Archive for April, 2011
This article is a good reminder that sleep deprivation can, and does, kill people every day.
Ten years ago, a former colleague of mine, a fine teacher and person, was tragically killed in a car accident in British Columbia. He was on vacation with his daughter who miraculously survived the accident. What happened was a classic case of sleep deprivation: my friend was anxious to make his way to a chosen destination and despite his fatigue and the fact that he had been on the road for over 6 hours, he made the decision to drive through the night. He never made it there.
That there is a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and traffic accidents cannot be disputed. In 1998, 24,318 deaths were cited from accidents related to sleep deprivation in the US. There were as well 2, 474,430 disabling injuries resulting from accidents where decreased mental efficiency and attentiveness due to sleep loss was the major causative factor. In fact, a major review conducted in 1996 suggested that the oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl( costing over 50,000 lives) and the near nuclear accidents at the Three Mile Island and Peach Bottom reactors were all associated with sleep deprivation of the personnel involved.
Sleep deprivation is often caused by sleep disorders which are unknown to the subjects themselves. Sleep apnea, for example, is a common cause for sleep deficit. A study at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center of Stanford University Medical School showed that truck drivers identified with sleep disordered breathing had a two-fold higher accident rate than drivers without sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep disordered breathing, commonly known as sleep apnea, affects 15 million people in the United States. This condition, characterized by suffocation and oxygen deprivation which wake the subjects up several times in the course of the night, is responsible for daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Put these subjects on the highway and we have a recipe for disastrous traffic accidents.
Perhaps an examination of the influence sleep deprivation has on our mental acuity and performance level can shed light on how we can protect ourselves and others from the disastrous consequences of sleep fatigue.
What happens to you when you are sleep deprived? According to the Traffic Research Center, these are the influences of sleep deprivation on performance:
- a) Slower reaction time: sleeplessness slows down your reflexes; reaction time slows down, preventing you from stopping in times of danger.
- b) Decrease in concentration levels: When you are overly tired, your attention span decreases. Most people are subject to a decrease in attention every 90-120 minutes; however, sleepiness makes this decrease even worse and it can cause accidents when you fall asleep at the wheel.
- c) Disorder in information processing: Sleepiness is very much like being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When you are sleepy, your mental and psychomotor skills diminish. In one study, a group of subjects were kept awake for 28 hours; another group was given alcoholic drinks every half hour. When both groups were tested for hand-eye coordination, the ones who were sleep deprived performed equally bad as the ones with 0.5 blood alcohol level.
What are the factors that have a direct effect on a driver’s tiredness?
- a) The amount of time the driver has been on the road. When a driver has been on the road for 8 or more hours, his driving performance is impaired. The risk of accidents increases.
- b) The amount of sleep the driver had the night before. Not having any sleep for 16 hours has a serious impact on driving performance. Research shows that the sleeping period of drivers who are involved in road accidents are shorter than the ones of those who had sufficient sleep.
- c) Sleep disorders and Obesity. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea or narcolepsy in truck drivers are a major risk factor. In the same Stanford University Study mentioned above, even weight can seriously affect the frequency of traffic accidents. Obese drivers with a body mass more than 30 kg also presented a two-fold higher accident rate than non-obese drivers.
- d) Environmental factors. The lack of resting and parking facilities for drivers is another factor that contributes to the accident rate.
What can we do to ensure that we get adequate sleep?
- a) Set up a bedtime ritual–the same time to bed, the same routines like reading in bed or listening to relaxing music.
- b) See your doctor if you have snoring or breathing problems, daytime fatigue, morning headaches, night time choking episodes. You could have sleep apnea which can be treated with new devices and technology.
- c) If you are overweight, take the steps to bring down your weight. Obesity is a common factor in sleeplessness.
- d) Get into a routine of exercise during the day. Do not exercise after 7Pm as the activity could be over stimulating and prevent you from sleeping.
A simple thing like sleep is nothing to be dismissed. More and more studies are revealing a direct link between our nighttime and daytime experiences.
Copyright 2006 Mary Desaulniers
You can visit Mary at http://greatbodyat50.blogspot.com
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Please sleep well, sleep enough, drive safely and live to drive home.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Sleep Paralysis may be one of the most frightening, least dangerous things one can experience in sleep. It usually happens just when falling asleep or right at awakening and is the distinct sensation that one cannot move or speak. The feeling is caused by a slight mismatch in the brain and body, in that one is awake and the other still “asleep”. It usually only remains for a few seconds, but can last minutes, which for the uninformed can be terrifying. The episode is usually ended by a sound or movement in the room that can “break the spell”. I have told patients in the past to just concentrate on moving one tiny muscle, like an eyelid or pinky finger. This usually allows full movement to return quickly.
