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Stanford sleep expert offers evaluation of science behind one sleep device

A previous report from the National Sleep Foundation shows that the majority of adults in the United States experience problems sleeping. Americans' struggle to get some shuteye has fueled a growing industry of products and supplements aimed at encouraging better sleep.

Today, the Los Angeles Times' Healthy Skeptic column evaluates one such sleep aid, called the NightWave, to determine whether the device lives up to manufacture claims that it calms the mind and induces restful sleep. In the article, Stanford sleep expert Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, offers his perspective on the gadget:

The claims behind the NightWave make some sense, Kushida says. Several well-established sleep treatments - including meditation and guided relaxation with a CD - promote slow, rhythmic breathing. But that's only one part of the process of falling asleep, he adds. "I don't know of any evidence that slowing down breathing patterns itself will induce sleep."

He speculates that the NightWave might help some people fall asleep, but he also thinks there are other, cheaper options. "In my opinion, it's just a relaxation device," he says. He believes that anything that calms the mind - even the old counting sheep trick - could work just as well for some people at considerably less cost.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to a host of health problems including heart disease, depression and obesity. To learn more about the importance of sleep, listen to this recent 1:2:1 podcast with Stanford sleep specialist Rafael Pelayo, MD.

Previously: Can a CD lull you to sleep?, Discussing sleep and work performance among health-care professionals, CDC report highlights the dangers of sleep deprivation, Sleep deprivation more common in the U.S. than Europe and National poll reveals sleep disorders, use of sleeping aids among ethnic groups

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