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Bladder problems lead to sleep struggles

The sneaky problem keeping you up at night

It’s one of those things that could have the BIGGEST impact on your day-to-day quality of life.

It can often mean the difference between feeling great and ready to tackle anything that comes your way… and feeling slow and weak, even if there’s nothing “wrong” with you.

The cause?

A hidden sleep problem — one so sneaky that you might not even know you have it.

Now, the latest research reveals how catching and fixing this “secret” condition could the key to improving your sleep at night… so your days are better and more enjoyable.

The cause? A bladder problem.

Some folks wake up to pee more often than a toddler learning to use the toilet… and not all of them know it.

You can be so groggy that you may not remember it the next day. Even if that pesky bladder pokes you awake two or three times — or more — you might have only the vaguest recollection by morning.

All you know is that you don’t quite feel rested.

Now, the new study of older women suffering from bladder problems (such as urgency and incontinence) shows what a difference a little detective work can make.

Find the problem and fix it, and you’ll see dramatic improvements in sleep.

Even just one less bathroom run per night — just one! — can give you better sleep by three important measures.

You can enjoy better overall sleep quality, which is just what it sounds like: how well you sleep.

It’ll improve what’s known as sleep efficiency, or how much time you spend in bed actually asleep versus tossing and turning or getting up to use the bathroom.

And it can boost your sleep duration, or the total amount of time asleep.

The one downside to the study is that the women took bladder control drugs, which can help with bladder problems — just a little — but come with the risk of serious side effects.

There’s an easier way.

First, recognize the problem. If you’re groggy in the morning and don’t know why, it could be a sign of a bladder issue.

If you find that you head to the bathroom a little more often than you’d like during the day, then odds are it’s a problem at night even if you’re not always aware of it.

And second, once you know — or suspect — a problem, don’t turn to bladder meds.

Start with simple solutions, including the easiest one of all: Limit your fluids after dinner.

Reducing how much you drink in the evening will often improve nighttime bladder struggles by at least as much as drugs, but without the risks.

If you need a little more help, try bladder training — such as practicing holding out between toilet trips during the day for increasing periods — as well as bladder-strengthening Kegel exercises.

Light therapy defeats cancer-related sleep problems

Make cancer treatment side effects VANISH with this DIY therapy

It’s often one of the worst parts of a fight with cancer… and it’s not the tumor itself.

Many tumors have no symptoms at all. You might not even know that they’re there without screening.

It’s not the disease. It’s not even the anxiety of knowing you have it.

No, the ugly reality is that the worst part of any cancer battle has nothing to do with the disease.

It’s the treatment!

The very therapies that are supposed to save your life can feel like they’re ruining it.

Chemo and drugs don’t just make you tired. They can leave you feeling as if every last bit of energy has been sucked out of your body.

Today, I’m going to help you fight back with a safe and effective way to ease that soul-sapping fatigue — so you not only beat this cancer, but you feel great while you do it.

All it takes is some light.

Not just any old light, mind you, but the specific wavelengths given off by a therapeutic light box.

They’ve already been proven to ease everything from mood disorders to skin problems. And now, the latest research confirms that they can help cancer patients, too.

Just half an hour of sitting under the warm glow of a light box can charge you up and give you the energy you need to face the day, even as you fight off cancer treatment side effects.

Many cancer treatments can disrupt your circadian rhythm, or the signals your body relies on to know when it’s time to sleep and time to wake up.

That leads to a plunge in what’s known as sleep efficiency, or the amount of time in bed spent actually in slumber.

Instead of hitting the pillow and dozing off, you can toss and turn all night long. Even when you fall asleep, you could wake up too often and/or too early.

Those 30 minutes under the light can turn it all around, giving your body the cues it needs to get back in rhythm.

In the new study, 86 percent of the cancer patients who got genuine light therapy early in the morning not only improved after a month, but they were able to get back to normal sleep habits.

Just 21 percent of folks in a control group given a dimmer non-therapeutic light saw improvements.

That makes the light box four times better than a placebo!

The only downside is that the effects wear off if you stop — so if you have cancer, you’ll have to set aside half an hour every morning during your treatment.

Light boxes are portable, safe, and inexpensive. You can find one in any medical supply shop or online.

Sleep struggles aren’t getting much better

The one big factor that unites nearly all Americans

By day, it can feel like America is more divided than ever before.

By night, there’s something that unites us all.

