It’s a common theme for us to have late nights, nearly every night now, due to the lifestyle we have. Whether it is due to work, having a newborn or watching TV, a lack of sleep can make us feel very tired and moody. But many of us are not realising the long term effects it is having on our health such as obesity, heart disease and even life expectancy.
What happens when we sleep?
How much sleep do we need?
On average we need about 8 hours sleep in order for us to function properly – just like we need air and food to function.
It is during your sleep that your body is healing and restoring things such as the chemical balance, bridging brain networks and improving memory storage.
Depending on your health this could be more or less. With no sleep, the quality of life is dramatically reduced or can even cause sudden death.
Many factors affect poor sleep, such as a health condition known as sleep apnoea. But usually for most of us it is a bad habit.
How does sleep affect us?
Compromises our safety
Sleep deprivation affects more than just one person. It has been shown to be associated with accidents. For example, extreme tiredness results in fatal human errors such as things like the Chernobyl nuclear accident, to airplane crashes and car accidents.
Think about it – how many things go wrong in the day when we have not had a good night’s sleep.
Weakens the immune System
You’re more likely to catch a cold and flu many times as your immune system is being disrupted and can’t fight off the bugs.
Normally, protective infection fighting immune cells like cytokines are produced, in order to fight things like viruses and bacteria. Cytokines also give your more energy to fight illness.
Declines mental wellbeing
Knowing that a single sleepless night makes you feel messed up the following day, it’s no surprise that long term sleep debt may lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Neurons in the brain build connections to help you retain learnt information. That is why we find it difficult to revise and pass an exam if our brain is exhausted. We find our brain is working much slower than normal and our concentration levels are so low.
We feel more emotional or impatient, and fall into making wrong decisions. Sometimes, you may even find yourself losing control of your consciousness and prone to injury.
Increases heart disease risk
Long term sleep debt is linked with high heart rate, blood pressure and raised levels of specific chemicals associated with inflammation, which will cause extra strain on your heart. Increasing sleep debt can potentially lead to fatal heart strokes and attacks. When you sleep, you have a regular heart and breathing rate as it is not being stimulated by anything (apart from nightmares). This helps to normalise and gives our body a rest from the daily stresses or stimuli we have, which would otherwise build up to give us irregular heart beat, chest pain and breathlessness.
Research shows that those who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to gain weight. This is because they have low levels of leptin (chemical that makes you feel full) and high levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).
Research shows people who get only 5 hours night rest, their body processes glucose differently and so they have an increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Lowers sex drive
Poor quality sleep results in lower libidos and interest in sex in both males and females, which can lead to other sexual disorders. Men who experience sleep apnoea are reported to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.
Lack of sleep has been to cause difficulty in conceiving a baby for males and females, as it reduces the production of reproductive hormones. It can disrupt the menstrual cycle that women go through and can cause irregular periods.
“Sleep deprivation is increasingly recognized as important concern of public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Yes, sleep deprivation is a public health concern. No, sleep deprivation is not an exaggeratory term. Millions of people are deprived of sleep – sometimes over a period of years. Sleep deprivation is a common problem and, ironically, an inconspicuous one. In fact, the very people who suffer from the condition often aren’t aware.
“There are many causes of sleep deprivation. The stressors of daily life may intrude upon our ability to sleep well, or perhaps we trade sleep for more work or play. We may have medical or mental-health conditions that disrupt our sleep.”
In other words, because of the demands placed on our time, we’re forced to “trade” sleep for either more work or a bit of recreation.
Dr. Michael Breus adds, “Not sleeping enough and not sleeping well is not OK. As a matter of fact, there is quite a price to pay.”
Not sleeping enough can:
– Negatively affect physical and mental health
– Lower productivity and quality of work
– Put your safety at risk, e.g., driving a vehicle while tired.
So, we’re here to help.
