Researchers in Israel recently set out to figure out why interrupted sleep can be just as bad as getting no sleep at all.

They found that interrupted sleep patterns lead to reduced cognitive ability, reduced attention spans and bad moods.

In fact, the researchers determined that interrupted sleep was about as good as no more than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Participants in the study slept a normal 8 hour night, then experienced a night in which they were awakened 4 times during the night, for 10-15 minutes each time.

The following morning, participants filled out questionnaires to determine their mood and completed computer based tasks to determine their levels of attention and alertness.

A direct link was found between reduced levels of attention and negative mood after only 1 day of interrupted sleep.

A reminder that sleep quality is usually far more important than sleep quantity.

Source: Sleep Medicine

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The best insomnia remedy for cancer survivors

by Martin Reed on 15 October 2014 in insomnia cures

A recent study set out to determine which insomnia treatment was more effective for cancer survivors: mindfulness-based stress reduction (a combination of yoga and mindful meditation) or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

The study involved 111 Canadian adults with nonmetastatic cancer who were at least 1 month away from finishing their cancer treatment. Each behavioral therapy (MBSR and CBT-i) lasted for 8 weeks.

At the end of the therapy, researchers found that MBSR was less effective than CBT-i, but after 3 months it was just as effective.

At this 3 month follow-up, it was found that those who took the MBSR therapy were falling asleep 14 minutes faster than before and those who took the CBT-i therapy were falling asleep 22 minutes faster than before.

Total sleep time increased by almost 45 minutes for the MBSR group and around 36 minutes for the CBT-i group. Sleep efficiency improved by around 8% for the MBSR group and 12% for the CBT-i group.

In both groups, stress levels decreased and there were measurable mood improvements.

To conclude, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia worked faster, but at 3 months the mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy offered comparable results.

This difference is probably down to the fact that MBSR techniques can take slightly longer to learn and practice effectively.

I talk more about both MBSR and CBT-i in my free sleep training course for insomnia.

Source: The Oncology Report

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Stachytarpheta cayennensis is a flowering plant in the verbena family that is thought to have anti-anxiety and sedative properties.

The plant, also known as cayenne porterweed, snakeweed or false verbena is considered by some to be a natural alternative to benzodiazepines.

In order to experience the plant’s sedative effects, the leaves are used to make a tea. In some cultures, this tea is also used to treat ailments ranging from diabetes to ulcers, diarrhea and even malaria.

An African study undertaken last year found that extracts from the leaves of this plant did indeed have sedative effects in mice and that the consequent reduction in time taken to fall asleep and extension of sleep duration were comparable with hypnotic drugs such as diazepam and chlorpromazine.

An extra bonus: In many places, stachytarpheta cayennensis is considered an invasive species; so if you give this a try, you could end up improving your sleep and your local ecosystem at the same time!

Source: AJTCAM

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Rates of anxiety and depression tend to be more prevalent among those in less advantaged social positions – especially for women.

Anxiety and depression (grouped together by the term ‘psychiatric distress’) often predicts insomnia symptoms, and vice-versa.

An interesting study out of the UK looked to determine whether there really is a link between psychiatric distress and insomnia symptoms based on gender and social class.

999 individuals were followed for 20 years, with the average age range of participants being 36-57 years of age.

Researchers found that those in a manual social class were more likely to experience insomnia compared to those in non-manual occupations. These individuals also exhibited higher rates of psychiatric distress.

Women (especially those in a manual social class) were found to be more likely to experience patterns of psychiatric distress and insomnia in middle age than men.

The study concluded there is a strong association between socioeconomic disadvantage and chronic insomnia symptoms and psychiatric distress – particularly among women.

Source: BMC Psychiatry

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When you suffer from insomnia but nobody believes you

by Martin Reed 26 September 2014

Back in 2010 I wrote a post that raised the idea that perhaps you’re sleeping just fine, even when it feels as though you’ve been tossing and turning all night. It would appear that I may have been onto something. An article in New Scientist magazine recently went into detail about a condition known as […]

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Insomnia may be a risk factor for suicide

by Martin Reed 24 September 2014

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe that insomnia and nightmares are significant risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In fact, they argue that just being awake at night may be a risk factor for suicide. The study in question involved an archival analysis of the National Violent Death Reporting System and the American […]

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