sleep deprivation

  1. Forget the cooling cap. Have a nightcap instead...

    Freeze your head to get some sleep?

    Not me -- I'd rather knock myself out with a hammer. But researchers have been testing out a convoluted "cooling cap" they think can help insomniacs sleep better.

    I haven't seen the thing, but I get a chuckle just picturing it: It's a hat with tubes of cold water flowing through it all night long, designed to keep the head chilly enough to put an insomniac into a deep freeze... or at least a deep sleep.

    In a small and limited study, insomniacs in a sleep lab managed to get to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer when the hat was turned on and water was pumping through it on the coolest setting, 57 degrees.

    But was it the cap... or just the low temperature?

    My money's on the latter.

    Cool temperatures are already known to help people sleep better, and even hardcore insomniacs can get some relief when they turn the thermostat down.

    That means the "cool cap" might just be a needlessly complicated means of achieving a very simple ends.

    And really, who's going to bed each night with some kind of crazy water-pumping contraption stuck to his head anyway? Slosh, slosh, slosh... if you don't fall asleep, you might be in for a lot of trips to the bathroom!

    So let's put this thing on ice, because there are much better ways to catch some extra winks -- and you don't have to be diagnosed as an insomniac to benefit from them.

    The shocking truth is that far too many people are "secret insomniacs" who only THINK they're getting the sleep they need. In reality, you could get as much as seven hours of shuteye every single night -- and still suffer from a dramatic loss of function.

    I have more on the impact of sleep deprivation on the human body in the July issue of my Douglass Report newsletter. More importantly, I've got some answers on how to get the best night of rest you've ever had.

    If you're not a subscriber, sign up today -- and stop tossing and turning for good.

  2. Wakeup call for ER docs

    Is your doctor sleep-drunk?

    Sometimes, I don't know who's in worse shape: hospital patients -- or the residents who treat them!

    Newly minted docs are punished with grueling schedules of up to 28 hours at a stretch -- and if you think that leaves them in good enough shape to treat a patient, you try staying up for 28 straight hours one of these days.

    Let me know how that goes.

    In the meantime, hospitals are patting themselves on the back over new rules that are supposed to give some docs a little more sleep, limiting shifts to "just" 16 hours.

    But don't think your doc is going to get much extra rest -- because there's a big-time loophole in those rules: After a five-hour nap, the resident is back on the clock.

    That means your doc could be working for 32 out of 37 hours -- or almost as much as most people work in a week... covered in just a day and a half!

    If that's not crazy enough, consider this: These new rules only apply to first-year residents. After that, it's back to 28-hour shifts, no excuses -- and try not the let the patients see you yawn.

    It's pure insanity, and a big part of the reason for 180,000 deaths due to medical mistakes every single year.

    That's the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day, killing everyone on board -- because the airline required its pilots to get drunk before flying.

    Imagine the outcry!

    But it's the same thing -- because studies have shown that too little sleep can have the same effect as too much booze.

    One recent study found that operations by sleep-drunk docs had double the rate of complications... while another found that long shifts caused a 500 percent increase in diagnostic errors.

    You wouldn't let a woozy doc with liquor on his breath near you... so why would you even think about letting a yawning, red-eyed kid just out of medical school make life-or-death decisions for you?

    Not that you have much of a choice when you've just been hauled out of an ambulance -- so for now, it's just cross your fingers and hope you're not on the flight that's going to crash today.

    I have more on the impact of sleep deprivation on the human body in the July issue of The Douglass Report, and it's a "must read" for anyone getting seven hours of sleep a night or less no matter what line of work you're in.

    Sign up today and find out how much rest you really need -- and how to get it without meds.

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