We are going to discuss seven common signs of sleep deprivation – and how you can improve your sleeping habits. We’ll elaborate on how a lack of sleep negatively affects our brain, immune system, hormones, heart, muscles, vision, and even our appetite.
Here’s how sleep deprivation harms our…
Our brain is, of course, dependent upon a good night’s rest. Acute or chronic sleep deprivation can result in mood swings, poor stress management, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and poor memory.
2. Immune System
Our body’s main line of defense is the immune system – and we diminish its effectiveness by not getting proper rest. Getting less than six hours of sleep (which is considered the minimum amount needed to function) weakens our immune system; increasing our susceptibility to infectious diseases.
Sleep deprivation throws a wrench into our endocrine system, “the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, and mood.” More on this in the closing section.
Poor sleep places stress upon our cardiovascular system, which, in turn, destabilizes our blood pressure. When our blood pressure is out of whack, the blood vessels responsible for carrying blood (hence, nutrients, oxygen, etc.) become narrower. Consequently, our brain doesn’t receive the blood flow and oxygen it needs; our digestive system is stunted, and the organs and systems that rely on a steady flow of blood are deprived.
Poor coordination and muscle weakness are common symptoms of lack of sleep. These symptoms are exacerbated by the fact that our brain hasn’t received the rest it needs. Thus, our reactions times slow, we’re not as coordinated, and simple tasks become much more challenging.
Aside from the brain, our eyes are the organs likely to suffer the most from sleep deprivation. Vision problems include “a range of symptoms such as fuzziness of objects, reduced peripheral vision and a difficulty with quickly focusing on objects of varying distances.” Furthermore, the appearance of our eyes can indicate a shortage of sleep. Darkening around and bags underneath the eyes are commonplace when we skimp on our shuteye.
Poor sleeping habits also affect how we eat. Some people feel less hungry; others eat more. The latter demographic often crave simple carbohydrates, e.g., sugar-laden foods and drinks, and caffeine. Unfortunately, these foods and beverages provide only a short-term energy burst – and are often followed by a crash.
Metabolic changes, coupled with decreased physical activity from fatigue and disturbances in the hormonal system, are cited as contributing factors to obesity.
How to get a good night’s sleep
First, we need to define what constitutes a “good night’s sleep.” Per the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), a non-profit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, quality sleep consists of four “key determinants”:
– Sleeping more while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
– Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
– Waking up no more than once per night; and
– Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
Then, there is the recommended amount of sleep:
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Finally, there’s practicing good sleep hygiene:
– Sticking to a sleep schedule; going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (weekends included)
– Having a relaxing bedtime ritual
– Avoiding afternoon naps (if you have a hard time falling asleep at night)
– Exercising daily (light activity is good, but the harder, the better)
– Sleeping in comfortable conditions (e.g. room temperature, noise-free, distraction-free, and minimal light); and
– Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows
Sleep deprivation is widespread in the modern society. It affects every aspect of our biology, yet the problem is not being taken seriously by the employers and the government.
Matthew Walker is a Sleep Scientist at Google and a Professor of Neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is also the author of the book called Why We Sleep. In his recent speech at TED Talk, Walker spoke about how lack of sleep is causing a host of potentially fatal diseases.
“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. I take my sleep extremely seriously because I have seen the evidence,” said Walker.
Walker’s speech is a wake-up call for the modern society. Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation is linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity and poor mental health problems. In short, the lack of complete sleep is slowly killing us from the inside. Let’s understand more about it.
Effects of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is defined as the condition of sleeping less than seven hours at night. It is becoming one of the greatest public-health problems we are facing in the 21st century. Yet most of us aren’t even talking about it.
Walker said, “Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent benefit. Things have to change, in the workplace and our communities, our homes and our families.”
Walker warned that being sleep deprived can significantly dull our intelligence. It makes us more forgetful and more prone to dementia. Routinely sleeping less than seven hours at night disrupts blood-sugar levels, increasing your risk of diabetes. It also increases the likelihood of clogged arteries, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Lack of sleep hurts our longevity and even causes genetic problems.
