Sleep is more critical than ever with a global pandemic. People will need to stay in place and not leave their homes. To be prepared, make sure you have a good mattress for good sleep which leads go better health. The unexpected speed of transmission of the deadly Coronavirus has been generating headlines throughout the globe marking a sad beginning of the year 2020. Originating from a food market in Wuhan, China, this new virus has been spreading like wildfire since December 2019, infecting tens of thousands with a death toll of over 2000 to date. But despite such global panic and the yet undiscovered vaccine for the same, any person is unlikely to contract such a virus unless he/she gets in contact with a virus-infected person.
To restrict the possibility of contracting such a deadly disease, we should execute all possible measures, and one of the best ways to combat such a virus is by getting a good night’s sleep. Yes, you heard it right. Getting a deep and uninterrupted night’s sleep can minimize the possibility of being affected by Coronavirus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 And How Sleep Can Help
But before getting into the benefits of such an effective technique, it is necessary to know the probable symptoms associated with such a virus infestation. Doctors are learning new things about the virus every day, and it has been seen that people affected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms initially. They may carry the virus for 2 days up to 2 weeks without producing any noticeable symptoms.
Some of the common symptoms associated with the COVID-19 observed to date include –
- Experiencing a cough that may get more severe with time.
- Feeling short of breath.
- Fever, which may gradually increase over time.
However, a lot is yet to be explored through further investigations.
How the Immune System Functions and benefits Sleep
The in-built defense mechanism of our body helps in combating various viruses and flu from damaging the normal functioning of the body. This system is responsible for executing three primary jobs which include –
- Identifying pathogens and disease-producing germs and removing them from the body. These may include parasites, fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
- Detecting and neutralizing external harmful substances before they can affect our bodies.
- Combating major changes within the body, such as the cancer cells.
The immune system gets down to work as soon as it detects any toxins or antigens or any other foreign substances in the body. Such a response leads the immune system to develop antibodies and cells that help in fighting the invader. Upon the production of such antibodies, the immune system will keep a record of the same and use it again if it runs into the same situation again in the future.
The Connection Between Sleep and the Immune System
Sleep for the human body can be portrayed as the halftime break while the immune system as the football coach. A good coach analyses the proceeding of the match during the halftime break and takes necessary actions to turn the match in favor of his team. Similarly, the immune system can combat any external threats by producing antibodies to counterattack virus-borne diseases. Without adequate sleep, your body will have a hard time assessing the best game plan and combating illness.
Regulating the Body Temperature
Another benefit that a good night’s sleep provides is regulating body temperature. This helps the body to maintain an optimal temperature level that can prevent any external disease-producing substances from adversely affecting the body.
Boosting T Cell Production
By fostering T-cell production, sleep helps in boosting the immune system. T cells are the white blood cells of the body that plays an essential role in the response of the immune system to viruses. The activation of T cells is important in determining how the system handles invaders with the T cells attacking and destroying the virus-borne cells before they invade the body’s immune system.
Research studies reveal that people who get a good night’s sleep report higher levels of T cell activation in comparison to those who don’t get sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation adversely affects the ability of the T cells to respond to external threats and fight back against illness.
Improving the Response of the Immune System to COVID-19
The response time of the immune system gets greatly enhanced by getting a good night’s sleep. People who complete the four sleep cycles are able to support the release and production of cytokine, which is a multifaceted protein that helps the immune system to respond quickly to antigens.
Cytokines mainly help in
- Establishing cell-to-cell communication
- Directing the cells to proceed towards infections and counteracting issues.
The human body requires a complete night’s sleep to replenish the proteins and cells it requires to combat diseases like the Coronavirus. A lack of sleep hinders cytokine production, making it harder for the body to battle against viruses like the COVID-19.
Tips to Get the Best Sleep Possible
Now the most important question is, “How to get a good night’s sleep?” It is quite difficult for today’s generation to maintain work-life balance and getting adequate rest despite the excessive work pressure. You can develop a daily routine for yourself or follow various online sleep calculators to ensure at least 7.5 hours of daily night’s sleep. Also, make sure that you stay away from gadgets that emit blue light as it can prevent you from sleeping as soon as you hit the bed. Refrain from consuming any substance containing caffeine prior to bed, as it can affect your normal sleep routine. Stay well hydrated throughout the day but reduce your water consumption post evening so that you don’t visit the toilet once you go to sleep at night.
Keep Your Mattress Clean During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Having a hygienic mattress is critical during a pandemic but it makes sense to keep your mattress as clean as possible all the time. The best way to do this is with a mattress protector. A good mattress protector will keep any fluids and dust mites out of your mattress. If you become sick from the coronavirus, you’ll most likely be spending much more time in bed. Once the virus has run its course, you can simply wash the mattress protector along with the rest of your bedding to give you a fresh mattress.
The Bottom Line
For centuries we have known that sleep is a natural immune booster. So, getting a good night’s sleep consistently can help to improve our immune system and defend our system from any deadly diseases and viruses like the COVID-19. Modern researchers have helped to highlight the benefits of sleep in boosting the body’s immune system. However, this does not establish the fact that sleep is an all-cure for coronavirus. Till a vaccine for killing the deadly virus is developed, it is important to remember the fundamentals so that we can keep ourselves safe from the clutches of Coronavirus to the utmost extent possible.
How does lack of sleep effects your brain in short term? Likewise, what happens to our brains when we don’t get adequate sleep for a prolonged period?
Everybody knows that sleep is essential for our bodies and brains to function at their best. Otherwise, why would we be spending one third of our lives doing it? Chronic sleep deprivation puts us at a higher risk of various disorders and long term health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, to name just a few.
It has also been amply demonstrated that the lack of sleep has a negative affect on our cognitive performance. At the cognitive level, the lack of sleep impairs our ability to focus, make judgements, consolidate information and learn new things. In the words of Dr Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, “It’s difficult to identify a cognitive skill that isn’t affected by sleep, and compromised by sleep deprivation.”
Yet, while the effect of sleep and the lack of it on our cognitive performance is very well documented, much less is still known about how exactly sleep affects the brain on the cellular level.
However, as brain science rapidly advances, more and more studies appear that begin to fill that gap. Here are four of the most prominent studies of recent years and their findings that looked closely at our sleep deprived brains.
Sleep Allows Your Brain Cells To Repair Themselves
A study published earlier this year in Nature Communications found that sleep is essential for the brain’s ability to repair itself. More specifically, scientists found that during sleep essential DNA repair processes take place in the brain.
In the course of the study, the researchers from Bar-Ilan University observed zebrafish, species that are characterized by having transparent heads. With the use of a powerful microscope, the researchers were able to observe the brain of the zebrafish during sleeping and waking, and took time-lapsed images of individual neurons. They were then able to see that during sleep the process of DNA repair kicked off in their brains, reversing the DNA damage accumulated during the day.
According to the researchers, human brain cells also regularly accumulate DNA damage not only from exposure to radiation and other undesirable conditions but also as a result of the normal brain activity. Sleep allows for these cells to be repaired.
One of the study’s authors, Professor Lior Applebaum, explained why this complicated process takes place while we sleep, by comparing it to repairing potholes in the road. Speaking to Independent, he said: “Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic.”
The researchers think that this finding might explain the essential role of sleep for all animals with neural system including humans.
Sleep Deprivation Kills Your Brain Cells
In a study that was published in 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine made an alarming discovery that lack of sleep can result in irreversible loss of brain neurons.
The study was conducted on mice, whose brain is known to be surprisingly similar to the human brain. The mice were put on a schedule similar to the one that is used by people who work night shifts or long hours. In each 24 hour period, the mice got only 4 to 5 hours of sleep.
The results were astounding. After just three day of this schedule, the sleep-deprived mice lost 25% of brain cells in part of the brain stem, the damage that seemed to be irreversible.
According to the study’s authors, because of the similarity between the brains of mice and humans, it is very likely that the human brain suffers from the same loss of neurons when deprived of adequate sleep. This is something that researchers planned to further investigate by conducting autopsies of shift workers.
Sleep Helps Brain ‘Detox’
Another study published in Science around the same time, found that during sleep a sort of detox process takes place in your brain, as it gets rid of harmful waste products, including some that have been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) who used high-tech imaging to look into the brains of mice and found that their brains behaved very differently when awake and asleep. Specifically, the waste removal process happened ten times faster when the mice were sleeping, flushing out among other things the toxic protein amyloid-beta that is associated with Alzheimer’s.
The clean up process observed by the researchers happens with the help of the cerebrospinal fluid that flows through the spaces between neurons flushing waste into the circulatory system. During sleep, the researchers found, brain cells contract, leaving more space for the cerebrospinal fluid to do its job a lot more effectively.
Sleep Enables Brain Cells to Communicate Effectively
In a fourth study on brain and sleep published recently in Nature Medicine, researchers found neurological explanation to the mental sluggishness that is so familiar to any of us who’ve ever had to take an exam, drive a car or perform any other cognitively demanding activity while sleep deprived. Specifically, the study authors found that lack of sleep severely impairs the ability of brain cells to communicate effectively.
In the study, 12 participants who were preparing to undergo surgery for epilepsy (unrelated to the study) had electrodes implanted into their brains and were asked to stay up the entire night. Several times throughout the night, researchers asked them to categorize images of faces, places and animals as fast as possible. They noticed that as people got drowsier, their reactions got slower. The researchers monitored the brain activity at the same time, paying particular attention to neurons in the temporal lobe, which regulates visual perception and memory. They were able to see that the slowed down response time was due to the less effective communication between their brain cells.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) explained in a statement: “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”
This of course has direct consequences in everyday activities such as driving, and thus can have a fatal affect. “Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much,” Fried said. “Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.”
Everyone enjoys a quiet, undisturbed sleep every night; not everyone is fortunate enough to have that luxury. Sleep is one of those things that suffer from the worst distractions and disturbances. Sleep does not require focus or concentration, and yet, a vast number of people around the world suffers from poor sleep quality because of various distractions. Among the biggest distractions to sleep are environmental noises. From late night traffic to loud music to noisy neighbors, a number of environmental factors can rob us of the restful sleep that we require every night.
Various studies have found that those who live in a noisy environment or neighborhood are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders. Unfortunately, most urban people tend to live in noisy neighborhoods, where too many people live in close proximity, and the traffic can get unbearable at times. There are people who can sleep through a tornado, but there are others who don’t have that ability. If you are sensitive to ambient noises, you can go for nights at a stretch without proper sleep. And not getting sufficient sleep for a prolonged period can result in various health problems, affect mood and appetite and negatively impact productivity and concentration. The end result is that your health, work, and social life suffer, all because of insufficient sleep.
This is the reason why white noise machines are slowly becoming popular around the world. The device earlier meant for babies is now used by a large number of adults to fall asleep more easily.
How White Noise Helps?
Ambient noises like the sound of traffic can seem like it’s beyond your control, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact such noises have on your sleep. You can try putting up thick curtains or use soundproof glass for your windows, but the best way to manage environmental noise is by drowning them out. And nothing drowns out noise better than some other kind of noise.
‘White noise’ is an umbrella term for any type of sound that’s capable of drowning out background noises. When it comes to white noise machines, it is generally in the form of soothing or repetitive sounds. Because of its ability to drown out disruptive sounds and help people fall asleep easily, white noise is considered a sleep aid. Those who live in a noisy environment or travel frequently use white noise machines to fall asleep at night. Some models are designed for adult use while some are meant for babies and little kids.
Even till a few years ago, the use of a white noise machine wasn’t very common, but because a large number of people face sleep disturbances from environmental noise, they now use a sound machine to fall asleep every night. A wide range of white noise machines are available at different price points, while the higher-end models come with various high-tech features.
Types of White Noise
There are various types of white noise that are used to drown out distracting environmental sounds. White noise is not only supposed to drown out distracting environmental noises but also be soothing enough to help the person fall asleep. A sound machine is like a small speaker that can be set on your bedside table to play soft, soothing sounds to help you fall asleep. A sound machine usually comes with various types of prerecorded sounds, such as the sound of crickets, rainfall, ocean waves, fan, or instrumental music like the piano.
You can choose the type of white noise according to your personal preference. Some people prefer the repetitive noise of the fan, while others prefer the soothing sound of rainfall. And there are those that prefer soft, soothing music instead of sounds.
A white noise machine also comes with headphones sometimes, for use when there are other people in the room that can be distracted by the sound machine. The volume after sound can be set according to preference.
There are numerous sound machines available today, from small portable ones to headphones to larger devices that are not very portable. Given all the different options, it can be hard to choose one for your needs.
If you’re more comfortable with the sound of the fan, then you should choose white noise machines that specialize in fan sounds. If you prefer nature sounds, then there are sound machines specializing in those. Volume adjustment and portability are also factors that go into determining the right sound machine. White noise devices usually come with a timer that automatically stops the sound after a certain time. This ensures the device doesn’t continue to play after you have fallen asleep.
However, keep in mind that sound machines are great at drowning out all noises, including the ones that you should hear (crying child, fire alarm, doorbell, morning alarm, etc.). Therefore, even when you use a sound machine to drown out distracting noises, make sure it doesn’t make you oblivious to your surroundings.
Is White Noise Harmful?
No long term study has been made on the effects of white noise, but the benefits certainly outweigh the downsides. In one study, it was found that playing white noise in intensive care units helped drown out the disturbing and distracting noises and reduce episodes of wakefulness in patients.
But it must also be noted that white noise is noise after all, and should be used in moderation.
Whether you are listening to the white noise via speakers or headphones, remember to keep the volume at a comfortable level to prevent hurting your ears. It is also important to try other methods of drowning out environmental noises because white noise machines can be habit-forming.
When it comes to babies or children, sound machines can be harmful if the noise level is above
85 decibels. In children, a sound machine can turn into a habit if it is used every time to help them fall asleep. When a child falls asleep to a sound machine every night, it can be hard for them to sleep without it.
White Noise Machine Reviews
Because the sound machine market is flooded with a variety of products, it can often be hard to know what to choose. Should you choose the basic devices or the high-end ones with the latest features? Even the most basic sound machines are capable of performing the function of noise isolation and cancellation, providing the user with quality sleep. But if you want a bevy of features, you will have to go higher in the price range.
