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Exploding Head Syndrome – A Scary Sounding Sleep Disorder

Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) may sound like something you would read straight out of a Sci-Fi novel, but in reality it is a surprisingly common sleep disorder. While EHS is a largely overlooked phenomenon in the medical field, it is estimated that about as many as one in ten people will be effected at some point during their life. People with EHS may only have one attack in their lifetime, while others can experience around seven attacks a night. Many only experience one attack, and some suffer from attacks over weeks or months, and a few will experience attacks daily for years.

Below is a list of common EHS symptoms, if you are experiencing any of these you should consult a doctor or sleep specialist.
• Noises are loud and jarring, resembling the popping sounds of firecrackers or gunshots, the slamming sound of a door closing violently, or the boom of an explosion.
• Sometimes the sounds of EHS are accompanied by flashes of light.
• These sounds may be perceived in one or both ears.
• EHS may also cause a mild headache and sensations of heat.
• J
erk or ‘jumping’ limbs at the same time.
• The disorder is known to be twice as common in women and typically affects ages 50 and older, though it has also been reported in children as young as ten.

The good news is that while EHS can be scary, it is generally harmless. It’s still unclear why EHS happens and what could be causing it. Dr. Sharpless says the most likely explanation for EHS is that there is some kind of temporary blip in the nerve cells of the brain during the switch from being awake to sleeping. When we sleep, our brains coordinate a switching off of various regions responsible for movement, vision, sound and so on. EHS could occur because of a delay in this shut-down process, resulting in a burst of activity, which could be perceived as loud noises and flashes of light. Other possibilities could stem from ear problems or rapid withdrawals from certain drugs such as benxodiazephines and certain types of anti-depressants.

There are drug treatments for EHS that may be effective, but are generally reserved for patients with frequent and prolonged symptoms.

Sorensen, Eric. “‘Exploding Head Syndrome’ a Real, Overlooked Sleep Disorder – WSU News.” WSU News. Washington State University, 6 May 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <https://news.wsu.edu/2014/05/06/exploding-head-syndrome-a-real-overlooked-sleep-disorder/#.VH3QmzHF_d2&gt;.

“Exploding Head Syndrome – Overview & Facts.” Exploding Head Syndrome. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.sleepeducation.com/sleep-disorders-by-category/parasomnias/exploding-head-syndrome/overview-facts/&gt;.

Sleep Studies

A wide range of tests are used during sleep studies, but here are a few of the most common sleep tests that you can expect.

  • Polysomnogram (PSG) is the most common test used to diagnose sleep disorders. A PSG is often recommended for patients who are suspected of having sleep apnea, narcolepsy, REM sleep behavior disorder, periodic limb movement disorder, unusual behaviors during sleep, and unexplained chronic insomnia. During a PSG you will have wired, sticky patches containing sensors called electrodes that are placed on your scalp, face, chest, limbs, and a finger; these sensors will record a patient’s brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, as well as eye and leg movements while sleeping and will allow your doctor to give a diagnosis. A PSG can also be used to help adjust or create treatment plans for patients that have already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLT) show different stages of sleep and how long it takes you to fall asleep, you will be asked to relax and try to fall asleep in a dark, quiet room every two hours throughout the day. MSLT’s are usually performed the morning after a PSG and involves sensors placed on your scalp, face, and chin. These sensors will record brain activity and eye movements to help diagnose sleep disorders like narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomina, and other sleep disorders that cause daytime tiredness.
  • Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) is typically performed the day after a PSG and takes most of the day. Like the previous sleep studies, the MWT uses sensors to measure when you’re awake and asleep. You will be asked to sit quietly and comfortably in a chair and look straight ahead, then all you have to do is try to stay awake for 40 minutes, then you will get a 2 hour break in between each MWT.
  • Home-Based Portable Monitor Test will require you to go to a sleep center where they will show you how to set up and use the equipment that you will be taking home, or in some cases you can have a technician come to your house to help prepare for the sleep study. You will take the equipment back to the sleep center when you finish and then should have the test results back from your doctor within a week or two.
  • Actigraphy is a small device that is typically worn like a wristwatch so you can go about your day normally; just make sure to remove it before swimming or bathing. The actigraphy measures your sleep/wake behavior over a 3-14 day period. Results from the actigraphy will give your doctor a better idea of your sleep habits, including daytime naps, bedtimes, hours of sleep, and even if the lights are on while you’re asleep.