The brain suppresses production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone in favor of stress hormones like cortisol. This leads to erectile dysfunction, irregular menstruation, infertility, as well as premature aging.
According to Walker, disruption in deep sleep contributes to cognitive decline, and often leads to dementia in aged people. Our immune systems get significantly weak, making us more vulnerable to sickness and even to disease like cancer.
“Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity and not an optional lifestyle luxury,” Walker said.
What does Walker recommend to help us start sleeping better?
And what are the things that we all can do tonight and in the future in order to get better sleep? His instructions are not that difficult to follow.
According to Walker, we need to cut down our dependence on caffeine and alcohol. We need to stick to a strict sleep routine, which includes going to bed at a fixed time every night, even on holidays. Keep the room cool in order to fall asleep quicker.
Rather than staying on the bed for hours thinking about everything, go out and do something else. Come back when you feel sleepy. Stop being dependent on the sedatives. Rather practice relaxation techniques like meditation.
Good sleep makes us better at almost everything
Research says you have to sleep better in order to get more productivity. A “good sleep” refers to both the amount and the consistency of your sleep.
But unfortunately, we live in a world where many famous personalities have glorified sleep deprivation in order to achieving the goals. Some businessmen, like Elon Musk, have also confessed that sleep deprivation had deeply unfavorable effects on their lives.
Lack of sleep causes water-logging in our brain . It costs us more than just bad moods and a lack of focus. Regular poor sleep cycle puts you at serious risks of diabetes, obesity and heart diseases.
We need that time to rest and rejuvenate our mind and body to keep them healthy. It is clear that a deep sleep at night is a must have routine for a long and healthy life.
Hello reader, I’m Abhishek Shankhwar, a passionate health enthusiast and a digital marketer by profession. As a health and wellness writer, I feel obligated to inform, inspire, and reach out to so many people. In the meantime, you’ll always find me reading books, writing inspiring content, and cooking delicious food. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
Did you know that not getting enough sleep is slowly killing you?
The typical adult needs seven to nine hours of rest each and every night. We all know that sleep is very important but studies show that most of us aren’t getting what we need. The older we get, the more our lives fill up with work, college, and kids. Therefore, sleeping becomes less of a priority.
The effect is more than just eye rubbing and feeling tired. It has serious consequences for your brain and body. A lack of sleep will cause your physical and mental health to suffer. Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist who directs the sleep and neuroimaging lab at U.C. Berkeley, told Business Insider, “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”
How exactly does this happen? Here are 10 of the effects that sleep deprivation has on your body.
1. Increased Risk of Cancer
Scientists link disrupted sleep schedules to increased risks for several cancers, most notably colon and breast cancers.
2. Skin Ages Faster
Studies proved that sun-damaged skin doesn’t heal as well for poor sleepers, so those people wind up showing more signs of skin aging.
3. Risk of Mood Swings or Depression
Not getting enough hours each night also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also cause you to have depressive episodes and anxiety attacks.
4. Weight Gain
People who don’t get enough rest have more cravings for unhealthy meals, a harder time resisting high-calorie foods, and difficulty controlling their impulses. Researchers think hormonal imbalances that result from sleep deprivation are responsible for this.
5. Impaired Vision
The longer you are awake, the more visual errors you’ll encounter, and the more likely you are to experience outright hallucinations. Lacking rest also causes tunnel vision, double vision, and perceived dimness.
6. A Weakened Immune System
Prolonged sleep deprivation and even one night of sleeplessness can impede your body’s natural defenses against infections and diseases.
7. Increased Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke
Not letting yourself rest also affects your body’s ability to heal and repair the blood vessels and heart. Getting enough sleep is vital to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, including your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. Therefore, sleeping less increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
8. Diminished Sex Life
Sleep deprivation and disturbed rest, consequently, reduce libido and increase sexual dysfunction.
