Lack of sleep driving you crazy?

Published On: May 26 2014 01:23:00 PM EDT
Updated On: May 27 2014 06:45:00 AM EDT
DALLAS , Texas -

Nearly one out of three Americans does not get the recommended amount of sleep, but it's not just making them sleepy; it's actually driving them crazy!

"If you don't get enough sleep, and you get in a chronic state of that, then you look just like someone who has early-onset Alzheimer's," said Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, Founder and Director of the Center for BrainHealth.

Chapman says sleep helps the brain clear waste and consolidate memories. One British study found people who suffer insomnia are five-times more likely to have paranoid delusions.

Another study found insomniacs are nearly three-times more likely to develop depression. They are also at greater risk for anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Millions of Americans, like nurse Corina Martinez say they've struggled with getting a good night's rest.

"If I get too attached to a case, I just think about it at night," Martinez said.

Until recently, it took her four hours to fall asleep and she only slept three hours total. That's much less than the recommended seven to eight hours.

"I couldn't sleep, I would just watch TV all night," Martinez explained. "I would wake up groggy or still wanting to sleep and just tired throughout the day."  Alon Avidan, MD, professor of neurology at UCLA, says the worst sleep mistake people make is stimulating the brain with TV watching or computer use.

"All these types of activities, especially before bedtime, lead to sleep difficulties," said Avidan.

Next, watch what you eat and drink. Try walnuts, which contain their own source of melatonin. Honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain, so you get sleepy.

Try drinking hot decaffeinated tea, but stay away from warm milk.  It can cause heartburn. Avoid spicy foods and those with MSG, which may cause a stimulant reaction.  Despite popular belief, alcohol doesn't help you fall asleep. 

"It actually breaks apart the sleep architecture and it actually worsens our ability to maintain sleep," Avidan explained.

Martinez says she cured her insomnia with a very unlikely source, called the Sleep Whisperer. She's a  youtube phenomenon with millions of followers clicking on relaxation videos. Within 10 minutes of watching it, she fell asleep. 

"I slept all through the night, I couldn't believe it," Martinez said.

Ilse Blansert is the Sleep Whisperer.  She says her videos, found at www.thewaterwhispers.com, are made to induce an autonomous sensory meridian response.

"It's basically a fancy name for tingles that a lot of people get when they listen to certain voices or to certain sounds," Blansert said.

Some of the videos feature the sights and sounds of simple tasks, like water being poured. The videos are free on YouTube and Blansert has had over 16-million views. While ASMR hasn't been studied in a medical setting.  People like Martinez say it's been a life-saver.

"I just fall asleep," Martinez explained.

Additional Information:


Getting the Best Sleep Ever: You've done all the obvious things like making sure your bedroom is dark and cozy. You've avoided scary movies and fidgeting with your to-do list right before bed. So, why are can't you fall asleep? Experts say certain habits of can sabotage your sleep. Besides leaving you groggy the next day, lack of sleep increases your odds of depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. Try these tips to get a good night's sleep and wake up well rested.

Limit Caffeinated Drinks After 2 p.m.: Check the labels of your favorite mid-day drinks. If they have energy-boosting benefits, they may cause you not to get good sleep at night.  

Sip Wine Sooner:  Even though it may help you fall asleep faster, studies show alcohol decreases deep sleep, making the second half of your sleep cycle restless and unsatisfying. If you drink a glass of wine, have it with dinner before 6 p.m. so it will wear off by bedtime.  

Eat Sleep Superfoods: Make a light whole-wheat pasta dish with fresh veggies, tomato sauce, chicken breast, and a sprinkle of Parmesan.  It has protein and tryptophan, which promotes serotonin to get you sleepy. Cottage cheese and banana slices also contain tryptophan.  

Get Off Your Smartphone: Experts say typing in bed can hype you up, making it harder to fall asleep. Don't send that last text or email. Instead, turn off your phone an hour before bed and get any other electronic gadgets out-of-reach.

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