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How To Get More Deep Sleep?

While good nutrition and exercise are strongly associated with physical and mental wellbeing, we often neglect the importance of good sleep. Our body requires quality deep sleep in order to feel refreshed in the morning. 

Read on to learn more about deep sleep and how you can improve this stage of your sleep cycle. 

How much deep sleep do you need? 

deep sleep
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It is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Although restorative functions occur in all stages of the sleep cycle, deep sleep and REM sleep are the most important for restorative sleep

Restorative sleep is vital for better body and mind health. It helps improve learning, decision making, productivity and memory. It also helps to increase creativity, energy, alertness and productivity. 

Of the seven to nine hours, average sleep cycles show that 20 to 25 % of it is REM sleep. While there is no official consensus on how much REM sleep one should get, this seems to be a healthy amount of deep sleep. 

Deep sleep should take up 10 to 25%, or 1 to 2 hours of an average 8 hour sleep duration at night. 

As for light sleep, there is no minimum amount that you should get. In any case, it is almost impossible to avoid light sleep as it is the default stage when you nod off. 

Basic anatomy of sleep

Let us start by understanding the basic anatomy of sleep. Our brain plays a large role when it comes to the sleep-wake cycle. 

The hypothalamus, located deep inside the brain is a peanut sized structure that is the control center for sleep and arousal. 

In the hypothalamus is a cluster of thousands of cells referred to as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN’s role in sleep is to receive information on light exposure from our eyes to help control our circadian rhythms. 

Our brain stem, which is located at the base of the brain includes the medulla, midbrain and pons. It communicates with the hypothalamus on sleep-wake cycles. The brain stem is also important in regulating REM sleep as it signals muscles to relax during this stage of the sleep cycles to ensure that we do not act out our dreams. 

Other parts of the brain, such as the thalamus and amygdala are also essential during REM sleep. The thalamus sends information such as images and sounds that make up our dreams to the cerebral cortex while the amygdala helps to process emotions. 

The pineal gland, which is located within the two hemispheres of the brain also receives signals from the SCN. When the light goes down, the pineal gland produces the hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps to establish our circadian rhythm and encourages sleep. 

Stages of sleep

There are a total of 5 stages in the sleep cycle. 

Stage 1

Stage 1 of sleep occurs when you move from being awake to being asleep. It is a light, non-REM sleep. During this stage, your body starts to relax. Your heartbeat, respiration, eye movements and brain waves start to slow down. Stage 1 lasts just for a few minutes. 

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the sleep cycle is still a part of light sleep, but you are sleeping a little steadier at this stage. Your body continues to relax, and your core temperature drops. Your eye movements stop and your brain waves are slow although there may still be small bursts of activity in this stage. Stage 2 sleep should account for about 45 to 55% of the sleep cycle.  

Stage 3 and 4

Stage 3 and 4 is when you get deep sleep, which is also known as ‘slow wave sleep’ or ‘delta sleep’. During these stages, your muscles are extremely relaxed, while your heartbeat, breathing and brain waves are at their slowest. You are most difficult to waken during this time in your sleep cycle. 

Tissues growth and repair, as well as cellular energy is restored during Stage 4 sleep. 

Deep sleep is longer during the first half of the night, becoming shorter and shorter in the following sleep cycles. 

REM Sleep

You move from non REM sleep to REM sleep about 90 minutes from when you first fell asleep. During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly from side to side. Your heart rate, breathing and brain activity increases to near waking levels. 

Because you are most likely to dream during this stage, your arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed during the REM stage to ensure that you do not physically act out your dreams while you sleep. 

Benefits of deep sleep

The deep sleep stages are very important in the sleep cycle as it offers numerous health benefits. 

1. Boosts learning and memory consolidation

Deep sleep promotes glucose metabolism which helps with both short term and long term memory as well as overall learning. 

2. Growth and cell regeneration 

Our pituitary gland releases growth hormones during the deep sleep stage. This is also the time when our bodies repair muscles and tissues, thereby relaxing them. 

An increased flow of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) into our bodies also occurs during deep sleep. CSF clears beta-amyloid, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, from our brain. 

There is also an increased blood supply to muscles during deep sleep, which helps to strengthen and repair our muscles. 

3. Strengthens the immune system

Deep sleep strengthens our immune system, helping us to fight infections, inflammation and illnesses. 

4. Energy restoration

Deep sleep helps us to conserve energy and allows us to wake up feeling fresh and restored. This may be due to an increase in adenosine triphosphate in cells during deep sleep. 

What happens when you don’t get enough deep sleep? 

Poor sleep quality can have a negative effect on your physical as well as mental wellbeing. 

health issues
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Consider the following consequences of too little deep sleep or long term chronic insomnia: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Memory loss, Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired growth in children
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Risk of routine infections such as the common cold

Visible symptoms when not getting deep sleep

While the cumulative health and mental toll may take time to show, you may not be getting enough deep sleep if you have the following noticeable symptoms:

needing caffeine
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  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Frequent yawning
  • Daytime fatigue or reduced productivity
  • Easily irritable
  • Moodiness
  • Red eyes/eye bags/dark circles around the eyes
  • Needing caffeine
  • Unable to focus

What causes lack of deep sleep? 

It’s important to find out why you’re waking up feeling tired and being fatigued throughout the day. Here are some reasons for lack of deep sleep:

Stress and anxiety

Sleeping issues are frequently connected to stress and anxiety. 

Ruminative thoughts, excess worry and fear can make it hard for one to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Lack of deep sleep due to stressful lives and worries can in turn, worsen anxiety, causing a negative cycle of anxiety disorders and sleeplessness. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated anxiety issues, leading to many people experiencing sleep problems. Lockdowns, job losses, isolation and dealing with sickness during this uncertain time has caused many to lose sleep. 

Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, spurring a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Circadian rhythm disorders

Our natural sleep rhythm is usually driven by our internal ‘clock’ which encourages us to sleep at night. Circadian rhythm disorders occur when there are abnormalities or disruptions to this ‘clock’. 

Jet lag, shift work, delayed sleep phase syndrome and advanced sleep phase syndrome can all cause circadian rhythm disorders. 

Delayed sleep phase syndrome occurs when you fall asleep and wake up too late, while advanced sleep phase syndrome refers to when you fall asleep and wake up too early. 

Insomnia

People who have insomnia may have issues falling asleep and staying asleep. They may wake up frequently during the night, causing interruptions to deep sleep. Insomnia can be caused by anxiety, depression, stress,  jet lag and poor sleeping habits. 

There is also a link between insomnia and Covid-19.

Snoring

Snoring occurs when the air you inhale rattles over the relaxed tissues of your throat, producing noise. 

While many adults who snore have no issues with sleep, snoring can be a problem because of the noise that it causes. It may even cause sleepless nights for your partner if he or she is a light sleeper. Snoring can also be a symptom of sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked when one is sleeping. 

This causes breathing interruptions which cause the person to wake up. It certainly can be a disturbance to deep sleep and cause daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.

Restless legs syndrome

In restless legs syndrome, people move their legs with rhythmic or cyclic movements when they are asleep. This can cause brief awakenings during sleep, thus, interrupt deep sleep. 

Old age

Older people may have trouble with deep sleep. Sleep apnea is not unusual for those who are older. 

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle can also be a factor affecting your sleep. Caffeine and alcohol intake can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. 

