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Posts from the ‘About Sleep’ Category

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;.

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

 

Aging and Sleep

Do you ever wonder why teenagers can sleep 12 hours a day and some adults cannot sleep past 7 a.m.? This is attributed to the body’s natural sleep changes that occur as we mature and age. As we age, it is common to experience increased difficulty with sleep. This is due to many different environmental factors as well as sleep hygiene. These factors include:

Internal Factors

  • Menopause can cause nighttime heat flashes
  • Increased likelihood of disruptive sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea
  • Increased body pains due to osteoarthritis or back injury
  • Psychological factors such as anxiety, stress and depression
  • The biological clock tends to shift back in older adults causing tiredness earlier in the evening and waking up earlier 1

External Factors

  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Use of medications that can impact sleep
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Retirement and less physical activity during the day

A good indication of aging affecting sleep is experiencing more fragmented sleep and difficulty staying asleep. 1 Many older adults report feeling drowsy during the day or fatigued when they have actually received the adequate amount of sleep. This is due to restless nights and fragmented sleep. 2

The decline in stages three and four of sleep (deep sleep) and the increased stage one sleep. This is a major sign of age’s effect on sleep often beginning around age 35 to 45. 1 There has also been an observed decrease in sleep efficiency. Surprisingly, this decrease in deep sleep and sleep efficiency does not lead to sleeping longer. On average, individuals between ages 55 and 84 slept for 7 hours on weeknights and 7.1 hours on weekends. As compared to the hour difference in weeknight and weekend sleep for individuals 18 to 54. 2

Changing sleep needs due to the development of disorders and health issue can cause need for change in bed or mattress. Because sleep preferences also change as you age, ensuring that your sleep environment can compensate for your needed adjustment is very important. Purchasing a good quality adjustable mattress will allow you to adjust your bed to your changing preferences regarding mattress firmness as you age.

Overall, having good sleep hygiene and good overall health practices will help with age’s effect on sleep patterns. Many healthy adults may not experience difficulty sleeping as this difficulty is often linked to other sleep disorders or health problems. Taking into account the external and internal factors that affect sleep and sleep preferences as we age is the key to understanding what is necessary to give you the most restful night’s sleep possible.

Bibliography:

1. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

2. National Sleep Foundation—Aging and Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/aging-and-sleep

Do Bright Lights Keep You Awake?

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wandered to the bathroom to find yourself blinded when flipping on the light? People respond negatively to too much light when the body wants sleep. Light and dark have major influence on hormone production, body temperature regulation and the circadian rhythm.

Light affects our circadian rhythm or biological clock in accordance with light and dark. Darkness also affects our pineal gland’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps induce sleep. Light signals your body to produce less melatonin. If you are working a night shift in artificial lighting, your body is likely producing too little melatonin. 1

This effect is readily seen in those suffering from jetlag. Once exposed to a new light-dark cycle in a different time zone, it takes the body a few days to adjust the circadian rhythm to the new schedule. 2 Jet lag is commonly combated through the use of melatonin supplements to compensate for slowed natural melatonin production.

Many Americans use television or other electronic devices to help them wind down and coax them to sleep. This idea is incorrect. In the National Sleep Foundation’s Annual American Sleep Poll in 2011, 95 percent of individuals surveyed between 13 to 63 years old reported going to sleep with the television on. 3

How to Keep Your Biological Clock Ticking:

  • Make sure to get out in the sunlight at least once a day. Natural light allows your body to understand it is awake.
  • Do not use a computer, tablet or watch television too close to bedtime. These activities can be too alerting for the mind and may reduce melatonin production. 1
  • Do not sleep with the television on before bed. The brightness from the T.V. will slow melatonin production making it difficult to get to sleep.
  • Use dim night lights in the bedroom and bathroom so as to not blind yourself if you must get up in the middle of the night.
  • Keep the lights in your home dim or use only lamps for a few hours before bed to increase melatonin production and signal to your body that it is time for bed.
  • Purchase “black-out” or extremely dark curtains or drapes to prevent morning light from pouring in your window and potentially disrupting sleep.

Knowing that light affects the body’s ability to sleep is vital to getting a good night’s sleep. It is important to give the body the sleep it needs and make getting to sleep as easy as possible. Simple efforts to avoid light late in the day and regulate your circadian rhythm can help to avoid self-inflicted insomnia.

