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  • Can Insomnia Kill?

    We all know that sleep is crucial to our quality of life, and even that lack of sleep can have serious health implications and lead to a higher risk of serious conditions, including obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and stroke. But can lack of sleep actually kill you?

    To get to the heart of the question, let’s take a look at the most basic sleep disorder, insomnia. Insomnia is a condition that afflicts millions of Americans – somewhere between 10% and 30% of us will likely experience insomnia at some point in our lives. Though we may think of any period of sleeplessness as insomnia, the condition is actually strictly defined as when all three of the following conditions are present:  Continue reading

  • Sleeplessness and Brain Over-activity

    A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Milan is offering a new and exciting theory on the impact that sleep deprivation has on the human brain.  The research, which was recently profiled in Science News by Laura Sanders and published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, was led by Marcello Massimini, whose team conducted experiments on six study participants who were tested both before and after a night of sleep deprivation. Their results are leading sleep experts to the belief that sleep deprivation leaves our brains in a state of overstimulation that can lead to a level of hyper-reactivity that may explain the prevalence of seizures and hallucinations in those who have been kept awake for too long. Continue reading

  • New Risks Found to be Associated with Insomnia

    Sleep science has been making new discoveries every day, with most pointing to the importance of getting adequate sleep, the benefits of getting better-than-adequate sleep, and the risks of not getting enough sleep.  Sleep disorders and insomnia have gotten special attention as cures are sought for both chronic conditions, and now researchers have found another reason why a cure is needed. A Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital research project has shown that men who self-reported insomnia ran a somewhat higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

  • What is Primary Insomnia

    A diagnosis of primary insomnia sounds like it would be the first and most prevalent type, but in fact primary insomnia is infrequently seen. When a person is diagnosed with primary insomnia it means that their sleep problems are not caused by or a symptom of another medical condition. Insomnia that is secondary to or symptomatic of another condition appears far more frequently, and is much easier to treat.

    People who suffer from primary insomnia fall into one of two categories. The first, and most common is a result of conditioning. It is officially referred to as psychophysiological insomnia, though some sleep specialists refer to it as conditioned or learned insomnia. The first indication that a sleep professional gets that the patient they are interviewing may be suffering from this condition is when they describe themselves as being extremely anxious or experiencing great stress when thinking about or trying to get to sleep. One of the reasons that this is considered to be a conditioned response is that most patients find relief when they are outside of their normal sleep environment where there are so many things that remind them of previous nights’ struggles with getting to sleep.  Continue reading

  • Insomnia Related to Depression

    Though many people associate depression with people staying in bed all day long, this may be a false representation of a depressed person – and even if it is correct staying in bed is a far cry from sleeping. Depression and other psychological or emotional problems are often the illness for which insomnia is the symptom.  The difficulty in connecting the dots between insomnia and depression often lies in the fact that when people are suffering from psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression or phobias that may contribute to insomnia, others around them are not aware of these psychological problems. Though most people think of depression as simply being sad, that is not the case. Those who suffer from depression experience a sense of hopelessness, disinterest, anxiety or sadness that impacts every aspect of their lives. Continue reading

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