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Sleepwalking

June 11th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

From Mayo Clinic

Sleepwalking — also known as somnambulism — involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep. More common in children than adults, sleepwalking is usually outgrown by the teen years. Isolated incidents of sleepwalking often don’t signal any serious problems or require treatment. However, recurrent sleepwalking may suggest an underlying sleep disorder.

Sleepwalking is less common in adults and has a higher chance of being confused with or coexisting with other sleep disorders as well as medical and mental health conditions.

If anyone in your household sleepwalks, it’s important to protect him or her from sleepwalking-related injuries.

Symptoms

Sleepwalking is classified as a parasomnia — an undesirable behavior or experience during sleep. Sleepwalking is a disorder of arousal, meaning it occurs during slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of dreamless (non-rapid eye movement, or NREM) sleep. Another NREM disorder is sleep terrors, which can occur together with sleepwalking.

Sleepwalking usually occurs early in the night — often one to two hours after falling asleep. It’s unlikely to occur during naps. A sleepwalking episode can occur rarely or often, and an episode generally lasts several minutes, but can last longer.

Someone who is sleepwalking may:

  • Get out of bed and walk around
  • Sit up in bed and open his or her eyes
  • Have a glazed, glassy-eyed expression
  • Do routine activities, such as getting dressed, talking or making a snack
  • Not respond or communicate with others
  • Be difficult to wake up during an episode
  • Be disoriented or confused for a short time after being awakened
  • Quickly return to sleep
  • Not remember the episode in the morning
  • Sometimes have problems functioning during the day because of disturbed sleep
  • Have sleep terrors in addition to sleepwalking

Rarely, a person who is sleepwalking will:

  • Leave the house
  • Drive a car
  • Engage in unusual behavior, such as urinating in a closet
  • Engage in sexual activity without awareness
  • Get injured, for example, by falling down the stairs or jumping out a window
  • Become violent during the confused period after awakening or, occasionally, during the event

When to see a doctor

Occasional episodes of sleepwalking aren’t usually a cause for concern. You can simply mention the sleepwalking at a routine physical or well-child exam. However, consult your doctor if the sleepwalking episodes:

  • Occur often — for example, more than one to two times a week
  • Lead to dangerous behavior or injury to the person who sleepwalks (which may occur, for example, after leaving the house) or to others
  • Cause significant sleep disruption to household members or embarrassment to the person who sleepwalks
  • Start for the first time in an adult
  • Continue into your child’s teen years

Causes

Many factors can contribute to sleepwalking, including:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, such as separation anxiety in children
  • Fever
  • Sleep schedule disruptions
  • Some medications and substances, such as short-acting hypnotics, sedatives or combinations of different drugs prescribed for psychiatric illnesses, as well as alcohol

Sometimes sleepwalking can by triggered by underlying conditions that interfere with sleep, such as:

  • Sleep-disordered breathing — a group of disorders characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep (for example, obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Migraines
  • Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, head injury or stroke
  • Travel

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of sleepwalking include:

  • Genetics. Sleepwalking appears to run in families. It’s more common if you have one parent who has a history of sleepwalking, and much more common if both parents have a history of the disorder.
  • Age. Sleepwalking occurs more often in children than adults, and onset in adulthood is more likely related to other health conditions.

Complications

Sleepwalking itself isn’t necessarily a concern, but sleepwalkers can:

  • Easily hurt themselves — especially if they walk near furniture or stairs, wander outdoors, drive a car or eat something inappropriate during a sleepwalking episode
  • Experience prolonged sleep disruption, which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and possible school or behavior issues
  • Be embarrassed or experience problems with social relationships
  • Disturb others’ sleep
  • Injure someone who is close by during the period of brief confusion immediately after waking or occasionally during the event

Preparing for your appointment

If you have concerns about safety or underlying conditions, you may want to see your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist.

What you can do

Here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

  • Keep a sleep diary for two weeks before the appointment to help your doctor understand what’s causing the sleepwalking. In the morning, record as much as you know of bedtime rituals, quality of sleep, and so on. At the end of the day, record behaviors that may affect sleep, such as sleep schedule disruptions, caffeine intake and any medications taken.
  • Make a list of any symptoms experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Make a list of key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or other supplements currently being taken, and the dosages.
  • Bring a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember what the doctor says.
  • Prepare questions to ask your doctor to help you make the most of your time together.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing the symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • What kinds of tests are needed?
  • Is the condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What’s the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you’re suggesting?
  • Are there any restrictions that need to be followed?
  • Is referral to a specialist needed?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don’t hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you begin experiencing or noticing symptoms?
  • Have you or your child had sleep problems in the past?
  • Does anyone else in your family have sleep problems?
  • What problems have you noticed related to the sleepwalking, such as awakening in unusual locations of the house?

