Crying babies 'linked to long-term insomnia'

HIGH LEVELS of insomnia in middle-aged women may be the consequence of years of disturbed sleep when their children were babies, according to a new publication from the British Medical Journal.

Dr Shapiro, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, says that women may be affected by the same syndrome identified in shift workers who have been found to suffer disturbed sleep 10 years after stopping night work.

'It is speculative but plausible that the higher incidence of complaints of insomnia in middle-aged and older women is a consequence of long-standing disrupted sleep at a time when the sleep drive is most strong which produces its effects 15 to 25 years later,' he says in the ABC of Sleep Disorders, a compilation of recent research reports. At the same time, 'the erosion of sleep time in adolescents - almost 20 per cent this century - may have a profound and long-lasting impact on society if these adolescents are more sleepy and less able to learn.'

Philosophers and doctors have long wondered about the significance of dreams, but current research suggests that dreaming may reflect the presence of an illness and even cause or precipitate disease.

Research has found that men with cardiac disease are prone to dreams about dying, while dreams of lost resources have been linked to loss of brain cells, measured by scans, in elderly people. These findings were not influenced either by the patients' anticipation of 'the worst' or to awareness of their disability.

Another study reported that patients who did not dream at all were the most likely to die. 'It has been hypothesised that dreams 'warn' medically ill patients whose illness is seen as both threatening to the body and the ego; when however the threat becomes too severe the dreams disappear altogether.'

Although drugs to help people sleep cost more than pounds 27.5m a year and nearly 23 million NHS prescriptions are written for insomnia annually, Professor Shapiro says Britain is far behind the US in sleep research. In America, one in seven people has a 'chronic sleep-wake' disorder. He says that in India where poverty has profound effects on sleep, it is estimated that one-third of the population goes to sleep when standing up.

It has long been recognised that fatigue accompanies many illnesses and it emerges in the book that there is a complex relationship between sleep, illness and recovery.

Little work has been carried out on humans. But rats deprived of sleep develop septicaemia and rabbits infected with a common bacteria experience sleep disturbance.

One US estimate puts the price of sleep problems at dollars 16bn annually through loss of productivity and increased medical costs.

ABC of Sleep Disorders; edited by Colin M Shapiro; British Medical Journal Publishing Group; pounds 12.95

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'