Illness and medication

People with heart or lung issues may find it difficult to sleep because they are not able to breathe properly when they lie down. Certain drugs can also make it difficult to sleep. 

Sleep study tests

If you’re having sleep issues, your doctor may recommend polysomnography, which is a comprehensive sleep test used to diagnose sleep disorders. 

This test records several aspects of your sleep, including brain waves, heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen levels, and eye and leg movements. 

Because you will be required to sleep during this test, it is usually carried out at night at a hospital or a sleep clinic. Once you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, polysomnography can be used to adjust your treatment plan so that it is most effective. 

Sleep studies can also be carried out at home. For example, home sleep apnea tests that employ a limited number of sensors can be used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. It is best however, to visit your physician if you suspect a sleep disorder. 

How to improve deep sleep (tips)?

Here are some tips to help you get more deep sleep: 

1. Have a consistent sleep schedule

A consistent bedtime and wake time is one of the best ways that enable you to get more deep sleep per night. Establish a sleep schedule around your average bedtime. 

2. Increase total sleep

Your body needs to pass stage 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle before reaching deep sleep. If you are getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night, Increasing your total sleep time to 7 to 9 hours will help you to get more deep sleep

3. Have a relaxing bedtime routine

Take a warm shower, some light reading or meditating before bed can help you to sleep better. Ensure that your sleep environment is dark and relaxed. Electronic devices should not be used an hour before bedtime as the blue light that they eliminate can disrupt sleep. 

4. Be careful with caffeine

Most people probably know that caffeine can have a negative effect on sleep. However, do you know that caffeine can stay in our system for up to 6 hours after consumption? 

Caffeine can cause you to spend more time in Stage 1 and 2 sleep and decrease the hours you spend in deep sleep. To give yourself better chances of a solid sleep, take note of the time that you need to stop caffeine intake. 

5. Sleep supplements

Sleep supplements can help you to relax, fall asleep easier and have better slow wave and REM sleep. Rilax is a natural, safe and effective sleep supplement that can help you get the restorative deep sleep that your body needs. 

Natural ingredients in Rilax include Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate (Lactium) and L-Theanine (Suntheanine). Extracted from the milk of Holstein cows in France, Lactium is a bioactive peptide that promotes slow delta brain waves and improves sleep quality. 

Suntheanine is a natural amino acid that can be found in green tea leaves. It is a natural sleeping aid that increases alpha brain waves, thus, reduces anxiety, improves sleep quality and enhances general wellbeing. Both these ingredients are recognized as safe by the FDA. 

6. Pink noise

Pink noise is random low frequency noises that can help improve deep sleep and even lead to better memory retention. A fan or an air purifier for their background noise as well as temperature control and purified air. There are also sound machines that feature pink noise that help you sleep. 

7. Exercise

Studies have shown that regular exercise helps with sleep quality. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can help reduce stress and help you to feel good. Do keep in mind not to do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime as this can energize you and encroach on your bedtime routine. 

Certain forms of Yoga as well as meditation are also known to improve overall sleep quality in people. 

8. Hypnosis

If you are really having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, audio recordings with hypnotic suggestions promoting sleep may help your sleep quality. Ensure that you turn it off just before you drift off to set a timer to do the job. You don’t want the sounds to disrupt your sleep once you’ve nodded off. 

Conclusion 

Slow wave sleep, or deep sleep, is important for our bodies. Lack of it can result in grave health consequences. 

As such, it is recommended that you have enough rest each night. Do get professional help if you find that you are still fatigued and tired all the time even after doing all that you can to improve your sleep quality. 

Covid 19CategoriesBlog

Coronavirus and Anxiety: How To Cope With It?

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought shock, confusion, fear, anxiety, stress, and worry in everyday lives. While vaccines are being rolled out, the end of the pandemic still seems far away. The constant worry has put many on edge, increasing mental health issues.

Is the coronavirus pandemic affecting our mental health? 

Coronavirus
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It’s frightening to be in the midst of a global health crisis. Many places have been under lockdown, and now, a year into the pandemic, some are trying to reopen with safety measures in place. Many people across the world have also lost jobs and loved ones. 

The uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 means that we do not know what the future holds. We are still unsure how long the pandemic will last and how exactly we are impacted. 

Not knowing whether things will continue to get worse and having to deal with sudden changes can get incredibly overwhelming. It is easy to get anxious and panicky with all the unknowns that we need to face. 

Indeed, the pandemic has increased people’s anxiety. However, there are several things you can do to manage Covid-19 pandemic anxiety and fears.

Common reactions to Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has far-reaching implications. 

It’s not unusual for people to experience a wide range of feelings and thoughts in the face of significant changes and uncertainties. Disturbing new updates, together with worries about health and safety can take a physical and mental toll. 

Covid19 anxiety
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Common reactions to Covid-19 include:

  • Feeling anxious, fearful, or worried
  • Feeling stressed and overwhelmed
  • Feeling sad, and tearful
  • Feeling frustrated, irritable, or angry
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling disconnected from other people
  • Feeling apprehensive about going out to public spaces
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, digestive issues, fatigue
  • Having trouble concentrating or sleeping resulting in insomnia
  • Having trouble relaxing

Coronavirus anxiety symptoms 

In addition to being a health crisis, Covid-19 has also brought about mental health issues.  Some anxiety symptoms can be short term, such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat/ palpitations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Shaking and sweating
  • Difficulty swallowing

Symptoms of anxiety from the Covid-19 pandemic can also include:

  • Rumination
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Helplessness
  • Over focusing on the news
  • Avoidance by hiding from what is going on
  • Feeling tense, irritable, or impatient
  • Pacing or spacing out
  • Feeling like you’re on a spinning wheel
  • Inability to perform activities of daily life

Mental and psychological effect of Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic can also have long-term mental health and psychological effects. Constantly being on high alert and experiencing fear and worry, as well as sudden disruptions can have far-reaching consequences. 

It can precipitate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic attacks, depression, substance abuse, and even obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

depression
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A study conducted in July 2020 identified symptoms such as avoidance, compulsively checking for symptoms of infection, worrying, threat monitoring, and inability to leave the house because of Covid-19 fears as part of Covid-19 anxiety syndrome

Those who experienced these symptoms were also more likely to suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, general stress, and suicide ideation. 

Dealing with the Covid-19 related news

It’s important to stay informed about what is happening, especially in your community so that you can take the necessary precautions to stay safe. 

However, checking the news obsessively can have an adverse effect. Misinformation about what’s going on and sensational coronavirus news will only feed your fears and worries. 

Here’s how you can deal with Covid-19 news:

  • Stick with trustworthy news sources on the pandemic. 
  • Avoid checking for updates too often. Constantly checking for news on Covid-19 can fuel anxiety.
  • If you want to avoid the media totally, ask a reliable friend or family member to share important updates with you.
  • Limit media consumption to 30 minutes each day if you are dealing with anxiety. 
  • Verify the information that you receive before sharing it with others. Misinformation can cause anxiety and unnecessary panic. 

How to stay calm during the coronavirus pandemic?

With such uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, feelings of anxiety and fear may crop up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here’s what you can do to stay calm. 

1. Focus on the things that you can control

We can’t control how long the pandemic will last or what is going on in our communities. You can, however, take steps to reduce your personal risk of catching the virus. 

2. Look for the positive

Seek out news that talks about the improvements in the pandemic, such as the vaccine rollouts and decrease in risk of death due to better treatment options. Be mindful of the social media and news reports that trigger anxiousness. 