 

“Polysomnography (sleep Study).” Why It’s Done. Mayo Clinic, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/polysomnography/basics/why-its-done/prc-20013229&gt;.

“UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.” Preparing for a Sleep Study. UCLA.edu. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=59&gt;.

“What To Expect During a Sleep Study.” - NHLBI, NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institue. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/slpst/during.html&gt;.

Speaking and Snoozing Don’t Mix

Have you ever been awoken by your sleep partner muttering in their sleep? If so, they likely suffer from sleep talking.

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent attempts at talking during sleep. This disorder can feature anything from slight mumbles to elaborate conversations. If you or a loved one suffer from this unique sleep disorder, it is important to understand how it may affect others and what you can do to combat its side-effects.

Just as there are variances in volume and complexity, there are also variances in frequency of sleep talking episodes and severity of sleep disruption. While sleep talking is oftentimes hereditary, episodes are often brought on from sleep disrupting behaviors such as alcohol consumption, fever, stress, depression and sleep deprivation. Most people will never realize that they suffer from episodes of sleep talking, but many others may be affected.

There is typically not a serious need to have sleep talking treated, however, it can be an indication of other serious sleep disorders that can be harmful down the road. The best way to lower the likelihood of a sleep talking episode is by avoiding activities that harm the sleep cycle such as alcohol consumption and sleep deprivation.

If you can’t seem to keep your thoughts to yourself while sleeping, be sure to ask your doctor if there may be more serious issues at hand.

“Sleep Talking.” - National Sleep Foundation. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-talking&gt;.

Problems with Pets and Sleep

Who doesn’t love snuggling up to a fluffy dog or cat? While it is a well-known fact that owning pets can be beneficial to their owners’ health, sleeping with these furry friends can actually be quite harmful and make it difficult to get your best night’s sleep.

A recent APPA study found that more than half of dogs and cats sleep with their adult owners. That is a lot a pet hair getting caught in between the sheets.

Those with allergies to pet dander will find themselves much happier whenever they find an alternative spot for their furry friends to rest for the night. Most people will benefit from giving their sinuses a break from the strain of hair saturated air, but hypoallergenic pets can make this process less stressful.

Obviously, sleeping with pets increases the opportunity to have your sleep disturbed by an animal’s movement and natural disruptions in their own sleep cycles – after all, we can’t assume our sleep cycle is the same as our pet’s sleep cycle. Many animals experience a more active REM stage of sleep, which often times results in restless leg movements, growling or barking, and sudden waking. Some pets, especially dogs with a history of more aggressive behavior, may become more protective at night, especially when sleeping with their owner. Therefore, understanding your pets behaviors is an important factor when choosing whether or not you should be snuggling up with your pet pals.

Getting pets out of the bedroom once they have become accustomed to sleeping with you is a much more difficult problem than washing out pet hair. Most vets believe that pets should be kept out of the bedroom altogether if you don’t intend on them sleeping with you. Training dogs to stay off the bed is typically easier than with cats, but either animal can pose a challenge, especially when you are trying to get them to stay in the same room, but not on the actual bed.

Overall, it is important to understand both you and your pet’s sleep preferences and behaviors before making long-term decisions that can influence behavior and become habit.

http://pets.webmd.com/features/pets-in-your-bed

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-rosenberg-phd/sleeping-with-pets_b_2008808.html

What is a Sleep Center?

A sleep center, sometimes called a sleep clinic, is a facility used for diagnosing and treating sleep related disorders. These sleep centers conduct sleep studies, which aid your doctor in diagnosing any sleep disorder you may have.

