Sleep Disorders: Discover What’s Keeping You Up

Insomnia is the most common type of sleeping disorder. It refers to the condition that makes it difficult or in severe cases, impossible for a person to sleep at night. This hampers the body’s sleep routine as well as disrupts the flow of his daily life. It can lead to sleep deprivation, which causes poor judgment, poor hand to eye coordination, and forgetfulness. Moreover, it has also been found that sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, and thus make a person more susceptible to different kinds of diseases.
[Page-Contents]
How to Prepare Yourself for a Good Night Sleep

Financial Stress Tied to Insomnia
Sleepless In Seattle: Dealing With Insomnia
Sleep Disorder – A Major Concern
What to Do with Your Snoring Spouse
Sleepwalking: What is Causing this Strange Behavior?
Does your Bedroom Make Sleeping a Challenge?
Feeling Sleepy in the Morning? It Could be Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Are You a Sleepy Head? It Could Be Narcolepsy
Tips to Stay Awake during the Day
Daytime Naps: Healthy or Harmful?
Which Sleeping Position is Best?
How to Adjust when You Have a Jetlag
Discover More About Your Body Clock
Poor Sleep Linked to High Blood Pressure
Lack of Sleep Linked with Weight Gain

Insomnia can be caused by any of the following: diet, stress, and health problems. Taking in caffeine or alcohol can ruin a good night sleep and eventually make it hard to establish proper sleeping schedule. Stress can also trigger insomnia while health problems can ruin the body’s circadian rhythm. Symptoms of this health problem would include failure to sleep through the entire night, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, decreased alertness, and irritability.

Sleeping pills are usually prescribed for people with short-term insomnia. Those who suffer from long-term insomnia should avoid sleeping pills as these can only aggravate the problem. If you think you have insomnia, try to remedy it by soothing yourself to sleep with soft lullabies, aromatherapy candles, meditation, massage, and dimmed lights. If none of these strategies works, go see a doctor immediately.

Another category for sleeping disorders is disturbed sleep. Sleep Apnea, REM sleep behavior disorder, restless leg syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder, all fall under this classification.

Sleep Apnea occurs when there is interference in breathing during the sleep. This can result in loud snoring, gasping, or snorting. It is usually caused by enlarged tonsils, narrow nasal passages, obesity, excessive use of alcohol, smoking, and taking in of sedatives. Because people who have sleep apnea are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

REM Sleep Behavior is a disruption in the brain during the REM phase of sleep. A person with this type of problem usually gets up from the bed and acts out what he is dreaming. The danger in this disorder is that the person can endanger or injure himself or others when this happens.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and the Periodic Limb Movement Disorder are both common among elderly people. The first one results in tingling sensations in the leg during sleep while the other causes jerking of the arms or legs, also during sleep. Although these sleeping disorders are not as harmful to one’s health as insomnia and sleep apnea, you may also want to see your doctor if you feel like it’s interfering with a good night’s sleep.

Sleeping disorders do not only refer to those that can keep you awake. It can also refer to those that can keep you in bed all day or even have you sleeping in any other place. Narcolepsy, which falls under the excessive sleep category of sleep disorders, is a condition in which the person uncontrollably falls asleep, even when in the middle of an activity. Narcolepsy can be treated with drug therapy but only under the supervision of a doctor.

woman sleeping comfortably

For some people, getting that much needed slumber isn’t that easy. It’s not true that the more exhausted you are, the quicker it is to doze off. Sometimes, when your body is overly tired, it’s even harder to fall asleep. Preparing yourself for a good night sleep is necessary to ensure that you’ll have the kind of rest you need to recharge yourself for the next day. Here are what you need to do:

Soak on a Warm Bath
The body’s temperature drops naturally when nighttime arrives. The dip starts two hours before you sleep and plummets around 4 am and 5 am, according to a study done by the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical center in 1997. When you take a warm bath, the body’s temperature rises and the cool-down period you get afterwards would immediately soothe you. This is why, it’s recommended to soak in the tub for about 30 minutes two hours before you go to bed. This would help put you in deep sleep.

Use a Dimmer Switch
When nighttime falls, the body releases the chemical called melatonin, which signals the brain that it’s time to rest and cues the body to prepare for sleep. Sometimes, the melatonin is thrown out of whack when it doesn’t receive the right cues from the environment such as where there are still a lot of lights on. If you install a dimmer switch in your bedroom, you can begin to transition to dark at around 9 pm by gradually dimming the lights.

Ditch the Stimulants
Caffeine is on top of the list of stimulants that can keep you up all night. Even if you get your cup of Joe as early as lunchtime, you can still have difficulties sleeping since the caffeine can stay in your system for up to nighttime. It’s best that you avoid drinking coffee altogether to avoid having trouble with sleep. But if you must, make it your morning drink so that hopefully, it leaves your system before it’s time to hit the bed. Stay away from other caffeinated beverages too like soda and energy drinks.

