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Can’t Sleep? Here Are Some Easy Ways To Get A Better Night’s Rest, According To Science  

Some studies suggest that not sleeping enough is just as damaging to our health as smoking, and that getting less than six hours could lead to medical issues and — even worse — shave years off your life span.

“People often say you can sleep when you’re dead, and I say that’s true, but you’ll be dead a lot sooner if you don’t sleep right now,” said Lisa Metzer, a doctor and associate professor of pediatrics at National Jewish Health. “The science is quite clear that insufficient sleep leads to a significant impact on all aspects of functioning.” After all, research suggests that 24 hours without sleep is similar to being legally drunk.

The bad news: Fifty to seventy million Americans already suffer from sleep disorders. But the good news: We’re not necessarily damned if we don’t get a full eight hours.

Here’s what studies suggest about sleep — and what it means to get a decent night’s rest.

Early bird or night owl? It really might depend on your genes.

Our bodies have “diurnal preferences,” or “chronotypes,” which basically mean that we are predisposed to a certain type of body clock. One study of more than 600 people between the age of 20 and 35 suggests that these preferences are influenced by our genetic makeup, for example, and Metzer says that there’s generally a scientific consensus around the idea that we have fixed chronotypes.

“People have a tendency to be a morning or evening type. Some people are very extreme on either ends, like they always wake up at 4 a.m. or others can’t sleep until 2 a.m.,” she said.

But what about people who prefer nights but have jobs at the crack of dawn?

“Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is very critical to maintaining a normal rhythm that fits with the work or school schedule,” she said. “Even on weekends, don’t delay sleep by more than an hour and don’t sleep until noon, either — because, come Monday morning, you will not wake up.”

Changing sleep habits for just one night affects our bodies so much that she calls a late Saturday with friends “social jet lag.”

There’s a reason young people have trouble going to bed early.

Newborn babies need as much as 17 hours of sleep a day, but most adults need significantly less. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people age 18 to 64 should get about seven to nine hours of sleep a night — just a third of our daily lives.

But when it comes to teenagers and adults, Metzer said, there are specific needs. “When adolescents go through puberty, melatonin is released,” and that effectively makes adolescents night owls. “It becomes difficult for [them] to fall asleep earlier, and this carries into the early 20s,” she said.

This is why some groups are advocating for later school start times. In Boston, for example, a group recently petitioned to move the school day from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

“School start times are starting to change, but it’s certainly not at the level of recognition it needs to be,” Metzer said.

The good news: You can hack your environment to get better sleep.

No matter how well we manage to grimace through our most sleep-deprived days, or how long we’ve already mastered going through life with the constant fray of feeling tired, there’s no escaping a simple truth: Our bodies were designed for sleep.

“You have to eat, you have to drink, you have to breathe and you have to sleep. People think they can get by on less sleep, and they can — but it’s going to catch up with them eventually,” Metzer said.

But when we find ourselves struggling to drift into dreams, the following tips can help us get through the night.

1. Don’t drink or smoke before bed.

In the hours before we head to bed, be sure to avoid alcohol and cigarettes, which are thought to disrupt restorative REM sleep. It’s true that one study suggests that women are more affected by drinks before bed than men, but it’s generally not a good idea to sip a cocktail before bed, no matter who you are.

“Alcohol is a sedative and will make you sleepy, but it will also make it harder to get quality sleep,” Metzer said. She also recommends going completely cold-turkey and dropping cigarettes altogether, along with losing coffee around the middle of the day.
“Another standard recommendation is limiting caffeine use after lunch, since caffeine has a half-life of four to six hours,” she said. On top of coffee, that includes several types of tea, energy drinks and sodas.

2. Optimize your environment.

There are many tips on the internet for getting better sleep, but the most scientifically supported one is reducing our exposure to blue light by shutting off electronics at least a half-hour before bedtime.

In general, melatonin is a hormone that is released during darkness, so exposure to light at late-night hours can affect our body clocks.

Other theories are less supported, but perhaps worth a try. Keeping the temperature in our bedrooms cool, for instance, may make sleep more pleasant. Some recommend heating up our bodies with a shower a few hours before bed so that our bodies have to cool down afterward, signaling us to sleep.

Try whatever you’d like, but always remain some level of skepticism. Some studies also support using aroma therapy — particularly lavender — to aid our transition to sleep. Metzer, however, isn’t convinced that those kinds of solutions work. We just need to have the discipline to put our smartphones away and go to bed at a regular time, she said. That’s what will transform American health and culture in the future.