When sleep paralysis occurs at the onset of sleep it is called “hypnopompic sleep paralysis”. In this situation the body is relaxing more and more while the mind is kind of surfing between wake and sleep. If the mind wakes up and finds the body far more relaxed than when it last checked it can lead to a startling feeling of being hard to move.
When it happens upon waking in the night or morning it is referred to as “hypnogogic paralysis”. This is more likely when waking out of REM or dreaming sleep. During REM sleep it is natural and normal that our big muscles should be completely limp or paralyzed. This keeps us from acting out our dreams all night – which is a good thing! However if we again have that mismatch and the brain wakes up from REM just a fraction before the muscles wake up we will “catch ourselves” in that paralyzed state.
Sleep paralysis happens more often if we’re not getting enough sleep or if our schedules are really irregular. A change in time zones can be a trigger as can some medications that alter sleep cycles or timing. It may occur only once in a lifetime or become a recurring experience. It is usually harmless and once one knows what is happening it can be kind of entertaining. It’s the only time we ever get to watch ourselves sleeping!
If sleep paralysis is frequent enough to interfere with refreshing sleep it can be addressed by improving sleep habits, catching up on sleep and working on some general stress relief. There are some antidepressant medications that change sleep stages in such a way that sleep paralysis would be less likely, though this would be reserved for a fairly severe case. It can be associated with Narcolepsy, though, so if sleep paralysis is a common occurrence and there is significant daytime sleepiness, an evaluation by a sleep specialist would be advised.
Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
This is an excellent review of major sleep disorders in just under 6 minutes! Since the video was filmed, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has decided to consolidate Sleep Stages 3 and 4 so that we now speak of only 4 sleep stages. They are the lightest sleep Stage 1, deeper sleep Stage 2 (where we spend most of a normal night), deepest, slow wave sleep Stage 3 and dreaming sleep REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep.
If you are concerned you may have a sleep disorder or just want to talk more about it to find out, please leave your questions or comments below. You may also want to visit my Sleep Coaching website: http://www.SleepRestLive.com.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I didn’t write this. I just laughed when I read it. I think it is a wonderful (though biased) description of the differences between l arks and owls. Science has now informed us that there is truly a genetic difference. Apparently 30% of us are really truly morning people or quite definitely darkly night folks. The rest of us are “hummingbirds” (?) That may be another post… For now, I have to agree with Duncan –
I Don’t Do Mornings
by Duncan Kelly
Some people are morning people. They get up before the sun rises and they go for a run around the local golf course, scaring the bird trying to get the first worm. They get back home for breakfast and have a shower. Then they catch up on all their letter writing and birthday cards. After making a few calls and concluding a few deals, they toddle off to work, arriving 20 minutes early.
I don’t do mornings. The alarm clock is like the sword of damacles hanging over my slumber. It’s strident clamour heralds the death of my dreams and the destruction of the land of Nod. I hit the sleep button and scrape another few minutes of sleep from the desolation of another workday. The inevitable moment arrives: if I delay one more minute I will be seriously, noticeably, late for work. After chucking on some mismatching clothes, (because my eyes are still stuck shut with sleep) I stumble off to work, eventually waking up about an hour after getting there.
Morning people don’t believe in the existence of non-morning people. They think we are either mad or lazy liars. But go and pick up a morning person for a call out at 7pm and then the boot is on the other foot. They yawn expansively as they get in the car, they mutter incoherent sentences, and only your terrible driving keeps them from sleeping for the remainder of the 3 hour trip. They look at you in awe as you drive on through the night, and cannot believe that your are still wide awake and alert at 2 in the morning. they think you are some kind of freak, but they are impressed none the less.
Yup, we night people can keep going as long as we have to. We don’t do mornings, but we do do nights. Moring people doodoo nights! When the world is sleeping, we go on working, quietly acheiving and prevailing where others would fall down and sleep. We are the epitome of the long life battery, as we keep on keeping on through long nights.
Night people are often unseen, like the long haul train driver, the night flight airline pilot, the technician on a call out, the night watchman. But don’t ask us to get up early. That is being cruel. Our bodies are not designed for early morning activity. A morning run would kill us, and doing anything financial before 9am would be a fast road to bankruptcy. Writing a birthday card would lose a friend and create an enemy!
