The Powerful Link Between Insomnia and Depression

Author Article

When one has difficulty sleeping, the waking world seems opaque. On top of feeling tired and fatigued, those who experience sleep disturbances can be irritable and have difficulty concentrating. When one has more severe cases of insomnia, one also faces a higher risk of developing heart disease, chronic pain, hypertension, and respiratory disorders. It can also cause some to gain weight.

Sleep disruptions can also have a major impact on one’s emotional well-being. A growing body of research has found that sleep disturbances and depression have an extremely high rate of concurrence, and many researchers are convinced that the two are biconditional—meaning that one can give rise to the other, and vice-versa. A paper that was published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience concluded, “The link between the two is so fundamental that some researchers have suggested that a diagnosis of depression in the absence of sleep complaints should be made with caution.” The paper’s lead author, David Nutt—the Edmond J. Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London—found that 83 percent of depressed patients experienced some form of insomnia, which was more than double the amount (36 percent) of those without depression.

Bei Bei, Dpsych, PhD, from the Monash School of Psychological Sciences in Clayton, Australia, said the inverse was true, as well: “If a person does not currently have depression but goes through extended periods of time with sleep disturbances or insomnia, the sleep disturbances can potentially contribute to a mood disturbance or to even more severe depression.”

The Mechanisms Behind the Two Diseases

The sleep-wake cycle is regulated by what is known as the circadian process. When working properly, the circadian process operates in rhythm with the typical cycle of a day. One gets tired as the light of the day fades and the body prepares for sleep. One awakes as it becomes light again. The internal mechanisms behind the circadian cycle involve a complex orchestration of the neurochemical and the nuerophysiological presided over by the hypothalamus.

Depression, meanwhile, is a medical condition and a mood disorder. While there are several possible antecedents to depression, as genetic and environmental factors can lead to a depressive episode, the neurophysiological causes of depression pertain to a deficiency of chemicals in the brain that regulate mood: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

However, these neurotransmitters do far more than just regulate mood. They have also been found to be integral to sleep efficiency. Disruptions in these brain chemicals can lead to disturbances in sleep, particularly REMsleep, and can also lead to more restlessness during typical times when one should be in bed. This can create a vicious cycle wherein the more severe one’s depression becomes, the more severe one’s insomnia becomes. The inverse can also true: The more severe one’s insomnia becomes, the more severe one’s depression becomes.

Evaluation and Treatment

Because these concurrent afflictions reinforce one another, medical professionals need to address both simultaneously for optimal treatment. However, there is not one cookie-cutter response that can eliminate both depression and insomnia. Many variables, including improper medication, can contribute to insomnia and different symptoms indicate different causes, which is why it is important to provide your mental health professional with any information that can give them with more insight about your condition. Describing your symptoms to your doctor allows them to narrow down the list of likely culprits and prescribe medications with greater precision. For example, letting your doctor know that you wake up in the middle of the night, and then have difficulties falling back to sleep is a distinct symptom from having difficulties falling asleep in the first place.

Though depression and insomnia are commonly linked, they can be independent of one another. Then again, they may be part of a larger array of comorbid disorders that require specific treatment plans to resolve. To determine the best course of action, your doctor may recommend a sleep study, medication, or a behavioral therapy.

Sleep Study

A sleep study is a test that measures how much and how well you sleep. During this test, you will be monitored by a team of sleep specialists who will be able to determine if there are any other disorders, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea, that may be causing your insomnia. Even if the study does not reveal a definitive culprit, the sleep study will also allow your doctor to get a better picture about what is behind your insomnia.

Medication

Sleeping pills may help you fall asleep, but they are not long-term solutions to mental health. If you are suffering from a bout of insomnia that is related to a psychiatric disorder, you need to address that disorder to address your insomnia. Oftentimes, this will require a treatment plan that includes a pharmaceutical component. This component will be unique to each patient, as there is not a one-size-fits-all regimen of medication for optimal mental health. Furthermore, there are numerous comorbidities with depression, such as anxiety, that may be contributing to your insomnia and that may not be resolved by certain types of anti-depressants alone.