To make a choice easier for customers, we have compiled a list of the top-rated sound machines in the market right now. They range from basic to high-end and suit both adults, children, and babies.
This is one of the most popular sound machines in the market today, not only because of its budget pricing but also because of the various features it comes loaded with. Besides being a high-fidelity sound machine that helps you sleep well at night, this devices comes with the option to record your own sounds. You also have the option to choose from white, pink, and brown noise, with a large selection of natural and ambient sounds as well. You can choose up to 30 sounds in this device.
One of the biggest problems for people is to turn off the machine when they fall asleep. The Sound + Sleep machine solves that problem by including a noise-reduction timer, which can be set to 30-, 60-, 90-, and 120-minute increments. This gradually lowers the volume while enhancing the noise blocking experience. Even if you fall asleep and don’t remember to turn off the sound, the machine will automatically lower the volume. The device also comes with a headphone jack.
The Sound + Sleep white noise machine is small and compact, at only five inches long and less than two pounds in weight. Besides the portability, the machine also comes with a one-year warranty. The Sound + Sleep machine retails for $62 online.
- Great for those who like to sleep to white, pink, or brown noise
- Includes nature sounds as well as ambient sounds (such as the fan)
- Includes headphone jack
- The gradual lowering of volume
- One year warranty
- Slightly steep price
Most people do not want to spend a ton of money on a white noise machine. But a lot of white noise machines come for at least $40, which can be expensive for a lot of people. However, the Big Red Rooster is available for $20, which is half the price of most quality sound machines. Despite the low price, this device offers the same quality as many higher-priced models. The features include a white noise option, and five natural sounds, including summer night, brook, rain, thunder, and ocean. There’s also an option for a sleep timer for up to one hour with 15-minute increments. This white noise machine is small and compact and weighs less than 10 ounces.
- Basic machine for those who want only white noise
- Great for those who love natural sounds
- Ideal size for traveling with
- No high-end features
This is one of the oldest sound machines in the market, first introduced in the market as ‘Sleep-Mate’ in 1960. If you’re looking for a fan-based white noise machine, this one is for you. Not only is this machine simple and basic, but also affordable. It doesn’t have a timer so you can run it all night long. You can adjust the volume and tone settings.
The Dohm also has a child version called Dohm for Baby, which is much similar to the Dohm Classic. The devices come with a 101-night sleep trial and a one-year warranty, as well as free shipping within the U.S.
- Good for those who use white noise
- Great for those who run the machine all night
- Value-based device
- Very basic device
- No advanced features
- Slightly expensive
If you’re willing to spend more than a $100 on a sound machine, then the S-5000 Sound Oasis is your pick. Along with a steep price tag, the device also comes with a wide range of sound selections. There are a total of 145 different sounds that you can mix with 24 sound profiles to create your own customized sounds. The two speakers provide excellent sound quality, and also includes a headphone jack.
Other features of this high-end sound machine are an adjustable alarm clock, sleep timer, nap timer, and international AM/FM radio and dual voltage adapter. The machine is priced at $200 and has a one-year warranty.
- Great for those who want an extensive sound library
- God for international travelers
- Includes a wide array of features
- Steep price
Shop Sound Oasis
Babies and toddlers wake up very easily at even the slightest noise. They also take a long time to fall asleep unless they are soothed. This is why a white noise machine is helpful in making babies and toddlers fall asleep faster and more easily. If you’re looking for a white noise machine for your child, the Rest from Hatch Baby is a complete white noise solution designed for babies and toddlers. It combines light and sound therapy and is accessible via a smartphone app. With the combination of light images and sounds, the device creates a soothing environment for the child.
The device is useful for children of various ages. While the white noise is ideal for soothing the child, the nightlight helps toddlers fall to sleep easily, and the ‘time-to-rise’ alarm is perfect for school-going kids. This product retails online and comes with a one-year warranty.
- An ideal device for parents with babies, infants or toddlers
- Helps soothe children who cannot sleep in the dark
- Smartphone accessible device doesn’t require parents to go into the child’s room to turn off the device
- Combination of light and sound
- Collects a ton of private information
- No battery option
It happens to the best of us – we have an early start the next day but are unable to fall asleep. We lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, and listening to the ticking clock as the night refuses to end. For some people, it happens every day, and for others, it happens when they are too tired or stressed, and their brains simply won’t shut up. The most interesting – and frustrating -thing about not being able to fall asleep is that the more you think about it, the harder it is for sleep to come.
Does that mean you have a sleep disorder? Yes and no. Some people have trouble falling asleep when they have a lot on their minds or when they are too stressed or excited. However, if this is a regular occurrence without any external cause, you probably have sleep-onset insomnia. This is a condition when the person is unable to fall asleep when he is supposed to. Sleep onset insomnia is also sometimes called delayed sleep disorder and can be a common occurrence with some people.
When you are unable to fall asleep at the right time, you get late in the morning and remain drowsy the rest of the day. The hours lost at night result in sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness. It is no surprise that sleep disorders are on the rise around the world, and affecting the global economy because of lost productivity. Besides, sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness cause accidents and injuries and also lead to greater health problems later in life.
Why You Can’t Fall Asleep?
When we go to bed, we want to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Everyone loves a good night’s rest because it makes them feel fresh and alert and helps them achieve more throughout the day. But a lot of reasons contribute to sleep onset insomnia or simply the inability to fall asleep. This can either happen on a regular basis or once in a while, but it is frustrating nevertheless.
Stress and anxiety are usually the two most important factors that interfere with normal sleep. When there is a lot on your mind, sleep can be elusive. Until your brain shuts off, it is hard to fall asleep. Consuming caffeine and alcohol before bed can also interfere with sleep. Medical conditions and medications also cause sleep problems.
However, sometimes every person finds it hard to fall asleep, even if they sleep without any issues on other nights. This is often because of mental exertion, stress, anxiety or the wrong foods.
10 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster
If you do not have a medical problem and are unable to fall asleep simply because of external factors, there are things you can do to make sleep come faster. The following tips are meant to help you get started on a healthy sleep routine that makes falling asleep and waking up the next morning equally easy.
- Go to Bed Only When You Are Sleepy
Just because it’s time for bed doesn’t mean you should be lying in bed when you aren’t sleepy. Make it a point to go to bed only when you feel sleepy. This will help the brain associate the bed with sleep and nothing else.
- Maintain A Sleep Routine
Once you get home from work, make sure to wind down with a relaxing sleep routine. From having a relaxing drink to taking a warm bath to listening to soothing music, it all helps your brain shut down and get into sleep mode.
- Watch or Read Something Boring
That’s right if you must read or watch TV in bed, make sure it’s something boring. There’s even a channel on YouTube called Napflix that plays boring videos to help you fall asleep. Avoid watching horror movies or the 11 pm news or anything that excites you.
- Don’t Look at The Clock
When you’re lying in bed unable to sleep, your eyes keep going to the bedside clock. Looking at the time every few seconds makes the night pass slower than usual. To avoid this, either remove the clock from the room or turn it backward. When you cannot see the time, you fret less about being unable to fall asleep.
- Adjust the Temperature
Regardless of the season, if your bedroom doesn’t have the ideal temperature, it can be hard to fall asleep. If it’s too cold, turn the thermostat up. If it’s too hot, turn on the air conditioner. If you want your room warm even in summer and if it’s something that helps you sleep better, don’t be shy about turning up the thermostat when everyone else is using the AC.
- Keep Warm
It isn’t uncommon to find people who have chilly hands and feet throughout the year, especially when they go to bed. If this is you and it keeps you from falling asleep at night, try warming up your feet. Either wear socks to bed or use an additional blanket or soak your feet in warm water before hitting the sack.
- Have Comfortable Bedding
Not many people want to invest in comfortable bedding because they think it’s a waste of money. What they don’t realize is that bedding is crucial to sleep quality. When you have attractive and comfortable bedding, it makes sleep time more appealing and makes you look forward to going to bed.
- Try Deep Breathing
If it’s stress and anxiety keeping you from falling asleep, practice deep breathing while you’re lying in bed. Simply breathe through your nose, making sure it’s your belly that swells and not your chest and exhale from your mouth. Keep doing this until you doze off.
- Have Sex
Whether you are coupled up or single, sex is powerful enough to help you relax because it releases the feel-good hormone called oxytocin. That’s the reason why bedtime is regarded as the best time to have sex because it helps you get relaxed and sound sleep afterward.
- Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bed
What you eat for dinner often has a big impact on your sleep quality. If you have a heavy meal close to bedtime, your digestive system will work throughout the night, preventing your brain and body from relaxing and falling asleep. If you must eat close to bedtime, keep it light. A heavy meal for dinner should be consumed within 6 in the evening, not later.
When to Seek Medical Help for Sleep-Onset Insomnia?
If all these lifestyle changes do not resolve your sleep-onset insomnia, you can seek medical help. However, it is recommended that you try every means in the book before taking the help of sleep supplements or medications.
Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.
Everyone loves a good night’s sleep in any season, and there’s nothing grosser than waking up soaked in sweat with clothes sticking to the body. The body sweats more when we sleep as a means to keep the body temperature balanced, but sometimes excessive sweating happens not because of temperature but because of internal reasons. This is called night sweat and is a common condition among a large number of people.
What Are Night Sweats?
It is normal to sweat more than usual in certain seasons. In summer, people experience excessive sweating when they are sleeping, and it’s nothing extraordinary or unusual. However, night sweats are different from normal sweating because they are not influenced by external factors. Someone suffering from night sweats will perspire excessively even when trying to sleep in sub-zero temperatures.
Also called hyperhidrosis, night sweats can happen in any season and aren’t influenced by environmental overheating. If you experience excessive sweating in the summertime or when you’re in a warm environment, it may or may not be hyperhidrosis. However, if you get drenched in sweat in winter or in cooler temps, it is definitely a case of hyperhidrosis.
Even though night sweats is a common condition affecting a large number of people, there are fairly easy things you can do to stop or prevent them. However, before ascertaining a remedy, you have to know the causes behind hyperhidrosis.
What Causes Night Sweats?
The factors responsible for night sweats are dependent on whether the type of hyperhidrosis, i.e., environmental or medical. You know you have hyperhidrosis if the sweating drenches your sheets and clothes, interferes with your sleep, and is not because of environmental factors like summertime or a hot bedroom.
The last factor is most important because it helps you determine if the condition is environmental and can be easily remedied, or is due to a medical condition that requires treatment. For instance, night sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause are true hyperhidrosis, while excessive sweating because of restrictive or thick clothing can be easily fixed by wearing lighter clothing to bed. Once you know what is causing the night sweats, it becomes much easier to find a solution.
When it comes to environmental reasons, only warm temperatures or uncomfortable clothing or bedding can cause excessive sweating. But when it comes to medical reasons, there can a million conditions causing hyperhidrosis. The latter is true night sweats while the former is just sweating too much because it’s hot.
There are three factors that influence night sweats that are not because of an underlying medical condition. These are as follows:
Warm or Uncomfortable Clothing or Bedding
If you wear thick or uncomfortable clothing to bed in summer or sleep with several layers of bedding, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you wake up sweating. Excessive sweating at night is primarily caused because of uncomfortable bedding that gets too warm or restrictive clothing that doesn’t allow air circulation. That is the reason why sleep experts recommend sleeping either naked or in light, loose, comfortable clothing that allows the air to circulate and keep you cool. This is truer during hot summers.
Your sheets should be made of cotton or linen, which are not only best for the skin but also help keep you cool on hot nights. Ditch the silk or satin sheets during summer, and stick to skin-friendly, breathable materials for a bed. This helps in thermoregulation, the process of your body maintaining a consistent temperature.
Warm Bedroom Temperature
Summer is the time when the indoor temperature rises too quickly. If your bedroom temperature is too high when you go to bed, it can interfere with your sleep and cause you to sweat excessively. The feeling of sweat drenching your clothes and the sheets is icky and will most certainly wake you up in the middle of the night. Use the thermostat or the air conditioner to set the room temperature between 60 and 70 degrees.
When you’re down with a cold or a fever, your immune system works to help in the recovery process. This involves raising the core body temperature, which causes excessive sweating when you sleep. In all three of these cases, the sweating can be easily stopped without much effort.
There is more than one medical reason that can cause hyperhidrosis. In women, menopause and hormonal changes are famous for causing hot flashes and night sweats. Hyperhidrosis is also common during pregnancy, or when there is a hormonal condition like hyperthyroidism. Treating the condition usually gets rid of the night sweats to some extent if not completely.
Another common factor behind hyperhidrosis is obesity. Overweight people tend to sweat excessively, and that’s true even when they are trying to sleep. This is because excess weight makes it hard for the body to thermoregulate, causing night sweats. Losing weight is usually the solution to weight-related hyperhidrosis.
Sleep apnea is also responsible for causing night sweats. It is one of the most common sleep disorders, in which breathing momentarily stops and then restarts, causing snoring, choking or gasping. This happens because the tissues at the back of the throat relax more than they should and block the upper airway. Since there is no permanent cure for sleep apnea, the recommended treatment option is CPAP or BIPAP therapy, where the individual is required to wear a mask connected to an air machine when they sleep. The key to relief is to stick to this treatment. Individuals who find it uncomfortable to wear the mask do not stick to the treatment, and are also at greater risk of night sweats.
Other medical conditions that cause night sweats are GERD, anxiety, as well as the reaction to certain medications. It has nothing to do with environmental overheating.
Treating Night Sweats
The easiest way to deal with night sweats is to stay cool when you sleep. If lowering your bedroom temperature isn’t much effective, you can invest in a cooling mattress or buy a temperature regulator for your bed. Managing your medical conditions can also go a long way in keeping night sweats under control.
Even though often overlooked, sleep is undoubtedly the most important part of life. People can go without food for days, but the effects of sleep deprivation are quick to show. It’s not surprising that a good night’s rest has incredible benefits for both the body and the mind. How you feel during the day depends on the quality of sleep you get at night. Your productivity at work, your concentration, memory, and your mood and appetite also depend on the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. When you are deprived of sufficient sleep for a prolonged amount of time, the effects do not take long to show.