“People have become more interested in sleep, and it has become a hot topic,” she said. “But until [sleep] becomes a recognized pillar of health, the same way diet and exercise are, I don’t see vast changes happening quickly.”

 

By Kelly Kasulis        June 10, 2017          @KasulisK
 
source: mic.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Believing you’ve slept well, even when you haven’t, improves performance.

  • Drinking cold water actually causes your body to burn calories, as it uses energy to warm it up to body temperature.

 

  • When feeling depressed, do some cleaning.

  • About 80% of all cats are infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can cause depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia in humans.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Busy Schedules are Putting Children’s Health at Risk

‘Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,’ says child therapist

According to child and family therapist Michele Kambolis, children are vulnerable to anxiety and stress preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.

Busy schedules, too many worries and a lack of sleep could be threatening the health of your children, one expert is warning parents.

Vancouver-based child and family therapist Michele Kambolis says she often hears from children who say they are working with tutors or doing homework late into the night.

“Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,” she says.

But getting enough sleep is crucial to a child’s development, Kambolis says.

“It’s a non-negotiable part of their health. Children who are sleep-deprived are at risk for a whole host of problems including difficulties at school.”

Cultural attitudes to sleep play a big role, she notes.

“We seem to live in a culture that doesn’t value sleep in the way that it should,” she says.
“Our lifestyles are more hurried and more worried and a lot of busy, busy activity is falling into the time of day when children really need brain rest.
“We’re focusing on high productivity and we know that children match us. They match our choice and our behaviour.
“It’s really important to create a clear delineation between the busyness of the day and nighttime when children can wind down, lean into our care and talk about whatever worries have arisen throughout the day.”

(Natalie Holdway/CBC)

Some of her tips include:

  • Cut back on children’s screen time an hour and a half before bed.
  • If nighttime wetting is a problem, help keep kids dry by using absorbent bedtime pants.
  • Address dietary issues. Caffeine and sugar late in the day makes it very difficult for kids to sleep at night.
  • Practice ways to calm the mind and body in order to facilitate sleep.
  • Communicate with teachers, day care providers or other caregivers about how the child is functioning through the day to see if a lack of sleep is causing concern.

 

CBC News      Posted: May 17, 2017 
source; www.cbc.ca


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What Snacks To Eat For Better Sleep

Story highlights
=> Foods that boost the production of serotonin and melatonin in the brain might benefit sleep
=> Experts weigh in on what and when to eat before bedtime

(CNN)Many people chug caffeine-packed coffee or scarf down an energy bar to wake up, but what should you eat to wind down?

More than a third of adults in the United States are not getting enough shut-eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, to make sure that your bedtime snack can be effective in promoting sleep, some experts say it should contain one essential amino acid: tryptophan.

“There is a real lack of studies that show that specific nutrients can influence sleep, either better or worse. There are a few exceptions. Tryptophan has been shown to induce sleep,” said Michael Grandner, director of the University of Arizona College of Medicine’s Sleep and Health Research Program.

Tryptophan, an amino acid, might help you snooze because once it enters your body, it’s converted into two brain chemicals associated with sleep: melatonin, which helps regulate your body’s natural sleep and wake cycles, and serotonin, which causes relaxation and drowsiness.

“Tryptophan is the reason why it is widely perceived that a Thanksgiving dinner causes drowsiness, because of the tryptophan in turkey. However, other foods contain tryptophan, and some have more tryptophan than turkey,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and specialist in nutrition and preventive medicine.

Does your diet influence how well you sleep? Snacks containing high amounts of tryptophan include egg whites, soybeans, low-fat cheese, chicken and seeds, such as pumpkin or sesame, Hensrud said.

Foods rich in carbohydrates, lean in protein and low in fat also may boost the production of serotonin and melatonin, such as granola, unsweetened cereals or whole-grain crackers with milk, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Have a sweet tooth? Pineapples, oranges and bananas also may be linked to increased melatonin levels, according to a small study published in the Journal of Pineal Research in 2012.

On the other hand, eating foods low in fiber but high in saturated fat and sugar is associated with a lower quality of sleep, such as having difficulty falling asleep or not spending as much time during your sleep cycle in a deep sleep. That’s according to a small study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Spicy foods and caffeine before bedtime are also associated with impaired sleep – and not only what you eat but when you eat can play a role in how well you snooze. One small study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2013 suggests that you should refrain from consuming caffeine within six hours of bedtime.

The CDC recommends avoiding large meals too close bedtime. Grandner said people can eat a big meal about four or five hours beforehand.

