Sleep Research

The 20th century is the era of information and research. Sleep research is one of the most important topics that one can investigate, as this study will reveal a wealth of interesting facts and useful information. Studies show that most people rated a good night’s sleep as the most crucial factor in their health and well-being. Be sure to make use of this data to improve your life as well as your sleeping patterns. A good night’s rest is essential and plays a vital role in one’s wellbeing. A sleep-deprived person will most likely be an unhappy and unhealthy individual. Sleep research reveals that the average individual will spend about 26 years of his life sleeping. Don’t forget those hours of tossing and turning in bed, most of us have experienced these frustrating hours during times of stress. We will spend around seven years during our lifestyle trying to fall asleep! If we calculate the 27 years plus the seven years we will arrive at a total of 33 years in bed!  If you are sleep deprived this amount could be even higher! Many people spend many frustrating hours lying in bed, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. Sleep disorders are a common phenomenon, and this could have a severe impact on one’s life.

person sleeping on black steel bench

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Diagnostic tests for sleeping disorders

Polysomnography is a diagnostic test that is used to diagnose sleeping disorders. The polysomnography determines the underlying causes of sleep disorders. Polysomnography measures your brain waves or brain activity during sleep – the EEG. The test also measures the oxygen levels in your blood as well as heart rate rhythm (ECG) and breathing.  Leg and muscle activity (EMG) and eye movements (EOG) are also measured. The polysomnography measures biophysiological changes that occur during sleep. The polysomnography test takes place in a sleeping lab. More people have to undergo the polysomnography tests as the modern lifestyle can be blamed for many sleep disorders. As many as 66 of those that suffer from sleeping disorders cite stress as one of the main reasons for their sleeping disorder.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSD) is a family of sleep disorders that affect the bodily processes and the timing of sleep. Circadian rhythm is the consistent repetition, in cycles of 24 hours, of biological processes or activities. Amongst these, we find sensitivity to drugs and stimuli as well as hormone secretion and sleeping. The Circadian rhythm is set to a recurring daylight and darkness clock.  The Circadian rhythm governs our bodies and also regulates the body’s temperature, hormone regulation and appetite.

Further, the rhythms also regulate Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward and pleasure parts of our brain. Those with circadian rhythm sleep disorders are unable to go to sleep and awaken at times commonly required for work and school as well as social requirements. Consequently, this is an extremely disruptive disorder, imagine a mother of a home suffering of this condition? In the event of her falling asleep only at approximately 2 pm and then sleeping until 10 am the next morning. Individuals suffering from this condition can get enough sleep if they are allowed to sleep and wake at times dictated by their “body” clocks. During this period the quality of their sleep is standard unless they have another sleeping disorder. Many children also suffer from circadian rhythm sleeping disorders, and research has revealed that a natural drug, melatonin can aid in the restoration of sleeping patterns. Melatonin is a synthetic version of the melatonin that is secreted by the body. The pineal gland secretes this hormone, and it regulates the circadian rhythm of the body. It is essential to educate yourself of factors that have an impact on the circadian rhythm of the body. The information gained can benefit you if you make a few valuable changes to your lifestyle.

Unnatural Light affects sleep

Irregular and continuous light exposure adversely affects the circadian rhythm of the body. In the last 150 years, we have seen an increase in artificial light. Sources of light constantly surround humans. According to comScore, American adult smartphone users spend an average of 73.8 hours a month on apps, which comes to a little under 2 hours, 30 minutes a day. The use of electronic devices adversely effects on sleep. Children also spend too much time on their smartphones. Children between the ages of 13-18 require about 10 hours of sleep per night, the use of the cell phone and electronic devices can have a negative impact on the number of hours that children sleep. According to results in sleep research studies, 71 percent of people fall asleep with their smartphone. Some people fall asleep while holding their smartphone, others have the phone on the nightstand, and many use the smartphones as alarm clocks. Checking social media sites and surfing the internet or even working in bed are daily occurrences. The light reflected from a cell phone or tablet is called a blue light. The brain interprets this blue light as daylight. This blue light suppresses the melatonin, a hormone that is vital to ensure a good night’s rest. Apart from the effect of the blue light, these nighttime activities could lead to stress and even excitement.