None of us can sleep!

A new report shows just how much — or rather, how little — progress we’ve made in the bedroom in recent years.

Today, the average American spends four extra days per year asleep than they did 15 years ago.

But don’t throw a slumber party yet.

That works out to an average of just 17 extra minutes per night… and most Americans STILL aren’t getting nearly enough sleep.

Even worse, a full third of Americans are missing out on so much sleep that they’re actually sleep-deprived.

You could be one of them without even realizing it. So many Americans have been falling short for so long that we’re all starting to forget what a good night of sleep really is!

People have become conditioned to waking up groggy and not “feeling right” until they’ve chugged some coffee.

If that sounds a little too familiar, it’s time to make some changes — because lost sleep is more than just a recipe for an unhealthy caffeine dependency.

Missing out on sleep regularly can increase your risk of serious health problems including obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes.

It could also hit you upstairs, slamming your brain in two dangerous ways.

There’s the immediate risk of grogginess, which can lead to everything from poor decisions to accidents.

Then there’s the long-haul risk of missed sleep: cognitive struggles and even dementia.

Poor sleepers even have a higher risk of cancer!

All of those risks are completely unnecessary, as sleep improvements are some of the easiest to make.

I know that it doesn’t SEEM that way when you’re tossing and turning in bed, so desperate for rest that you might consider turning to sleep meds.

But it is — if you look in the right places.

The first place is around you. Make sure you’re don’t have bad habits that can harm sleep, including evening caffeine, alcohol, and using digital devices before (or in) bed.

The second is inside you. Make sure your body has what it needs for a full night of rest, starting with melatonin. That’s often called the “sleep hormone” and for good reason: Your body uses it as a signal for sleep.

Many people — especially older folks — often struggle to produce the melatonin they need, which keeps the brain on “alert” even when your head is on a pillow.

Melatonin supplements can help fix that deficiency so that your brain kicks into sleep mode and you get the rest you need… and if you do it right, you’ll get more than just 17 minutes.

You’ll get a full night of shuteye, every night.

Sleep gadgets often fall short

2 things that really can help you sleep better

I can’t help but laugh at all of the crazy things people will try in the name of sleep.

There are cooling blankets, space pillows, blackout shades, smartphone apps to control your lights, noise machines to fill your room with ocean sounds, and more.

There are plugs to close your ears and strips to open your nose.

And let’s not forget the “As Seen on TV” mattresses with electronic controls that become softer or firmer on demand.

Some of these things can help. Some are a big waste of money. Some are a little of both.

Now, the sleep market is about to get even more crowded. There’s a new wave of expensive devices coming out that look — and I’m not even kidding here — like underwear, except you don’t pull them on over your legs.

You put them on over your head.

These gadgets are essentially oversized headbands that cover parts of your head and ears.

Electronic gimmickry inside is supposed to tap into your brainwaves… tracked and monitored via an app… and trigger certain sounds to be played into your ears as you doze off.

Supposedly, you can fall asleep more quickly, stay out longer, and get rested better.

On the downside, I haven’t seen any solid studies to back these things. They’re also expensive, running $400 to $500. And I can’t imagine that it’s very comfortable to sleep with these things hooked up to your skull.

If you can get past ALL of that, and you’re willing to shell out the cash, you can feel free to give one of these things a shot. At least it’s not another drug — and the only real side effect is probably your spouse laughing at you when you come to bed with underwear on your head.

But why bother?

There are much better ways to get the sleep you need.

They’re backed by science. They don’t look ridiculous. And they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

I recommend two steps.

First, make sure you have the right conditions for sleep: no caffeine at night, no gadgets in the hour or so before bed, and, of course, a dark and comfortable room.

If you need a little more help, go with the tried-and-true. The “sleep hormone” melatonin is proven to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer without the risks of sleep drugs.

Best of all, you won’t look like you’re wearing underwear on your head.

Sleep can help improve diet

One simple tweak for effortless dieting

It’s hard to believe, but February is exactly one week away.

That’s make-or-break time for your resolutions — because 80 percent of all of those New Year’s vows fail by Valentine’s Day.

How are you doing on yours?

If you’re like most folks, you promised yourself a new diet… and if you’re like most folks, your resolve is already wavering.

Well, friend, today I’m here with some reinforcements. I’ve got one little trick you can do that can make it easier than ever to live better and eat healthier.

Get more sleep.

