Science Says It’s Better To Sleep Next To A Dog Than A Human

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If you’ve got a dog, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like a snuggle on the sofa while binge watching Queer Eye and eating your body weight in Easter eggs (yes, the official day isn’t for a good few weeks but who’s to say you can’t get your chocolate fix early?).

But back to dog talk. We love them. If you take a look at the best alternative festivals of 2019, there’s even a dog event (called Dogstival, naturally) that sounds like an absolute dream. Plus, they look adorable when they’re sleeping, our entire camera roll is basically delfies, and they give the best cuddles.

A study found that we love dogs more than we love other humans (true), and even newer research shows that you get a better night’s sleep when you sleep next to a dog rather than a partner (true again).

The latest scientific study by Dr. Christy L. Hoffman, a professor in Animal Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservation at Canisius College in New York tracked sleeping habits to find out whether sleeping next to a pet affects women’s sleep patterns.

And the results showed that those who slept next to a dog reported a better, more restful sleep than those who slept next to a cat, or another human. Apparently, dogs are less disruptive and we experience feelings of comfort and security when cuddling a pet pooch.

Dr. Hoffman told Broadly that the ‘keyword here is perception, this study is based on individuals self-reporting how they feel their sleep is affected.’

She added that it is ‘important to note that this is based on aggregated data and an average of responses, so getting a dog won’t solve everyone’s sleep problems.’

If you haven’t got a dog, don’t worry – this is probably the most perfect excuse to get one.

7 Signs Your Body Doesn’t Actually Know How To Maintain Deep Sleep

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Every night of sleep is not created equal — even if you think you get eight hours of rest. If you’re having trouble getting deep sleep, you may not even know it. Sleep medicine experts know how to pinpoint the vague symptoms related to this issue, however, and can help you get back on track. Having a hard time getting adequate sleep is troubling enough, but it can be caused by a variety of underlying issues.

“There are several medical problems that make it difficult for people to maintain deep sleep at night,” Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, M.D., Chief Medical Liaison at health technology company Philips, tells Bustle. “According to Philips annual global sleep survey, three quarters of adults around the world experience at least one of the following conditions that impact their sleep: insomnia, snoring, shift work sleep disorder, chronic pain, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.” Both physical and mental health problems can make getting that deepest stage of sleep difficult, but since this all goes on at night, you may struggle pinpointing what’s going on.

Paying more attention to how you sleep at night, plus keeping an eye on whether you’re tired during the day, can give you a little more data to then help you try to work on your sleep cycle at home, or bring your concerns to a doctor. Everyone deserves a good night’s rest.

Here are seven signs your body doesn’t actually know how to maintain deep sleep.

1You Wake Up Easily

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If you’re prone to waking up from every car that passes, every bump in the night, or even the slightest hint of sunlight out your bedroom window, then you may not be getting the deep sleep you need.

“If you’re a light sleeper, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep,” Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. “When your body is in deep sleep, it should be difficult for you to be woken. When this isn’t the case, a lack of deep sleep might be to blame.” If your constant waking up is causing you difficulties during the day, this is worth mentioning to a doctor.

2You Constantly Hit The Snooze Button

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Feeling refreshed when you wake up in the morning may seem like a myth to you, but it doesn’t need to be. If you need to hit snooze every morning, then you may not be getting the deep sleep you need in the middle of the night.

“If you know you’re getting enough hours of sleep, but you just can’t stop hitting the snooze button and feel groggy in the morning, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep at night,” Backe says. If you find that even putting in an effort to break this habit doesn’t work, then you may want to examine what’s keeping you from getting deep into your sleep cycle at night.

3You Snore A Lot

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When severe, snoring can be more than just an annoyance during the night. Your snoring may actually be preventing you from getting the deep sleep your body so desperately needs.

“Snoring is another common cause that impacts sleep with 29 percent of global adults reporting they experience this condition,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “[… And] snoring can be a manifestation of an underlying sleep apnea disorder.” So if you have an inkling that your snoring is causing you to have trouble breathing, or is severe in another way, then you should definitely bring it up to a doctor.

4You Need To Nap To Get Through The Day

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Naps can be a really great occasional boost. But if you absolutely need them to get through the day, something more serious might be going on.

“If you find that you can’t get through the day without taking a nap, despite having the recommended six to eight hours sleep the night before, it might be a sign that you’re not maintaining deep sleep at night,” Backe says. Your daytime naps may actually be making it harder for you to get deep sleep at night, so trying to get yourself back onto a regular schedule may help.

