Introduction to Sleep
Sleep is something we do throughout our entire lives, from the moment we are born until the moment we are finally laid to rest. In fact, during an average life span, a person spends the equivalent of 27 years asleep!
Sleep is such a natural tendency that most of us don’t give it much thought. When we do think about sleep, it’s usually because we haven’t gotten enough of it or because we feel the need to do it for longer than what would be considered ‘normal’.
As taken for granted as sleep is, it really is a controversial topic. There are countless differences of opinion as to why we sleep, how much sleep we should be getting each day, where we sleep, what makes the ideal sleep environment, why we don’t sleep enough, and why we sleep too much.
The general consensus is that sleep is necessary otherwise we wouldn’t spend so much of our lives doing it. Most also agree that sleep is our way of giving our minds and our bodies a rest.
Conclusions from the earliest studies about sleep indicated that the body entered a state of near-paralysis during which time little activity took place. This belief changed dramatically when studies began focusing on brain activity. The realization that brain activity did not stop during the sleep state but instead was highly active and organized and carried out several physiological processes is what we refer to today as REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
Sleep seems to be the body’s way of recharging after a busy day. Some would argue that sleeping is a waste of time and that there are ways to train ourselves to get by with much less sleep.
Most of us can miss one night’s sleep and still function rather normally the next day. Doctors do it all the time. There may be an increase in irritability and perhaps some trouble staying focused, but overall, the body and the mind still function.
Beyond that though, there is a noticeable decline in the mind’s capabilities, specifically in the areas that control our language, our memories, and our ability to plan. The symptoms that can develop are similar to the symptoms that develop after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol including slowed reactions and impaired rationalization skills. At this point, an individual faces an increased risk of becoming involved in an accident.
A lack of sleep can cause problems properly regulating body temperature and can cause metabolism to increase. After several days of no sleep, hallucinations usually begin. So it does seem that we need to sleep
Some of the popular theories about why we need sleep are:
- Sleep is a restorative process.
- Sleep enhances the brain’s ability to remember.
- Sleep is a way to conserve energy.
- Sleep is a way to keep us safe from predators.
- Sleep just feels way too good!
The real reason why we need sleep will likely be discovered some day, but until then, the mystery continues.
Circadian Rhythm and Sleep
When you feel the effects of jet lag, or when you feel tired after working a rotating shift during the week, what actually is happening is that your body’s circadian rhythm has been affected. The word circadian is derived from the Latin words Circa Diem which translated into English means about a day. As far as the human body is concerned, one day refers to a 24-hour period.
Although most commonly associated with humans and their sleep patterns, circadian rhythm also has a direct influence on our blood pressure, our body temperature, and our body’s production of hormones. Together these internal changes tell our bodies when it is time to sleep and to wake and how our moods will be at any given time.
Rhythm is a very big part of nature. For example, we know that the Earth completes a rotation every 24-hours and that year after year, the seasons change from winter to spring to summer to autumn and then back again to winter. Therefore, circadian rhythm plays a significant role in animals’ lives as well. The most notable example of an annual natural rhythm is the migration of countless species of birds every year.
When it comes to the sleep-wake cycle, there are two primary environmental forces at work: light and temperature. Circadian rhythm can also be affected by other stimuli such as the sound of your alarm clock and what and when you have eaten, and in women, their menstrual cycles.
Internally, the circadian rhythm is influenced by an ‘internal clock’ located in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Specifically, two large clusters of neurons situated on either side of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic nuclei or SCN is considered the body’s master clock.
The SCN works with other genes to help the body keep track of time. The stimulation and/or release of different chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters are how the body knows when it is time to fall asleep and to wake up, when it’s time to eat and when it’s time to have intercourse, and more.
When it comes to sleep, the following is a simplistic overview of how the circadian rhythm works. At the first sign of daylight, the body begins to produce hormones and neurotransmitters including serotonin and cortisol.
These help the body transition into an awakened mode by increasing body temperature and blood pressure. Likewise, as daylight fades, the body begins to release melatonin, the main signal that tells the body to begin lowering blood pressure and to prepare itself for sleep.
When the body’s circadian rhythm is in balance, it dictates the proper timing and release of these important chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters. However, when the body’s circadian rhythm is ‘off’ this timing and release are knocked out of balance.
A prolonged imbalance can and often does lead to the development of a number of sleep disorders and emotional disturbances. It would seem then that being healthy and happy is all about keeping your circadian rhythm in check.
How to Get Back to Sleep When Sleep is Disrupted
It is not uncommon for people to wake during sleep. A loud noise, a child’s crying, an urge to use the restroom, a hunger pain, or a pain in some other part of the body are just some of the reasons why we awaken. Waking during sleep doesn’t become a problem unless waking is constant or unless it is not possible to get back to sleep afterward.
