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How Electronics Affect Sleep

Our world is full of gadgets. For both work and entertainment, technology use is increasingly popular, and the evening hours are no exception. For example, a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95% of people use some type of computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

But scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to light with short wavelengths—in particular, blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, and also by energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling charged past bedtime.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, consider keeping electronics out of the bedroom and turning them off—especially those used at close range—for at least an hour before bed. It can take some time for the body to come down from technology’s alerting effects. Protect your evening wind-down time by reading a book, for example. Let your body chemistry settle for the night.


Originally found on sleepfoundation.org

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How to Make Good Sleep a Strong Habit

Good sleep? A regular sleeping pattern? Feeling fresh in the morning? These are not things the average Brit can claim they experience. According to a survey by the Independent, over half of all UK adults state they do not get enough sleep. And while there’s plenty of research around poor sleep to deep-dive into, there’s one consistent theme: bad habits. To counteract, here’s our guide on how to change for the better and achieve a good night’s sleep, every night.

Even though the reasons many Brits struggle to sleep can be boiled down to bad habits, the solutions aren’t quite as simple. That’s because you’ll most likely need to make more than one change to the way you approach sleep. These aren’t huge changes, but by taking only one on board, you’ll see nowhere as much progress as you would by considering all aspects. So, if your new year’s resolution is to sleep better, you’ll want to know about these factors and how can you use them to sleep better.

Sleep Environment – Light, noise and temperature for good sleep.

No doubt you’ll have heard plenty about ‘getting your eight hours’ and the impact of exercise on sleep, so we’re going to start with what’s often most overlooked – your sleep environment. This includes everything from your mattress to your lights, whether you watch TV before bed, have blackout blinds or listen to whale-music from a voice-activated speaker.

The amount of light, noise and heat in your bedroom plays a huge role in whether you get a good night’s rest. A big part of making good sleep a habit is ensuring your bedroom has the right atmosphere for sleep. To help you sleep well, your bedroom needs to be cool, quiet and dark. These conditions send the right signals to your body which will start to respond accordingly.

Another big factor for getting the right amount of sleep is how tidy you keep your bedroom. Decluttered rooms promote sleep as they offer fewer distractions and help you relax. This is especially important If you like to spend time in bed before you go to sleep. If so, you’ll need to make sure your room is set up to gently lull you towards a state of relaxation. Make sure any lighting is dim, noise is at a low level and that screens are turned off, including your phone.

If you already think your room is set up to promote a good night’s rest, consider investing in some sleep technology. These products include plug-in lamps which cast light that has a positive effect on your sleeping pattern. White and blue light – caused by electronic devices – stops the body from producing melatonin, a hormone directly related to your sleep-wake cycle.

You can also invest in other sleeping aids such as scent diffusers and sleep trackers which can help you create the perfect atmosphere and analyze the results. Finally, if you’re still struggling to sleep, it may be time for a new mattress.

Top tips:

  • Use black-out curtains if you find you wake too early in the summer months
  • Invest in sleep technology lights to help your body recognize it’s time to sleep
  • Keep your room tidy, decluttered and use warm, relaxing tones for your décor

Behavior & Diet for Good Sleep

How you behave during the course of the day impacts your sleep. If you drink a lot of caffeine, eat foods high in sugar, take a lot of naps or don’t exercise regularly you’ll most likely struggle to make sleep a good habit.

The good news is that you don’t need to eradicate all the pleasures of life just to achieve good sleep. Instead, it’s about quantity. Cutting down your caffeine intake and the length of your naps will quickly help you get better sleep.

Improving your diet and the amount you exercise will also have a massive impact. Don’t think this means you need to cut out all treats and exercise every single day – you’ll see improvements with small changes, so long as they’re regular.

One of the biggest parts of a good sleep habit is consistency. Waking up and falling asleep at the same time each day helps the body regulate its sleep pattern. After just a few days of forcing the habit, your body will start to respond – improving your mood when you wake up and relaxing your body at night. It’s also important to try and avoid snoozing your alarm – this confuses your body and will not help you develop a regular sleeping pattern.

Top tips:

  • Cut out caffeine after 6 pm. If you like hot drinks, use relaxing, caffeine-free herbal options like chamomile and green tea
  • Regulate your diet and eat at the same time each day, with no high-sugar snacks before bed
  • Set yourself a time to wake up and stick to it

How to get a good night’s sleep every single night

According to a report from the NHLBI, losing an hour or two of sleep over several nights can impact your ability to function to the same level as not sleeping for one or two days. And with 38% of the country saying they never achieve the recommended 8 hours it’s clear to see this is a problem.

