Your health: Insomnia is widespread problem

  • Monday, March 9, is Insomnia Awareness Day. Doctors say there are treatment options for those who suffer from chronic insomnia.

    Monday, March 9, is Insomnia Awareness Day. Doctors say there are treatment options for those who suffer from chronic insomnia. Daily Herald file photo illustration

Posted3/7/2015 7:00 AM

Insomnia is widespread problem

This weekend's shift to daylight saving time and the potential lost hour of sleep is a reminder of the widespread problem of insomnia.


The importance of detecting and treating insomnia is emphasized by a new study from the University of Arizona, which shows that persistent insomnia is associated with an increased risk of death.

To remind those who suffer from chronic insomnia that help is available, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is recognizing the second annual Insomnia Awareness Day on Monday, March 9.

"When we wake up after shifting our clocks forward, the lost hour of sleep may leave us feeling groggy and fatigued -- the way those with insomnia may feel on a day-to-day basis," said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the AASM.

"For most of us, we recover from the time shift quickly -- within a few days. However, those who suffer from chronic insomnia have increased risk for depression, hypertension and, as the latest study has shown, even death" said Morgenthaler. "Fortunately, effective treatment options, like cognitive behavioral therapy, can help you overcome insomnia and significantly improve your health and quality of life."

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As many as 30 to 35 percent of adults suffer from temporary insomnia, which can be caused by a sudden change in schedule, such as the shift to daylight saving time.

Chronic insomnia, which affects as many as 10 percent of adults, involves ongoing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep -- or regularly waking up earlier than desired -- despite an adequate opportunity for sleep.

It includes symptoms such as daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment, irritability and lack of energy. The latest findings now link chronic insomnia with an increased risk of death independent of other factors -- such as age or gender.

To minimize the effects of the transition to daylight saving time, the AASM recommends:

• On Saturday night, set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime.


• After the switch forward, head outdoors for some early morning sunlight. The bright light will help set your internal clock, which regulates sleep and alertness.

• Stick to your usual bedtime to get plenty of sleep before the workweek begins on Monday to promote your regular sleep routine.

For variety, try these new muscle foods

For those who just can't eat another boneless, skinless chicken breast with brown rice, Men's Health Magazine offers some alternative ideas for muscle-building food.

• Goat. "Pound for pound, goat has less than half the calories of porterhouse steak, and a few more grams of protein. Try it barbecued kebab-style …. Slow-roast a bone-in cut for a hearty winter meal."

• Persimmons. "This sweet Asian fruit is a better source of vitamin C than your average apple. …. To eat one, cut it in half and spoon out the goods. Served chilled, it's a tasty dessert."

• Portobello mushrooms. The magazine quotes a San Diego chef as saying: "Just fill the cap with some diced chicken, pour in tomato sauce, and bake."

• Prunes. "OK. Laugh. But they have high levels of antioxidants, and damaging oxidative stress is often a result of heavy exercise. … So eat up."

• Edam cheese. "This Dutch cheese is semifirm, unlike the semisoft Muenster, and has more protein, fewer calories, and a richer, nuttier flavor. Cube the Edam and eat it with a fresh pear."

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