The Dangers of Insomnia

Most doctors will agree that sleep deprivation is in fact a medical condition and that it can have some serious side effects on the body if not addressed in time. There have been multiple studies which have shown that conditions like chronic fatigue, poor muscular co-ordination, nausea, weight loss, fainting, dizziness, etc. can all be associated with sleep deprivation. There have even been studies which have shown that serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, etc. are also associated with sleep deprivation. And apart from these physical conditions, sleep deprivation can also affect the brain negatively. It can cause memory loss, inability to focus, etc.

As far as the amount of sleep required by a person is concerned, different experts have different opinions. But there is one thing that all these experts agree on and that is, if you wake up fresh every morning even after sleeping for four or five hours, you are getting enough sleep. But in situations when you are only sleeping for one or two hours every night, you could be suffering from insomnia which means you will have to figure out how to get more sleep.

A lot of people try sleeping pills to help get over this hurdle but sleeping pills aren’t something you should take over a long period of time or at the drop of a hat. Sleeping pills have several harmful effects and apart from that there is the obvious danger of getting addicted to them which is not very nice. This dangerous nature of sleeping pills is why doctors only advise taking them in small quantities.

It is true that stress can lead to insomnia. If you feel that it is so in your case, then you obviously need to work on getting rid of the stress from your life. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, stress may be caused by something which you can’t control. If you can’t get rid of stress on your own then there is something else you can try. You need to try and understand that stress is just a reaction to a problem in front of you. There aren’t too many actual stressful situations we face nowadays. It is just that we build them up in our heads and let them get out of control. There is absolutely no reason why your everyday troubles should be allowed to affect your mind. Take control of your life and you will find it much easier to get a good night’s sleep.

Another cause of insomnia is poor sleeping habits. This is much easier to get under control. All you have to do is ensure you go to bed in time every night no matter what and you will be fine. This is a lot safer than resorting to sleeping pills or any other harmful medicines to induce sleep. You might struggle the first couple of nights, but your body will eventually get used to the pattern you have set and it’s nothing but smooth sailing from that point onwards.

Sleeping and Weightloss

Whenever anyone decides to lose some weight, the first couple of things that come to mind are reducing your food intake and increasing your exercising. But one thing which almost no one thinks about is how much you sleep. That’s right; sleep is a major factor when it comes to weight loss. This is why, for many people, even after doing everything right they still have trouble losing weight. It’s true that poor sleeping habits can significantly hamper even the best and most committed efforts of losing weight.

It has been noted that not getting enough sleep can prevent the loss of fat from our body and may even make it more difficult for your body to burn fat as energy. Not getting enough sleep makes your body burn muscle instead of fat. So even if you do lose weight with all the exercise you are doing, you might not necessarily be losing fat.

There was even a study carried out involving ten overweight adults over a period of four weeks. Half the group slept for five and a half hours every day while the other half slept for eight and a half hours. The group that slept for five and a half hours lost 55 % less fat & even felt hungrier than the other group. Both groups managed to lose twelve pounds over a month but while one lost fat the other lost muscle mass. Which group would you prefer being a part of?

The hormone which controls your appetite is called Ghrelin. This is what increases your hunger when you are sleepy which makes it harder for you to maintain a healthy weight loss diet. Just like a lot of other things, not getting enough sleep makes it difficult for you to lose weight. Even losing out on as little as half an hour of sleep every night can start causing you trouble over a prolonged period of time.

So if you suddenly find your weight loss goals becoming more difficult to achieve even though you are working just as hard, try fixing your sleep routine instead of spending a lot of time trying to figure out if you are performing particular exercises correctly or not. An average person needs seven hours of sleep every night in order to remain healthy. If you are going to be working out your body throughout the day you will need more than that. As far as how much sleep you need is concerned, it is different for everyone. All I can say is that you will know when you’ve gotten enough sleep. You can count on that.

Random Stuff: Fun Fact Friday #3

If you don’t have cues for sleep time, your sleep cycle becomes 25 hours long.

According to OMG-Facts:

Humans may be programmed for a sleep-wake cycle that is out of sync with the world’s 24 hour day-night cycle. In 1938, two men, Nathaniel Kleitman and Bruce Richardson, decided they wanted to know how cave men slept.

In other words, how long would humans sleep and then stay awake if there were no external cues to tell them when to go to bed and when to wake up.

After searching for the perfect location that would completely isolate them from the outside world, they settled on a cave. Just like the cave men of prehistoric times. For 33 days, they stayed in the cave and let their bodies tell them how long to sleep.

What they found and what subsequent experiments have found is rather odd. They discovered that, when left to its own devices, the human body actually follows a 25 hour sleep-wake cycle rather than the 24 hour one that the world’s turning dictates.

For more fun facts about sleep, click here.

Sleep Deprivation Could Speed Up What?

The onset of Alzheimer’s. This is what I’ve read from Huffington Post’s website. This is what’s written in their site:

Researchers at Temple University’s School of Medicine believe chronic sleep disturbances could speed up the onset of dementias and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. Chronic sleep disturbances can be caused by factors like insomnia, overnight work shifts, and other health conditions.

