Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cooling Cap Could Provide Insomnia Relief

There is no easy cure for insomnia. Sleeping pills appear to be a quick fix, but the potential for psychological attachment and rebound insomnia make medication for insomnia a solution for short-term problems only. Alternatively, you can seek cognitive behavioral therapy to help eliminate the harmful thoughts and bad habits that promote extended periods of insomnia. This solution is very effective but also time-consuming and requires effort and dedication.

New research presented at SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), suggests another treatment choice for insomnia may be on the horizon. The potential treatment would use a cooling cap that would lower your brain temperature to help you fall asleep.

Normally, a reduction in brain metabolism occurs as you fall asleep. However, during insomnia, the brain metabolism increases, keeping you awake. The cap helps reduce metabolic activity by cooling the front half of the brain.

The study involved 24 people. Half of the participants had insomnia. Each was subjected to several overnight sleep studies while wearing the cooling cap. The settings for the cooling cap differed each night, ranging from maximum amounts of water cooling to not wearing the cap at all.

Results show patients who wore the cooling cap set to its maximum level slept nearly as well as the subjects who didn’t have insomnia. These findings suggest the device could be a new promising therapy for insomnia sometime in the future. The treatment is still a long ways off; more studies will need to be conducted before the device can hit the marketplace.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Evening Screen Time Negatively Affects Kids' Sleep

Many young children have a problem going to sleep when it is their bed time. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that children between the ages of 3 and 5 had trouble sleeping if they had screen time after 7 p.m. Screen time includes television, video games or the computer. The amount of violent content in the program or game appears to be a contributing factor.

According to the study, about 20 percent of the 112 children involved had sleep problems almost every day of the week. Their issues included difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, nightmares and being sleepy during the day. The children who watched violent television at night had the most sleep problems.

A hundred children averaged a half hour of nighttime television, and 28 percent of the group had difficulty sleeping. When it came to violent television, 60 of the children averaged about an hour daily. About 37 percent had trouble sleeping. Television is often a stimulant to small children. Evening viewing may lead to increased alertness, and prevent them from winding down for bedtime. The findings demonstrate the importance that parents monitor the amount of television young children watch so they meet their sleep needs.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Marc Weissbluth a sleep disorders specialist at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, said children get ready for sleep with nighttime rituals that communicate that it is time for rest. Many families mistakenly believe that watching television helps their children go sleep, so they put televisions in their children’s room. Weissbluth suggests bedtime stories or cuddling with parents as healthier alternatives to television.

The findings are consistent with another study on bedtime routines published in the May 2009 issue of SLEEP. The study found that a healthy bedtime routine improves the sleep of infants and toddlers.

Image by Sean Dreilinger