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disorders and increased consumption of supplements

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disorders and increased consumption of supplements

Other than «April, sweet sleep». In our country, according to data from the Italian Sleep Medicine Association, there are as many as 13.4 million people who suffer from sleep-related disorders. There are therefore many Italians who struggle to sleep a wink at night and then wake up in the morning more tired than before. After a sleepless night you find yourself facing a new day with a foggy mind, lots of nervousness and great tiredness. With repercussions not only immediately, on study, work or social relationships, but also in the long term with an increased risk of cardiovascular or neurological problems, to name a few. «Those who do not rest well during the night hours – explains Claudio Mencacci, president of the Italian Society of NeuroPsychoPharmacology (Sinpf) and emeritus director of psychiatry at the ASST Fatebenefratelli-Sacco in Milan – not only will not be in top shape even during the day, but in the long run it may develop real pathologies. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on cognitive functions, attention and concentration capacity, cardiac, immunological and metabolic conditions.”

THE QUALITY

Investing in good quality sleep today therefore means investing in your future health. «Sleep is an indispensable necessity for human beings», underlines Mencacci. And, compared to the past, Italians seem to be much more aware of this, even if they still do very little in terms of lifestyles. In fact, our compatriots would tend to choose the easy way out, as demonstrated by the dramatic increase in the consumption of food supplements dedicated to sleep. According to a recent analysis carried out by Integratori & Salute on New Line data referring to the Pharmacy channel, in the last 10 years, in our country, volume sales of food supplements linked to mental well-being and sleep-related problems have increased by 155% . In particular, in 2023, 9.6 million packs of supplements for sleep disorders and mental well-being were sold in Italy (vs. 3.8 million packs in 2013), for a value of 146 million euros . This increase in demand has also been amplified by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused a significant increase in sleep problems and anxiety among the population. This is a heavy legacy that still afflicts many Italians today. There are many different natural molecules on which Italians have decided to focus to combat sleep problems: from the classic melatonin to ginkgo biloba up to resveratrol or the so-called “sirtuin activators”, proteins produced by our body and which appear to have also beneficial against sleep disorders. However, supplements are not a panacea and cannot, on their own, erase sleep disorders with a quick wipe.

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HYGIENE

We also need to pay close attention to lifestyles. Sleep specialists agree that correct “sleep hygiene” is essential, which primarily includes a healthy diet, especially before going to bed. In fact, a light meal is recommended at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. It is also better to avoid fatty and/or spicy foods that could disturb sleep. Another good practice is to establish a fixed routine, with regular falling asleep and waking times. And then avoid using smartphones, tablets, computers and the like before going to bed, as they can disturb sleep by lengthening the period of falling asleep and favoring frequent awakenings during the night. Finally, good physical activity is recommended. A recent study published in the journal BMJ Open showed that exercising regularly 2 or 3 times a week reduces the risk of insomnia and increases the ability to get the recommended 6-9 hours of sleep each night. Benefits, the latter, which however are lost if one becomes sedentary again. However, the important thing is to prevent insomnia from becoming chronic. For this reason, you should not hesitate to contact a specialist to solve the problem.

THE THERAPIES

There are many therapeutic options available today: from cognitive behavioral therapy to pharmacological treatments with benzodiazepines and the so-called Z drugs, including zolpidem, zaleplon and zopiclone and eszoplicone. «For some time now, among the therapies we have also had daridorexant, which acts by hindering the effects of the neuropeptide orexin, an important stimulator of the state of wakefulness produced by the hypothalamus», states Mencacci, who underlines that «no drug can completely replace a correct lifestyle in promoting good quality sleep.”

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