Wanting to determine the causation relationship between dementia and sleep disturbances, researchers studied two groups of mice in an eight-week pre-clinical study. Both groups of mice were at the human age equivalent of 40 years. One group was kept on an adequate sleep schedule while the other received excess light hours, significantly reducing their sleep time.

“At the end of the eight weeks, we didn’t initially observe anything that was obviously different between the two groups. However, when we tested the mice for memory, the group which had the reduced sleep demonstrated significant impairment in their working and retention memory, as well as their learning ability,” researcher Domenico Praticὸ said in a release.

The sleep-deprived mice were found to have more tangles in their brain cells. These tangles can disrupt signals between cells, leading to major brain impairment.

“This disruption will eventually impair the brain’s ability for learning, forming new memory and other cognitive functions, and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease,” Praticὸ said.

Sleep deprivation is a major health concern nationally, with an estimated 50-70 million adults suffering from some sort of sleep disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Insufficient sleep can impede daily life activities by lowering concentration, blunting your memory, and even affect your focus while driving. Some studies have even shown that sleep deprivation in older men can increase their risk of premature death.

What’s worse is, as you age, your sleep quality takes a hit and it’s harder to fall and stay asleep. Aches and pains can keep older adults awake, as do some medications, and repeatedly having to wake up in the middle of the night.

The good news? There’s something you can do about it. Improve your sleep hygiene by doing things like keeping a cool, dark room, use breathing techniques, and make sure to get out of bed if you can’t sleep.

This is really one hell of a scary news, isn’t it? I better go cut this short and sleep then. Until next time folks!

For more sleep information, click here.

Random Stuff: Fun Fact Friday #2

Some people are genetically coded to only need 4 hours of sleep!

According to OMG-Facts:

There’s some people who have a genetic mutation called hDEC2, which regulates their sleep-wake cycle to be shortened to only 4 hours.

Most of us might be able to get by with sleeping only 4 hours for a little while, but eventually it takes a toll. These people are as refreshed as if you and I had slept for 8. Some of the people who are known or suspected to be short sleepers are Margaret Thatcher, James Franco and Martha Stewart.

Imagine if all people would have this kind of genetic mutation, would it be cool? Or not? Let us know what you think. Comment below.

For more fun facts, click here.

10 Steps to Better Sleep

I found this article from Express.co.uk which was written by Rachel Carlyle. She talked about  the following steps which can probably help you achieve a better sleep. Well, here it is:

1. STOP WORRYING

Anxiety is the enemy of good sleep. Worrying that you’re not getting enough will actually stop you sleeping and create a vicious circle that’s hard to break.

“The view that we all need eight hours is nonsense,” says Professor Jim Horne, founder of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University. Experts say most of us can cut down to six hours without suffering major knock-on health effects.

The “inflammatory markers” that raise your risk of disease tend not to kick in until you get below six hours for long periods.

2. HAVE A ROUTINE

We enforce a bedtime routine for our children – milk, bath, story, cuddle – but how many of us have one ourselves? We should. Those 60 to 90 minutes before bed are crucial to the length and quality of sleep.

The aim is to wind down and get rid of what psychologists call the “mind chatter” of the day. Turn off screens an hour before sleep, make a to-do list so worrying about tomorrow’s tasks won’t wake you later, have a bath, a small snack or warm drink (but not a meal), and keep the bedroom dark, quiet and clutter-free.

3. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT

What you eat has a big effect on your sleep – and not just in the last couple of hours before bed.

Surprisingly, breakfast is really important. If you eat within half an hour of getting up, research shows you will produce more of the sleep hormone melatonin during the day.

“Include protein with your breakfast, as the amino acids help make the hormones that will send you to sleep later,” advises Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Tired But Wired (£11.49, expressbooks.co.uk).

Caffeine from coffee, chocolate or cola isn’t a good idea in the afternoon – and caffeine sensitivity increases with age. Drinking alcohol late in the evening is bad too: it may send you to sleep quickly, but fragments sleep while the body metabolizes it.

4. TRY AN ELECTRONIC SUNDOWN

Smartphones, tablets and the instant, 24-hour connectivity they provide can be a disaster for sleep if used late in the evening. We’re overloading our brain with too much information that it can’t process before sleep and research shows the bluish light from screens can delay the body’s production of melatonin.

“Ask yourself, is it really important to check your emails at 10pm?” says Dr Ramlakhan. “Our phones are amazing devices but we need to create healthy boundaries.” She advises turning off your tablet/computer and putting your phone downstairs an hour before sleep and don’t use it as an alarm clock.

TV is OK before sleep, as it doesn’t stimulate the brain so much.

5. TUNE OUT TWICE A DAYSome studies say just 10 minutes’ meditation a day will give your body as much rest as the final phase of night-time sleep. That’s because when you tune out, your brain has the chance to consolidate and recharge.

There are lots of free apps that teach a daily meditation, but if that feels like a step too far, try other ways to reboot. “Walking does it for me,” says Professor Stephen Palmer, director of the Centre for Stress Management.

“It’s a time to switch off, listen and reflect.”

