Shift Work Sleep Disorder: How to Identify and Treat It

Working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week has become common. Medical staff, call center agents, government workers and various other jobs require workers to be on hand at all times, which means someone has to work night and rotating shifts.

While this schedule has become commonplace for many people, it is not without dangers and health impacts. Many people have a hard time sleeping during the day or getting sufficient sleep when their schedules change so frequently.

Those who have sleep problems due to shift work suffer from Shift Work Sleep Disorder, and it can be a major problem. Read on to learn about this disorder and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects of our on-demand work culture. Read more

Meditation for Sleep: 6 Videos for a Restful Night

Sleep is an incredibly important part of life. When you’re able to get a good night’s sleep, you feel refreshed during the day and can meet your responsibilities with ease. However, if you spend your nights tossing and turning, you’ll likely go through your day in a haze. More than that, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting restful sleep, not just closing your eyes.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t take time to establish a healthy bedtime routine.

Thousands of people across the world use guided meditation to help them get to sleep at night. Read more

How to Treat Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

In a world of working nine to five, it’s easy to take sleeping through the night and waking up early in the day for granted. It can be a hard world for those that don’t fit the mold: people like night owls, new parents and Netflix binge-watchers. And for some other individuals, the inability to sleep through at night and be awake for most of the day is due to a medical issue called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD).

For these people, their sleep cycle is completely shifted from the standard sleep pattern. Without treatment, people suffering from Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder can have significantly decreased the quality of life. Read more

How Much Sleep Do Teens Need? How to Help Them Get There

Teens are known for staying up late and sleeping in. Whether you’re a teen yourself or you happen to live with one, you know that a teen’s relationship with sleep can be somewhat rocky. How much sleep do teens need, really? Read more

18 Foods That Help You Sleep Better

Getting a good night’s rest is a desirable yet elusive event for many of us as we live our lives in this stressful world. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one in every three adults suffers from insomnia. Despite this statistic, sleep is often the first thing that gets the cut when time is short and stress is high.It seems almost impossible to get quality sleep when we’ve had over an eight-hour workday and taken care of home and family, plus squeezed in a gym session.

Good sleep starts with good sleep hygiene. With kids, parents often develop bedtime routines that successfully help the little ones to sleep. This might mean bedtime stories, dimming the lights, or tucking the kids into bed. Read more

The 5 Best Relaxation Techniques for Sleeping

Bedtime – the brain’s seemingly perfect time of day to contemplate every life detail, think through worst-case scenarios, and work through any and every other reflection that you pushed to the back of your mind during the day.

All of us experience sleeplessness at some point in our lives, most often because stress or difficult life events leave our minds, and subsequently our bodies, tense and unable to relax into sleep. And while a bit of restless sleep might be a minor inconvenience to those afflicted once in a blue moon, others experience sleeplessness on a more regular basis and truly feel the results.

The link between anxiety and sleeplessness is well studied, and the findings are both intuitive and terrifying. Anxiety and insomnia can disrupt circadian rhythms, cause more stress and anxiety, and wreak havoc via a host of other physical and mental health problems including elevated heart rates, blood pressure, and stress hormones. Read more

How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

Do you struggle with getting enough sleep? Do you also happen to struggle with losing weight? Well, these two things share a stronger association than you might think, and research continues to suggest that improving one will have a mutually beneficial effect on the other. That’s right, a growing body of evidence is destabilizing our notions of eating less and exercising more as the ultimate key to attaining our desired weight loss, and enlightening us as to what might be the most relaxing weight loss regime we’ve ever embarked on – simply, getting ample sleep.

Astonishingly, 40% of adults report either short term or chronic insomnia, a fact that may also help explain the rise in obesity across the country. We’ll go through the evidence of some of the subtle and more obvious ways that sleep and weight are interconnected, and hopefully convince you that healthy sleeping habits are key to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Read more

How to Fall Asleep Faster

Trouble falling asleep? These tactics might help.

Struggling to fall asleep at night can feel exasperating, and can have serious impacts on your mood, work, and social life in the days following. If you’re here because you’re desperate for a solution, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. In just the United States, approximately 40% of adults report either short term or chronic insomnia, or inability to sleep, according to the American Sleep Association. This article is meant to help you pinpoint the source of your sleeplessness and provides some science-backed solutions to help you finally get some satisfying, restful shut-eye. Read more

What Happens if You Don’t Sleep?

With all the hustle and bustle of life, it’s difficult to get the amount of sleep you need each night. If you have this issue, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults in America don’t get as much sleep as they should. Growing responsibilities, long commutes, family demands, and social interactions all add up to taking a huge amount of your time. Trying to balance all of these things often cuts into your sleep each night.

However, your brain and your body need to sleep to function. Sleeping too little or not at all impacts your health in a lot of ways, and some of those ways can be incredibly dangerous.

What Your Brain Does During Sleep

Your brain isn’t just resting when you are sleeping. In fact, your brain is working just as hard while you sleep as it is when you’re awake, just in different ways.

One of the most important stages of sleep is the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase. Also known as deep sleep, REM sleep allows your brain to consolidate and process memories. It’s also where most of your dreaming happens.