Tests and diagnosis

Unless you live alone and are completely unaware of your sleepwalking, chances are you’ll make the diagnosis of sleepwalking for yourself. If your child sleepwalks, you’ll know it.

Your doctor may do a physical or psychological exam to identify any conditions that may be confused with sleepwalking, such as nighttime seizures, other sleep disorders or panic attacks. In some cases, a sleep study in an overnight sleep lab may be recommended.

Sleep studies

To participate in a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, you’ll likely spend the night in a sleep lab. A technologist places sensors on your scalp, temples, chest and legs using a mild adhesive, such as glue or tape. The sensors are connected by wires to a computer. A small clip is placed on your finger or ear to monitor the level of oxygen in your blood.

Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during the study. Technologists monitor you throughout the night while you sleep.

Your doctor will review the information to determine whether you have any sleep disorders.

Treatments and drugs

Treatment for occasional sleepwalking usually isn’t necessary. In children who sleepwalk, it typically goes away by the teen years.

If you notice your child or anyone else in your household sleepwalking, gently lead him or her back to bed. It’s not dangerous to the sleepwalker to be awakened, but it can be disruptive — the person may become confused and disoriented, and possibly agitated.

Treatment may be needed if there are negative consequences for the sleepwalking, such as risk of injury or embarrassment, or if there’s distress for others.

Treatment may include:

  • Treating the underlying condition, if the sleepwalking is associated with sleep deprivation or an underlying sleep disturbance, medical condition or a mental health disorder
  • A change of medication, if it’s thought that the sleepwalking results from a drug
  • Anticipatory awakenings ― waking the sleepwalker about 15 minutes before the person usually sleepwalks, then staying awake for five minutes before falling asleep again
  • Medication, such as benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants, if the sleepwalking leads to the potential for injury, is disruptive to family members, or results in embarrassment or sleep disruption for the person who sleepwalks
  • Learning self-hypnosis

Lifestyle and home remedies

If sleepwalking is a problem for you or your child, try these suggestions.

  • Make the environment safe for sleepwalking. If sleepwalking has led to injuries or has the potential to do so, consider some of these precautions to prevent injury: Close and lock all windows and exterior doors at night. You might even lock interior doors or place alarms or bells on the doors. Block doorways or stairways with a gate, and move electrical cords or other objects that pose a tripping hazard. Sleep in a ground floor bedroom, if possible. Place any sharp or fragile objects out of reach, and lock up all weapons. If your child sleepwalks, don’t let him or her sleep in a bunk bed.
  • Get more sleep. Fatigue can contribute to sleepwalking. If you’re sleep deprived, try an earlier bedtime, a more regular sleep schedule or a short nap, especially for toddlers.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing routine before bedtime. Do quiet, calming activities before bed, such as reading books, doing puzzles or soaking in a warm bath. Meditation or relaxation exercises may help, too.
  • Put stress in its place. Identify the issues that cause stress, and brainstorm possible ways to handle the stress. Talk about what’s bothering you. Or if your child seems anxious or stressed, talk with him or her about any concerns.
  • Look for a pattern. For several nights, note ― or have another person in your home note ― how many minutes after bedtime a sleepwalking episode occurs. If the timing is fairly consistent, this information is useful in planning anticipatory awakenings.

Try to be positive. However disruptive, sleepwalking usually isn’t a serious condition — and it usually goes away on its own.


Updated: 2014-07-31

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It’s time to get healthy sleep for your entire body

April 29th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

April 9, 2014

Your doctor could soon be prescribing crucial shuteye as treatment for everything from obesity to ADHD to mental health as experts say carving out time for sleep is just as important as diet and exercise

After being diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2011, Lynn Mitchell, 68, was averaging about an hour of solid sleep a night. Stressed about her treatments, she was paying for it in hours of lost sleep.

The brain cancer was already affecting her mobility—Mitchell was often dizzy and would lose her balance—but the lack of sleep was exacerbating things. Even walking became increasingly difficult. Exhausted in the mornings, she was practically incoherent. When her doctors recommend she see a sleep therapist, Mitchell was relieved at how benign it sounded in comparison to the chemotherapy she had undergone and the gene therapy trial she was undergoing, which had side effects like nausea and fatigue.