And what about late-night snacks? “It’s never too late to eat a small snack,” he said. “I might have a small snack about an hour before going to bed, but many nights, I don’t.”

People with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux, should be careful not to lie down within three hours after a meal. That might trigger symptoms of reflux, which could interfere with sleep, Hensrud said.

By Jacqueline Howard, CNN      Thu May 11, 2017
source: www.cnn.com


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More Sleep Can Lead To Less Chronic Pain: Study

A new animal study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggests that sleeping more and drinking coffee rather than taking analgesics can help reduce the intensity of chronic pain.

Chronic pain sufferers could benefit from combining good sleep habits, taking sleep-promoting medications at night and alertness-promoting agents such as coffee during the day, according to a joint study by Boston Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

The researchers first studied the sleep cycles of lab animals (mice), measuring how long they slept and their sensory sensitivity.

To assess the impact of lack of sleep on pain, the research team kept the mice awake for as long as 12 hours in one session, or for 6 hours for five consecutive days. They did this by entertaining them with games without over-stimulating them or stressing them, thus mimicking the way people watch TV late in the evening instead of going to sleep.

Sensitivity to pain was gauged by exposing the mice to heat, cold, pressure or capsaicin (found in hot chili peppers) and “measuring how long it took the animal to move away or lick away the discomfort caused by the capsaicin.”

The researchers also tested responses to non-painful stimuli, such as loud noise which made the mice start.

The study showed that moderate sleep deprivation for five consecutive days can significantly increase pain sensitivity in healthy mice.

Analgesics (such as morphine and ibuprofen) did not reduce heightened pain sensitivity due to sleep loss. The study showed that morphine in particular lost most of its efficacy in mice deprived of sleep.
The study points out that in general, patients tend to increase analgesic dosage to compensate for the loss of efficacy due to sleep deprivation, thus increasing the risk of side-effects.

In contrast, caffeine and modafinil, both of which are known for promoting wakefulness, successfully blocked hyper-sensitivity to pain caused by acute and chronic sleep loss. But the study showed that in non-sleep-deprived mice, these substances did not have any analgesic effect.

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.” It can be acute when associated with trauma or an operation, or chronic if it lasts longer than 3 months and responds poorly to treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, one in five adults suffers from moderate to severe chronic pain and one in three of those are unable to live independently.

Relaxnews      Published Friday, May 12, 2017


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8 Ways to Stay Energized All Day

It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with energy issues. We go, go, go from morning to night, running on little but grit and caffeine. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “The reality is, you can get a real boost by making a few simple changes,” says Dr. Nada Milosavljevic, director of the integrative health program at Massachusetts General Hospital. That’s why we put together this complete guide to all-day energy: It’s packed with proven strategies that will keep you powered up as you plow through your to-do list. You’ll also learn about surprising energy drains (social media, we’re looking at you)—and how to keep them from stealing your mojo.

Keep allergies under control

People with hay fever often feel sluggish. “You spend so much time trying to breathe, you don’t have energy for anything else,” says New Jersey-based allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden, spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Your congestion might also keep you awake at night: French researchers found that more than 40 percent of seasonal-allergy sufferers reported they weren’t able to get a good night’s sleep when their symptoms flared.

Studies have shown that over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays (like Nasacort and Flonase) effectively relieve congestion and improve quality of life—including fatigue and sleep issues—in people with seasonal allergies. Ogden suggests pairing a spray with a daily dose of an OTC nonsedating antihistamine (such as Claritin or Allegra); the drug will block the action of histamine, the compound that triggers pesky nasal symptoms. For best results, begin treatment a couple of weeks before sniffle season starts.

Get enough (quality) sleep

It’s estimated that up to 26 percent of all adults in the U.S. have sleep apnea, a disorder that involves shallow breathing or pauses in breathing while you sleep. If you’re among them, you may often feel like you’re in a “brain fog,” even if you’re clocking seven hours of shut-eye a night. If your primary care physician suspects sleep apnea, she can refer you to a sleep center. Most cases can be diagnosed with an at-home test, says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Southern California and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Mild cases can often be treated with lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol before bed. Moderate or severe cases may require sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which supplies a steady stream of air to keep your airways open.

Exercise

A sweat session is great for upping your oomph, even when you feel like you’re out of juice. “When you exercise, you release hormones like adrenaline. This hormone actually tells our bodies to ignore feelings of pain and fatigue while enhancing blood flow to large muscles,” says Sabrena Jo, senior exercise scientist at the American Council on Exercise. As a result, a workout can leave you with more energy than you had beforehand—an effect that can last several hours.

