sleep

  1. Dementia-apnea link? Not so fast!

    It's time to take a moment and forget the decade of relentless war, the slow erosion of our freedoms and the fact that you might get a blast of radiation followed by a cavity search before your next flight.

    Forget all that -- and pause to remember the thousands of innocent victims murdered on that cruel September morning 10 years ago.

    But don't pause too long.

    The politicians want to turn September 11th into some kind of somber national holiday where they can all stand around and look important, and in many ways they already have. But the best way to honor those who died -- and show the terrorist SOBs who really won -- is to let life return to normal.

    So with that in mind, I'm going to stop talking about September 11th -- there's plenty of that on TV right now if you want it anyway -- and stick to what I do best -- help you enjoy the (few) freedoms we have left and take control of your health into your own hands.

    A closer look at sleep apnea

    Resting easy? No such thing when you're battling the nightly airless misery of sleep apnea.

    But let's not get carried away over a new study that links this breath-robbing condition to dementia, either -- because there's a lot more to this one than meets the eye.

    First, some details: Researchers gave sleep tests to 298 dementia-free women with an average age of 82. Then, five years later, they gave the women a new round of cognitive tests.

    They found that 45 percent of the women who had at least 15 apnea episodes per hour went on to develop either mild cognitive impairment or dementia, versus 31 percent of the women who didn't have the disorder.

    So, sure... the risk is higher among women with some pretty severe apnea. But if you focus on that, you miss the most incredible part of the study: The researchers found nearly 300 80-somethings -- and they were all still around five years later to even take those cognitive tests.

    Forget their sleep habits -- I want to know what else they're doing, because clearly, they're doing something right!

    That's really the bottom line here. If you've made it to 82 in good health, you've done way better than most people -- and I wouldn't rush to change a thing no matter what some researcher half your age says.

    Heck, as far as I can tell this study shows how resilient the body is: If you can make it to 82 gasping for air every single night, maybe you've learned to live with less oxygen -- like mountain people who adjust to the thinner air at high altitudes.

    But if you're on the younger side, no excuses -- apnea is dangerous and downright deadly, and the risks go far beyond dementia. Take control of your condition now -- in most cases, you just need to drop a few pounds -- or you'll never see 82.

  2. 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.

  3. Wakeup call for ER docs

    Sometimes, I don't know who's in worse shape: hospital patients -- or the residents who treat them!
  4. Lose sleep, eat more

    Researchers asked 13 women and 13 men to live under round-the-clock supervision in a sleep lab for two six-day study periods -- getting up to nine hours of shuteye a night the first time around, and limited to just four hours a night the next time through.
  5. Bore yourself to sleep

    Researchers have found that seniors can beat sleep problems -- and even completely overcome insomnia -- with just a couple of brief sessions on Dr. Freud's nap-worthy sofa.
  6. Give it a rest, doc!

    One of the biggest reasons for all the hospital screw-ups you've been hearing about is that too many doctors are dead tired most of the time -- and they're not wiped out from cashing insurance checks or test-driving new Mercedes models.
  7. Noisy nights could be killing you

    The risks of snoring run way beyond annoying your spouse and right into deadly disease -- and a new study finds one more: Researchers say snorers are more likely to get metabolic syndrome.
  8. "Experts" think Americans should be popping more pills

    There's a group of scientists who are coming right out and saying that "healthy people" should "have the right" to start popping Ritalin, Adderall.
  9. Shocking link between snoring and dementia

    A lot of people think that if their eyes are closed for 8 hours, they're doing all they can to get good sleep. This isn't always true, especially for snorers.
  10. Your best protection from MRSA

    The best defense against infection - whether it's a common cold or the latest superbug - is a healthy immune system.

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