All Entries For sleep

10 Bizarre Things Your Body Does While You Sleep

We tend to think of sleep as restful, inactive and quiet. By while you're zoning out, your body is tuned in, doing everything from piecing together dreams to slowing down your kidneys--and much more that you might not expect!
Posted 10/28/2013  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14 comments   198,100 views
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7 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump

Afternoon fatigue (hitting around 2 or 3 p.m.) is very common, which is why some cultures embrace the afternoon nap. But if your office doesn't have a space for napping (or if your boss would frown on the practice), what can you do to prevent the afternoon slump?

1. Practice good sleep habits. Do you go to bed and get up at roughly the same times every day? You'll be less likely to get tired late in the day if you have a regular sleep schedule and get at least 8 hours of rest a night.

2. Eat a balanced diet. Eating a filling breakfast and lunch will help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. If you start the day with a big cup of coffee and grab a bag of chips from the vending machine around noon, you're setting yourself up for afternoon exhaustion.
Posted 1/21/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 19 comments   70,805 views
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Wired? 7 Tips to Help Tech Addicts Sleep Better

Just about everywhere you look someone is using technology. I find it's actually difficult to go out and not see people texting or playing games on their cell phones. It seems that using our phones and other mobile devices (iPads, tablets, laptops, etc.) is such a common thing now. According to this article, the National Sleep Foundation found that "more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed." With the use of electronic devices like that, researchers are finding that the "exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle." This can cause disturbances in our sleep, along with increasing our risk of obesity and diabetes.
Posted 11/1/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 12 comments   15,744 views
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11 Easy Ways to Rest Better--and Why That's So Important

Editor's Note: Today we're sharing an excerpt of Get Well & Stay Well, a book by two of the foremost experts in integrative medicine, Dr. Steve Amoils and Dr. Sandi Amoils. The Amoils are co-medical directors of The Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine  (AIIM) in Cincinnati. AIIM is one of the Bravewell Collaborative's leading clinical centers of Integrative Medicine in the U.S. Both Steve and Sandi are adjunct assistant professors in the Department of Medical Education at the University of Cincinnati. Beyond that, Drs. Amoils have the "SparkGuy" stamp of approval. Chris "SparkGuy" Downie has been working with them to manage his own severe allergies, with great success. They'll be sharing more info on integrative medicine in the coming months here on dailySpark.

Do you ever wonder where you go when you sleep, or why we even need to sleep? Sleep is not only essential for physical rejuvenation; it also provides an opportunity for the memory to integrate information, as if file clerks were coming in on the night shift to file away the experiences of the day.

Sleep also appears to offer the body an opportunity for internal housekeeping. Research from the National Institutes of Health has found that immune chemicals rise as we drift off to sleep, recruiting immune cells to cruise the body and lowering bacteria levels throughout the system. Clearly, if we don’t get enough sleep, we are much more prone to illness and accidents. In addition, lack of sleep raises the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

When you sleep, you move back and forth through various stages several times. As you fall asleep, you go into a light sleep, known as Stage 1 sleep, where you drift in and out of sleep. You then go through Stages 2 and 3, finally reaching Stage 4. Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep, because this is where your body hardly moves. During deep sleep, you ordinarily generate the neurotransmitter serotonin. If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you are thus more prone to depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, and a host of other problems.

The next stage of sleep is a very important one called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where you dream. During this phase, your breathing speeds up, becoming irregular and shallow. Your eyelids jerk rapidly (hence the name “rapid eye movement”), and your limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when you are awake. The heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males develop erections, and the body loses some ability to regulate its temperature.

REM sleep and dreaming appear to help us sort out our daily stressors. This is the time when the mind appears to process emotions, sort through memories, and help us cope with stress. A person deprived of REM sleep can suffer from mood and memory problems.