3. Plan what you can

With the many changes happening – school and workplace closures, self-quarantine, social distancing – it’s natural to feel concerned about the situation. You can stay calm by planning what you can do. Plan your day or week by making a list of things that you want to complete.

4. Maintain a routine

As much as possible, maintain a routine. Knowing what comes next in the day will help you to focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand. 

5. Stay connected with friends and family

While social distancing helps keep us safe from the virus, it comes with its own risks. Isolation and loneliness can contribute to anxiety and depression. Staying in touch with loved ones via video chat or apps such as Zoom can help ease anxiety. You can also use this time to reconnect with old friends. 

Do be aware of what you are talking about. Take breaks from talking about Covid-19 and simply enjoy good company. 

6. Talk to a trusted person

If you’re feeling particularly anxious or worried, talking to someone you trust can help you calm down. Having a support system and staying connected can also help keep loneliness and depression at bay

7. Take care of yourself

Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, meditation, and other self-care techniques can help to manage stress. 

Exercising can help relieve stress and anxiety. 

Regular sleep and wake routine can also help if you’re having insomnia due to Covid-19 worries

8. Get into an exercise routine

A healthy body is a route to a healthy mind. Studies have proven that physical activity can have a positive impact on our psychological function. Many fitness instructors are now providing online fitness classes which you can join for a fee. There are also plenty of exercise videos available on YouTube that you can easily follow.

9. Meditate

There can not be a better time than this to get into a daily meditation practice. Meditation can ease anxiety and help you focus. If you’re new to meditation, here are some guided meditation videos that are available online:

10. Continue to practice safety measures

Wearing face masks, gloves and using hand sanitiser when you are out and about can help ease fears and worries about catching the virus. 

11. Take things slow

Allow yourself time to adjust to the ‘new normal’. 

If your community is returning to normalcy, allow yourself to ease back into ‘life before Covid’ at a pace you are comfortable with. 

12. Participate in virtual hobby/fun activities to keep your mind engaged 

If you’re stuck at home, virtual hobbies and activities can help to keep your mind off the pandemic. Here are some places that you can visit virtually:

Virtual Museum visits: 

Virtual Zoos and Aquarium visits

Virtual Theme Park visits

Check out other virtual resources like virtual libraries, cooking lessons, etc. 

13. Help others who are in need

It’s easy to get caught up in our own concerns during these times. 

However, focusing on others who are in need can shift our perspective and be good for our own mental health. Reaching out to those who need a hand can give you a sense of control and purpose for your life. 

14. Get professional help

If you find yourself unable to cope, get professional help. Your doctor may be able to recommend certain natural sleep supplements that can help you get a good night’s rest. 

Helping children deal with Covid-19 anxiety

Children are not immune to anxiety and worries brought about by the pandemic. Here’s how you can help them deal with it. 

help children
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  • Structure and Routine

Structures and routines are helpful for both parents and children. In fact, children thrive with a planned routine. Knowing what comes next will help them keep their minds off the pandemic. Alternately, an unstructured day can result in children being bored and fretful. 

You can include time for chores, schoolwork, play, and exercise in your children’s daily schedules. Many children around the globe are attending virtual classes. Ensure that you monitor your child’s involvement within these sessions to keep a tab on his daily learning. 

There are also various options to enroll your child in virtual hobby classes like music, art, foreign languages, etc which will help in creating a more fulfilling schedule for them.

Older children can have access to the internet to keep in touch with their friends via video chats or social media. If possible, include outdoor activities in their schedule. 

  • Focus on being in the moment

Children can feel stress, fear, and anxiety from the pandemic too. 

Encourage them to focus on being in the moment. 

Reminding them to do the things they can to take care of themselves, such as staying indoors, washing hands, and keeping clean can help take their minds off things that they cannot change. 

While kids are limited in their options outdoors, use this opportunity to engage with them, build friendlier connections, and create more fun moments together.

  • Stay calm

Children (even babies) can sense it when parents are stressed or anxious. Thus, find a way to ground yourself so that your kids do not pick up your worries. Model calmness and try your best not to share your worries with your children. 

  • Stay positive

Look for things to be positive about even if things are going haywire. As you stay positive and point out the good things that are happening, your children will be less anxious as well. Focus their attention on the positive things that are happening, rather than the uncertainties of the pandemic. 

  • Inculcate healthy habits in kids

Get your kids to develop healthy habits. While going out may not be an option for you, there are plenty of physical play-based exercises that you can do with your kids to get them moving. Exercise will help kids release stress, anxiety as well as pent-up energy. 

It’s also a good time to teach children about cleanliness and hygiene. For children who seem edgy, you can try teaching them meditation techniques to help them calm down. 

Conclusion

There is nothing to be ashamed of if you’re feeling stressed and anxious because of the pandemic. It’s important to take care of both your mental and physical health. 

Do seek professional help if you find that you are unable to cope with this season. 

Having certain levels of anxiety during the pandemic is normal, but remember that there are ways to beat it too!

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Covid-19 and Insomnia: Tips to Overcome Sleep Issues During the Pandemic

Adults on average need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Persistent lack of sleep, or insomnia can lead to a significant decrease in quality of life. It limits your focus and daily productivity, affects your mood and can lead to relationship problems. 

Although insomnia is not uncommon, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many, causing a spike in sleep related issues.

Can Covid-19 cause insomnia? 

Insomnia
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The pandemic undoubtedly has taken a toll on mental health, preventing many from getting a good night’s rest. Sleep medication prescriptions in the US increased by 14.8% during the first few weeks of the 2020 lockdown

In fact, insomnia caused by the pandemic has become so widespread that it’s been dubbed as ‘coronasomnia’. 

Sleep related issues due to coronavirus anxiety (in anticipation)

Coronavirus anxiety has a negative impact on mental and physical health. It can result in many physical symptoms, including sleep related issues. 

Many people around the globe live in constant fear of contracting the infection. And various others have disturbed daily schedules while caring for their loved ones who’ve already been infected. 

Signs and symptoms of insomnia due to coronavirus anxiety include:

  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Having difficulty staying asleep during the night
  • Having difficulty sleeping long enough
  • Having difficulty waking up refreshed
  • Light shallow sleep/ failure to get deep sleep
  • Feeling stressed out and anxious
  • Sleeplessness due to shift work and changes in schedule

Insomnia while having Covid-19 infection

Some Covid-19 patients and survivors with long term symptoms have reported experiencing insomnia. However, insomnia is not usually listed as a primary Covid-19 symptom. 

It is rather a secondary problem, where other symptoms such as breathlessness, dry cough and fever make sleeping difficult. Other accompanying issues like increased heartbeat, body pain, etc can also lead to disturbed sleep. Fear of being sick with Covid can also put the body on high alert and make it hard to sleep. 

Insomnia after recovering from Covid-19

There are many who report a change in their sleeping patterns after recovering from Covid-19. Some  reasons that have been attributed to it include:

  • Being in a hospital setting can disrupt natural sleep cycles. Hospitals are busy and noisy places, and there may be a lack of natural daylight in hospital rooms. Additionally, medications can also have an impact on your sleep. 
  • If you had a distressing experience when you were sick, these fears can replay in your mind, making it hard to sleep. 
  • Anxiety and worry as a result of being sick from Covid can also jeopardize your sleep. 
  • Extreme weakness or persistent cough, even after you’ve recovered from Covid and finally tested negative may disrupt sleep.