6. HAVE A WIDE-AWAKE PLAN

It’s perfectly normal to wake up 10 to 15 times a night, so have a plan to avoid lying there and fretting. Try not to check the time because that brings you back into full consciousness (and makes you worry how few hours there are until getting up time).

Stay as sleepy as possible and don’t put lights on, even if you have to go to the bathroom. Get comfortable and bring your attention to your breathing, advises Dr Ramlakhan.

Breathe deeply into your belly and follow your exhalations. Then slowly count each breath. “Go back through the previous day and recall every small positive thing that happened – a hot shower, a nice cup of tea etc. It’s a surprisingly effective technique.”

7. GET A SHORT NAP

A short afternoon nap can actually help your night-time sleep. But set your alarm (anything over 20 minutes may involve deep sleep, which could disrupt your night).

In fact, you don’t need to sleep to get the benefits: just five to 20 minutes of zoning out with your eyes closed is restorative, even if it’s face down at your desk.

Studies show a 15-minute nap during the afternoon dip (1 to 3pm) is as good as extending night-time sleep by an hour.

8. EXERCISE MIND AND BODY

Some kind of physical exertion every day is important to ready you for sleep – 20 to 25 minutes is enough.

But don’t do it within three hours of going to bed, as it will keep your body temperature too high to sleep. Get half an hour a day outside as daylight helps melatonin production.

Staying socially engaged and keeping the mind busy are also key, says Professor Horne. In one study, he discovered that it wasn’t the sea air that made people tired at the seaside but the mental effort of taking in new sights and sounds.

The newly retired often report insomnia, probably because they’re not getting enough mental stimulation in the day.

9. SORT OUT MEDICAL ISSUES

As we age, sleep becomes more fragmented, often because of disruptive physical complaints such as pain from arthritis or menopausal hot flushes.

Sometimes it’s the drugs used to treat illnesses that prevent sleep. Beta-blockers, diuretics and cold remedies are all common culprits.

Snoring is a huge problem: twice as many women as men visit the doctor for insomnia, probably because their partner is waking them. If yours is a snorer, there’s a chance they have sleep apnoea (60 per cent of over 65s have it).

This can be dangerous as those affected stop breathing for short periods, so ask them to see their GP and get referred to a sleep clinic so it can be effectively treated.

1O. CAN’T SLEEP? ACCEPT IT

If you can’t get to sleep or you wake up very early, accepting the problem can help resolve it. Tell yourself your body is still resting, you’ll be able to cope the next day even if you can’t sleep, and try to enjoy the stillness of the night.

“Value that additional time you have rather than feeling you’ve been robbed,” says independent sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. “You can’t chase sleep – you have to let sleep find you.”

That was real informative right? For more sleep tips, click here.

How Much Sleep Does A Person Need?

In this article I am going to try and answer a question which I’m sure has plagued most of your minds at one time or another, “how much sleep does a person need?” And if you tell me that you have never thought about this before, then you will be lying. Either way, let’s get started.

The first thing you need to do is examine how you feel at the end of the day. If you are ready to collapse onto the bed the moment you get home from work you obviously need more sleep. Feeling tired throughout the day is another sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep. The only problem is that there is no fixed amount of sleep you need. This figure varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors like your diet, your age, your routine, etc.

You can say that the amount of sleep you need reduces as you get older. In most adults, an appropriate amount of sleep would be anything between seven and eight hours. Then again, it is different for everyone which means that while some people are fine with just four hours of sleep there will be others who require ten hours before they feel normal.

Have you ever wondered why some people still feel tired even after sleeping for more than ten hours in a day? The main reason for this is because these people believe that the amount of sleep they get is in some way related to the amount of energy they will have when they wake up. Sleep does help you to restore your muscular energy, concentration and alertness but this isn’t always the case. You need to have quality & restorative sleep instead of excess sleep. Fragmented sleep can occur because of a number of reasons like stress, bad sleeping habits, etc. Even excessive exertion could cause poor quality sleep.

Sleep helps you rejuvenate your body and restore functionality. The only problem is that some people find it very difficult to enter the later stages of sleep that are essential for restoration. Not getting enough sleep may even weaken your immune system which will make you susceptible to illness.

Insomnia is something which can affect anybody. Your age, gender, race, etc. don’t matter here. There are a lot of accidents caused every year simply because people lose concentration when behind the wheel or even fall asleep while driving or operating heavy machinery. So you see not getting enough sleep isn’t only dangerous and harmful for you but may even end up being harmful for others.

It is very important for you to get enough sleep and ensure you are fresh and full of energy at the beginning of every day. If you are suffering from insomnia then you need to fix the things in your life which are causing it like a poor diet, stress, insufficient sunlight, lack of exercise, etc. As long as you never underestimate the power of sleep, you should be fine.

Random Stuff: Fun Fact Friday #1

When you sleep, you grow by about 8mm!

According to OMG-Facts, although we grow by about 8mm when we’re asleep, this growth is just temporary because the next day you shrink back to your former height. The reason is that your cartilage discs are squeezed like sponges by the force of gravity when you stand or sit.

But it’s still pretty cool, huh? Watch out for more fun facts here.