Here is some advice on what you can do if you have trouble getting back to sleep.
Get up and get out of bed
This might sound contrary to what you are trying to do, but here’s why getting up makes sense. You might not be tired, especially if you’ve slept for 5 or more hours. So if you cannot resume sleep after trying for about 20 or 30 minutes get up and do something that will make you tired again.
Do not turn on a bright light though. That might send a signal to your internal clock and your body might really think it’s time to wake.
Instead, turn on a low light and read something really boring like the manual for a new appliance. Do not attempt to do anything that will take a lot of brainpower such as anything associated with your job or your school. Keep the television off too because watching TV sometimes will stimulate your brain into action. Turning on the radio is a better option.
Imagining something repetitive can help your mind lose interest and soon you will find that it will begin to shut down. That’s the theory behind the idea of counting sheep. If you can get your brain to focus on the image, it won’t wander off into an area that it finds more stimulating.
Have a snack
If you feel hungry, it will be difficult to fall back asleep. So get up and eat something light, and if possible, eat something that helps the body release serotonin, a relaxant, such as a turkey or peanuts or milk. If you’re all out of turkey, try cereal or toast instead. Fruits, nuts, or crackers are other good choices. With a little something in your stomach, it’ll be easier to fall back asleep.
Go to bed later
If you go to bed and you have trouble falling asleep, you simply might not be tired when you go to bed. So stay up a while longer and use that extra time to do something relaxing like yoga, or deep breathing, or meditation, or bathing. All on its own, your body will begin to unwind and relax, which will help make getting to sleep that much easier. The goal ultimately is to get your body to sleep for the entire time it is in bed.
Adjust the room temperature
The temperature in your room might be keeping you from falling back to sleep. If it’s too hot, cool it by lowering the thermostat or turning on a fan. If you feel too cold, cover yourself with a blanket.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
The number of hours of sleep we need on a daily basis varies depending on our ages and our current state of health. If we expect the sleep we do get to be beneficial, those hours of sleep must consist of quality sleep. If you are getting the suggested amount of sleep each night but still feel groggy or irritable or you cannot concentrate, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting enough deep sleep.
Newborn babies need the most, which is why they spend the majority of their days swaddled up in dreamland. Typically, newborns will sleep about 4 hours, then get up for a feeding, then they’ll go right back to sleep for another few hours, then wake for a feeding or to get changed or to play. Then it’s back to sleep. During a 24-hour period, newborns spend between 14 and 16 hours sleeping.
It’s not until an infant gets to be between 3 to 6 months old that he or she can make it through an entire night without waking. Infants still spend a good part of their days asleep, sleeping between 10 – 14 hours.
Believe it or not, children and teen-agers really should be getting this amount of sleep as well. After taking into consideration a child’s or teen’s schooling and other activities, a solid 10 hours of sleep are sufficient for most. Interestingly, what has been perceived for years as laziness in teen-agers is turning out to be something more physiological.
Studies are showing that more sleep seems to be necessary because of all the growth and hormonal changes taking place in a teen’s body.
Adults need the least amount of sleep and should feel lucky (as well as refreshed) if they can get around 8 or 8 ½ hours of sleep each night. In some cultures, people reduce the number of hours they sleep during the nighttime by an hour or so and make up the difference by taking a midday nap. Either way, the sum still equals around 8 hours for adults.
Older adults need about the same amount of sleep each day as adults, around 8. Women who are pregnant should increase the amount of sleep they get by about 3 hours.
You’ll know you are getting enough sleep each day if you wake up feeling refreshed. If you find that you have trouble staying focused, or it takes only a few minutes to fall deep into sleep, or that you ‘nod off’ during the day, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. If you are driving, your reflexes may be slower, your eyes may stay closed longer when you blink, and your chances of becoming involved in an accident increase. Consuming alcohol while sleep deprived is not advisable since alcohol compounds these problems.
Judgment, impulses, reaction times, hand-eye coordination, and attention spans can all become impaired when you are sleep deprived. Serious sleep deprivation can result in hallucinations.
Insomnia – Causes, Types and Diagnosis
Insomnia – the inability to fall asleep at night or to sleep soundly throughout the night – can be temporary or persistent and can have many causes. Insomnia that is temporary is frequently classified as transient. If insomnia lasts longer than a few days or even a few weeks, it usually will be classified as permanent.
Women suffer the effects of insomnia more than men do, probably due to the many hormonal changes women experience. In addition, because of other factors such as a sedentary lifestyle or an underlying medical condition or as a side effect of prescription medication, insomnia can increase with age.