Another potential treatment involves a combination of medication, light treatment, and melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the circadian process. The conditions of patients who receive light therapy in conjunction with antidepressant therapy tend to show more improvement than those who are prescribed antidepressants alone. This is true for patients with seasonal and nonseasonal depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

In other cases, some mental health professionals may recommend you see a sleep specialist to receive cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) involves numerous non-drug techniques to induce sleep and it can be utilized before resorting to the use of pharmacological sleep aids with surprisingly good results.

Several studies have shown CBTI to be quite effective in treating insomnia and some forms of depression. A paper published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2006 concluded that “The benefits of CBTI extend beyond insomnia and include improvements in non-sleep outcomes, such as overall well-being and depressive symptom severity, including suicidalideation, among patients with baseline elevations.” A paper published in the International Review of Psychiatry in 2014 found that CBTI may help with other comorbidities beyond depression. These include anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse issues.

The National Sleep Foundation notes that this type of therapy can still be quite intensive. CBTI requires regular visits to a clinician for assessment, keeping a sleep diary, and, perhaps most importantly, the changing of behaviors that may be felt as though they are firmly part of one’s routine. CBTI may also include some sleep hygiene education, where patients learn how different settings and actions can inhibit or promote sleep. It may also rely on relaxation training, where patients learn methods of calming their bodies and minds.

Concluding Thoughts

If you are struggling with either depression, insomnia, or both, treatments are available. The above studies demonstrate that there are holistic approaches, as well as pharmaceutical remedies, that can help induce sleep without the aid of sleeping pills. It is also a reminder that the most effective treatment plans are tailored to both the individual patient and the patient’s concurrent illnesses.

LinkedIn Image Credit: Kleber Cordeiro/Shutterstock

Emotional Neglect In Childhood Predicts Higher Levels Of Insomnia In Young Adults

Author Article

New research has found a link between childhood emotional neglect and insomnia. The findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Previous research has found a strong link between childhood maltreatment and depression. “Importantly, sleep disturbance may be one critical mechanism through which individuals exposed to maltreatment are vulnerable for recurrent depressive episodes. Indeed, sleep complaints are among the most common residual symptoms of depression,” the authors of the study explained.

The researchers surveyed 102 young adults with a history of clinical or subclinical depression regarding childhood trauma, recent life stressors, and anxiety symptoms. The participants also completed a daily measure of depressive symptoms and kept a sleep diary for 2 weeks.

They found that young adults who experienced more childhood emotional neglect reported more difficulty falling and staying asleep, even after controlling for factors such as daily depressive symptoms, recent stress, anxiety, other forms of childhood maltreatment, and several demographic factors.

In other words, participants who did not feel loved or looked out for by their family as children tended to report higher levels of insomnia symptoms.

“Thus, our results highlight a distinct relationship between emotional neglect during childhood and difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep as young adults, which is important given that emotional neglect is one of the most prevalent forms of maltreatment,” the researchers said.

Emotional neglect may contribute to insomnia symptoms by depriving individuals of sense of safety, leading to heightened psychophysiological arousal, they explained.

Emotional neglect, however, did not predict sleep duration. But this could be due to the fact that the researchers relied on the participants to keep track of when they went to bed and woke up in the morning, rather than more objective measures of sleep like a wrist-worn actigraph that monitors physical activity.

“Our measure captured time in bed, which may not be the most accurate representation of time spent asleep,” the wrote.

The study, “Childhood Trauma and Sleep Among Young Adults With a History of Depression: A Daily Diary Study“, was authored by Jessica L. Hamilton, Ryan C. Brindle, Lauren B. Alloy, and Richard T. Liu.

The Strange Reason You Aren’t Sleeping

Author Article

Whether you’re newly sharing a bed with someone or have been sharing a bed with someone for years, sharing your sleeping space could be messing with your sleep.

A statement on Huelsnitz’s study details the findings.

“The quality of a person’s romantic relationship and the life stress he or she experiences at two key points in early adulthood (at age 23 and 32) are related to sleep quality and quantity in middle adulthood (at age 37),” read the release.

“Sleep is a shared behavior in many romantic relationships, and it is a strong contender for how relationships ‘get under the skin’ to affect long-term health,” it continued.

Previous research has found that sleep can affect us in significant ways when it comes to relationships.

“Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s,”  said Amie Gordon social psychologist at the University of California–San Francisco.

Some reports suggest that many people are engaging in “sleep divorces,” which entails sleeping in different beds, either in the same room or in different rooms. Many couples who have tried this have reported an improvement in their relationship as a result.

