Last month, I reported on a new study showing the lack of effectiveness of the original CPAP machines for sleep apnea in preventing stroke, heart attack, and death.
In my view, the best test of any device (or drug) is whether it prevents the long-term complications of the condition. Otherwise, what’s the point of the treatment?
Ideally, the CPAP machine should prevent lapses in breathing experienced by sleep apnea sufferers. It should also promote continuous, uninterrupted sleep. And last but certainly not least, it should also prevent heart attacks and strokes associated with sleep apnea.
But it turns out, the original CPAP air masks didn’t achieve any of these three goals.
The original air masks were so uncomfortable and cumbersome that they disrupted sleep. Plus, in the new study, researchers found that using the original CPAP device did not prevent heart attacks and strokes after all…perhaps due to the disrupted sleep caused by the mask itself.
Fortunately, many manufacturers have taken to redesigning the cumbersome masks. The newly designed masks only cover your mouth and nostrils at the bottom of your nose. It feels somewhat like placing your balled fist against your mouth (which I am tempted to do when reading the latest academic-government-industrial folly on health or medicine).
Overall, the new masks work a lot better and should reduce wakefulness. I would like to see a new study conducted using the newly designed mask to see if it has a more positive impact on heart attack and stroke risk.
But in the meantime, there are also a number of other natural treatments with solid research supporting their role in improving health — and sleep.
Natural sleep aids don’t receive attention
I often report on Chinese acupuncture for its use in pain, stroke and asthma. And now, research shows it also naturally reduces insomnia and anxiety and induces sleep.
In this five-week clinical trial, 18 adults with insomnia and anxiety received acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture increased nocturnal melatonin (the sleep hormone) secretion, improved measures of sleep onset, increased total sleep time, and improved sleep efficiency. Significant reductions in anxiety scores were also found.
Many people also report that sleeping on animal fur helps with insomnia and anxiety. (I make no excuses for the anxiety of the poor animals who provided these furs). Perhaps a better solution for all involved is to sleep with a beloved dog, cat or other furry animal. (When I was younger, I remember going to sleep sometimes by the strains of Beethoven’s Für Elise. Little did I know.)
Tomorrow, I will tell you about five more sure-fire tips for improving sleep.
- “Acupuncture increases nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduces insomnia and anxiety: a preliminary report,” J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2004 Winter;16(1):19-28