9. Impaired Motor Skills
It also seems to affect your ability to carry on a conversation — much like having too much to drink. You are clumsier, less productive, and have a hard time concentrating. You also experience some memory loss.
10. Increased Risk of A Car Accident
Drowsy driving is dangerous because sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol. Someone who stays awake for 18 hours straight drives like someone with a blood alcohol level of .05 (for reference, .08 is considered drunk).
These are only some of the health problems that are caused by a lack of rest. There are many more consequences associated with it, but remember this if nothing else: People who lack consistent sleep will likely die sooner.
Make sure you spend more time with your pillow and don’t overexert yourself. Your body will thank you for it.
IF YOU think getting six hours sleep a night is enough, then you’re wrong. New research shows you may as well not sleep at all.
August 15, 2018 9:02am
How to fall asleep in 60 seconds.
How to fall asleep in 60 seconds
Most Australians aren’t getting enough sleep — and it’s slowly killing them. Source:Supplied
AUSTRALIANS aren’t getting nearly enough sleep each night — and it’s slowly killing us.
Experts have warned of the major health, social and economic consequences of inadequate sleep, saying many people are suffering a kind of permanent jet lag as a result.
It also leads to lower productivity and can increase the risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, obesity and depression.
And the Sleep Health Foundation estimates poor sleep claims the lives of 3000 people a year.
“The cost of sleep deprivation is utterly alarming and confirms we need to take urgent action to put sleep on the national agenda,” the foundation’s chair Professor Dorothy Bruck said.
Health experts want lack of sleep, which has enormous social, health and economic implications, to be put on the national agenda. Source:istock
Research by Deloitte Access Economics in 2017 found more than seven million people don’t get enough shut-eye, with a cost to the economy of $66 billion.
“The numbers are big, the personal and national costs are big, and their consequences should not be ignored,” Professor Bruck said.
DANGEROUS SLEEP LEVELS
On average, Australians get 6.5 hours of sleep a night, but 12 per cent clock up 5.5 hours or less.
Up to 45 per cent of people have poor sleep patterns and the number of health issues caused has risen by up to 10 per cent since 2010.
A study published in the medical journal Sleep found that six hours or less of slumber could be just as bad as not sleeping at all.
Nicholas Breust usually gets between six and seven hours of sleep a night and while he functions well during the day, he said he often feels tired after work.
“I only had four hours sleep on Thursday night as I went to bed late, and I was up early for a flight on Friday,” the 34-year-old insurance worker said.
“I was fine until late morning when tiredness hit me.”
Nicholas Breust says he normally gets about six hours of sleep a night. Source:Supplied
Some of the common causes of lack of sleep include stress, disorders like sleep apnoea, lifestyle factors and the use of screened devices in the bedroom.
Dr David Hillman, a director at the Sleep Health Foundation, said extreme lack of sleep is on the same par as smoking when it comes to public health consequences.
“Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community,” he said.
Research shows up to 45 per cent of people have poor sleep patterns. The health consequences of lack of sleep have risen by 10 per cent in eight years. Source:istock
Among the various potential implications are cardiovascular disease, obesity and mental illness. Sleep deprivation can also impair cognition, causing memory loss and lower concentration.
Worryingly, the foundation’s research found one-in-five people say they’ve nodded off while driving.
MAJOR SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS
Research released today found sleepless nights are making people less social — and that loneliness can spread to others.
The University of California study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found a lack of sleep is associated with social withdrawal.
“When evaluated on psychological tests of sociability, sleep-deprived subjects avoided other people and sleep deprivation led to hypersensitivity in brain regions that warn of human approach,” researchers found.
“Moreover, (well-rested) participants rated themselves as feeling significantly lonelier after watching video footage of the sleep-deprived individuals … suggesting those who come into contact with someone who is sleep-deprived (may) feel lonelier.”
Study finds almost a third of Australians suffer from ‘social jet lag’.