Impose an Electronic Curfew
Lit screens from electronic devices are another stimulant that can mess up your melatonin levels. It’s never a good idea to leave the television on while you try to fall asleep. Electronic devices stimulate the mind and make it a struggle for you to rest. Impose an electronic curfew. An hour or two before hitting the sack, stop using any electronic device. Instead, do something that can calm the mind such as reading a book or listening to soft music.

Keep Your Feet Warm
Many people find it hard to fall asleep because of cold feet. This can be resolved with a pair of socks. This is ideal especially during the winter time when the blankets aren’t enough to keep you warm. The extra layer you use can even help improve blood circulation that can help induce good quality sleep.

Don’t Eat Too Much Before Bedtime
A big meal right before you go to bed can mean overtime work for your digestive system. This would make your body stay up longer than you want. It’s not a smart move to drink alcohol during dinner either. Even though it can make you drowsy, it will disrupt your sleep patterns and hinder you from getting the restorative REM sleep that you need. Not only that, if you drink or eat a lot before you go to bed, you’ll be getting up several times in the middle of the night to answer the call of nature.

woman financially stressed

There you are lying on your back at 3 in the morning wondering about things like savings, debts, job, and the unstable economy. Money problems can surely keep you wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. If you keep that up, it won’t be long before you develop a sleeping disorder like insomnia.

Money and Insomnia
According to Mary Susan Esther, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, money-related problems have been associated to insomnia. This is because it’s the leading source of stress among many people who have sleeping problems. It doesn’t help that the country has undergone bouts of recession and has experienced drops in the economy, affecting people of almost all classes.

The Survey
A 2008 Stress in America Survey done by the American Psychological Association revealed that:
– More than half of the people who took the survey said that they are stressed about their ability to provide for the basic needs of their family.
– About 80 percent said that they were stressed about the declining economy.
– More than 60 percent were troubled about job stability, housing costs, and medical bills.

You can see from that survey how much money woes affect people’s stress levels that in turn affect their sleeping quality and overall health.

Accessing Your Finances
Getting a break from all these stressors is the number one thing you need to do to get your life back into the balance beam.

First you need to assess your current financial standing. For all you know, all these worries are unnecessary and unaccounted for. Analyze the figures that are coming in and weigh them against the numbers that are coming out. Don’t forget to factor in your assets and liabilities. This way, you have a clear picture as to where you’re standing in terms of finances.

If you’re still good then there’s nothing to worry about and you should get back to your normal sleeping habit. If not, then formulate a plan on how to resolve the predicament you’re currently in. Take in a positive attitude that the solutions you’re going to think of will effectively dissolve your problems. But accept the reality that it takes time for these solutions to work out and that there is no overnight magic that can end all your financial woes.

Viable Solutions
There are plenty of viable solutions out there.
– Augment your income by taking on a second job, working extra hours, or opening up a small business.
– Lessen the expenses by reducing credit cards and lowering standard of living.
– Create an effective household budget so you can begin to live an affordable lifestyle.
– Learn various ways on how to make the ends meet.

Take a Break, Sleep Well
It’s also a must to learn to take a break from all the things that are bothering you. Keep in mind that you’ll have more difficulty resolving your money problems if you’re sick because you haven’t had enough sleep. Get treatment for insomnia by consulting a doctor. Then do your best to set a good sleeping habit every night.

woman having trouble sleeping

It’s quite alarming to know that there are more people now who are being diagnosed with insomnia, a kind of sleeping problem characterized by inability or difficulty to sleep through the entire night. And more alarming is the fact that people do not seem to take it seriously. They probably think it’s not life-threatening anyway, so why bother?

Insomnia, in fact, can pose serious threats to your life. It makes you lose your focus, thereby increasing the tendency to get into accidents that can be debilitating if not fatal. Not being able to sleep increases stress levels, too, and that makes you irritable. You get into arguments and fights quite easily and you lose friends and loved ones in the process. Insomnia may also cause the development of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and mood disorders.

Treating insomnia requires that you go deep into the problem. In many cases the root cause is just stress, thus determining the stressors becomes a priority. It may not be very easy to avoid the stressor especially if the stressor is someone or something you see everyday. If you cannot avoid stress, then you will just have to de-stress yourself at the end of the day with these simple techniques:

• Take a walk. A walk at the park at sundown is always an invigorating experience.

• Take a side trip to the mall. Window-shopping keeps your focus away from stressors so by the time you get home, you’ll be loads lighter (without the shopping bags, of course!) .

• Soak up in a warm bath when you get home. Infuse your bath water with chamomile or any scent that is mood-relaxing and soak yourself up, listening to relaxing music.

• Drink a glass of warm milk before bedtime. This helps to fall asleep better.

• Dim the lights and turn off anything that glares – TV, computer, iPAD, anything.

• Do some deep breathing exercises.

• Meditate.

If these don’t help you to sleep, you might need to stop drinking coffee during coffee breaks, and especially after dinner, as well. Still, if none of these works, seeing a specialist would be wise. The underlying problem could be medical in nature and that already requires expert advice. You might consider taking sleeping pills, but never do that without doctor’s advice. You could fall into a slumber so deep you would not be able to wake up anymore.

woman sleeping comfortably

Adequate sleep is required to keep one mentally and physically fit. However, sleep disorders have become very common in adults and children alike. Below is a list of some of the common sleep disorders and tips to deal with them.