5You Wake Up During The Night

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If you get up multiple times every night, for whatever reason, that’s a strong sign of something underlying going on in the world of sleep medicine.

“Waking up throughout the night can indicate that you are not reaching a state of deep sleep,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “Deep sleep, or the final stage of non-REM sleep, is the time when your brain waves are at their lowest frequency and you are at your hardest to wake up.” Finding ways to improve your sleep environment, or talking to your doctor about this issue, may help improve things.

6You’re Tired Throughout The Day

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Being sleepy during the day doesn’t have to be something you put up with willingly just because it’s common. Exhaustion — even when you feel you’ve slept an adequate number of hours — doesn’t need to be your norm.

Six in 10 global adults experience daytime sleepiness at least twice per week,” Dr. Lee-Chiong says. “People who do not obtain optimal deep sleep at night often feel tried throughout the day, which may impact their energy levels and productivity.” If this applies to you, then you may want to try working on your sleep hygiene to improve the amount of deep sleep you achieve.

7You Wake Up Before Your Alarm Goes Off

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Waking up before your alarm occasionally can be a good thing — especially if it is slightly before your alarm and at a regular time. But if you wake up way before your alarm goes off, then your sleep cycle may be off.

“If you wake up too early and never return back to sleep, this might influence your time in deep sleep and REM sleep,” Vikas Jain, MD, sleep medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells Bustle. Staying in bed and trying to rest for those final few hours may help.

Not getting adequate deep sleep could end up being as detrimental as staying up too late or waking up too early. So if you realize you may not be getting deep enough sleep throughout the night, you may want to either find ways to adjust your routine, or visit the doctor to get to the bottom of it.

The Strange Reason You Aren’t Sleeping

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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 Meditation Technique That Totally Transformed My Sleep

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Some aspects of healthy living just get easier with time. Meal prepping on Sundays, waking up early to exercise, avoiding single-use plastic—I’ve found it can all become second nature with enough practice and repetition.

I’ve always been daunted by one part of wellness, though, no matter how often I try to whittle away at it: meditation.

The benefits of the practice are what kept me in hot pursuit of it. Nearly every night for the past year or so, you could find me in my bed militantly repeating a mantra in an effort to quell anxietyincrease compassion, and refine my focus. And every night, after a few minutes of futile attempts to reel in my mind, I inevitably opened my eyes frustrated.

The point of meditating before bed was to let go of negative thoughts and worries from the day, but sometimes it left me even more stressed. I had the sneaking suspicion that I was somehow doing it “wrong.” I expected to start craving these nightly meditations after a while, but closing my eyes and coming back to the breath just remained another task on my to-do list.

The meditation technique that changed my relationship to the practice.

A few weeks ago, in the thick of my mindfulness rut, I journeyed to Costa Rica for a week of doing nothing but yoga, breathwork, and—you guessed it—meditation.

Expecting to meet the same kind of resistance in the jungle that I did in my Manhattan apartment, I figured I could just pretend to meditate during longer sits. (Nothing I hadn’t done before!) But on day two, a strange thing happened: Our leaders Erica Matluck, N.D., FNP, and Paul Kuhn, who put on healing retreats focused on the seven chakrascalled Seven Senses, told the group to essentially forget everything we knew about meditation.

For that day, which was spent in silence (no talking, no eye contact, no writing, no reading—no looking outside of yourself as a distraction), we were to leave our mantras and body scans at the door. These, too, Matluck, a naturopath and seasoned integrative medicine practitioner, explained, could be a way to turn the attention away from the self.

Instead, we were told to breathe normally and simply notice the physical sensation underneath the nostril, above the upper lip. That was it. The only directive.

Just like that, we were off. With nothing but a curtain of palm trees as a distraction, I was fully prepared to become restless and frustrated after a few minutes. But 10 minutes passed, and I was still content sitting with that feeling under my nose. Then 20, then 30. We were invited to stay for another 30-minute sit. And, much to my own surprise, I did.

It felt so much more gentle, so much less rigid, than what I thought meditation was supposed to be.

Instead of forcing my breath to be rhythmic, I allowed it to do whatever it wanted. Instead of clutching onto a mantra (and cursing myself when it escaped from my grip), I politely paid attention to the super-subtle sensations on that one area. It felt so much more gentle, so much less rigid, than what I thought meditation was supposed to be. It wasn’t a task but a delight—to catch my thoughts wandering and then happily return them to the moment at hand.

