A link has already been identified between the use of benzodiazepines and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now it looks as though there’s another type of drug that’s often taken as a sleep aid that can be linked to dementia: antihistamines (and more specifically, diphenhydramine).

This latest study by researchers at the University of Washington examined the health of nearly 3,500 individuals over the age of 65.

None of these individuals showed signs of dementia at the start of the study.

After looking at the medical and pharmacy records of these individuals, researchers estimate that those who take at least 4mg of diphenhydramine per day for more than 3 years are at a greater risk of developing dementia.

Previous studies have also found that antihistamines can damage attention and information processing.

There’s no proof that these drugs cause dementia but until further research is undertaken it’s worth being aware of the link and sticking to the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine

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It’s extremely important that children and teens (and adults!) get enough quality sleep.

Sleep deprivation in children, and teens in particular, can lead to a number of health issues and a failure to address sleep issues in childhood can lead to chronic insomnia later in life.

Unfortunately, teenagers appear to be getting less sleep than ever – and a new study suggests this could lead to alcohol problems, drug use and even regretful sexual behavior later in life.

Researchers in the United States analyzed data collected from more than 6,500 teenagers. They found that teenagers who had trouble falling asleep were more likely to use illicit drugs, engage in sexual behavior that they’d later regret or binge drink in later years.

The data suggested that as sleep quality decreased, the link with these issues got stronger – teenagers who had difficulty falling asleep almost every day were 33% more likely to experience these issues compared to teenagers with healthy sleep patterns.

Researchers also found that the less sleep teenagers got, the more likely they were to experience a number of other problems such as relationship issues due to alcohol misuse.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – researchers found that just 1 extra hour of sleep was linked to a decrease in the odds of future binge drinking.

Further confirmation that sleep issues in children should never be ignored.

Source: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

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It’s no surprise that stressful events often lead to short-term insomnia. The real problem arises when short-term sleeplessness develops into long-term, chronic insomnia.

It’s thought that as many as 20% of adults suffer from short-term insomnia – and it’s more prevalent in women than men.

A recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine set out to explore the behaviors that lead to insomnia – and the results are quite interesting.

Researchers found that it wasn’t so much the stressful events that led to insomnia – instead, it was how individuals reacted to those stressful events that determined the effect on their sleep health.

The coping methods that most harmed sleep included the use of drugs and alcohol, using media as a form of distraction and failure to address or confront the cause of the initial stress.

In other words, it’s how we react to stressful life events that has a direct impact on our sleep – not the stressors themselves.

Researchers suggested that techniques such as mindfulness-based therapies can be particularly effective when it comes to reducing the mental chatter associated with stressful events.

Source: SLEEP

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I’ve written about the potential link between insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease a few times now.

As for why there may be a link, the jury is still out.

A new study recently put forward a potential culprit – sleeping pills (and more specifically, benzodiazepines).

Researchers in France and Canada found that those over the age of 66 who used benzodiazepines for at least 3 months were up to 51% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The strongest link was found in those who took benzodiazepines for longer periods of time and those who took longer-acting benzodiazepines.

It’s important to note that this study didn’t conclude that benzodiazepines cause Alzheimer’s disease – however, the link does suggest a possible connection that is worthy of future investigation.

Source: British Medical Journal

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New study finds that genes influence insomnia

by Martin Reed 7 January 2015

In the past 5 years I’ve written about 2 studies that have suggested insomnia may be genetic. This is an interesting area of research, but it doesn’t come up all that often. That being said, I recently came across a new study that aimed to investigate whether insomnia in children and adolescents can be explained […]

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How to cure insomnia in seniors (without sleeping pills)

by Martin Reed 5 January 2015

When it comes to sleep quality and insomnia, our seniors tend to get a raw deal. Not only are seniors more likely to find sleep difficult, the prevalence of insomnia amongst seniors is quite astonishing. Unfortunately, the typical response is to prescribe sleeping pills. Chronic insomnia can increase our risk for a number of other […]

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