The biggest factor is consistency – getting to sleep and waking at the same time each day. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but by making an effort to regulate your sleeping pattern, you’ll quickly see the benefits. To help, we’ve put together a summary of the best steps to help you get better sleep, night after night.

  • Set a time to go to sleep and stick to it at least 6 days a week
  • Switch off all screens and put down your phone one hour before you plan to sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet, avoiding sugar and caffeine after 6 pm
  • Set your alarm for the same time each morning and do not snooze
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week, leaving a couple of hours to relax before sleep

Originally found on dreams.co.uk

How Noise Affects Your Sleep

While you sleep, your brain continues to register and process sounds on a basic level. Noise can jostle your slumber—causing you to wake, move, shift between stages of sleep, or experience a change in heart rate and blood pressure—so briefly that you don’t remember the next morning. Whether sounds disturb your sleep depends on factors such as the stage of sleep you’re in, the time of night, and even your feelings about the sounds themselves.

Noises are more likely to wake you from a light sleep (stages 1 and 2), than from a deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), and tend to be more disruptive in the second half of the night. If you share a bed with someone, you know that there is individual variation in sensitivity to noise. In fact, a recent study found that “sound sleepers” have characteristic brain activity that may make them more impervious to noise.

Interestingly, whether or not a sound bothers your sleep depends in part on that sound’s personal meaning: researchers have seen that people are more likely to wake when a sound is relevant or emotionally charged. This is why, for example, a parent could sleep soundly through her partner’s snores but wake fully when her baby fusses.


Originally found on sleepfoundation.org

What Does The Way You Dress Your Bed Say About You?

Bed-making. It’s a very personal affair. Some people couldn’t dream of leaving the house without a perfectly preened bed display while others couldn’t care less…

Bed-making. It’s a very personal affair. Some people couldn’t dream of leaving the house without a perfectly preened bed display while others couldn’t care less if the duvet was even still on the bed. Whatever point of the scale you find yourself at, we bet we can guess some of your personality traits. Here’s our take on what the way you dress your bed says about you.

Military base

Your sheets are pulled so tight you could bounce a penny off them and they are complete with hospital corners for a pristine finish. Nothing is a millimeter out of place. All bed linen is starched and ironed and there isn’t one throw or scatter cushion in sight.

If this is your bed, you’re probably a bit of a neat freak (though that might be an understatement!). You like to be in control of situations and aren’t one for spontaneity. You’re a creature of habit and like things done efficiently and properly – with absolutely no frills.

Remember that your bed is a place for relaxation, so loosen those sheets and let yourself starfish!

Colour coordinated

Your bed most likely resembles a photo in a catalog. That’s because you bought your matching bedding, sheet, throw, scatter cushions and entire bedroom furniture from the same store. Your bed is made in the best replication of that room set you fell in love with right down to the way the throw is folded.

This bed-maker is not a natural born leader. You probably need a lot of help making decisions and very rarely go with your gut instinct. However, once you commit, you fully commit, meaning you’re extremely trustworthy.

Your bedroom should be an expression of yourself, so don’t be afraid to experiment with designs you love.

Draped and dreamy

A strewn duvet, an artistically flung throw and some luscious, plump pillows at the top of the bed. The bed frame is laced with fairy lights and the room has a cozy but lived-in feel to it. The color scheme is most likely pastels with hints of metallic sparkles.

If you sleep in a bed like this, you’re a big old romantic who loves nothing more than a cuddly lie in with your significant other. You’re sensitive and aren’t afraid to talk about or show your emotions. You’re a great friend but could be taken advantage of due to your free-spirited nature.

Keep enjoying your bedroom in the way you want to… but try to keep the guest room tidy!

More is more

It takes a while for you to get into bed due to the sheer number of cushions, throws and pillows piled on top. Your bed looks like it was dressed for royalty and has tonnes of textures to indulge in – velvet, silk, faux fur, Egyptian cotton, the list goes on. Your ideal bed would be a four-poster.

If this is your bed, you’re a serious lover of all things luxury. Whether it’s a bottle of wine or a loaf of bread, you’ll only buy the best. You live life to the max and are very outgoing and generous. You love socializing but often turn up late because you lost track of time trying to choose the perfect outfit.

It’s great that you take so much pride in your bedroom, but don’t make the mistake of choosing style over comfort.

Hidden horrors

At first glance, your bed looks tidy with a throw resting across the top. But what’s that underneath? Either dirty sheets, messy bedding, old socks or worse… no bedding at all! There’s some serious cover-up going on here.

Like your bed, you probably have something to hide or feel like you do. You’re polite and friendly but rarely get into deep conversations. You don’t mind being a loner and quite like your own company. That might be because you don’t trust people very easily.

Sort out that mess underneath the sheet… we bet your bed will feel a lot comfier!