Mohan Garikiparithi has a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. This article was originally published on BelMarraHealth.com

The 5 Types Of Insomnia – Which Type Are You?

Author Article
Last week was a whirlwind. I traveled to NYC for The Today Show, then to Las Vegas for the technology show CES, and finally LA for Face the Truth with Vivica Fox. I’m exhausted just writing this sentence. The upside is that I was able to catch up on my reading on the flights. I read a lot of interesting material including a recently published study which reinforces what I’ve been sharing with my patients and readers for years…which is that there are several types of insomnia, not just one

A group of Dutch researchers identified five different subtypes of insomnia in their recently published study online in Lancet Psychiatry (a very prestigious journal). This study is different than other published studies in medical literature because it goes beyond subtyping that is focused merely on the type of symptoms someone may experience.

These referenced symptoms may include:

Difficulty falling asleep
Difficulty staying asleep
Awakening too early
The Dutch researchers approached insomnia in a completely different way. Instead of categorization based on symptoms, they based their categorization on different biological traits and a person’s life history. In scientific research, this is often referred to as a data-driven or bottom-up approach.

Doctoral candidate Tessa Blaken, at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, utilized the Netherlands Sleep Registry for her study. She looked at data on 4300 people, of which approximately 50% had a probable insomnia disorder (according to scores on the Insomnia Severity Index >10).

A statistical analysis of these 4300 people revealed five potential subtypes:

Sub-Type 1 (19%) references Highly Distressed Insomnia. People in this sub-type scored high on traits of distress, such as neuroticism, feeling tense, or feeling “down.”

Sub-Types 2 (31%) and 3 (15%) reference Moderately Distressed Insomnia. These groups of people had less distress in their lives, but were reward-sensitive (Type 2), or reward insensitive (Type 3). This means one group experiences pleasurable emotions tied with reward, while the other group experiences no pleasurable emotions derived from rewards.

Sub-Types 4 (20%) and 5 (15%) were also characterized with less distress than sub-type 1, but they were categorized differently than sub-types 2 and 3 because of the degree to which these groups experience insomnia in relation to stressful life events. People that fit into the sub-type 4 group are highly affected by stressful life events. People that fit into the sub- type 5 group are basically unaffected by events classified as stressful.

What does that mean for you?

It means there isn’t a one size fits all solution for insomnia. Insomnia takes multiple forms and what may trigger you or affect you may be different than someone else who suffers from a different sub-type of insomnia. You may need to experiment with various products or forms of remedies. Solutions may come as a therapy or in pill form, a tincture, beverage or spray. You may even need to try more than one to find what your individual body needs.

There appear to be at least three factors for you to consider:

The level of distress or anxiety in your daily life. Is it high, medium, or Low?
Do you get pleasure from rewards?
Do life events affect your sleep?
What else can you do right now?

Maintain a consistent wake up time to keep your circadian rhythm in sync. This will also help lower anxiety.
Exercise regularly. This is a great way to reduce stress and help improve your sleep quality.
Avoid caffeine. This is especially important if you’re an anxious person. Caffeine makes anxiety worse.
Plan for potential “bad nights.” If you know you have a stressful event coming up, expect that your sleep will be impacted. Make sure you have a good sleep environment. You may even consider going to bed slightly later than normal. Sleep deprivation may help you fall and stay asleep.
Consider taking magnesium in any form including magnesium oil. You can also get it from food (I like homemade Banana Tea) to help calm your nerves before bed. Read my post about magnesium to learn more about why this will benefit you.
If you struggle to sleep, see if you identify yourself in one of the five categories above. If you do, experiment with the strategies or remedies I mentioned earlier to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and sleep more soundly without waking too early.

10 Things Insomnia Can Tell You About Your Health

Author Article

insomnia

Insomnia, or the lack of sleep, may lead to medical and psychiatric conditions. In some cases, it is these medical and mental issues that actually cause sleep problems. But whether insomnia is the cause or the effect, difficulty sleeping is definitely a sign that something is wrong with your health.

The National Sleep Foundation says that it’s always a good idea to have a general check-up with a health care provider if you have trouble getting regular sleep. It is important to determine if you have underlying health issues or sleep disorders because insomnia can affect the quality of your life.

