Fifth of Swiss youth suffer from sleep and concentration problems

Most Swiss youth report to be in good health but a growing number are affected by health ailments such as headaches and insomnia, which researchers believe could be linked to increased screen time.

According to the James studyExternal link on youth media use and health published on Tuesday, about one fifth of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have trouble sleeping. A similar portion reports psychological issues including concentration problems or anxiety.

Although nine out of ten youth say that they feel healthy, over half (53%) complain that they are tired on a regular basis (daily or a few times per week). Backaches and headaches are also common ailments especially among girls with 23% suffering from headaches on a regular basis compared to 8% of boys.

The researchers say there may be a connection between some forms of online media use and health ailments, particularly when it comes to time spent on the internet and frequency of physical problems.

Some 23% of girls report suffering from headaches on a regular basis compared to 8% of boys.

“Those who use screen media intensively often move less and sit for long periods in unfavorable positions or undertake repetitive movements that can lead to back and neck pain or eye problems,” says media psychologist Gregor Waller.

The study also found signs that intensive use of social networks could also be related to psychological complaints and sleep problems. The authors note that it is not just the mere time spent online but the content itself that affects youth physical and mental health.

Waller cautions though that as it is a cross-sectional study, cause and effect cannot be clearly demonstrated. “It may be that media use causes health problems – or vice versa, that health affects media use.”

The James report, released every two years by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and Swisscom, measures the relationship between media use and the health of 1,000 adolescents in Switzerland.


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Which Type Of Insomniac Are You? Study Suggests Different Sleep Problems Require Different Solutions

While many of us struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, not all of our struggles are the same. New research examined a range of reasons why people don’t sleep well and found that insomnia generally falls into one of five types. Which type you fit into, the study suggests, affects which solutions may help you break out of the sleep-loss pattern.

Insomnia is a disorder characterized by “chronic complaints of unsatisfactory sleep, despite having an adequate opportunity to sleep” according to the National Sleep Foundation. Insomnia complaints include “difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early, and/or having sleep that is not refreshing.”

The researchers analyzed survey responses from more than 4,000 people participating in the Netherlands Sleep Registry, a project that tracks information on the factors affecting sleep habits. Roughly half the participants in this group had insomnia, as indicated by their responses, although none had been formally diagnosed. When checked against several other factors—including personality traits, emotional dispositions, and mood characteristics—the results pointed to five categories of insomnia:

Type 1: People in this category tended to have high levels of negative emotions like anxiety, and low levels of pleasurable emotions and overall happiness.

Type 2: These participants had moderate levels of emotional distress, but their levels of pleasurable emotions and happiness were normal, on average.

Type 3: People in this group also had moderate levels of distress, but experienced lower-than-average levels of pleasure and happiness.

Type 4: These participants had low levels of distress, but tended to experience chronic insomnia in response to a stressful event.

Type 5: Finally, those in this group also had low levels of distress, and their variety of insomnia wasn’t typically affected by stressful events.

The researchers looked for correlations between the insomnia types and responses to treatment. They found that people in the Type 2 category respond well to talk therapy (including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)), but those in the Type 4 category don’t. Both Type 2 and Type 4 insomnia sufferers tend to experience improvements when prescribed medication, while those in the Type 3 category don’t respond well to sleep-inducing drugs.

The most concerning finding was that people in the Type 1 category are also at greatest risk for lifetime depression. Addressing the underlying emotional issues is crucial for improving their sleep.

In commentary accompanying the study, lead study author Tsuyoshi Kitajima (Department of Psychiatry, Fujita Health University School of Medicine) said that the way clinicians think of insomnia has recently experienced “revolutionary changes” largely based on “the recognition that insomnia and other psychiatric or somatic disorders have independent courses and bidirectional associations, each of which needs specific clinical attention and treatments.”

In other words, we can’t think of insomnia, which affects an estimated 10% of the population, as a singular problem. Instead it’s a multifaceted problem requiring multifaceted thinking to arrive at solutions that really work.

The researchers noted that all of the study participants volunteered (and were thus motivated to participate in a sleep study), a potential limitation when trying to extend the results to the broader population. Also, since all responses were gathered via surveys, the results relied on participants accurately representing their symptoms and related factors. Further clinical research will be needed to confirm the results and determine if there are other categories not yet identified.


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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.

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.

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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

2. Feeling extremely sleepy during the day

3. Stress at school, at home or at work

4. Fidgety and restless legs when you sleep at night

5. Constantly busy throughout the day and exhausted

6 .Have difficulty concentrating in tasks

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

8. Having trouble controlling your emotions

9. Looking tired at most times

10. Require caffeinated beverages to stay awake

11. Slow in reaction and clumsy

12. Inclination to take naps almost every day

13. Constant travelling and jet lags

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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Lost Sleep Can Never Be Made Up

Staying in bed on the weekends won’t make up for a weeks’ worth of sleep deprivation. A new study finds that going long periods without sleep can lead to a sort of “sleep debt” that cannot simply be undone with extra sleep later.

Such chronic sleep loss may eventually interfere with a person’s performance on tasks that require focus, becoming particularly noticeable at nighttime. This could be due to the effects of your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.

Your natural tendency to want to be awake during the day may mask signs of sleep debt when it’s light out. But this protective effect may go away as darkness arrives.

Further, just 10 percent of adolescents are getting the optimal hours of sleep each night.

Here’s how parents can help teens get the most possible sleep, despite the demands of school and work:

  • Teenagers should stick to a consistent bedtime, preferably before 10 PM
  • Keep sleep and wake times as consistent as possible from day to day; maintaining a more regular sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep
  • Don’t sleep in — strive to wake up no more than two to three hours later on weekends to keep biological clocks on cycle

Live Science January 13, 2010
U.S. News & World Report January 15, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

According to a 2007 survey of 12 to 16 year-olds, 25 percent fell asleep with the TV, computer, stereo, iPod headphones or other electronic gadgets on. The same survey revealed these teens only received four to seven hours of sleep each night.

Other studies show that adolescents actually have a different circadian rhythm than children or adults. Teenagers experience a temporary resetting of their body clocks which prompts them to fall asleep and wake up later.

The hormone melatonin is produced later at night for teens, which can make it hard for them to fall asleep at an earlier hour. This temporary adjustment in their body clocks is one of the reasons young adults don’t get the amount of sleep they require.

In addition to a shortage of rest, the quality of sleep these kids get can be very poor.

In order to get the highest quality sleep, you need to be in a room that is dark as possible. Even the slightest bit of light can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm and production of melatonin and serotonin, two hormones vital to your health.

Many people are not aware that exposure to the smallest amount of light at night will cause your body to shut down further.

Artificial Light and Your Wake/Sleep Cycle

The invention of electrical lighting has been both a boon and a bust. The benefits of artificial light are obvious, but what about the drawbacks?

One of them has to do with how long and how well people sleep these days.

When artificial lighting was introduced, it increased the amount of daytime hours and decreased the number of hours of an average night’s sleep down to seven.

Circadian rhythms are no longer able to adjust to a predictable pattern of daytime and darkness, which has created a chronic modern day sleep deficit and potentially devastating health consequences.

The Dangers of Underestimating Your Sleep Requirements

Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days you might not even realize you suffer from it. You might assume, since you rise when the alarm clock rings and feel reasonably alert once you’re up and moving, that the sleep you’re getting is adequate.

If you’ve shorted yourself on hours and your quality of sleep for any length of time, it’s likely your state of sleep deprivation feels normal to you.

