Harvard Women's Health Watch Provides 8 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep Without Medicine

8 Tips on How to Get a Good Night's Sleep Without Medicine from Harvard Women's Health WatchDifficulty in getting a good night’s sleep often plagues women as they get older, according to doctors at Harvard. “Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept,” says Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Yet, according to a news release issued July 6 by Harvard Health Publications, a recent study has linked popular sleep medications, including zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril), to an increased risk of death. The study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who were taking sleeping medications had a higher incidence of cancer, and death, than people who did not take these sleep medicines, the Harvard release reports. In addition, these drugs can have side effects ranging from appetite changes to dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and strange dreams, according to the Harvard release.

In light of these facts, the editors of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch have published in their the July 2012 issue “8 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep,” an article providing eight tips for getting a better night’s sleep without medicine.

Here is a summary of Harvard’s eight tips for getting a better night’s sleep, without taking sleeping medication:

  1. Exercise at some point during the day.
  2. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—not work or TV.
  3. Keep the bedroom comfortable.
  4. Start a sleep ritual.
  5. Have a bedtime snack—but not too much.
  6. Avoid alcohol and chocolate before bed.
  7. Wind down before going to bed.
  8. See your doctor about what’s keeping you up at night.

The full-length article, “8 secrets to a good night’s sleep”, containing more detailed explanations for each of the eight tips, is available in the July 1 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, on the Harvard Health Publications website.

Following is the news release issued by Harvard Health Publications about the article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch and the recent study linking sleep medicines to higher risks of cancer and death:

Harvard Health Publications
Contact: Natalie Ramm
hhpmedia@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-2876

Study highlights sleep drug risks; Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers 8 tips to a good night’s sleep without medicine

BOSTON—With several popular hypnotic sleep aids, including zolpidem (Ambien) and temazepam (Restoril), now linked to an increased risk of death, the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch offers eight tips for getting a better night’s sleep without medicine.

Almost everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. But when insomnia persists day after day, it can become a real problem. Beyond making a person tired and moody, a lack of sleep can have serious effects on health, increasing the risks for obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Sleep issues can plague women as they get older. “Later in life there tends to be a decrease in the number of hours slept,” says Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of Women’s Health Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Many women turn to sleep medications in search of more restful slumber. However, these drugs can have side effects ranging from appetite changes to dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and strange dreams. A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who were taking hypnotic drugs had a higher incidence of cancer, and death, than people who didn’t take these sleep medicines.

If a sleep aid is needed, there’s no reason to avoid using one. But before turning to pills, here are eight tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Exercise at some point during the day.
  • Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—not work or TV.
  • Keep the bedroom comfortable.
  • Start a sleep ritual.
  • Have a bedtime snack—but not too much.
  • Avoid alcohol and chocolate before bed.
  • Wind down before going to bed.
  • See your doctor about what’s keeping you up at night.

Read the full-length article: “8 secrets to a good night’s sleep”

Also in the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

  • Bisphosphonates may not benefit women’s bones long-term
  • Can you get a yeast infection after menopause?
  • Is it a food intolerance, or a food allergy?
  • What to do if your heart is out of rhythm

Harvard Women’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at www.health.harvard.edu/womens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

Insufficient Sleep Increases Stroke Risk, New Study Finds

Sleep May Improve With Age, New Study Finds

Insufficient Sleep Declared a Public Health Epidemic

Eleven Tips for Healthy Sleep

Your Guide to Healthy Sleep

For more information on lifestyle factors that promote wellness and prevent diseases, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

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Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™. All rights reserved.

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