Study finds almost a third of Australians suffer from ‘social jet lag’
Australian research released last month found one-in-three people suffer “social jet lag” as a result of poor sleep behaviours.
“That’s a large chunk of our population whose body clocks are out of alignment, a problem known to negatively impact health and wellbeing,” said Professor Robert Adams, the study’s lead researcher and sleep specialist with the University of Adelaide.
MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
Inadequate sleep is strongly related to the prevalence of mental illness in all age groups, but especially in young people, Peter Eastwood from the University of Western Australia said.
In people aged 12 to 24, sleep disturbance is the fourth most common mental health issue reported, he said.
This is worrying because teenagers require more sleep to function healthily.
Young people are developing poor bedtime habits, which could have dire long-term consequences, VicHealth chief executive officer Jerril Rechter said.
“Not getting enough sleep can really mess with all of us but young people in particular are at risk of a range of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and mood issues,” Ms Rechter said.
Young people are developing bad bedtime habits, such as using screened devices before sleep. Source:istock
“Our report also found that sleep problems during childhood and as a teenager can lead to depression later in life.
“Sadly poor sleep is also associated with suicidal thoughts in teenagers so it’s really critical we support young people to get the sleep they need.”
The use of screened devices in the bedroom and before sleep is having an impact. Across all ages, 44 per cent of people admitted to using their phones or computers before bed.
But young people are especially bad, Ms Rechter said.
“There’s no denying that devices are a part of our life but our research found a simple step like putting away your phone an hour before bed can lead to more sleep and a better quality sleep.”
Whether you’re aiming for a personal best in an upcoming marathon, working on your golf game, or creating a digital marketing strategy for your business, you’re not at your best without good sleep. On the physical side, sleep is when we repair and build muscle tissues after a hard workout.
On the mental side, it’ when we organize thoughts and commit them to memory. As such, insufficient sleep prevents us from getting the most out of our diet and exercise routines, learning new skills, and retaining important information.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a lack of sufficient rest impairs our judgment and impedes our productivity. If that’ not bad enough, it can also lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and ultimately shorten our lifespans. The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. They add that the specific amount will vary depending on the person, but stress that quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. So, if your sleep is frequently interrupted, you likely “will not perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night.” This combined with the lower health stats for those who lack sufficient sleep means a higher rate of accidents, lower quality of life, and on average, a shorter lifespan.
If you’re wondering how to fall asleep and how to get better sleep, read on. All it takes are some minor tweaks to your sleeping environment to make a big difference.
Adjust Your Thermostat
One of the keys to restful sleep is optimal temperature settings. A temperature around 64 degrees is often considered ideal. Not only is this generally more comfortable, it’ well below the threshold where dust mites, mold, and other allergens can flourish. In addition to our home heating and cooling systems, we can choose specialized sheets, pillows, and mattresses that are designed to help manage excess heat, helping us keep cool.
Regulate Indoor Humidity
Keeping an indoor humidity between 30% and 50% RH (relative humidity) will be humid enough to prevent dry air symptoms like a dry nose, dry sinuses, and itchy, cracked skin, but not humid enough for mold and dust mites to thrive.
Turn Off Your Lights
Lightness and darkness are two of the factors which affect circadian rhythm, our internal clock. Because of this, things like a lit cell phone screen from a 1am text message, or a streetlight outside your bedroom window can throw off your rhythm and deprive you of quality sleep. A logical approach might be to do what you can to mimic the natural rhythm of the sunlight. If you live in the country, that could simply mean letting natural light into your bedroom. In the city, that may mean closing the blinds and curtains, putting lights on timers, or using smart home technology to control your lighting.
Snoring is a powerful sleep inhibitor. It can prevent you (and your partner) from getting a good night’ sleep. For serious cases, a clinical sleep study can be performed, and devices (such as a CPAP machine) can be prescribed. For minor, non medically threatening cases, there are a variety of tips and tricks that can help. These can include:
- Smart devices that have the capability to gently vibrate to make you change positions without waking up.