Insomnia that is not considered persistent can result from too much stress, from crossing into different time zones, or from environmental factors such as an increase in noise levels or temperature variations of more than a few degrees.
Exposure to excessive light or loud and/or persistent noise including nearby traffic and even closer second-hand snoring can create an environment in which sleep is elusive. Insomnia can even be the result of learned behavior.
Medical treatment for intermittent or transient insomnia generally is not prescribed. That’s because the condition typically remedies itself once the affected individual takes control of his or her situation and corrects the problem(s) causing insomnia.
Permanent or chronic insomnia, on the other hand, can be more serious. The degree of severity will have a lot to do with what is found to be the underlying cause. Therefore, the first step that those suffering from chronic insomnia need to take is to meet with their health care providers. An in-person meeting is the only way to begin narrowing down the reasons behind chronic insomnia.
This type of insomnia could be caused by an abuse of narcotics or even caffeine or by shift work. Or it could be due to any number of physical or mental disorders including depression, anxiety, kidney disease, heart trouble, restless leg syndrome, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, or a condition called sleep apnea. And there are even more reasons why someone might regularly have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
The process of determining the underlying cause could be long and might require numerous tests and evaluations, but it has to happen. Once the cause is known, it will be easier to identify whether medical treatments are necessary or whether the underlying cause of insomnia can be treated by making one or more behavioral changes. Alleviating insomnia could be as easy as eliminating caffeine several hours before bedtime.
Diagnosing insomnia can be ever trickier than diagnosing an underlying condition because sleep, in general, is subjective. What is an ample amount for one person isn’t necessarily right for someone else. In general, those who have difficulty remaining alert focused, and able to concentrate during the day may be suffering insomnia.
Keeping a sleep journal, answering a number of sleep-related questions, and evaluating the answers and/or seeing a sleep specialist are some of the tools that can help diagnose insomnia.
Insomnia – Cures and Treatments
If you are diagnosed with insomnia and insomnia is not a symptom of an underlying problem, it can most often be ‘cured’ or ‘treated’ by incorporating one or more changes into your life. If on the other hand, your insomnia is the result of a mental disorder, a breathing disorder, or some other type of physical disorder, making more than a behavioral or lifestyle change likely will be required.
Hanging curtains to help block out light and sleeping in a room separate from someone who snores are both things you can do to treat your insomnia. So is practicing one or more forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is twofold. It helps you change your thoughts at bedtime and it helps you develop more favorable sleeping habits.
Stimulus control involves retraining yourself to think of bed only as a place for sleep or for intercourse. If you want to watch television or read you need to do those activities elsewhere. Once you start associating bed with sleep (or sex), the tossing and turning should cease, making it easier to fall asleep.
Progressive muscle relaxation helps many people who have trouble sleeping because they are not able to relax. While in bed their minds work in overdrive, thinking about the situations they should have handled differently during the day or worrying about all the tasks they have to complete tomorrow.
With so much looking backward and forwards, it’s difficult to focus on the present task which is getting to sleep. Learning muscle relaxation and deep breathing techniques can help lower the stress, anxiety, and tension that can keep you from falling asleep.
Besides (or in addition to) muscle relaxation, psychotherapy sessions can help you work out times during the day for worrying or for planning the next day’s activities so you stop doing this when you’re supposed to be sleeping.
Visual imagery is another effective relaxation technique that can help you fall asleep. Rather than focusing on your task list, picture yourself in what you consider to be a calm, serene environment. Imagining yourself repeatedly doing something that calms rather than stimulates (like counting sheep) can also help you fall asleep.
Sleep hygiene training consists of changing all those bad habits that keep you from falling asleep at night. Just like dental hygiene can help keep your teeth healthy, sleep hygiene can help keep your sleep healthy.
Developing regular and consistent sleep and waking times, eliminating alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals 6 hours before going to bed, avoiding daytime naps, incorporating bedtime rituals such as a hot bath or light reading or other tasks designed to help you relax, making sure your bedroom is cool and dark and incorporating moderate evening exercise together can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
Remember though, it’s an all-or-nothing treatment package!
These non-medical treatments are proving to be extremely effective at reducing or eliminating insomnia. What’s even better is that they’re safe and have no side effects!
Melatonin and Sunlight
What makes us sleep? If you asked 10 individuals this question you’d likely get a variety of answers. Some people might say a comfortable bed and quiet surroundings are what make us sleep. Others would ration that a nightcap is needed.
Sheer exhaustion, a full belly, and someone to snuggle with is some of the other opinions people have about what makes us sleep. Interestingly, few people would give the correct answer to the question which is actually the release of the hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland located at the base of the brain. It is secreted at varying levels throughout the day and its release helps to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. The pineal gland helps to regulate the body’s internal clocks and helps keep the body in balance by regulating the release of different hormones, neurotransmitters, and chemicals that impact the body in many ways.