Bibliography:

1. National Sleep Foundation—Lights Out for a Good Night’s Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/lights-out-good-nights-sleep

2. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

3. National Sleep Foundation—Annual American Sleep Survey (2011); http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/press-release/annual-sleep-america-poll-exploring-connections-communications-technology-use-

Driving Drowsy

One in 20 Americans has caused and accident by driving drowsy. 1 Drowsy driving is the second leading cause of automobile accidents. The first is drunkenness. 1 Driving drowsy slows reaction times and reduces alertness.

Driving without the adequate amount of sleep is not only extremely dangerous to yourself, but you also put all other drivers on the road in jeopardy.

Truck drivers are amongst some of the most sleep deprived shift workers. The legal limit for driving time for commercial drivers is 10 hours at a time. 2 Because of the high stress level and irregular schedule of the profession, commercial drivers should make an effort to get a good night’s sleep on a comfortable mattress for a decent amount of time.

Risk Factors

  • Alcohol is a major risk factor in driving. One drink on six hours of sleep is the equivalent to six drinks on eight hours of sleep. 1
  • Driving alone is dangerous because it puts all driving on one person and makes car rides more monotonous.
  • Monotonous roads make it difficult to stay engaged in driving and can “hypnotize” the driver.
  • Excessive work hours can cause individuals to be extremely deprived of sleep, making driving a very dangerous task.
  • Untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause fragmented sleep and daytime drowsiness. Avoid driving long periods of time while sleep deprived. Sleep apnea can increase the chances of falling asleep at the wheel 300 to 700 percent. 3
  • Medication that causes drowsiness such as cold or allergy medication can impair alertness and make driving very difficult.

Combating Drowsy Driving

  • Regardless of your destination, getting somewhere in a hurry is not worth your or someone else’s life. If feeling drowsy pull off the road at a rest stop or gas station and take a nap. A 15 to 20 minute nap at a well lit buys gas station or rest area is safest, especially if traveling at night.
  • Once you have rested your eyes, get some caffeine such as coffee or an energy drink and engage in physical activity such as a brief walk.
  • Do not start driving again until you feel refreshed.

Preventing Drowsy Driving

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before you begin a long road trip.
  • Do not begin a road trip during the “midday slump” or in the evening.
  • Do not plan to drive for more than 10 hours.
  • Plan to stay overnight if your trip requires you to drive at night time.
  • Plan for traffic and unpredictable delays by allowing extra time for your trip.
  • Plan to stop every 100 miles or so at a gas station or rest stop. Be sure to stretch your legs and move around. Be sure to get snacks or drinks at stops to keep energized.
  • Plan to drive with someone else. Sharing the driving can take a lot of the stress off the driver and make the drive less monotonous.
  • Drive during times you are usually awake. Darkness triggers melatonin production in the brain which can cause drowsiness.
  • Make the car environment somewhat uncomfortable. Keep the air cool and the music louder and more upbeat. Soft music can lull you to sleep.
  • Do not drive if you have untreated sleep disorders.

Most people underestimate the power sleep deprivation can have on their ability to drive and attempt to simply drive through or speed up to get to our destination quicker. (I know I’m guilty of this). With driving being as unpredictable as it is because of other drivers, weather and car functions, any lack in alertness can contribute to potentially fatal accidents.

Driving drowsy is a very serious problem in America resulting in an estimated 100,000 police-reported crashes, 1,500 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than $1.2 billion in monetary losses. 2

Bibliography:

1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

2. The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety—Drowsy Driving FAQ’s; http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=drowsyfaq

3. National Sleep Foundation—Drowsy Driving Prevention Video; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/video/heads-the-wheel-drowsy-driving-prevention

Why Do We Yawn?

A “yawn” as defined by Dictionary.com is said to be “to open the mouth somewhat involuntarily with a prolonged, deep inhalation and sighing or heavy exhalation, as from drowsiness or boredom.” The word yawn is derived from the Old English word meaning to gape or open wide. The average human yawns 240,000 times in a lifetime and the average yawn lasts about six seconds. 1

Many believe that a yawn is in response to excess carbon dioxide or shortage of oxygen in the lungs. This notion is false and probably assumed because of the gasp that takes place at the end of yawns.

