The Health Problems Caused by Sleeping Too Much

Sleep is one of the most important functions of our daily lives. It contributes to our mental health and physical well-being. Not getting enough sleep is problematic. But it turns out that long sleepers need to be careful too. Longer sleep doesn’t necessarily mean fewer health problems. Read more

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

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

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.

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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.

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

How to Fix your Sleep Cycle (in 5 Easy Steps)


Ask yourself:

  • Does the time you go to bed and fall asleep vary wildly from one night to the next?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of night and find yourself unable to fall back asleep?
  • Are you always tired and groggy when you wake up?
  • Do you struggle to wake up at the right times?

These are all signs and symptoms that your sleep schedule is out of sync with your natural bodily rhythm. It may have been so long since you’ve slept normally that you don’t remember the last time when you went to bed and woke up at the same time. This can be a source or sign of depression, a sign of sleep disorders, or just an ill advised all-nighter that got out of control.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is built to allow you to sleep at a similar time each night and wake up predictably feeling refreshed and energized.

Any number of things could have gotten your system out of order. It might have been a night or two where you pulled an allnighter. Maybe it was a colicky baby keeping you up late or the stress of an upcoming deadline at work. Maybe it was one too many late nights catching up on your favorite TV show. Keep in mind that even a few late nights can cause a major disruption in your biological rhythm.

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It’s important you get your cycle back on track. Neglecting your biological rhythms can lead to chronic exhaustion. You may be feeling like you are in a constant state of jet lag, adjusting to a new time zone every day. Not only does lack of sleep cause an unpleasant and overwhelming sense of fatigue, it can be linked to a variety of common ailments. In 2015, a group at the University of Pittsburgh showed that there is a link between a disruption in circadian rhythm and known metabolic risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Imagine if you could feel rested and productive everyday, all without even having to use an alarm clock to wake you up? This is very possible if you adopt clean sleeping habits and get on your new schedule.

All you need is the patience and discipline to do so.

In this article, Spire will be showing the five steps you need to take to fix your sleep schedule and get back into a healthy and energizing rhythm. We’ve organized this article so that you can start tweaking and optimizing each part of your day so that you’ve got a healthy rhythm in place once and for all.

step 1: Setting up an optimal environment

Setting up an optimal environment for sleep ensures the efficacy of the next steps.

To optimize your bedroom for sleep, you want to make sure the lighting and temperature of your bedroom are adjusted for sleep when it comes time to settle in. There should be as little light as possible in your bedroom. Get light blocking curtains and remove light-emitting alarm clocks and cell phones from your room. If possible, keep your phone outside your bedroom, or at least place it on sleep mode so that you are not disturbed.

A slightly cold temperature is conducive to sleep, so if you have an air conditioning unit, tune the temperature slightly downwards to ensure the room is a bit cooler.

step 2: Fixing your daytime habits to ensure good night-time sleep

What you do during the daytime has crucial impacts to your nighttime sleep quality. In fact, you may find that making modifications to your daytime habits is sufficient to completely fix your sleep schedule.

The most important sleep inhibitor in many people’s lives is consuming coffee. Make a concerted effort to avoid caffeine after noon at the very least. It might serve well to experiment cutting caffeine out of your life entirely. This will likely be difficult to do all at once, but taking concerted steps to slowly decrease the amount of coffee you are drinking in the morning may fix your sleep struggles entirely. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, and for many, trouble falling asleep at night may entirely be due to coffee.

Another important step you can take to help you fall asleep at night is doing exercise during the day. Expending some energy with some good exercise is not only good for maintaining a healthy weight and protecting health, but may help tire you out for a good night’s rest ahead. Research has shown that exercise improves sleep quantity and quality, as well as contributing to other positive outcomes.

