Poor sleep is the common result of stress or illness, but sleep researchers are increasingly coming to believe that insomnia itself is a separate disorder. Science News discusses the science of insomnia, and new developments in the neuroscience of ‘sleeping pills’.
One problem with previous types of sleeping pill (particularly the benzodiazepines) is that they become quickly addictive and so are indicated for short-term use only. The holy grail of sleep medication research is to find a compound which is non-addictive and not ‘fun’ enough to be abused.
Science News reviews various compounds that are new or currently in development, and their aim to safely mimic earlier medications, or hormones in the body that promote sleep.
For people who are having trouble sleeping, however, there are simple techniques which can significantly improve sleep time and quality.
The Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center has some online advice to help people manage their sleeping environment and habits to get the maximum benefit out of sleep.