It seems that everyone in American culture now has to deal with varying degrees of mental fatigue due to a lack of sleep. It’s estimated that 100 million people in this country now go without adequate sleep on a nightly basis. The average sleep duration for these people is between 4 and 6 hours. Over time, this leads to increased risks for heart disease, stoke, impaired driving and a whole host of other deadly ailments which are silently ignored by doctor and patient alike.
The fine folks in the pharmaceutical industry see this as an endless market of desperate, hopeless people who are willing to turn a blind eye to the side effects, memory loss and out and out risk of death from long term use of sleeping pills for insomnia. At last count, the sleeping pill market reached 4.5 billion dollars per year in domestic sales.
Photograph by: Bill Frakes/SI
Considerable media attention has recently been focused on a San Diego State University study that has reared close to proving that insomnia patients who choose to get off sleeping pills could, quite possibly, be saving their own lives.
ABC World News, NBC and CBS all gave major coverage to this story, but illustrated little on how patients taking drugs like Ambien and Lunesta can actually titrate off of them without suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. This includes a side effect called rebound insomnia, which is described in pharmaceutical literature as not being able to sleep at all for up to seven or more days.
According to a 2011 study entitled: Functional Neuroimaging Insights into the Physiology of Human Sleep. by researchers Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, MD, PhD, Manuel Schabus, PhD and others, it shows that when “sleep spindle” shaped brainwaves are present, the auditory sound input is blocked out. So for all intents and purposes you can snooze right next to your human buzz-saw of a partner and never hear a peep.
A recent study performed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has shown a strong correlation between long term sleep deprivation and fibromyalgia. In the report women, ages 20 to 44, who “often”or “always” had problems with sleeping were at three times greater risk of developing fibromyalgia than their counterparts who didn’t have trouble with sleep. And if a test subjects were 45 or older, the risk went up to five fold.
The other difficult challenge for fibromyalgia sufferers is finding treatments that provide any relief from the daily pain or that can improve their sleep quality without the use of sleeping pills.
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