For about nine weeks, Mitchell worked with the sleep therapist to adjust her sleep habits. She got under the covers only when she was extremely tired. She quit watching TV in bed. She stopped drinking caffeinated coffee in the evening. She also learned breathing exercises to relax and help her drift off. It was all quite simple and common sense, and, most importantly, noninvasive and didn’t require popping any pills.

“It’s common knowledge that sleep is needed for day to day function,” says Dr. David Rapoport, director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU School of Medicine. “What isn’t common knowledge is that it really matters—it’s not just cosmetic.” Rapoport has long seen people seek sleep therapy because they’re chronically tired or suffering from insomnia, but an increasing number of patients are being referred to his center for common diseases, disorders, and mental health.

Researchers have known for some time that sleep is critical for weight maintenance and hormone balance. And too little sleep is linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease to depression. Recently, the research on sleep has been overwhelming, with mounting evidence that it plays a role in nearly every aspect of health. Beyond chronic illnesses, a child’s behavioral problems at school could be rooted in mild sleep apnea. And studies have shown children with ADHD are more likely to get insufficient sleep. A recent study published in the journal SLEEP found a link between older men with poor sleep quality and cognitive decline. Another study out this week shows sleep is essential in early childhood for development, learning, and the formation and retention of memories. Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen, a pioneer of sleep research at the University of Chicago, once said, “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made.”

But to many of us, sleep is easily sacrificed, especially since lack of it isn’t seen as life threatening. Over time, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, but we mostly sacrifice a night of sleep here and there, and always say that we’ll “catch up.” Luckily, it is possible to make up for sleep debt (though it can take a very long time), but most Americans are still chronically sleep deprived.

While diet and exercise have been a part of public health messaging for decades, doctors and health advocates are now beginning to argue that getting quality sleep may be just as important for overall health. “Sleep is probably easier to change than diet or exercise,” says Dr. Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “It may also give you more of an immediate reward if it helps you get through your day.” Sleep experts claim that it is one of the top three, and sometimes the most, important lifestyle adjustments one can make, in addition to diet and exercise. And while there’s more evidence linking diet and exercise as influential health factors, sleep is probably more important in terms of brain and hormonal function, Grandner says. “Among a small group of [sleep researchers], it’s always been said that [eating, exercise, and sleep] are the three pillars of health,” says Dr. Rapoport.

In our increasingly professional and digital lives, where there are now more things than ever competing for the hours in our day, carving out time for sleep is not only increasingly difficult, but also more necessary. Using technology before bed stimulates us and interferes with our sleep, yet 95% of Americans use some type of electronics like a computer, TV, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before we go to bed, according to a 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey. “Many doctors, lawyers, and executives stay up late and get up early and burn the candle at both ends,” says Dr. Richard Lang, chair of Preventative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “Making sure they pay attention to sleep in the same way they pay attention to diet and exercise is crucial.”

To some, sleep has become a powerful antidote to mental health. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, advocates that sleep is the secret to success, happiness, and peak performance. After passing out a few years ago from exhaustion and cracking a cheekbone against her desk, Huffington has become something of a sleep evangelist. In a 2010 TEDWomen conference, Huffington said, “The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.” Research linking high-quality sleep with better mental health is growing; a 2013 study found that treating depressed patients for insomnia can double their likelihood of overcoming the disorder.

While 70% of physicians agree that inadequate sleep is a major health problem, only 43% counsel their patients on the benefits of adequate sleep. But there’s growing pressure on primary care physicians to address, and even prescribe, sleep during routine check-ups. In a recent study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the researchers concluded that health professionals should prescribe sleep to prevent and treat metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes. And overlooking sleep as a major health issue can also have deadly consequences. It was recently reported that the operator of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York last year, killing four people and injuring more than 70, had an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea.

Sleep therapies can range from simply learning new lifestyle behaviors to promote sleep, to figuring out how to position oneself in bed. More drastic measures involve surgery to open up an airway passage for people suffering from disorders like sleep apnea. Sleeping pills can be prescribed too, to get much needed rest, but sleep therapists tend to favor other approaches because of possible dependencies developing.

A large part of reaping the benefits of sleep is knowing when you’re not getting the right amount. According to a 2013 Gallup survey, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night. While the typical person still logs about 6.8 hours of sleep per night, that’s a drop from the 7.9 Americans were getting in the 1940s.

