Snoring: Doctor explains how to sleep better at night
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If so, researchers have found one predictive measure that could be impacting your sleep cycle. According to Dr Linda Ernstsen: “We’ve observed that people who are in better physical condition have a lower risk of taking prescription sleeping pills.” The associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology noted that men were more likely to benefit from exercise than women in terms of sleep. In the study, the fittest men had a 15 percent lower risk of needing medication to help them sleep.
There were still benefits for women, however, but it was only the fittest five percent of the cohort who were less likely to need sleeping pills.
Dr Ernstsen said: “The corresponding percentage risk for the fittest women was much lower.
“But women who struggle with sleep can still benefit from getting in better shape.”
The team reviewed data from Norway’s large Trondelag Health Survey, which consisted of 240,000 people who have taken part in the survey since 1984.
For this specific analysis, the researchers focused on 34,357 participants who took part in the survey between 2006 to 2008.
The participants, who had an average age of just over 51, were all observed until January 1, 2018.
The survey allowed researchers to follow the evolution of people’s health over many years.
For 17 percent of participants, their sleep issues were serious enough to require a prescription from the doctor.
Dr Ernstein added: “Almost 5,800 of the participants received their first prescription sleep medication during the study period.
“Our findings support the idea that improving or maintaining fitness can be an effective alternative for preventing sleep problems.”
Nowadays, GPs in the UK “rarely prescribe sleeping pills”, the NHS says.
“Sleeping pills can have serious side effects and you can become dependent on them.”
For instance, zolpidem (a sleeping pill), which is only available on prescription in the UK, is typically administered – at most – for four weeks.
People are required to refrain from alcohol or caffeine while taking zolpidem.
The medication can lead to side effects, such as a metallic taste in the mouth or a dry mouth.
Yet, for some people, there can be “serious side effects”, such as:
- Memory loss (amnesia)
- Falling over
- Feeling low or sad.
Before speaking to a doctor about sleeping difficulties, it’s advisable to set up a healthy wake-sleep cycle.
This requires waking up, and going to bed, at the same time every day – no matter how little sleep you initially get.
Good bedtime practices include refraining from gadgets, including mobile phones, at least one hour before bed.
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