Exercise can improve sleep. If you want to use exercise as a natural insomnia remedy to help you fall asleep, it’s best to exercise within three to six hours of bedtime to give your body temperature enough time to fall.

Exercise should be avoided in the three hours before bedtime as this can make sleep more difficult since your body temperature may be too elevated when you’re ready for bed.

That being said, if you don’t have time to exercise earlier in the day, here are some tips:

1. Save the vigorous exercise for days when you do have the spare time. On days when you’re only able to exercise close to bedtime, go for a lighter form of exercise such as a walk or yoga.

2. Help your body temperature fall more quickly by taking a bath or shower before bed.

3. Try refueling after your workout with a light snack that is lower in protein and higher in carbohydrate to help increase serotonin and tryptophan.

Source: Shape Magazine

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We already know there’s a link between insomnia and military service.

Studies have also found a link between nightmares, insomnia and suicide.

Now a study has found suicidal thoughts were reduced by 33% in veterans who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

In fact, researchers found that every seven point decrease in Insomnia Severity Index score during the CBT-i treatment was associated with a 65% reduction in the risk of suicidal thoughts.

Furthermore, as sleep improved, so did symptoms of depression. Quality of life also improved.

This research suggests that treating insomnia with cognitive behavioral therapy reduces suicide risk amongst veterans, and perhaps even anyone at risk of suicide.

Source: SLEEP

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Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that higher levels of omega-3 DHA may be associated with better sleep.

The study involved 362 children between the ages of 7 and 9.

It suggested that those who took a daily supplement of omega-3 DHA (the long chain fatty acid found naturally in algae and seafood) for 16 weeks got nearly an hour more sleep and woke seven times less often each night compared to those who took a placebo.

Higher levels of omega-6 were also associated with better sleep health.

Although previous research has suggested links between poor sleep and low levels of omega-3 in children and adults with behavior or learning difficulties, this is the first study to investigate a potential link in healthy children.

These findings certainly make sense, since we know that our bodies require omega-3 and omega-6 to help regulate sleep. For example, lower levels of these fatty acids are associated with a reduction in the production of melatonin.

This was just a small pilot study. Here’s hoping that further research into the association between sleep and omega 3 and omega 6 levels will be undertaken in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Journal of Sleep Research

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It all depends on which study you read.

For the first three years of writing this blog, all the studies I came across suggested there was a link between insomnia and hypertension (high blood pressure).

However, in 2014 I came across a cross-sectional study of over 12,000 individuals that found no significant association between insomnia symptoms and high blood pressure.

2015 rolls along, and I’m reading a study that reverts back to the original perceived wisdom that there is a link after all!

In this latest study, researchers found that those who took longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep were three times more likely to suffer from hypertension. Those who took longer than 17 minutes to fall asleep were four times more likely to suffer from hypertension.

There’s a big caveat to this study, though.

Researchers only measured how long it took participants to fall asleep during the day – and even then, timings were taken over four 20 minutes nap sessions every two hours. This is hardly reflective of a normal sleep pattern.

What this study really tells us is that those who are extremely alert during the day (also known as hyperarousal), are unable to relax, or take a long time to fall asleep during the day may be at higher risk of hypertension.

This makes sense; it’s not surprising that people who are extremely alert throughout the day may have higher blood pressure compared to those who find it easy to relax and sleep during the day.

I’m therefore inclined to continue to refer those worried about the link between insomnia and hypertension to the 2014 study I referenced earlier (the one that found no link between insomnia symptoms and high blood pressure).

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The insomnia that becomes more common as we get older

by Martin Reed 3 June 2015

Back in 2012 I wrote about a survey that suggested we should expect our sleep to improve as we age. As I pointed out at the time, though, the survey was subjective in nature. More recent (and objective studies) have cast doubt about the accuracy of that survey. One study found insomnia prevalence among community […]

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Is insomnia a form of revenge?

by Martin Reed 27 May 2015

I just finished watching an interesting video from The School of Life. They offer a rather original way of thinking about insomnia. They argue that insomnia is a form of revenge for the ideas we push away or couldn’t analyze during the day; ideas and thoughts that are important and need to be addressed. They […]

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