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It’s Time to Pay Attention to Sleep, the New Health Frontier

April 29th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

April 9, 2014

Woman asleep in bedGetty Images

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 ofmemories. 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.

Even smartphone screens impact kids’ sleep, study finds

February 26th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

Meghan Holohan


Jan. 5, 2015 at 2:44 AM ET

For tweens who got a tablet or smartphone for the holidays, their new bedtime routine may involve Netflix helping them doze off. But don’t think that’s better than watching TV before bed. A new study finds that even small-screen devices interrupt children’s sleep.

Experts have known that a flickering TV in the bedroom cuts into children’s sleep time. A researcher at the University of California, Berkeley wondered if small screens, such as those found on tablets and smartphones, influenced children’s sleep, too.

“Much less is known about new forms of media, like smartphones,” says Jennifer Falbe, lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics. “[They] have the potential to impact sleep, perhaps to a greater degree than traditional media.”

Falbe studied results from the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration, where 2,048 fourth-and seventh-grade students answered questions about their sleep and TV, smartphone, and tablet habits.

What the new research found:

  • Children who dozed off near a small screen said they slept 20.6 minutes less than their peers who snoozed away from electronic devices.
  • More importantly, children attached to small screens complained of interrupted sleep, something that even those who watched loads of TV or slept with a TV in the room did not admit to feeling.
  • Those who were lulled to sleep by a TV admitted to 18 fewer minutes a sleep.
  • Children who spent a lot of time during the day watching TV or videos or playing videogames also reported sleeping less.

The study didn’t look at why small screens impact sleep, but Falbe says a few factors play a role.

“While any type of light can suppress melatonin release, blue light emitted from electronics has a stronger impact on melatonin release,” she says. “Content can be engaging and emotionally arousing.”

While children may treat tablets and smartphones like another appendage, experts say there are ways to stop them from migrating to the bedroom.

“[Smart phones and tablets] are robbing the kid of the nightly routine of how to go to bed and get to sleep,” says Michele Borba, a parenting expert and TODAY Parents contributor.

She believes children need to learn how to fall asleep without help from electronics and recommends that phones and tablets are worked into the nighttime routine. Children will soon know that they can’t use electronics a half hour before bed.

Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa takes it one step further: parents should keep all chargers in their bedrooms and tell their children they must “park” their devices in their rooms. The ping of a text will no longer cause a child to spring from bed to check a phone or tablet.

“Kids genuinely believe … communication is actually that urgent,” says Gilboa. “Every one of those messages feels impossible to ignore.”

http://www.today.com/parents

6 Reasons to Love to Sleep-by SleepTracker

February 24th, 2015 Raquel Rothe

6 Reasons to Love to Sleep

love pillows

Songs romanticize it; fairytales reference it. Sometimes we even dream about it. It’s sleep and many of us can’t (or don’t) get enough of it.

Why is sleep so wonderful? Everyone has their own reason for valuing their beauty rest, but like love, it all comes down to how it makes use feel. Here are six reasons to love sleep:

  1. It can help you lose weight
    Studies have suggested links between sleep and weight, which means that more sleep means that you could actually gain less weight.
  2. It’s beauty’s ally
    Beauty sleep isn’t a myth! Recent research shows there’s a link between getting a good night’s rest and physical appearance.
  3. It helps support your immune system
    Lack of sleep can help make us more prone to catching illnesses, including the flu.
  4. It makes you happier
    Studies show that lack of sleep has a powerful impact on mood.
  5. It can help manage stress
    Running short on sleep can hinder focus, causing concentration and effectiveness to suffer and energy levels to decline. All of which diminishes our overall performance which can, in turn, lead to stress.
  6. It’s good for your brain
    Research suggests that both quantity and quality of sleep have an impact memory and learning.

Love your sleep, but feel like you can never get enough? Visit our website to learn more about SleepTracker, a revolutionary portable sleep monitor that wakes you up feeling refreshed and energized!

TED talks sleep by Jeff Iliff

February 3rd, 2015 Raquel Rothe

<iframe src=”https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/jeff_iliff_one_more_reason_to_get_a_good_night_s_sleep.html” width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

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Winter, sleep and your circadian rhythms

January 19th, 2015 Raquel Rothe
American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Nov 13, 2014
Unlike animals, humans do not need to hibernate during the winter. It may feel like you need more sleep during the winter months because the days get shorter. However, your actual sleep need does not increase.

