There was so much fascinating research reported this week that I almost had too many studies to tell you about! After a lot of work, I narrowed it down to three that I think you will learn something really useful from, right now.

Acupuncture Out Performs Sleeping Pills

The first was a study looking at the effects of acupuncture on your sleep.

Researchers looked at acupuncture and compared it to Lunesta (a prescription sleeping pill, generic name is Zopiclone) and showed that acupuncture outperformed Lunesta with a 92.9% effective rate, while Lunesta came in at only 67.9%!

A separate study conducted by Yuexiu District Second Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers finds acupuncture more effective than a benzodiazepine, estazolam (Brand name ProSom). The drug is a hypnotic agent taken for sleep disorders. Acupuncture achieved a total effective rate of 92.5% and estazolam only achieved a 67.5% total effective rate.

Learn more about this study and which acupuncture points were used here.

Combine acupuncture and my Better Sleep Course for a one, two combination that will put you to sleep and keep you sleeping well through the night.

The iPad’s Night Shift Mode Fails To Stop Melatonin Suppression – Big Fail For Sleepers

The iPhone is back in the Sleep Research News! As many of you may remember, I wrote a blog a while back about blue light from phones and how it affects sleep. Apple came out with a software solution called Night Shift, which was an update for the iPhone IOS. Guess what? It was a total FAIL!

Sleep Review reports that a study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute investigated the effectiveness of Night Shift for lessening the impacts of nighttime iPad use on melatonin suppression. The study is published by the peer-reviewed journal Lighting Research & Technology.

In the study, Mariana Figueiro, PhD, and a team of LRC researchers recruited 12 young adults to view iPads between 11 pm and 1 am on four separate nights under four experimental conditions. Results showed that all three lighting interventions significantly suppressed melatonin over the two hours of each study night. More importantly, there was no significant difference between the effectiveness of the two Night Shift settings. The study’s main takeaway is that changing screen color alone is insufficient for limiting the impact of portable electronic devices on melatonin levels in the evening, and that screen brightness should also be reduced.

And, you should always wear blue light blocking glasses if you are going to use any light emitting device in bed at night.

Here’s What To Do To Not Be A Drowsy Drive (And Why)

Finally, new data looking at the real statistics behind drowsy driving and they are pretty scary! New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the percentage of crashes involving drowsiness to be nearly 8 times higher than federal estimates indicate.

In the study, researchers examined video of drivers’ faces in the 3 minutes leading up to a crash. Using a scientific measure linking the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness, the researchers determined that 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness. Federal estimates indicate drowsiness is a factor in only 1% to 2% of crashes.

AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Travel at times of the day when they are normally awake
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment

For longer trips, drivers should:

  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Do not underestimate the power of a quick nap. Pulling into a rest stop and taking a quick catnap—at least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of sleep—can help to keep you alert on the road.

“To help drivers determine if their medications may cause drowsiness, AAA and the AAA Foundation developed Roadwise Rx, a free and confidential online tool that generates personalized feedback about how the interactions between prescription, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements can affect safety behind the wheel.” I have been playing with it and it looks very cool.

My most popular FB post:  Understanding L-theanine – Sleep better at night, feel relaxed, and alert during the day.

My most popular Twitter post: Weight Loss and Sleep: Is There a Connection? 

Alright, that’s it for this week, I’ll be back next week with more interesting sleep news!

Sweet Dreams!

Michael Breus, Ph.D

The Sleep Doctor