A large number of people suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. And in most cases, they are not even aware of it. Most people who suffer from a sleep disorder go their entire lives without realizing why they never got sufficient sleep. Disorders of sleep are of various kinds, but they all interfere with the normal quality and quantity of nightly sleep.
There are people who do not suffer from any sleep disorder but also do not get sufficient sleep. This is mainly because of a hectic schedule and making more time for work, home, and other social commitment. It is no surprise to find people doing with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep every night because they work too late and wake up early. When people have too much stress in life but not the required amount of sleep, it is a potential course for various health disorders. Productivity, memory, and concentration also suffer if nightly sleep remains insufficient for a long time.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Most imagine that sleep is a period of inactivity. This assumption is not surprising because while we are asleep, we do not get to know what happens inside our brain. That’s why we tend to think that while we sleep the brain is also asleep. But the brain and the body never sleep and keep working even while we rest.
Some of the most important processes of the brain take place while we are asleep. It must be remembered that the brain cannot perform the rejuvenating and revitalizing functions while we are awake. These functions can only be performed when we go to sleep.
Sleep can be divided into four stages, three of which are non-REM stages and one REM stage. All of these stages are equally important in ensuring sleep quality. While the first two stages are light sleep, the later stages are deeply relaxing and rejuvenating.
The third sleep stage is a non-REM stage and lasts 10 to 30 minutes, but sleep here is the deepest and almost like a coma. It generally takes a long time for a person to wake up from this sleep phase. In this stage, the heart rate and the body temperature of the person are the lowest, muscle movements barely occur, and the breathing is gentle and rhythmic. It isn’t possible to turn or change sides in this phase because the body is immobile. Delta waves in the brain are produced in this stage, deeply relaxing to the body and helping it heals and recharges in this stage, because of the delta waves. This is the stage when bedwetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking occurs but the person has no memory of them when they wake up.
The final stage of sleep is the only REM phase. Unlike the earlier three stages, the brain becomes active in this stage although the body is still immobile. The REM phase lasts for a short time, with most adults spending only about 20 percent of their sleep in this phase. This is when dreaming occurs along with the rapid movement of the eyelids from side to side behind closed eyelids. The heart rate, breathing, and body temperature begins to rise in this phase.
The REM sleep stage is when the brain starts to become active, right before the person wakes up. This stage is extremely important in ensuring proper sleep quality. Because this is the deepest sleep stage, the brain recharges and prepares for the day.
The REM sleep stage is important because this phase boosts learning, memory, and cognitive functioning. When this stage is hindered, the brain doesn’t get to complete these processes, leaving you foggy and disoriented when you wake up. Alcohol is notorious for hindering REM sleep, preventing you from restorative sleep no matter how long you’re asleep.
Importance of A Sleep Study
It goes without saying that being part of a sleep study is expensive. Then why would anyone want to take one? That’s because there’s so much that a sleep study can reveal about your health and your sleep quality. If you have untreated sleep disorders, a sleep study can be eye-opening and lead you to take your sleep more seriously.
Sleep studies can be performed either in a labor at home. However, if serious sleep disorders need to be diagnosed, then the study should be performed at a lab because brain waves will be monitored. The great thing about a sleep study is that it’s able to diagnose a problem in an hour or two whereas a doctor will require a series of tests to find out the same over a few months. Because sleep studies are conducted by sleep experts, if they diagnose a sleep disorder, they can begin treatment immediately. This means you can recover quickly.
Is Sleep Study Worth The Cost?
Although sleep studies are on the expensive side, most insurers have started to recognize the health risks of untreated sleep disorders and also have good coverage costs. You should check with your insurance company to find out if they offer coverage for a sleep study. In many cases, it can be very affordable.
A sleep study depends on the type of sleep disorder. An affordable alternative to taking a sleep study in a lab is to take a home sleep test, which is only a fraction of the cost.
Have you ever spent a night at a cheap bed & breakfast, only to be kept awake the whole time by itchy bites? Or that time at grandma’s house when you had to snooze in your sleeping bag because something wouldn’t stop biting you at night? Did you realize where the bites were coming from? Yes, they were bed bugs. These little creatures that are often microscopic to the naked eye can make life a living hell. If you have experienced itchy bites when lying in bed, or have actually seen bed bugs in the crevices and seams of your mattress, then it is a problem that you will have to fix. Otherwise, you can go months with these pesky little creatures ruining your sleep.
A lot of people tend to think that bed bugs are a result of an unclean home. But despite keeping your house spanking clean all the time you may be surprised to find bed bugs in your mattress or other upholstered furniture. Bed bugs are quite a nuisance. If your couches, cushions and upholstered furniture have bed bugs in them, it is repulsive enough to keep guests and visitors away from your house. Most importantly, it can make sleeping a nightmare.
This is why the moment you realize your bed or mattress could have bed bugs; you should take the right measures to get rid of the problem. The longer you let the bedbugs remain the more they are going to spread.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are parasitic creatures, often microscopic to the naked eye. They are cold bed bugs because they live and breed in soft, upholstered surfaces, like mattresses cushions carpets, etc. Unlike dust mites, it is not normal for bed bugs to be present in houses. Dust mites are practically unavoidable and are present virtually everywhere. But bed bugs are not present in every place, which means it is not normal to have them around. If you know you have bed bugs in your house, you should not put up with the nuisance.
Bed bugs are normally found in beddings and mattresses because that is where they can find humans and pets to feed on. They also live in these surfaces and rapidly multiply. Bed bugs can also be found in other areas such as hard to reach crevices, nooks and crannies, under carpets, and even clothing.
The worst thing about bedbugs is that they can enter your home from just one contaminated item, such as an infested piece of clothing. It does not matter how clean your house is; if even one-bed bug enters the place, it will not take long at all to multiply into thousands. If you sleep in a bed bug infestation hotel room or travel on a train or a cruise, the bedbugs you pick up from there can infest your house in a matter of days. Second-hand pieces of furniture can also bring bed bugs into your house.
Because they are parasites, bed bugs are very strong. They can also penetrate through the walls of your house; so if there is a bed bug infestation in your neighbor’s house, your apartment or house will also be affected. Bed bugs usually feed on the blood of humans and other animals, but they can go months without needing to feed, making it hard to eradicate them. A crowded neighborhood or a place with too many humans living in close proximity also leads to bed bugs infestation.
Bed bugs do not spread diseases, but their bites are itchy and uncomfortable. Bed bug bites can also cause skin rashes.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs – Step-by-Step Instructions
If your bed has been infested by bed bugs, your best solution would be to call pest control and take care of the problem. But if you want to do it yourself, fan following the next few steps should make the job easier:
Step 1: Strip your bed off the sheets and remove all pillowcases and covers. Do not leave them lying around because that will lead to contamination. Put these items in a garbage bag and tightly steal them while taking them to the washer. Wash them thoroughly in hot water.
Step 2: Do not attempt to do anything with the pillows. Simply throw them out. Next, thoroughly vacuum the mattress, making sure to get the seams, crevices and other nooks and corners where bed bugs hide. Do not empty the vacuum cleaner bag inside the house. Empty it outside the house and thoroughly clean the vacuum container to make sure no bed bug can make its way back to the house.
Step 3: For the maximum peace of mind it is wise to throw out the mattress and buy a new one. This will make sure that there are no bed bugs remaining in the house and also spare you the trouble of cleaning the entire mattress and then bug proofing it. A mattress with a removable cover is the best choice because the mattress becomes easier to clean. A removable cover also prevents the bed bugs from entering the mattress. However, if you do not want to purchase a new mattress, then read on for the next steps.
Step 4: To bug proof your bed, put your mattress in a bed bug proof cover. These highly specialized mattress protectors cover the entire mattress with a special material that the bugs are unable to bite through. This removable cover has a zipper that closes so snug that not even one bug can make its way through it. You have to keep on this cover for at least a year to make sure that all the bugs and the eggs have died.
Step 5: Do not forget to kill any bed bugs on the bed frame, cracks, and joints of the bed. If using pesticide, be careful with it and use it according to the instructions on the label. Push the bed away from the wall and encase the feet of the bed in bed bug interceptor cups. These cups have pesticide in them that kill any bug that attempts to climb up the bed. Make sure the sheets, bed skirt or covers don’t touch the floor. Vacuum the floor to remove all traces of bugs.
Eradicating bedbugs is a daunting task. If all else fails, it’s time to call pest control.
Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.
It’s your best friend’s birthday, and you finally decide to head to the new Italian restaurant that you had been eyeing for a long time. You dine with mindless abandon– from garlic pasta, spicy sausage, homemade tomato sauce to tons of wine. When you return home fully sated, you have only one thing on your mind– long, deep, restful sleep. But the moment you lie down in bed, it hits you like a train. What? Acid reflux.
We have been in such a situation many, many times, when we have gobbled down food and washed down alcohol like there’s no tomorrow, only to stay awake all night with a tummy ache, discomfort, and heartburn. Acid reflux is extremely common, and that’s mostly because of our eating habits. Of course, there are people with weak digestive systems who are more prone to acid reflux, but it almost always happens because of the things we eat or drink.
Among the many reasons that can disrupt sleep at night, there is acid reflux. Anyone who has ever experienced acid reflux will be acutely aware of how difficult it makes sleep. You keep tossing and turning, drinking water, pacing up and down the room, downing digestives in hopes of making it better, but it isn’t easy to get rid of. The result is that the next morning you aren’t just sleepy, but also not feeling your best. All because of the birthday dinner that you so enjoyed.
Acid reflux can be prevented, but there are times it happens suddenly. Don’t be surprised if you get acidity even without eating a heavy Italian meal for dinner. There are various reasons why acid reflux happens, but no matter why it happens, it always makes falling asleep an impossible task.
Because acid reflux is so common, a number of manufacturers have come up with a special pillow that are supposed to help with acid reflux symptoms and make it easier to fall asleep. With normal pillows, you keep stacking then but don’t get the support that you need to ease the heartburn. That’s why these special pillows are intended to help you sleep even when you have acid reflux symptoms.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Before we go into details about the pillows made for acid reflux, let’s first discuss what acid reflux is and why it happens. Although we know it by many names – acidity, indigestion, dyspepsia – it’s the same thing – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The condition is characterized by a burning sensation and discomfort located in the throat, chest or stomach. Sometimes it also leaves a sour taste in the mouth, besides nausea, bloating, flatulence and belching. With all these symptoms it’s no wonder that acid reflux makes it difficult to fall asleep.
What Exactly Is the Cause of Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is caused by hiatal hernia, a condition in which a part of the stomach pushes up towards the chest. This is the cause of acid reflux, when the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter push above the diaphragm. The diaphragm muscle is responsible for helping keep acid in our stomach. When a part of the stomach pushes up, and above the diaphragm, the acid moves up into the esophagus. The muscles of the diaphragm are supposed to be taut, keeping the opening leading from the stomach to the esophagus closed. During eating or drinking, these muscles relax to allow the food to pass to the stomach, and then they tighten again. In people with GERD, the diaphragm muscles are weak, and they don’t relax when they should. This prevents the esophageal muscles from closing completely and allows stomach contents to push back up the throat. This is what causes indigestion, bloating, heartburn and discomfort.
Acid reflux is more common than any other condition. About 60 percent of the American population experiences acid reflux every year, with more than half of them getting weekly symptoms. Acid reflux clearly needs more attention than just popping digestive supplements.
There are several factors that cause acid reflux. Some of the most factors are:
- Eating too close to bedtime
- Consuming acid triggering foods, such as alcohol, spicy or fatty foods, and caffeine
- Wearing tight clothing to bed
As we realize, most of the factors that cause acid reflux are manageable. But since acid reflux mostly happens at night during bedtime, it affects sleep more than anything else. This is why the things we consume close to bedtime have a maximum effect on our digestive system.
Do Wedge Pillows Work for Acid Reflux?
There are quite a few treatments and prevention options for acid reflux. Taking antacids prescription medications and surgery are some of the means for those who experience regular acid reflux symptoms. However, none of these offer any immediate improvement and also have an animal of side effects. Popping an antacid when you have acid reflux during bedtime can offer relief but take a few hours to work. So until then, you have to keep tossing and turning or pacing around your room.
There is however a quick and easy relief option when you experience acid reflux at night, and that is by elevating upper portion of your body while you are lying down in bed. The elevation is proven to be one of the quickest solutions for acid reflux because it prevents stomach contents from coming up to the throat through the esophagus. Several studies have found the usefulness of elevating your head or the upper portion of your body to get immediate relief from acid reflux symptoms.
There are quite a few ways to elevate your head while you lay down, including stacking up the pillows and elevating the head of the bed. However, if you elevate your head simply by stacking a few pillows, you are creating excessive strain on your neck and spine, as well as creating pressure on your abdomen and aggravating acid reflux symptoms. Unfortunately, that is the way most people are used to elevating their head, but it isn’t of much use.
This is when you should use wedge pillows that have been specially designed to keep the head elevated while supporting the rest of the body. While wedge pillows have a number of different uses, they are mostly used for elevating certain parts of the body such as the head the shoulders the back or the legs. As the name suggests, these pillows are shaped like a wedge and are a little firmer than regular pillows, which allows them to provide better support. Wedge pillows are also used for elevating the head for people who snore or have sleep apnea or need support during pregnancy.
Wedge pillows are a simple, affordable, and risk-free solution to treat nighttime GERD quickly. It won’t make your symptoms disappear but will make sleeping at night a lot easier. It is also far safer than popping pills or undergoing surgery. Wedge pillows are available online and at major bedding stores.
5 Best Wedge Pillows for Acid Reflux?
Wedge pillows are primarily manufactured for acid reflux relief. They are rising in popularity, and various manufacturers have started to bring out their own versions of the wedge pillow. But remember that there is a difference between ordinary wedge pillows and those that have been specifically designed for acid reflux relief. There are various cheap alternatives to wedge pillows available, but they are not capable of providing the support that therapeutic pillows do. That is why when purchasing a wedge pillow make sure it is meant for therapeutic use.
Here we look at the top 5 wedge pillows capable of providing elevation and support.