It is normal for sleep habits and activity cycles to change a bit as the seasons change, according to Dr. Emerson M. Wickwire, Sleep Medicine Program Director at Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Associates in Columbia, Md., assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue or a noticeable change in your mood, irritability or ability to think or remember clearly, then you should talk to a board-certified sleep physician.

“The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to sleeping in winter is ignoring their body’s natural rhythm. Even if you’re tempted to stay in bed or on the couch all day long, unless you are sick it’s a good idea to get up and move around.”

Staying in bed or on the couch all day long when you’re not sick may throw off your circadian rhythms. The visual cues of light and darkness “set” this internal clock keeping it synchronized to a 24-hour cycle.

A number of sleep disorders that are linked to misaligned circadian rhythms including insomniajet lag andshift work disorder. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been blamed for depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder, which is more common in the winter.

WINTER SLEEP TIPS

  • Increase exposure to light
  • increase or maintain physical activity
  • Use a humidifier or nasal rinse to keep your airway passages from drying out
  • Make sure that your bedroom is not too warm or too cold

Sleepless in America-National Geographic Trailer

December 12th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti20okupT6U&sns=em

A MUST watch for EVERYONE!

Sleepless in America-Men & Women’s sleep is out of sync

December 2nd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/men-and-women-have-separate-sleep-clocks/

Great link to watch this video from CBS News

Tom Brady Explains Why He Goes To Sleep At 8:30

November 13th, 2014 Raquel Rothe

Sleep and performance go hand in hand!

  • NOV. 10, 2014, 10:51 AM
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tom brady patriotsJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

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At age 37, Tom Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

For years, many have been anticipating his inevitable decline. Twice in the past four years the Patriots have drafted quarterbacks in preparation for the post-Brady era.

But every time he starts to look his age, he manages to put together a string of strong performances in which he looks like the Brady of old.

On Monday, Brady did an interview with WEEI radio in Boston, and he talked about how he stays youthful.

One of his strategies: getting plenty of sleep.

In a recent column, ESPN’s Bill Simmons said that Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman told him Brady goes to sleep at 8:30 each night.

WEEI asked Brady about the 8:30 p.m. bedtime. He said he went to sleep so early because football was the only thing he loved to do, and all his decisions were designed to keep him playing at an age when most players retire.

“Strength training and conditioning and how I really treat my body is important to me, because there’s really nothing else that I enjoy like playing football,” he said. “I want to do it as long as I can.”

Here’s his entire answer when asked about his sleep habits (full audio here):

I do go to bed very early because I’m up very early. I think that the decisions that I make always center around performance enhancement, if that makes sense. So whether that’s what I eat or what decisions I make or whether I drink or don’t drink, it’s always football-centric. I want to be the best I can be every day. I want to be the best I can be every week. I want to be the best I can be for my teammates. I love the game and I want to do it for a long time. But I also know that if I want to do it for a long time, I have to do things differently than the way guys have always done it.

I have to take a different approach. Strength training and conditioning and how I really treat my body is important to me, because there’s really nothing else that I enjoy like playing football. I want to do it as long as I can.

Later in the conversation, Brady talked about how different his lifestyle was from his early days in the NFL. He said he was “fast and loose” when he was 25 but would not change a thing:

The 25-year-old Tom Brady had a great time. I probably wouldn’t change much from those days … I was kind of fast and loose back then … I wouldn’t change anything when I was 25.

I tell [young players], I say, ‘You guys live it up, enjoy it. Because there’s going to be a time when you don’t have that opportunity again.’ You try to make good decisions and your mistakes you don’t want to be permanent. But when you’re in your youth, you should have fun and do those things that young guys do.

Brady has three years left on an extension that he signed in 2013. The $26 million in base salary for those three years becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the team for the last game of this season — which is a certainty at this point. If he plays out his contract, he’ll still be quarterbacking the Patriots at age 40.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tom-brady-sleep-2014-11#ixzz3Ixv4iJhb

College and Sleep Should Be Two Peas in a Pod

September 3rd, 2014 Raquel Rothe

Our new college bedding study highlights problems with the pillows and mattress pads that college students take to school with them.  But, gross fungi aside, it also brings up a very important point — a good night’s sleep increases a student’s chance of success in college exponentially.

