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Sleep disorders seem to be on the rise if the purchase of sleeping pills and over-the-counter medication is any indication. And the pharmaceutical companies are not slow to formulate more and more chemical medications to supply this ever-growing need.
Adults average 6.9 hours of sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation. Many experts in the field say that adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation 2002 survey of 1,000 men and women, the majority of women are getting an average of 7 hours of sleep during the work week.
Seeing the worldwide market, Big Pharma is investing millions of advertising dollars into radio, television, and print media sales pitches. Currently the big three sleep drugs seem to be Rozerem, Ambien CR, and Lunesta. The most popular worldwide is Ambien (according to Biomarket, a biotech research company.) Recent global sales for Ambien have been $2 billion.
It has been predicted that global sales for all sleeping pills will exceed $5 billion in the next several years.
Sleep deprivation caused by sleep disorders can negatively affect your health, job performance, and even your sex life. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who got less than 8 hours of sleep a night over a 10-year period, are at a slightly greater risk of heart disease. Another study has discovered that sleep deprivation can result in an imbalance of different weight-related hormones. That can encourage your body's cells to store excess fat and lessen its ability to burn fat.
Research has also made a connection between sleep deprivation and depression. It has also been linked to insulin resistance--which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure (hypertension.)
Summary of the Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
(1) Junk Food Cravings. Loss of sleep may cause your body to crave calories it doesn't need--especially high sugar snacks ans starches. One study found that participants who went without adequate sleep for two nights had elevated levels of the hormone ghrelin (induces hunger.) At the same time they had less of the appetite-suppressinig hormone leptin. Long-term risk: obesity.
(2) Weakened ability to process glucose. Glucose is blood sugar that your body needs to function. People developed insulin resistance after 6 days of sleep deprivation. One study showed that participants who slept less than 6 hours per night were not able to process blood sugar properly. Long-term risk: Type 2 diabetes.
(3) Stressed-out. A University of Chicago study discovered that inadequate sleep caused levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, to spike in the afternoon and evening. This spike causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose. Long-term risk: Hypertension, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
(4) Weakened Immune System. A study showed that people who got insufficient sleep for 10 days had high levels of C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is an inflammation marker that has been connected to heart disease and a few autoimmune diseases. Long-term risk: Inflammation which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Although sleep disorders are all too real, drugs should be the very last resort. Habits and nutritional practices should be examined first. Things such as meal timings, alcohol, and going to bed at different times can affect your sleep.
Diseases can affect your sleep. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, lung disease, and any disease that causes pain can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Medications can also interfere with sleep. Asthma medication, and any drug containing stimulants can affect your sleep. Some anti-depression medications and drugs for ADD (attention deficit disorder) as well as hot flashes in menopausal women can disrupt sleep.
Insufficient magnesium can interfere with sleep. Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) discovered that when magnesium levels are below normal, it affects electrical activity in the brain.
Other studies have found that low magnesium levels may disrupt normal sleep stages and contribute to sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome. You should get 400 mg of magnesium daily. Spinach, broccoli, legumes, and whole wheat bread are good sources of magnesium.
Lifestyle practices and nutrition are two of the biggest causes of sleep disorders. Use the following list to ensure that you are giving yourself every advantage to getting a good night's sleep.