The MedCline Reflux Relief System was created by Dr. Carl Melcher, a life-long sufferer of acid reflux. Dr. Melcher aimed to create a natural treatment alternative to nighttime reflux by creating the recommended incline + left-side sleeping position. This three-component sleep system has been studied extensively by the Cleveland Clinic in multiple clinical trials showing significantly more relief than a standard bed wedge.
The Sleep System is designed to keep sleepers on the left side throughout the night while keeping the torso elevated. This is one of those systems that prevent the sleeper from sliding down from the wedge pillow while providing support to the entire body with the help of the body pillow.
The tri-component system has a patented design to create an elevated and side sleeping position for relief from acid reflux. The system can also be used for snoring and sleep apnea. Because you aren’t going to slide down this pillow, you remain in the right position all night long and get maximum relief.
If you aren’t naturally a side sleeper, then the patented arm pocket of the Reflux Relief Wedge not only prevents you from sliding down the pillow but also prevents any pressure on your arms and shoulders. The body pillow prevents you from rolling onto your back, and also allows you to keep your knees tucked to take the pressure off the lower back. The pillowcases are included and can also be washed.
FitPlus Premium Wedge Pillow
If you are interested in a doctor recommended wedge pillow for acid reflux, snoring, sleep apnea, and CPAP devices, then consider FitPlus Premium. This pillow has an underlying polyurethane foam wedge with a 1.5-inch layer of memory foam on top to provide you with comfort as well as support. The pillow has been designed in such a way that it keeps your torso elevated and supported throughout the night in case of acid reflux congestion snoring sleep apnea and any other condition that requires elevation. The pillow has a gentle elevation that is meant to provide cervical alignment and support to the torso while providing an inclination of 7.5 inches.
Aside from relief with sleep apnea acid reflux and congestion, this wedge pillow can also be used for elevation doing the reading, watching television and working. It has a soft cover that is washable and easy to maintain. You may also use this pillow for leg elevation or for inclining any part of the body. Design for both back and side sleepers, the highlight of this pillow is the cushioning that the memory foam layer provides. However, some customers have complained that the pillow is too high and a little too firm to be comfortable.
A common complaint about wedge pillows is that they are too small or too narrow and do not offer enough room the spread or move about without sliding off. Most wedge pillows are the same size as a regular pillow designed only for the head and neck. However, wedge pillows are also meant to support and incline the torso, which isn’t possible if the size of the pillow is small. Even if a small wedge pillow is capable of providing the sleeper with enough inclination and support, it’s easy to slide off during the night because there is not enough room to move about.
This is where the MedSlant Wedge Pillow is a winner. Not only is this pillow longer than usual but is also 28 inches wide which is half the size of a queen bed. Although this pillow elevates the torso up to 7 inches, the gradual slope does not make the incline too steep. Whether you are a back sleeper side sleeper or a combination sleeper who likes to move about during the night, this wedge pillow fits a number of different requirements. Made from a soy, polyurethane foam, it has a cushion of memory foam but also with a firm foundation layer underneath, with zero off-gassing. The zippered cover made of microfiber is easy to take off and wash and allows more breathability and airflow to keep you cool in any season. The size of this pillow offers you to adjust your sleeping position better, and also makes this a more suitable option for all kinds of sleepers.
If the size of the pillow is important to you, then another great option is the wedge pillow by Xtra Comfort. What makes this pillow stand apart from the rest is the incredible 12 inches of elevation. Yes, the adjustable loft of this pillow can be increased up to 12 inches, so you can remain supported and inclined for a number of different purposes, from sleeping to reading to working. Besides the torso, the legs can also be elevated using this pillow, and the high elevation is useful if you have a fracture or sprain.
This folding pillow is made from dense memory foam, has a firmer feel than most other wedge pillows, and also offers more control because of the 3 in 1 design. The clever design of the pillow makes it useful for both the back and the rest of the body. The soft, microplush cover can be removed for washing, and the zipper keeps it snug and secure. There is also a handle on the cover, which can also be used for easy storage and portability. Because the pillow is large, the handle is useful. However, some users have said that the pillow is a little too firm and takes a little time to get used to.
The Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam Bed Wedge Pillow is made by layering two solid wedges, which make the sleeping surface soft and comfortable while accommodating both side and back sleepers. The sleeping position offered by this pillow not only allows the head and the neck to sink into the surface for better support and spinal alignment but also keeps the body inclined at a 30-degree angle. This helps reduce symptoms of acid reflux, sleep apnea and snoring.
The pillow has a plush bamboo cover that facilitates not only excellent airflow but also provides maximum comfort to the sleeper. The pillow can be used to support other parts of the body, such as the back, the legs, and the knees. However, even though the pillow is mostly a great product for back and side sleepers that suffer from acid reflux, some users have complained about off-gassing and the pillow being too firm.
How to Sleep If You Have Acid Reflux?
Because acid reflux is more common than many other conditions, it is one of the biggest causes behind disrupted sleep. Acid reflux can happen at any time during the day but is notorious for striking at night, just when you’re trying to sleep. This happens particularly when you consume a big heavy meal close to bedtime or smoke or drink or have a natural tendency for GERD. In some people, everything they eat gives them acid reflux. And the problem compounds at night, just when you’re lying down in a supine position. In such cases, medicines are not much help, and surgery needs to be done in order to get rid of chronic acid reflux.
Acid reflux or GERD is notorious for disrupting sleep quality. The heartburn, pain, and discomfort can keep you up for several nights if the problem persists. As a result, you are weary, sleepy, tired, and unable to feel comfortable because of the dyspepsia. There are actually people who go through this very frequently but don’t know what to do about it. Sleep position can have a vital role to play in managing nighttime acid reflux.
As several studies have already found, elevation is the key to battling nighttime GERD. The point is to prevent the stomach from sending its contents to the throat through the esophagus. When you keep your torso elevated, the stomach acids are unable to come up towards the throat.
When the acids reach the back of the throat or larynx, it prompts choking or a coughing fit, which wakes you up. You may also wake up when you get regurgitation when some amount of stomach acids come up into the mouth through the esophagus. All these aren’t pleasant things to experience when you’re trying to fall asleep.
GERD or acid reflux is also known to be a risk factor for sleep apnea, a respiratory disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts through the night when the person is asleep. It is believed that the acids cause spasms in the voice box, blocking the airways and preventing air from flowing into the lungs.
What makes matters worse is the mechanisms of sleep. Just the act of being flat on your back or side increases the risk or acid reflux. When you are in an upright position, sitting or standing, the force of gravity keeps the stomach acids from rising. When you are lying flat, it’s a lot easier for the stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
When a person is asleep, they swallow less frequently. As a result, the regular esophageal contractions that help keep food down in the stomach are slowed. When people are asleep, they also produce less saliva, which hinders the role it plays in keeping esophageal pH levels normal after acids are refluxed.
That means you must revise your sleeping position in order to prevent instances of acid reflux. We need to lay down in order to sleep, and it can’t be changed. But what can be done is to keep the torso elevated to prevent the stomach acids from flowing back towards the throat. And what better way to achieve this than with the help of a wedge pillow?
How High Should You Elevate Your Head?
Although elevation is key in preventing the risk of acid reflux, there are a few do’s and don’ts of inclining your torso. First and foremost, remember that keeping your body supported during sleep is more important than anything else. If you fail to keep your neck, spine, and shoulders supported while you sleep, you are going to hurt your posture, and end up with aches and pains. That’s even worse than acid reflux.
Before going out and buying a wedge pillow, remember that your torso shouldn’t be inclined any higher than six to eight inches. Yes, so that 12-inch pillow that you read about, keep the highest inclination only for the legs and stick to six to eight inches for the torso. Any higher and you have the risk of ending up with a stiff neck and sore back.
Sleeping on your back is also a risk factor for acid reflux. When you sleep on your back, the pressure created on the stomach helps drive the acids back into the esophagus. That is why you must have noticed that lying flat not only increases the discomfort but also makes you prone to regurgitation. If you’re overweight or obese, the risk is even greater. Overweight or obese people should avoid sleeping on their back to prevent instances of acid reflux.
Sleeping on the right side is also another factor that contributes to acid reflux. When you sleep on your right side, it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, which tightens to prevent acid reflux. The loosening of these muscles increases the chances of acid reflux. Sleeping on the right side has also been found generally disruptive to sleep quality. Even if you do not suffer from acid reflux, you should practice sleeping on your left side.
In various studies, it has been found that sleeping on the left side is best for optimal sleep quality. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, suffer from constipation or are prone to snoring, sleeping on your left side can be much better for quality sleep.
How to Manage Nighttime Acid Reflux?
Nighttime GERD is most often caused by eating habits and aggravated by sleep positions. If you frequently suffer from nighttime acid reflux, try the following for relief:
Don’t Eat or Drink Too Close to Bedtime: This means you should stop eating and drinking at least two hours before going to bed. Also, make sure to avoid caffeine after 2 in the afternoon because it is also a potential cause for acid reflux at night.
Avoid Acidic Foods: There are plenty of foods that seem harmless but are actually acidic or cause acid reflux. From tomatoes to red wine to coffee to garlic, the list is never-ending. Make sure to avoid these foods before bedtime to reduce the chances of acid reflux.
Lose Weight: Excess weight and obesity is often a trigger for nighttime acid reflux, because of the pressure created on the abdomen. Losing weight, in that case, is the best solution to prevent acid reflux.
Wear loose clothing to bed: Wearing clothing that is too tight to bed constricts the stomach and makes digestion difficult. Remember to wear loose-fitting clothing to bed, to reduce instances of acid reflux.
GERD or acid reflux may be common, but it’s also easily manageable. Simply make some lifestyle changes and get a wedge pillow to elevate your torso and enjoy a better sleep every night.
Sleep is one of the most mysterious phenomena in living beings, and it has intrigued since the dawn of civilization. Although science has been able to understand much of the processes in living beings, sleep is still mostly a mystery. Much of this is because we aren’t conscious when sleep happens and it’s impossible to tell what happened while we were sleeping after we wake up. For years, scientists have been studying sleep and associated phenomenons like sleep paralysis and have also managed to figure out a lot about what happens in the brain and the body when a person is asleep. However, some aspects of sleep are yet to be demystified, and one of them is the REM stage.
The final of the four stages of sleep is called the Rapid Eye Movement stage because the brain is active in this phase and the eyes move rapidly behind closed eyelids. Many interesting things happen during this stage. Dreams, for instance, have intrigued both scientists and the common man for the longest time, and they happen during the REM phase. When dreams happen, the brain is active, but the body is still inactive, in a state of paralysis, to prevent it from acting out the dreams. Another mysterious phenomenon is linked to the REM stage, and this is sleep paralysis.
Decoding Sleep Paralysis?
Have you ever woken up from sleep, only to find that you couldn’t move or talk or get out of bed for a few moments? That’s what is sleep paralysis. In ancient times, it was linked to supernatural creatures. When the episode occurs, everyone thought that is supernatural creature had possessed him. This made sleep paralysis a very scary phenomenon for everyone.
The condition was also termed a type of nightmare. But after a lot of scientific research, it is now known that the condition is nothing but being mentally aware while still asleep. This can happen either during falling asleep or waking up. The REM stage is the most complicated phenomenon associated with sleep, mainly because the brain becomes active and is conscious enough to experience life-like visions in the form of dreams, but the body is still inactive. Although the cause of sleep paralysis has been learned, the reason behind it still remains unclear.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis?
Although science is still unsure about the exact cause of sleep paralysis, global folklore has had explanations for centuries. These include visits from supernatural beings like ghosts, witches, and demons. In recent cases in the US, sleep paralysis has also been called “alien abductions.”
These associations to supernatural activity make sense because during sleep paralysis many people experience pressure on the chest, the feeling of being secretly watched by an intruder, and other hallucinations. However, none of these actually happen. These are only sensory perceptions because the brain is still in the REM phase and the body is inactive. This means the person has woken up when he is not supposed to be awake.
Because sleep paralysis is a complex phenomenon, it has been widely studied by scientists. The most common cause is waking up in the middle of REM stage sleep. When a person wakes up when the REM stage is still active, he is able to see, hear and feel because the brain is awake, but is unable to move because the body has not yet come out of the REM stage. Although this sounds scary, it lasts only a few seconds because the body realizes that the brain is already awake and slowly begins to move again.
In the number of studies conducted over the years to find out more about sleep paralysis, the most common cause has been identified as sleep deprivation. When a person is deprived of the normal sleep cycle, he is more likely to wake up in the middle of the REM stage. Usually, we are supposed to wake up at the end of the REM stage, but if we don’t have a normal sleep cycle, the possibility of waking up in the middle of the REM stage increases. This is when sleep paralysis is most likely to happen.
Sleep paralysis is also common in narcolepsy patients, according to sleep experts at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Health System, New York. Because narcolepsy is the result of a disrupted sleep cycle, sleep paralysis is more likely to happen, in combination with hallucinations. Napping also increases the possibility of sleep paralysis because it disrupts the natural sleep pattern. If you oversleep while napping, you may experience sleep paralysis.
Young age also is likely to be a cause behind sleep paralysis. The Mayo Clinic says that sleep paralysis is most common in the age range of 10 and 25. This means even children can be affected by this disorder and also get very frightened.
In people with anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder, sleep paralysis is very likely, according to a 2017 report published by the National Institutes of Health. Since these emotional disorders result in nightmares and insomnia, they also increase the possibility of sleep paralysis.
According to a 2011 study by Pennsylvania State University, nearly eight percent of the general population experienced sleep paralysis. Among them, about 31 percent of people suffer from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Although this was a small study, it does go a long way in proving that mental disorders are associated with sleep paralysis to a certain extent. However, this doesn’t mean that every person with anxiety or PTSD will get sleep paralysis.
Genetics may also have a role to play in sleep paralysis. According to the findings of a 2015 sleep study involving 862 twins and siblings by the University of Sheffield, genetics could influence sleep paralysis is some people. Although this study was also preliminary, the researchers added that it does provide a basic idea about the involvement of circadian rhythms in sleep paralysis.
Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis
Those who have experienced sleep paralysis find it to be scary. It almost seems like you were having a stroke, where your entire body was paralyzed, and you couldn’t move or speak. These are the most important symptoms of sleep paralysis. People are unable to move any part of their bodies or speak right after waking up or right when falling asleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can last a few seconds or up to a minute. Along with paralysis of the body, people may also experience tightness or pressure on their chest, as well as a choking feeling.
Hallucinations are also not uncommon during an episode of sleep paralysis. This is because the brain is still in a dream-state and hasn’t fully woken up. These visions or hallucinations can be an extension of an ongoing dream. Aside from these, there are no other symptoms of sleep paralysis. The person is awake and aware during sleep paralysis episodes and can later recount the experience.
There are no short or long term effects of sleep paralysis. Hence, there is no treatment for it. What can be treated is an underlying cause that could be contributing to sleep paralysis. Rather than treatment, this is an effort to prevent sleep paralysis.
Sleep experts suggest that medical help is not required after only one rare episode of sleep paralysis. What is important is to check your sleep hygiene. Often, sleep paralysis is a sign of sleep deprivation. If you have experienced sleep paralysis only once or twice, you should make sure to get enough sleep daily, limit caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and all other drugs, and stop using electronics at bedtime.
Medical help might be needed to treat underlying causes if the above doesn’t help and sleep paralysis episodes keep becoming more frequent. A sleep specialist is a person to see if you have recurrent sleep paralysis episodes.
Although sleep paralysis is not dangerous, if you experience extreme episodes, you may be prescribed a short course of antidepressants. This helps to treat any underlying stress or mental disorder that might be the reason.
Sleep experts suggest that during a sleep paralysis episode, it is important to remain calm and keep telling yourself that it will soon pass. There’s not much else that you can do. No one has ever remained in a sleep paralysis forever, so it’s important to understand that it’s only temporary and pass very soon. However, this is possible only when you’ve experienced an episode or two before. The first time, such episodes can really be frightening.
Risk Factors of Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a fairly common phenomenon and can affect anyone in any age group. It is most likely to begin between age 14 and 17 years and decreases after the age of 30. A person is more likely to experience it if there someone in the family with the disorder.
Some of the risk factors are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety, depression or PTSD
- Sleeping on your back
- Excessive stress
- The use of certain medications
Interesting Facts About Sleep Paralysis
In the past, before science could explain everything, it used to be believed that ghosts and demons caused sleep paralysis by pinning people down by sitting on their chest. However, these visions were mere hallucinations, a common symptom of sleep paralysis. In fact, most people who report seeing apparitions actually had sleep paralysis.
People also use different methods to shake themselves out of the episode. Some wiggle their toes while others cough. However, it isn’t possible to wake oneself up from an episode of sleep paralysis, until it passes.
If you, or someone you know has episodes of sleep paralysis, share the following infographic. It lucidly explains what sleep paralysis is, what causes it, and finally how to treat sleep paralysis.
Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.
With sleep disorders rising around the world with every passing day, people are more interested in sleep aids than ever. Sleep aids come in various forms. They come as liquids and as pills, and sometimes even as a supplement in the form of powder. To make sleep aids easily accessible, most of them are available over-the-counter and don’t even require a prescription. Sleep aids used to be an easy way for people to commit suicide, but modern sleeping pills no longer have the potential to kill. If you overdose on sleeping pills, you’re only going to sleep for a long time and in the worst case scenario get very sick.
Modern sleep aids also incorporate natural ingredients to help people sleep without resorting to chemicals always. Although sleep aids are not a cure for sleep disorders and should not be consumed on a regular basis, they are popular everywhere because they are a fast and easy means of falling and staying asleep. To make sleeping pills safer, there are now the kinds that are made of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Because melatonin is a natural part of our body, consuming melatonin sleep aids are believed to have fewer side effects than regular sleep aids.
But melatonin can also make it hard for you to wake up on time every morning if you don’t know when to time its consumption. In this post, we discuss melatonin production, melatonin sleep aids, and the right time to take it.
What Is Melatonin?
Like all bodily functions, sleep is also controlled by hormones. The hormone for alertness is serotonin, and the hormone for sleep is melatonin. While sunshine and bright lights aid in the production of serotonin, darkness aids in the production of melatonin. Melatonin is normally produced only after sundown.
But hormonal imbalances are common in every individual, and if your melatonin production is not normal, you are going to have sleep issues. Being exposed to bright lights also hinders melatonin production and makes it hard for sleep to come at night. Blue light is one of the worst enemies of melatonin production. If you are exposed to electronic devices most of the time, you are more at risk for suffering from sleep disorders. This is because the blue light emitted from backlit electronic devices significantly hinders melatonin production.
For a healthy sleep-wake cycle, the serotonin and melatonin productions should be in balance. Lack of melatonin causes sleep disorders like insomnia whereas a lack of serotonin causes depression and low energy. Melatonin is produced by the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
Melatonin Sleep Aid
Sleep aids are known to have various side effects. This led to the development of sleep aids made with melatonin, a hormone that’s naturally present in our bodies. However, melatonin sleep aids aren’t a solution to low melatonin production. They only help you fall asleep by increasing the amount of melatonin in your brain. If you don’t take it, your melatonin levels will go back to their previous state.
Melatonin sleep aids usually come in the form of a pill and should be taken before bedtime. Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter and don’t require prescriptions. Melatonin supplements are either pure or compounded and added to other products. Pure melatonin supplements are always available as pills or capsules, but when they are mixed to other products, they are also available as liquids or sprays.
Because melatonin supplements are very potent and fast-acting, they should be taken only before bedtime.
Melatonin Supplement Dosage
Generally, melatonin supplements are available as over-the-counter drugs in most pharmacies. But they don’t require a prescription, are not regulated by the FDA, and have no fixed dosage. The appropriate dosage is usually mentioned on the pack but can also be misleading in many cases.
Before taking a melatonin supplement, it is important to consult a healthcare practitioner for the right dosage. Melatonin is more potent and faster acting than most other sleep aids and should be used judiciously to avoid side effects. Unlike other sleep aids, even the lowest dose of melatonin has been found effective in treating sleep issues. You don’t always have to take the highest dose for the maximum effect. To be on the safe side, it’s best to start with the lowest dosage.
There have so far been no adverse effects reported from melatonin supplements. However, the timing is everything in taking melatonin supplements. More important than the dose is the time when you are taking the supplement.
How Long Does Melatonin Last?
A lot of people new to melatonin supplements experience excessive sleepiness during the day after taking sleep aid at night. This is because of wrong timing.
The effects of melatonin last according to the dosage. A dosage of 0.5 mg will last only an hour while a 10 mg dosage will last more than seven hours. It all depends on how severe your condition. If you have infrequent episodes of sleeplessness, then a dosage of one or two milligrams should help you fall asleep. If you’re a chronic insomniac or suffer from the delayed onset of sleep, you need a dosage of 10mg or higher.
The effects of melatonin are also quick to go away. Taking higher doses isn’t the solution here. You simply have to time it right. If you simply want to get better sleep and don’t suffer from a sleep disorder, you should take the supplement no sooner than 30 minutes before going to bed. If you suffer from delayed sleep onset, you should take it at least an hour before going to bed.
If you have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder and also take other sleep aids, you should not start taking a melatonin supplement without consulting a doctor. Melatonin supplements are usually known to be safe and can also be given to children. However, dependence on any sleep aid isn’t recommended.
Although melatonin supplements are considered safer than most other sleep aids, they should be taken only if recommended by a doctor. Consuming the wrong supplements or medications can make your condition grow worse.
If you are looking for a sleep supplement that will keep you asleep, try Sleep Relief. It is biphasic which means different ingredients will kick in at different times so that you stay asleep all night and wake up well-rested. One drawback of this supplement is that the pills are a bit large so may be a turn off if you don’t like swallowing pills. Another option is Olly Sleep Gummies which are chewable and taste great. While they aren’t quite as strong as Sleep Relief, they have other natural ingredients that keep you asleep more than melatonin alone.
There is often an endless list of factors that can affect sleep. Many of these factors are not what people usually consider to be associated with sleep in any way, but they go a long way in determining the amount and quality of rest you get every night. From the number of hours, you work every day to the kinds of food you eat to the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume to your bedroom environment– all of these factors influence sleep quality in one way or the other. For instance, if you eat a big heavy meal very close to bedtime, your sleep quality that night will be negatively affected.
When it comes to food, there is a lot that’s connected to sleep. Not only does the amount of food you eat every day have an impact on your sleep quality, but your overall diet also goes a long way in influencing your quality of rest. There is a lot of social awareness about eating healthy and exercising right in order to stay in shape, reduce stress and get the right amount of sleep. But even when people think they are doing everything right, they may actually be following a diet that’s not beneficial for sleep.
Recently, an acidic diet has come under the scanner for being harmful to sleep quality. But the majority of the global population follows an acidic diet even without knowing it. But this kind of diet is often responsible for insufficient or poor sleep quality. If you wake up feeling tired every morning an acidic diet could be responsible for it.
What Is an Acidic Diet?
You have an acidic diet when most of the foods that you consume have a pH level of 4.6 or lower. These types of food produce more acid in the body and make your entire system more acidic than alkaline. The pH level of any substance tells you if it is an acid, an alkali or neutral. For instance, the pH level in a battery is zero, which is extremely acidic. But your toilet cleaner has a pH level of 14, which is completely alkaline. Water, especially if it’s pure distilled water, has a pH level of 7, which is neither acidic nor alkaline.
In the same way, different parts of our bodies have different pH levels. The pH level in your blood is more alkaline than the pH level of your stomach. This is because various acids are produced in the intestine help break down food. Your blood should generally remain alkaline. If the pH level of your blood is too low, you have too much acid in your system.
Consuming acidic foods on a regular basis contributes to a low blood pH level. When the pH level in your blood is low, it interferes with the pH level of your stomach and leads to various digestive and gastrointestinal issues. Generally, the low pH level of the stomach is beneficial for proper digestion of food. But if the pH level of your blood is also low, then this can cause a problem. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, it could be a sign that your body is acidic.
What Foods Are Acidic?
There are several everyday food products that are acidic in nature, and regular consumption of these can make the blood pH level lower than it should be. Some of the most acidic foods are:
- Dairy products
- Processed food like pizzas, fries, burgers, pies, cookies, donuts, etc
- Both fresh meat and processed meat, such as ground beef
- Sodas, alcohol, and other sweetened beverages
- Protein-rich food and protein supplements
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Certain vegetables
These are all common foods that we consume daily, but they contribute to making the blood acidic and hurt not only the digestive system but also sleep quality.
How Acidic Diet Affects Sleep
Most people follow an acidic diet, without realizing that it affects their sleep quality. The stomach produces enough acids on its own, but excessive consumption of acidic foods increase this normal level of acids and cause problems. This is the reason why you have trouble falling asleep after consuming certain foods for dinner or why you are asked to not consume citrus fruits late in the evening.
It requires the brain a lot of energy to help us sleep. When the system is focused on digestion throughout the night, it cannot focus on falling asleep. Any acidic food increases the time taken for digestion, making the intestine work harder. And when the intestine is working hard to break down the acids, the brain is unable to fall asleep. Even if does manage to fall asleep, the sleep quality is poor. If you wake up tired even after getting 8 hours of sleep, it could be the effect of an acidic diet.
Benefits of Alkaline Diet
Foods considered alkaline have a pH level higher than 7. They help balance the acids already present in your system. Alkalizing foods should be a major part of any diet because they keep the digestive system healthy as well as contribute to better sleep. Alkaline foods include:
- soy, tofu, miso, and soybeans
- most fresh vegetables
- unsweetened yogurt and milk
- certain fruits
- herbs and spices, not including salt, nutmeg, and mustard
- lentils and beans
- some whole grains, such as millet and quinoa
- healthy fats in nuts, olive oil, seeds and avocado
- herbal teas
To keep your diet on the alkaline side, you should replace acidic foods with alkalizing ones. This isn’t hard to do if you cook your own meals and eat at home. But if you regularly eat out or consume packaged foods, you are more at risk of a higher acidic level. Alkaline diets focus more on plant-based foods and eliminate processed food. Sticking to an alkaline diet isn’t possible if you regularly eat out, but small changes can be made slowly to improve health as well as the quality of sleep.
Anyone who has ever consumed alcohol knows that it makes people drowsy. This is the very reason why many people consume alcohol before going to bed because it helps them fall asleep faster. In many cultures, it is a custom to drink a nightcap after dinner or before going to bed because it is supposed to help the person relax and fall asleep faster. In that case, drinking any warm beverage, such as milk or herbal tea, aids in sleep. But there’s nothing that works like alcohol. The moment you consume alcohol, your nerves start to loosen up, and you feel drowsy and sleepy. Naturally, after drinking any alcoholic beverage, it does not take long at all to fall asleep. That is how most people consider the relation between alcohol and sleep.
About 20 percent of Americans use alcohol as a sleep aid. It’s true that alcohol induces sleep quickly but what we don’t realize is that alcohol also negatively impacts the quantity and quality of sleep. There are people who regularly use alcohol as a sleep aid to reduce sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep). But constant use of alcohol for sleeping results in alcohol dependence, just like any other sleep aid.
Because alcohol disrupts the quality and quantity of sleep, people usually wake up with a hangover. Keep in mind that alcohol is not like other sleeping aids that are specially formulated to help people sleep. Alcohol is consumed for pleasure, and that is what it should be limited to because consuming alcohol for sleep has both short- and long-term effects.
Why Use Sleep Aid?
There is only one reason why people use sleep aids, and that’s for falling and staying asleep. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who consume sleeping pills or other sleep aids on a regular basis do so without consulting a healthcare practitioner. Not all sleep aid requires a prescription, making it easier for people to consume sleeping pills randomly. Most people do not know how to consume sleeping pills safely. As a result, the dependency on the sleeping pill slowly grows and makes it impossible to sleep without it.
A large number of people around the world suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. In many cases, the sufferer is not even aware of the condition. Certain sleep disorders can go for years without being diagnosed or treated. This means the sufferer keeps losing precious sleep to the disorder.