When it comes to adequate sleep, it’s much more personalized than previously thought. Some people feel great on five hours of rest, while others need ten. The best way to determine if you’re getting the right amount, doctors say, is to find out how many hours of sleep you need to be able to wake up without an alarm and feel rested, refreshed, and energetic throughout the day.

Since reforming her sleep habits, Mitchell has been clocking up to seven hours of shuteye a night for the past two months. “I’m alert in the morning, my balance is better, and I feel peppier,” says Mitchell. Getting enough sleep has helped her better deal with her cancers, and its symptoms. The best news is that she recently found out that her brain tumor is shrinking, and there are fewer cancerous spots on her lungs.

American Heart Month Means Time to Get in Shape

February 6th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

María Simón

Celebrity fitness trainer, volunteer

So it’s February, and although resolutions are beginning to fade, they’re still there, shining dimly in the background of your mental to-do list. The determination to get back in shape is still alive, but already unforgiving schedules, nagging colds, and less-than-optimal weather conditions have gotten in the way.

Whatever you do, don’t give up… February is here to the rescue! What better time to get back on the wagon than during American Heart Month! Whether your goal is to lose weight, lower your blood pressure or simply become more active, the path is clear and, contrary to what the negative voices in our heads are saying, these goals are attainable.

I’m all for vanity as a great motivator to get healthy, but let’s not lose sight of the most important goal: to live longer and stronger. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, even more than all cancers… combined! Obviously, excess fat is a contributing factor, and dropping a few pounds greatly improves heart health. Nevertheless, losing weight shouldn’t be the only focus. After all, in case you haven’t heard, strong is the new skinny! It is important to be informed and have realistic goals.

Research by the American Heart Association has shown that visceral (abdominal) fat is directly related to higher incidences of heart health issues. But before you throw yourself to the floor in a frantic attempt to do as many crunches as humanly possible, know that six-pack abs are no more healthier than those with reasonable height-to-weight ratios. The American Heart Association recommends a waist circumference that is less than 35 inches for women. However, this is relative to height. Therefore, a waist circumference that is less than half of one’s height is another guideline toward procuring a healthy size, as opposed to going by the air-brushed model on the cover of your favorite magazine.

By now, we’ve been bombarded with every lose-weight-quick diet tip and get-flat-abs-quicker exercise routine. Fitness professionals, like myself, are forever searching for exciting exercise combinations in order to motivate our clients. But between you and me, the truth is, simple is best. Sometimes, just finding the time (and a wearable sports bra) is complicated enough.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30-45 minutes of any exercise to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The keyword here is “any.” You don’t have to be drenched in sweat and feel like you’re about to die in order to have accomplished a good work-out, but if you’re determined, a lot can be done in just 30 minutes.

Start with a casual warm-up, jogging in place for a minute, increase to sprinting for another minute, and add jumping jacks for yet another minute. You can go back to sprinting, then jogging to bring your intensity down before stopping. Add some arm circles and leg swings for dynamic stretches while keeping your heart rate somewhat elevated.

Now that you’re all warmed up, let’s use your home as a gym. The bottom two steps of any stairway can be used as a “stepper” to do alternating step-ups, adding knee raises to work the quadriceps and then heel lifts to work the hamstrings and glutes. Use a dining room chair for tricep dips, and you can even sit in the chair, hold on to your seat (literally), bring your knees into your chest and extend your legs for a great abdominal workout.

Finally, take it to the floor and add some planks to the mix, going from elbows to hands to make it a little more interesting (if not entertaining) for an effective core and upper body exercise. Spend a couple of minutes at each of your homemade stations, take a one-minute water break, and repeat three times. End your at-home exercise routine by holding a few static stretches and you are good to go!

Find out more information about Health Benefits of Weight Training for Women,Abdominal Exercises that Strengthen Your Core and other heart-healthy routines by visiting Go Red For Women.

This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post andlesscancer.org, in recognition of both World Cancer Day and National Cancer Prevention Day (both Feb. 4), and in conjunction with lesscancer.org’s panel oncancer in Washington that day. To see all the other posts in the series, clickhere. For more information about lesscancer.org, click here

NFL’s #1 Draft Pick Claims Sleep Apnea Slowed Him Down

November 13th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

NFL’s #1 Draft Pick Claims Sleep Apnea Slowed Him Down

Sleep apnea weaved its way into the national consciousness back in 2004 when legendary NFL lineman Reggie White died in his sleep at the age of 43. The NFL-apnea connection appeared yet again in a late October 2011 article in Sports Illustrated that documented the rise and dramatic fall of the Oakland Raiders’ #1 overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Many NFL fans remember JaMarcus Russell, a 6-foot, 7-inch quarterback with a rocket arm who flamed out of the league, a victim of a questionable work ethic that may have been made worse by sleep apnea.

