Rest easy: Insomnia does NOT cause an early death

Rest easy: Insomnia does NOT cause an early death, finds largest study ever into lack of sleep

  • Review of more than 36m people found no evidence it affects mortality
  • But critic argues while most can cope with insomnia, it is serious for some
  • Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder; affects 10-to-30% of people 
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Insomnia sufferers should rest easy as the largest ever study into the lack of sleep found it does not cause an early death.

A review of more than 36million people revealed there is no evidence struggling to nod off or waking in the night affects mortality.

But a critic argues that while the majority may be able to cope with a few sleepless nights, for some the health consequences can be devastating.


The largest ever study into lack of sleep found insomnia does not cause an early death (stock)

In the first review of its kind, researchers from Flinders University, Adelaide, analysed 17 studies investigating a possible link between insomnia and mortality.

The studies were carried out all over the world for an average of 11 years. Most were made up of patients who self-reported insomnia, while some were officially diagnosed.

Insomnia was defined as either being frequent – struggling to nod off on three or more nights a week – or ongoing – sleeplessness lasting more than a month.

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Results suggest that while insomnia may lead to everything from depression and anxiety to diabetes and dementia, it does not actually affect a person’s lifespan.

The study was published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. 

The researchers, led by Dr Nicole Lovato, believe this should reassure those who toss and turn at night that they are not more likely to pass away prematurely.

WHAT IS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping. It usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.

You have insomnia if you regularly: find it hard to go to sleep, wake up several times during the night, lie awake at night, wake up early and can’t go back to sleep, still feel tired after waking up

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep. On average, adults need 7 to 9 hours, while children need 9 to 13 hours.

You probably don’t get enough sleep if you’re constantly tired during the day.

The most common causes of insomnia are: stress, anxiety or depression, excessive noise, an uncomfortable bed or alcohol, caffeine or nicotine.

Insomnia usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits. For example, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and only going to bed when you feel tired.

Source: NHS

But, they stress, only 17 studies were analysed, which all had a relatively short follow-up time. Longer trials are therefore required to confirm the findings.

They also note cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to help insomniacs develop coping skills, correct attitudes about sleep and modify poor habits, remains the gold standard of treatment.   

But Dr Russell Foster, head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, argues insomnia can be serious for some.

He told The Times: ‘We recently did a study on teenage sleep. If you just took the average, you would think, “What is all the fuss about?”.

‘However, if you look at the spread of the data you can see 30 per cent are showing really poor sleep.’

For these select few, insomnia may be extremely serious, he added.  

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting between 10 and 30 per cent of people. 

It is generally defined as difficulty nodding off, staying asleep or feeling exhausted during the day. 

Previous studies have suggested a lack of sleep increases a person’s heart rate and the time between beats, which was thought to lead to an early death.

However, the current study’s authors argue evidence supporting this is limited, with many studies being small and not adjusting for factors such as smoking or obesity. 

This comes after scientists discovered a ‘sleep switch’ that may be essential to a decent night’s shut eye last month.

A cluster of cells in the region of the brain responsible for sleep become activated as mice are nodding off, according to a study by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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How to Teach Your Kids That Voting Matters — but So Does Compassion

Look, we know. We really know. It’s 2018, and you don’t know what to tell your kids about the actual state of the union anymore. Your Facebook feed is clogged with politics and nasty word wars about immigration and border control. You’re dreading Thanksgiving dinner because it’s pretty much a given Uncle Frank will get drunk and talk about arming preschool teachers and rabbis while your sister and her wife rage-cry into the mashed potatoes. Some mornings, you can’t remember why you thought it was a good idea to bring kids into this world. 

And that’s exactly why your vote matters today more than ever. Take your kids. Slap on an "I Voted" sticker. Just keep caring, OK? Caring is a revolutionary act when you’re slipping into a CNN or Fox News coma and all seems hopeless.

And no matter what your politics are, no matter what your religion is, you can choose to care — actively. Even if you’re feeling like your vote doesn’t count for much, your compassion still does. And there are many ways to help create a world for our children that is kinder and far better than this one. But it takes action — and one simple rule most of us were taught as children: Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

So on this voting day, put yourselves in the shoes of parents who are fleeing appalling, dangerous conditions in Central America. Whatever you feel about immigration, remember the caravan you’ve heard about is made up of families just like you and yours. Like you, these are parents who love their children more than anything. They are trekking hundreds and thousands of miles to try to keep their children safe and out of harm’s way. They are trying to escape poverty, violence, hunger and homelessness and find a better life for their families. 

Will the U.S. grant them asylum? It seems doubtful. But you can help these families. You can choose nonpartisan kindness today. Because kindness isn’t red or blue. 

Make compassion your platform. 

Here’s how:

Educate yourself & your kids 

Read about the caravan and reject xenophobia and fearmongering. Our country is better than that. Our kids deserve better than that.

Donate together 

Here are just a few nonprofit humanitarian organizations offering assistance and care on the frontlines. 

  • Save the Children’s Border Crisis Children’s Relief Fund: This fund provides emergency services and legal aid and works to reunite families.
  • UNICEFThis organization is working with the government of our neighbor Mexico to provide safe drinking and bathing water, hygiene essentials, sunscreen, access to support and much-needed training to authorities on child welfare, protection and nutrition.
  • Amnesty International Americas: Amnesty International is working overtime to document and monitor the situations and devastating conditions the families in the caravan are fighting against.
  • Pueblo Sin Fronteras: This immigrant rights group organized the caravan.

Help your kids call or email your congressperson or senator

If you’re not sure where to start, go to the U.S. House of Representatives website and enter your zip code. Looking for a senator? Just choose your state here. These sites will provide your elected officials’ names and contact information. 

Another route: Identify your reps at Democracy.io, and email with ease.

Voting matters. But compassion might matter even more these days. Make kindness your platform, and you’ll raise kids who care too. 

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Pediatric anesthesia does not affect development outcomes

(HealthDay)—Young children who have surgical procedures that require general anesthesia do not have an increased risk for adverse child development outcomes, according to a study published online Nov. 5 in JAMA Pediatrics.

James D. O’Leary, M.D., from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues examined the correlation between surgical procedures that require general anesthesia before primary school entry and child development in a retrospective sibling-matched cohort study, including sibling pairs aged 5 to 6 years with the same birth mother. Participants completed the Early Development Instrument (EDI) population-based measure of child development that assessed readiness to learn in five major domains. Data were included for 2,346 sibling pairs with only one sibling exposed to surgery.

The researchers found that after adjustment for confounding factors, exposed and unexposed children had no significant differences in early developmental vulnerability (22.6 versus 20.0 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 1.03; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.98 to 1.14; P = 0.58). There were also no significant differences for each of the five major EDI domains (language and cognitive development; physical health and well-being; social knowledge and competence; emotional health and maturity; and communication skills and general knowledge).

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