And it doesn’t take much. One study looked at healthy, sedentary people who began exercising three days a week for just 20 minutes a day, at either a moderate or a low intensity. By the end of six weeks, their energy levels were 20 percent higher than those of a control group of nonexercisers.
Remember: The idea is to leave the gym energized, not exhausted. “If you feel beaten down by the time you step off the treadmill, it’s a sign you need to scale back,” says Jo.

 

Get adequate vitamin D

Research suggests this key vitamin plays a role in keeping us charged up. Experts suspect D helps regulate insulin secretion and metabolism, both of which affect energy levels. The nutrient has also been linked to better moods (not to mention a slew of other health benefits). If you find yourself constantly dragging, particularly in the winter, it might be worth asking your doc to check your D levels. Since it can be tough to get an adequate amount from food (sources include fatty fish, eggs, and fortified milk), she may recommend a supplement.

Purge your Facebook friends

There are two reasons social media can be an energy suck, says Dr. Brian Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. “On one hand, you look at everyone’s curated photos and get depressed because your life doesn’t look so perfect,” he explains. “But on the other hand, anything that’s negative also gets magnified. Neither extreme is good.” Indeed, one of his studies found a link between the amount of time spent on social media and the likelihood of depression.

Not ready to cut the Facebook cord? Try paring your “friends” down to your actual friends. “When you don’t know someone, you’re more likely to have a miscommunication or be upset by something in their feed,” says Primack. “But using social media to connect with old friends can have the opposite effect—it’s energizing.”

Eat to fuel

To improve your everyday energy, try this tweak: Substitute plant protein for animal protein whenever possible, suggests Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian at the NYU School of Medicine. Plants feed the “good” bacteria in your gut, she explains, which help boost your immunity to keep you healthy. They may also boost overall mood. A 2015 study found that people who followed a plant-based eating program for 18 weeks saw an increase in their productivity. Here, Heller describes a sample menu for an ideal day.

Breakfast: A Berry smoothie. Blend 1/2 cup berries with a scoop of avocado and 3/4 cup soy milk. The shake is high in both fiber and protein to stabilize your blood sugar until lunch.

Lunch: Lentil soup and kale salad. Lentils and kale are a mighty nutritional combo, offering protein, fiber, iron, potassium, zinc, folate, and more.

P.M. snack: Fruit and nuts. This duo serves up a nice balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to help you power through the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner: Vegetarian tacos. Wrap beans with shredded lettuce and cheese, chopped tomato, avocado, and salsa in a corn tortilla for a light dinner that won’t mess with your sleep.

Try some fast pick-me-ups

Take a mini break. Stand up and stretch, or watch a funny video. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers found that people who took two short breaks during a repetitive 50-minute task performed better than those who worked straight through.

Go for a quick walk. A landmark study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that a brisk 10-minute walk can have a revitalizing effect, enhancing energy for at least two hours.

Chew a stick of gum. A 2015 U.K. study found that this trick raised alertness and improved concentration, possibly because chewing increases blood flow.

Don’t ignore fatigue

Sometimes feeling spent isn’t a problem that can be solved with a nap. Below are a few possible medical explanations for flagging energy.

Anemia. This condition, common in women, means you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. If blood tests reveal you’re anemic, you may need to take an iron supplement.

Celiac disease. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of this serious condition, in which an autoimmune reaction to gluten damages the intestines. If blood tests suggest celiac, you’ll need an intestinal biopsy to diagnose it. The only proven therapy is a gluten-free diet.
Hypothyroidism. “If your body isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, you’re going to feel like you’re running low on fuel all the time,” says Milosavljevic. This disorder can be treated with synthetic hormones.

Heart disease. A 2003 study published in Circulation found that 70 percent of women who’d suffered heart attacks had reported feeling unusual fatigue for up to a month beforehand. “Patients often say that they feel tired in their chest,” says Dr. Dana Simpler, an internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. After a full workup, your doc can prescribe a treatment plan.

This article originally appeared on Health.com
Hallie Levine / Health.com       May 03, 2017     TIME Health
source: time.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts all contain a little bit of cyanide. Eating them primes your liver to deal better with other poisons.

  • Only 6 percent of doctors today are happy with their jobs.

  • If everyone in the world washed their hands properly, we could save 1 million lives a year.

 

  • Smelling green apples and bananas can help you lose weight.

  • Sleep makes you more creative and makes your memories stronger.

  • Coffee can lower your risk of tooth decay.

Happy Friday!

 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact