Pills no answer to insomnia

August 9, 2012

Sleeping tablets are “counter-productive” and offer no real benefit in treating insomnia, Flinders University sleep expert Leon Lack says.

“Most people who take hypnotic drugs still have poor sleep, it remediates the problem in the short-term but it almost always produces a long-term consequence, which is drug dependence,” Professor Lack, pictured wearing Re-timer glasses, says.

“Sleeping tablets provide short-term relief but when people stop taking them they might have a few bad nights and think they can’t sleep without taking the drug,” he says.

“Effectively you buy a bit of sleep on your credit card but then you have to pay it back later, sometimes with interest, so in the long-term you don’t gain anything you just offset the .”

Professor Lack, based in the School of Psychology, will share his research into insomnia, including causes and cures, at an upcoming public lecture on August 21.

To be held at Flinders University Victoria Square, Sleep Well, Live Better – The Steps to Good Sleep will present information about the different types of insomnia, how it affects people and how it is treated, as well as the role of sleep cycles in understanding the disorder.

Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulties falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or both, resulting in impaired daytime functioning. About a third of all Australians have problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking too early, and there are at least 50,000 chronic insomniacs in metropolitan Adelaide.

“What’s particularly frustrating to people with insomnia is that very few things work for them so they feel a loss of control, depression and their quality of life is diminished,” Professor Lack said.

“But it’s important for people to realise that sleep isn’t just one long, homogenous period of unconsciousness – we go through different stages of sleep, from a deep sleep which lasts 80 to 90 minutes into a lighter, dreaming sleep, and over the course of a night we experience this pattern three or four times.

“During the light sleep stage you’re likely to awaken – which is perfectly normal and increases with age – but the media’s constant reports about the importance of a solid eight hours sleep create anxiety and anxiety in the middle of the night is not conducive to sleep, so then it becomes ingrained.”

Professor Lack said the best way to prevent insomnia was to practice good sleep habits, such as using the bedroom only for sleep and going to bed when tired, getting up if you cannot fall asleep and for those who wake during the night, reducing time in bed for a couple of weeks will help.

“If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed then get up, don’t lie there awake because that associates the bedroom with frustration and anxiety,” Professor Lack said.

Difficulty falling asleep can also be caused by a delayed body clock which can be treated with morning bright light, he said.

Professor Lack and his colleagues have pioneered bright light therapy for this type of insomnia and have developed, in conjunction with Flinders Partners, portable bright light therapy devices know as Re-timers.

Explore further: Popping a pill not the best way to battle insomnia in the long term, suggest sleep experts

Related Stories

Popping a pill not the best way to battle insomnia in the long term, suggest sleep experts

January 23, 2012
Reaching for that sleeping pill or drinking alcohol may not be the most effective way for people with insomnia to get better sleep at night in the long run, suggests a study by Ryerson University experts.

Popping pills not the best way to get rid of insomnia

December 1, 2011
Taking sleep medication or calling in sick the next day is not always the best way to deal with insomnia in the long run, say Ryerson sleep researchers in a new study to be published next month. Pictured left to right: Andrea ...

Less sleep may be answer to beating bedtime blues

May 8, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Restricting the amount of time a child spends in bed could lower levels of sleep-related stress and anxiety, a Flinders University researcher believes.

Five tips for a better night's sleep

April 17, 2012
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to get you going in the morning. Drexel’s Dr. Joanne Getsy offers some tips to jump start your body and mind.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.