Simple prescription for sleep disorders


US researchers develop a simple prescription for sleep disorders: observe the basic rules of sleep hygiene and avoid sleep disorders

According to health insurance reports, more and more people in Germany suffer from sleep disorders. American sleep researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have now investigated a concept in which sleep disorders can be avoided using four relatively simple rules.

According to a projection by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), around five percent of the population in Germany suffered from sleep disorders in 2009. The associated lack of sleep often becomes a considerable burden for those affected. However, many of you could free yourself from sleep disorders by following a few simple sleep rules. US researchers tested a concept with four simple basic rules that up to 66 percent of the study participants were able to significantly reduce sleep problems or even avoid sleep disorders. The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have published the results of their study in the specialist journal “Archives of Internal Medicine”.

Sleep disorders as a widespread disease? According to the reports of the health insurance companies, millions of Germans suffer from sleep disorders, although the growth rates have reached such a worrying level in recent years that health insurance companies and doctors are raising the alarm. Because there are serious health consequences, since chronic sleep deprivation and fatigue, for example, entail a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, depression and anxiety disorders, warned the German employee health insurance (DAK) in September last year. According to the health insurance companies, it is far too often tried in self-therapy with the help of over-the-counter sleeping pills to counter the sleep problems. A TK study published in early April confirmed a significant increase in the use of sleeping pills. According to this, more than 1.4 million people in Germany used sleeping pills to manage their sleep disorders in 2010, with half of the users being older than 60 years, according to TK. In general, the US researchers report that older people are more likely to experience massive problems falling asleep and staying asleep.

Sleep rules could replace sleeping pills The US scientists advise patients with sleep disorders to observe some essential basic rules of sleep hygiene instead of relying on the help of sleeping pills. For example, those affected should reduce the time in bed, always get up at the same time in the morning - regardless of the length of sleep - only lie down when they are tired and really only use the bed to sleep, not for watching TV or reading, the US researchers advise. The scientists led by Daniel Buysse from the University of Pittsburgh tested their relatively simple prescription for sleep disorders as part of a study on 79 chronically sleeeless seniors with an average age of 71.1 years. A half of the study participants were personally explained four times a week by a nurse (two individual sessions, two telephone consultations), the other half of the study participants served as the control group and only received written information material on the basic rules of sleep hygiene. After four weeks of study, two thirds of the patients in the first group of participants noticed a clear decrease in sleep disorders, and in some cases the sleep complaints had even completely disappeared, the US researchers report. In the control group, 25 percent of the subjects reported a significant improvement.

Avoid using sleeping pills because of side effects Your study was a clear signal that sleep disorders can be combated relatively successfully even without sleeping pills, the US scientists emphasized. The improvement in sleeping behavior was confirmed six months after the actual study with a follow-up examination. With the help of the relatively simple concept, the drastic increase in the use of sleeping pills in Germany - determined by the TK - could be significantly reduced in the future. In any case, doctors warn against the regular use of sleeping pills, as this can have considerable side effects. TK warned against the relatively widespread self-medication. The experts advise urgently to see a doctor for sleep disorders that occur for more than a month and at least three times a week.

Risk factors for sleep disorders Since stress is also often the cause of sleep disorders, relaxation exercises (e.g. autogenic training), sports and physical exercise are also recommended to remedy sleep problems. However, the sport should not be practiced immediately before going to bed. Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are clear risk factors for sleep disorders. However, illness, pain or permanent noise can also cause significant sleep problems. (fp)

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Image: Gabi Schoenemann / pixelio.de

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