So if you’re a morning person, spare a thought for your yawning colleague. He’s not lazy. He’s not crazy. He’s just not in the right time zone.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1454196
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Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
You’ve probably seen it on YouTube, Anderson Cooper 360, Colbert, Conan or Leno. Vice President Biden was caught snoozing through President Obama’s economic speech. To be fair, if you look at the others in the video they all seem to be catching a few winks. It’s not just the President’s melodious voice or the notoriously soporific subject of economics at play here. I’m betting we’re witnessing the manifestations of a common sleep disorder called Behaviorally Induced Insufficient Sleep Syndrome. A complicated name for a simple lack of sleep. It comes from not getting enough sleep at night to stay awake and alert during the day.
With everything they’ve got going on, all the various worldwide crises and political constituencies to attend to, it must be darn near impossible to get enough sleep in Washington DC these days. And not just in DC — it’s apparently a problem in Reno Nevada too, where an air traffic controller was caught napping when he should have been bringing in a plane with a medical patient aboard. (I wonder if he had been listening to the president’s speech on the radio?)
At any rate, we have been alerted to the statistics over and over; American’s are not getting enough sleep. A recent CDC report revealed that nearly 39% of survey respondents had fallen asleep inadvertently during the day in the previous 30 days. Thirty Nine Percent! That means that over 1/3rd of us can’t keep our eyes open even when our reputation, our job, our political future or our lives are at stake.
Mr. Biden, you are certainly not alone in your sleep deprivation. You are forgiven for your momentary lapse and we are thankful you weren’t at the wheel of a car as so many other drowsy folks are every day. This may be an excellent opportunity, however for you to recognize a new national epidemic of avoidable sleepiness that can lead to increased health costs, reduced quality of life, industrial catastrophe and lapses of leadership judgement. Making healthy sleep a national priority is an intelligent and noble cause. Take up the banner, Mr. Biden. Help us to shout “Wake up America!!!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted in a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report* reveals disturbing statistics regarding American sleep habits. Nearly 75,000 adults, in 12 states answered survey questions about sleep schedules, snoring and daytime sleepiness. The results tell us we are sleeping fewer hours and we are very likely to suffer breathing restrictions while we are asleep. These two factors leave us too sleepy to function well during the day and we are at increasing risk of instant death as a victim of a drowsy driving accident.
Specifically, the survey discovered that 35.3% reported having less than 7 hours of sleep on average during a 24-hour period. The National Sleep Foundation advises that 7-8 hours a night is the average requirement for optimal health and alertness during the day. Over the last 25 years there has been a substantial increase in the number of Americans getting less than the recommended sleep hours. Societal factors such as expanding work hours, shift work and increasing exposure to electronic data and entertainment options have been cited as potential causes.
Of the survey respondents, 48.0% reported snoring. This may be a heralding symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which the breathing is repeated interrupted during the night. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and early death. It is more common in people who are obese and it can also lead to increasing weight gain. The National Institutes of Health estimate that 12 million Americans may have OSA, though many remain undiagnosed and hence, untreated.
37.9% of those surveyed reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least 1 day in the preceding 30 days. Excessive daytime sleepiness may be caused by narcolepsy, mental health problems, neurological diseases and medication side effects, among other things. These causes are far less common, however than the excessive daytime sleepiness that comes from simple sleep deprivation. The reduced sleep hours and declining sleep quality revealed by the previous findings are more than enough to account for the sleepiness reported by the study participants.
Finally, and perhaps most frightening of all, is that 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the preceding 30 days. The editor’s note in the CDC report points out that drowsy driving “has been responsible for an estimated 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States.”
There was some variation from state to state in response to some of the survey questions. Those from Minnesota were more likely to get 7 hours of sleep or more per night. There were fewer people snoring in California. Those in Wyoming were not falling asleep during the day as much as people in other states and there were fewer drowsy drivers in Illinois.
The worst survey results overall were from respondents in Hawaii. There, apparently 44.6% get less than 7 hours of nightly sleep, 54% snore, 43% admit to falling asleep during the day and 6.4% of Hawaiians have nodded off at the wheel in the last 30 days. So although the 50th state may be the site of many dream vacations it should work on getting a few more dreams in for itself. If you are going there for your own dream vacation, be particularly aware of the heightened risk of drowsy drivers on the road with you. Sleepiness reduces vigilance while driving, slowing reaction time, and leading to deficits in information processing, which can result in crashes. Perhaps, a little less luau, a little more shut eye…
*Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. 2011;60(8):233-238. © 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Full report at the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6008a2.htm
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I was interested to read this review of a new study in a blog post by Bernie Wong.
Sleep Deprivation Leaves You Emotionally Isolated
“Emotional Expressiveness in Sleep-Deprived Healthy Adults.”