That’s it. That’s the secret. Just a little extra snooze time can give you the resolve you need to eat better so that you lose weight and get healthier.

The new study looked at folks in nearly every age group, from teens right on up to people in their 60s.

But despite the differences in age, they all had one thing in common: They weren’t getting enough sleep, with most of them snoozing for between 5 and 7 hours per night.

Half of them kept their old habits.

The other half worked with a specialist on improving their sleep. With simple lifestyle changes — and no drugs — they spent nearly an extra hour in bed each day and more than 30 more minutes asleep per night.

No doubt, they felt more refreshed and energetic.

More importantly, as they slept more, they also ate better.

They cut their carb intake by an average of nearly 30 grams per day… and their sugar by nearly 12 grams.

That’s almost 3 teaspoons of sugar less per day — effortlessly erased.

They also cut their fat intake by nearly 4 percent when compared to the folks who didn’t get more sleep.

Remember, these folks didn’t make other changes. They weren’t told to try to eat less fat and sugar or to cut back on carbs.

It just happened… naturally… as they got more sleep.

And it can happen to you, too.

If you’re not quite getting enough sleep, start by taking a look at your habits. In many cases, poor sleep is often caused by a lifestyle factor from late-night TV to evening booze or caffeine.

Even using a cellphone, computer, or tablet before bed can mess up your sleep.

If you have fixed all of that and still struggle, you may need a little more help — whether it’s a natural remedy, such as melatonin, or a holistic physician who can find the cause of your sleep problems and work with you to fix it naturally.

And when you sleep better, you’ll eat better too… and have a better chance of keeping your resolutions into February and beyond.

Chamomile boosts sleep quality

Better sleep, one sip at a time

Right now, millions of Americans are suffering from a “hidden” sleep problem.

It’s a disorder that disguises itself so well that many folks never even think they have a sleep problem at all.

They don’t toss and turn. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back asleep. And they don’t find themselves staring at the clock at 5 a.m. wondering why they keep waking up so early.

They get a full night of rest.

Yet something’s wrong. They know it — even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.

It’s the old quantity vs. quality issue, as good sleep isn’t just a matter of hitting a certain number of hours.

You also need the right kind of sleep, because poor sleep quality can leave you feeling crummy all day.

And it’s a problem that’s especially common among older folks.

It’s time to fight back, and a new study has just the ticket for getting better rest tonight and every night.

It’s simple, safe, inexpensive, and widely available.

This natural herbal therapy has the power to improve your quality of sleep, so you wake up ready to hit the ground running the moment your feet hit the bedroom floor.

The answer is chamomile.

This humble, daisy-like flower is known for its sweet scent and power to soothe the mind and restore calm, which can be especially effective at night.

In the new study, chamomile went head-to-head against a placebo in folks over the age of 70 who were battling low sleep quality.

The folks who got the real deal didn’t get more sleep. They got something even more important.

They got BETTER sleep with big-time improvements in quality, which allowed them to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated instead of groggy and foggy.

All from a little chamomile!

Of course, many of us don’t just have a problem with sleep quality.

There’s also the bigger issue: Too many Americans simply aren’t getting enough rest.

They struggle to fall asleep and wake up too often in the night.

Chamomile can help there, too.

While the new study didn’t find that it can increase the amount of sleep time, I’ve seen research that shows it can. Chamomile is even more effective when you combine it with other natural sleep aids such as valerian and passionflower.

You can usually find all three available as a supplement or — even better — a relaxing evening tea that’ll go down great an hour or so before bed.

Sleep drugs taken by a third of seniors

Don’t ignore this common problem

Modern living is so convenient that it can be a little TOO convenient at times.

Case in point: When was the last time you saw a doctor for a seemingly minor, everyday complaint?

If you’re like most folks these days, the answer might be NEVER.

It’s too easy to just pop into a Walgreens or CVS and get whatever it is you think you need. Since many are open 24 hours a day, you can even dash out and pick something up to help you sleep.

Now, new research reveals just one possible toll of all that convenience.

Turns out many people… including potentially MILLIONS of seniors… are taking powerful and dangerous over-the-counter sleep drugs.

And they’ve never even spoken to a doctor about it!

The new study finds that 1 in 3 older Americans are using some kind of sleep aid, and the vast majority of them are turning to the on-the-shelf meds you’ll find in that 24-hour CVS or Walgreens.

And most never speak to a doctor about this hidden “pill habit”!