They also measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep disorders and problems, if you have any. These sleep studies are completely painless, although you may find it a little harder to fall asleep when sleeping in a new place or being hooked up to sensors. Sleep centers know this and most design their rooms to resemble hotel rooms for a more relaxing environment. You are encouraged to pack an overnight bag like you would for a hotel; you should bring comfortable pajamas, a change of clothes for in the morning, a toothbrush, and your favorite pillow if you have one. They will also adjust the thermostat to your liking, offer extra pillows and blankets, and supply reading materials and a TV to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout the entire process.

Sleep studies can help diagnose a wide range of sleep problems, such as sleep related seizures, breathing disorders, movement disorders, and sleep disorders that effect your daytime functioning, such as narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. Sleep centers use an array of test for sleep studies, but the most common are Polysomnogram (PSG), multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT), actigraphy, and home-based portable monitors. The majority of sleep studies are conducted in the sleep clinic over the course of an evening, however there are some that can be done during the day in the office. Some can even be conducted in the comfort of your own home.

These sleep studies allow your doctor to view your sleep patterns and sleep problems that you’re probably not even aware of since they are happening while you’re asleep. Results from the sleep study may include information on your sleep and wake times, sleep stages, breathing habits, movement during sleep, and your body’s vitals. Your doctor will take all this information along with your medical history to make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan specialized for you.

 

“UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.” Preparing for a Sleep Study. UCLA.edu. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://sleepcenter.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=59&gt;.

“What To Expect During a Sleep Study.” - NHLBI, NIH. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institue. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/slpst/during.html&gt;.

Effects of Color on Sleep

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light travels though a prism, it will separate into visible colors. He also found that every color is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into different colors. This discovery led to a better understanding of what color is, and many more experiments. Today, color is defined as the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

Our brains react differently to each color as each produces a varying sensation. These sensations are how color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. Color can be a very powerful tool used in influencing mood or physiological reactions, and has even been associated with increased blood pressure and metabolism. If color is powerful enough to influence mood or increase blood pressure, then how much is color affecting our sleep? While there hasn’t been much research done in this area, there are some studies that give us valuable insights. A recent study conducted by Travelodge gives good insight on how much color can affect our sleep. Travelodge looked through the keyhole of 2,000 homes to investigate the influence of bedroom color schemes against the quality and quantity of sleep they are getting every night. Some major findings from the study:

  • On average people sleeping in a blue room are getting seven hours and fifty two minutes sleeps per night.The color blue also helped to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which are essential in achieving a good quality night’s sleep.
  • The second most favorable color scheme for inducing a good night’s sleep is yellow. People who sleep in a yellow bedroom are getting an average of seven hours and forty minutes of shut eye per night. Yellow stimulates the nervous system which aids relaxation, while also creating a warm and cozy atmosphere.
  • A green themed bedroom is the nation’s third most popular sleep inducing color – with sleepers getting on average seven hours and thirty six minutes of sleep. Green creates a restful, calming environment which helps relaxation which is essential in inducing sleep.
  • A silver bedroom/decor is the fourth most popular sleep inducing color scheme – with individuals getting on average seven hours and thirty three minutes sleep per night. The metallic color makes a bedroom feel luxurious and glow like moonlight – this can trick the eye into believing it is night time.
  • An orange bedroom is the fifth most popular sleep inducing color – with sleepers getting on average seven hours and twenty eight minutes of snooze time. Shades of orange add warmth to the room and help create a stable and reassuring atmosphere and can even help digestion too – especially if you have eaten a large or late evening meal.
  • In contrast, the study also revealed the least favored bedroom color schemes for obtaining a regular good quality night’s sleep are purple, brown and grey resulting in about seven hours of sleep a night, or less. Using these colors in your bedroom are also more likely to promote vivid dreams or even nightmares; resulting in fragmented sleep and you feeling tired the next day.