While yawns are typically seen as a comical occurrence, it is now known that excessive yawning can signify a brain tumor, hemorrhages, opiate withdrawal, chorea, encephalitis and other internal issues. 2

Stretching is usually accompanied by a yawn; however, they are not dependent on each other. Also, the face that is formed when yawning stretches the face and is possibly one of the reasons that yawns are so satisfying. On a scale from one to 10 (10 being most satisfying), the average rating was 8.5. 2

All vertebrate animals yawn in the same fashion as humans. Also, yawning is not exclusive to mammals. Crocodiles, sharks, snakes and birds all yawn. 1 The purpose of their yawning is unknown as well.

Reading about yawning stimulates yawns, similarly to seeing someone yawn makes you have to desire to yawn. (I’ve yawned about 30 times while writing this). The yawn alone is not what is contagious. In fact, the entire facial stretch that accompanies the yawn causes others to feel the need to replicate the face. Therefore, even when you cover your mouth, the “yawn face” is still present in the eyes and can cause others to yawn. Contagious yawning is thought to be an ancient way of communicating bedtime. 2

Recent studies have shown that yawning may not be linked to sleepiness or boredom whatsoever, and may be needed in order to cool the brain. 3 This theory is generated from medical observations such as epileptics yawning excessively before a seizure. Now yawning can be used as a signal to greater problems, especially with diseases or disorders that affect the brain’s temperature. Additionally, some animals that do not sweat such as dogs and pigs may use yawning to cool their bodies, even if just by a fraction of a degree. 2

While most aspects of yawning are still a mystery, it is clear that if you are yawning very often you are likely not getting enough sleep or extremely bored. Though many theories are continuously being developed, no proven function has been identified.

Bibliography

1. WebMD—What’s in a Yawn? http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2010/09/whats-in-a-yawn.html

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

3. USA Today—Yawning may cool brain when needed; http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/medical/health/medical/story/2011-11-26/Yawning-may-cool-brain-when-needed/51409498/1

Men vs. Women: Battle of the Sleepers

While many might assume that all humans have identical sleeping patterns, men and women have been shown to have different behaviors and reactions in their sleep. Sleep behaviors are very important, especially in observing how your sleep partner and other surroundings affect your sleep. Because of the drastic differences in circadian rhythms, sleep disorder likelihood and uncontrollable sleep behaviors can effect your  and your sleep partner’s overall ability to sleep.

  • Women tend to have significantly more dreams than men.1
  • In elderly individuals, women tend to have more problems related to sleep than men.2
  • Snoring is more common in men than in women. 3
  • Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from insomnia. 2
  • Men are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea. 2
  • Female smokers tend to experience daytime sleepiness while male smokers are likely to have disturbing dreams. 1
  • The majority of night-eaters are women. 1
  • Men tend to wake up more in the night due to sleep apnea related problems. 3
  • Postmenopausal women have the same rate as men of sleep apnea. 2
  •  On average, women take less time to fall asleep than men. 3
  • During menopause, women are said to lose more sleep (due to hot flashes) that cause irritability and depression. 1
  • Women experience less sleep and more irritability, confusion and depression during the premenstrual stage of the cycle. 1
  • Men often dream about unfamiliar places and people and find themselves outside while women tend to dream of familiar indoor settings, such as their home, dormitory or work, involving familiar people. 4
  • Dreams with aggression are almost equally frequent in males and females. 4
  • Sleep complaints are more common in women. 4
  • Women tend to sleep more on average, but have less deep sleep making them more prone to sleep disorders and nightly disturbances such as a restless sleep partner. 1
  • Women are inclined to fall asleep quicker and wake up earlier as compared to men. 5

Male and female sleep cycles and behaviors are very different, and, when matched with the problems of a sleep partner, can be enhanced. Sleep disorders and simple differences in optimal sleep length can cause sleep partners to have to alter schedules and learn to cope with disruptions brought on by another’s sleep behavioral differences.

Bibliography:

1. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998. 174-175

2. WebMD—Men and Women Sleep Differences; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/men-and-women-sleep-differences

3. Wall Street Journal—A Sleep Battle of the Sexes; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904279004576524321377942288.html

4. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

5. Psychology Today— Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201202/men-and-women-different-when-it-comes-sleep

What are dreams?