Electronic Devices influences sleeping patterns

Consequently, this unnatural interaction with electronic devices will put you at higher risk of insomnia. In the new economy, many individuals work from home; it is not surprising to find that research has shown the 80 percent of these workers spend time working in bed. Sleep deprivation amongst this group could probably be much higher than anticipated. Essential lifestyle changes, like getting in enough exercise, limiting the intake of caffeine and avoiding cell phone users about three hours before bedtime are valuable things to consider if you want to improve your sleep to ensure a good night’s rest eliminate the use of electronic devices also make sure that your bedroom is free from blue light exposure.

woman lying on brown floor

Photo by Bruno Gomiero

Sleep Facts

Sleep plays such a vital role in our lives that even poets have written about it. Sir Philip Sidney wrote, “Come sleep, O sleep, the certain knot of peace.” Most of us have had the experience of watching a small baby or animal sleep. Even watching one’s spouse sleeping will evoke a feeling of peacefulness and rest. This feeling of peaceful tranquillity is indeed one of the wonderful benefits of sleeping. Most people require about 8 hours of quality sleep per night. “Sleep is like height, we are all different and how much we need is to a large degree, genetically determined,” explained Dr Neil Stanley. According to sleep experts at Harvard we should track our bedtime and how many hours we sleep at night.

Further, we need to determine how well rested we feel each day. By making use of these means, one can quickly learn how much sleep your body requires per day. Some people firmly believe that a glass of milk can help you to fall asleep, but according to research done at the University of Arkansas, this is only a myth. All of us have encountered a grandmother that insisted we should take a nap in the afternoon, many of these folks firmly believe that this practice will aid in a better night’s rest. According to the American National, Sleep Foundation snoozing in the afternoon will not upset your sleeping pattern, make sure to limit your afternoon nap to 20 minutes. “Dream on”, is a common saying, in our society, it is therefore not surprising to note that we spend about 600 hours a year dreaming!

 

The Importance of a Mattress

In recent surveys, approximately 78% of people said they want to improve their sleep quality. An astonishing 49 percent of those interviewed said that they would like to own a better mattress than they currently do. Studies show that your mattress plays a vital role in how well and how long you sleep. Four out of every five respondents of the survey agreed that poor mattresses are to blame for poor sleep quality. The lifespan of the average mattress is ten years, after ten years a mattress reaches its end of lifespan. Your body will no longer be supported and cushioned by the bed, and this can lead to loss of sleeping posture and in the end, it could cost you a good night’s rest. Respondents in sleep- studies, especially those that are 55 years and older agreed that the most critical factor for a good night’s sleep is a good mattress. Mattresses come in many shapes and sizes, and it is possible to choose your mattress to best support your body type. A good quality mattress will not only improve your sleep, but it will also improve your overall health and sense of wellbeing. Considering the hours we spend on our backs, in our beds, the expense of a good mattress is a is a worthwhile investment.

Importance of sleep

Despite all the information available on sleeping and the importance of sleep, studies show that Americans are getting less sleep than what is needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep studies reveal that 45% of those interviewed, agreed that they were not getting enough sleep. In 2000 only, 27 out of a hundred, of those polled felt that they were sleep deprived. So apparently as technology improved, the quality and quantity of sleep declined. Not getting in enough shut-eye can have a devastating effect on society. Sleep deprivation can cause depression, weight gain, skin ageing and it can also lead to conflict in your life. It is interesting to note that ten days without sleep can kill you. Researches are continually discovering new facts about rest. During this process, your brain renews, sells repair themselves and your body releases vital hormones. Investigations in Canada and France found that those that consistent early bedtimes may reduce the risk of mental illness, it is therefore essential to make sure that you get in your 8 hours sleep on a regular basis.

person wearing a white and brown dress shirt holding his face

Photo by Arthur Savary

Advantages of sleep

There are many benefits and advantages of a good night’s sleep. Sleep keeps your heart healthy, and it reduces stress. Those individuals that enjoy a good night’s sleep are more alert and can concentrate better than those that are sleep deprived. There is a clear connection between sleep and mental health. Dr Maiken Nedergaard, a co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Roschester, has studied the mechanism underlying the cleaning function of the brain. During this cleaning process, toxic waste, built up during the day, is eliminated.  She says that this process of poisonous elimination that is taking place in the brain during sleep is like a dishwasher. Lack of sleep over time can lead to the loss of brain cells. Researches from the University of Pennsylvania and Peking University found that sleep-deprived mice lost 25 percent of their LC neurons. These are the neurons which are involved in mental alertness, cognitive function and attention span.

Conclusion

Diagnosis as to the cause of a sleeping disorder can restore a person’s vitality and health. It is therefore crucial that each person should take responsibility for his/her sleeping life. After a long day at work, there is nothing better than getting into one’s bed, surrounded by softness and warmth. For some, this will be a positive experience, an experience of the release of endorphins and rest. For others, the setting sun and the thought of a bed will bring feelings of stress and worry, for those individuals the option of a sleep analysis might do the trick. There are however many factors that influence sleep and sleeping patterns. Most of us will be able to address these issues without visiting a sleep clinic. It is well worth it to investigate the benefits of sleep and to research the topics of sleeping disorders; we owe it to ourselves to take responsibility for our sleep life.

 

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