In some cases, healthcare practitioners prescribe sleep aid for any of the three reasons:
- To aid in falling asleep
- To help in staying sleep
- To prevent frequent episodes of wakefulness during the night
When healthcare practitioners prescribe sleeping pills, they are aware of the effects and side effects and can guide the patient to use the pills safely. They also know when to instruct the patient to slowly go off the pills and try to sleep without them. In cases like insomnia, sleeping pills are regularly prescribed by doctors to prevent the person from sleep deprivation. Sleeping pills are also prescribed when the patient suffers from some other disorder that prevents quality sleep. But when a sleep aid is prescribed by healthcare practitioners, it is done after considering the overall health of the person and the side effects of the sleep aid.
Although many people consume alcohol as a sleep aid, you will never find a healthcare practitioner endorsing this idea. Alcohol might help you fall asleep faster, but the side effects outweigh the benefits.
How Alcohol Disrupts Sleep
At first glance, it seems that alcohol is an effective sleep aid. But there are several ways in which alcohol disrupts sleep. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it reduces the alertness and hinders the function of the nervous system. Once you know that alcohol is a depressant, it isn’t hard to understand why any alcoholic beverage causes drowsiness and hangover and robs the person of all sensibilities.
Alcohol not only affects you negatively while you are awake but also when you are asleep. The following are the five ways in which alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and quality.
Disruption of Sleep Cycle
There are four stages of sleep, and all of them are equally important in ensuring that you wake up refreshed and alert. If you spend a long time in one stage and do not spend enough time in the other, your sleep cycle is disrupted. It’s true that alcohol reduces the time taken to fall asleep, but there is an important way in which alcohol gets in the way of restorative sleep. This is by turning on both delta wave and Alpha wave activity. Delta wave activity happens when the person is in a deep sleep. This is responsible for memory formation, focus, and learning. But at the same time alcohol also turns on another brain pattern called alpha activity. The problem is alpha activity is not supposed to happen when the person is asleep. It takes place when the person is awake. When Delta and Alpha activities take place at the same time, it can prevent restorative sleep and leave you feeling tired in the morning.
Impact on Circadian Rhythm
While alcohol may help you fall asleep easily, it severely impacts the quality of sleep. Even if you fall asleep quickly, it’s common to wake up in the middle of the night. The reason behind this is that alcohol disrupts production of the chemicals that balance sleep and wakefulness. When you consume alcohol before bedtime, it produces adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain. Adenosine brings on sleep very fast, but it also fades away just as quickly, making you wake up even before you’ve had enough sleep.
Blocking REM Sleep
Have you ever wondered why you wake up with a hangover after consuming alcohol? One of the reasons is that alcohol hinders the normal functioning of the nervous system and makes you feel confused and disoriented. There is another reason why consuming alcohol before bedtime leads to feeling groggy and confused in the morning. The reason is that alcohol prevents REM sleep. The final stage of sleep is called the REM phase and is considered the most restorative type of sleep. The brain becomes active in this sleep stage and boosts alertness, memory, and concentration. In short, this is the phase when the brain recharges and gets ready for the next day. When you miss out on REM sleep, you are more than likely to wake up confused groggy and disoriented because the brain hasn’t had time to recharge.
Aggravate Breathing Problems
Alcohol works by relaxing all the nerves and muscles of the body. That is why alcohol feels so relaxing before bed because it makes you drowsy and helps you fall asleep faster. But if you suffer from problems like snoring or sleep apnea alcohol aggravates these problems by causing breathing difficulties. When the nerves and muscles relax, the throat muscles also relax, obstructing the airway and preventing normal breathing. Even if you don’t normally snore, sleeping after consuming alcohol can make you more prone to snoring because of the relaxed throat muscles. When this continues for a long time, it can become chronic sleep apnea.
Waking Up for The Bathroom
Your body knows that sleep is a time for rest and not for frequent trips to the bathroom. This means your bladder is also sleeping through the night. But alcohol being a diuretic, increases your need to go to the bathroom during the night. While there is nothing harmful with going to the bathroom during the night, waking up frequently can prevent you from having a quality restful sleep. Every time you go to the bathroom you are turning on a light, which blocks the production of melatonin and makes it harder to fall back asleep.
Sleeping Naturally Without Alcohol
When you regularly consume alcohol for falling asleep fast, it can seem like there is no other way you could ever fall asleep. But that’s not the truth. There are ways to fall asleep without depending on alcohol, and one of the first steps is to treat any existing sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders are the biggest cause behind insufficient sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. To get proper nightly sleep, sleep disorders must be diagnosed and treated before they go out of hand. To kick the habit of using alcohol as a sleep aid, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner about natural sleep aids.
Once you stop consuming alcohol before bedtime, it can be initially difficult to sleep without it. But if you give your body enough time to adjust to the change, it’s possible to kick the habit and sleep without alcohol. Natural sleep aids like lavender oil, acupuncture, and melatonin supplements work to help you fall and stay asleep without side effects.
Sleep is very touchy. Even the slightest things can scare it away and make it elude you for long nights. For instance, if you’re sick, you may be unable to sleep for many nights. If you’re too stressed, sleep can evade you. If you’re too excited about something, it can make sleep go away. When you regularly experience stress, hyper arousal, or medical conditions, it can wreak havoc on your sleep quality and quantity.
Modern women are often under greater stress than men. Today’s women aren’t staying at home and cooking and cleaning anymore. They are going to work, managing demanding careers, raising children, caring for aged parents, and also doing their bit for the community. Women are capable of single-handedly managing both home and work and taking care of every little detail. But as a result, they also suffer from greater stress.
Around the age of 35 through 40, women begin to experience perimenopause symptoms. This is when women approach the end of their reproductive phase. Various symptoms mark the onset of menopause, from weight gain to mood swings to hot flushes. But a common complaint is insomnia or poor sleep quality. Several women approaching midlife complain of sleep difficulties. More often than not, the cause is perimenopause or menopause.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause doesn’t happen in a day. It begins from the time a woman crosses 35 and continues until the age of 45 or more. This transition phase is called perimenopause. Some women reach menopause too early while others can keep having children till 45. It all depends on the genetic makeup of the person.
Both perimenopause and menopause have similar symptoms. Not all women experience all of them, though. Some of the most common signs of perimenopause and menopause are:
Irregular Periods: As a woman crosses 35, irregular periods is the biggest sign of perimenopause. With time, periods become severely irregular and scanty, before stopping altogether. However, irregular periods can also be a sign of some other medical condition that only a doctor can diagnose.
Heavy or Scanty Periods: As the fertile phase of a woman comes to an end, periods are not only irregular but also heavier or scantier than usual. However, these may also be an indicator of some other underlying medical condition, especially if you haven’t yet reached the age of perimenopause.
PMS-Like Symptoms: Premenstrual syndrome usually gets worse in the years approaching menopause. Mood swings, breast tenderness, weight gain, bloating, and abdominal cramps are some of the symptoms that are common during perimenopause.
Hair and Skin Changes: Because menopause is all about hormones, these changes can affect your hair and skin. You may notice graying of hair or severe hair fall.
Night Sweats and Hot Flushes: Bodies of women approaching menopause get hot very easily. When others in a room are feeling cold, they might feel hot. This more commonly happens at night, making sleep difficult. Night sweats and hot flushes are tell-tale signs of menopause, especially when they happen at night. Feeling stuffy and uncomfortable can make it hard to sleep. All these factors contribute to insomnia and poor sleep quality.
Some other symptoms of perimenopause are:
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of libido
- Forgetfulness and concentration problems
- Muscle cramps
- Urinary tract infections
Insomnia during perimenopause or menopause isn’t because of one factor. Several factors combine to make sleep difficult for menopausal women.
What Happens During Menopause?
The transition from perimenopause to menopause is marked by the decline in production of certain hormones. These are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These three hormones not only regulate the reproductive and menstrual cycle but also have a significant impact on energy, mood, libido, cognitive and emotional functioning, and sleep. When these hormones start to decline, there is bound to be some problem to the normal functioning of the body.
Both estrogen and progesterone are responsible for promoting sleep and relaxation and keeping away anxiety and depression. Progesterone is not only the one behind each monthly cycle, labor, and breastfeeding but also regulates mood and keeps the sleep-wake cycle normal. Loss of progesterone also contributes to osteoporosis.
As the hormones fluctuate and decline all through the perimenopausal and menopausal stages, sleep often tends to be increasingly disrupted. When women cross perimenopause and enter menopause, it is not unusual for women to routinely experience insomnia and have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
Treating Insomnia During Menopause
It must be noted that as long as a woman continues to have irregular or scanty periods, she is experiencing perimenopause or menopause. The end of this stage is post-menopause when periods have been absent for 12 months or more. This means that the hormone rebalancing is now complete, and the body is not producing estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone anymore.
Not all women experience severe insomnia during perimenopause or menopause. But if sleep difficulties are keeping you up night after night, it’s time to take the necessary steps to stop or prevent them.
Instead of treating insomnia, healthcare practitioners are generally suggesting treating the root cause. Are hot flushes keeping you up? Are you experiencing rapid heartbeats or hyperarousal? Are you always too hot to be comfortable?
These are some common complaints during menopause, but there are steps to get relief.
The first things to control are your sleep habits. As your body changes, your sleep habits must also change along with it. Certain things to follow to ensure proper sleep hygiene are:
Sticking to Specific Sleep and Wake Times: When your sleep and wake times keep changing every day, the body is confused. Instead, stick to a particular bedtime and the same wake-up time every single day, even on weekends. This habituates the body to a rhythm. For instance, if you go to bed at 10 every night and wake up at 6 every morning, the body will automatically feel sleepy when it approaches 10 o’clock, and also be able to wake up without an alarm clock in the morning. Routine bedtime and wake-up time is the first step in healthy sleep hygiene.
Preparing Your Body for Sleep: As part of healthy sleep hygiene, you need to prepare yourself for sleep, so that the brain and the body know it’s time to shut down for the day. When you keep working till late or continue to use electronic devices, the body doesn’t get the indication that it’s time for bed. Instead, you should unplug, turn out the lights, take a relaxing bath, and do some light reading to induce sleep.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco: Certain things can interfere with your sleep hygiene, alcohol and tobacco being two of them. If you are in the habit of smoking or drinking before bed, it’s time to kick the habits when you reach perimenopause. Both alcohol and tobacco interfere with melatonin production and delay the onset of sleep. Alcohol also hinders REM sleep, the most restorative stage of sleep linked to cognitive functioning and memory formation.
Evaluate Your Bedroom: Often, we don’t have the right conditions for falling asleep. The room is too cold or too hot, the bed is uncomfortable, and ambient noise keeps making its way in. When you’re experiencing menopause-related insomnia, you need to take a good look at your bedroom and change what’s needed. If the room is too hot, you will only feel more uncomfortable. Keep your room as cool as possible to keep the hot flushes and night sweats away. If the room is too cold, turn up the thermostat to bring it to a comfortable temperature or use blankets. Also, change the mattress if it’s sagged and doesn’t provide the best support. You can also keep a bucket of ice beside your bed to cool off if you get hot during the night.
Don’t Stress Over Sleep: Stressing oversleep is one of the worst things to increase your insomnia. If you wake up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep, don’t stay in bed tossing and turning and worrying about not being able to sleep. Instead, get out of bed, have a nice, soothing drink, turn on a reading light and read a relaxing book. However, make sure to stay away from electronic devices and bright lights, because they can make it even harder to go back to sleep.
Remedies for Menopause-Related Insomnia
Because menopause is purely hormonal, the oft-suggested medical remedy is hormone replacement therapy. But not only is it expensive but can also have various side effects. Instead, there are natural remedies you may try for beating insomnia and having a better sleep.
Some of the non-drug ways to treat insomnia are:
- Melatonin supplements
- Acupuncture and acupressure
- Relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing
In many cases, a mild dose of birth control pills may also be prescribed to balance the hormones and control symptoms of menopause.
If menopause has been giving you sleepless nights, do not hesitate to consult your general physician or gynecologist to work towards the best remedy.
Not many of us usually connect our diet to our sleep quality. But the nutrition that we provide to our bodies determines the sleep quality and quantity to a great extent. There are various kinds of diets that a person can follow, in order to lose weight or stay healthy. But getting into a new diet can affect sleep. Some diets can cause insomnia while others can make you feel excessively sleepy.
There are foods that are good for sleep. Not only do they keep you healthy, but also keep your sleep cycle normal. Including those foods in your diet can improve your quality of sleep. But there are certain foods that can interfere with sleep. Foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates or processed food are the biggest enemies of sleep. It is often recommended that large, heavy meals should not be consumed close to bedtime. This is because sugar and carbohydrates take time to be broken down and digested by the body, which increases metabolism and interferes with sleep.
The quality of sleep that a person enjoys is an indicator of his health. If he sleeps well without any interferences or disturbances, it indicates good health. Poor quality or quantity of sleep is linked to internal weaknesses or nutritional deficiencies.
One diet that can cause insomnia in some people is the ketogenic diet. Various diets come and go, and there are several people who like to try them out, in the hopes of losing weight or becoming healthier. But before starting any new diet, no matter how beneficial to other aspects of health, its effect on sleep should be carefully studied.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
Although the keto diet has been around for a while, it has recently started to gain massive popularity because it claims to help in weight loss and fat burn. In this diet, you need to cut down on carbohydrates and increase intake of healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables low in starch. The most significant aspect of this diet is the drastic cut-down on carbohydrates. You have to consume little to no carbohydrates, with most of the energy being provided to the body by fats and proteins.
The word “keto” comes from the small fuel molecules called ketones produced by the body as an alternate source of
Ketones are produced by the liver when both carbs and proteins are in short supply. Carbohydrates and proteins are what convert into glucose to provide fuel for the body. But when these aren’t sufficient enough, the body uses up fat to produce ketones, which serve as fuel for the body and the brain.
A keto diet is thought to be beneficial for weight loss because it helps the body burn fat rapidly. It also has other effects such as less hunger and a higher metabolism. However, there are significant side effects too, which happen when the body is in a state of ketosis.
What Is Ketosis?