Everyone has awoken from a frightening dream or rolled out of bed feeling fulfilled because of a dream. Dreams allow individuals to feel as if they are using the time they spend sleeping for entertainment and learning. Dreams have always been an area of interest for many people, but the true origin and substance of dreaming remain a mystery to most.

Dreams, as defined by Dictionary.com, are “a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.” 1

Dreams occur in all stages of sleep but occur most frequently and vividly in the first stage of REM sleep.2 This stage is the most important in the sleep cycle as it provides a period of restoration and healing for the body and mind.

If an individual gets the recommended eight hours of sleep in a night, they can go through at least 4 stages of REM sleep resulting in hours of dream time, although most dreams are never recalled.2 Many individuals report never remembering dreams when, in actuality, they are simply not placing importance on dreaming.  People tend to recall their dreams about once every few days on average; however, if one is awakened during REM sleep, they can recall their dream 80% of the time.3

It is thought that dreams occur because of the process during REM sleep when the brain synapses are activated and intensive firing of neuronal pathways that hold memories and experiences occurs.2 This stimulation may be what causes dreaming and recall of prior experiences, future goals and a mix of the two.

Some of the most common dreams are those of individuals being chased, pursued, embarrassed, failing at something, or falling. While these types of dreams can all derive from different situations and causes, they all present a frightened sensation to the individual having the dream. Additionally, all dreamers place emphasis on different areas of their lives causing similar dreams to have various meanings to different individuals.3 For instance, more than 80% of college students noted having had dreams of the falling nature. These dreams are thought to originate from feelings of insecurity or fearing loss of emotional balance.3

While the significance of dreams is still unknown, it remains that REM sleep is truly essential to the body and mind’s health and wellness through storage of information and healing that is vital to performance during the daytime.

Bibliography:

1. Dream (n.d) On Dictionary.com—Retrieved May 24, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dreams?s=t

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

3. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

The Need to Know About Naps

There is something about the afternoon that puts a lull in individuals’ moods and alertness.

In today’s hectic and fast paced society, finding time to nap is a rarity in itself; however, many individuals claim that a quick “power nap” allows them to catch up on sleep and get a burst of energy. As individuals across the world become more sleep deprived, naps are not only becoming more acceptable, but also necessary.

Personally, every time I nap I must set aside an entire afternoon because I wake up feeling more drowsy and drained than prior to the nap. This groggy feeling that comes after a nap is the result of napping for too long of a time period. Naps should be around 15-30 minutes long to avoid slipping into delta sleep (deep sleep). Once one is in deep sleep, being woken up from or completing phase of sleep causes one to feel extremely tired. If choosing to take a longer nap, it is suggested that one naps for an hour to an hour and a half to complete a full sleep cycle. This, however, will reduce your alertness for around an hour after napping.

There are three types of napping according to the National Sleep Foundation. Planned Napping is characterized by intentionally setting aside time to nap during a day, which is often done to prepare for a night when one is aware that they will not have ample opportunity for sleep in the near future. Emergency Napping is characterized by immediate need to rest and inability to continue with whatever activity you were engaged in. Habitual Napping is characterized by consistent nap schedule each day. 1

There are plenty of beneficial reasons to slide back into bed midday and nap. Regular napping has been known to reduce stress, reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen the ability to pay close attention to details. Some cultures value a daily siesta and are known for having a more relaxed outlook and productive work ethic. Faster paced, more industrialized nations such as the United States, Japan, Germany and Russia are known for not endorsing daytime napping.3

If individuals have a difficult time falling asleep at night, napping is not encouraged because it pushes back the time you would be falling asleep leading to a restless night and lack of sleep necessary for the next day’s success. Specialists actually recommend napping as long as it is done in a consistent pattern each day. Irregular napping can make consistent nocturnal sleep impossible.2

Late afternoon napping is discouraged for everyone and especially senior citizens who have difficulty sleeping. Because that period of time is so close to the average bedtime for most individuals, napping too late will make it more difficult to fall asleep at night and wake up the following morning.

