Sleep in the Media

There are several things that a person simply cannot do without. Sleep is certainly one of them. A considerately large amount of researches and discoveries that are discussed in the media nowadays proves the significant role of this naturally recurring state. SLEEP Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC (APSS) is one of the most large-scale and detailed events in the United States devoted to this topic.

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This year, it took place at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, and a great number of scientific sessions, discussions, and lecturers were devoted to such important aspects as the most up-to-date sleep medicine and the newest sleep research. The analysis of the covered topics and scientific sessions showed that there is certainly an emphasis on such issues as sleep loss, shift work disorder, genetics of sleep and disordered sleep, stress and sleeplessness, and management of sleep disordered breathing: special populations and therapies.

Moreover, experts drew links between childhood viewing and raised cholesterol levels, obesity and smoking in adulthood. Furthermore, much attention is focused on the lack of sleep and consequently a set of problems and diseases. The video extract “Link between sleep, breast cancer?” taken from the NBC nightly news proves it. Breast cancer is one of the most widespread diseases nowadays. and a great number of women suffer from it.

The main risk factors comprise such aspects as aging and obesity; however, scientists have recently added a new serious risk factor that can result in breast cancer – working at night shifts. It was reported that women, who work 4 and half years of a night shift with an average of 3 days in their work week, were exposed to the highest risk of breast cancer. The risk was even higher in women, who started working the night shift before having children, because their breasts did not get used to the “normal hormonal cycles of reproduction”.

The main reason is the lack of the hormone melatonin that is produced during sleep. The lack of this hormone makes our cells more susceptible to harm. This is certainly a lifestyle factor that can be controlled by every individual. And such researches resulted in the growing number of melatonin tablets advertisements according to which you will be able to “sleep like a baby”.

Large level of insomnia also caused many discussions in media and in the sleep medicine field. The definition of insomnia is the perception of inadequate quantity or quality of sleep with associated daytime consequences. The four most common complaints of all forms of insomnia are difficulties falling asleep, frequent awakenings from sleep, difficulties falling back to sleep after nocturnal awakenings, and spontaneous early morning awakening. Psychophysiological insomnia is one of the most common aetiologies of chronic insomnia that is a clinical diagnosis.

Typically, such patients initially experience some acute stress, which leads to insomnia; this would be transient in most individuals. In certain predisposed individuals, however, the acute insomnia leads to substantial concern and distress about their inability to sleep. The result is a vicious cycle of poor sleep, leading to further anxiety about insomnia, which contributes further to the problem.

These patients are frequently tense and anxious, but they become so focused on their sleep disorder that they tend to minimize other mental concerns. At the present time, it is unclear whether volitional (or lifestyle-driven) sleep restriction and insomnia have the same impact from the standpoint of health effects. As this is such a common clinical problem, a fair amount of empirical evidence and bedside observation has been made. Much of the therapy that is provided for patients with insomnia is therefore based on the ‘art of medicine’ rather than hard science or randomized controlled trials. Patient preference is also a major factor in choosing optimal treatment of insomnia. Many simple or ‘commonsense’ interventions are commonly overlooked, such as stopping caffeine intake or withdrawing culprit medications such as theophylline, glucocorticoids, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Benzodiazepines are extremely commonly prescribed medications for the problem of insomnia. They are extremely effective hypnotics, with excellent data supporting their short-term use for symptomatic treatment of insomnia. However, there are minimal data for their use beyond 1 week of treatment. Although numerous different agents are available from this class of medication, they are clinically quite similar, with the exception of differences in half-life.

For patients, who have primarily sleep initiation insomnia, a very short-acting medication may be appropriate, and the following commercial of magnesium as a natural way to treat insomnia proves it. Similarly, some of the ultra-short-acting medications may be useful for patients, who require hypnotic medication in the middle of the night after a prolonged awakening. Besides, “hypnotic and antidepressant drugs” are the most common form of treatment for insomnia, and “antidepressants such as trazadone and amitriptyline are among the top four drugs prescribed for insomnia”.

However, a rather frightening fact is that those patients, who decided to regularly take prescription sleep aids, were reported highly likely to die over a period of two and a half years. The inquiry of the way media portrays research and discoveries in the sleep medicine field showed that although, according to the research, some of the medicine are inefficient, still such pills are extremely popular, such as, for instance, a television commercial for “Rozerem, the sleeping pill, where the dreams involve Abraham Lincoln, a beaver and a deep-sea diver”.

The analysis of the most recent researches and scientific innovations showed that attention has been mainly focused on such issues as sleep loss and its close relation to cancer. Media presented a considerate amount of commercials for medications treating this condition, though some of them turn out to be not very efficient and even dangerous.

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