In fact, there is a high correlation between the release of melatonin and the body’s temperature, both of which are controlled by the body’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels and body temperature are both low during the day and gradually increase as evening arrives. Both reach their highest levels during nighttime sleep.
The onset of darkness stimulates the pineal gland into action which is why melatonin levels remain low during daylight hours. During the day, the melatonin levels are barely traceable. As darkness arrives, the pineal gland starts releasing more melatonin into the bloodstream. As more melatonin travels throughout the blood, the body starts getting more and more tired.
Blood pressure slows as the body prepares to fall asleep. Melatonin levels continue to increase until they peak which generally occurs around 3 or 4 a.m. Afterward, as melatonin levels slowly begin to subside, the body prepares to be awakened.
Anything that disrupts the normal release of melatonin can also disrupt sleep patterns. The body knows that the presence of less melatonin means that it should be alert and awake and ready for the day. Increased melatonin production signals that it is time to go back to sleep. Therefore, darkness at any time of day can trigger the release of melatonin and the changes that naturally take place with its release.
The weather can have a direct effect on the production of melatonin, especially on overcast days or during the winter months with fewer hours of sunlight. Working inside a windowless office that lacks suitable artificial lighting can also cause problems for melatonin production.
Such scenarios can cause melatonin levels to remain higher than normal during daytime and may cause a person to feel less energetic and drowsy when he otherwise should feel alert and be able to concentrate. When more melatonin is released throughout the day, less will be released during the night, and this imbalance can cause insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
Light therapy can help when natural sunlight isn’t available. However, the best way to keep melatonin levels balanced is by allowing natural sunlight to penetrate your skin.
Narcolepsy – Diagnosis and Treatment
Narcolepsy is a serious sleep disorder that affects many people in many different ways. Those with this condition are frequently tired during the day, and they sometimes suddenly fall asleep right in the midst of performing everyday tasks. The previous section discussed the symptoms of narcolepsy and its suspected causes. This section continues with a discussion of how narcolepsy is diagnosed and treatment options.
When constant daytime sleepiness is the problem, and other conditions such as depression, insufficient sleep, fainting and a disorder that causes seizures have been ruled out, narcolepsy is generally suspected, especially if the sleepiness is accompanied by cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone).
Responses to specific sleep-related questions help narrow down the diagnosis as can spending time at a sleep center where sleeping patterns can be monitored and evaluated. Sleep pattern evaluation is known as multiple sleep latency testing.
While at the sleep center, the patient may also undergo a series of tests known as a Polysomnogram. With the help of strategically-paced electrodes, the patient’s heartbeat, eye movements, brain activity, and muscle movements can be measured.
Testing the patient’s blood for antigens is sometimes performed, especially when there is a family history of narcolepsy.
Treatment of narcolepsy is generally a combination of behavioral changes, counseling, and prescription medication. Behavioral changes are primarily geared toward encouraging better sleeping routines. Moderate exercise done daily will energize during the day and help bring on sleep at night.
Getting into the habit of sleeping and waking at specific times every day can help bring routine to sleep. Taking several brief naps during the day can help eliminate fatigue and abrupt bouts of daytime sleeping. Eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are also advisable.
When it comes to prescription medications, stimulants are effective because they work on the nervous system which helps those with narcolepsy stay awake. Modafinil works in a similar manner, but with this drug, there is no risk of addiction.
Antidepressants are an effective way to treat the cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations that some narcolepsy sufferers experience during REM sleep by inhibiting REM sleep. Sodium oxybate also treats these symptoms.
Counseling is also another important treatment component. Those suffering from narcolepsy have troubled themselves dealing with this sleep disorder, but they also can experience negativity from the others with whom they associate. The nature of this sleep disorder is such that it can put a person’s life in danger.
As a way of ensuring their own safety, some will cut themselves off from the outside world. They choose not to work, to drive, or to interact socially with others and instead become isolated. Living in this manner is unhealthy and can lead to depression.
Those who don’t fully understand the sleep disorder aren’t always supportive, either. Feelings of doubt, thinking the situation is humorous, mistrust, and a lower libido resulting from extreme fatigue can ruin relationships at home and at work.
Counseling or joining a support group is highly recommended because doing so can help those suffering from narcolepsy better cope with their situation.
Narcolepsy – Symptoms and Causes
If you or someone you know constantly feels tired during the day, and without notice, may even fall asleep right in the middle of doing everyday tasks such as cooking or typing, these symptoms could be an indication of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a frequently misdiagnosed sleep disorder.
While others might attribute the symptoms as resulting from laziness or poor sleeping habits, to the affected individual, the symptoms are very real, they’re uncontrollable, and they can be very frightening.
The symptoms of narcolepsy rarely begin after a person reaches age 40. Most often (but not always), they begin appearing between ages 10 and 25.
The primary symptom of narcolepsy is persistent daytime tiredness that does not subside no matter how much sleep the affected individual gets. The constant tired feeling makes concentration difficult and can keep an individual from functioning as needed. This in itself is a problem, however, those who experience another symptom of narcolepsy – the propensity to suddenly fall asleep – compounds the situation.
What makes falling asleep so serious is that it happens without warning, which means the affected individual has no time in advance to prepare for sleep. In other words, getting to a safe place to lie down isn’t an option. It’s not bad if the sleep attack occurs while talking with friends. In fact, many people find this amusing. However, if the person is driving a car when this symptom strikes, the repercussions can be deadly.
The amount of time spent sleeping during these episodes can range from just a few minutes to 30 minutes or longer. Once awakened, the attacks can repeat several times throughout the day. Some experience automatic behavior during these episodes meaning that they continue doing the task they were performing (although poorly) just prior to falling asleep. Afterward, however, there is no recollection of this behavior
Cataplexy is another symptom that is experienced by almost three-quarters of narcolepsy sufferers. Cataplexy is an inability to control muscles so someone with this symptom might have trouble speaking clearly or worse, he or she might barely be able to control muscle function at all.
Some experience this symptom daily while others experience it very rarely. Its onset seems to be linked with a change in emotions such as when a person laughs excessively or when the person becomes scared or angry.
Paralysis similar to that which normally takes place during REM sleep is yet another symptom of narcolepsy. But rather than taking place during REM, this brief paralysis occurs either upon awakening or while falling asleep. Even though a person may be fully aware of this brief inability to move or speak, that person is totally unable to control it, which can be very scary.
Hypnagogic hallucinations – vivid, almost real images that appear while in a semi-awake state – are another symptom that approximately one-quarter to one-half of narcolepsy sufferers experience.
To date, no one is certain what causes narcolepsy. It appears genetics plays some role as does an abnormally low amount (or total absence) of a brain chemical important for regulating sleep awakening called hypocretin.
Sleep and Shift Work
When people talk about shift work, most focus on the benefits, of which there are many. To the employees working hours that aren’t considered ‘normal’, something other than Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm, shift work means greater flexibility in scheduling. To employers, shift work means staying competitive, especially in an increasingly global marketplace.
But to those individuals who specialize in understanding and treating sleep disorders, shift work has a more negative implication. Shift work is often associated with insufficient sleep, an increased likelihood of human error, and contrary to popular belief, decreased productivity. The reason for this is simple: many key bodily functions take place according to a natural cycle and any disruption to this natural cycle can throw a person out of balance.
This natural cycle, or internal clock as it’s more commonly referred to, is the Circadian rhythm. In humans, this natural rhythm is responsible for signaling when the body should wake, and when it should sleep. It signals these actions by releasing and withholding the release of certain chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
When sleep patterns are disrupted, as they are when a person working the night shift sleeps during the day, lower quality and/or fewer hours of sleep are typical consequences.
It’s not long before the symptoms of insomnia begin to appear. Typical symptoms include a diminished ability to concentrate or to focus on the task at hand while awake. Insomnia can also cause irritability or feelings of tenseness and depression. And of course, the most notable symptom is fatigue.
When employees experience these symptoms while at work, it’s no wonder there’s a higher likelihood of mistakes, accidents and injuries, absenteeism, and even fatalities. Besides insomnia, those involved in shift work also tend to have more gastrointestinal problems, more trouble controlling their blood pressure, and a higher likelihood of developing other sleep disorders including sleep apnea.
More people than you might realize participate in shift work. Those in the medical field and in law enforcement can be on duty any time during the day or night. Those working in mines, in factories, in customer service, as well as those in the field of transportation from taxi drivers and dispatchers to airline pilots and controllers must also be available for work around the clock, every day, including weekends.
If you are involved with shift work, there are measures you can take to better adjust. The most important is to ensure your sleep area is dark and quiet. Darkness releases melatonin, a hormone that plays a pivotal role in the Circadian rhythm because of its ability to initiate sleep. It’s also important to get an adequate amount of sleep, 8 hours if possible.
You should also try napping during the day, especially if adequate sleep isn’t possible. While sleeping, keep disruptions to a minimum and develop a regular sleeping schedule. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages for several hours prior to sleep, either.
Equally important as a darkened sleep environment during daytime sleeping is a bright working environment when working the night shift. You might even ask your employer about the possibility of taking a brief nap during work hours.