1.    YOUR THYROID IS OVERACTIVE

You have a condition called hyperthyroidism if you have an overactive thyroid. This occurs when there’s more production of a hormone called thyroxine in the thyroid gland.

When you have hyperthyroidism, you could experience symptoms that seem to mimic other health conditions. Thus, it’s not always easy for doctors to catch the problem. Aside from insomnia, you may also experience the following symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Change in appetite
  • Frequent bowel movement or diarrhea
  • Heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Light menstruation and missed periods – for women
  • Fertility issues
  • Unusual sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Hives and itching
  • Weight loss
  • Oversensitivity to heat
  • Swelling of the neck base

If your weight loss is sudden and you have two or more of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor for an assessment. Don’t forget to describe the changes you’ve noticed in your body to the doctor so that you can get the right diagnosis.

2.    YOU’RE HAVING ANXIETY ISSUES

What may be keeping you up at night are your concerns in life. Have you been going through something lately that’s causing a great deal of anxiety? Experts say that your mind can’t rest if you’re always anxious. If your mind cannot rest then you’re likely to sleep lightly and develop insomnia.

But the problem is that your sleeping brain cannot distinguish what’s happening compared to your waking brain. The neurotransmitters that send the signals in your brain won’t be able to cope with the threats that anxiety causes in your sleep. So, even if you think you’re making it through day by day with little or light sleep, it will eventually take its toll.

You have to see a therapist as soon as possible in order to sort out your anxiety issues. You have to find positive coping mechanisms that help calm your mind when you’re going to bed. For some people, these coping tools may include meditation, light exercises, and other soothing activities.

3.    YOU’RE PHYSICALLY STRESSED OUT

Just like mental stress or anxiety, physical stress may also lead to light sleeping. This is because your body’s temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline are higher, which affects your ability to engage in deep sleep, also known as REM sleep. REM sleep takes 25 percent of your sleep cycle. Its main functions are:

  • To store your brain’s long-term memories
  • To aid in your learning
  • To stabilize, enhance, and balance your mood

You lose the benefits of having deep sleep if your body can’t complete the REM phase of your sleep cycle. So, you wake up feeling more groggy and tired because your body didn’t actually get a good rest.

Thus, creating a relaxing routine for bedtime may help regulate your sleep cycle. You must also avoid doing heavy physical workouts two hours before you go to bed.

4.    YOU’RE EXPERIENCING ACID REFLUX

You won’t get a good night’s sleep no matter what you do if you’re suffering from acid reflux or heartburn. Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract can influence the quality of sleep because the acid contents from the stomach may rise back when you’re lying down the bed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

You’re standing or sitting during the daytime so acid reflux won’t have much impact. When you’re reclining, however, the stomach acid can’t be pushed down to your stomach so you end up having interrupted sleep with a burning sensation in your chest and a sour taste in your throat. It’s an unpleasant feeling, to say the least.

There are over-the-counter medications to take care of this problem. You should see a doctor right away for the proper diagnosis or treatment. Apparently, 60 percent of patients with gastro issues suffer from sleep problems.

5.    YOU’RE HAVING HUNGER PANGS

Your bouts of insomnia might be related to your eating habits. If you have an irregular dinner schedule and you suddenly ate earlier, say between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., then by 2 a.m. your brain triggers your body to demand fuel or food.

You get these hunger pangs because of a hormonal imbalance. This, once again, highlights the importance of having a routine so that you can be assured of a good rest. Try as much as possible not to mess with your dinner times so that it won’t also ruin your sleep cycle.

6.    YOU’RE DRINKING TOO MUCH COFFEE THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Do you know that coffee takes an average of eight to 10 hours to be completely eliminated in the body? If you drink a cup or two early in the day, at least 75 percent of it will be gone by the time you go home for dinner.

But if you drink coffee in the afternoon or less than six hours before you go to bed, then you may have problems getting decent sleep at night. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can impede your sleep routine.

Ironically, if you’re trying to cut down on the coffee drinking, you might also experience insomnia since your body will go through withdrawal as an automatic response. You may also experience increased heart rate, headaches, and jitters that could impact your sleeping patterns.

But be patient as you get through the withdrawal stage. It’s much more positive to restore your sleep quality than continue to suffer from the effects of insomnia.

7.    YOU’VE GOT BAD SKIN, ESPECIALLY UNDER THE EYES

When you suffer from insomnia, your eyes turn puffy and the skin around it appears darker. This happens because sleep deprivation triggers your body to work double time to bring oxygen to your vital organs to prevent a breakdown, according to the experts via Telegraph.