During sleep, your brain is processing your memories from the day. Replaying these memories helps your brain strengthen synapses, which in turn increases learning potential and improves overall memory. This makes it possible for you to process your emotions, and remember the skills you’ve been studying throughout the day.

Several parts of your brain are active during sleep. These structures are responsible for processing the light around you, and telling your brain when it’s time to sleep. If you have a hard time sleeping when it’s dark, these parts of your brain might not be functioning properly.

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep?

Not getting enough sleep can seriously damage your ability to function. Whether you’re pulling an all nighter, or you sleep less than the recommended 7 hours each night, sleep deprivation is bad news for your health. Simply going 17 hours without sleep puts your body in the equivalent of having a  .08% blood alcohol level.

Pulling an all nighter can become life-threatening. Going for three days without sleep will seriously damage your mood and can cause you to hallucinate.

Most people don’t go days without sleeping. However, any amount of sleep deficit can affect your body and mind in a number of ways. Here are the ones you are most likely to experience.

Impaired Coordination and Judgement

Ever heard the phrase sleep drunk?  After staying up for 24 hours, your brain functions are similar to someone who has .1 percent blood alcohol content. That’s 20 percent over the threshold at which it’s illegal to drive. This blood toxicity is considered a legal impairment.

Like when you are drunk, being awake for 24 hours at a time takes a serious toll on your judgment. Your memory suffers and your hand-eye coordination declines sharply. This level of impairment makes it difficult to control your emotions, which in turn increases the chances of you making a decision you’ll regret later on.

What Happens if You Don't Sleep? 2

It’s also more difficult to pay attention to what you are doing. When you can’t pay attention to what you’re doing, your chances of having a fatal accident increase dramatically. Drowsy driving causes 72,000 accidents a year, resulting in around 800 fatalities.

Difficulty Remembering Things

Your memory also suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. REM sleep is a crucial part of learning. When you don’t get enough sleep each night, your brain doesn’t receive the REM sleep it needs to process your memories.

One study found that subjects who were woken up each time they entered REM sleep had higher instances of anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Harvard demonstrated that memory consolidation occurs during sleep, meaning that losing sleep means less effective production of memory. This is because the neural connections that create those memories are strengthened while your body is sleeping. When you don’t sleep, your brain doesn’t have the chance to strengthen your neural pathways.

Increased Likelihood of Getting Sick

Your immune system builds up strength while you sleep. It does so by creating proteins called cytokines as well as illness fighting antibodies and cells. When you deprive your body of rest, it isn’t able to build up as much of a reserve of these illness fighting proteins. This makes you more susceptible to any viruses or strains you come across. In fact, if you sleep less than 7 hours a night, you’re three times as likely to catch a cold than if you sleep the recommended 8 hours.

One study found that the levels of proteins created during sleeping can influence the likelihood of migraines. Lack of sleep created more of the proteins in the brain responsible for pain transmission, which in turn can cause migraines.

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Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Young adults who suffer from insomnia are 8 times as likely to suffer a stroke than their peers who get enough sleep each night. Being that many people this age go to college and work long hours, lack of sleep can potentially become deadly.

Adults from the age of 18-34 are also more likely to experience risk factors that can lead up to a stroke, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. Sleeping too little can also cause other side effects that put a strain on your heart, like increasing your blood pressure, impacting your glucose metabolism, and creating inflammation.

Weight Gain

There are a number of ways in which lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. The most prominent one is that your metabolism slows down and your now off balance hormones cause you to feel more hungry for foods that are bad for you.

Sleep loss increases the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your body. Higher levels of cortisol increase your cravings for fatty and sugary foods, which can result in quick weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re also less likely to want to exercise, meaning your food choices just go to your waist.

Mental Disorders

While the connections between mental disorders and sleep deprivation are still being studied, scientists have shown that there is a definite link. Chronic sleep disturbances can cause health related anxiety, especially since lack of sleep can make it difficult to control your emotions.

Sleep disturbances can also be cause and be caused by severe depression. If you’re not sleeping, you just don’t feel well. When this goes on for a long period of time, it can have a serious impact on your mental health and lead to complications that are difficult to treat later on.

The next time you think about trying to skip sleeping, think again. Any amount of time you might save by staying up a little later will not be worth the effects. Think about it: if you’re working at 50%, your tasks take longer and it’s harder for you to focus. You’re likely not saving yourself any time, and you’re making yourself feel lousy. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep each night, and your body will thank you!

10 Major Signs of Sleep Deprivation (And How To Fix It)

Everyone has heard the gospel of getting six to eight hours of sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes the demands of life overwhelm the demands of good advice and good-natured health practitioners. A work deadline, a feverish toddler, or a newly-developed obsession with an addictive computer game has kept you awake for the larger chunk of those “six to eight” hours.

For many people in America, these interruptions are part of daily life. There simply are not enough hours in the day for the 68% of Americans who sleep less than 8 hours on weekdays. Insufficient sleep can contribute to a number of long term adverse effects, as the Naval Health Research Center outlines: Read more