Why is sleep important during the Covid 19 pandemic? 

Sleep has always been an essential biological process. 

sleep is important
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High quality sleep improves our well being and as such, is worthy of our attention especially during this pandemic when many things are out of our control. 

Here are some reasons why you should make sure that you get good, solid rest:

Reasons for insomnia and sleep disorders during the Covid-19 pandemic

Insomnia is not a new condition. However, the pandemic has multiplied the challenges that come with it. 

The economic, mental and emotional consequences of the pandemic can be extremely stressful, especially for those who have lost their loved ones, their jobs, are in isolation or have had to adapt to new routines and environments. 

These challenges are a threat to good sleep even for those who previously did not have sleep issues. 

Broken routines

To combat the coronavirus pandemic, many changes and regulations have been put in place. Social distancing, quarantines, school closures, working from home, and limited travel have caused profound changes to schedules and routines for everyone. 

It is not easy to adjust to new routines and without time ‘anchors’ such as arriving at the office or picking kids up from school, it can be hard to keep track of time. 

Having to stay home may reduce light-based cues for our sleep and wake cycle, interrupting our circadian rhythm and causing insomnia. This is especially true for homes with low levels of natural light. 

Sleep issues can also be caused by oversleeping. Staying home and not working because of the pandemic can tempt you to sleep during the wrong hours. 

However, oversleeping can cause you to feel groggy, lethargic, moody and unfocused for the rest of the day. Falling asleep at night and getting up on time the next day will thus be much harder. 

Anxiety and worry

The Covid-19 pandemic comes with a whole lot of uncertainties. Many are worried about catching the coronavirus and are anxious about going out. Many are also concerned about their family who are older and in high risk groups. 

With economic activity stalling, a large number of people have lost their jobs and are worried about their income and anxious over how to make ends meet. 

Not knowing how long lockdowns will last, how to manage to stay home and whether the healthcare system will crumble can also bring anxiety and worry. This anxiety often disrupts sleep and causes many to suffer from insomnia. 

Depression and isolation

The pandemic lockdowns to keep everyone safe trade social contact for isolation. Being alone for long periods of time can take a toll and result in depression. The isolation is even worse for those who have lost loved ones due to the coronavirus. 

One study shows that depression rates are 3 times higher during the pandemic and another showed that depression rates spiked with the onset of Covid-19 due to the lack of sleep and increased consumption of alcohol and tobacco

The uncertainty and worries of the pandemic can weigh us down and in turn, disrupt normal sleep patterns. 

Greater work and family stress

As a result of the coronavirus, many families are having to stay home to keep safe. Working from home while managing a household of children and cooking every meal can be indeed stressful for parents. 

The situation for those who have lost their jobs while still having to provide for their family is even worse. This stress and worry can be a great threat to getting solid rest. 

Increased screen time

Staying at home can mean an increase in screen time. While the internet has enabled us to work remotely, it also means having multiple Zoom meetings or conference calls and staring at the computer screen to get the work done. The extra screen time can also come from binge-watching Netflix or just checking the news or social media on your phone. 

Being on the phone, or other digital devices constantly means extra exposure to blue light. As blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that helps us to sleep, this can have a negative effect on sleep.

Chronic stress

The continuous stress of having to live through the pandemic can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues and sleep problems. 

In fact, stress-related fatigue is not uncommon in those who are stressed out over the current situation. 

Being constantly worried will reduce your energy, motivation as well as concentration. It can also cause disrupted sleep, leaving you tired when you wake in the morning. 

Tips to help you overcome insomnia due to Covid 19

Although getting a good night’s rest can be challenging during these uncertain times, there are some steps that you can take to promote better sleep. 

It might take some time for you to adapt to these changes so don’t get discouraged if you do not see an immediate improvement in your sleep quality.

1. Get into a routine

Establishing a schedule and getting yourself into a routine can help you to avoid major changes in your daily sleep times. Ensure that you have a consistent wake up time, wind downtime and bedtime.

Wake up time should be fixed. It might be tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning but try your best to get your day started as soon as the alarm rings. Wind downtime can help you get ready for bed. You can do something relaxing that will get you ready for bed. Similar to wake up time, bedtime should also be fixed. Turn off the light and try to fall asleep at the same time every night. 

Besides this, getting showered and dressed for the day, setting aside specific time for work and exercise as well as incorporating consistent meal times can also help with establishing a daily routine. 

2. Your bed is for sleep

Experts recommend that your bed should only be used for sleep. Working from home doesn’t mean working from bed. Avoid bringing your laptop into bed for work or to watch movies. 

Clean sheets on a made up bed with fluffy pillows can help make your bed inviting for rest. If you find it hard to fall asleep, don’t stress yourself out by tossing and turning in bed. Get up and do something relaxing in a low light environment. Once you feel more relaxed, head back to bed and try falling asleep. 

3. Spend time in natural light

Light is important when it comes to sleep regulation. Because our body’s circadian rhythm takes cues from natural daylight and is positively affected by it, it’s good to spend some time outdoors if you can. 

If you can’t go outside, open windows so that there is some daylight in your home. It’s also a good opportunity to let some fresh air circulate in your home. 

4. Be mindful of screen time

Electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones produce blue light, which can disrupt sleeping patterns. It’s best to avoid these devices at least one hour before bedtime. If you must use your devices before bedtime, adjust your screen settings or use special apps to help reduce blue light and its effects. 

5. Napping schedules

It can be tempting to take a nap when you are home the whole day. However, you may find yourself having difficulty going to bed at night if you nod off in the afternoon. If you must nap, consider having a napping schedule. Ensure that your naps are intentional and no longer than 20 minutes. 

6. Get some exercise

Regular daily activity doesn’t just help you to stay fit. It also reduces stress and helps our bodies to regulate sleep. However, try getting the exercise in a few hours before bedtime so that it does not have a reverse effect. 

If going outdoors or to the gym is not an option for you during this pandemic, there are plenty of resources online that can help you stay active. In fact, many fitness classes now have live-stream classes that you can join. Choose one that suits you and get moving. 

7. Have a healthy diet

A healthy diet helps to promote good sleep. While it’s tempting to snack on sugary and fatty foods when staying home, it is important to aim for a nutritious, well-balanced diet. If you must snack, choose healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts. 

Additionally, monitor your intake of alcohol and caffeine as they can disrupt both the quality and quantity of your sleep. 

8. Use relaxation techniques

The coronavirus pandemic can cause both anxiety and stress and disrupt our sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, meditation, and calming music can help us to relax and get better sleep.

Another strategy that can help prevent sleep disorders during these times is keeping yourself from being overwhelmed by news related to Covid-19. You can try bookmarking trusted and reliable news sites and limit your time spent reading corona related news. 

9. Use natural and safe sleep supplements

Natural sleep supplements can improve sleep quality and promote relaxation so that your body is able to wind down and get some much needed restorative sleep. Dietary supplements can help fight insomnia by reestablishing your circadian rhythm, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed. 

Conclusion

Insomnia due to Covid-19 can lead to numerous health issues. While many people try to self medicate by taking over the counter sleeping pills or having that extra glass of wine, sleep is incredibly important and insomnia should not be taken lightly. 

Rilax, is a natural, effective and safe sleep supplement that promotes relaxation and helps you get quality sleep that your body needs.

