Articles Posted in Sleep

babysleepIf the nation’s pediatricians panicked already exhausted and stressed out parents with their recent advisory about keeping babies in the same room at night, there’s some sensible counsel from New York Times columnists. Moms and dads need to strike a thoughtful balance between their nighttime needs and those of their infants, Aaron E. Carroll, a pediatrician and Indiana University medical school professor has advised in an “Upshot” column with writer Carol Cain Miller.

They looked at the underlying research that led the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines aimed at preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The academy suggested, among other items, that parents keep their babies in their same bedroom for at least six months, and even better, for up to a year. That upset enough already sleep-deprived moms and dads to prompt the column on SIDS, which medical science has made major progress in reducing, and the research as to where infants should sleep and why.

The writers points out that SIDS kills 3,500 American babies annually. But experts have more than halved SIDS fatalities with public campaigns to get parents to take steps like placing babies on their backs to sleep in their own cribs (the motto is “Back to Sleep”), and eliminating loose bedding and extraneous items like plush toys there.

sleepIt long has been a nightmare for patients. It also likely affects patients’ health, and how happy the public is with hospital care. So why do hospitals make it so difficult for the already sick to get a good night’s rest? Some hospitals in Connecticut, however, are blazing a trail for quiet, lights out, coordinated night care, and other measures to boost the prospect that their charges get healing sleep.

The reasons to act are many, as Karen Weintraub writes for the nonprofit Connecticut Health-I-Team:

There’s no question that sleep matters for recovery and health. Patients who don’t get enough sleep heal more slowly, have decreased immunity and pain tolerance, higher rates of anxiety, and are more likely to suffer from confusion and delirium. Hospitals nationally are also waking up to the need to prioritize patient sleep as part of the broader shift toward patient-centered care, and also because of a federal program that penalizes hospitals for substandard performance scores in patient surveys.

While the rich tend to live longer and generally prosper in their better health, the poor─and especially now less affluent whites and white women─ don’t fare nearly so well, new research says. And geography may be helpful to some of the poor in surprising ways.

Major newspapers have been full of reports on death rates, especially since a Nobel Laureate and his distinguished researcher wife analyzed data and recently reported that for the first time in recent years the rates were increasing for poorer, less educated white men.

As I’ve written, this sudden mortality shift shocked public health experts, who knew that longevity for blacks in the U.S., while trailing that for whites, has been steadily improving.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Sleep is not an indulgence; the right amount is critical for your health. Yet another study confirms this truth by showing a link between insufficient sleep and a higher risk of heart disease.

NPR analyzed research published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology indicating that the right amount of good-quality sleep is key to good heart health and that poor sleep habits can raise your risk for heart disease at a relatively young age.

According to the data, adults who slept fewer than five hours a night had 50% more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who slept seven hours. But too much sleep also might not be a good idea: Adults who slept nine hours or more a night had 70% more coronary calcium compared with those who slept seven hours.

Being tired and grumpy the next day seems punishment enough for a lousy night’s sleep, but recent research indicates that chronic sleep disruption might have another unpleasant effect: It makes you overeat.

The paper, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, analyzed how a crummy night’s sleep affected eating habits and other behaviors among both children and adults.

“It is well recognized that food intake is implicated in many chronic health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and diet is often a target of treatment to prevent the onset of these conditions”, the researchers said in a news release. “[U]nderstanding the mechanisms linking disrupted sleep patterns to increased food intake is important for informing both prevention and treatment interventions for chronic health conditions.”

According to its manufacturer, 31 million prescriptions have been written for the sleep drug Lunesta, but its standard dose is dangerous, and the FDA is recommending that it be cut in half.

Known generically as eszopiclone, the drug’s levels in some people may remain high enough the morning after they use it to impair alertness. For many people, even if they feel fully awake, driving, using machinery and other activities can be dangerous.

Last year, we wrote about the dangers of another sleep aid, Ambien and similar drugs, whose dose the FDA required to be reduced. At the time, the feds did not include Lunesta in those revisions because its active ingredient is different from zolpidem, the one in Ambien, but the agency was looking at its safety all along.

Everyone knows popping a pill to make you sleep is probably not a good idea for the long term, and for most people isn’t good even for an occasional bout of insomnia. Sleep-inducing medicine is powerful, dangerous and can be habit forming.

And, according to The Conversation, a website devoted to the popular discussion of science and current events, a growing body of evidence suggests that these drugs might increase the risk of premature death.

Medicines to help people suffering from insomnia are called hypnotics. They can be prescribed both for people who have difficulty falling to sleep and those who struggle to stay asleep. These drugs fall into several classes, the most commonly prescribed of which are benzodiazepines and their close relatives. They’re also prescribed for anxiety, seizures and muscle spasms. You might recognize some of the brand names as Valium and Xanax.

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