But in doing so, your body doesn’t draw enough oxygen to the skin. So, in due time, the skin around your eyes grows darker because of the deoxygenated blood that flows through it. The dark circles also become more obvious because the skin around the eyes is thin.

Ever wonder why they call it beauty sleep? It’s because sleep has a positive effect on the health of the skin. Proper sleep allows:

  • Development of healthier hormones
  • Stimulation of the cells
  • Repair of body tissues
  • Formation of more collagen that will reduce skin aging

8.    YOU’RE LESS SHARP AND LACK FOCUS

Insomnia can lead to the deterioration of your cognitive function. You lose the ability to concentrate on a task. You also experience slow mental processing that could impact your ability to make decisions or solve problems.

The lack of sleep will dumb you down and affect your efficiency at work. You’ll be less sharp, less focused, and less alert. You won’t be able to grasp instructions or reason and state your case well because your cognition is impaired.

If you work at a high-risk job, where accuracy, vigilance, and safety are important, being an insomniac can definitely matter to your performance. A faulty brain function puts you and the people around you at risk. Thus, you need to see a doctor before you create a major blunder or accident that may hurt someone.

Long-term insomnia that’s not addressed or treated can lead to memory loss. This is because the lack of sleep doesn’t give your brain the chance to recover, recoup, and organize itself. There have been studies showing the improvement of memory recall following a night of good sleep. So, don’t delay finding a positive and doable solution to this problem.

9.    YOU’RE MORE PRONE TO COLDS, COUGH, AND FEVER

Do you always catch a cold or cough? Are you always the first one holed up in the bedroom during flu season? If you’re an insomniac, you’ll often find yourself with colds, cough, and fever because your body’s defenses against virus and bacteria are low.

A prolonged state of sleep deprivation is a lot similar to your body experiencing high levels of stress. As a result, your body’s immunities lower so you’re more vulnerable to getting sick.

Good sleep helps your body produce proteins called cytokines that help with infection and inflammation. When you’re not sleeping well, however, the level of this protein in your body drops so your antibodies weaken.

10.  YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE AND SLEEPING CONDITIONS NEED TO BE IMPROVED

Your lifestyle plays a vital role in how you stay healthy. Perhaps the reason you’re having insomnia is that you don’t slow down from your activities even when you’re in bed. You also don’t make it a point to create a healthy environment for sleeping.

insomnia

Do you still use gadgets minutes before you shut your eyes? Studies have proven that this habit can disrupt your sleep cycle. Is your bedroom too messy or overly warm? The physical conditions around you can impact the quality of your sleep.

Make an effort to have a healthy routine and sleep conditions and see how much difference it will make in your sleep patterns. Don’t get used to the disorder and dysfunction; instead, listen to the signs your body is telling you.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS INSOMNIA CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

People spend nearly more than a fourth of their lives in bed but most don’t really make an effort to make their sleep quality count. If you make positive changes to how you sleep, you should see improvements right away if you’re suffering from acute insomnia.

But if your insomnia still lingers for weeks and months, you need to get a proper medical diagnosis for the disorder that’s really ailing you. There are individuals who don’t actually know that they’re not getting good sleep or suffering from insomnia. For this reason, a visit to the doctor or a specialist will be a big help.

Night Owls May Experience ‘Jet Lag’ On A Daily Basis

Author Article

Some people declare themselves to be morning larks, or early risers, and they effortlessly wake up at the crack of dawn and fall asleep earlier in the evening.

Others, however, are night owls, or evening people, who stay up until the early hours of the morning and wake up later in the day, if left to their own devices.

Previous research has shown that the night owls face some health risks due to their daily rhythms. These include a tendency towards poorer dietary habits, which, in turn, can increase the risk of metabolic conditions, such as diabetes.

Now, a study led by investigators from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has found out how activity patterns in the brains of night owls are different from those of morning people. The study also highlights how these differences can impact their lives and levels of productivity in a world that typically favors early risers.

“A huge number of people struggle to deliver their best performance during work or school hours they are not naturally suited to,” notes lead researcher Dr. Elise Facer-Childs, previously of Birmingham University and now based at the Monash Institute for Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences in Melbourne, Australia.