Sleep Apnea – Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea are two very important steps in bringing sleep apnea under control.
Some think that loud snoring is indicative of sleep apnea but this isn’t always true. Snoring does accompany some cases, but not all. If you think you are suffering from sleep apnea and you have a sleeping partner, that partner can help you make an initial diagnosis.
With paper and pen, your partner should record the number of times there is a disruption in your breathing. It’s easy to tell because you’ll either stop breathing, or you’ll make gasping, choking, or snorting sounds as you attempt to get your breath back. Making notes about your snoring is also helpful. You can also get a tape recorder and put it on ‘Record’ while you sleep.
The majority of sleep apnea occurs in men aged 40 or older who are also overweight. If you fall into this category and you know you’ve experienced sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor likely will suspect sleep apnea. If in doubt, your doctor can look for obstructions in the nose and mouth and examine your throat and nose using either endoscopy or an X-ray. A CT scan of the neck and head is another diagnostic tool.
Should more information be needed, an absolute diagnosis can easily be confirmed by spending a night in a sleep center so that your sleeping pattern can be monitored.
The most common treatment option for individuals diagnosed with sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. The machine is attached to a mask with a plastic tube measuring several feet in length. The mask fits over the nose and/or mouth and while asleep, a continuous supply of pressurized air is forced through the tube which helps keep the airway open.
There is also a surgical procedure that can remove troublesome tissue from the nose, throat, or mouth. Some patients may find that their jaws need to be reconstructed.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you can self-treat. The most effective type of self-treatment is weight loss. Simply losing 10% of your body can make a dramatic difference. You will also notice a difference if you stop smoking and consuming alcohol.
If you use sedatives, that too should be discontinued. In addition, you should get yourself on a regular sleep schedule, one in which you can sleep during nighttime hours. If you prefer sleeping on your back, it’s time to switch to sleeping on your side.
There’s a mouthpiece you can use to help with sleep apnea. It works while sleeping by opening the airways and realigning your jaw or tongue.
There are benefits and disadvantages associated with each of these treatments for sleep apnea and you should thoroughly discuss these with your doctor before proceeding. Just remember that you’ve got to do something because your sleep apnea will not go away on its own.
Sleep Hygiene – Taking Better Care of Your Sleep
There really is such a thing as sleep hygiene and once you understand what it means, you likely will find that the quality of your sleep is greatly improved. Personal hygiene is all about the things you can do to keep your body clean and smelling good. Dental hygiene involves all the things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong and situated firmly in your mouth where they belong.
Sleep hygiene therefore, is about the habits you can get into and the things you can do to help ensure that when it’s time for you to go to bed, you are able to fall asleep and stay asleep. What follows is a list of ways you can improve your sleep hygiene so that you can get the most out of your sleeping time.
Establish set times for sleeping and for waking
Having a regular bed time was important when you were a child and it is still important as an adult. Unfortunately we lead busy lives and getting to sleep at the same time every night is difficult. It’s a bit easier to wake at set times because our jobs or our schooling force us to wake even when we don’t want to. But when there’s a day off, we treat ourselves by sleeping in later than normal whenever possible.
Without a set time for sleeping and for waking it is difficult to train your body for sleep. Without proper training, adequate sleep night after night is difficult.
Learn to relax your body
If you just throw on your pajamas and jump into bed, your body might not be prepared to sleep, especially if you just completed an activity that engages your mind and body such as exercising, watching television or even eating. If you don’t first relax, you’ll find it takes longer to fall asleep even though you may feel exhausted.
To further help train the body into settling down to sleep, it’s important to learn to relax before bedtime. About an hour before you plan to go to bed, start calming your body. Yoga and meditation are perfect ways you can take your mind and body into a relaxed state.
Other ways to bring about a relaxed state are by learning how to deep breathe. When you are busy concentrating on your breathing, the body automatically begins to relax. Progressive relaxation is a technique in which you start relaxing one part of your body and you continue relaxing different parts until you have covered the major parts from head to toe.
When you are finished, you go back over your body in your mind. If any part of the body still feels tense, focus on that part until you can get it to feel relaxed.
If that’s too much effort, try this relaxation technique. Flex and release your toes over and over again. This type of intense focusing on your toes can actually help to relax the entire rest of your body!
Previously discussed were some relaxation techniques designed to help get your mind and your body to relax so it’s easier to fall asleep. This section continues the discussion and outlines several other ways you can improve your sleep hygiene, which will help ensure your body gets the rest it needs.
Take a bath
Taking a bath is more than just a luxury. It’s also a great way to help your body unwind after a busy day. And there’s another reason why taking a bath helps you sleep. A hot bath taken 60 – 90 minutes before going to bed will cause your body temperature to rise. But then your body temperature will start to fall and that’s key to sleeping better because that drop is going to make you feel sleepy.