Russell reports that the condition contributed to lethargic practices and less-than-alert film sessions. “In the NFL, my first year, I had to be there at 6:30 before practice and be on the treadmill for an hour,” said Russell in the article by L. Jon Wertheim. “Then meetings come, I sit down, eat my fruit. We watch film, and maybe I got tired. Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] pulled me aside and said, ‘What are you doing for night life?’ I said, ‘Coach, I’m just chilling.’ He said, ‘I need to get you checked out.’ I did the sleep test, and they said I had apnea.”

At another point in the article, Russell’s former “life coach,” ex NBA player John Lucas, said: “JaMarcus is a good kid, I’m telling you, who just needs to find his motivation. But we still talk. Have him tell you about his sleep apnea. A lot [of his issues] come from that. And no one knows it.” The article does not mention CPAP, oral appliances, compliance, or whether Russell underwent any therapy for the condition.

Almost 7 years after her husband’s death, Reggie White’s widow went on television this week to spread the word about sleep apnea. Last week, former San Diego Chargers’ offensive lineman Aaron Taylor, along with Rolf Benirschke, a kicker for the Chargers, attended yet another media event to talk about their own battles with sleep apnea.

link to the Benirschke article.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/nov/02/unmasking-the-problem-football-players-at-risk/

link to the Sports Illustrated article

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1191566/1/index.htm

Expand your sleep vocabulary-#15

July 17th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

Bruxism

Bruxism is the unconscious, involuntary act of clenching or grinding one’s teeth while asleep. It often occurs during periods of stress. Bruxism comes from the Greek word “brychein,” which means gnashing of teeth. It can lead to tooth damage, jaw pain, and headaches.

Words to expand your sleep vocabulary-#13

July 9th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

Circadian

From the Latin meaning “about a day,” circadian refers to numerous phenomena (especially biological rhythms) that have an interval length of approximately 24 hours. It may be used in reference to circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

Words to expand your sleep vocabulary-#9

June 26th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

Jet lag

Jet lag is a temporary condition that is caused by rapid travel across time zones — as may occur with jet trips — and may leave an individual experiencing fatigue, insomnia, nausea, or other symptoms as a result of the internal circadian rhythm, or biological clock, being misaligned with local time.

Words to expand your sleep vocabulary-#6

June 5th, 2011 Raquel Rothe

Parasomnias

Parasomnias are sleep disorders characterized by abnormal sleep behaviors. The word comes from Latin and means “around sleep”. Parasomnias involve unconscious complex, semi-purposeful, and goal-directed behaviors. These may include sleep terrors, sleepwalking, sleep eating, sleep sex, rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder, or any number of potential behaviors while the person remains asleep.

Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions

December 15th, 2010 Raquel Rothe

INFORMATION FROM WEBMD

Slideshow: Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions

 

http://women.webmd.com/slideshow-thyroid-symptoms-and-solutions

The 10 Things You Should Hate About The Loss of Sleep

September 20th, 2010 admin

Did you know that the lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy? You may not realize what it can do to your life, memory, sex, looks and even the ability to loss weight, these are all serious-and surprising effect of sleep loss.
Sleepiness Causes Accidents-Some of the biggest disasters in recent history were caused by sleep deprivation: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive/destructive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl are just a few. Sleep loss is a big public safety hazard every day on the roads we travel. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk; many studies have proven this and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes with 1,500 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S.
The loss of sleep dumbs you down-Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving so this makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. Secondly during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
Serious health problems can lead to sleep deprivation-Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
Heart disease
Heart attack
Heart failure
Irregular heartbeat
High blood pressure
Stroke
Diabetes
According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia — a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep — also have another health condition.

4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive-Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower and libidos less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame. For men with sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, there may be another factor in the sexual slump. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. In the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.

5. Sleepiness Is Depressing-In a 1997 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, people who slept less than five hours a night for seven nights felt stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin-Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones. “It’s during deep sleep — what we call slow-wave sleep — that growth hormone is released,” says Phil Gehrman, PhD, CBSM, assistant professor of psychiatry and clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair — patching the wear and tear of the day.”

7. Forgetful? Sleepiness Makes You this way-If you are trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep. In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.

8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight-When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,” says Siebern. “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.” Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss program. So if we are gaining sleep, we should be losing weight.

9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death-In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep! Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely. Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem. “Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it,” Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

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