The new study shows the reason for it, too: Half of all older folks believe that sleep problems come with the territory.

They think that as you get older, it gets tougher to sleep.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sleep problems aren’t normal at ANY age… and while they certainly become more common with age, they aren’t CAUSED by age alone.

They’re a sign of something else wrong inside the body — something that needs attention, but will never get it if you never see a doctor.

It’s time to change that.

Sometimes, sleep problems are caused by plain old bad habits.

Evening caffeine, late-night television, stress, and electronic devices can all disrupt sleep at any age — and how your body reacts to these things can change over time.

For example, many people enjoy a cup of coffee after dinner. When you were younger, that evening latte may not have had much of an effect on your sleep.

That might no longer be the case today, so take a moment to go over all your habits… and see if there is anything you can tweak for better sleep.

If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to pass on the convenience of a 24-hour pharmacy and take the one step the new study finds most people avoid: See a doctor.

Don’t visit one who just wants to put you on a prescription sleep med.

See a holistic doctor who can test you for and treat all the possible causes of sleep disruptions, including the hormonal imbalances that often strike with age.

Sleep struggles are bad for your brain

This nighttime habit is as dangerous as heavy drinking

You know the risks of booze, so you’re smart about it. You either drink very little… or you never touch the stuff.

But guess what?

You could face ALL the risks of heavy drinking and more — even if you’ve never had a sip!

New research reveals the one bad habit that’s just as dangerous as binge drinking, and I’m pretty sure this one’s going to surprise you.

It’s not cigarettes, prescription meds, junk food, or even an illicit drug habit.

It’s poor sleep!

This one bad habit alone can leave lasting damage throughout your body over the long-term. But the biggest effects just might be in the brain, and the new study out of Canada reveals both short-term and long-term risks linked to missing out on sleep.

I don’t know which one is more frightening.

Let’s start with what just one night of short sleep will do to your brain, because I’m guessing most folks will be surprised by this. If you miss out even a little… if you have “one of those nights” where you get just five hours of sleep or less… you could face the same level of cognitive impairment as you might after five or six drinks.

That could lead to accidents on the road on in your workplace… problems with relationships… and even poor decisions.

If you’ve had a night of poor sleep, maybe you should avoid both driving and QVC!

But at least you can “cure” that problem easily enough. Go back to bed, and you’ll feel better — because the study finds a night of short sleep here and there won’t do any long-term damage to your body.

When it happens regularly, that’s another story.

The same report out of Canada finds that long-term sleep loss will damage your immune system — exposing you to infection and illness — and mess with your body’s hormones so that your appetite goes haywire.

That leads to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease along with a higher risk of both heart attack and stroke.

And to cap it all off, missing out on sleep can lead to mood disorders like depression, too.

Now that you know what’s at stake, it’s time to do something about it.

First, take action to sleep better tonight. The “sleep hormone” melatonin can often do the trick, as can homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies such as chamomile.

And second, work closely with a doctor to find out why you’re struggling to get the rest you need. Poor sleep is usually a warning sign of a larger issue. In older folks, it’s often a hormonal issue.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I can help you get to the bottom of your own sleep problems here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!

Sleep problems common with age

Why your sleep is getting worse… and how to fix it

Nothing’s as good as it used to be, right?

The coffee’s too bitter, the music’s too noisy, and don’t even get me started on the garbage that passes for TV these days.

And those aren’t the only things that have changed over the years.

Even SLEEP isn’t what is used to be!

As you get older, it’s harder to get the sleep you need. Even when you THINK you’ve gotten all 40 winks, you can wake up feeling not quite as rested as you used to.

Now, the latest research shows why — and it’s a problem deep inside your brain.

UC Berkeley researchers wrote in the journal Neuron that the parts of the brain that start to slow with age are the same areas needed to produce what’s known as “slow wave” sleep, or the deep sleep that’s so essential to rest and rejuvenation.

The brain also struggles to generate essential neurochemicals such as galanin and orexin, which help to control the sleep cycles.

That poor rest, in turn, can lead to even more problems in the brain that can set the stage for memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Sleep drugs can’t help here — even when they make you sleep LONGER, they don’t lead to the same natural sleep cycles and won’t necessarily increase your slow wave sleep.

But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from the sleep-robbing effects of age. You can take action today so you can rest better tonight and get more of that essential slow-wave sleep, and I’ve got some quick tips that’ll help you do just that.