Over-the-counter sleep aids that contain diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) induce Stage 2 and 3, but not Stage 4 sleep, reducing your ability to regenerate serotonin. Utilizing these aids on a regular basis can therefore result in depression. There are other options for improving sleep. Herbs such as valerian root and supplements such as taurine, 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid and 5-Hydroxytryptophan are often extremely helpful. Drugs such as zolpidem and trazodone maintain what is called normal sleep architecture, allowing a person to pass through all the different stages of sleep. However, these drugs are associated with side effects such as memory loss and dependency. Long-term use should be discussed with your physician.
Keep reading for a giveaway--and 11 tips to help you sleep better.
Posted 10/28/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 25 comments   18,049 views
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Is Your Teen Starting School in a Sleep Haze?

If your teens are like mine, they love to stay up late, are difficult to get up in the morning, and would sleep until noon if you let them. That is what teens do, especially when they are growing. Teens often make difficult choices and trade-offs when trying to allocate time among school, work, extra-curricular activities, friends and family. Many times those choices are at the expense of sleep.
Studies suggest teens need at least nine hours of sleep each night; however, many are only getting around seven hours a night on average. When sleep is limited on school nights, students can go to school too sleepy to learn. Having trouble staying awake increases the chances of missing important information being taught while also risking the loss of a teacher's respect.
A recent study published online in the journal Child Development reports that teens who stay up late to cram for tests tend to do poorly on the test they studied for because of sleep-related academic problems. Researchers also found that the problem compounds over time as academic rigor increases. Now that teens are back to school, will late-night studying to stay on top of their tough academic schedule sabotage their success? Here are some keys to help your student make the most of their study time and their sleep.
Posted 9/17/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 13 comments   10,639 views
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You Snooze, You Lose: Sleeping More Could Help You Weigh Less

We all know how important quality sleep is to our health, but most of us tend to get less of it as we grow older. Stress, lifestyle issues and the hormonal fluxes of menopause can all disrupt our sleep quality and quantity, and the effects may be more far reaching than just leaving us feeling tired.

New research has explored the relationship between sleep and weight, and there's compelling evidence that people who don't consistently get seven to eight hours of sleep a night may be at a higher risk for weight gain. A review of the literature that focused on sleep and weight studies found a relationship between short sleep duration and increased weight over time. The relationship was strongest for children, an interesting finding in light of the childhood obesity problem in the US. The Nurses Health Study found that women who slept less than five hours a night gained more weight over a 16-year period than women who slept seven hours, and these findings weren't affected by adjustments for physical activity or dietary consumption. Although the increase was considered modest (1.14 kilogram), it's still a significant finding.
Posted 5/9/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Cathy Cram : 31 comments   16,507 views
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Bedtime? But It's Still Sunny Outside, Mom!

Every parent learns early to dread Daylight Saving Time and the longer days of summer.
That spring forward – or the fall back, for that matter – can wreak havoc in the sleep patterns of even the most settled baby. And things get even more complicated when the baby grows into a child who can talk and argue.
When we set our clocks ahead an hour each spring for Daylight Saving Time, the days seem to lengthen. We might get up in the dark, but the light lingers longer in the evening--and it only gets worse as the summer progresses. Bedtime comes and the sun still is up. Even your preschooler can see that. The question is inevitable.
If it's not dark, why do I have to go to bed?
Posted 5/8/2012  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   13,339 views
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9 Tips to Sleep Better Tonight

If you're having a difficult time getting seven to eight hours a sleep a night, it's a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider about options for improving your quantity and quality of sleep.  Some women find that making changes in their sleep hygiene--a fancy phrase for good sleep habits--can make a big difference in getting a good night's sleep.  Here are several tips for better shut-eye:
Posted 4/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Cathy Cram : 10 comments   11,283 views
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Having Trouble Sleeping? Donít Blame Your Age

One of the specific memories I have of my grandmother was her sleep habits.  At certain times of the year, it was difficult for her to stay awake until it got dark outside.  In the morning, she’d be up before dawn, peeking out the window to wait for her newspaper to be delivered.  My mom and I used to chuckle about the fact that my grandma would be up and ready to start the day by 4 a.m.  Now, I’m the one chuckling because my mom is becoming just like her.
“I was up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep,” she’ll tell me.  Or she’ll comment that she can’t go to evening movies anymore because she can’t stay awake.  She attributes it to aging, but some new research shows that age may not be to blame if your quality of shut-eye isn’t what it used to be.  And it could be time to discuss the problem with your doctor. 
Posted 4/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 18 comments   9,874 views
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Mess with My Clock, Mess with My Mood

