A therapy for baby boomers to sleep on

Aug 15, 2008

If you're over 55 and have spent more than a few sleepless nights, you're not alone -- insomnia affects about half of all people over 55 -- but you may also be at increased risk for physical and mental ailments.

Many older adults don't get enough restorative sleep, leading to serious health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, memory problems and increased rates of depression. Unfortunately, current sleeping pills are associated with memory problems, a risk for falls, dependency, withdrawal symptoms and disturbed sleeping patterns.

Circadin, a new drug developed at Tel Aviv University by Prof. Nava Zisapel, a chemist and neurobiologist from TAU's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, may help America's aging baby boomers get the much-needed sleep they need. Recent results from Prof. Zisapel's research with Circadin appear in the Journal of Sleep Research and are reviewed in Aging Health.

How the Body Tells Time

Prof. Zisapel's research centers on the hormone melatonin, which affects the way our biological functions differentiate between day and night. "As we age, the melatonin hormone signal weakens," says Prof. Zisapel. "As a result, our bodies and brains feel less difference between day and night."

Exacerbating the effect of low melatonin levels, aging people tend to sleep in a less organized fashion than younger people, Prof. Zisapel explains. "People are sleeping in front of the TV, or nodding off during conversations, and taking long afternoon naps. This leads to less sleep at night. In a way, their sleep habits become more like babies', and less like those of healthy adults who sleep in consolidated periods during the night."

Mimicking the profile of nighttime melatonin found in our bodies, Circadin replenishes the much-needed hormone, which declines steadily with age. Clinical trials in the United States and Europe found that Circadin improves sleep quality and morning alertness, and helps those 55 and over get a better night's sleep.

Her new drug therapy "improves sleep and daytime vigilance, helping to re-organize the circadian system, the body's internal clock," Prof. Zisapel says. Added benefits include more normalized blood pressure and blood sugar levels at night. The formulation also has a profound effect on the blind, whose biological clock is disturbed because they can't see light, a trigger for synchronizing with the external day/night cycle.

Advice for Sound Sleep Hygiene

Until Circadin is available in the United States, there are some simple steps seniors can take to get a good night's sleep, Prof. Zisapel says. Spending a couple of hours outdoors every day can help. Sipping lattes on a cafe patio (away from direct sunlight) can be pleasurable, and increases the exposure to natural light from the blue-green spectrum. Experiencing a full spectrum of light during the day could also be beneficial, as is routine exercise and avoiding daytime naps and sleeping in front of the TV.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Explore further: Smoking rates halve since 1970s in Britain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rosetta Comet Landing in 'Thud' and 3D

43 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —A 3D image shows what it would look like to fly over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was generated from data collected by the Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) ...

Redbox raising DVD rental rates by 25 percent

58 minutes ago

Redbox is raising its DVD rental prices by 25 percent beginning next week in an effort to wring more revenue from the shrinking audience that still watches movies on the discs instead of Internet video services such as Netflix.

US northeast braces for flooding after record snow

22 hours ago

Weather forecasters and emergency officials warned Sunday that melting snow would lead to heavy flooding in parts of the US northeast, with hundreds of thousands of people told to brace for fast-rising waters.

Recommended for you

Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

Nov 27, 2014

(HealthDay)—Health care organizations are developing and implementing telemedicine programs, although many have yet to receive reimbursement, according to a report published by Foley & Lardner.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.