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Friday, 28 January 2011

Sleep-deprived Britain: Two thirds of us suffer from debilitating insomnia

The following is an interesting article by Sophie Borland from the UK's Daily Mail today and it highlights what I already expected - this problem is almost epidemic and underestimated by those who do not suffer:

"If you woke up this morning feeling grumpy and fed up because you didn’t sleep well, you weren’t the only one.  Almost two thirds of us struggle to get a good night’s rest, according to research. The problem has become so bad, experts say it constitutes a major public health concern.

Some 60 per cent of adults admit they have a sleep problem and rarely get the recommended six or seven hours a night.  More than a third suffer from insomnia, and many have battled with the condition for years. Doctors warn that sleeplessness leads to depression, lack of concentration and an inability to carry out simple tasks.

According to the findings of a major report, insomniacs are four times more likely to suffer from relationship problems. They are also three times more likely to have difficulties concentrating or be in a bad mood and twice as likely to have energy slumps.

A quarter of adults have other sleep-related problems such as teeth grinding or sleep apnea – a disorder characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing which causes sufferers to wake up in the night.

Just 39 per cent of us sleep well, according to the survey of 5,300 by the Mental Health Foundation. It is calling for sleep campaigns to make the public more aware of the importance of getting a good night’s rest."
Read more at: Sleep Deprived Britain

A Quote to Help You Sleep Better?

"The good sleep better but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more"
Just think carefully about that one!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Extra Sleep May Help Kids' Weight

A recent study shows the positive effect, extra sleep can have on children and their weight.

The study in the Pediatrics Journal, shows sleeping-in on weekends, can help reverse the negative effects of irregular sleep patterns, on young bodies.

Doctors monitored sleep patterns and body masses for 300 kids, between the ages of four and ten. Children who didn't make up the sleep they lost during the week, gained more weight.

Children with increased body mass indexes, were more likely to be obese in their later years.

This report is from CBS 42 News. It reverses everything I learnt when I was young when I believed that sleeping more would make me fat! I guess we need the right amount of sleep to maintain our "normal" metabolism.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Your Snoring Could be a Symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Each pause in breathing during sleep is called an "apnea" and these disruptions can occur 5 to 30 times an hour and sometimes hundreds of times during the night. Each time an apnea occurs, the person awakes to resume breathing.  People nevertheless are often unaware that this is happening to them but the result is poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue. In fact 80% of sufferers are ignorant to the fact that these pauses in their sleep are taking place.

The Greek word "apnea" means "without breath," and there are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Out of the three, obstructive is the most common. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects 90% of total sufferers and is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. Snoring can indicate that the person may be affected by sleep apnea.

Untreated, as well as daytime tiredness, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, headaches and may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated and, indeed, if you feel any concern that you have this problem to a severe and distressing degree, you MUST consult a medical practitioner. Several treatment options exist and research into additional treatments continues.

However, snoring does not usually mean that you have OSA but can be a problem in itself by waking you up intermittently or anyone around you! I've discovered some throat exercises which are effective in strengthening the muscles of the upper respiratory tract, thus helping to stop snoring and they are also beneficial in cases of mild to moderate OSA. They cost you merely a little time and discipline. Do these daily and increase the times a little after a few days, as you would with normal muscle exercises:

1. Repeat each vowel sound (a, e, i, o, u) out loud for 3 minutes throughout the day.
2. Place the tip of your tounge behind your top front teeth. Slide your tongue backwards for 3 minutes a day.
3. Close your mouth and purse your lips. Hold for 30 seconds.
4. With your mouth open, move jaw to left and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on right.
5. With mouth open, contract the muscle at the back of your throat repeatedly for 30 seconds. To help with this, look in the mirror at the back of your throat and watch the uvula (the dangly bit!) move up and down.

Singing is also recommended to tighten lax throat muscles. (Possibly an exercise to do alone, particularly if tone-deaf!).

There are many more exercises and steps you can take to help stop snoring and improve your night-time breathing so I recommend that you take a look at Christian Goodman's "Stop Snoring Exercise Program" where he offers further exercises and tips. There are many testimonials from people who have found his program very effective and some clients claim to be cured from their sleep apnea too. He also shows a free exercise on the page to relax a tense jaw which is a common reason for snoring. Here's the link:
Click Here!

Sleep in Animals

Not only can ducks sleep with one eye shut, the same happens with their brains. Much of what a bird sees in one eye goes to the other side of its brain, which allows it to sleep with the side of the brain connected to the closed eye, while the other side of the brain stays awake.

Dolphins and some other whales have developed this "half-asleep" technique to even more sophisticated degree, so that they can continue swimming, surfacing and breathing. After an hour or so like this the roles reverse, the sleeping side waking up and the other side going to sleep. Like ducks, dolphins sleep with one eye open.

Migrating birds and albatrosses at sea fly for days at a time; it's not yet known whether they sleep on the wing or simply deprive themselves of sleep.

The record for the longest sleeper goes to the South American two-toed sloth, which spends around 20 hours a day asleep, up in the highest branches of the rainforest. Antelopes are fitful sleepers, sleeping in herds, with only those at the centre of the herd able to sleep safely. Being on the perimeter means either no sleep or becoming someone's dinner.

There are no permanent non-sleepers in the animal kingdom, which points towards sleep having essential life-preserving purpose.

I do however wish I had the ability to sleep with one eye open - could be very useful!