Insomnia: This is the inability to fall asleep. If your doctor has already ruled out all other possibilities of any medical disorder, you must check your sleep hygiene. Try fixing a time for going to bed and waking up regularly. Avoid taking naps during the day and make it a habit to do relaxing things like reading before going to bed. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine anytime near going to sleep.

Sleep Apnea (snoring): While asleep, the blockage of the upper airways often leads to breathlessness. See a doctor right away. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a breathing therapy involving a breathing device, might also help curing this disorder. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sleeping pills and any kind of sedatives near bedtime. Losing weight and, in rare cases, a surgery might be necessary.

Narcolepsy: Excessive and disorderly sleepiness during the day can be signs of Narcolepsy. Taking short naps helps a great deal. Some stimulants to keep you alert during the day might also be suggested by the doctor.

guy sitting on his bed having trouble sleeping

Restless Leg Disorder: The feeling of burning sensation, itching or prickling while sleeping is a clear indication of this condition. Intake of caffeine further deteriorates the disorder. Hot and cold bags would be very helpful. A hot water bath and a light relaxing exercise or yoga before going to bed can return remarkable results.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder (CRSD): The 24-hour cycle which determines our sleep and wake time is called the Circadian Rhythm, and this rhythm can be disrupted. The best known cure for this condition is the Bright-Light Treatment (Heliotherapy), where bright light is administered for a prescribed amount of time and, in some cases, at a specific time of day. If you suspect that you have CRSD, you must visit a sleep specialist.

woman having trouble sleeping because of her snoring husband

Do you often feel like you’re inside a dragon’s dungeon with your spouse’s extremely loud snoring at night? Snoring, which is the sound produced by soft tissue vibration at the back of the throat during sleep, is caused by turbulent airflow through the air passages. Generally, this condition is harmless except that it can keep other people awake at night. However, in some cases, it can also relate to a breathing difficulty also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Causes of Snoring
Age plays a factor in snoring. It is common in people who are ages 30 to 60 years old, but it is seven to ten times more prevalent in men than in women.

Weight is also contributory to this condition. Obese people are at great risk of obstructive sleep apnea due to the increased neck fat that narrows the airways and causes difficulties in breathing.

It also runs in the family. If you have a first-degree relative who snores loudly at night, then you have bigger chances of doing the same thing when you grow older.

Certain medical conditions may also cause OSA. These include polio, muscular dystrophy, sinus infections, allergies, colds, nasal tumors, and hypothyroidism.

Home Remedies
To get better sleep, encourage your spouse to sleep on one side instead of on his back since the latter position increases snoring tendencies. Since it’s difficult to control oneself from rolling on one’s back when already asleep, have your spouse wear a pocket T-shirt backward. Put a tennis ball on the pocket. This would decrease the tendency to sleep on one’s back since that can get very uncomfortable.

Another effective remedy is to lose weight. Even dropping 10 pounds can already make a big difference. As mentioned earlier, increased fat in the neck can constrict the airways and contribute to snoring. In order to lose weight, have your spouse adopt a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise and low-fat, low-calorie diet. Even if your spouse is busy with work, encourage him to squeeze exercise into his life by engaging in physical activity at least 30 minutes a day.

It is also important to avoid consuming alcohol at least 4 hours before sleeping. Those who drink alcohol before sleeping are more prone to snoring than those who do not. Same with alcohol, it would be smart to avoid taking in sedatives or narcotics as this relaxes the throat muscles and increases risk of airway obstruction that leads to snoring.

couple sleeping comfortably

Medical Treatments
If snoring bothers you too much that it disrupts your sleep, it may be necessary to ask your spouse to see a doctor. A doctor may prescribe an inhaled steroid preparation to reduce the swelling of the lining of your nose. If the snoring is caused by OSA, surgical procedure or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) may be implemented. The non-invasive CPAP therapy is preferred by most patients. This involves the use of a mask fitted snugly over the nose and mouth and worn during sleep. This mask is connected to a blower that produces pressurized air. This is an effective way of treating snoring.

sleepwalking woman

We’ve all heard about people who sleepwalk. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you might find it a little difficult to believe that someone can actually walk and even do things while sleeping. If you’ve had first-hand experience in sleepwalking, or know someone who does, you know how difficult this condition can be.

Sleepwalking is a condition characterized by engaging in complex behavior such as walking during sleep. It may also be accompanied by nonsensical talking in few occasions. When a person sleepwalks, his eyes are either half-closed or fully open but have that glassy look or blank stare. After waking up, the person will have no memory that he sleepwalked or about the things he did during that time.

This condition is most common from middle childhood to young adolescence. It has been estimated that about 15 percent of children ages four to 12 years will experience sleepwalking at least once. Since it occurs during the stages three and four of sleep, it usually doesn’t happen during naps. There are various factors being linked to the occurrence of sleepwalking. The common causes pointed by experts include the following:

Genetic Factors
Studies reveal that the risk of sleepwalking is increased by 10 times if you have a first-degree relative who has or had the same condition. It occurs even more frequently in identical twins. These serve as evidence that genetic factors play a role in the occurrence of sleepwalking.