This study is a good example of how room color can influence your sleep, mood, and even sets the tone for your living environment. Therefore, it’s important to choose a bedroom color and decor that will help you relax and induce sleep.

 

Elliot, Andrew J., and Markus A. Maier. “Color and Psychological Functioning.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 16.5 (2007): 250-54. Web.

Travelodge. The Secret To A Good Night’s Slumber Is To Sleep In A Blue Bedroom.  [Press release] 17 May 2013. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

Whitfield, T.W., & Wiltshire, T.J. (1990). Color psychology: A critical review. Genetic, Social & General Psychology Monographs, 116, 387–412.

 

 

Smart Sleeping: How Sleep Powers Your Brain

Feeling less sharp after missing sleep is not all in your head… well, actually it is.

Studies have shown that lack of sleep is a huge contributor to lessened brain power and even declining brain size. During REM sleep, the brain becomes energized to the point that dreams occur. This stage of sleep is vital to rejuvenating the brain and repairing brain cells. Although it is recommended that individuals get a solid eight hours of sleep, naps are also beneficial to strengthening the brain and remaining alert during waking hours.

Failing to get enough sleep can be detrimental to your health and brain processes. It is even thought that sleep disorders contributing to lack of adequate sleep can result in Alzheimer’s and dementia, and, in the short term, makes it much more difficult to learn and retain new information. Although many people are aware of the damage to the body and mind that results from lack of sleep, sleep deprivation continues to be an issue, especially among students and young professionals.

Lack of sleep is horrible for your entire body so it is vital to give your mind and body the rest it needs. Sleep is also an important contributor to parts of the brain that influence growth, social interaction and emotional reactions. While you may only view sleep as a time to rest your brain, you are actually exercising it by allowing it to act in a way and produce chemicals it doesn’t have the ability to while the body is awake. Not only does lack of sleep hurt your brain, your brain cannot produce sleep inducing chemicals if you don’t go through the entire sleep cycle that occurs upon a full night’s sleep.

Give your brain a break and make sure to get adequate sleep to ensure a happy, healthy noggin.

 

“Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.” : National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 25 July 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm&gt;.

Haiken, Melanie. “Lack Of Sleep Kills Brain Cells, New Study Shows.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2014/03/20/lack-of-sleep-kills-brain-cells-new-study-suggests/&gt;.

Willingham, Val. “Lack of Sleep May Shrink Your Brain.” CNN. Cable News Network, 1 Jan. 1970. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/04/health/no-sleep-brain-size/&gt;.

Nightmares and Nightmare Disorder

Few things are quite as disturbing as waking up startled, not completely sure where you are or what is happening. If you are all too familiar with this feeling, you may be one of the adults who still experience nightmares on a regular basis.

Nightmares typically occur during REM sleep, or the deepest stage of sleep. This is the same stage in which dreams occur, but nightmares can be much more startling and even cause you to jolt awake.

While most people associate nightmares with small children crawling into their parents’ bed, “between 2% and 8% of the adult population is plagued by nightmares.” Having nightmares as an adult is a completely normal occurrence, but it is important to understand what may be contributing to these nighttime fits.

Just like dreams, nightmares can be affected by everything from the food you ate before bed, the person you met last week or the event you have coming up. More common causes of nightmares are changes in medications and sleep deprivation, both of which affect the chemical levels in the body. More importantly, adult nightmares can be a sign of more pressing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia and depression. Some psychologists even believe that nightmares may be a way of working through traumatic issue that you are not able to handle in a conscious state.

Frequent nightmares become a disorder when they disturb everyday life. Nightmare Disorder is a sleep disorder characterised by the repeated occurrence of frightening dreams which precipitate awakenings from sleep; on awakening, the individual becomes fully alert and oriented and has detailed recall of the nightmare, which usually involves imminent danger or extreme embarrassment to the individual.”

As with most sleep disorders, frequent nightmares can be fixed by keeping a regular sleep cycle and bedtime routine. Regularity in this area can do wonders for all sleep issues. Figuring out what helps you sleep is important to getting the best night’s sleep and avoiding troublesome sleep disorders.