While napping may seem an unattainable action for most of us, half of the world’s population finds time to nap in the stretch from 1 to 4 p.m. and the average American naps one or two times each week. 2 Many sleep specialists believe that napping can actually be very beneficial to individuals who are not able to get consistent nocturnal rest.

Kick the coffee habit and try napping as a remedy to your midday sleepiness.

Bibliography:

1. National Sleep Foundation—Napping; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/napping

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

3. Carskadon, Mary A. Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreaming. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1993.

What is sleep?

We spend fully‭ one-third ‬of our lives asleep and it’s a vital part of every person’s life,‭ ‬but it’s an activity that most people know very little about— and we oftentimes even take this important need for granted. If you’ve ever been out of your usual sleeping schedule or have suffered from a lack of sleep,‭ ‬you know how critical a good night’s sleep is.‭ ‬In order to improve the quality of your sleep it’s important to understand what happens while we rest.

So, what exactly is sleep? Sleep as defined by dictionary.com is “to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake.”1 We do know sleep is so vital to our survival that it’s a matter of life and death. Laboratory rats that were deprived of sleep only lived two to three weeks.1 A basic sleep tip, therefore, would simply be: don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.

The National Institute of Health acknowledges that even though we don’t know the exact reason we sleep, it is something our bodies and mind must have. You might think that while we sleep so does our body and mind, yet even though we aren’t aware of what’s going on while we sleep, our bodies and minds remain busy.2

Sleep is regulated by a pair of systems in our body: the sleep-wake process and our circadian/internal rhythmic biological clock. These systems work in tandem both to make us feel tired, [preparing our bodies to sleep], and to help us feel awake during the day— acting as a mechanism to drive our activity and rest. Changes in our daily routines, as well as any kind of stress [in addition to myriad other factors], can alter these sensitive systems and cause people to feel tired in the morning as well as unable to sleep at night. An important sleep tip to remember is that even something so small as missing an hour of sleep for a couple days can throw our internal systems entirely off-balance.

There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement [NREM] and rapid eye movement‭ [‬REM].‭ ‬As we rest,‭ ‬we cycle between NREM and REM around every hour and a half.‭ ‬It’s during REM sleep that dreaming, a vital part of sleep, occurs most often. Though we have barely begun‭  ‬to‭ ‬understand their importance and the reasons for them, they are surrounded by folklore— such as the idea that eating spicy foods just before bed will give you strange dreams. ‭ In fact, a‬ great tip to help you sleep better is to avoid eating or drinking anything at all for at least‭ ‬2-3‭ ‬hours before going to bed‭ so that you‬ fall asleep faster.3

If you feel tired throughout the day, if you can’t fall asleep at night, or if you have some other problem affecting your sleep, “rest assured” that you’re not alone: one out of nearly every four people in the United States suffers from some form of  sleep disorder.3 Sleep problems can be caused by just one or a cavalcade of events and can occur at any age. The most common sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia‭ ‬– inability or difficulty getting to sleep and staying in a resting state.
  • Sleep Apnea‭ ‬– sufferers will snore loudly while sleeping,‭ ‬stop breathing for a short time,‭ ‬then gasp for breath.
  • Narcolepsy‭ ‬– prevents people from entering a regular sleep/wake cycle,‭ ‬causing them to fall asleep uncontrollably.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome‭ ‬– causes a person’s legs to have a sensation of tingling,‭ ‬only alleviated by moving,‭ ‬which interferes with sleep.4

Sleep is both an important and vital part of a healthy, happy life. We have put a great deal of research and development into our  memory foam mattress line, but getting quality rest is affected by many things in your life. The more you understand about sleep and what factors can effect it, the better your overall well-being may become.

Bibliography

  1. Sleep. (n.d.) On Dictionary.com— Retrieved May 11, 2009, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sleep
  2. United States Department of Health & Human Services. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide To Healthy Sleep. Nov. 2005. Jan. 2012. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf>.
  3. Sleep and Aging (Published March 16, 2005)— Retrieved May 11, 2009, from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/sleepandaging/aboutsleep/01.html
  4. Can’t Sleep? Science Is Seeking New Answers; CAM at the NIH Focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume XVII, Number 3: Summer 2005—Retrieved Jan 10, 2012, from http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/090106.htm