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Posts Tagged ‘poor sleep’

TED talks sleep by Jeff Iliff

February 3rd, 2015 Raquel Rothe

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The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Experts: Restless legs might improve with nutritional changes

May 28th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

By Robert Shmerling. M.D., Tribune Content AgencyPremium Health News Service

4:30 a.m. CDT, April 30, 2014

Q: I have restless legs syndrome. Can diet help?

A: We don’t know what causes restless legs syndrome, but we do know that it causes unpleasant or painful sensations in the legs. This could include tingling, pulling, or crawling, along with an urge to move the legs.

A number of medications can help. However, treatment recommendations do not usually include changes in diet. Therefore, many doctors would answer “no” to your question. However, there are some associations that might be considered.

Iron deficiency is a risk factor for restless legs syndrome. So if blood tests show iron deficiency, eating iron-rich foods might help. Examples include red meat, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified cereals. But most doctors would simply recommend an iron supplement. (And your doctor may recommend testing to determine the cause of iron deficiency.)

A few studies have found that celiac disease is more common among people with restless legs syndrome. For people with both celiac disease and restless legs syndrome, eliminating gluten from the diet might improve symptoms of both conditions. However, this possibility has not been well-studied.

A study of more than 18,000 men found no connection between restless legs syndrome and an “unhealthy diet.” (This would be a diet that increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness.) But this study did not include a detailed analysis of the impact of specific foods on restless legs syndrome.

Caffeine and alcohol may affect sleep quality. Poor sleep quality can make symptoms of restless legs syndrome worse. If you’re willing, it may be worth a trial of cutting back and then eliminating both from your diet.

If you have restless legs syndrome, current evidence suggests that dietary changes are unlikely to have a major impact on your symptoms. But research regarding the connection is limited. Future research could change that.

Until then, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. And talk with your doctor about getting a blood test for iron deficiency and perhaps for celiac disease.

(Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is a practicing physician in rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass., and an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.)

(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2014 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Omega-3 Linked to Better Sleep

March 25th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

Higher levels of omega-3 DHA, the group of long-chain fatty acids found in algae and seafood, are associated with better sleep, according to a randomized placebo-controlled study by the University of Oxford.

The researchers explored whether 16 weeks of daily 600 mg supplements of algal sources would improve the sleep of 362 children. The children who took part in the study were not selected for sleep problems, but were all struggling readers at a mainstream primary school. At the outset, the parents filled in a child sleep questionnaire, which revealed that four in 10 of the children in the study suffered from regular sleep disturbances. Of the children rated as having poor sleep, the researchers fitted wrist sensors to 43 of them to monitor their movements in bed over 5 nights. This exploratory pilot study showed that the children on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly 1 hour (58 minutes) more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the children taking the corn or soybean placebo. The findings are due to be published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

The two-phased study looked at sleep in 362 healthy 7-9 year old UK schoolchildren in relation to the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) found in fingerstick blood samples. Previous research has suggested links between poor sleep and low blood omega-3 LC-PUFA in infants and in children and adults with behavior or learning difficulties. However, this is the first study to investigate possible links between sleep and fatty acid status in healthy children.

At the start of the study, parents and carers were asked to rate their child’s sleep habits over a typical week (using a three-point scale). Their responses to the well-validated Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire indicated that 40% of the children had clinical-level sleep problems, such as resistance to bedtime, anxiety about sleep, and constant waking in the course of the night.

The study finds that higher blood levels of the long-chain omega-3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) are significantly associated with better sleep, including less bedtime resistance, parasomnias, and total sleep disturbance. It adds that higher ratios of DHA in relation to the long-chain omega-6 fatty acid AA (arachidonic acid) are also associated with fewer sleep problems.

Lead author Professor Paul Montgomery of Oxford University says in a release: “To find clinical level sleep problems in four in ten of this general population sample is a cause for concern. Various substances made within the body from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep. For example, lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, and that would fit with our finding that sleep problems are greater in children with lower levels of DHA in their blood.”

Co-investigator Dr Alex Richardson of Oxford University says: “Previous studies we have published showed that blood levels of omega-3 DHA in this general population sample of 7-9 year olds were alarmingly low overall, and this could be directly related to the children’s behaviour and learning. Poor sleep could well help to explain some of those associations.

“Further research is needed given the small number of children involved in the pilot study. Larger studies using objective sleep measures, such as further actigraphy using wrist sensors, are clearly warranted. However, this randomised controlled trial does suggest that children’s sleep can be improved by DHA supplements and indicates yet another benefit of higher levels of omega-3 in the diet.”

- See more at: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/2014/03/omega-3-better-sleep/#sthash.TEJ9eyBI.dpuf