When there is an excess of ketones in the body, it’s called ketosis. This is usually triggered by an insufficient amount of carbohydrates and proteins in the body when the metabolism is fueled entirely by fat. It also happens in diabetic patients when the blood sugar levels rise suddenly but can be managed with insulin.
However, when ketosis is a result of a keto diet, there can be a number of side effects. Some of the side effects include diarrhea, fatigue, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, and insomnia. Sleeplessness is one of the most significant side-effects of ketosis.
Even though every person’s reaction to the keto diet is different, insomnia is one of the most commonly reported symptoms. This is more noticeable when beginning the diet, as the body takes time to adjust to it. Insomnia, at first glance, may not seem as bad. But going without sufficient sleep, especially when you’re on a diet, can do more harm to your body than good. If you suffer from any sleep disorder, you must consult your doctor before going on a new diet.
The Connection Between Ketosis and Insomnia
There is a scientific explanation for the loss of sleep associated with ketosis. Since carbohydrates are usually the main source of energy to the body, they constantly supply the body with glucose and provide the brain amino acid L-tryptophan into the brain. This amino acid helps in the production of serotonin, a hormone that aids in relaxation, sleep, and overall wellbeing. As day turns into night, serotonin is converted into melatonin, the sleep hormone.
This usually happens in the initial stages of the diet, when the body is still getting used to the new system. Insomnia and inadequate sleep are one the most commonly reported symptoms of ketosis, which also helps people understand that the diet is starting to work.
There may also be other reasons behind insomnia triggered by ketosis. One of them is a high metabolism and extra energy. A keto diet is supposed to fuel energy and boost metabolism, making you more active and alert. However, on the downside, it can also cause delayed sleep onset and insomnia. When you’re bursting with energy all the time, it’s hard to fall asleep.
How To Prevent Insomnia Due to Ketosis
Generally, insomnia or sleep difficulties caused by a keto diet go away on its own once your body gets used to the new diet. To make sure this happens quickly, you must stick to the diet religiously. However, if your sleep problems keep getting worse and if it’s related to the new diet, then it’s an indication that the diet isn’t right for you.
Sleep disorders are omnipresent. Regardless of climate, daylight hours, or culture, a large number of people experience a wide range of sleep disorders, either on a regular basis or very frequently. Suffering from insufficient sleep once in a while is normal and doesn’t affect our health or normal bodily functions, but when we go without sleep for a long stretch of time, it can lead to various other health problems. Loss of appetite, weight gain or loss, hypertension, obesity, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, hormonal imbalance, and risk of cardiac problems are some of the issues that arise out of chronic lack of sleep.
There are people who can go forever without getting diagnosed or treated for their sleep problems. And then there are those who are ready to use just about any remedy if it helps restore normal sleep. None of these options are right. Sleep disorders shouldn’t be left un-diagnosed, but sleep remedies shouldn’t be randomly chosen either. Wherever possible, prescription remedies should be avoided, and natural remedies adopted. Natural remedies have no side effects and show results with continuous use. But unfortunately, most people who suffer from sleep disorders typically resort to over the counter sleeping pills. When sleep aids are chosen without considering the overall health of the person, they can have severe side effects.
If you would like to try a natural sleep remedy that has no significant side effects, you should try Dream Water, a sleep aid drink. Developed in 2004, Dream Water is designed as the water that’s supposed to help you sleep and dream. It is also endorsed by various celebrities like Demi Moore, Katy Perry, and Paris Hilton.
What Causes Sleep Disorders?
In modern society, sleep issues are usually caused by lifestyle disorders. With no fixed time for bed, erratic mealtimes, hectic work schedules, alcohol, and tobacco consumption, and excessive attachment to electronic devices are some of the factors that contribute to not only sleep disorders, but other health issues like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
In many cases, sleep disorders are also caused by environmental factors such as noise, light, temperature, and comfort of the bed. Those who live in a crowded neighborhood with the noise of traffic, loud neighbors, and ambient light creating a menace till late in the night are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders. The temperature of the room and the feel and support of the mattress are also significant factors behind helping a person fall asleep or keeping them awake.
Medical conditions can also be responsible for sleep disorders. Insomnia is a medical condition, so is sleep apnea. If not diagnosed and treated, they become chronic and hard to cure. Remember, if sleep disorders are chronic, natural sleep remedies often have no effect. That’s why, before starting a new supplement or sleep aid, make sure to consult your doctor and consider other health conditions that you might have.
What Dream Water Claims?
As the name suggests, Dream Water looks like water but is infused with three different ingredients that work together to help you relax, fall and stay asleep. If herbal teas or warm milk haven’t done anything for you, maybe you should try this beverage that’s made with natural ingredients used for years for their proven effectiveness. Unlike most other sleep aid, Dream Water can also be consumed before a long flight to help you relax and has been designed in such a way that you can easily go through airport security.
Plain, natural water is more appealing and safer than any other beverage. It’s something that anyone can drink without second thoughts. So when water comes infused with a sleep aid, it is bound to create a hype. After Vitamin Water and CBD water, we now have Dream Water. It is natural and pristine water but loaded with sleep-inducing ingredients that are also natural and do not affect the purity or safety of the water.
How to Use Dream Water
Dream Water is made with three ingredients:
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid: It aids in relaxation and anxiety relief by blocking the impulse transmission from one cell to another in the central nervous system.
- Melatonin: This sleep hormone is responsible for governing the body’s internal clock and properly regulating the natural sleep-wake cycle.
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan: This promotes sleep and relaxation and stimulates melatonin production.
However, before you end up believing that this product is going to work for you, take advantage of the money-back guarantee and try out the water for at least two weeks. Everyone’s bodies and sleep issues are different, and what works for others may not work for you in some cases. That’s why it’s important to try out the product for at least two weeks to give the ingredients time to take action. If there’s no result in two weeks, the product isn’t right for you. You can then take the company up on their money back guarantee.
Cost of Dream Water
Dream Water is packaged like bottled drinking water and priced at $39 for a pack of 12. There’s also free standard shipping.
What Users Say about Dream Water?
The most commonly noted factor about this drink is that there’s no groggy or disoriented feeling in the morning, the kind that happens with other sleep aid. Rather, most users have said that this drink refreshed them and not only helped them in sleeping better but also made waking up in the morning easier.
Dream Water has invented a brilliant idea of combining natural ingredients into plain water. If other soothing drinks like herbal teas and warm milk aren’t doing it for you, and you also don’t want to take prescription sleep medications, then Dream Water can turn out to be an effective remedy. The product has had mostly favorable reviews so far, and the money-back guarantee makes it safe to try at least once.
Having said that, it must not be assumed that the drink will work for everyone. If you have existing sleep disorders, you should consult your healthcare practitioner before starting to take any sleep aid.
Sleep remains a mystery to even to the scientific community. We have been able to build spaceships and send a man to the moon, but when it comes to sleep, much of it is still a mystery. Why? Because sleep is a state of unconsciousness and we don’t yet have the ability to wake up and recount what happened while we were sleeping. Science has been able to find out a lot of things about the mechanism behind sleep over the years, but there is a lot more that needs to be understood about this nightly phenomenon.
The need for sleep has also been quite a mystery. Why exactly do we need sleep? Today it is believed that we need sleep because the brain needs to recharge and store energy for the next day. But sleep came about not because of rest but because of safety. The ancient man needed to be safe from wild animals after the sun went down. With nothing else to do, they chose to go to their caves and sleep, even if they did not feel tired. A few centuries ago, when electricity had not been invented, sleep was chosen because it helped save oil and gas. Besides, there was nothing else to do after the sun went down.
The duration of sleep has also changed over the years. Man did not always need 8 hours of sleep. The early man slept for as long as 12 hours with a break in between. Today, science has found that man needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep because that’s the time to brain takes to recharge for the next day completely. However, some people need more or less than that amount to function normally.
Although science has been successful in interpreting much of the sleep mechanism, there is one aspect that still needs a lot more research: dreaming. And if you have ever experienced Deja Vu – the feeling of familiarity with something that’s not supposed to be familiar – it may have something to do with your dreams.
Why Do We Dream?
Everyone dreams, including babies and animals (if your dog howls in his sleep, he’s probably dreaming of confronting other members of his species). But even though sleep is such a common phenomenon, no one fully understands the reason behind them. The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, had written a famous book interpreting dreams, but there’s still so much that needs to be answered. Some believe that dreams express hidden feelings and desires, while others believe that dreams can also predict the future. But despite the several advancements made by science, when it comes to decoding the mechanism of dreams , it is still a long way off.
Dreams occur in the final stage of sleep, also called the REM stage. In this stage, the brain slowly begins to become active, but the body is still inactive. This is unlike what happens in previous stages when the brain is inactive, and the body works to heal and recharge. The REM stage sleep is important for cognitive functioning and memory forming. In this stage, the brain consolidates thoughts and memories, boosts productivity and concentration, and becomes alert. When REM sleep isn’t sufficient, cognitive functioning can be affected.
Dreams occur in the REM stage and not in other stages. That’s because the brain becomes active in this stage, right before waking up. Besides that, the heartbeats rise, and the body temperature also starts to become normal. It is believed by scientists that a conscious part of the sleeping brain is responsible for dreams. This conscious part of the brain has cognitive, sensory and emotional occurrences, leading to dreams. Dreams are usually life-like, complete with people objects themes voices and color. These things can often have a close resemblance to waking life. But dreams can also be about unfamiliar things. Some dreams can seem real because they are very vivid. Such dreams are usually remembered for a long time. Nightmares are also dreams, but only frightening or traumatic.
Deja Vu and Dreaming
We have all had the feeling of Deja Vu at some point. Deja Vu (French for “already seen”) is a sense of familiarity about something unfamiliar. For instance, you go to a place for the first time but feel like you have already been there before because it feels familiar. Why does that happen? Even science doesn’t have the answer to that. However, there is a possibility that the sense of Deja Vu has something to do with dreaming.
A dream plays out just like real life, full of people and objects, colors, sounds, and voices. Sometimes dreams are about things, places or people we are unfamiliar with. But dreams can also be about things and events we are familiar with. When we dream of familiar people, places or events, they are actually bits and pieces of memories that are stored in our subconscious.
Deja Vu is different from a vision. A vision is when something seems familiar because you remember having seen or experienced it before. But in Deja Vu, you have no idea why something seems familiar because you don’t remember seeing or experiencing it before.
The dreams that we don’t remember might be the ones that appear as Deja Vu. However, there hasn’t yet been any fundamental proof to establish why we experience Deja Vu.
Is Deja Vu Precognitive?
Deja Vu is often assumed to be precognitive, in that they may be capable of predicting the future. However, there is no evidence to prove that dreams or feelings of Deja Vu are precognitive. If anything, then it’s purely coincidence.
But dreams are called precognitive if you experience the same thing later in real life, even though you may not recall it. There is no evidence yet to prove that dreams can predict significant future events, but when it comes to déjà Vu, it could be something that our dreams tell us from beforehand.
Sleep disorders come in various forms. Even though a large section of the global population suffers from sleep disorders, they are not of the same kind. While some people have difficulty falling asleep, others have difficulty staying asleep. The reason behind sleep disorders like sleep apnea also varies from one person to another. However, regardless of the type of sleep disorder a person suffers from, it is of utmost importance that the real cause behind the disorder be diagnosed and treated because sleep disorders can wreak havoc on the person’s physical and mental well being. When someone goes without sufficient sleep for days and weeks, it affects the health, memory, concentration, productivity, and immunity.
One of the biggest health conditions that contribute to sleep difficulties is sleep apnea. A large number of people anywhere in the world snore while sleeping and aren’t even aware of it. Waking up with a dry mouth and throat in the middle of the night is also because of the same disorder. Even though an astounding number of people suffer from it worldwide, most of them do not get diagnosed or treated for the same.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is one of the most serious sleep disorders. It is characterized by breathing getting interrupted during sleep throughout the night. Those with this particular sleep disorder repeatedly have their breathing interrupted while they sleep; sometimes hundreds of times throughout the night. This results in snoring, dry mouth and throat, fragmented sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Although few people seem to know about it, apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the world. In the US alone, over 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea, but almost 80% of them go undiagnosed. It is most common in adults between 20 and 70 years of age. Research shows a person suffering from sleep apnea can wake up almost 30 times in an hour. As a result, sleep quality suffers, memory and concentration are affected, and productivity is hampered by excessive sleepiness during the day. When this goes on for days and weeks and months, it can also lead to other health disorders.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The basic definition of this sleep disorder is a respiratory problem where the person is unable to get sufficient oxygen because of restricted breathing. But there is not one, but two types of sleep apnea and the courses are also quite different from one another. The two types of disorders are:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the more common form apnea caused by the air passageway being blocked by the throat muscles, causing restricted breathing. If someone suffers from this type of disease, the greeting may get interrupted or even stop briefly several times why the person is asleep. People with obstructive sleep apnea usually sleep with their mouth open because of the air passageway being blocked by the relaxed throat muscles. When we sleep up all the muscles of our bodies relax. But when the throat muscles relax so much that they block the upper airway, it causes obstructive sleep apnea. The most common symptom of obstructive this particular sleeping disorder is snoring.
Central Sleep Apnea: The other form of this sleep disorder is called central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, here there is no problem with the respiratory organs. The airway is not obstructed, and there is nothing restricting normal breathing. The problem lies in the brain, which forgets to tell the muscles to breathe. Rather than respiratory disorder, this is a disorder of the part of the brain stem that controls breathing. Central sleep apnea is more common among adults older than 65 years of age and in infants. If not treated, central sleep apnea can also cause death because the breathing can remain stopped for several seconds to minutes.
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than central sleep apnea but both course the same kind of distress to the sufferer. The worst part is that the person is unaware of the disorder. Even if the person wakes up several times at night, they may not realize what is causing them to wake up. Therefore, in order to diagnose this sneaky sleep disorder, the signs and symptoms and statements from room and bed partners should be taken into consideration.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
As with any sleep disorder, apnea also has a number of reasons behind it. Usually, there are several causes that can cause sleep apnea. Some of the most common reasons for sleep apnea are:
Obesity: One of the most common factors contributing to sleep apnea is excess weight. More than half of all people who suffer from sleep apnea are either overweight or obese. Anyone with a body mass index of above 25 is considered overweight, and someone over 29 is called obese. In overweight or obese people the tissues and muscles are thicker and when they relax they have a higher chance of blocking the airway. Neck circumference of more than 15 centimeters is also a potential cause for obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity has all chances of causing obstructive sleep apnea, but sometimes it also works the other way around. Going without sleep for a long time at a stretch causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to obesity.