Finally, managing stress during the day is helpful in fixing disruptions in your natural rhythm. Stress has been shown to worsen insomnia, and research demonstrates that stress is closely related to impaired sleep in cross-sectional studies. Using relaxation techniques, like yoga and breathing exercises, or a device like Spire to manage stress can create a more peaceful day and better subsequent sleep. Spire can help you manage your stress at every moment of the day, creating an overall peaceful state of mind all the way to bedtime. Lack of stress is one less barrier to worry about when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

step 3: Creating a Sleep Promoting Evening

For most people, the hours after work involve a combination of family, dinner, and plenty of screen time. While there’s nothing wrong with unwinding while reading a good e-Book on your tablet or watching some YouTube, the bright light that you’re exposing yourself too may be keeping you up for hours longer than healthy for a balanced sleep schedule. Electronic devices emit blue light, which heavily influences your circadian rhythm. Night-time exposure to computer screens, fluorescent lights, and LEDs is typically more disruptive to circadian rhythms, sleep hormone secretion and sleep quality than incandescent lighting. If possible, replace the lightbulbs in your bedroom with incandescent lights, use real books or non-backlit e-readers. If you simply must use your phone or computer, install a blue light filter like F.lux (for your computer) and enable the night settings on your phone (instructions here). These steps can drastically improve your ability to fall asleep on time.

Whatever evening activities you do, make sure to keep most of them out of the bed. Your bed should be reserved for three things only: sleeping, relaxing and making love. If you are doing work on your laptop while sitting in bed, your subconscious will link your bed with a state of wakefulness and attention. This may make it harder to fall asleep.

Try not to eat at least two hours before going to bed, drinking only water after you’ve had your last meal. Late-night snacking is fun, but the action of eating and digestion stimulates the body into a state of wakefulness and can be preventing you from falling asleep.

step 4: The Ultimate Bedtime Routine

Setting up a good bedtime routine means that you will be setting up a sequence of events to repeat each night.

Best practices include putting down all electronics at least 1 hour before going to bed and doing only relaxing activities. Avoid eating anything, but feel free to have some caffeine-free and sugar-free beverages to help you unwind, such as warm milk. Definitely don’t eat dinner without a several hours’ buffer before bedtime.

Here’s a sample routine you could incorporate to help you get your schedule get back into place:

  1. Do 15 minutes of yoga or meditation an hour before your bedtime.
  2. Bring a warm cup of something sugar and caffeine-free while you get set up in bed. Conduct your bedtime activity to help you completely de-stress. This could be reading a book, writing in a journal or writing a to-do list for the next day
  3. As you get sleepy, turn off the lights and calmly try to fall asleep. If you cannot fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, don’t stress. Get back up and continue doing the relaxing activity you were engaged in for a few more minutes until you start feeling sleepy again.

If your sleep schedule is severely disturbed and you are finding it impossible to fall asleep, it may help to incorporate a sleep aid into your routine like melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone in your body which promotes a sense of sleepiness. It comes in supplement form and can be safely consumed once a day. If you are having trouble sleeping, regularly taking melatonin can help you fall asleep at the time you need.

step 5: A Bright Morning and Waking Up Right

During the first few nights of attempting to fix your sleep cycle, you may find that you’re still having a bit of trouble sleeping. Being strict with your wakeup time and waking up routine can quickly remedy this and help you get on the right track. Having a good wakeup routine can help solidify your cycle.

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When you wake up, have a large and healthy breakfast. Include plenty of protein (at least 20 grams) and complex carbohydrates, and exclude sugar. A good option could be oatmeal with yogurt or eggs with sautéed spinach. This will help your body recognize that it’s time to wake up and give you a sense of energy and readiness to start the day.

Try to get some direct natural sunrays first thing in morning as well. This could be as simple as stepping outside your door or on your balcony for a few moments, or walking part of the way to work. In some countries, the sun rises very late in the day during winter months, and many people are at work before the sun comes out. In that case, you can buy a natural sunlight emitter lamp. These lamps mimic the sun’s wavelength, which your body uses as an indicator that it’s time to start moving. Your body will release hormones that cause the sensation of wakefulness. Boost these feelings of wakefulness by going outside for short breaks during the day, or by using your natural light lamp.

Resetting your sleep schedule isn’t going to be an overnight process. You may struggle over the first couple of days to fall asleep. You might sit awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. You may need to overcome a few minutes of boredom while your mind starts to settle down. Stick to it, and eventually your body will learn from your habits and your cues that it’s time to go to bed. Eventually, you’ll just naturally fall asleep and wake up at the time you intend, feeling completely refreshed. Good luck, and sweet dreams!

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