Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wrapping things up and reflections.

In this blog, I have discussed many subjects related to insomnia.  I devoted an entire post to the most commonly prescribed sleeping medication in recent years and the dangers of this drug and its over-prescription by physicians.  I described in great detail a rather uncommon, but probably under-diagnosed, cause for insomnia.  I also explored the most common causes of insomnia, and the most effective treatments for these causes.  Now, I will present a few more opinions (of others, and my own) on the subject, and, finally, will reflect on my blogging experience.

There has been a great deal of media coverage of “driving while sleep deprived” in the past few years.  Many experts believe that driving while sleep deprived can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, and some studies have supported this viewpoint.  As early as 1999, there were experiments comparing performance in simulated driving of intoxicated drivers and sleep-deprived drivers.  One such experiment found that both the sleep deprived and the alcohol groups exhibited a safety-critical decline in lane-keeping performance, and both groups exhibited alterations in primary task performance.  The findings of such research do not surprise me in the slightest.  The few times I have driven after a night in which insomnia kept me from sleeping, I have felt rather out of control behind the wheel.  This illustrates a way in which insomnia does not just affect its sufferers—it can affect everyone.

One subject that I did not really touch upon in my blog is natural treatments for insomnia.  In a journal called Healthy Solutions, I found an article which outlined several natural insomnia remedies.  The first several “treatments” the article listed were pretty obvious ones: getting more exercise during the day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine at night, going to bed at the same time every night, practicing good sleep hygiene, and trying a new mattress if your current one is old and/or uncomfortable.  The article went on to recommend melatonin and inosital, which is a member of the vitamin B family.

While I do believe melatonin can be an effective insomnia treatment for many people, I have always been bothered that it is touted as a “natural remedy”.  While melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the human body, the same can be said of insulin injections, birth control pills, many steroids, and thyroid medications.  They are all comprised of naturally occurring human hormones, but most people wouldn't put birth control pills in the “natural medicine” category.  One must remember that while melatonin is produced naturally by the human body, taking in extra melatonin isn’t really “natural”.  Nonetheless, it can help many people with their insomnia.  While I have read about several experiments evaluating the effectiveness of melatonin, I was unable to find any true scientific experiment that shows the efficacy of inosital.  I personally would never try a treatment based only on anecdotal evidence, as I could end up spending a lot of money on what is really a placebo.  Obviously, more sturdy scientific research needs to be done on the usefulness of various natural treatments of insomnia.

This blog has allowed me to not only share my personal experiences, but to learn more about a condition that has plagued me for years: insomnia.  My research led to many new discoveries for me, and it was quite an intellectual and emotional journey.  Using the blog format to present reviews of research was a new experience for me, and I think the format allowed me to express my opinions in a more natural way.  It also made the project much more of a personal odyssey than if I had just written traditional reviews of journal articles.  To be able to use visual rhetoric was also a plus, as it brought a new dimension to my discussions, and, in my opinion, made the postings much more engaging and easy for others to read and relate to.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this project, and I hope others have enjoyed reading my posts.

Bowden, J. (2008, May). Natural help for insomnia. Better Nutrition. Volume 70, Number 5. Retrieved on December 18, 2009, from EBSCOhost database.

Fairclough, S. H., Graham R.  (1999, March).  Impairment of Driving Performance Caused by Sleep Deprivation or Alcohol: A Comparative Study.  Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics.  Volume 41, Number 1.  Retrieved on December 18, 2010, from Sage Premier database.

Imaged retrieved on December 19, 2010, from

Image retrieved on December 19, 2010, from

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