“Adult Nightmares: Causes and Treatments.” WebMD. WebMD. Web. 3 Sept. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/nightmares-in-adults&gt;.

“Nightmares.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. Web. 3 Sept. 2014. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/nightmares&gt;.

“Nightmare Disorder.” Patient.co.uk. 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 3 Sept. 2014. <http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/nightmare-disorder&gt;.

Kiss Morning Breath Goodbye

Halitosis may just be a fancy name for bad breath, but such a serious name may actually match the serious irritation it causes. Dentists have found that the main cause of morning breath is the lack of oxygen during the night, which leads to dry mouth. When the flow of saliva decreases in the mouth, odorous bacteria are produced.

It is also thought that those who snore with their mouths open are more likely to experience the stinkiest of morning breath. Smoking also causes the mouth to dry out through lower saliva production.

Whatever the cause of your morning breath, some simple home treatments or adjustments to your dental routine can have you kissing morning breath goodbye.

  • Brush, Floss, Rinse, Repeat—Be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly and brush your tongue, as well. The tongue produces the majority of bad breath and the back of the tongue is the worst offender. While most people try to avoid flossing it can actually get any stubborn food particles out of your mouth that simply brushing can miss. Using mouth wash is also a great way to avoid bad morning breath, instead of buying mouthwash that just gives the immediate illusion of fresh breath, look for mouthwashes that will kill odor-producing bacteria.
  • Stay Hydrated—Since the cause of bad breath is lack of saliva, keeping your body and mouth hydrated can cure bad breath during the day and even into the night. Be sure to avoid beverages that dehydrate and lessen saliva production.
  • Get Hip with Herbs—Herbs like mint, parsley, and basil are known for their refreshing scents, they may also help with long term bad breath due to their high levels of chlorophyll – a pigment in plants that can neutralize body odors.

Avoiding stinky foods and maintaining a strict dental routine is the best way to prevent bad morning breath and keep your breath fresh throughout the day as well.

“What you should know about bad breath.” (2003). Journal of the American Dental Association, 134, 135-135. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/Files/patient_22.ashx

Tonzetich, J. (1977, January 1). Production and origin of oral malodor: A review of mechanisms and methods of analysis. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/264535

 

6 Reasons For Snoring

Snoring is possibly one of the most irritating sleep habits and it, oftentimes, disturbs more than just the person snoring. Most snorers tend to suffer from various sleep disorders, however, other environmental factors could contribute. If you find yourself or a family member is sawing logs on a regular basis, be sure to consider some of the potential causes below:

 

Top Six Reasons for Snoring:

  1. Sleep Apnea—Most individuals who find themselves with a chronic snoring problem also suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause other sleep problems and is related to many other snore-inducing issues.
  2. Being Overweight—Packing on extra pounds is more than just bad for your waistline; it can also reap havoc on your sleep cycle. This is most likely caused by bulky throat tissue that obstructs airways. Losing weight can ease many other symptoms caused by other sleep disorders, as well.
  3. Pillow Height—People tend to suffer from snoring if they are using too many or too few pillows with adequate support. The optimal sleep position with the correct pillow support is the key to blissful, snore-free slumber.
  4. Cold and Flu—Restricted airways are a main result of having a runny nose or sore throat. Be cautious as to which night time sleep aids you use and be sure to use a remedy that will open up airways, not throw you into a chemically-induced coma.
  5. Large Tonsils—A good sign children need their tonsils removed is chronic snoring.
  6. Sleep Position—Those who sleep on their stomachs are more likely to experience increased snoring and difficultly sleeping. Try sleeping on your back or side to open airways and relax the throat.

Your snoring could be attributed to any of these issues, if not a combination. Sometimes simple adjustments can be the perfect antidote to a nighttime full of snoring.

“Snoring – Adults: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. < http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003207.htm >.

 

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