnight.

Those who were sleep deprived and read false information about the scene were more likely to report remembering the false information compared to those who slept overnight.

It’s thought that anything less than 5 hours of sleep each night can lead to the formation of false memories.

Probably best not to rely on an insomnia sufferer as a witness, then.

Source: Psychological Science

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In 2010 I wrote about a study that found cherry juice could reduce the severity of insomnia.

I was skeptical at the time since the study only involved 15 individuals and it was funded by a cherry juice manufacturer.

However, further studies are taking place that appear to backup this earlier research.

A recent study found that older adults aged between 59-77 who drank 8oz of tart cherry juice twice per day over the course of 2 treatment periods (2 weeks drinking the juice, 2 weeks not drinking the juice) saw sleep time increase by approximately 85 minutes.

It was previously thought that the melatonin content of cherries was the reason behind their sleep-inducing properties – however researchers now suspect that the juice decreases levels of indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase and PGE2.

This was still a tiny study (it only involved 7 participants) but a larger clinical trial is underway and still recruiting participants if you want to get involved.

Source: The FASEB Journal

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Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective insomnia treatments – even for those who have suffered with insomnia for years.

Now a new study has found that even brief cognitive behavioral treatments for insomnia yield positive results.

84 outpatients with an average age of 54 (58% were women) were treated in a behavioral sleep medicine clinic.

Those who completed at least 1 brief cognitive behavioral treatment experienced lower health care utilization costs after treatment. 

Those who completed 3 or more treatments saw average decreases in CPT costs of around $200 and estimated total costs of $75. 

In other words, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can reduce healthcare utilization costs (and can significantly improve sleep in as few as 3 treatments) – yet CBT for insomnia is still far too inaccessible for most people.

That needs to change.

Source: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

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When nightmares cause insomnia and depression

by Martin Reed 18 July 2014

I’ve written about the link between insomnia and depression a number of times. New research has now found then when insomnia is combined with nightmares, symptoms of depression can become even worse. Researchers in Japan found that 71% of study participants with insomnia experienced nightmares 1 or more times per week compared to 29% of […]

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Over the counter sleeping pills come with risks, too

by Martin Reed 16 July 2014

More than 2 million Americans are regularly taking over the counter sleeping pills to help them sleep. This trend has many doctors concerned. According to one professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, individuals who are self-treating their insomnia with over the counter sleeping pills could be putting themselves at risk for serious health consequences. […]

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