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

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

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.