- Choosing quality pillows and mattresses that promote correct head and neck alignment
- Losing excess weight
Analyze Your Sleep Tracking and analyzing sleep can be your secret weapon, truly teaching you how to fall asleep fast. For example, a quality sleep tracking device and an app can help you find a correlation between your alcohol intake, what you had for dinner when you exercised, and the quality of the sleep you’re getting. You can then use this information to make meaningful, positive changes to your daily habits. These are just a few of the many steps you can take to fight insomnia and learn how to sleep better. Also, here are some of the most effective products available to help improve the quality of your sleep: ZEEQ Smart Pillow, This industry-first smart home compatible product not only analyzes your sleep through REM-Fit’ proprietary smartphone app, but it also helps you stop snoring through a gentle vibration that stimulates the need to shift positions. It also streams music, sets an alarm, can turn off lights and adjust the thermostat, and is breathable so that you can enjoy a cool pillow all night long. It’ an all-in-one device that encompasses everything REM-Fit knows about achieving restful sleep.
Sleep 400 12-Inch Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress, As it adapts to the shape of your body, it provides customized support, while keeping you cool. The three layers of quality memory foam are naturally resistant to bed bugs and allergens, helping you to maintain a clean and discomfort-free sleep environment. The cooling gel-infused layer mattress disperses away body heat.
Improving the quality of your sleep will pay dividends in terms of health, productivity, and performance. One of the great things about technology is that we can harness it to make our lives better. By adopting utilizing REM-Fit sleep technology to optimize your rest, you know how to get better sleep, so you can make the most of each night.
‘I take my sleep incredibly seriously because I have seen the evidence,’ says Professor Matthew Walker
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A “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic” is causing a host of potentially fatal diseases, a leading expert has said.
In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Matthew Walker, director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, said that sleep deprivation affected “every aspect of our biology” and was widespread in modern society.
And yet the problem was not being taken seriously by politicians and employers, with a desire to get a decent night’s sleep often stigmatised as a sign of laziness, he said.
Electric lights, television and computer screens, longer commutes, the blurring of the line between work and personal time, and a host of other aspects of modern life have contributed to sleep deprivation, which is defined as less than seven hours a night.
But this has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and poor mental health among other health problems. In short, a lack of sleep is killing us.
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Professor Walker, who is originally from Liverpool, said: “No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation.
“It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families.
“But when did you ever see an NHS poster urging sleep on people? When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself? It needs to be prioritised, even incentivised.
“Sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30bn a year in lost revenue, or 2 per cent of GDP. I could double the NHS budget if only they would institute policies to mandate or powerfully encourage sleep.”
He said he insists that he has a “non-negotiable, eight-hour sleep opportunity every night” and keeps “very regular hours”.
“I take my sleep incredibly seriously because I have seen the evidence,” said Professor Walker, whose book Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams is due out next month.
“Once you know that after just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70 per cent per cent, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, or even just that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen, how could you do anything else?”
While healthcare workers, employers and politicians all needed to pay greater attention to the benefits of sleep, Professor Walker said people needed to do so on an individual level.
“No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead,” he said.
“And anxiety plays a part. We’re a lonelier, more depressed society.
“Alcohol and caffeine are more widely available. All these are the enemies of sleep.”
Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being unable to move, either at the onset of sleep or upon awakening.
The individual’s senses and awareness are intact, but they may feel as if there is pressure on them, or as if they are choking.
It may be accompanied by hallucinations and intense fear.
Sleep paralysis is not life-threatening, but it can cause anxiety. It can happen alongside other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.
It often starts during adolescence, and it can become frequent during the 20s and 30s. It is not a serious risk.
Hallucinations and a feeling of terror often accompany sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia, or an undesired event that is associated with sleep.
It happens just after falling asleep or upon awakening in the morning, in the time between waking and sleep.