It’s the first time that I didn’t want a meditation to end.

Afterward, Kuhn, a sound healer, told us that this study in sensation was a reminder that physical feelings—like thoughts—are fleeting.

This lesson from Matluck and Kuhn, one of what felt like hundreds I picked up that week, really brought home the idea that thoughts don’t need to carry so much weight and power. Instead, we can choose to let them pass over us like a tickle on the skin.

How I’m keeping up with it.

Thousands of miles removed from the Pura Vida life, I’m still trying to keep up with this breath awareness. Since my trip, my nightly meditation routine has become less of a chore and more of a respite after long days.

I’m reminded of what mbg Collective member and class instructor Light Watkins said when he talked about making the breath an anchor. By tuning into the physical feeling of the breath, it has become easier for me to sit with. Some nights, if I’m lucky, I’m transported back to that special place where all there was to think about was the rustling of the jungle and the sensation of being alive. And what a meditative space that is to be.

If You Can’t Fall Asleep In Under 20 Minutes, It Could Be A Sign Of These 9 Health Issues

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Some nights it’s easier to fall asleep than others. But for certain people, needing over 20 minutes to fall asleep every night is a given — and sometimes others have to wait hours more. The causes of insomnia can be due to all sorts of physical and medical health conditions, so it’s important to examine all of the factors that may be creating your difficulty falling asleep.

Falling asleep can say a lot more about what’s going on with your body than just how tired you are. “The amount of time it takes to fall asleep is known as ‘sleep latency,'” Conor Heneghan, lead research scientist at Fitbit, tells Bustle. “A normal amount of sleep latency is approximately 15-25 minutes, which is considered the ‘sweet spot’ for your body to drift into light sleep stages. However, sleep latency is impacted by [a variety of] factors.” These factors can be anything from what you’ve eaten that day, or whether you’ve altered your bedtime routine, to a more serious underlying medical condition that’s making it difficult for your body to rest at night.

And while having trouble falling asleep can be caused by a myriad of health issues, falling behind on sleep can cause sleep debt and add to these problems. So if you realize you’re taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep every night, asking your doctor about this problem may get you some relief.

Here are nine health issues that not being able to fall asleep in 20 minutes could be a sign of, according to experts.

1GERD

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GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can cause symptoms that aren’t quite apparent until you lie down to try to fall asleep.

“When lying down, it’s easier for stomach acids to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn,” Terry Cralle, RN, clinical sleep educator and sleep consultant for Saatva, tells Bustle. “Heartburn, in turn, can disrupt falling and staying asleep. That’s why many people with GERD experience an increase in symptoms at nighttime and may have trouble finding a comfortable position for sleeping.” Avoiding GERD trigger foods like spicy food, coffee, and alcohol, in the hours before bed, may provide some relief.

2Anxiety

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Anxiety doesn’t exist solely in the mind. If you’ve been dealing with feelings of stress and nervousness in your daily life, it may be building up and causing it to be difficult for you to fall asleep.

“Those who experience anxiety have a complex relationship with sleep,” Dr. Sujay KansagraMattress Firm’s sleep health expert, tells Bustle. “Anxiety can not only prevent someone from falling asleep but it can also be worsened once a person experiences the effects of sleep deprivation.” Dr. Kansagra recommends talking to your doctor if stress or anxiety may be affecting your ability to fall asleep.

3Asthma

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If falling asleep regularly takes more than 20 minutes for you, and you also experience respiratory symptoms, this could be caused by asthma.

“Asthma symptoms often worsen at night, [including symptoms of] nighttime coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and breathlessness: a condition referred to as ‘nocturnal asthma,'” Cralle says. Check in with your doctor if you realize that these sorts of symptoms tend to come along at night.

4“Social Jetlag”

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Keeping a completely different sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends can make falling asleep more difficult in general.

“Another major factor that may contribute to longer sleep latency is ‘social jetlag,’ brought on by the shift in sleep schedules that many experience on days off compared to workdays,” Heneghan says. This issue with your circadian rhythm can be addressed by keeping a more consistent bedtime and wake up time throughout the week.

5Arthritis

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If you have general aches and pains, and they worsen at night enough to make it difficult for you to fall asleep — you may have undiagnosed arthritis. And arthritis doesn’t only affect older people.

