Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sleep Facts

The world record of no sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory lapses.

People can take cat naps with their eyes open (I have personally witnessed this and it is creepy), so without medical supervision it is really impossible to tell if someone is really awake or not.

[caption id="attachment_1654" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sleep Facts - Do you feel tired? You could be even if you don't feel you are."][/caption]

If it takes you more than five minutes to fall asleep easy it means you are sleep deprived. Ideally it takes around 10 to 15 minutes to fall asleep, you are tired enough to sleep deeply, yet don’t experience afternoon sleepiness.

Parents with new born babies will lose 400-750 hours of lost sleep in the first year. In fact, parents who lose sleep by children have a tendency to develop insomnia later in life. The best way to avoid this condition is to establish healthy sleep habits with their children when they are young.

REM sleep occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and totals about two hours a night. The discovery of REM (rapid-eye-movement) wasn’t recorded until 1953, because scientists were concerned about wasting paper.

Dreams occur not only during REM sleep, but also in non-REM sleep. REM dreams are considered to be out of the ordinary often strange and a bit unusual to the dreamer, while non-REM dreams are more repetitive and a taken from daily events. If you are concerned with your work or family you may dream about it in your non-REM sleep phase. During an REM dream your eyes move, suggesting that the dream process is similar to watching a movie. Some scientists believe that our dreams are from long-term memory or that we dream about times in our lives that are worth remembering, while others think that we dream of things worth forgetting to eliminate interrelated memories that would otherwise clutter our mind. REM is crucial for cementing new information into long and short-term memory. Research suggests that it is during REM sleep that we file away everything we learn. While some dream specialist see the importance of dreams through dream interpretation, others feel dreams do not serve any purpose at all bur a by-product of sleep and consciousness.

REM sleep may help developing brains mature as premature babies are thought to have 75% REM sleep which is 10% more than full-term babies.

Moms don’t get enough sleep to stay mentally and physically energetic as your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep every night so your mind and body can repair and replenish themselves. Women who suffer from a sleep deficit not only feel sluggish but often suffer from depression.

In a 1998 study scientist found that by shining a bright light on the backs of human knees can reset the brains sleep/wake cycle. To this day, they have found no explanation why it works. The British Ministry of Defense researchers can reset soldier’s body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hours. Tiny optical fibers embedded in special glasses project a ring of bright while light around the soldier’s eyes, misleading them into believing they just woke up. When you are exposed to bright light, your serotonin increases, which helps keep you awake.

Visible light wavelengths affect our sleep. Blue light has a wavelength of 455-492 which means it has a higher frequency. So, blue light is continuously bombarding the eye, causing you to stay awake. Red light has a wavelength of 622-780 which has the opposite effect and helps you sleep. If your digital alarm clock emits blue or white it can disrupt your sleep cycle even if you aren’t fully awake. This light can turn off the production of melatonin which is a key sleep chemical.

If you stay up for seventeen hours it will lead to a decrease in performance equal to a blood alcohol level of .05%. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident have all be suspect of human error caused by sleep deprivation. Fatigue has been reported in one of six fatal road accidents.

If you are planning on a night on the town, get plenty of rest first. Five nights of sleeping less than 7 hours can cause sleep deprivation that lessens your tolerance for alcohol. Three drinks will have the same effect as six would if you had gotten enough rest. Alcohol is not a sleep aid. It might help you to get to sleep easy, but you will lose restful deep sleep and you won’t dream much.

Not only exposure to light during the night, but exposure to noise can also be a great sleep stealer. Unfamiliar and familiar noise heard during the first two hours and the last two hours of sleep have an effect on your sleep cycle even if you do not wake up.

Your natural alarm clock that wakes you up when you need to is caused by a stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. What’s even more interesting is that we have conscious control over this hormone. When adrenocorticotropin was studied in humans, participants who were told they would be woken at an early time had higher levels of this hormone in comparison to those who had no anticipation of waking. Therefore, simply telling yourself you need to wake up early might just be enough to prime your internal alarm.

Sleeping pills not only suppress REM sleep but if you suffer from insomnia caused by losing a loved one, can disrupt the grieving process.

Another sleep stealer is room temperature, your body’s temperature and the brain’s sleep/wake cycle are closely linked. Hot summer nights cause restless sleep because in order to fall asleep we must cool off. Best sleep temperature ranges between 65 and 69 degrees and possibly cooler if suffering from night sweats caused by menopause or cancer treatments.

[caption id="attachment_1656" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Snoring causing daytime sleepiness? Might be sleep apnea."][/caption]

Do you snore? 10% of snorers have sleep apnea a disorder that causes the individual to stop breathing for a short period of time up to 300 times a night. Sleep apnea is associated with heart attacks and stroke. If not related to sleep apnea, snoring occurs only during non-REM sleep. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between regular snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea? The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and afternoon sleepiness during the day. It is very important to contact your doctor if you or your sleep partner constantly snores, has pauses in breathing or gasps for breath while sleeping.

Teenagers need as much sleep as small children, about 10 hours, while those over 65 need at least 6 hours (with a good afternoon nap, I’d say :) ) An average adult 25-55 7-8 hours should be enough. 18-24 year olds who don’t get enough sleep (8-10 hrs) suffer from impaired performance more than older adults. Women need up to an hour of extra sleep compared to men and according to some studies are more prone to depression, if they don’t get it.

Feeling tired? Did you know after a few days of sleep deprivation you aren’t aware of feeling tired in spite of lower levels of alertness, moodiness or decreased physical performance. Experts believe that one of the most alluring sleep stealers is the internet. So, turn off your computer, put down that video game controller and go get a good night’s sleep.

The content provided in Sleep Facts is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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