Multiple studies have been done on the subject.  One, covered here at SleepBetter.org, looked at 60 college-age subjects.  The participants were split into two equal groups.  In the morning, the first group learned a batch of 30 fake words.  They then returned later in the evening to take a test on how well they learned the words. Meanwhile, the second group studied the same phony words at nighttime. This group did not complete their vocabulary test until the following morning after a full night’s sleep.

Once the tests were scored, researchers found that the subjects who slept after learning the new words performed much better than those who were awake throughout the day.

By entering a deep sleep, your brain is better able to establish connections between new facts and previous knowledge.  Since learning new things and applying connections is what college is all about, it only stands to reason that sleep and attending college should go together like two peas in a pod.

Here are some recommendations from an article we published last year called Five Tips to Help College Students Sleep Better:

  • Make sure they have a proper pillow.  Check out that pillow your student is taking to school.  Has it been around since they were in kindergarten?  If so, replace it.  Not only could it be filled with fungi, an outdated, out-of-shape pillow can also make it hard to get comfortable at night.
  • Add a mattress pad. Dormitory beds are notoriously uncomfortable, but adding a good mattress pad can make them tolerable.
  • Earplugs may not be a bad idea.  It’s no secret that dorms are noisy.
  • Talk about what a bed is used for.  This will sound strange, but using a bed for a desk, a TV chair, and even a video game lounge can lead to not getting to sleep when it’s bedtime.
  • Suggest a good sleep routine.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time every night is the best way to go.  Knowing that’s unrealistic, however, perhaps suggest they try to go to sleep at around the same time Sunday through Thursday.  Recognizing that Friday and Saturday night probably won’t mean lights out at 10pm, suggest trying to get to bed no later than a couple of hours after their weekday bedtime.

After reading about our college bedding story, are you freaked out about what’s inside your pillow?  Be sure to check out our article on how to clean your pillow!

http://sleepbetter.org/college-and-sleep-should-be-two-peas-in-a-pod/

Poor Coping Mechanisms a Mediating Pathway Between Stress Exposure and Insomnia

August 1st, 2014 Raquel Rothe
Published on July 3, 2014

A new study identifies specific coping behaviors through which stress exposure leads to the development of insomnia.

Results show that coping with a stressful event through behavioral disengagement—giving up on dealing with the stress—or by using alcohol or drugs each significantly mediated the relationship between stress exposure and insomnia development. Surprisingly, the coping technique of self-distraction—such as going to the movies or watching TV–also was a significant mediator between stress and incident insomnia. Furthermore, the study found that cognitive intrusion—recurrent thoughts about the stressor—was a significant and key mediator, accounting for 69% of the total effect of stress exposure on insomnia.

“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, in a release. “While a stressful event can lead to a bad night of sleep, it’s what you do in response to stress that can be the difference between a few bad nights and chronic insomnia.”

Study results are published in the July 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

The study involved a community-based sample of 2,892 good sleepers with no lifetime history of insomnia. At baseline, the participants reported the number of stressful life events that they had experienced in the past year, such as a divorce, serious illness, major financial problem, or the death of a spouse. They also reported the perceived severity and duration of each stressful event. Questionnaires also measured levels of cognitive intrusion and identified coping strategies in which participants engaged in the 7 days following the stressful event. A follow-up assessment after 1 year identified participants with insomnia disorder, which was defined as having symptoms of insomnia occurring at least 3 nights per week for a duration of 1 month or longer with associated daytime impairment or distress.

“This study is an important reminder that stressful events and other major life changes often cause insomnia,” says American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) president Dr Timothy Morgenthaler. “If you are feeling overwhelmed by events in your life, talk to your doctor about strategies to reduce your stress level and improve your sleep.”

According to the authors, the study identified potential targets for therapeutic interventions to improve coping responses to stress and reduce the risk of insomnia. In particular, they noted that mindfulness-based therapies have shown considerable promise in suppressing cognitive intrusion and improving sleep.

“Though we may not be able to control external events, we can reduce their burden by staying away from certain maladaptive behaviors,” Pillai says.

The AASM reports that short-term insomnia disorder lasting less than 3 months occurs in 15% to 20% of adults and is more prevalent in women than in men.

- See more at: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/2014/07/stress-exposure-coping-insomnia/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=SR+Sleep+Report+7%2F09&spMailingID=8979349&spUserID=MjQxMTIxNTA4MjUS1&spJobID=340679522&spReportId=MzQwNjc5NTIyS0#sthash.lVQ3rxG0.dpuf