Environment
Factors in the environment can also contribute to sleepwalking. These include stress, alcohol intoxication, sleep deprivation, disrupted sleeping routine, and magnesium deficiency. It can also be triggered by certain drugs like sedatives and hypnotics, neuroleptics, tranquilizers, stimulants, and antihistamines.

Medical Conditions
Sleepwalking may also be caused by underlying medical conditions such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), fever, gastroesophageal reflux (regurgitation of food and liquid from the stomach into the esophagus), asthma attack, seizures or convulsions, obstructive sleep apnea (temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep), and psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and panic attack.

Home Safety
If you or someone at home is prone to this behavior, it is important to take on safety measures to avoid injuries and accidents. Make sure that the sleeping area is safe and free of sharp or harmful objects. It would be a smart move to sleep on the ground floor to avoid falls in the stairs. Sleeping in the top of bunk bed is not advisable. Doors and windows should be locked and windows should be covered with heavy drapes. There should be no obstacles in the room that can pose as tripping hazards.

Prevention
Fundamental preventive measures, meanwhile, include getting adequate deep sleep, meditation and relaxation exercises such as yoga and Pilates, and peaceful sleeping environment. It would help to avoid auditory or visual stimuli before going to bed. It is a must to have an electronic curfew an hour before sleeping so that your mind would be able to relax. Since stress is known to aggravate frequency of sleepwalking, it is important to rest and relax your mind before you go to sleep.

comfortable bedroom

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, the place where you relax, imagine, sleep, dream, and so on. It’s your private space where you can be yourself and forget about all the stresses the world is giving you. However, this sanctuary can turn into a stress zone if it’s set up in a way that disrupts your ability to rest and relax. Here are ways to ensure that your bedroom contributes to better sleep quality and thereby, better overall health.

Dim the Lights
Your body’s sleeping rhythm is regulated by melatonin. Known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, it signals the brain that it’s time for bedtime when darkness surrounds you. That’s why, having a completely dark bedroom at night makes it a lot easier for your body and mind to sleep. If you’re not used to sleeping without the lights, practice this gradually. First, use a lamp or nightlight so there’s still light in your bedroom. Eventually, you can sleep without any lights on.

Impose an Electronic Curfew
Experts advise to take out electronics out of the bedroom, since the bedroom is a place for rest and not for Facebook or emails. But with the modern society that we have today, that can be almost next to impossible. The next best advice would be to enforce an electronic curfew. This means that one hour before lights-out, you’ll need to turn off all electronic gadgets including phones, laptops, iPads, and so on. Using electronic gadgets before sleep has been proven to cause un-refreshing or poor quality sleep. Use the last minutes before lights off to pray, relax or meditate.

Let There Be Little Light
When you get up in the middle of the night and you need to go to the bathroom, instead of turning the room light on, have a flashlight handy that you can use to illuminate your path. This would not only prevent accidents of tripping or falling, it would also ensure that your melatonin is not disturbed. Bright light stimulates the melatonin to signal your brain that it is already morning and that could disrupt the quality of your sleep.

Have Comfortable Sleeping Equipment
Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows that are not only firm but also very comfortable. Don’t sleep on the same mattress longer than 7 years. Buy new pillows each year or sooner if you feel that you have stiff necks every time you wake up in the morning.

Listen To Soothing Sounds
Listening to music or other soothing sounds can lull you to good quality sleep. This is important since a bedroom that’s too quiet will make your hearing acute, making you jump up to the slightest sound that you hear. Too much noise is obviously bad as this would prevent you from dozing off.

Having deep and sufficient sleep is very important for your health. If you’re having sleeping problems, take a good look at your bedroom and see how you can adjust to make things better for you. Sweet dreams!

construction worker sleeping at work

People who work late night shifts, rotating shifts, early morning shifts, or over-time shifts are not able to get the full good quality sleep that their bodies need to rest and recuperate. The result? Fatigue, exhaustion, and even nausea for some. This condition has become so common these days that there is now a term for this – Shift Sork Sleep Disorder (SWSD)

What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder?
This refers to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s job doesn’t allow him to get a normal sleep period. The work schedule requires the employee to show up during the hours that he should be at home sleeping. Because of that, the body is forced to sleep when it is needed to be awake for work. The timing, which is opposite to the internal body clock, can disrupt the body’s normal cycle, making a person feel sleepy in the morning and alert at different times of the day. The main contributor to this disorder is exposure to sunlight, which is the body’s natural clock.

What are the dangers of this condition?
The most common effect of shift work sleep disorder is exhaustion, which is rooted from the poor quality sleep. When you sleep during the wrong hours, your body will not feel refreshed upon waking up. It’s as if you didn’t sleep at all. This can further result in decline in productivity, loss of focus, and reduced level of alertness. It can even put you at risk of a work-related injury since you’re not functioning well.