MedicinesCategoriesBlog

10 Types of Meds That Can Cause Insomnia

Having trouble getting a good night's sleep? One of these drugs might be the problem

The older you are, the more likely you are to have insomnia — a disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. Older adults wake up more frequently during the night, wake up earlier and are more likely to report feeling unrested on awakening.

Older people are also more likely to have medical conditions that can cause pain or discomfort that disturbs their sleep. (Some studies, in fact, have found no significant increase in insomnia in older adults who are healthy.) These conditions include gastrointestinal distress, frequent urination, lung disease and heart conditions. Neurological disorders, such as restless legs syndrome (RLS), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, can also affect sleep patterns.

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Tired of tossing and turning? The medication you're taking could be to blame.

Insomnia not only saps your energy and affects your mood, but also can put your health, work performance and quality of life on a downward spiral. Insomnia can be short-term (up to three weeks) or long-term (four weeks or more). Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, depression, and memory and attention problems. It also has been linked with diabetes, obesity and heart disease, in addition to increased risk of automobile-related accidents and falls.

The Top 10

Here are 10 types of medications that can cause insomnia. If you’re taking any of them and having sleep problems, you should talk with your doctor or pharmacist about adjusting the dosage, changing to another type of medication, or trying an alternative treatment or therapy.

Meds That May Cause Insomnia

1. Alpha-blockers
2. Beta-blockers
3. Corticosteroids
4. SSRI antidepressants
5. ACE inhibitors
6. ARBs
7. Cholinesterase inhibitors
8. H1 antagonists
9. Glucosamine/chondroitin
10. Statins

1. Alpha-blockers

Why they’re prescribed: Alpha-blockers are used to treat a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure (hypertension), benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and Raynaud’s disease. These drugs relax certain muscles and help keep small blood vessels open. By keeping the hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from tightening the muscles in the walls of smaller arteries and veins, they improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Because alpha-blockers also relax other muscles throughout the body, they can help improve urine flow in older men with prostate problems.

Examples: alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), prazosin (Minipress), silodosin (Rapaflo), terazosin (Hytrin) and tamsulosin (Flomax).

How they can cause insomnia: Alpha-blockers are linked to decreased REM (rapid eye movement) sleep — the stage of sleep when people dream — and daytime sedation or sleepiness. The proportion of REM sleep drops markedly in old age, and people deprived of REM sleep can experience memory problems.

Alternatives: For older people, benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers, another form of blood pressure medication, are often safer and more effective than alpha-blockers. If the alpha-blocker has been prescribed to treat BPH, talk with your doctor about the possibility of switching to a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor such as dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), which are safer and generally better tolerated by older patients.

2. Beta-blockers

Why they’re prescribed: Beta-blockers are typically prescribed to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). These drugs slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure by blocking the effect of the hormone adrenaline. Beta-blockers are also used to treat angina, migraines, tremors and, in eyedrop form, certain kinds of glaucoma.

Examples: atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), propranolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Timoptic) and some other drugs whose chemical names end with “-olol.”

How they can cause insomnia: Beta-blockers have long been associated with sleep disturbances, including awakenings at night and nightmares. They are thought to do this by inhibiting the nighttime secretion of melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating both sleep and the body’s circadian clock. Low levels of melatonin have sometimes been observed in chronic insomnia.

Alternatives: For older people, benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers, another form of blood pressure medication, are often safer and more effective than beta-blockers.

A nightly dose of melatonin may also help. A small study published in the journal Sleep in 2012 found that patients on beta-blockers who also took melatonin fell asleep sooner, had more restful sleep, and slept longer — an extra 36 minutes a night, on average — than patients taking an inactive placebo. (This was determined with polysomnography, an overnight sleep test that records brain waves, muscle tone, heart rate and eye movements.)

3. Corticosteroids

Why they’re prescribed: Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammation of the blood vessels and muscles as well as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, gout and allergic reactions.

Examples: cortisone, methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (sold under many brand names, such as Deltasone and Sterapred) and triamcinolone.

How they can cause insomnia: People often ask why a drug that reduces inflammation would keep them awake. The answer lies in the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating the body’s fight-or-flight response. Too much stress can keep the body awake and the mind stimulated by exhausting the adrenal glands; corticosteroids can do the same thing, wreaking havoc on all the systems that allow you to relax and sleep, causing insomnia and unpleasant dreams.

Alternatives: Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can take your medication in a single dose early in the day.

4. SSRI antidepressants

Why they’re prescribed: SSRIs (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) are used to treat symptoms of moderate to severe depression. SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which may help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, easing depression. They’re called selective because they seem to primarily affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.

Examples: citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and sertraline (Zoloft).

How they can cause insomnia: Just as it isn’t known exactly how SSRIs work, it isn’t known exactly how these drugs interfere with sleep. Studies have shown, however, that SSRIs cause agitation, insomnia, mild tremor and impulsivity in 10 percent to 20 percent of the people who take them.

Although about half of people who take SSRIs say that the drugs make them feel better, many continue to struggle with symptoms that can make life miserable, especially insomnia. We know this from researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who combed through data from the STAR*D trial, the largest and longest study ever done on depression treatment, and published their findings in 2011. Almost all of the subjects in the Star*D trial, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, said they continued to have problems with insomnia, with 81 percent reporting being unable to sleep in the middle of the night.

Alternatives: If you are experiencing anxiety or insomnia while on an SSRI (or any other antidepressant, for that matter), it’s important to tell your prescribing doctor right away. Sleeplessness — in itself a marker of depression — can make you even more depressed.

Because antidepressants vary in their side effects, a change in dosage or switching to another medication may help you feel better without causing insomnia or other sleep disturbances. A selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSRI/SNRI), a newer-generation antidepressant, offers some advantages in improving relaxation and sleep. Of the three drugs in this category (clomipramine, duloxetine and venlafaxine), I find venlafaxine to have the least adverse side effects in older patients and to be easier to dose to a therapeutic level.

Many people find that cognitive behavior therapy works just as well as medication. (Cognitive therapy aims to help people overcome their difficulties by changing their thinking, behavior and emotional responses.) Others report success with such approaches as acupuncture, exercise, changes in diet, meditation, relaxation therapy and the like.

5. ACE inhibitors

Why they’re prescribed: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and other conditions. These drugs help relax blood vessels by preventing the body from producing angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to narrow and, in turn, blood pressure to rise.

Examples of ACE inhibitors include: benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace) and trandolapril (Mavik).

How they can cause insomnia: ACE inhibitors boost the body’s levels of bradykinin, a peptide that enlarges blood vessels. Bradykinin is thought to be the cause of the hacking, dry cough that up to a third of all patients who take an ACE inhibitor develop. This chronic, round-the-clock cough can be severe enough to keep anyone awake. ACE inhibitors can also cause potassium to build up in the body (another type of electrolyte imbalance) and lead to diarrhea, as well as leg cramps and achy joints, bones and muscles — all of which can disturb normal sleep.

Alternatives: If you’re taking an ACE inhibitor for a cardiovascular problem, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about possibly switching to a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker, another form of blood-pressure medication that is often better tolerated by older adults. This is especially important for African Americans and Asian Americans, who, because of differences in their renin-angiotensin systems, have much higher incidences of adverse side effects.

