“It is important to note that our results are based on observational data, so even though we did everything we could to ensure their validity, it’s still possible that other factors explain the associations,” said co-author Lawrence E. Kline, D.O., who is medical director of the Viterbi Family Sleep Center. “We hope our work will spur additional research in this area using information from other populations.”
Funding for the study came from the Scripps Health Foundation and other philanthropic sources.
The research should prompt physicians to consider alternatives to hypnotic medications, Dr. Kline said.
Clinicians at the Viterbi Family Sleep Center focus on cognitive therapy that teaches patients to better understand the nature of sleep. For example, some people suffering from insomnia might require less than the eight hours of sleep commonly recommended for each night.
Patients also can benefit from practicing good sleeping habits and relaxation, as well as taking advantage of the body’s natural clock, which is driven by the rising and setting of the sun, Dr. Kline said. “Understanding how to use the circadian rhythm is a very powerful tool that doesn’t require a prescription,” he said.
When insomnia results from emotional problems such as depression, doctors should treat the psychological disorder rather than prescribe sleeping pills that could prove to be harmful, Dr. Kripke said.
ABOUT SCRIPPS HEALTH
Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2.5 billion non-profit community healthcare system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,600 affiliated physicians and 13,000 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and an ambulatory care network of physician offices and 23 outpatient centers and clinics. Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research, genomic medicine, wireless health and graduate medical education. With three highly respected graduate medical education programs, Scripps is a longstanding member of the Association of American Medical Colleges.