People who work during unusual hours also find themselves wanting to make up for sleep. Instead of spending their free time with their family and friends, they catch up with sleep since they feel like they are tired all the time. Some people who are inflicted with this condition are also very moody and irritable. All these factors can have a negative effect on family relationship and social life.

Who can get this problem?
It’s important to note that not all people who work late night or early morning can get this condition. Only about 2 to 5 percent of the total population is affected with this condition. Obviously, most of those affected are those who work during unusual hours. People who have delayed sleep phase disorder are not likely to get this condition even if they work at late night shifts. These are people who claim to function better during nighttime.

How can this disorder be treated?
The following ways can help reduce the effects of late night or early morning shifts: reduce number of changes in shifts, change shifts forward instead of backward in time, rest regularly, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Sleeping in a completely dark room will also help a person get a good sleep even in the morning.

man sleeping at job

In television sitcoms or gag shows, you’d often see a person suddenly falling asleep in the middle of a conversation or household chore. There seems to be a funny thing about people dozing off at the wrong time. But in reality, narcolepsy is no laughing matter.

What Is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy refers to a chronic condition of the central nervous system characterized mainly by excessive daytime sleepiness. This symptom is present in 100 percent of patients suffering from this disease.

Other symptoms of narcolepsy include cataplexy or loss of muscle tone, hypnagogic hallucinations or distorted perceptions, and sleep paralysis.

In some cases, a narcoleptic can also experience disturbed nocturnal sleep and automatic actions carried out with no conscious awareness. Symptoms vary depending on the gravity of the condition.

When Does It Occur?
It often starts in teenagers and young adults. Occurrence is almost equal among men and women. When this happens, the very first symptom you would notice is excessive daytime sleepiness. The other symptoms that follow can occur months or years after the excessive daytime sleepiness.

What Causes Narcolepsy?
The latest discovery on narcolepsy causes is on the abnormal structure and function of hypocretin neurons. These have been located in the hypothalamus part of the brain of narcoleptic patients. Normally, they secrete neurotransmitter substances called hypocretins. The abnormalities in these neurotransmitters may be accounted for the daytime sleepiness and disturbed REM sleep.

Other than this, narcolepsy has also been associated with a certain form of human leukocyte antigen, which is a genetically determined protein found on the surface of the white blood cells.

Another theory is that the autoimmune reaction is triggered by an external factor in the environment such as an infection or trauma. When this happens, the normal brain cells are attacked by the body’s immune system, damaging the neurons and inhibiting the release of neurotransmitter chemicals.

Moreover, heredity has also been considered as a possible cause of narcolepsy. Although, there is no consistent pattern of heredity that is seen in patients with narcolepsy, experts say that people with narcoleptic relatives are at higher risk of this condition along with other sleep related disorders such as increased daytime sleepiness, increased REM sleep, and so on.

How Is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
The primary symptom of narcolepsy, which is excessive daytime sleepiness is common in other conditions. Its only unique symptom cataplexy is not present in all patients with narcolepsy and it often takes a long time to develop. These are the reasons why narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed.

Diagnosing narcolepsy is often done through the

– Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which is a general sleep questionnaire
– Nocturnal Polysomnogram, an overnight test of the electrical activity of the heart and brain
– Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)
– Spinal Fluid Analysis to determine if there is lack in hypocretin

How Is Narcolepsy Treated?
Even though there is no cure for narcolepsy, medications and lifestyle changes can help you cope with the condition.

Medications include stimulants, selective serotonin or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and sodium oxybate (Xyrem).

It’s also recommended that you stick to a certain schedule, take naps during the day, avoid nicotine and alcohol, and get regular exercise.

sleeping lion

Feeling sleepy from time to time is normal. What isn’t normal is when it hampers your daily tasks or prevents you from making the most out of your day. Drowsiness during daytime is medically known as Hypersomnia, a condition of recurrent sleepiness that makes a person want to doze off even in the middle of work. The main cause of daytime sleepiness is poor sleeping habits. To stay awake during the day, here are top tips to bear in mind.

Sleep Long And Well At Night
Although this tip sounds pretty obvious, many people still neglect it and tend to cut down a few hours on their nighttime sleep. The thing is, adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep at night while teenagers and children need full nine hours. Make sure you allot sufficient time for sleeping at night so you won’t be a sleepy head the next day.

Stay Away From Distractions
Keep distractions outside the bedroom. Distractions can be anything from a blaring television to a loud conversation to exciting video games. Instead, make your sleeping area conducive to rest. Dim the lights and put on some soft lullaby music to make sleeping much easier. It’s also best to avoid doing other things on the bed apart from sleeping and having sex. That’s because if you work, read, or calculate the household budget while you’re on your bed, your mind will associate this area with things that keep you up.

Wake Up On A Consistent Hour
Set a time for waking up and stick to it, even during weekends when you’re tempted to wake up late because there is no work. If you’re having trouble staying awake during the day, it’s because you have trouble sleeping at night, and if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it’s because you wake up late. Notice how this vicious cycle would go on and on and not solve the problem? Break the cycle by setting up a routine to wake up at the same hour everyday during the entire week. This would help put your circadian rhythm in place.