If your condition is accompanied by fluid retention, your doctor may consider adding a low dose of a long-acting loop diuretic, such as torsemide.

6. Angiotensin II-receptor blockers (ARBs)

Why they’re prescribed: ARBs are often used to treat coronary artery disease or heart failure in patients who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors or who have type 2 diabetes or kidney disease from diabetes. Instead of blocking the body’s production of angiotensin II, ARBs prevent it from exerting its blood vessel-constricting effects.

Examples of ARBs include: candesartan (Atacand), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), telmisartan (Micardis) and valsartan (Diovan).

How they can cause insomnia: Like ACE inhibitors, ARBs frequently lead to potassium overload in the body, causing diarrhea as well as leg cramps and achy joints, bones and muscles — all of which can disturb normal sleep.

Alternatives: As with ACE inhibitors, I’d recommend you consult with your health care provider about the advisability of switching to a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker, which is often better tolerated by older adults. This is especially important for African Americans and Asian Americans, who because of differences in their renin-angiotensin systems, have much higher incidences of adverse side effects.

A low dose of a long-acting loop diuretic such as torsemide may also be desirable.

7. Cholinesterase inhibitors

Why they’re prescribed: Cholinesterase inhibitors are commonly used to treat memory loss and mental changes in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Examples: donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne) and rivastigmine (Exelon). The main side effects of these drugs include diarrhea, nausea and sleep disturbances.

How they can cause insomnia: These drugs are thought to work by inhibiting the enzyme in the body that breaks down acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that’s important for alertness, memory, thought and judgment) and thus boosting the amount available to brain cells. This, in theory, slows the patient’s loss of memory and helps him or her perform daily activities with fewer problems. But blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine — which is everywhere in the body, not just in the brain — can interfere with all kinds of involuntary body processes and movements, including those related to sleep.

In addition to insomnia and abnormal dreams, the identified side effects of cholinesterase inhibitors include serious changes in heart rhythm, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting as well as leg cramps and muscle spasms — all of which can interfere with normal sleep patterns.

Alternatives: It’s important to remember that cholinesterase inhibitors cannot reverse Alzheimer’s disease or slow the underlying destruction of nerve cells. And because the Alzheimer’s-afflicted brain produces less acetycholine as the disease progresses, all medications in this class eventually lose whatever effectiveness they may be presumed to have.

For these reasons, it may be worthwhile to talk with your doctor (or the doctor treating your loved one) about whether the adverse effects of the drug prescribed outweigh its possible benefits. In my experience, that’s nearly always the case.

8. Second-generation (nonsedating) H1 antagonists

Why they’re prescribed: H1 antagonists, which are in a class of drugs commonly known as antihistamines, inhibit the body’s production of histamine — the chemical that’s released when you have an allergic reaction. Elevated histamine levels cause such common allergic reaction symptoms as itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, nasal congestion and hives.

Second-generation H1 antagonists, also known as nonsedating antihistamines, do not have the same side effects as first-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), which suppress the central nervous system, causing severe drowsiness.

Examples of second-generation H1 antagonists include: azelastine (Astelin) nasal spray, cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra), levocetirizine (Xyzal) and loratadine (Claritin).

How they can cause insomnia: In varying degrees, all H1 antagonists block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and thus can cause anxiety and insomnia.

Alternatives: Since these second-generation antihistamines are typically active in the body for around eight hours, you may find that taking your daily dose in the morning may be all that’s needed to resolve any sleep-related problems it may be causing.

9. Glucosamine and chondroitin

Why they’re used: Glucosamine and chondroitin are dietary supplements that are used to relieve joint pain, improve joint function and lessen inflammation. (Both are found naturally in the human body.) Many arthritis supplements contain glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a food rather than a drug.

How they can cause insomnia: Researchers aren’t sure exactly how glucosamine and chondroitin work, but studies identify a range of gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches and insomnia.

Alternatives: While many people take glucosamine and chondroitin, alone or together, for osteoarthritis, they may not help at all. A recent analysis of many studies of these supplements failed to find evidence that they slow joint destruction or relieve pain.

A 2010 survey of Consumer Reports subscribers found that among those who identified osteoarthritis as one of their most bothersome conditions, yoga and massage were rated twice as helpful as glucosamine and chondroitin.

If you choose to use one or both of these supplements, you should be aware that glucosamine has a longer half-life (the time it’s active in the body) than chondroitin. So if glucosamine is part of your medication regimen, taking your daily dose in the morning should prevent problems with insomnia.

You may also wish to consider asking your doctor for a prescription of tramadol 50mg tablets and taking one with an acetaminophen 325mg tablet two to three times a day. This should work well to relieve pain.

10. Statins

Why they’re prescribed: Statins are used to treat high cholesterol.

The top-selling statins are atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor).

How they can cause insomnia: The most common side effect of all types of statins is muscle pain, which can keep people who take them awake at night and unable to rest. In the worst cases, the pain caused by statins can be immobilizing.

Studies show that statins can interfere with muscle growth by inhibiting the production of satellite cells in the muscle. Muscle weakness and aches throughout the body can be symptoms of statin-induced rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of skeletal muscle that causes muscle fibers to be released into the bloodstream, sometimes harming the kidneys.

Researchers have found that fat-soluble statins — which include Lipitor, Mevacor, Vytorin and Zocor — are more likely to cause insomnia or nightmares because they can more easily penetrate cell membranes and make their way across the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from chemicals in the blood.

Alternatives: If you’re among the millions of older Americans who haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease but are taking these drugs to lower your slightly elevated cholesterol, ask your doctor or other health care provider about making changes to your diet and getting regular exercise instead of using statins. You also might try lowering your blood levels of homocysteine — which is linked to high cholesterol — by taking a combination of sublingual (under-the-tongue) vitamin B12 (1,000 mcg daily), folic acid (800 mcg daily) and vitamin B6 (200 mg daily).

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How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.

It’s not completely clear why less sleep is detrimental to heart health, but researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.

sleep heart

REM sleep begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called the pons. These signals travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which relays them to the cerebral cortex — the outer layer of the brain that is responsible for learning, thinking, and organizing information.

One of the reasons we know how vital sleep is to the heart is that patients with sleep apnea (which causes them to wake frequently throughout the night) often have compromised heart health. This is because without long, deep periods of rest, certain chemicals are activated that keep the body from achieving extended periods in which heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Over time, this can lead to higher blood pressure during the day and a greater chance of cardiovascular problems. Many studies have shown the relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease. One found that over an eight-year period, men with severe sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without the nighttime breathing disorder. But it doesn’t take a severe underlying sleep disorder to see effects on the heart. Poor sleeping (as a result of changing work schedules or poor sleep habits, for example) can put you at risk as well.

Heart health isn’t just a concern for older adults.

Recent research has shown that too little sleep earlier in life could take its toll as well. For example, in one study, adolescents who didn’t sleep well were at greater risk for developing cardiovascular problems. Those teens had higher cholesterol levels, a higher body mass index, larger waist sizes, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of hypertension. It’s easy to see how these alterations in childhood health could snowball into major concerns later on, and why it’s important to protect sleep at every age.

Reposted from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart

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What Do Your Dreams Say About Your Sleep Quality?

good night’s sleep is far more nuanced than simply putting in your seven to nine hours and calling it a day. Good, healthy sleep means feeling rested upon waking. It means not having chronic bad dreams or nightmares. And it turns out that the difference between a smile-filled slumber and a fearful one isn’t entirely up to chance.