“It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of people with arthritis have difficulty sleeping,” Cralle says. “Pain makes it hard to get comfortable and to fall — and stay — asleep. Since sleep deprivation makes pain worse, it’s critical that arthritis sufferers get enough quality sleep.” So talking with your doctor both about your pain and your sleep problems can be a step in the right direction.

6Menopause

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Like arthritis, menopause is associated with aging but can show up in young peopleas well. Since you may not realize this is possible, you may not be connecting the dots between potential gynecological issues and lack of sleep.

“Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and their sleepless nights have been linked with hormonal changes —especially during menopause, when hormone levels are erratic,” Dr. Kent Smith, founding director of Sleep Dallas, tells Bustle. Making sure you regularly see an OB/GYN, and always tell your doctors about changes to your health, can help you stay on top of these potential issues.

7Restless Leg Syndrome

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Tossing and turning doesn’t have to be something that you ignore. Health issues like restless leg syndrome could be seriously impacting your ability to fall and stay asleep.

“Approximately one in 10 adult Americans suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, according to the National Sleep Foundation,” Dr. Smith says. “This sleep-related movement disorder causes overwhelming and often unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest, often making it difficult for sufferers to drift off to sleep.” If you find it particularly hard to lie still at night, it may be best to get in touch with a doctor.

8Sleep Apnea

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While sleep apnea is known to cause disruptions during sleep, it can cause difficulties during the process of falling asleep as well. And since sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, you might not connect the dots on this sleep disorder immediately.

“Sleep apnea, a condition in which a person ceases to breathe multiple times per hour when they sleep, can inhibit a person’s ability to fall asleep,” Dr. Smith says. “The brain detects that it is receiving less oxygen during sleep, so, in a life-preserving attempt, it actively prevents the sufferer from falling asleep.” If you have difficulty falling asleep, plus other signs of sleep apnea, then it’s important to see a sleep specialist and seek treatment.

9Vitamin Deficiency

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Sometimes, the root cause of your difficulty falling asleep can be hard to pinpoint but relatively straightforward to treat. One of the examples of this is vitamin deficiency.

“Several common vitamin deficiencies can lead to sleep disturbance,” Arielle Levitan, M.D., co-founder of Vous Vitamin LLC, tells Bustle. “[…] Determining which vitamins to take and in which safe and proper doses is important.” Particular deficiencies like magnesium and iron can cause difficulty falling asleep, Levitan says. To find out if this is a problem, the first step is to speak with your doctor and potentially have them perform blood tests to check for deficiencies.

In order to protect your physical and mental health, it’s important not to normalize your difficulty falling asleep. Taking note of why you may be struggling to fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, and how you feel the next day, may provide you some of the data you need to discuss this issue with your doctor — and find a treatment that works for you.

The 5 Types Of Insomnia – Which Type Are You?

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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.

Earlier in my life, I didn’t have difficulties with falling asleep. However, with age, I’ve noticed that it’s harder to go straight to bed when you still, for instance, have so much on your mind. After I got married, together with my husband, we noticed that there are things we do each and every day, […]

via 5 Tips For a Better Sleep — simple Ula

Struggling To Sleep? Share Your Experiences

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Woman in bed with illustrated sheep drawn above her head
 Counting sheep has been suggested for those who struggle to sleep. Photograph: Garo/Phanie/Getty Images/Passage

The Guardian is planning a new video project about sleep.

According to a study by health insurers, two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep, and around 16 million say they have insomnia.

We’re hoping to understand more about how people are affected by sleep problems and would like readers to tell us how they navigate sleepless nights.

How to take part:

We want to include first-person video testimony from our readers. If you’re interested in getting involved, or would like to find out more about the project, please fill in your details below – and let us know a little bit about how sleep disruption affects you. We’ll contact you with instructions about how to submit your video contribution.

*author article has sign up page!

10 Things Insomnia Can Tell You About Your Health

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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.

How to Calm Your Racing Mind so You Can Sleep

Author Article

You long for sleep. You may even feel tired before going to bed. But as soon as your head hits the pillow, it happens again. You’re wide awake. You can’t stop thinking. It’s the worst.

I regularly speak to groups about the necessity of sleep for the prevention of burnoutmanagement of stress, improvement of mood, and a host of other benefits. Almost every time I do, someone comes up to me and says:

     “I know I need more sleep. But what do I do if I can’t fall asleep? I get into bed early enough to get eight hours, but then I just lie there with my mind racing.”