Work Out
Working out regularly for at least 30 minutes a day can prove to be beneficial for your drowsiness problem. Not only would this energize you to keep you awake during most of the day, it would also make it easier for you to sleep soundly at night. Exercise can be anything from brisk walking to cardio workout to sports activity. Just make sure that you don’t exercise near bedtime, minimum three hours before.

Eat Healthy
Eat a high-energy breakfast so you’ll have energy to last through the day. Don’t rely on coffee. Caffeine gives you a kick that you’d mistake for energy but it won’t really do good for your health. Also, schedule your dinner two to three hours before bedtime. Sleeping is much more difficult when you feel full and bloated.

If none of these techniques are effective, go see a sleep specialist immediately.

sleeping woman

For some people, getting a quick eye-shut in the afternoon is a good way to recharge one’s energy levels. But for those with sleeping disorders like insomnia, a daytime nap can be counterproductive. So how do you know if daytime nap is harmful to you or not? Here are some thoughts to ponder.

How Do You Feel After A Daytime Nap?
If you didn’t have a chance to get a good sleep last night, a quick nap at daytime can do wonders in pumping up your energy levels. In a 2008 study, it was revealed that a 45-minute power nap can improve memory and cognitive function. Similar studies found that naps can lower blood pressure and increase stamina and energy levels.

So how do you feel when you wake up from an afternoon nap? Do you feel all these things that these previous studies have indicated? Do you feel recharged after a short snooze on the couch? Or do you feel even more sluggish than when you first lied down? How you feel after waking up from the daytime nap is a good gauge if it’s good for you or not.

For some people, they feel that surge of energy as if they were given an electric jumpstart. For others, they feel even sleepier and wish they could sleep all day long. If you experience the first one, then obviously daytime naps can be good for you. If you experience the latter, it may be best to wait until it’s nighttime before you hit the sack.

Do You Have Trouble Sleeping At Night?
Another thing to observe is your nighttime sleeping activity. If you take naps at daytime and you have trouble falling asleep at night, this can be a problem for you. Napping during the day can promote bad sleeping habits particularly for those who have sleep disorders like insomnia. It can also be troublesome for those who have sleep issues due to jet lag, illness, or stress. Even a very quick power nap can reduce your sleep drive at night.

Now, if you do not experience any problem dozing off at night, then taking daytime naps shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Just make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your healthy sleeping routine. See to it that you get at least seven hours of good quality deep slumber at night. To help ensure that, make your bedroom conducive to rest and relaxation. Shut off electronic devices that stimulate the brain. It would be best to sleep in total darkness since this can promote the production of melatonin, which prepares the body for rest.

It’s also a must to observe your sleeping habits. If you find yourself having the constant urge to sleep during the day, you might be suffering from a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by stoppage in breathing during sleep. If you have this, taking naps won’t help. Make sure you see a doctor immediately to consult this problem.

woman lying on her bed

Did you know that your sleeping position can affect your health? The wrong pose can result in back pain, neck aches, tummy troubles, and even premature wrinkles! With this said, it’s important that you discover the best position for your body. Below are some of the sleeping positions enumerated.

Back Position
This one is ideal if you have problems with neck and back pain since it maintains the body’s neutral position. This doesn’t force any extra curves on your back. It’s also good for those who have gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. Elevate your heat so that the acid can’t come back up to your esophagus. This position also ensures that your breasts don’t sag and you don’t get much wrinkles. How is that? The weight of the breasts is fully supported and nothing pushes against your face. The only disadvantage is that it can cause snoring. Snoring is most frequent among people who sleep on their backs.

Side Position
Sleeping on your side can prevent back and neck pain by keeping your spine elongated. It also reduces acid reflux and reduces chances of snoring. However, this can contribute to premature wrinkles since one side of your face is pushed onto the pillow. It also increases risk of breast sagginess. Side position is recommended for pregnant women as it improves circulation of blood.

Stomach Position
The advantage of this particular sleeping position is overshadowed by the numerous drawbacks. For one, it can cause neck and back pain as it is difficult to maintain a neutral position with your spine. It inflicts pressure on the muscles and joints that irritate the nerves. This results not only in pain but also in numbness and tingling. Having your neck turned to one side for hours at a time can lead to soreness. Moreover, stomach position can lead to saggy breasts and premature wrinkles. The only advantage of this sleeping pose is that it prevents snoring.

Fetal Position
Sleeping like a baby is literal for some people, particularly those who love snoozing in fetal position. This curved sleeping position may be good for snorers and pregnant women but it can pose other problems for those arthritic back or joints. It also restricts the diaphragmatic breathing while promoting premature facial wrinkles and breast sagginess.

If you look at the pros and cons of each sleeping position, it’s obvious that the back position is the best bet with side position next in line. It would be a good idea to avoid stomach or fetal positions unless recommended by your doctor. Make sure you observe how you feel in the morning so you know if your sleeping position is good for you or not.

eight clocks with different time zones

Jetlag is a sleep disorder normally experienced by people who travel across countries with different timezones. Their internal clock cannot easily adjust to the new time.