“There is a critical need to increase our understanding of these issues in order to minimize health risks in society, as well as maximize productivity,” she emphasizes.

The researchers have now published their findings in a study paper featured in the journal SLEEP.

Brain activity in night owls

For this study, the research team recruited 38 healthy participants. They divided the volunteers into two groups, putting 16 early risers into one group and 22 late sleepers into the second.

The researchers split the participants into these two groups based on their melatonin and cortisol circadian rhythms — the natural circulation of these two hormones affect sleep and waking cycles.

The researchers monitored the participants’ sleeping and waking patterns, and the volunteers filled in questionnaires about their rhythms. On average, late sleepers went to bed at 2:30 a.m. and woke up at 10:15 a.m.

To assess brain activity patterns, the investigators asked the volunteers to undergo MRI scans. The researchers also tested the participants’ performance on various tasks they undertook at different times throughout the day to see how sleep-wake cycles affected daily functioning.

The team noticed a difference in brain activity patterns between the two groups, namely that night owls had lower resting brain connectivity in brain areas that scientists primarily associate with maintaining a state of consciousness. They correlated this with shorter attention spans, as well as slower reactions and lower energy levels.

Early risers performed better and had faster reaction times during morning tasks. They also declared themselves as being much less sleepy at that time.

On the contrary, as expected, late sleepers performed best and experienced the fastest reaction times around 8:00 p.m. However, even at the time when they were at their peak performance, night owls did not do much better than their early rising peers.

This suggests that throughout the day — or from around 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. — resting-state brain connectivity is affected in late sleepers, adversely impacting their productivity.

Social expectations ‘could be more flexible’

Dr. Facer-Childs likens the night owls’ state throughout the day to a form of constant jet lag, emphasizing that this may have a significant effect on their well-being in the long run.

This mismatch between a person’s biological time and social time — which most of us have experienced in the form of jet lag — is a common issue for night owls trying to follow a normal working day.”

Dr. Elise Facer-Childs

“Our study is the first to show a potential intrinsic, neuronal mechanism behind why night owls may face cognitive disadvantages when being forced to fit into these constraints,” she adds.

For this reason, the researcher argues that societies need to take a long, hard look at their organizational structures, chiefly in terms of working hours and how to become more accommodating to people’s individuals needs. This flexibilty should mean that night owls can put their best foot forward while avoiding adverse health outcomes.

“To manage this [situation], we need to get better at taking an individual’s body clock into account — particularly in the world of work,” Dr. Facer-Childs argues.

“A typical day might last from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., but for a night owl, this could result in diminished performance during the morning, lower brain connectivity in regions linked to consciousness, and increased daytime sleepiness,” she warns.

She further advises that “If, as a society, we could be more flexible about how we manage time, we could go a long way toward maximizing productivity and minimizing health risks.”