Originally found on dreams.co.uk

How To Sleep Clean: Sleep Hygiene For The New Year

You may have heard of the ‘clean sleeping’ trend, which was branded by Gwyneth Paltrow as the biggest health trend of 2017. Just like 2016’s ‘clean eating’ trend, this one is all about using sleep to improve your health. A recent Dreams study showed that 69% of Brits are unhappy with their sleep, yet less than one in ten (8%) chose to focus on sleep as a priority when it came to new year’s resolutions. Here, we discuss the trend and how you can incorporate it into your life for better sleep in 2019.

What is clean sleep?

Paltrow wrote an article for the Daily Mail outlining the idea of clean sleeping. She explains that she has a team of experts who are available to support her and give the best guidance. Her nutritionist Dr. Frank Lipman told her ‘poor-quality sleep can be unsettling for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog, as well as serious health concerns such as inflammation and reduced immunity.’ The idea of clean sleeping is to achieve good quality sleep so you wake up feeling fully rested. The key is not to let the stress of the day affect your sleep.

Some of her suggestions, like ideally sleeping for 10 hours and giving yourself a daily massage, aren’t achievable for most. However, there are some really useful points we can take from clean sleeping.

Benefits of getting better sleep

Clean sleeping all boils down to getting a better quality sleep. Part of this is increasing how much sleep you’re getting if you don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours per night. Some of the benefits of getting more high-quality sleep are:

  • Encourages healthier, fuller hair
  • Increases immunity from colds and flu
  • Helps encourage a better diet
  • Strengthens your memory
  • More sleep also equals a better mood

How to improve your sleep

Although some of the clean sleeping ideas may be time-consuming and expensive, you can definitely learn from their objectives. Here are some approachable ways to use clean sleeping in your own life:

Meditation

In her article, Paltrow recommends ‘Yoga Nidra’ or psychic sleeping. This is a form of meditation that mimics the qualities of sleep while the body is still awake. The point of this meditation is to focus on each body part separately, in a circular motion. For example, focusing on your fingers, palm, wrist, forearm etc. all the way around the head, other arm and legs. This type of meditation is supposed to put your brain in a state of near-sleep. Once mastered, this can be extremely relaxing, but you will need to practice to feel the full effects.

For an easy meditation trick to do before bed, use mindful meditation. It works in a similar way to Yoga Nidra, focusing on how the body and mind feel at that precise moment. The important thing is not to dwell on thoughts. If a problem or worry comes into your head, acknowledge it and let it go. Breathe deeply and focus on your body, allowing yourself to become fully relaxed.

Dreams’ sleep expert Dr Pixie McKenna recommends having a strict sleep routine to improve your sleep in the new year. Meditation would fit perfectly into this wind-down routine. She says:

“As part of your routine, and especially on weekdays, try to plan an hour of relaxation before bed each night. Avoid screen time, as this keeps your brain active when you are trying to send it to sleep. Why not take a bath, read a book, meditate, or spend time catching up with family. This will help your body wind down ahead of hitting the pillow.”

Don’t eat before bed

This is a good rule to stick to if you want to improve your sleep. Detox expert, Dr. Alejandro Junger advises you should keep a 12-hour fasting window at night. So, if you usually wake up at 7.30am, don’t eat after 7.30pm the night before. He says, ‘This is because your body won’t slip into deep detox mode until about eight hours after your last meal and then it needs about four more hours of undisturbed sleep to do its job properly.’

study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology also found a significant link between late-night eating and acid reflux symptoms. So, it could not only harm your sleep but also make you ill in the long run.

Dr Pixie McKenna also suggests eating and drinking healthily as one of the best ways to improve your sleep. She says:

“Dry January and diets are of course some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Sleep and diet have a symbiotic relationship. If you’re eating lots of unhealthy food, you’re likely to be getting poor quality sleep, and vice versa. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet of seasonal fruit and veg, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and oily fish to aid sleep.

“Junk food and produce high in saturated fat are more likely to lead to poor quality sleep. Likewise, when it comes to drinking, try and cut down on caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, which stimulate your brain and make you feel wide awake. Limiting alcohol, which is a notorious sleep disruptor, will also help your sleep quality.”

A recent Dreams survey found that the top new year’s resolutions revolve around food and drink. 27% of participants said they’ll aim to eat healthily and 15% said they want to consume less alcohol.

Massage

Paltrow recommends pressure point head rubs and foot massages before bed. You may think this is unattainable to keep up every night. If you don’t want to do this as part of your daily routine, you could always introduce it to your night-time routine on a once-weekly basis.

Give yourself a gentle head massage stimulating pressure points on the back of your head. These are located about five fingers from the back of your ear at the base of your skull. You will feel a dip and a tender point in the right spot. Massaging these in a circular motion can relieve headaches, tension and can stimulate circulation.

