Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders in America, affecting about 40% of — or roughly 70 million — adults. An estimated 10-15% of the adult population suffers from chronic insomnia. Symptoms of insomnia may include having difficulty falling asleep or difficulty maintaining restful sleep — awakening in the middle of the night in a heightened state of alertness, unable to doze back off. People with insomnia often feel moody, fatigued, and cognitively impaired throughout the day. Doctors are quick to prescribe drugs like zaleplon or benzodiazepines, which are not designed for chronic use and may cause adverse side effects like memory loss and dependency. If you’d rather not ride that train to Slumber Town, try one of these surprising cures for insomnia.
We know what you’re thinking: “How is a sugary drink going to help me fall asleep?” But new research from Louisiana State University has revealed that drinking two glasses of cherry juice a day helps sufferers clock an extra 83 minutes of sleep per night. Effects should be noticeable within two weeks.
The connection was first uncovered during the 2008 Beijing Olympics as an unintentional side effect of drinking cherry juice to reduce recovery time between events. “Many athletes find that cherry juice also supports sleep when taken an hour before bedtime,” says performance nutritionist Nigel Mitchell.
Tart Montmorency Cherry Juice won’t “knock you out” like taking a night cap, but it will stabilize sleep patterns by regulating chemicals in the body that make a person feel awake or sleepy. According to researchers, the tryptophan in cherries turns to melatonin, which helps insomnia sufferers feel drowsy.
Acupuncture has long been studied as a way to increase average sleep duration without drugs. It turns out, you may not need costly drugs or needles to cure your insomnia. For some, the answer is as simple as slipping on a $6 Sea-Band at night. Sea-Bands, which treat nausea and motion sickness, are designed to stimulate acupressure points.
Researchers writing in the journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment (Jan. 24, 2013) concluded that “Acupressure is a noninvasive, safe, and effective method for the management of insomnia in adolescents, with good compliance and no adverse effects.” Other studies have found better sleep quality among Sea-Band wearers who are pregnant or elderly with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Acupressure can improve insomnia, and the benefits can last up to two weeks after treatment,” agrees Dr. Michael J. Breuss, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He adds that the finer points of curing insomnia with acupressure “go beyond a secret spot on the wrist,” so it’s best to work with a qualified acupressure therapist.
In a study of more than 800 people (ages 60-100) tracked for two years, Northwestern University researchers concluded that those who self-reported “having a purpose in life” were 63% less likely to have sleep apnea and 52% less likely to have restless leg syndrome. They also had “moderately better sleep quality,” a global measure of sleep disturbance. That’s great news, said senior author Jason Ong, because “purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies.”
Generally speaking, feeling good when you think of what you’ve done in the past and what you hope to do in the future is one way of pondering life purpose. Having long-term goals is another. You might ask yourself questions like: “What do I want to do with my life? What am I passionate about? What am I good at? What do I want my legacy to be?”
The next step in research will be to study the use of mindfulness-based therapies to target purpose in life and its improvements in sleep quality. For now, you can try meditating, mindfulness apps, or speaking with a therapist.
Maybe the answer is easier than you think. We tend to assume there is something wrong with us – that it’s hormonal hot flashes or a chronic malfunctioning of our circadian rhythm. But maybe it’s just your bed. Sleep studies involving a change in mattress are hard to come by – mostly because “comfort” is such a subjective thing. What’s a comfortable bed for one person may not be comfortable for another.
What we do know, reports Psychology Today, is that people tend to sleep better when they’re conditioned to their environment. You may sleep poorly in a hotel, a tent, or at a friend’s house, compared to your own bed. Eventually, though, beds do wear out. If your mattress is 15+ years old, a new bed may help.
At Mattress World Northwest, we have a great return policy and a wide selection of different brands, models, firmness levels, and price points. The most expensive mattress is not always the best. It all depends on what feels right to you! Stop by a mattress showroom to meet with a Sleep Specialist who can guide you through the process of getting the quality night’s sleep that has eluded you for so long.