According to a group of French researchers writing in the Journal of Sleep Research, all people dream when they sleep, even people who think they don’t. But is there a correlation between good sleep and good dreams? We partnered with Sleep Number to dig into this and other dream-related questions: Does sleeping well lead to more — or more pleasant — dreams? Does sleeping poorly lead to bad dreams? The answers to each of these queries, we discovered, are yes … and no.

Clinically speaking, a “good night’s sleep” is considered one that consists of seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted snooze time — barring the simple activities that wake us during the night like using the restroom, getting a glass of water or even turning over.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine describes the experience of sleep as unfolding in four phases, culminating in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The stages repeat in order every 90 to 110 minutes on average. Stages 1 and 2 are characterized by a progression from light sleep through a gradual slowing of brain waves. Stage 3 is the period of sleep when we’re the most conked out. If you’ve ever had a hard time waking someone up, he or she was probably in this third stage of the sleep cycle. The fourth stage, REM sleep, is when our breathing rate quickens and our eyes move under our eyelids. This is the stage during which most people dream, especially when it occurs in the latter half of the night. We can also dream in the other stages of sleep, but scientists don’t have a good idea of how often or how much.

Good night sleep

What Do Dreams Do for Our Health

Studies show that dreaming is good for us. Rubin Naiman, a sleep and dream expert on the clinical faculty of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, says, “Good dreaming contributes to our psychological well-being by supporting healthy memory, warding off depression, and expanding our ordinary limited consciousness into broader, spiritual realms.” A study at Harvard Medical School concluded that dreaming also helps us consolidate memories and retain information.

In the book The Mind in Sleep, Arthur M. Arkin cites a study in which subjects were deprived of REM sleep intermittently over a period of time. The study concluded that there is a “close association between REM sleep and dream recall” and a “positive correlation between REM density and the subjects’ active involvement in dramatic dreams.” In other words, the longer your REM cycle, the more intense your dreams.

“If you have very poor sleep, you may not even dream at all,” says John S. Antrobus, a professor of psychology and sleep research at the City College of New York, now retired. “But it depends on why you’re not having a good night’s sleep.” According to Antrobus, factors that can lead to poor sleep include consuming alcohol before bed, experiencing stress and having a disturbing day. Other causes include keeping electronics like cell phones, televisions or computers in the bedroom; eating, exercising or consuming caffeine too late; having an uncomfortable bed or sleeping environment; and keeping an inconsistent sleep schedule.

So, “good” sleep — or sack time that includes REM sleep — leads to an active dream life, and in turn an active dream life is good for us. But when it comes to the relationship between getting a good night’s sleep and having good dreams, or remembering our dreams better, the science gets murky.

Healthy dream

What Things Can Impact Our Dreams?

Several factors influence our ability to remember our dreams (also known as lucid dreaming or dream recall) — from age and gender to specific personality traits — but there is no hard evidence explaining why some people remember their dreams better than others. Often, it seems as if we only remember the dreams we were having right before we wake up. Antrobus, the former sleep researcher, explains that this is related to another cycle of brain activation on which the sleep stages rely. “That larger cycle starts before you fall asleep and leaves you feeling sleepy and wanting to go to bed at night,” he says. That cycle winds down in the hour or so before we wake up, when our brains are most active and we’re having more dreams, “and that’s why you tend to remember more of them.”

Timing, in other words, is everything. “A lot of people only remember their dreams if their alarm clock wakes them up right in the middle of it,” adds Dr. Shalini Paruthi, director of the Pediatric Sleep and Research Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. A study conducted at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France supported this theory, concluding that “high dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli, awaken more during sleep, and thus better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers.”

Likewise, there is no evidence-based research as to whether sleep quality affects our ability to remember dreams or control the tenor of dreams. Rather, Paruthi says, “Whatever people are exposed to during the daytime will have an impact on their dreaming at night.”

This is the premise for a technique called imagery rehearsal therapy, which involves visualizing alternate endings to bad dreams 10 to 15 minutes before a person goes to bed each night. “Even thinking about good things to dream as you’re drifting off to sleep can impact [the] dreams that you have that night,” Paruthi explains. “So, you can have a negative impact on your dreams if you’re surrounded or getting exposed to negative things throughout the day. But, on the flip side, you can also have [a] positive impact on your dreams if the last things that you’re thinking about are positive things.”

Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists and Athletes Use Dreams for Creative Problem-Solving –And How You Can, Too and an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, is a firm believer in our ability to influence our own dreams. “The details of how to do it are very different depending on whether you’re trying to induce lucid dreams, whether you’re trying to dream about particular content, or whether you’re trying to dream a solution to a particular personal or objective problem,” she said in an interview with Scientific American.

Whether your goal is to dream about a particular topic or person, change the outcome of your dream, remember your dream, or problem-solve in your dream, Barrett suggests to “first of all think of the problem before bed, and if it lends itself to an image, hold it in your mind and let it be the last thing in your mind before falling asleep.” She also recommends not jumping out of bed right away upon waking up. “Almost half of dream content is lost if you get distracted. Lie there, don’t do anything else. If you don’t recall a dream immediately, see if you feel a particular emotion — the whole dream would come flooding back.”

Things that can impacts our dreams

What Control Do We Have Over How And What We Dream?

Getting a good night’s sleep, Paruthi says, “is the most important thing” we can do to ensure that we dream. First and foremost, that means sleeping in a room that’s dark, quiet and cool (65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Other things we can do to help us sleep better include taking a bath and reading a book before bed; practicing relaxation exercises; avoiding stressful or stimulating activities before sleep; napping early in the day (or not at all); exercising earlier in the day; avoiding alcohol, sugar and large meals before sleep; maintaining a regular sleep schedule; and, as simple as this might sound, going to bed when we’re tired.

While we can’t have 100 percent control over our dreams, there are things we can do to influence them in a positive direction, experts say. Among them: exposure to pleasant smells and sounds while we’re sleeping; avoiding spicy foods; not smoking; eating healthy and exercising regularly; and improving our daytime thought patterns. In simplistic terms, if you want good dreams, sleep well and think happy thoughts.

Just like diet and exercise, sleep is unique to each person and important for optimal health. Sleep Number® beds adjust on each side to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support— your Sleep Number® setting—for your best possible sleep.

Reposted from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/11/30/dreams-sleep-quality_n_8513908.html

CategoriesBlog

Top 5 Sleep Myths

Myth1

#Myth1

Everyone Needs 8 Hours of Sleep
Eight is not a magic number. Everyone is different and require different needs. However, it’s about the quality of sleep, not the quantity. You’ll know you’ve got good, quality sleep when you sleep throughout the night and wake up feeling fully recharged the next morning.

Myth2

#Myth2

Some People Only Live With 4 Hours of Sleep At Night, So Do I
Although there are some who survive on little sleep every night, they do not necessarily do better. Too little sleep is bad for health as many health problems are related to sleep. For example, insufficient sleep affects obesity, weight gain, cardiovascular and many other health diseases.

