Dr. Bonnie's Treatment Plan for "Blue Light" Insomnia Caused by Gadgets

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A lack of sleep can put people at high risk for stroke (June 11th, USA Today: http://tinyurl.com/c87s7yf), and we may have our gadgets to blame! Therapist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil encourages people struggling with insomnia learn her techniques of proper sleep in order to insure good health.

Thirty percent of adults sleep fewer than six hours each night, according to a government study, and this deficit may stem from an abundant use of gadgets (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/06/15/seen-at-11-blue-light-insomnia/). Because people who don't get enough sleep are four times more likely to suffer from a stroke (June 11th, USA Today: http://tinyurl.com/c87s7yf), Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil states that it's imperative to address this problem and adjust back to healthy melatonin levels.

So-called "blue light" insomnia happens when people over-expose themselves to lights - from computer, phones, and other devices - at night so the body thinks it's daytime. This light suppresses melatonin, the natural chemical that helps people sleep. Researchers suggest doing several things: getting out in the day light to help regulate the body's internal clock; cover lights in the bedroom; limit screentime at night and use devices on a dimmer setting.

And Dr. Bonnie, who treats people who have trouble sleeping, concurs. She says a lot of her patients start out on Ambien; they are irritable, reactive, and dependent on the drug. For many of them it just doesn't work because they have to keep increasing the dosage once they become dependent on it. "It's habit-forming, and they then need to learn how to find natural ways to sleep." Dr. Bonnie has long been treating people with a combined psychological and medical approach, working with a medical doctor to make sure her patients are active, healthy, and using supplements to help them sleep.

Additionally, she prescribes an hour of "worry time" each day, to keep the worries of the day away from bedtime. She also suggests people struggling with sleeplessness do gratitude exercises before bed to help them concentrate on what they're thankful for instead of worrying at bed time. She wants people to be able to make up with their sleep - not break up with it, especially in light of these new statistics around sleep and stroke.

These types of treatments will now become even more crucial. Dr. Bonnie encourages people to also work on bedtime rituals like snuggling with their partner, which releases oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, to help people feel bonded and secure.

"Ambien treats the problem, not the root cause," she says, "and it can also make people irritable or angry. It's so much better to work out a natural regimen with the help of a doctor." Sleep is when brain chemicals are replenished so it's imperative to get more than the six hours of sleep on which so many people are surviving.

To see Dr. Bonnie talk more about healthy sleep rituals and how to be healthier at bedtime, click here: http://youtu.be/A2ZmcpuP1j0 And check out her book, Make Up Don't Break Up.

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