Episodes are often accompanied by hypnagogic experiences, which are visual, auditory, and sensory hallucinations.
These occur during the transition between sleeping and waking, and they consistently fall into one of three categories:
- Intruder: There are sounds of doorknobs opening, shuffling footsteps, a shadow man, or sense of a threatening presence in the room.
- Incubus: Feelings of pressure on the chest, difficulty breathing with the sense of being smothered, strangled or sexually assaulted by a malevolent being. The individual believes they are about to die.
- Vestibular-motor: A sense of spinning, falling, floating, flying, hovering over one’s body or another type of out-of-body experience.
The experience of sleep paralysis has been documented for centuries. People from different cultures have similar experiences.
Sleep paralysis is brief and not life threatening, but the person may remember it as haunting and horrifying.
Sleep paralysis is more likely when a person is under stress.
While sleeping, the body relaxes, and voluntary muscles do not move. This prevents people from injuring themselves due to acting out dreams. Sleep paralysis involves a disruption or fragmentation of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle.
The body alternates between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM).
One REM-NREM cycle lasts around 90 minutes, and most of the time spent sleeping is in NREM. During NREM, the body relaxes. During REM, the eyes move quickly, but the body is relaxed. Dreams occur at this time.
In sleep paralysis, the body’s transition to or from REM sleep is out of sync with the brain. The person’s consciousness is awake, but their body remains in the paralyzed sleep state.
The areas of the brain that detect threats are in a heightened state and overly sensitive.
Factors that have been linked to sleep paralysis include:
- irregular sleeping patterns, due, for example, to jet lag or shift work
- sleeping on your back
- a family history of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis can be a symptom of medical problems such as clinical depression, migraines, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, and anxiety disorders.
Signs and symptoms include:
- an inability to move the body when falling asleep or on waking, lasting for seconds or several minutes
- being consciously awake
- being unable to speak during the episode
- having hallucinations and sensations that cause fear
- feeling pressure on the chest
- having difficulty breathing
- feeling as if death is approaching
- having headaches, muscle pains, and paranoia
Everyday non-threatening sounds, sensations, and other stimuli that the brain normally ignores become disproportionately significant.
Regular exercise at least two hours before you sleep can help to combat sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is not normally considered a medical diagnosis, but if symptoms are of concern, it may be a good idea to see a doctor.
Medical attention may help when:
- sleep paralysis happens regularly
- there is anxiety about going to sleep or difficulty falling asleep
- the individual falls asleep suddenly or feels unusually sleepy during the day
Suddenly falling asleep during the day could be a sign of narcolepsy, a rare brain disorder that causes a person to fall asleep or lose muscle control at unexpected or inappropriate times.
If stress or anxiety are present, addressing these may help relieve symptoms.
There is no specific treatment for sleep paralysis, but stress management, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and observing good sleep habits can reduce the likelihood of sleep paralysis.
Strategies for improving sleep hygiene include:
- keeping bedtime and wake-up time consistent, even on holidays and weekends
- ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, with suitable bedding and sleepwear and a clean, dark and cool bedroom
- reducing light exposure in the evening and using night-lights for bathroom trips at night
- getting good daylight exposure during waking hours
- not working or studying in the bedroom
- avoiding napping after 3.00 p.m. and for longer than 90 minutes
- not eating a heavy evening meal, or eating within 2 hours of going to bed
- not sleeping with the lights or television on
- abstaining from evening alcohol or caffeine products
- exercising daily, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
- including a calming activity in the bedtime ritual, such as reading or listening to relaxing music
- leaving phones and other devices outside the bedroom
- putting electronics aside at least 1 hour before going to bed
The following additional measures may help:
- managing any depression or anxiety disorder
- reducing intake of stimulants
- practicing meditation or regular prayer
- not sleeping on your back
Understanding the physiology of sleep and the mechanism for sleep paralysis is an important step to overcoming it.