I also frequently hear this from coaching clients and patients. When I do, I start asking questions. And usually find the answer.

Here are the questions, for you to ask yourself:

1. Do you take your phone to bed?

First of all, the light from the phone is stimulating to the brain and can suppress melatonin release (melatonin helps you sleep). The best solution is to not look at your phone after 9 p.m. (or an hour or two before bed), but lots of people aren’t ready to give up that habit. If that’s you, use a blue light-blocking mode, like “Night Shift” on iPhones, and turn your screen brightness down as far as it can go.

2. What are you reading, or doing in bed, before you go to sleep?

This is my second point about the phone. I once heard a sleep expert at Harvard say that texting at bedtime is a bad idea. The thought processes that you use are too stimulating to your brain. Obviously, checking work emails (or any email) at bedtime is a really bad idea, especially if you come across something stressful. You may not even want to read the news, in case there’s a headline that stimulates thoughts or concerns.

If you like to read to wind down, choose a book (the printed kind). Ideally, that book should not be too thought-provoking or stimulating. It shouldn’t be disturbing. It also probably shouldn’t be so incredibly captivating that you can’t put it down…

3. What do you do with your evenings?

If you have trouble winding down to sleep, take care not to wind yourself up over the course of the evening. Good rules of thumb:

  • Avoid challenging conversations with your spouse in the evenings if possible. Definitely avoid starting a difficult conversation close to bedtime.
  • If you must work in the evening (i.e., answering emails), try to do so earlier versus later, so you have time to wind down your mind before bed.
  • Working out in the evening makes it harder to wind down and fall asleep. Do it earlier in the day.
  • If you go out on a work night, plan to get home at a reasonable hour so that you have time to wind down and still get into bed on time.

Notice what “winds you up” in the evenings. Either avoid it, or schedule it much earlier.

4. What lighting do you use at night?

This is another key to winding down. People used to sleep an average of nine hours a night before the advent of widespread electricity. The lights we have on at night in our homes are stimulating and can also suppress melatonin secretion.

Feel the difference between two late evening scenarios:

A) All the lights are on. The TV is blaring. You’re sitting at a table catching up on emails, while simultaneously conducting a logistical discussion with your spouse. You feel stressed and don’t even want to go to bed. You’ll need at least an hour of Netflix to wind down from this (not a good idea, because of the screen involved, and also if it’s a really well-written show, it will be hard to turn off in time for bed).

B) All the lights are off, except a warm yellow lamp in the corner of the room. Soft music is playing. You and your spouse are quietly reading. As you read, the inevitable happens. Your eyelids start to droop. Your head bobs as you fall asleep for a split second. Even though it’s earlier than you’d planned, you get up and head over to the bathroom to start getting ready for bed.

5. Is there something specific you’re worried about?

Perhaps there’s a stressful situation you can’t stop worrying about that’s keeping you awake. In this case, I’d recommend a variety of approaches:

  • If it’s serious, get professional counseling support to help you problem-solve the situation and/or your response to it.
  • Journal before going to bed to get your worries out of your head and onto the page.
  • Learn a relaxation practice, such as a simple relaxation breathing meditation, to quiet your mind and body before bed. If I can’t fall asleep, I focus on a three-line scripture about peace as I breathe slowly in and out; it almost always works. One of my coaching clients, a former figure skater, skates in her mind until she falls asleep.

6. How are you using your bed?

Leverage the strategy of “stimulus control.” If you do lots of different things in bed (e.g., watch movies, answer emails, take phone calls, etc.), your body and mind get confused about the purpose of bed. If you have insomnia, it’s best to only use your bed for sleep. For the same reason, if you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed, and go do something quiet and relaxing until you start to feel sleepy, and then head back to bed.

7. How much caffeine are you drinking?

The sleep expert I mentioned earlier also said that if you struggle with insomnia, you should eliminate caffeine (and any other stimulants) completely and see if that helps. If that feels impossible, start by eliminating caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. Sources of caffeine include coffee, non-herbal teas, chocolate, and some supplements.

Elena Rostunova/Shutterstock
Source: Elena Rostunova/Shutterstock

Note: Some people who can’t sleep have a bigger issue, such as Generalized AnxietyBipolar Disorder, or other medical concerns. If your sleeplessness is extreme or doesn’t respond to simple interventions, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it.

Copyright 2019 Dr. Susan Biali Haas

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