Monday, October 8, 2012

Binge eating causes sleep issues during, after pregnancy

Binge eating or consuming unusually large amounts of food, before or during pregnancy, can cause sleep problems during pregnancy. Those sleep problems can also last as long as 18 months after childbirth.
Scientists found that women with binge eating disorder symptoms before and during pregnancy had more sleep problems than a group of women with no reported symptoms. They also had increased sleep dissatisfaction 18 months after childbirth.

Participants with binge eating disorder symptoms before and during pregnancy, pre-pregnancy symptoms that went away during pregnancy, or pregnant women who binge eat for emotional reasons, were 26 percent more likely, to report sleeping problems than participants with no reported eating disorder symptoms.

All women, regardless of eating disorder status, reported more sleep problems during the first 18 weeks of pregnancy. This is because women experience changes in their sleep patterns by their 11-12th week of pregnancy. As a result, they get more hours of sleep, but less deep sleep, and more waking up during the night. In addition to hormonal changes and the physical discomfort, conditions like sleep-disordered breathing and restless leg syndrome sometimes appear during pregnancy.

The authors of the study, published in the journal SLEEP recommend comprehensive mental health screening during pregnancy. To their knowledge, their study is the only one to examine sleep and binge eating symptoms during pregnancy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Melatonin improves sleep during hypertension treatment

Melatonin supplements may improve sleep in hypertension patients who are on beta-blockers.
Scientists found that three weeks of melatonin use significantly improved their sleep quality and helped them stay asleep compared with a placebo.

Patients taking melatonin increased total sleep time by 37 minutes. They also spent less time awake in bed, and fell asleep quicker. The authors of the study, published in the journal SLEEP observed that the melatonin improved sleep tolerence without the common side effects of drug tolerance or rebound insomnia.

Beta-blockers are drugs that affect the body’s response to certain nerve impulses and are sometimes used in hypertension patients. These medications suppress endogenous nighttime melatonin secretion, which may explain a reported side effect of insomnia.

Melatonin is effective in resetting the body's circadian rhythms, and is used frequently for jet lag. Findings are mixed on whether melatonin helps improve sleep in otherwise healthy patients with insomnia.

If you have insomnia and are not on a beta-blocker, there are other ways you can tackle your insomnia. These include cognitive behavioral therapy and medications. The AASM advises you to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin or any medication. Your doctor may refer you a sleep medicine physician at an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. Visit to find an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.