First, try some valerian.

This natural sleep-friendly herbal remedy is not only proven to help folks sleep longer and better, but it’s especially effective at increasing your slow-wave sleep.

Second, eat more fiber.

A study last year found boosting fiber intake helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get more of that all-important slow-wave “deep” sleep that’s so hard to come by as you get older.

Third, turn off the devices.

The blue light wavelengths emitted from electronics such as iPads can alter your brain and change your sleep patterns. As a result, researchers found that just 30 minutes on an iPad before bed can delay slow-wave sleep.

Read a book instead.

Finally, limit your booze — and definitely don’t drink right before bed, as alcohol can alter your sleep mix, changing how and when you get your slow-wave sleep in ways that can leave you feeling crummy in the morning.

If you have to drink before turning in, try herbal tea instead. Some of them even have that valerian I just mentioned.

Camping can fix sleep problems

Reset your sleep… this weekend!

Trouble sleeping? Don’t go looking for the answer at your local CVS.

Try the KOA instead!

A trip to your local campground could be the best way to reset your body’s clock — and the latest research shows how a simple camping trip can get your sleep schedule back on track.

The study — done in winter — found that over a week of winter camping, volunteers began to fall asleep a full 2.5 hours earlier than they did at home.

The researchers did a similar study in the summer with similar results — except, in winter, the folks not only went to sleep earlier.

They stayed asleep longer.

The reason is simple: Our bodies were designed to recognize night and day — and the way they know the difference is the rise and fall of the sun.

As the sun goes down, our bodies start to crank out the “sleep hormone,” melatonin.

But these days, that whole process is thrown off by the fact that we’re indoors and under lights all day and well into the night.

Even worse, the lights of LED screens such as those used in electronics are heavy in the blue end of the spectrum, the color our body recognizes as daylight.

Some people never produce the right levels of melatonin at the right time.

The results are all around you: Sleep disorders are one of the most common health problems facing the nation, in nearly every age group.

In the new study — and the old one — the researchers found that as folks spent more time outside on those camping trips, they began to naturally produce more melatonin.

While the studies each lasted a week, the researchers found in their earlier work that even a weekend in the great outdoors will help to reset your internal body clock and kick off melatonin production.

Of course, not many people can take off for the woods for a full week or even a weekend; and some folks just don’t want to go camping (especially in winter).

That’s OK. Camping’s nice… but it’s not a requirement.

Just spend more time outside, especially in the afternoon and evening, and have a “lights off” time indoors at night and your body will start to recognize when it’s time to sleep (just don’t cheat with those electronic devices).

If you need a little more help, melatonin supplements are inexpensive and widely available. Use a sublingual form if you need help falling asleep faster, or the time-released version if you find you’re waking up in the middle of the night.

Sleep shortages can lead to bacterial imbalances

What poor sleep does to your gut

There’s a lot you’ll notice when you miss out on sleep.

You’ll notice yourself yawning… being slower and duller… and maybe even how cranky you are. (If you don’t spot that last one, your friends and family sure will!)

But it’s what you DON’T notice that matters most, because the real damage of missing sleep is completely invisible.
Read more

Poor sleep could be caused by your iPad

How your iPad could be ruining your sleep

Picture it: back in the days before electricity…when nights at home were lit by candles…the streets were pitch black…and the sky was dark enough to see every single star.

None of us are old probably enough to remember a time before the light bulb. But at some point, electricity went from being a convenience to a necessity.

And when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, all that light can be a downright nuisance.
Read more

Lack of sleep a brain-damaging habit

Poor sleep kills off essential neurons

That hazy-dazy feeling you get after a night of short sleep might seem to fade after a second (or third) cup of coffee. But don’t kid yourself, because the damage from lack of sleep never really fades at all.

The harm is lasting and even permanent, as failing to get the rejuvenating rest your body needs can kill off some of the most critical cells in your brain. Read more

Lack of sleep can worsen chronic pain

Sleep problems worsen chronic pain

It’s the worst sort of vicious cycle: You’re in pain, so you can’t sleep. You can’t sleep, so you feel lousy the next day. You feel lousy, so you don’t get any exercise — barely any physical activity at all (some days, you feel lucky if you can even walk).

And that lack of sleep and movement leads to more pain and still less activity followed by more pain as the whole cycle starts all over again.

