Sleepio and SHUTi: Online sleep therapy

sleepioWe’re not sleeping enough

Sleeplessness is epidemic in this country.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider insomnia a public health issue and report that at least 35% of adults don’t get a good night’s sleep.

Judging from my circle of friends, I think the percentage is much higher than that!

Insomnia and daytime fatigue make life miserable and contribute to chronic illness. Drowsy drivers cause accidents. Drowsy employees cause on-the-job injuries.

Sleeping pills (hypnotics) are the go-to treatment in the US. Drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and suvorexant (Belsomra).

Related post: Belsomra—Use with caution

But they have side … Continue reading

Use over-the-counter sleep aids with caution

over-the-counter sleep aidsNot safe for everyone

I’ve had problems sleeping most of my adult life. And I admit over the years I’ve tried using Benadryl (diphenhydramine) as a sleep aid now and then.

So I was interested when Consumer Reports recently published a warning that too many people are too frequently turning to over-the-counter sleeps aids.

A 2015 Consumer Reports national survey of 4,023 adults found a troubling trend: Of the 20 percent who took an OTC medication within the past year to improve sleep, almost 1 in 5 respondents, or 18 percent, said they took it on a daily basis. Most

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My favorite healthcare books and gifts for 2016

I’m spending the day online getting some gift shopping done, and I thought I’d post about some of the healthcare books and gifts I’m buying for friends and family this year.

I use Amazon a lot (Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping), and I have to include a disclosure here that the following links will take you to my Amazon Associates page. That said, I’m not trying to make any money with my blog, so if you can find these products for better prices elsewhere, great!

For the sleep deprived

As someone who has battled insomnia most of her … Continue reading

How accurate is your Fitbit?

fitbitIt’s OK for steps, but not much else

I was feeling really good about myself the other day when I came home after finishing a 6,000 step walk that burned—according to the Fitbit Zip in my pocket—720 calories.


I boasted about this to my husband, who immediately burst my pride bubble by saying, “There is no way you burned that many calories in a 40-minute walk. Think about it.”

He was right. I knew in the back of my mind that 720 calories was just too high. Have you ever run on a treadmill for 15 minutes and felt … Continue reading

Sleep deprivation

March 6th to 13th is National Sleep Awareness Week.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sponsors the week (#7Days4BetterSleep) to raise awareness of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.

As if we didn’t know!

But if you need a reminder, here’s a TED-Ed video about the effects of sleep deprivation:

Good sleep habits are best learned at a young age. If you are a parent, help your kids find a healthy balance between all their activities and their sleep needs.

The NSF has lots of information about sleep, as well as sleep tips … Continue reading

Blue light and sleep

Blue light pollution

Do you have trouble getting to sleep at night, and then feel sleepy and groggy in the morning?

“Blue light” from your TV, phone or tablet might be to blame. Do you watch TV or sit at your computer just before bed? Or take your phone, laptop or Kindle into bed with you?

These electronic devices all emit what’s known as blue light. Blue light is a specific part of the light spectrum. It’s why the sky is blue, and so our brains naturally associate blue light with day and become more alert, even if it’s time … Continue reading

ZDoggMD “Snore” – A sleep apnea parody

Yesterday’s post was so depressing I feel the need for some humor. And few things in the health care world make me smile as much as ZDoggMD’s musical parodies on YouTube.

Here’s his latest.


Related posts:


Frugal Nurse

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Exercises for snoring and sleep apnea

It’s no secret that as we age we have to be more diligent about exercise to keep our muscles toned and flexible, and maintain a healthy body weight.

The same is true of the tissue inside our throats. Flabby throat muscles and fatty tissue cause snoring and sleep apnea. Poor quality sleep affects not only the patient, but anyone sleeping (or trying to) within hearing distance.

The typical solution given to most patients seeking help is the CPAP, a bulky machine that applies air pressure through a nasal mask as you sleep. It keeps the airways open so you can … Continue reading

Breathing exercises to improve sleep

I just ran across this video of Andrew Weil, MD, explaining how to do yoga breathing exercises, specifically the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It’s based on the yoga practice of pranayama.

I’ve always had trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and I want to give these breathing exercises a try as they are an inexpensive and drug-free approach to hopefully improving my quantity and quality of sleep.


The steps of the 4-7-8 technique are simple:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth while making a ‘whoosh’ sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your
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Sleepless? Watch less TV

I’ve always had difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, and over the years I’ve learned what a delicate mechanism our brain’s “sleep center” is.

For optimal sleep, our brains crave routine and reduced stimulation.

Related post:

A sleep physician explains how TV can disrupt our sleep: Television ruins your sleep. Here are 5 ways how

Here are the highlights, but read his entire post for more information.

  1. Watching television makes you go to bed later. But our brains have a predetermined amount of sleep they need to function well. When we miss that sleep, we
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Belsomra – use with caution

I posted about Belsomra (suvorexant), the newest sleeping pill to hit the market, a few months ago. At that time, it wasn’t available to buy yet. Now it is.

As I predicted, it’s expensive, although not quite as costly as I thought it might be. According to GoodRx, a 30-day supply of 10mg tablets in my area code will cost on average $275.

Generic Ambien—zolpidem—costs about $30.

Belsomra works differently in the brain than Ambien or Lunesta. Will it work better? Hard to know, since there have been no studies directly comparing the efficacy of Belsomra with the other … Continue reading

Belsomra – Do we really need another sleeping pill?

The high cost of insomnia

I read with some trepidation that the pharmaceutical giant Merck recently received FDA approval for a new sleeping pill, Belsomra (suvorexant). It will be available later this year or early in 2015.

2/20/15 Updated post: Belsomra – Use with caution

Great, I thought, what will another brain-altering drug cost us?

Financially, Belsomra is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in its first year. That’s great for Merck, whose shares went up after the announcement. But not so great for the individuals, insurance companies and government agencies that will need to … Continue reading

“Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep”

dreamlandThe big business of sleep

As someone who has always had trouble sleeping, I find solace in the fact that I am far from alone. The last statistic I saw was that about 60 million Americans complain of some form of sleep trouble. And I suspect that number is under reported.

Sleep experts recommend we get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and popular media are quick to point out all the ill health effects due to lack of sleep that will kill you.

It’s scary enough to give you nightmares—if you could get to sleep.

Insomnia and fatigue are … Continue reading

The high cost of Non-24

hetlioz non24Another drug we can’t afford

A few weeks ago I posted about the recent slew of commercials to “increase public awareness” of the chronic sleep disorder Non-24.

As Non-24 (formerly known as circadian rhythm disorder) affects totally blind people and is rare otherwise, it wasn’t clear to me why we needed increased awareness until I realized a new drug was coming to market.

When I wrote that post, this new drug, Hetlioz (tasimelteon), was not yet available in pharmacies. I speculated that it would be costly, perhaps as much as $10 per tablet. If only!

A few days ago … Continue reading

Optimize your wake-up time

sleep cycle appSleep cycle tracking apps

Have you ever been wrenched out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock? Or been in such a deep sleep that you slept right through the &#%!@ alarm?

When this happens to me, I wake up feeling groggy and sleep deprived, even if I slept “enough” hours the night before.

Other mornings when the alarm goes off I am full of energy, feeling well rested and loving life.

The difference is not necessarily how many hours I slept; it’s at what point in my sleep cycle—the light and deep stages of sleep—the alarm woke me.… Continue reading