Posts Tagged ‘Insomnia’

There are many reasons why you might wake up during the night and not be able to get back to sleep. To start, as the night wears on, your body naturally moves into lighter stages of slumber, during which it’s easier to be roused. That’s why wakeups are more likely to happen in the early morning hours.
Poor sleep hygiene can also play a role. Drinking caffeine in the afternoon or evening can prevent you from sleeping deeply. And having an alcoholic nightcap may make you fall asleep quickly, but often causes wake-ups later on in the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol. A less-than-ideal sleep environment—for example: a room that’s not dark enough, too noisy, or too warm—can result in fitful sleep, too. Over-the-counter sleep aids or prescriptions rarely offer significant help for this problem.

Various underlying conditions might also be to blame. People with sleep apnea, who experience pauses in breathing or shallow breaths as they sleep, often wake up countless times during the night. An enlarged prostate can cause men to wake up frequently to go to the bathroom. Restless leg syndrome, and the jumpiness associated with it, can jolt you awake, and chronic stress or anxiety can cause you to awaken frequently, too. And heartburn or a chronic cough associated with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) can cause you to wake suddenly through the night. These are all serious conditions, so if you suspect that you might have one of them, speak to your doctor right away.

One reason older adults may be at higher risk for insomnia is that sleep itself changes with advancing age. Sleep latency (time to fall asleep) increases, early morning awakenings are more common, deep sleep (stages 3–4) decreases, and sleep efficiency (time asleep while in bed) is reduced. Because older people spend less time in the deeper stages of sleep and more time in the lighter stages of sleep, they are more likely to awaken, for example, from noise in the environment.

To help stay asleep through the night, try some of these strategies to relieve insomnia:
• Establish a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, drink a cup of non-caffeinated tea, take a warm shower or listen to soft music.
• Relax your body. Gentle yoga or progressive muscle relaxation can ease tension and help tight muscles to relax. Deep diaphragmatic breathing with longer exhales than inhales is very helpful.
• Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep light, noise and temperature at levels that are comfortable and won’t disturb your rest. Don’t engage in activities other than sleeping or sex in your bedroom. This will help your body know this room is for sleeping.
• Put clocks in your bedroom out of sight. Clock-watching causes stress and makes it harder to go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
• Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol to 1 drink several hours before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
• Get regular exercise. But keep in mind, exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep.
• Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy at bedtime, do something relaxing that will help you wind down.
• Wake up at the same time every day. If you go to sleep later than usual, resist the urge to sleep in.
• Avoid daytime napping. Napping can throw off your sleep cycle.
• If you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed. Go to another room and read or do other quiet activities until you feel sleepy.



Read Full Post »


Do I really need to sleep?

The urge to sleep is a physiological drive that we cannot ignore.  There are many scientific reasons why we need to spend almost a third of our lives unconscious and horizontal.

According to a recent research piece in Scientific American magazine, ” sleep does not serve just a single purpose. Instead it appears to be needed for the optimal functioning of a multitude of biological processes – from the inner workings of the immune system to proper hormonal balance, to emotional and psychiatric health, to learning and memory, to the clearance of toxins from the brain. At the same time, none of these functions fails completely in the absence of sleep. In general, sleep seems to enhance the performance of these systems instead of being absolutely necessary. And yet anyone who lives for months without sleep will die.

Research also shows an association between sleep restriction and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Given all the latest research on the many functions of sleep and the likelihood that yet more will be discovered, skimping on sleep is looking like a worse and worse strategy for dealing with the demands of daily life. Taken together, the results of studies looking at the role of sleep in hormonal, immunological and memory functions suggest that if you do not get enough , you could – besides being very tired – wind up sick, overweight, forgetful and very blue.”


Read Full Post »

Here’s a trick to help you fall back to sleep on those occasions when you awaken at 2 or 3 in the morning.

This is what happens inside your head:

You look at the clock and think “oh S*** !”

“I’ve got to be up in __ hours,” and then you become agitated as you ‘try” to get back to sleep.

The trick:

Fool Yourself.   Just say, “Hey, its Saturday, I can sleep in.”

Your body and most of all, your mind will relax and Voila….   ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Read Full Post »


New research published in Science Magazine sheds new light on the impact of watching violent scenes in television shows, the news, and movies.

When you allow yourself, or a child, to watch violent media images, you change the functioning of the brain and shift it into survival mode also known as the fight or flight, and stress response.

In the first experiment, MRI equipment was used to monitor blood flow in the brains of 80 adult volunteers while they watched scenes featuring “extreme male-to-male aggressive behavior and violence in front of a crowd”. The researchers also took samples of the participants’ saliva to measure changes in stress hormones levels to see if there was a hormonal response to the violence.

In a second experiment, the researchers also used chemicals to block the production of certain stress hormones while the volunteers watched violent scenes to see how it affected the participants’ brains.

The results
Researchers noticed that when participants watched violent images, networks of nerve cells started to rapidly reorganize themselves throughout the brain: the participants’ brain function was changing in response to what they were seeing on the screen. The volunteers’ attention was re-orientated, their perceptions were heightened, and their autonomic nervous system became highly active, all of which are indicative of the stress response.

What if you don’t get frightened by violent images?
Even if you tell yourself that the fighting you saw in a movie, news broadcast, or TV show didn’t scare you, the stress response, which is governed by your unconscious mind, works fast. It is an active part of everything you do and is works like a virus checker, running quietly in the background of your mind, always alert and checking for threats.

When you are engrossed in watching a TV show, movie, or news footage, your unconscious sees the violent images and doesn’t know they are on a screen; your unconscious believes you are right there in the action. Seeing others get hurt triggers our unconscious to want to fight or flee to avoid injury, pain, and the potential for death because it thinks that you may be the next target of the serial killer, soldier, or alien who is being violent. The fight or flight response results in the heightened perceptions, reoriented attention, and nervous system stimulation observed in the volunteers.

Wider Implications
The wider implications of this research are that watching domestic violence between parents, being subjected to physical punishment, and seeing gory photographs in newspapers and online may also shift a child and adult into fight or flight (survival) mode.

Why would you, as an adult, continue to watch violence when you know that it makes you more stressed, changes your perceptions to the world towards it being unsafe place, and shifts your brain and physiology into fight or flight mode. People who are more stressed also have higher incidences of disease.

[1] Hermans, E. et al. (2011). Stress-related noradrenergic activity prompts large-scale neural network reconfiguration. Science, 334, 1151-1153.

[2] Zald, D. H. (2003). The human amgydala and the emotional evaluation of sensory stimuli. Brain Research Reviews, 41, 88-123.

Read Full Post »