Researchers, however, will tell you that a sleep deficit can have serious, far-reaching effects on your health. Among them:

  • A single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.
  • Good sleepers and poor sleepers experience about the same number of daily minor stressful events, but good sleepers are less disturbed by them. Poor sleepers experience life events as being more negative than do those who sleep well.
  • Sleep deprivation can cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders.
  • Sleep deprivation puts your body into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you’ve already eaten.
  • Interrupted sleep can dramatically weaken your immune system
  • Tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions.

How Lack of Sleep Damages Your Health

Melatonin is an antioxidant that helps to suppress harmful free radicals in your body and slows the production of estrogen, which can activate cancer. When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, your body may produce less melatonin and therefore may have less ability to fight cancer.

Exposure to light while your body is trying to sleep activates your stress response and weakens your immune system, which is why irregular sleep cycles can lead to stress-related disorders including:

  • Constipation
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Depression
  • Heart disease

A disrupted body clock can wreak havoc on your weight. Losing sleep raises levels of two hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin, a hormone that tells your brain you’re satiated, and increases ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

Lack of sleep can destroy your memory. If your internal clock isn’t functioning properly, it causes the release of too much GABA, the brain inhibiting neurotransmitter. According to the results of the Stanford study, an excess of GABA inhibits the brain in a way that leads to short term memory problems and the inability to retain new information.

Sleep deprivation ages you. Lack of sleep interferes with metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.

More Ways to Disrupt Your Body Clock

Artificial lights aren’t the only way you can disturb your circadian rhythm. You can also confuse your body’s sleep/wake cycle by:

  • Staying up late
  • Working the night shift
  • Using a night light
  • Switching time zones (jet lag)
  • Eating in the middle of the night or too close to bedtime

Many of your major organs and body systems have their own internal clocks. These clocks influence everything from your body temperature to hormone production to your heart rate. When these clocks are out of whack, all kinds of things can happen which impact your daily life and your overall health.

A Debt You Can’t Repay

For most people who don’t sleep well, it has become a pattern and not just an occasional night of restlessness.

A chronic lack of high-quality sleep simply cannot be recovered. You can’t stockpile a supply to use later, nor can you pay your body’s sleep debt back.

You may feel rested and sharper after sleeping in, but the benefit is temporary and can be compared to depositing money in your account then withdrawing it again a day or two later.

Lost sleep is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to the

havoc it can wreak on your health.

How to Get the Amount of Sleep Your Body Needs

As a general rule, adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a night. Most adolescents and teens do best with at least nine hours a night.

There are, of course, exceptions – some people can function well on less than six hours and others need more than nine.

Other factors that can affect your sleep requirements include illness, emotional stress, and the time of year (some folks need more sleep during winter months). If you’re pregnant you might require more sleep, especially during your first trimester.

If you feel tired when you first wake up, you probably aren’t getting sufficient sleep. It’s best to observe how you feel immediately upon awakening rather than after you’re up and moving around.

Those first few moments of wakefulness, before your mind fully kicks into gear, are a better measure of how your body is feeling.

Some tips for getting good quality sleep include:

  • Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
  • No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even out of the house, completely. It is too stimulating to your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • Wear socks to bed. Your feet will often feel cold before the rest of your body. A study has shown that wearing socks reduces night waking.
  • Get to bed fairly early. Our systems, particularly our adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11PM and 1AM.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly the upstairs bedrooms too hot.
  • Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.

For a comprehensive list of practical solutions for sleep problems, be sure to read my 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep because your mind is racing or you’re emotionally overwhelmed, I recommend you use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for insomnia.

Quality Sleep is One of the Pillars of Good Health

Sleep is one of your most precious resources. You undervalue its importance to your health, longevity and the quality of your life at your peril.

Just like exercise, the health benefits you receive every night from sleep depend on how long you spend at it and the quality of it.

Just as eating for your nutritional type provides your body with a solid foundation for health, so does good sleep.

And just as processing your emotions and stressful events in a productive way helps you remove the barriers to achieving optimal health and fitness, adequate high quality sleep is also a core building block for a lifetime of wellness.