Tag Archives | Sleep

A dark night is good for your health

Joe Goldberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Joe Goldberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Richard Stevens, University of Connecticut

Today most people do not get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called insufficient sleep an epidemic. While we are finally paying attention to the importance of sleep, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.

That’s right. Dark. Your body needs it too.

Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian rhythm. Disruption of this rhythm may increase the risk of developing some health conditions including obesity, diabetes and breast cancer

Light regulates our sleep and wake patterns

The physiological processes that control the daily cycle of sleep and wake, hunger, activity levels, body temperature, melatonin level in the blood, and many other physiological traits are called the endogenous circadian rhythm.

On its own, the endogenous circadian rhythm is nearly, but not exactly, 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at precisely 24 hours, the length of our days.… Read the rest

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Night Terrors In Adults: When Sleeping Turns To Terror After Dark

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Jeffrey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lizette Borreli via Medical Daily:

Like clockwork, every night at 2 a.m. the house would ring out with gasps for air, cries for help, and screams. My parents, all too familiar with these frightening sounds, would brace themselves for what would be one of many sleepless nights. Those nights filled with terrifying images and haunting sounds never went away for me.

Fourteen years later, I found myself within the confines of the Sleep Disorder Institute in New York, looking for answers to why I still wake myself up screaming in terror.

1. Night Terrors Exposed

The rare sleep disorder goes by many names: night terrors, sleep terrors, pavor nocturnus, or AXIS I: 307.46 (The DSM’s code). It remains a medical mystery. What medical researchers do know is that night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. In children, this may be the result of the CNS still maturing — it has long been believed that the CNS’s maturation process ends in early childhood (although several recent studies suggest it may continue to develop through around age 25).

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How Electric Light Changed the Night (And The Way We Sleep)

About 18 months ago, we ran a story entitled How Our Ancestors Used to Sleep Twice a Night and Highlighting the Problem of Present Shock. The author, Jeremy D. Johnson, informed us that, “8 hour sleeping is a modern invention” and in the 18th Century “we slept twice a night, getting up for an hour or two for recreation before heading back to bed until dawn.” Now San Francisco’s public television station KQED has produced a short film laying the blame on artificial light:

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The Danger of Sleep Deprivation

By Eric Skiff via Flickr (CC by -sa 2.0)

By Eric Skiff via Flickr (CC by -sa 2.0)

I’m queuing this post at 10:30pm and can barely keep my eyes open. Sleep is my favorite treat. Unfortunately it shouldn’t be considered a “treat,” but rather a necessity.

via The Atlantic:

I’m sure a lot of subway riders are skilled nappers, but this car seemed to be particularly talented. Going over the Brooklyn Bridge on a recent morning, just as the sun was coming up, a row of men in nearly identical black suits held on to the straps with their eyes closed. Their necks were bent at the slightest of angles, like a row of daisies in a breeze, and as the car clanged over the tracks and the sun pierced through the grimy train windows, it finally dawned on me they were all sound asleep. Not even the bumps and the light could stop them from sneaking in 15 more minutes of shut-eye before work.

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The Dangers of Ambien and Other Sleeping Aids

800px-Kc-zolpidem-10mg

via AlterNet:

It has been several years since the bloom fell off the rose of Ambien, the blockbuster sleeping pill. Recently, the FDA has warned about Ambien hangovers, sedation and the risk of dangerous driving and recommended lower doses. The FDA warnings came a year after Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, was arrested for what was believed to be Ambien-inebriated driving. The arrest came six years after her cousin, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, was also involved in an apparent Ambien-related traffic mishap.

After Rep. Kennedy’s crash, as stories of more bizarre behavior on the sleeping pill surfaced, Ambien’s manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis, was forced to launch an ad campaign telling people if they were going to take Ambien, to get in bed and stay there. (Or you’ll “break out in handcuffs” as the joke goes.) Reports of driving, eating, sex and other “wakeful” behavior in Ambien blackouts proliferated.

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Sleep Drunkenness Disorder: New Sleep Disorder Affects 1 in 7.

Time Jumper by Hartwig HKD via Flickr.

Time Jumper by Hartwig HKD via Flickr.

I want to say this has happened to me, but who am I kidding? I was still drunk from the night before.

via PsyBlog:

As many as one in seven people may be affected by ‘sleep drunkenness disorder’ soon after they’ve woken up or during the morning, a new study finds.

Sleep drunkenness disorder involves severe confusion upon wakening — way more than just the usual morning grogginess — and/or inappropriate behaviour: things like answering the phone instead of turning off the alarm.

Confused awakenings can happen to people when very short of sleep or jet-lagged, but are regular occurrences for those with the disorder.

Following a forced awakening, the disorder may even lead to violent behaviour and then complete amnesia about the event.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, surveyed 19,136 people in the US (Ohayon et al., 2014).

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Poor Sleep Can Lead to Memory Distortion

I can’t say that I’m surprised.

800px-Sleeping-girl

via Psyblog:

But now new research shows that not getting enough sleep increases the chances your mind will actually create false memories.

The study, published in Psychological Science, allowed one group of participants to get a full nights’ sleep, while another had to stay up all night (Frenda et al., 2014).

In the morning they were given a series of photos that were supposed to show a crime being committed.

Next, both groups were given some eyewitness statements about the crime.

Like many witness statements in real-life crimes, the details were different to those shown in the photographs.

For example, in one instance the photo showed a thief putting a wallet in his jacket, but in the witness statement it said he put it in his pants (that’s ‘trousers’ for British people, not his underwear!).

Afterwards, they were asked what they had seen in the original photographs.

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Awake Between Midnight and 4 AM? You Might Be At Risk For Suicide

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

Pic: The Hour of the Wolf (C) Still shot for illustrative purposes only.

According to a new study, more suicides occur between midnight and four AM than any other time, and suicidal behavior during this period peaks between two AM and three AM. It seems like folklore is ahead of science on this one: The wee hours of the night have been called by many things in European culture, not any of them good: The Witching Hour, and even more relevant: The Hour of the Wolf: A time in which it is believed most births and deaths occur.

I first ran across the latter when I watched Ingmar Bergman’s psychological horror film of the same name. I can’t recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, get some sleep, disinfonauts.

DARIEN, IL – A new study provides novel evidence suggesting that suicides are far more likely to occur between midnight and 4 a.m.

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