Aside from difficulty in sleeping, those who suffer jetlag often feel tired and disoriented throughout the day and thus concentrating becomes difficult. It simply means you will not be able to maximize the time at your destination since you feel dizzy or drowsy most of the time.

Tips to Deal with Your Body Clock

Adapting immediately to your destination time zone is the best way to deal with jet lag, by following these suggestions:

• Adjust your sleeping habits a few days before traveling. If you know that you are leaving for another country with an earlier time zone next week, instead of sleeping at 10 pm, you should go to bed at 9 am and then adjust again an hour earlier the following day. This way, you are gradually adjusting your body clock so that you can easily go to sleep when you arrive at your destination country. (Do the reverse if you are going to a country with a later time zone.)

• Adjust your wakeup time as well in accordance with the place of your destination.

• If you predict yourself to have some difficulty sleeping, bring along your favorite pillow and blanket when you travel. It may also help if you carry some personal items, such as your favorite teddy bear, some photographs, or a good book to help you feel at ease with your new surroundings.

• Naps should be avoided while on board the plane. It is more difficult to sleep if you are well rested and you have enough sleep. If after your arrival you really need to grab some sleep, limit it to two hours only.

• Make sure to hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water (not coffee or anything caffeinated). According to research, the body experiences difficulty adjusting to time when it is dehydrated.

• Until you have adjusted to the new time zone, avoid drinking excessive coffee, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. Also, limit your tobacco intake. These items are known to disrupt sleeping patterns. Eat light and familiar meals as well until your body gets familiar with the food.

• Get some sunlight as soon as you wake up. It helps reset the body’s circadian rhythm. Upon waking up, open the blinds and windows or immediately go for a walk to easily reset your internal clock.

• Turn down your light when it is sleeping time. Close your curtains and blinds or use a sleeping mask to block out bright lights. If it is possible, use a room that is farthest from the busiest section of where you are staying. In addition, check the room temperature before going to sleep. You do not want to wake up in the middle of the night because the temperature gets too cold or too warm.

If you have done all these and your body still cannot adapt with the sudden changes, give it more time to adjust. Avoid pushing yourself too hard. If you feel sleepy throughout the day, do take some naps but make sure not to oversleep. If you continue following these tips, soon your internal clock will reset favorably.

sleeping man with many clocks around his face

Body Clock refers to the body’s biological clock or the 24-hour cycle circadian rhythm that is affected by light and darkness. This controls functions like sleeping and waking, body temperature, and balance of body fluids. It’s what signals your body that it’s time to sleep or wake up.

When there is a problem with the body clock, sleeping issues may arise. The hormone responsible for the body’s sleep and wake cycles is called melatonin. Darkness triggers the production of melatonin that signals the body that it’s time for slumber. Daylight, on the other hand, slows down the production of this hormone so that you can wake up and feel more energetic in the morning.

Disruptions in Body Clock
If there is artificial light in the evening, the body makes less melatonin than necessary. Same is true for people who stay up very late or have sleep/wake cycles different from what’s supposed to be.

One problem that can be associated with melatonin production is jetlag. When you travel and cross time zones, your body clock is disrupted. Until your body becomes fully adjusted to the new time zone, you’ll have sleep problems because your body thinks you’re still in your old time zone.

For instance, if you travel from Chicago to Rome where the time is seven hours ahead, your body will think it’s only 10 p.m. when it’s already 5 a.m. The sleeping pattern will then be disrupted. Your body would want to sleep but it’s already daytime in your destination.

Another problem arises when you change your sleep schedule. When you work at night and sleep during the day, the body clock needs to be reset. But that can be difficult to do because melatonin is triggered by total darkness. If the body senses the sunlight, it won’t produce enough melatonin to make you sleepy. This would result in sleep deprivation and less alertness at work.

Other than these, body clock problems can also occur when your sleeping environment is not conducive to rest such as when there is too much light or noise.

Moreover, certain illnesses and medications can also affect a person’s sleeping routine. Examples of such illnesses are head injury, depression and dementia.

Drugs and alcohol also cause sleeping problems. While alcohol will enable you to sleep immediately at night, it will keep you up before the break of dawn.

Treatments
Fortunately, sleeping problems related to your body clock can be treated, sometimes without medical intervention. For example, for jet lag, you can take melatonin supplements that can help in resetting the body clock. Studies have shown that these supplements can reduce jet lag symptoms. Talk to your doctor first before taking these supplements. These are not recommended for people with epilepsy or those taking blood thinners.

If the disruption of the body clock is not due to travel but to a night shift work, try to get a good sleep by keeping your bedroom dark and quiet. You can also use a sleep eye mask and ear plugs. It’s also a must to take good care of yourself. If you’re going to work night shift, it would help your health a lot if you quit smoking and drinking alcohol.

If your sleeping problems are brought about by a certain illness (ie, head injury, depression and dementia), you need to have this illness treated immediately. Visit your doctor to find out your treatment options. Other than that, strive to keep yourself fit and healthy. Eat healthy, get regular exercise, and learn stress reduction techniques.

woman having trouble sleeping

We all know that fat, sodium and stress are the common risk factors of high blood pressure. What most people do not know is that poor quality sleep can also contribute to this condition, as new research has revealed.

