An observational study (not the strongest study type) found that older adults on sleeping medication, compared with those who were not, had a 40% more likelihood of developing dementia within 15 years. About 20% of adults in the older age groups take sleeping pills. People like sleeping with the pills rather than having poor sleep, but the sleep from the pills is not natural and doesn’t restore the brain as well as natural sleep.
Here are the methods of helping sleep without medication (natural sleep):
- Strenuous exercise, but not close to bedtime
- Meditation, relaxation techniques
- A quiet, dark bedroom devoted to sleep with no TV, phone, or computers in the room.
- Treating anxiety or depression with counseling
- White noise (I am in Malawi, Africa now and dogs barking keep me awake, but playing a free white noise app has been a great help.)
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes, methamphetamine, cocaine, and avoid alcohol to go to sleep.
- Bedtime and wake time are the same every day. Don’t mess with your internal clock
- Avoid heavy meals prior to bed
- Avoid daytime naps
- Address chronic pain
CANNABIS COMPANY WARNED BY FDA
A company, Curaleaf, was warned by the FDA not to put claims on their website that weren’t proven. They claimed that CBD could treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain, and other conditions. To remind you: the research on cannabis has proven with quality studies that it helps a few conditions and the money is now flowing in California and Colorado to investigate other conditions. The federal government gives money to find the bad effects of marijuana, not the good effects. Read a trusted source before you buy.
OMEPRAZOLE AND OTHER —PRAZOLES ARE SAFE
These medications which are great at lowering stomach acid have been reported to be possibly risky if taken long-term. These studies were observational studies where database information was compared. Now there is a prospective study where patients entered for 3 years comparing side effects vs. placebo (sugar pill). There was no difference in side effects. This study was done in the proper manner to make a firmer conclusion.
DON’T DELAY TREATING RISKS FOR STROKES AND HEART ATTACKS
People 18-39 who don’t address their hypertension or high cholesterol before age 40 will pay for starting treatment later in life, rather than earlier. The blood vessels are hardening slowly when these conditions are not treated. Young men in their late teens or early twenties upon autopsy in the Korean and Vietnam wars were found to have significant hardening of their arteries. Of course, smoking is the worst risk that is preventable.
GUT MICROBIOME AND OBESITY
Some research on mice shows that when some of the stool from thin mice is given to obese mice, they lose weight. A study in the Netherlands showed that this might be true for humans for 6 weeks after the fecal transplant but then disappeared.
Another study in Boston had obese patients take placebo capsules or the fecal transplant and at 12 weeks there wasn’t a difference in the weights. More to come.
THOSE CHINESE TWINS TO BE PROTECTED FROM HIV
In the news was a story about a Chinese scientist who altered the genes of 2 children inside a pregnant mother. He changed the genes that cause them to be susceptible to HIV in order to protect the children from HIV. You will recall the 2 cures in the world so far where the patients were given the bone marrow cells of other patients who had this protective mutation during a frequently lethal bone marrow transplant for cancer.
These genes; seem to be helpful and do help you heal from other diseases well, e.g. the flu. So is it better to be protected from HIV and have worse flus and other diseases or be protected from HIV? People who have this mutation have a 21% lifetime risk of dying earlier than those who don’t. This is a difficult issue.The scientist who changed the genes has been punished by the Chinese government.
DEPO SHOTS FOR CONTRACEPTION DO NOT PROMOTE HIV
There was a concern that these injections might increase the transmission of HIV based on small studies. Depoprovera® isan injection given once every 3 months. It is quite convenient and there is no need to hide pills. Now a study of nearly 8,000 patients showed it that it is safe and not worse than any other contraceptive medications. Of course, an IUD, condom, or sterilization are other methods that are very safe and effective.
Keep those questions coming, Be safe!
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine and HIV, Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine and Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine
HIV Specialist, Borrego Health (Riverside, San Bernardino, San Jacinto)
Member, Coachella Valley Clinical Research Initiative