Eat lightly before bed
And lightly is the key word here. Eating a heavy meal before bed can actually cause you to be uncomfortable and might, depending on what you eat, cause heartburn which worsens when you lie down. Both likely will cause you to awaken during sleep. Snacking on healthy foods before going to bed can help you from feeling hungry during the night. If you get hungry you’ll become restless and probably won’t be able to sleep as deeply.
Certain foods such as peanuts, turkey and milk help trigger the release of serotonin, a chemical within the body that helps you to relax. If you don’t have any of these food items, eating cereal or toast with milk can help keep hunger under control. And if you don’t want to wake constantly because you have to go to the bathroom, limit the amount of liquids you drink prior to bedtime.
Keep a notepad by your bed
If you attempt to sleep with your head focused on all the things you didn’t do today and all of the things you need to do tomorrow, sleep will never come.
Getting those and other issues out of your head and onto paper will help. So before you go to sleep, take a few moments to write down those issues that are troublesome, causing anxiety or even the things you are looking forward to. That way, you can get some rest.
Don’t try to sleep if you aren’t sleepy
If you lie in bed when you aren’t sleepy you’ll just toss and turn. If you want to go to bed but don’t feel like sleep will soon follow, start reading. But do so somewhere other than the bed. It will help you become drowsy. Once you do feel drowsy, then it’s time to get into bed. But still, if you are awake after 20 minutes or so, get out and do some other mundane task.
How To Get a Good Night Sleep Every Night!
Why Would You Want A Sleep Eye Mask?
Sleep is one of the most important things that you can do to keep yourself healthy. There are a lot of people who have problems sleeping in one form or another. Some people can’t sleep if there is any light at all. This is one reason they wear a sleep eye mask. A sleep eye mask will keep out any and all light.
When you want to get a sleep eye mask you will be able to choose a style that fits you. There are many of these masks to choose from. You can find one at a local store to you if that is how you prefer to get one of the masks. Otherwise you can go online and see what you can find.
It is very important for you to get at least eight hours of sleep a night if at all possible. Some people will only be able to get between five and seven hours. You do have to try and get as much sleep as possible or you will start feeling sick or exhausted.
Sleep is what helps keep your body healthy, and when you are not getting enough sleep your body will have a harder time fighting off any germs that can make you sick. If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, you might want to try a sleep eye mask. This may be just what you need to help you get a good night’s rest.
Not only can sleep affect your body but it can also affect your eyes. When you are not getting enough rest, your eyesight can be affected to the point that everything starts getting blurry or you start seeing double. This is definitely not something that you want to happen. A sleep eye mask can help your eyes to relax. The mask is like a pillow for your eyes.
There are so many reasons why you need to get enough sleep. When you have tried everything and nothing is working, you may want to talk to your doctor to see what they recommend. Talk to them about a sleep eye mask and see what advice they give you.
Do a search sometime and find out what you can about sleep eye masks. You will be surprised to learn what they can do to help you get the sleep that you need. There are many people, young and old, that wear these masks because they understand the benefits of them.
One thing that you need to remember is that you need to make sure that you get a mask that is comfortable for you. You don’t want one that will fall off of you if you roll over or one that is to tight because it will give you a headache.
Take some time to find the right sleep eye mask for you. You will find yourself getting much more sleep at night and you will feel much better during the day. You have to get as much sleep as you can so you don’t wear your body down. This is very important to do so find a mask that will work for you.
One Solution To Helping You Receive The Benefits Of Sleep
There are many benefits of sleep that a lot of people never think about. Too many people will go without the right amount of sleep. Other people want to sleep but have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. This is one reason that people will use eye masks for sleeping. There are many reasons why you want to sleep.
- Sleep will help you feel more alert and rested in the morning. By wearing eye masks for sleeping you will be helping your eyes feel more rested because these masks are a pillow for the eyes.
- When you sleep your body will be recharging your energy levels. You body will also be recharging your body’s systems. In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep your immune system will have a hard time fighting off disease and illness because your body can’t handle this extra attack on it when it is already exhausted from lack of sleep.
- Your body will go into repair mode when you are sleeping also. This means that while you sleep your body is busy repairing and building bone, muscle and other tissue. Your body does this during the day to but when you sleep your body doesn’t have to split energy between repair and all of the other things that you do throughout your day.
- Your mental well being depends on how much sleep you get. An eye mask for sleeping will help you rest easier because you won’t have any light interfering with you trying to fall asleep. When you sleep your mind will unwind, regroup and be able to cope with stress and any other issues that you are dealing with. You need sleep if you are going to be able to cope with stress and other problems when you are awake. The chemicals in your brain need to be balanced and this only happens when you get the right amount of sleep.