Myth3

#Myth3

You Should “Catch Up” on Your Sleep When You Can
Sleeping in on weekends to make up lost sleep during the weekdays will not help in your regulating sleep routine. In fact, it increases your sleep debt. Bingeing on your sleep will only upset your circadian rhythms and hinders you from getting a refreshing sleep. Your body loves consistencies, so it’s best to sleep and rise the same time every day, including weekends!
Myth4

#Myth4

Snoring Is Common & Definitely Harmless
Although snoring can be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized as pauses in breathing that prevents air from flowing into or out of the person’s airways. These breathing pauses can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnea is often accompanied by daytime sleepiness as they are frequently awakened in the middle in the night gasping for air. People having Sleep apnea should consult a doctor as it can be treated.
Myth5

#Myth5

You Need Prescription Drugs If You Cannot Sleep At Night
Although snoring can be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized as pauses in breathing that prevents air from flowing into or out of the person’s airways. These breathing pauses can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnea is often accompanied by daytime sleepiness as they are frequently awakened in the middle in the night gasping for air. People having Sleep apnea should consult a doctor as it can be treated.
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Are You Having Trouble Sleeping?

Everyone would experience sleep problems at one time or another. These occasional sleep problems could be caused by temporal stress or external factors. A sleep problem is defined by regular occurrence that interferes with everyday life and it is usually link to poor sleep hygiene.

Insufficient quality sleep is a serious problem that can be a threaten lives. Ignoring sleep problems can lead and open doors to many unwanted stress, poor health, emotional imbalance and may interrupt your job performance.

Do you have any of these below?

1. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep

sleep 1

2. Feeling extremely sleepy during the day

sleep 2

3. Stress at school, at home or at work

sleep 3

4. Fidgety and restless legs when you sleep at night

sleep 4

5. Constantly busy throughout the day and exhausted

sleep 5

6 .Have difficulty concentrating in tasks

sleep 7

7. Falling asleep while driving, sitting still, watching TV or reading

sleep 6

8. Having trouble controlling your emotions

sleep 8

9. Looking tired at most times

sleep 9

10. Require caffeinated beverages to stay awake

sleep 10

11. Slow in reaction and clumsy

sleep 11

12. Inclination to take naps almost every day

sleep 12

13. Constant travelling and jet lags

sleep 13

If you said yes to any of these, you’ll need Rilax to improve your sleep. Rilax is a natural food supplement. Some people may need to take 1-2 capsules for at least 2 weeks in order for Rilax to begin regulating their sleep quality. It is safe, natural, scientifically proven, non-drowsy, non-habit forming and has no after-effects!

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While You Were Sleeping

What do you notice when you watch a child sleeping?

On the surface, you see a peaceful and restful child and oh-how beautiful they look. If you look a little longer, soon you will notice movement in the eyes, coupled with some light jerks of the hands and legs. Well, verily, verily I say unto you… it’s normal.

While all voluntary muscular activities are temporarily suspended, your brain is still somewhat active and shift into different STAGES – REM sleep & Non-REM sleep. These sleep stages can be seen with an electroencephalograph (now say it 10 times), in short, it’s just EEG! With these stages, you’ll understand sleep better and perhaps, just perhaps become more conscious of your own sleeping habit.

Here are the sleep stages in a nutshell.

Sleep Cycle

When we sleep, our brains cycle from stage to stage. To understand the stages better, just imagine yourself falling asleep in your apartment located in a very busy city. 

NREM Stage 1:

In this stage, you close your eyes but you are conscious of your surroundings. You can still hear the taxis honking and the piercing sound of an ambulance. It feels like you are not sleeping yet. Some may even feel the feeling of falling at this stage. 

NREM Stage 2:

Slowly, your body relaxes, your heart rate slows down and body feels a tad warmer. The hustle and bustle of the city begins to quieten down and it does not bother you as much. This stage of light sleep last only about 20 minutes and you are about to enter into deep sleep.

NREM Stage 3 & 4:

These two stages are relatively known as deep sleep. The EEG would show slow waves pattern (only 50% of brain activity). At this stage, your body repairs bones and skin, and stabilizes your hormone levels.

Stage 4 is more intense and it’s also an important stage of sleep because our energy is restored in this stage. If stage 4 is deprived, you wake up in the morning still feeling physically tired.

Stages 1 to 4 sleep cycle is also known as Non-REM sleep. The NREM stages is important for us because our body repairs and regenerates tissues, strengthens our immune system and builds bones and muscles. That explains why everyone needs plenty of sleep as it is essential for growth, health and brain development.

There are notable physical changes in the body while you sleep; for example, your respiration rate becomes more rapid and irregular but shallow, your heart rate increases, and your eyes move in different directions.

REM Stage (Rapid Eye Movement) Stage 5:

Most vivid dreams occur in this stage of REM sleep as a result of the intense brain activity.  From being in your room sleeping to suddenly rescuing a princess in the “Sahara Desert”, you engage your whole self in your “action-packed movie”, your body is temporarily paralyzed (called Atonia), this happens to prevent you from physically replicating the action-packed kung-fu movements in your dreams! The REM stage is the combination of heightened brain activity and muscular paralysis; hence, it’s sometimes called the paradoxical sleep! Interesting! 

Sleep and brain

You must know that it sleep does not just progress through the sequence in order. The sleep cycles moves from stage to stage and it looks something like this: stage 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 3 > 2 > REM > 2. This sleep cycle happens about 4 to 5 times throughout the night. But when morning comes, most of your sleep consists of stages 1 and 2, or sometimes REM. Ideally, waking up in the early stages of sleep is best, helping you feel refreshed and less groggy in the morning.

Children and infants get most REM sleep, and as you age, the percentage of REM sleep decreases. The REM sleep is particularly important because many theories suggest with the lack of REM sleep, it causes irritability and anxiety as REM sleep aids in the development of our nervous system. Moreover, REM sleep can also help to improve memory.

Rilax is a natural sleep supplement formulated to help you experience a good night’s sleep, so that you wake up refreshed and ready to start your day. Rilax contains two clinically proven, award-winning all-natural ingredients (Alpha S1-Casein Tryptic Hydrolysate and L-Theanine) in a unique formulation that calms and promotes healthy sleep, as well as effective for relieving stress. Rilax your way to a good night’s sleep…

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Drowning in Sleep Debt

Did you know that sleep debt affects our bodily functions and causes us to be less productive, irritable and depressed? 

What is Sleep Debt?

Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the accumulative effect of sleep loss from insufficient sleep. An average adult should sleep at least 8 hours per night. When our body does not get enough sleep, our body may experience symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Sleep debt

Will one hour less of sleep make a difference?

YES.Even an hour of sleep loss disrupts certain cognitive and physical tasks. One with sleep deficit may experience slower reaction times, decrease in the ability to sustain attention, memory loss, or depression. Building sleep debt overnight can behazardous towards our health and increasing the risk of developing chronic illnesses. In short, sleep deficiency magnifies many negative effects.

Sleep is important.

Sleep is more than just a shut-eye. A night’s quality sleep goes a long way for your health.Depending on individuals,most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and 8 hours of sleep. While you sleep, your body undergo restoration, repair, cleaning and maintenance that is essential for daily functioning.

Are you sleep deprived? Find out here:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/breus-sleep-deprived

How to Get Out of Sleep Debt?

Apart from getting a good bedtime routine and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Rilax sleep supplement has helped many to get good, quality sleep naturally and wake up refreshed and ready to start your day. Rilax’s safe and natural ingredients are known to:
  • improve sleep quality
  • helped many to fall asleep and wake up refreshed
  • have no side effects unlike sleeping pills
  • calm the nerves and mind
  • help relieve stress