Wrist watch…reset.  Alarm clock…check.  Oven and microwave…done and done.  This Saturday, just prior to going to bed, you will find me buzzing around my home and bumping up each clock by one hour to spring forward into Daylight Saving Time.
YUCK!  I really hate this time of year when I lose one hour of sleep.  It seems so harmless--one little hour, just 60 minutes.  Then why the heck does it take about 2 weeks for my body to eventually adjust?  I am one of those people with a very strong, internal alarm clock.  Messing with the timing of my machine really hampers my performance for days.  I find myself to be more irritable and cranky, drowsy, moody, unproductive and my creativity comes to a screeching halt.  Call me crazy…but I also find that I am hungrier for days following this sudden switch in time. 
Posted 3/8/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 53 comments   13,982 views
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Is it Possible to Become a Morning Person?

"Night owl" is not a term anyone has ever used to describe me.  Even in my younger years, before kids made me more tired than I ever thought possible, I didn’t stay up late.  I can comfortably last until around 10 p.m., and then it’s time for bed.  But getting up early doesn’t bother me.  I like to get a lot of things done early in the day, including exercise.  So most days around 5:30 a.m., you’ll find me on the treadmill or in front of the T.V. doing an exercise video.
I know people who say that although they’ve tried hard to become a morning person, it never happens.  My mother-in-law, for instance, does her treadmill run around 8:30 every night- just as I’m winding down for the day.  What works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  But sleep experts say that with time and effort, it is possible to reset your biological clock and become that morning person you’ve always hoped to be.
Posted 2/7/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 68 comments   24,286 views
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Study: Sleep 8 Hours, Eat 300 Fewer Calories

I'm someone who needs a lot of sleep. I've never been able to get by on 6 or 7 hours a night (unless it's by necessity when my kids were newborns.) I've found that during those periods where I am consistently not getting enough shut-eye, I tend to eat more. Research has shown that sleep loss can increase hunger and affect your bodyís metabolism, making weight loss more difficult. Now new research is quantifying exactly how much more sleep-deprived people tend to eat.
Posted 4/5/2011  2:18:59 PM By: Jen Mueller : 52 comments   16,359 views
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The Key to Weight Loss Isn't Just Diet and Exercise

If you're trying to lose weight, you've probably been paying a lot of attention to what you eat and how much you exercise. It's great when everything is going right and you're losing like you expected. But it's frustrating when you feel like you're working so hard but aren't getting the results you were hoping to see. What could possibly be going wrong?

Our bodies are very complicated, so it's not always just about activity and food. There's another magic ingredient that can help or hinder your weight loss efforts. What is it? Sleep.
Posted 1/14/2011  6:01:16 AM By: Jen Mueller : 57 comments   20,255 views
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Getting Enough Sleep Could Make Kids Smarter

My kids have always been pretty good about going to bed when I tell them it's time. I'm someone who likes to stick to a schedule, so we stay consistent with bedtimes (although what time they get up and how long they nap is a totally different story.) My friends who don't have kids and my relatives with grown children don't understand (or have forgotten) why I can't be a little more flexible. The bedtime routine is so important in my house because if my kids don't get enough sleep, the effects are felt for days to come. New research shows that sticking to a schedule and getting enough sleep could give young children a developmental boost.

Posted 6/18/2010  4:09:58 PM By: Jen Mueller : 71 comments   20,406 views
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5 Ways to Help You Relax in 2 Weeks

We know that we deserve and are meant to live an inspired life that rises above mere existence, but how? In A Life Worth Breathing, yoga teacher and spiritual philosopher Max Strom shows us the way. This is an excerpt from that book:
5 Things to Help You Relax in 2 Weeks

These techniques are to be done in tandem, and results should begin in two weeks or less. But this is more than a two-week experiment, these are new habits to aid you in staying relaxed as a new way of life. Becoming more relaxed will not disempower you or cause you to be less mentally sharp, conversely, living in a more relaxed state will empower you, and help you to not only focus, but know what is important to focus on.

Posted 5/6/2010  4:23:47 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 76 comments   16,932 views
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