If you’re kept awake at night by worries about an upcoming work project, unpaid bills, or unfinished errands, a new study has a simple tip to help you fall asleep: Write a to-do list. Scientists at Baylor University made that discovery after asking 57 students to spend a night in a sleep lab free of smartphones and other distractions. Five minutes before a strictly enforced 10:30 p.m. bedtime, half of the volunteers wrote a list of things they needed to do over the next few days and the other half listed tasks they’d already completed. Researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity overnight and found that those who wrote a to-do list dozed off nine minutes faster on average – an effect similar to that of some pharmaceutical sleeping aids. “Throughout the day, we have all these things cycling through our head,” lead author Michael Scullin tells PsychologyToday.com. “There’s something about (Read More)
Sleep often takes a backseat to parenting or a career that requires long hours, but new research suggests that sacrificing slumber for productivity is a bad trade-off. Surveys of 22,000 Americans show that people who slept five hours or less on average weeknight were 28 percent more likely to have had a cold in the past month than those who averaged at least seven hours. Worse still, Reuters.com reports, the sleep-challenged subjects were 82 percent more likely to report battling the flu, pneumonia, or an ear infection. The study doesn’t prove that sleep loss increases susceptibility to infections, but researchers note that sleep deprivation does hinder infection-fighting white blood cells. Moreover, people who are chronically tired may also be less likely to exercise or follow a healthy diet. Says study author Aric Prather, “It is our hope that this work will help raise the profile of sleep as a critical (Read More)
Laptops and smartphones may keep you informed and connected like never before, but they also could be keeping you from getting enough sleep. A poll by the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation found a suspicious correlation between our use of high-tech gadgets and our worsening sleep habits. Here, a brief guide to the findings: What is the connection between sleep and smartphones? Forty-three percent of poll respondents said they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep. And nearly 95 percent reported that they frequently use a computer, smartphone, TV, or other electronic device in the hour before bedtime. “Technology has invaded the bedroom,” says study task force member Charles Czeisler, as quoted by Reuters, and that’s one reason so many Americans “routinely get less sleep than they need.” Do laptops cause other sleep-related problems? Yes. According to the researchers’ statement announcing their findings, “artificial-light exposure between dusk and the time (Read More)
Did You Know Sleeping pill sales increased by 23% from 2006-2010 and generated about $2 billion in annual sales. Sleeping pills (including Ambien and Restoril) are linked to a 4.6 times higher risk of death and a significant increase in cancer. Among patients who were prescribed just 1-18 sleeping pills per year, the risk of death was 3.6 times higher. Rates of new cancers were 35% higher among patients who were prescribed at least 132 doses a year, compared with those who did not receive prescriptions.
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry recently published that older adults with poor sleep habits have an altered immune system response to stress that may increase their risk for mental and physical health problems. Stress leads to significantly larger increases in a marker of inflammation in poor sleepers compared to good sleepers; a marker associated with poor health outcomes and death.
Poor sleep continues to plague millions of Americans each and every night. The effects are beyond frustrating – lack of quality sleep affects your cognitive function, your immune health, and your mood (just ask those closest to you).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults suffer from lack of sleep, routinely getting less than seven hours a night. This tossing and turning effects your cognitive function, immunity health, memory and weight. Research indicates that the harder we try to sleep, the more difficult it becomes. Because of that, a rising number of Americans are resorting to prescription sleep aids – which are linked to a 4.6 times higher risk of death and a significant increase in cancer. Among patients who were prescribed just 1-18 sleeping pills per year, the risk of death was 3.6 times higher. Rates of new cancers were 35% higher among patients who were prescribed at least 132 doses a year, compared with those who did not receive prescriptions. Source: BMJ Open, March 2012 With today’s “go go” mentality, it’s difficult to avoid caffeinated beverages to keep us going, (Read More)
A study recently published in the science journal Neuron subverts the commonly held belief that consuming sugar can make you feel more energetic. Researchers at the University of Cambridge reveal that protein is responsible for activating cells that keep us awake and help us burn more calories, not glucose. According to the study results, our alertness and energy levels depend on a set of cells called “orexin cells”, which secrete a substance that acts as a stimulant for the brain. When these cells stop functioning properly or become mutated, sleep disorders like narcolepsy, as well as weight gain, may settle in.