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

9 Ways to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Prepare Yourself For The Best Night’s Sleep

Author Article

Sleep_resize_AmmielMendoza
Getting a good night’s sleep requires more than plopping down on your bed. In fact, sleep is an active process. While we snooze, we pass through several stages of sleep, each with its own distinct physiological changes. We also alternate between non-REM (rapid eye movement) — which serves to restore the body — and REM sleep, during which we dream and restore the brain. The time you spend in these stages varies by age, but a good night’s rest means the sleep should be continuous and uninterrupted.
Dim the lights throughout the house this evening. Gradually reducing the amount of light in your home will mimic the way sunlight goes down and help trigger sleepiness.
The urge to sleep is dictated by two natural forces. Our homeostatic sleep drive helps us balance our wakefulness with sleep. “It tells us we’re only good for so many hours of alertness before we become functionally intoxicated,” says Helene Emsellem, MD, director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and author of Snooze or Lose. Our circadian rhythm, on the other hand, regulates the timing of our sleepiness and wakefulness. You can thank your circadian rhythm for that daily afternoon slump, for instance.
Both forces are highly affected by our habits, our routines and even our exposure to sunlight. So, for truly sound slumber, it’s important to respect these internal drives and do things that gear your body for sleep — some folks call this practicing good sleep hygiene. Here’s how you can ensure that you’re properly prepped for a good night’s sleep.
Move That Body
A good workout that gets your heart pumping and muscles flexing works wonders on promoting sleep. Regular physical activity makes it easier for you to get to sleep and improves the quality of your sleep. For maximum benefit, avoid rigorous activity three to four hours before bed. Body temperature rises when you exercise, which can make it hard for you to get to sleep.
Get Some Sun
Exposure to sunlight influences circadian rhythm, which is controlled by brain cells in the hypothalamus. These cells respond to light and dark signals from our environment, and set off reactions in our bodies to either wake us up or make us sleepy. In the mornings, it triggers the release of cortisol, a stimulating hormone, which raises body temperature. “Sunlight is a strong stimulus for wakefulness in humans,” says Nancy Foldvary, DO, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. “So, getting sun exposure promotes wakefulness during the day and can help people sleep at night.” Darkness, on the other hand, triggers our brains to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates circadian rhythm and promotes sleepiness.
Create A Sanctuary
Think of your bedroom as your private retreat where you go every night to be renewed. Here’s how to turn it into the ideal environment for sleep:
Look For A Mattress And A Pillow That Are Comfortable
Preferences for bedding vary widely, so be sure to test out a mattress for a good 15 minutes before you buy.
Set The Thermostat On The Cool Side
Body temperature naturally falls at night. By keeping the room cool, your body will mimic its surroundings.
Darken The Room With Shades And Curtains To Keep Out Light
You might even try using an eye mask. Darkness helps stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness.
Ditch the Electronics
Clear your bedroom of TVs, computers, and any other electronics. These gadgets emit blue light, which like any light, can cause wakefulness at night and disrupt the body’s natural inclination to sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep (and sex), so you won’t associate it with any other activity.
Don’t Smoke
Poor sleep is just one more reason you shouldn’t light up. Smokers are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers. The smokers also spent less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep. Smoking before bed pumps your body with nicotine, a stimulant that can keep you up at night. It also raises overall body temperature and elevates your heart rate and metabolism — all of which will keep you awake. To make matters worse, smokers go through withdrawal when they’re asleep, which disrupts their sleep, too.
Stick With A Routine
It doesn’t matter whether you soak in the tub, read a good book, or listen to your favorite music, the key is doing the same thing every night, so your body gets the signal that you’re prepping for sleep.
And, okay, we know you want to sleep in on the weekends and make up for the slumber lost during the week. But, don’t. Get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. Sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays will only make it hard for you to get to sleep on Sunday night, and you’ll feel less refreshed on Monday.

These Are The Five Different Types of Insomnia

Author Article

Insomnia is a cycle that can feel impossible to break once you’re in it. Annoyingly, it doesn’t have a ‘one-counting-sheep-size-fits-all’ solution for everyone, and it can become overwhelmingly stressful, affecting all aspects of a person’s life.

But it may be the case that discovering the type of insomnia you suffer from could help you to better treat it. Recent research from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, published earlier this month in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, found that there are actually five types of insomnia.

By analysing information gathered from 4,000 people via an online survey, which asked about sleep habits, personality traits, moods and emotional responses, researchers were able to determine the following five types of insomnia:

Type 1:

Traits include high levels of distress (stress and anxiety), and low levels of happiness.

Type 2:

Traits include moderate levels of distress, and normal levels of happiness and experiences of pleasure.

Type 3:

Traits include moderate levels of distress, with low levels of happiness and experiences of pleasure.

Type 4:

Traits include generally low levels of distress, but long-lasting insomnia is usually triggered by a stressful life event.

Type 5:

Traits include low levels of distress, but insomnia isn’t caused by stressful life events.

The idea is that, equipped with more detailed knowledge of their type of insomnia, an individual might explore more personalised treatment – and this was something researchers found proof of success of in their study.

Reporting on the research, Live Science explained that people with insomnia type 2 and insomnia type 4 benefitted most by taking a benzodiazepine (a tranquilising drug). Those with insomnia type 3, on the other hand, did not see improvement from this type of medication. People with insomnia type 2 responded positively to CBDT or cognitive behavioural therapy, while people with insomnia type 4 did not benefit from this kind of treatment.

The study could pave the way for further research into this area with the intention of developing more specialised treatments. Research authors did note, however, that all participants voluntarily agreed to take part in a sleep-related study, meaning they may not necessarily be representative of an across-the-board population as a whole. It would therefore be necessary to look further into the sub-type theory before taking it as gospel.

On that note, I hope you sleep well tonight.

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