Ongoing stress and disruption in the sleep cycle can have serious health implications. Healthy sleep habits are not just necessary for sleep paralysis management, but for overall health and wellness.
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- Signs of End-Stage Heart Failure
Your heart pumps blood around your body to supply all of your organs with oxygen. When it doesnвЂ™t work the way it should anymore, you have whatвЂ™s known as heart failure. Your ticker may not be strong enough to gather enough oxygen from your lungs, or to pump oxygen-rich blood around your body.
Either way, heart failure causes health problems and must be treated by a doctor. Drugs and lifestyle changes may help you lead a more active life than youвЂ™d be able to without treatment.
Over time, if your health gets worse, you may learn that you have advanced heart failure, also known as end-stage heart failure. It means the treatments youвЂ™ve used in the past to keep your health stable no longer work.
What Are the Symptoms?
Some are easy to confuse with normal aging or other diseases. The more advanced your heart failure, the more likely you are to have many symptoms, or the changes that youвЂ™ve noticed in yourself will worsen.
These are common ways that heart failure can affect you:
Shortness of breath. Heart failure can make it hard to breathe when you walk up a flight of stairs. With advanced heart failure, you may get winded in a shorter period of time, or you may have trouble even when youвЂ™re sitting still.
Sleep problems. Heart failure can make it hard to breathe or catch your breath when you lie in bed. You may have trouble nodding off to sleep, or you might wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Try sleeping while propped up on two or more pillows instead of lying flat. Advanced heart failure makes it even more likely youвЂ™ll have trouble breathing when youвЂ™re at rest. That means your bedtime problems will probably get worse, too.
Coughing. You may already have a dry cough that acts up when youвЂ™re lying in bed. You might cough often during the day, and your phlegm could have a slight pink tint to it. That means thereвЂ™s a bit of blood in the gunk youвЂ™re coughing up. Advanced heart failure can make that cough worse, especially when youвЂ™re lying down.
Fatigue. Heart failure can make you feel worn out. Things that wouldnвЂ™t have tired you out in the past suddenly do. YouвЂ™re more likely to feel tired all of the time with advanced heart failure.
Swelling. When your heart canвЂ™t move blood through your body, it can build up in certain body parts. That can lead to swollen feet, ankles, legs, or a swollen belly. You might also gain weight from fluid in these areas. Advanced heart disease makes swollen body parts and weight gain more likely.
Eating less. You might not feel hungry anymore, so you may eat less. Advanced heart failure can make this more pronounced. You may not lose weight, either. Fluid buildup in your body often leads to weight gain.
More bathroom visits. You may have to go to get up and pee in the middle of the night more when you have heart failure than when you were healthy. ThatвЂ™s one way your body can get rid of that extra fluid. With advanced heart disease, itвЂ™s even more likely youвЂ™ll make frequent bathroom trips.
Racing heartbeat. You may feel like your heart is beating too fast or pounding too hard. This is called heart palpitations. When your heart isnвЂ™t pumping the amount of blood it should, it can try to make up for the loss by going faster. If you have advanced heart disease, you may notice this more often or to a greater degree.
Feeling anxious. This disease can make you worry about your health. You may even have physical symptoms like sweating, shortness of breath, or fatigue. Depression or anxiety may be even more likely with advanced heart failure. Talk to your doctor about ways to get help.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: вЂњWarning Signs of Heart Failure,вЂќ вЂњWhat Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?вЂќ вЂњWhat Is Heart Failure?вЂќ
American Heart Association: вЂњAdvanced Heart Failure.вЂќ
Heart Failure Society of America: вЂњCommon Symptoms of Heart Failure.вЂќ
Emory Healthcare: вЂњEmory Advanced Heart Failure Therapy Center helps you understand heart failure.вЂќ
Cleveland Clinic: вЂњNocturia.вЂќ
Circulation: вЂњA PatientвЂ™s Guide to Living Confidently With Chronic Heart Failure.вЂќ