Minkel, J., Htaik, O., Banks, S., & Dinges, D. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Vol. 9 (1), January 2011, 5-14.
Sleep deprivation really can make us look like zombies: This study suggests that getting less sleep hinders our ability to convey emotions through our facial expressions. Study participants got either a full night of sleep (9-10 hours) or no sleep at all. Within the next few days, they were shown amusing and sad film clips. Though sleep-deprived participants reported feeling emotional responses to the clips just as strongly as well-rested participants, they were only half as likely to reflect those emotions through their facial expressions. Sleep, the researchers argue, is key to our social interactions, helping us communicate our emotions to others. —Bernie Wong
This is another in an increasingly convincing body of research suggesting our Emotional Intelligence is greatly influenced by the quality and quantity of sleep we get on a nightly basis. Researchers have also discovered that going without sleep for a day or longer also affects the ability to make good moral judgements.
A study by WD Killgore, et al published in Sleep Medicine* in 2008 showed how insufficient sleep decreased emotional intelligence parameters across the board. According to the study “sleep deprivation was associated with lower scores on Total EQ (decreased global emotional intelligence), Intrapersonal functioning (reduced self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, and self-actualization), Interpersonal functioning (reduced empathy toward others and quality of interpersonal relationships), Stress Management skills (reduced impulse control and difficulty with delay of gratification), and Behavioral Coping (reduced positive thinking and action orientation). Esoteric Thinking (greater reliance on formal superstitions and magical thinking processes) was increased.”
It should be becoming more obvious that sleep is not “a waste of time” but a vital factor in maintaining our excellence and fulfilling our human potential.
*Sleep Med. 2008 Jul;9(5):517-26. Epub 2007 Aug 30.
Best Wishes for Peaceful sleep,
Preliminary findings from a study at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona suggest a strong association between Restless Legs Syndrome and structural heart problems.
Arshad A. Jahangir, MD presented this information at the American College of Cardiology meeting being held in New Orleans this week. The study revealed a 1.85-fold increase in risk for cardiac hypertrophy (enlarged heart) in patients who had more than 35 bursts of leg movements per hour when sleeping.
This is important news for cardiologist and sleep specialists alike as this is among the first research to link nocturnal leg movements to heart disease. The mechanism for this link is not clear. Jahangir suggested that excess sympathetic activity may be involved.
While more research is needed to verify these results and no treatment is being recommended at this time, the researchers concluded at the conference, “With the aging of the population and increase in the prevalence of sleep-related disorders and cardiovascular disease, recognition of frequent periodic leg movement during sleep as a potential modifiable risk factor for left ventricular hypertrophy offers another target to help reduce its burden and associated complications.”
Mirza M, et al “Fragmented sleep due to frequent leg movement is associated with left ventricular hypertrophy and poor cardiovascular outcome” ACC 2011.
These days life comes at us fast. Our daily tasks are listed and leering at us from our computers and date books. Even our phones chirp and chime at us throughout the day to let us know when it’s time to do this or that. Many of us are so busy we rarely accomplish everything on the list; we just keep moving from one meeting or project or chore to the next until we can’t go on any further and then we collapse. The surprising thing is, that as exhausted as we may be, sleep is not necessarily waiting right there to catch us when we fall! In fact, overfull days can easily become overalert nights.
For sleep to be as consistent and reliable as we would like it to be we need to give it as much respect as all our other appointments and obligations. Sleep needs to be scheduled into the day from the start so that the rest of the day can be built to accommodate it. If we leave sleep as an afterthought, treat it like leftovers or make it a last choice, sleep may become as elusive as a scorned lover. Declare your feelings; let sleep know it is important to you by giving it a priority place on your schedule and keeping your promise to show up on time. Then you will find sleep becomes more available for you.
While we have that BerryPhone out, let’s pencil in some exercise. The ideal time would be mid to late afternoon, but any time is better than no time, as long as you finish at least 2 hours before bedtime. A brisk walk in the sunlight is excellent. A spin class after work, awesome. Let your body move in space as it was designed to do. Get your heart rate up a bit. Sound sleep depends on changes in our core temperature. We sleep better when our inner temperature is falling. If we never do anything to raise our temp in the first place it’s like working in a room with no windows. The natural rhythms of the day and night are lost.
