Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not just an earthly problem!

Not that sleep-deprivation is the biggest danger to astronauts in space, this article includes some interesting sleep related facts:

  • Nearly half of the medications the astronauts take with them are sleep aids
  • Light sensitive cells in the eye use light to regulate the hormone melatonin, which in turn regulates our sleep-wake cycles, which is something that could also be used to help astronauts keep a sleep cycle
Mistakes made due to sleep deprivation could have even greater consequences in space so this is a big issue for NASA. Makes me wonder if the loss of that $100,000 tool bag recently was in part caused by astronaut fatigue. You can track its progress here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I do have to say I don't understand those who went shopping this morning before the crack of dawn to look for bargains with thousands of their closest friends, sacrificing a good sleep. Hope it was worth it :-)


Here is a great article about many sleep issues, including the issue of fragmented sleep that I have troubles with, and the positive effect of a nap. It talks about how important sleep is specifically but also how a (power) nap can help your brain function better than when you are tired. Nap length and effectiveness depends on the individual person.

I have also discovered a good power nap podcast (NapSounds) on iTunes as well though the rooster crowing at the end of the 20 minute nap recording I find a little disconcerting...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why do we battle the signal?

Sleep is such a critical part of everyone's health and without it our quality of life deteriorates quite rapidly (as many of us kn0w). Our body does a great job of telling us when we are hungry, thirsty, or injured. It also signals quite clearly when we need to sleep.

So why do so many of us (me included some times) battle that signal, sometimes with the help of caffeine or high-caffeine products? I do understand doing that to survive the work day, or the working of different hours, if you are very tired and have no real choice BUT doing this to excess is only going to give you short term gain for long term pain. Yes, you will go for longer than you otherwise could but this is a battle you will never win and ultimately your body will be negatively impacted by this "abuse" and you will pay the price.

Don't battle the sleep signal too long - you will be sorry you did and in the long run you will be happier and much more productive if you have had your needed sleep.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Drug-Free Sleep Strategy

This article is a very interesting take on using self-hypnosis to get to sleep. I love the term the author used, "de-zombie-fying", to describe what someone needing a good sleep is going through and feeling like. Combined with all the other sleep assistance advice out there related to good sleep hygiene, this could be a very valuable addition to your strategies to use so you can get that sought after good night's rest.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

So Far, So Good

It has now been a number of months since I went to see my doctor about my sleep issues. My problem was not falling asleep as much as staying asleep. My night seemed to be made up of lots of short naps, leaving me more and more exhausted each passing day. My outlook on life and my mood would be hard-hit by this situation and would not improve until I was so exhausted I would actually sleep through the night. However the relief would be short-lived and around I would go again with the poor night's sleep.

I have a great doctor and after discussing the situation she gave me a prescription for a medication that you don't see all the commercials on. Since then and over time I have been happy to have a much improved nightly sleep where most nights I may only wake up once or maybe twice (vs many more in the past).

Much has been written about being very cautious about using medication for this type of issue, and rightly so. However I can report no noticeable side effects and a better sleep experience.

My advice would be to heed the warnings about the use of medication, especially when it comes to short and long-term side effects as well as potential addiction (my prescription is not known for having addiction problems but time will tell). If you can solve your sleep problems with better sleep hygiene then GREAT!!!! BUT do not eliminate out of hand the potential for the right medication to improve your quality of life if that is the solution you require. Take full advantage of sleep clinics and your doctor to help you. If you have any doubt about the importance of sleep and the dangers of not getting the sleep you need, a quick search on the internet on the topic should cure you of that fairly quickly :-)

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Some recent headlines on sleep apnea:

Sleep Apnea May Be Deadly

Sleep apnea can raise risk of death

Sleep Apnea Linked To Increased Risk Of Death

Sleep-disordered breathing shown to be deadly

Mask provides good night's rest and promise of long-term relief for those suffering from sleep apnea

If you have sleep apnea or suspect you might have sleep apnea, you need to get it treated as soon as possible as you can see from the above headlines!! 'Nuff said.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Five Myths About Sleep

This article from Newsweek outlines 5 myths about sleep and has an interesting comment about what perhaps is our natural sleep pattern (see (Myth 1)):

(Myth 1) Humans need 8 hours sleep a night; the reality is that different cultures sleep different ways and apparently Western Europeans used to break their sleep in to a "first sleep" of 4 hours, then got up for a bit, and went back for a "second" sleep. It is noted that this in fact may be better suited to our sleep needs and natural patterns.

(Myth 2) Sleep isn't just a bodily function; the reality is that sleep is one of our systems, like we have a nervous system, and is weaker or stronger depending on the person. Also wears out and gets fragile with age (and that's not good news!!!)

(Myth 3) Animals don't have sleep problems; the article states that this is not true but there is not much support for this one so I am skeptical.

(Myth 4) Falling asleep is a gradual process; the reality is that it is more of a switch but those with sleep disorders don't have a properly functioning one. I found this interesting as I don't usually have problems getting to sleep as staying asleep is my problem (and that I have a prescription to help me with)

(Myth 5) Sleeping less burns more calories; the reality is that as you get more tired your natural appetite depressants are decreased and you become more not less hungry.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

One size does NOT fit all!

As with so many other aspects of our health, men and women have many similar but also many different factors to consider. This article is a great example of this as it relates to menopause and sleep whereas women find it more difficult to get to and stay asleep during that change in their life. I can not directly relate to this as I will never go through menopause myself (and I am not touching the issue of male menopause! :-) ) but I do know the affects of lack of sleep and, as I have done in many past posts, strongly recommend those so affected consult their physician vs having a lack of sleep negatively affect their life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living Dangerously

The importance of getting a good sleep (and getting help if you're not!!!) is also demonstrated by this very short piece. Lack of sleep leads to poor choices as we who have problems with getting a good sleep already know. I try and steer away from critical decisions when I am know I am exhausted, for example. Beware of your less than normal caution and reasoning when you are tired and conduct yourself accordingly and you should be okay.