Alternatively, a relaxing foot massage will help ground and relax you. Practice mindfulness during this and focus on the act and how it makes you feel. Or, you could ask your partner to do it for you and give them a massage in return.

Sleep hygiene

The main point to take from clean sleeping is that it promotes good sleep hygiene. This is about having a sleep routine that enables you to have good quality sleep. As they say, quality is better than quantity! When it comes to making your new year’s resolution this year, why not consider clean sleeping to improve your lifestyle?

 


Originally found on dreams.co.uk, written by Gemma Curtis

9 Ways You Can Sleep Better with Osteoarthritis

As if it’s not enough that your arthritis bothers you throughout the day, pain and stiffness can also interrupt your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

This is bad news because poor sleep can cause pain to be worse—this creates a damaging cycle of pain and poor sleep.

If pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis are keeping you from falling asleep or staying asleep, try following these 9 tips:

  1. Use heat therapy before bed. Ease a painful joint by using a heating pad for 15 to 20 minutes before bed. Or take a soothing bath for the same effect—just give yourself time to cool down afterward, because it’s hard to get to sleep if you’re overheated.
  2. Explore medication solutions. Insomnia and sleep problems may be the result of a medication you are taking to treat arthritis or another condition. Talk with your doctor about switching medications or adjusting the timing of when you take them.
  3. Take a nighttime pain reliever. There are several formulations of over-the-counter pain relievers specifically intended for use in at night to both relieve pain and help you sleep better.
  4. Consider your mattress. A good mattress can make a big difference in your level of comfort and support as you sleep. For those with arthritis, your mattress should be supportive but not too hard. If you can’t invest in a new mattress right now, consider adding a mattress topper.
  5. Use pillows strategically. Where and what type of pillows you use at night is important. If you have neck (cervical) arthritis, use a standard pillow that’s firm but not too high. For hip or knee arthritis, you may benefit from a wedge pillow next to you or a small pillow between your knees.
  6. Rule out sleep apnea. Those who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for both osteoarthritis and a sleep condition called sleep apnea, which causes patients to stop breathing and wake up abruptly several times a night. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor about undergoing a sleep study.
  7. Exercise and stretch. Your joints are meant to move—the more you keep them immobile, the stiffer and more painful they’ll become. Stay as active as you can and do stretches intended to maintain strength and range of motion in your arthritis-affected joint.
  8. Practice good sleep hygiene. Follow habits that promote good sleep, such as:
    • Going to bed at the same time every night
    • Establishing a night routine to prepare your mind and body for sleep
    • Banning phones, TVs, and other electronics from the bedroom
    • Avoiding large meals and caffeine before bed
  9. Manage your arthritis or other health conditions. The better your overall health, the less likely conditions like arthritis or others will disrupt your sleep.

Remember: arthritis, chronic pain, and sleep problems are all treatable. If you’re struggling with poor sleep because of arthritis pain, make an appointment to see your doctor and explore solutions.


Originally found on arthritis-health.com

Americans Are Sleeping Less Than They Were 13 Years Ago

Technology use and stress could be contributing to the short-sleep trend

Nearly one-third of American adults sleep less than six hours each night, a broad new survey shows.

Among nearly 400,000 respondents to the annual National Health Interview Survey, 32.9 percent reported this short sleep in 2017 — up from 28.6 percent in 2004 when researchers began noticing a slight drop in sleep time. That’s a 15 percent increase representing “more than 9 million people, which is about the population of New York City,” says coauthor Connor Sheehan, a sociologist at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Analysis of the annual survey results — accounting for the U.S. population’s age distribution as well as respondents’ marital status, income, employment and lifestyle — suggests people have been sleeping significantly less from 2013 onward, especially black adults, the researchers report online November 17 in Sleep. In 2017, 40.9 percent of black Americans were likely to report short sleep, as were 30.9 percent of whites and 32.9 percent of Hispanics, the researchers calculate.

This is the first study showing self-reported sleep declining among minorities over time, says Mercedes Carnethon, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago who was not involved in the study.

Seven hours or more per night is the recommended sleep time, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of accidents or of developing conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Respondents could be sleeping even less than what they reported, the study authors say, since people tend to overestimate the number of hours they sleep. The study did not attempt to explain why some people were sleeping less now than they were 13 years ago, though the researchers suggest stress could be a factor.

The overuse of certain technology, such as cellphones, could also be playing a role. The number of adults owning a smartphone more than doubled in the last decade. Overuse of these devices with attention-seeking screens has been linked to poor sleep and more stress (SN Online: 1/23/17).

“Staring at a bright smartphone screen and getting anxious news is definitely not going to help you go to bed,” Sheehan says.


Originally found on sciencenews.org