The Study
This study, which was published in August 29, 2011 in the online edition of the journal Hypertension, found that men who had the lowest level of deep sleep had 80 percent higher risk of developing hypertension than men who had the highest level of deep sleep. The link remained strong despite varying factors such as weight and duration of sleep.

According to Dr. Susan Redline, the Peter C. Farrell Professor of Sleep Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, reduction in deepest stage of sleep has a strong link to the development of high blood pressure.

The study involved 784 men and the average age was 75 years old. From 2003 to 2005, these men had normal blood pressure readings of 120/80. In 2007 to 2009, they came back for a follow-up checkup. The researchers found that 243 of these men developed high blood pressure. These men had the lowest deep stage sleep.

Despite the fact that the study did not find the cause and effect relationship between sleep and high blood pressure, it’s a must to ensure that you get proper sleep to decrease the risk of hypertension. It’s not just the quantity of the sleep that you should pay attention to. You already know that eight hours of sleep at night is necessary to give your body a chance to recuperate. But quality matters too.

Quality Sleep Tips
Induce good quality sleep with these practical techniques:

• Regular Sleep Schedule
First, keep a regular sleep schedule. Get in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm or the natural sleep-wake cycle. If you do this, it would be easier for you to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. You can do this by setting regular bedtime, napping to make up for lost sleep, and fighting after-dinner sleepiness. If you find yourself sleepy earlier than your schedule, do something that is mildly stimulating to keep yourself awake until it’s time to hit the sack.

• Melatonin
Second, boost the production of melatonin at night. Melatonin is the chemical that signals the brain that it is time to sleep. Total darkness helps in the production of this chemical. Avoid trouble in sleeping by turning off the lights in the room. Have a flashlight at your bedside for you to use if you need to get up in the middle of the night. Turn off the TV and computer as well. Impose an electronic curfew so that you can relax your mind at least an hour before you sleep.

• Relaxing Bedroom
Third, create a relaxing environment and bedtime routine. Your bedroom should evoke rest and relaxation. It shouldn’t have any electronic gadgets except for a music player which you can use to play soothing tunes at night. Ensure cool temperature and adequate ventilation. See to it too that your bed is comfortable.

woman having trouble sleeping

It’s always been thought that if you’re sleep-deprived, you would lose weight. That makes sense since sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and make you susceptible to health problems that cause weight loss. For some people, however, the opposite is true.

Poor Eating Habits
It has been found that lack of sleep can also cause significant weight gain.

Imagine this scenario:

When you’re feeling sleepy at work, what’s the usual thing you do to perk you up? You drink one or several cups of coffee and take in some sugary snacks like doughnuts for example for a quick boost of energy so you can survive the rest of the day.

On your way home, you’re feeling too tired so you skip the gym or dance class. You also pick up fat calorie-loaded takeout because you don’t have the energy or time to cook either.

See how sleep deprivation works to ruin your figure and causes you to gain excess weight?

The cycle starts innocently. At first, you wouldn’t notice that you turn to comfort foods when you’re running low in energy due to sleep deprivation. Or you do notice but you just don’t realize that the cycle and the habits can get vicious and harmful. The short-term result is that you’re able to combat sleepiness and work productively for the rest of the day. The long-term result of poor dietary choices and insufficient physical activity is that you sabotage of your health.

Slower Metabolism
Sleep deprivation doesn’t only sneak pounds into your weight this way. It also slows down your metabolism. According to the Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, lack of good quality sleep will hinder your metabolism from functioning properly. Slower metabolism equals less efficient burning of calories equals weight gain.

Hormonal Confusion
Another way to explain the connection between the two is by understanding the hormones that are key to the body’s ability to lose weight. Ghrelin and leptin are the hormones. Ghrelin is the hormone that signals your body that it’s time to eat. Leptin, meanwhile, signals your body that your stomach is already full and that you should already put down your spoon and fork. When you’re deprived of sleep, the body produces more ghrelin and less leptin. This obviously leads to weight gain.

What’s a Good Sleeping Habit, Then?
Understanding the sleep-weight gain connection is important if you want to straight things out for your health. On the average, a person needs to have 7.5 hours of good quality sleep every night. If this is your normal routine, adding an extra half hour won’t make you lose weight. But interestingly enough, if you only sleep for about five hours or less and you make a move to sleep more by adding two hours to your nightly bedtime schedule, you can see improvement in your weight.

So how can you make things better for you?
– First, look at your sleep in terms of quality versus quantity. The average 7.5 hours of sleep should be of good quality. Even long hours of dozing off that are of poor quality affects your body the same way that sleep deprivation does.

– Improve both your sleeping hours and sleeping quality. For one, avoid intake of caffeine in the afternoon up to nighttime. It’s also best to exercise as this can improve the quality of sleep. Have a no-electronics curfew an hour before you sleep so your mind is well rested before you hit the bed. Finally, avoid having meals close to bedtime.

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