- There are distinct stages to sleep and during each stage your body is getting different benefits of sleep and helping it function better. Adults need to have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. For teens and children, they need even more. This will allow the body to go through each stage a couple of different times, which means that you are receiving the full benefits of sleep.
- When you wear eye masks for sleeping, you will help condition your mind and body to know that it needs to sleep when that mask goes on. It will take some time to do this but eventually you will have no problems falling asleep or staying asleep. You have to give your eyes rest just like you do your body so that you don’t end up having double vision or blurriness from being exhausted.
These are all very good reasons why you have to have sleep and what the benefits are. Try an eye mask for sleeping and see how much of a difference this can make. You will be surprised at how much easier you will be able to fall asleep each night.
Why Is Sleep Important And What Can An Eye Mask Sleep Do For You?
Everyone needs to sleep. This is a fact of life that everyone has to deal with and make sure that they get enough of. You don’t want to walk around exhausted all the time. This will not do you or your body any good. One way to help you when you need it is an eye mask, sleep is very important so do everything you can to help you get enough of it. So why is sleep important?
One: When you don’t rest your eyes enough you will end up seeing everything as doubles or blurry. This is why an eye mask sleep can help you.
Two: Your body has to have time to recoup the energy that you used throughout your day. This is what is happening when you are sleeping. Your body is building your energy again to help you deal with the stresses of life.
Three: When you don’t get enough sleep your body will have a hard time fighting off diseases and illnesses. Your immune system will not be able to handle the stress of diseases and illnesses when it is already trying to fight your exhaustion. You have to give your body time to heal your immune system and keep it on track. The only way to do this is through sleep.
Four: Have you ever noticed that when you are exhausted, you have problems thinking or dealing with certain stresses? This is because your body is not the only thing that is tired, but your mind is also. When you sleep your mind is able to regroup and get rid of the stresses that you put it through in one day’s time. So sleep is important for your mental well being too.
Five: Your body has to have time to repair itself. It repairs itself some during the day but not as much as it does in sleep. When you are awake your body is repairing things like muscle, bones and tissue but it is also trying to do this while dealing with everything else you do throughout your day. So you have to get sleep because then the body can do the repairs that it needs to without having to split energy between different tasks.
Six: By getting enough sleep for your body and your eyes, you will be able to wake up feeling well rested and alert. It is important that you get the rest that you need so that you can cope with the everyday stresses that you will run into.
Not many people think about the eyes when it comes to sleep but this is just as important as the body is. So find an eye mask, sleep as much as you can, preferably for an adult 7 to 8 hours a night, and let your eyes and body rest. Think about it sometime and see if you can figure out other reasons. Why is sleep important? This is a question that everyone should think about and then do something about it.
Gel Eye Mask – How Can This Help You?
There are many different eye masks that you can get to help you with sleep and other problems. One of these is the gel eye mask. There are many people who use these on a daily basis for reducing puffiness around your eyes or soothing a variety of discomforts. So what exactly can a gel eye mask do to help you in other ways?
You can get a gel eye mask in the form of an actual mask that you place over your eyes. They come in a variety of colors and can be very relaxing for your eyes. You can also get an eye mask gel that is like a lotion. This will help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes.
There are so many people who are getting older and they want to look younger. There is nothing wrong with this. Everyone wants to look and feel younger than they really are. So by using a gel eye mask on a daily basis you can get the look that you want and get rid of the unwanted lines and wrinkles that make you look older.
Besides using an eye mask gel, you want to make sure that you are eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest. This is very important also to looking and feeling younger. The more tired you are on a daily basis, the more puffiness you will have around your eyes. You have to take care of your body with diet, exercise and rest. This is very important.
When you are doing all of this, and even if you are not doing all of this, you can get the eye mask gel to help you with the problems that you are currently having with any puffiness, lines or wrinkles around the eyes.
You can find the gel eye mask in a local department store if that is how you prefer to shop. You can also find it online when you want to take your time to look. You want to make sure that you find the right eye mask gel for you.
You will need to do some research to find out about all of the different types that are available. That way you won’t just settle for one and then hope that it works. It is better to get as much information as you can about it before you try and use it.
By taking your time, you will have a much better chance of finding the gel eye mask that will be right for your particular problem areas. There are so many benefits to using the eye mask gel. These are just a few of them. Find out more about it by looking it up online.
Too many people will just deal with the problems around their eyes because they don’t know that they can get rid of them with the use of a gel eye mask. You don’t want to be one of these people. The sooner you find an eye mask gel that you can use, the sooner you will be looking and feeling younger.