3) Eat Regular Balanced Meals
Speaking of natural rhythms, our bodies take their cues about when it is time to sleep and when to be awake from several different things. Light is really important, as is exercise and temperature changes as we just discussed. Another strong cue can come from regular mealtimes. It is important to eat, i.e. fuel the machine, several times during the day. Good, unprocessed, organic food is always preferable. If you go to bed hungry you are likely to find yourself awake, standing in front of the fridge at 3 a.m. Likewise, if you eat a big heavy meal 30 minutes before lying down for the night, your bodily functions will be busy with digestion. Sleep is likely to be delayed or at least restless for a couple hours. Regular nutritious meals at thoughtful intervals through the day can help you sleep more soundly at night. There are certain foods that can assist or hinder your ability to fall asleep easily or stay awake when required, but that is for another post.
4) Make a Worry List
Here we are back at lists again! This one however is one you should do nearer the end of the day, but not too close to bedtime. Right after dinner would be a reasonable time for this exercise. The idea here is to sit down with a blank piece of paper (several if needed) and let all those nagging little thoughts that are likely to start circling in your brain after lights out and spill them out in ink. You don’t have to be neat — just get it out on paper for safekeeping overnight. You may write out tomorrow’s to-do list, or a reminder to get the tires rotated. You may jot down an idea for next week’s presentation or just a gripe about an inconsiderate neighbor. What ever comes up, put it down. Once this “brain dump” is complete you’re free to slip away to slumber without concern you’re missing something. If, out of habit, one of those petty thoughts tries to rise up after you’re down for the night you can let it go quickly, knowing you’ve covered that ground already and have it well secured on your “worry list”.
5) Invite Sleep In
After our busy day is done, after the workout is over, after the worry list is written and the dinner dishes done, there needs to be one more task to really get the most out of our coming night’s sleep. We need to wind down. There needs to be a very clear separation between our waking day and our sleeping night to reinforce the change in states we are seeking.
Remember the bedtime routine your mom set up for you when you were little, or the ones you have for your kids? Well, bedtime routines aren’t just for children. In addition to brushing our teeth, changing into our jammies and checking the closet and under the bed to be sure there are no monsters lurking, there are some grown-up things we can do.
First, an hour before “official” bedtime, turn off all your screened devices. That includes computers, video games and phones. Dim the lights and engage in a relaxing stress free activity. This may be a warm bath, a soothing cup of caffeine free tea, a good lighthearted book or soft music. Relaxing yoga poses, a foot massage or lovemaking can also ease the body toward slumber. With this obvious change in lighting, mood, thought and activity you signal your mind and body to prepare for sleep. In essence, you invite sleep in.
When it’s time, lay your head on your pillow, give thanks for your blessings, turn out the light and
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Getting to sleep at night should be as easy as laying our head on a soft pillow, speaking our gratitudes for the day and turning out the light. But for many of us that is only the beginning of the endless loops of doubts, worries and fearful thoughts that threaten to cycle through our brains right on into the sunrise. Over-active minds, especially those caught up in fear are a major cause of insomnia, now more than ever before. Learning to deal with the fear, therefore is an essential part of achieving a healthy sleep pattern.
Today I want to share a blog post by a friend of mine in Washington. Lari Ward is an Eden Energy Medicine Certified Practitioner, consultant and coach. She is also an outstanding, authentic human being… Here she offers us a simple technique for backing out of “fear mode”. Try this during the day when bombarded by the news and at bedtime when assailed by your own ideas of catastrophe. It may just help you drift off to a more peaceful sleep.
I am sitting in a coffee shop in Kalispell Montana and it is snowing. I find that fitting as I have been in a news white-out for the past 3 days. There is no news on Japan or the nuclear crisis. When I left the West Coast of Washington state that was the topic of conversation. When I asked my son his thoughts on the nuclear reactor crisis he said “nothing we can do about it.” hmmmm. No issue, head in the sand, no fear. Parts of that are good. The no fear part.
Yet fear often pops in and disrupts our thinking, our ability to take action and our emotions. A state of fear or fearfulness is different for everyone. Fear of radiation poisoning ; inability to pay the bills; fear of snakes, spiders, fear of life, death, success, or even whether the casserole for dinner won’t past the taste test. It doesn’t matter what the fear our physical reaction is the same. Fear is uncomfortable, it limits our ability to move forward, take healthy risks, and maintain balance and flow in our lives. When fear strikes here is a quick easy energy technique that will bring you out of the reactive fear mode.
Place your right hand over your heart. Tap on the top of your hand between the knuckle of the ring and little finger. Use 3 fingers to tap, which will cover a greater area. Continue to tap until you feel the fear subside.
Take care, enjoy life, send someone love today by just breathing out through your heart.
To learn more about Lari and her work visit her website: http://lariwardenergymatters.com/
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,