Perhaps it’s unsurprising that insomnia and pregnancy are closely linked, what with the hormonal and other physical and mental changes associated with pregnancy.

Regardless of how common insomnia in pregnant women may be, it should never be ignored.

It’s thought that insomnia during pregnancy puts women at a higher risk for developing postpartum depression and that sleep disturbances may even get passed down to the child after birth.

It has also been found that pregnant women with insomnia are more likely to experience longer and more painful labors.

So how do you address sleep disruption when pregnant?

A pilot study suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy is the best option. CBT for insomnia doesn’t require sleeping pills or other pharmaceutical interventions (which many pregnant women may want to avoid). Instead, it focuses on correcting incorrect thoughts and behaviors towards sleep.

Not only is CBT for insomnia more effective than sleeping pills, the treatment is effective over the long term (unlike sleeping pills which should only be taken short term).

My free sleep training course uses elements of cognitive behavioral therapy to help improve sleep. You can enroll here.

Source: University of Calgary

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Can a Wuling capsule cure insomnia?

by Martin Reed on 6 May 2015 in insomnia cures

Today I want to explore the effectiveness of one of the myriad ‘natural insomnia remedies‘ out there.

Wuling is a type of fungus found in China. Wuling capsules are typically made from a powdered form of the mushroom.

According to Chinese medicine, Wuling is thought to aid sleep and treat insomnia due to its tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system.

Chinese researchers performed a double-blind study to determine just how effective Wuling capsules are when it comes to improving sleep.

The study involved just under 200 individuals. Half were given the Wuling capsule treatment and half received a placebo over the course of four weeks.

Two weeks after the trial ended, both groups saw improvements in their sleep. However, there was no significant difference between the Wuling capsule group and the placebo group.

So the conclusion is that Wuling capsules can help improve sleep – but they’re only as effective as a placebo. Perhaps that’s no surprise when it’s thought that half of the effectiveness of prescription sleeping pills comes from the placebo effect and not the drug itself.

Source: PubMed

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According to researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston, astronauts get less than six hours of sleep on orbiting space shuttles and barely more than six hours when on the International Space Station – even though NASA allots 8.5 hours of sleep for all space-traveling astronauts.

Furthermore, about 75% of astronauts are using sleeping pills during spaceflight – which is a concern when you consider the potential side-effects of sleeping pills (and sleep deprivation itself).

So why aren’t astronauts getting more sleep? One theory is that since the sun rises and sets every 90 minutes for orbiting astronauts, the body’s circadian rhythm is pushed out-of-synch. Another theory argues that microgravity may be to blame.

Here’s hoping this study prompts additional research on the physiology of sleep. The more we understand about sleep (regardless of where it takes place), the better.

Source: The Lancet

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What are the best sleeping pills?

by Martin Reed on 15 April 2015 in insomnia cures

Consumer Reports set out to determine the best sleeping pills for insomnia by comparing effectiveness, safety and price of the most common sleep aids.

All the sleeping pills evaluated had to be approved by the FDA for treating insomnia.

You can read their full findings (all nine pages) via the source link at the bottom of this post but here’s a general overview.

The best prescription pills for insomnia

Consumer Reports concluded that eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist) are effective but are no better than cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or older and cheaper drugs for insomnia.

The older and less expensive prescription sleeping pills for insomnia include benzodiazepines such as estazolam, triazolam (Halcion) and temazepam (Restoril) and were found to work just as well as the newer sleeping pills.

Antidepressants such as trazodone are also commonly prescribed for insomnia. Studies suggest this drug can help people with depression fall asleep and stay asleep but there is very little evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness in treating insomnia in those without depression.

The best over the counter sleeping pills for insomnia

When it comes to sleeping pills that don’t require a prescription, those that contain an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl, Nytol and Sominex) or doxylamine (Unisom) may help for temporary bouts of insomnia.

When people ask me what the best treatment for insomnia is, my answer is almost always the same. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is the only insomnia treatment that is universally accepted as an effective insomnia cure because it addresses the root cause of insomnia. As a result, the effects are long-lasting.

Sleeping pills should only ever be taken over the short-term. They do not cure insomnia.

My free sleep training course uses CBT techniques to improve sleep. Over 2,500 insomniacs have completed my course and 98% say they would recommend it to a friend.

Source: Consumer Reports

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The prevalence (and causes) of insomnia in children

by Martin Reed 13 April 2015

A study by the National Sleep Foundation has estimated that nearly half of teenagers in the United States aren’t getting enough sleep (in three-quarters of those cases, insomnia was to blame for that lack of sleep) and nearly a third of teenagers are only getting a borderline acceptable amount of sleep. Furthermore, it’s not just […]

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Does social anxiety lead to insomnia?

by Martin Reed 7 April 2015

We already know there’s a link between sleep disturbance and anxiety – and, since one of the most prevalent forms of anxiety is social anxiety, it makes sense that these individuals may have the highest rates of insomnia. I recently came across a study that looked to investigate this relationship.  Researchers measured 176 participants using […]

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