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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Jessica

Approximately one in three adults suffers from insomnia. Studies have indicated that seven to eight hours of sleep per night is associated with a longer lifespan, better short-term memory, and better immune function for adults.

Causes and health impacts of insomnia

Insomnia has also been associated with PMS, fibromyalgia, and as a side effect of aspartame ingestion.

Melatonin is secreted at night by the pineal gland, and helps regulate circadian rhythm. The production of melatonin decreases as people age, which may be one reason for a higher rate of insomnia among the elderly.

Possible treatments for insomnia

Physical exercise has been found to help decrease insomnia. In cases where insomnia is thought to be due to other conditions, treating the underlying condition can then lead to improvements in sleep.

In one study where subjects had eaten two kiwis an hour before bed, every night, for four weeks, subjects demonstrated significantly better onset, duration, and efficiency of their sleep. Tart cherries have been associated with improved sleep, as well as almonds, raspberries, goji berries, tomatoes and fenugreek seeds, which have all been found to contain natural levels of melatonin.

Chamomile tea is commonly used as a sleep aid, but pregnant women should avoid using it during pregnancy, due to the tea’s anti-inflammatory properties, which can lead to fetal complications. 

The information on this page has been compiled from the research presented in the videos listed. Sources for each video can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab.

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