This isn’t theoretical. This is reality for hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — of people who suffer from chronic pain.

And the best time to get back on track is at nighttime, because a new study confirms that improving your sleep is the key to breaking this vicious cycle once and for all.

Simply put, the better you sleep, the more likely you are to get moving the next day, according to the study of chronic pain patients who wore accelerometers to track both sleep and physical activity.

And that leads us to the million-dollar question: If you’re in pain, how can you get better sleep?

It’s not always easy. Some nights, as you already know, it’s downright hard… practically impossible.

The secret to success here isn’t in a better pillow, a fancy mattress, sleep meds or painkillers.

It’s in holistic medicine– a whole-body approach that doesn’t just focus on your individual symptoms, but finds and corrects the cause.

Sometimes, lack of sleep and pain problems will have the same cause. Sometimes, they won’t. But you’ll never find either cause if you simply take meds for sleep and meds for pain, as many doctors will ask you to do.

Over the short term, try natural anti-inflammatories for pain such as turmeric and consider nondrug therapies such as acupuncture. And good short-term sleep solutions include melatonin, herbal teas and homeopathic remedies.

But over the longer term, work with a holistic medical doctor to find and fix the causes of your lack of sleep and chronic pain problems.

For real answers to common sleep disorders, read this free report in my House Calls archives. And for safe and natural answers to both sleep and pain disorders, make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.

Not in the area? I’m also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule yours.

Sleep can be natural detox for the brain

The natural detox you can try tonight

Not long ago, detoxification was dismissed as “alt-med mumbo-jumbo.” Today, the mainstream is finally starting to recognize the role of toxins in disease — especially in diseases of the brain.

I think it’s only a matter of time before you see mainstream doctors offering the same natural detox programs I do for brain protection.

For now, however, you’ll have to visit a holistic physician for most natural detox treatments. But there’s one you can get started on tonight, in your own home, and it won’t cost you a penny.

All you have to do is fluff your pillow, lay back and get some rest — because new research confirms that a full night of sleep is one of the best ways to rid your brain of the toxic junk that can cause memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia. Read more

Electronic devices disrupt sleep cycles

iDevices lead to poor sleep

What’s keeping you up at night?

For many people, it’s a sleep disorder such as insomnia. But for millions of others, it’s a different type of disorder completely that’s disrupting their sleep cycles.

I call it iPad-nia.

Lighting in general can disrupt production of melatonin, the hormone we need for proper sleep cycles. But new research shows how the LED lights used in electronics such as iPads and iPhones and such are even more disruptive than ordinary light. Read more

Sleep can ease your pain tolerance

Fight pain with this bedroom tip

Next time pain has you reaching for a pill bottle, reach for your pillow instead — because sometimes, those aches are just your body’s way of calling out for a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is a natural inflammation fighter and pain tolerance booster. And since aches and pains are often caused by that same inflammation, plain old rest can be the safest and most natural healer of all.

And in one new study, a little extra sleep even increased pain tolerance. Read more

A wake-up call for bad sleep habits

Judging by myself and my patients — not to mention the bags under the eyes of many of the people I meet each day — I’d say the biggest problem when it comes to sleep is that we don’t get nearly enough of it.

But believe it or not, it’s possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Like all good things, you can get way too much sleep — and too much sleep can be every bit as dangerous as too little.

One new study spells out the risks I’ve seen before: More than eight hours of sleep a night will boost your risk of chest pain and coronary artery disease.

Of course, the study also confirms that those of us who don’t get enough should hit the hay a little earlier — because less than six hours a night can double your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Too little sleep can also boost the odds of congestive heart failure by 70 percent, according to the study of more than 3,000 people ages 45 and up presented at a recent American College of Cardiology conference.

That means the sweet spot for sleep — for most people anyway — is between six and eight hours a night, or right around the seven nightly hours I’ve seen recommended from other studies.

One of those studies found that less than six and more than eight hours can boost the risk of cognitive problems. Too little sleep leads to problems in reasoning, vocabulary, and global cognition, while too much sleep can actually hurt up to six cognitive functions, according to British researchers.

Another study in 2010 looked at even more extreme levels of sleep, and found even more extreme results. Less than five hours a night doubles the risk of angina, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke — while nine or more boosts the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

What does this mean for you? Get the right amount of sleep, of course.

Just don’t turn to meds for help. Common sleep drugs can increase the risk of a number of health problems, up to and including death itself.