Endocrine Disorders: Some disorders of the endocrine system are sometimes linked to obstructive sleep apnea. Hypothyroidism is one of the most important endocrine disorders that can cause obstructive sleep apnea. Postmenopausal women on hormone replacement therapy are also at risk of developing sleep apnea. But the endocrine disorder usually resolves the sleep apnea.
Genetics: One of the most common reasons behind sleep apnea is a genetic predisposition. If people in your immediate family suffered from sleep apnea or had traits like a thick neck, round head or a dental overbite, you are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. That is the reason why people with a genetic predisposition for sleep apnea should maintain healthy body weight and take other necessary measures to lower the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
Large Tonsils: Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are often the most common reasons for obstructive sleep apnea in infants and children. The large tonsils or adenoids block the airway and obstruct breathing. Medicines are the most common treatment options for tonsil or adenoid related sleep apnea. In case the tonsils are too big and cannot be remedied by medications, surgery could be done. Removing the blockage from the airway usually resolves sleep apnea in children.
Unhealthy lifestyle: People with unhealthy lifestyles are at a greater risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking and drinking alcohol make the tongue, and the muscles of the throat relax further and cause obstruction of the air passage. When an unhealthy lifestyle leads to obesity, it worsens obstructive sleep apnea.
Age: it is well known that the prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age. Men over the age of 40 are more susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea. As a person ages, sleep difficulties such as insomnia, trouble staying asleep and shorter sleep duration become more common. Further, if the person is overweight, the risk for sleep apnea increases because of fatty deposits in the in head and neck region, lengthening of the soft palate, and change in the shape of the pharynx.
Neuromuscular Disorders: People with neuromuscular disorders like multiple sclerosis also likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea because the muscles do not function the way they should. Lung restrictions arising out of the disorder contribute significantly to obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep-related difficulties. When people with neuromuscular disorders developed obstructive sleep apnea, the only option is to provide invasive and noninvasive ventilation.
Heart or Kidney Disorders: Those with problems of the heart or the kidneys can also develop obstructive sleep apnea. If not treated in time the sleep apnea can worsen the heart and kidney health.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Even though there are many symptoms of sleep apnea, they are most noticeable only to people other than the sufferer. That is why when diagnosing sleep apnea the healthcare practitioner should take the input of the family member or bed partner of the patient.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:
Snoring: Almost everyone snow once in a while when they are in a deep sleep. But if the person is a habitual loud snorer, then and there is some serious problem. Snoring is both a problem as well as an annoyance. But those who snore usually refuse to believe when they are told so by others. However, instead of refusing to believe, the person should seek the help of a doctor to rule out sleep apnea.
Shortness of Breath: Because sleep apnea involves interrupted breathing, it is not unusual for the person to wake up several times at night with shortness of breath. In fact, waking up in the middle of the night with a start, feeling like you are unable to breathe is one of the biggest signs of sleep apnea. The person who shares the bed with you will also be able to confirm if they have noticed your breathing stopping and starting again suddenly many times throughout the night.
Sleepiness and Fatigue: Insufficient sleep at night naturally leads to excessive daytime sleepiness, resulting in poor concentration and productivity and foggy memory. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to other health disorders such as improper appetite and weight gain.
Headaches and Dryness of Mouth: If you always wake up with a dry mouth and headache you could be suffering from sleep apnea. If there are no other reasons why you could have a dry mouth and throat or a headache every morning you wake up, it is most likely sleep apnea.
Low libido: Sleep apnea and chronic sleep deprivation rob the person of all energy, which leads to low libido. Although low libido also has other reasons sleep apnea is of the most important ones.
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Usually, he is sleep apnea is being caused by any other underlying medical condition such as heart or kidney problems or endocrine disorders; then the underlying medical cause should be remedied first. If hypothyroidism is causing the sleep apnea, then the hypothyroidism needs to be treated first to cure the sleep disorder. If an unhealthy lifestyle is a cause, then lifestyle changes are required to take care of the problem.
If the root cause is respiratory, then depending upon the severity of the condition, a number of treatment options are available. These include:
Breathing Devices: Because sleep apnea is basically a breathing problem, there are breathing devices that are used to correct the condition. The most popular among them are Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which involves wearing a pressurized mask over the mouth and nose while sleeping, to help keep the airway unblocked by forcing air through it.
Mouthpieces: Mouthguards or mouthpieces are dental devices fitted to the mouth for correcting the tongue, jaw, and soft palate position for clearing the airway. These devices move the jaw forward and prevent resistance in the upper airway. These devices are usually fitted by a dentist according to the shape and structure of the mouth.
Surgery: If non-invasive means aren’t successful, surgery needs to be done for curing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea surgery is called the process of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, which is used to minimize the symptoms of the disorder. Although the surgery is successful at removing the tissue out of the airway, it also has side effects like pain and bleeding. Laser surgery is also available, which involves shortening the soft palate with a laser beam.
Myofunctional Therapy: This is a facial therapy for the muscles of the tongue, throat, and face to reduce snoring and minimize the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. In more serious cases, this may not be too helpful.
The first step in treating sleep apnea is the right diagnosis. After that, a number of treatments options could be tried to find the best fit for the patient.
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We are all familiar with that feeling during the first 15-minutes after waking up in the morning. Our eyes are crusty, our breath stinks, our hair is a mess, and we feel grumpy and sluggish. Waking up in the morning is always hard. You sit up in bed but you’re still actually asleep, and all you want to do is roll over and hit the snooze button. Waking up in the morning becomes even harder in winter when it’s all warm and cozy in bed, and the thought of getting out of it is not so appealing. Even putting toothpaste on your toothbrush can seem complicated when you are half asleep.
This grogginess that most of us experience in the first moments after waking up in the morning is called sleep inertia. This is a transitional stage between sleep and wakefulness when parts of your brain are still asleep while the body is trying to wake up. All of us experience morning grogginess, but now we know it also has a name and can be worse than being drunk. That’s right, during morning grogginess the brain is as inactive as when drunk. Therefore, if you try to drive right after getting out of bed, you can actually end up in a crash.
What Is Sleep Inertia?
It’s all in the brain. Going to sleep or waking up, feeling fresh or groggy – it’s all in the brain. No matter how long or well you sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, you’re almost always likely to feel tired for the first few minutes. Most people think that getting enough sleep at night can help them avoid morning grogginess. But the unfortunate truth is that morning grogginess has no connection to how long or how well you sleep at night. In fact, the deeper your sleep, the worse the sleep inertia.
Sleep has four stages. The first three stages are non-REM stage sleep while the final stage is REM sleep when dreams occur. During the first stage of sleep, the brain is still active, and it’s easy to wake up from that stage. During the second stage, it is slightly harder to wake up, but there is no grogginess even if you wake up from that stage. But during the third and fourth stages of sleep, the brain is completely inactive, and it is harder to wake up. When a person is in deep sleep it takes them some time to realize that someone is trying to wake them up. It takes even longer to wake up and start comprehending things.
Sleep inertia occurs because parts of the brain takes time to fully you wake up even after the person is awake. This is also the reason why we keep yawning till an hour after we wake up. The mechanism behind this is not very complicated. The part of the brain that’s responsible for our physical functioning is called the brainstem arousal system, and the part of the brain that controls our thinking, decision-making, and self-control is called the prefrontal cortex.
The brainstem arousal system becomes active the moment you wake up. But the prefrontal cortex takes some time to become active and alert. Until the prefrontal cortex becomes active, we feel tired, groggy, and keep yawning.
Why the Delay?
You could well ask why the prefrontal cortex takes time to become active when the rest of the brain becomes active the moment a person wakes up. This is because of melatonin, the sleep hormone. The brain rests when we sleep because of melatonin production. When it’s time to wake up, the melatonin levels slowly start to diminish. This helps some parts of the brain to wake up immediately. But the remaining levels of melatonin continue to affect other parts of the brain until they are completely diminished.
Sleep inertia is worse in two cases: when we oversleep and when we get insufficient sleep. To reduce the impact and duration of sleep inertia, we must not only get sufficient sleep but also try to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle instead of in the middle of one.
Overcoming Sleep Inertia
In most cases sleep inertia is normal. There are parts of the brain that take time to wake up completely, and that is not unusual. But in some cases, sleep, inertia can last longer than usual. When sleep inertia lasts for few hours after waking up, we feel sluggish and cannot focus or concentrate.
However, there are steps we can take to minimize the effects of sleep inertia. The following are some of the ways to overcome morning grogginess and feel fresh and alert.
- Get Sufficient Sleep: Getting proper sleep is one of the most important factors behind minimizing the impact of sleep inertia. When we fail to get sufficient to sleep at night the melatonin produced in the brain takes a long time to diminish. The longer the melatonin remains in the brain, the worse the sleep inertia.
- Avoid Oversleeping: Have you noticed that you feel groggier when you sleep longer than usual? This happens when you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle instead of at the end of one. Our sleep inertia is more significant when we wake up in the middle of the REM stage. Therefore, to avoid feeling groggy in the morning be careful not to oversleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day reduces the impact of sleep inertia.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed: Caffeine and alcohol are known to block the neurotransmitters responsible for melatonin production. Avoiding these close to bedtime can help you get sufficient sleep and minimize morning grogginess.
- Maintain a Sleep Routine: Preparing to go to bed by staying away from backlit devices, vigorous activities, and heavy meals can bring on sleep more easily and help you get your full quota of sleep. This reduces sleep inertia.
Sleep quality depends on several factors, waking up the right way and feeling refreshed is one of them.
Sleep and wakefulness have distinct patterns. If you sleep during the day for no apparent reason, you will be called lazy. Why? Because humans are supposed to remain awake and active during the day and sleep only at night. Likewise, if you are awake during the night for no reason when everyone else is asleep, your intentions will be questioned. This is because humans are supposed to sleep at night. Sleeping and waking have set times in the day. Straying from this pattern aka circadian clock is not considered common.
Now, consider your cat. When you go to bed at night, your cat continues to roam around the house, playing about or looking for prey. You do not find it unusual at all. In fact, you do not find it unusual when your cat sleeps all day and becomes active only in the night. Why? Because cats are nocturnal animals, and it’s normal if they are roaming around at night and sleeping away all day.
These distinct sleep and wake patterns are called circadian rhythms. Besides humans and animals, circadian clocks are also witnessed in plants, which release oxygen during the day but carbon dioxide during the night. The circadian clock is almost always in 24-hour rhythms and is present in every living organism.
What Is the Circadian Clock?
The word circadian is derived from the Latin term circa, which means “approximately,” and diēm, which means “day.” In humans and many other animals, this circadian rhythm is diurnal; this means that they feel active and energized during the day and feel sleepy after dark. Similarly, creatures like owls and bats are nocturnal; they sleep during the day and go out during the night.
The mechanism that controls these patterns is the biological clock. This is a 24-hour cycle influencing physical mental and behavioral changes in almost all organisms, from humans to microbes. It is the circadian rhythm that is responsible for determining sleep patterns, contributing to jet lag and is also behind morning grogginess during daylight savings. The National Institutes of Health has carried out a number of studies that show that the circadian rhythm also influences hunger, hormone production, body temperature, and cell regeneration. Conditions like obesity depression and seasonal affective disorder are also influenced by the circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is responsible for so many things but what is responsible for the biological clock? The hypothalamus is what is responsible for controlling our biological clock. This clock is not made up of mechanical parts but groups of molecules that interact with one another in cells throughout the body. These molecules are governed by a master clock, situated in the hypothalamus. The group of nerves that control the biological clock from within the hypothalamus is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
Factors Affecting Circadian Rhythm
The biological clock or circadian rhythm is affected by a number of factors, both internal and external. The internal factors that affect the biological clock are the genetic makeup of the person and the proteins produced by the body. In a research by the University of California, a protein was found to be crucial in controlling the circadian clock in humans, mice, fruit flies, fungi and various other organisms. The other protein balancing it is in charge of sensing energy use in cells. Any disruption in the equilibrium of these two proteins can not only lead to insufficient sleep but also increase hunger. In the long term, this imbalance in the equilibrium can cause obesity.
The circadian rhythm is also influenced by environmental factors, such as light and dark. The SCN is situated right above the optic nerves, and they send information from the eyes to the brain. This means the location of the SCN is ideal for receiving information about incoming light. When the SCN senses less amount of incoming light, it asks the brain to produce more melatonin. This is the reason why we feel sleepy on cloudy and rainy days when the sun isn’t bright or during winter when the days are shorter and evening comes fast. This is the way that the SCN controls the sleep-wake cycles.
Circadian rhythm is best experienced during jet lag. When you travel from one time zone to another, adjusting your biological clock is not as easy as changing the time on your wristwatch. Jet lag usually involves “losing” or “gaining” time, and this disruption can make the body feel disoriented, particularly when the timings of light and day are out of sync. Even though the body eventually adjusts the circadian clock to the new environment, taking a return trip disrupts it again, and requires another reset.
When to Seek Help for Circadian Rhythm?
Occasional ups and downs in the circadian rhythm are normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if you regularly experience disruptions in your circadian rhythm in the form of one or more of these problems, you should seek help:
Delayed sleep-wake cycle: If you fall asleep two or more hours after going to bed and wake up two or more hours after the usual waking time, you suffer from the delayed sleep-wake cycle. Although this is mostly seen in teenagers, it can affect anybody.
Advanced sleep-wake cycle: This is the opposite of the delayed sleep-wake cycle. In this condition, you fall asleep several hours before the normal bedtime and wake up several hours before the regular wake time.
Irregular sleep-wake pattern: If you have no fixed time for falling asleep or waking up, you suffer from an irregular sleep-wake pattern. People with this condition can sleep on and off at a stretch or in a series of hours. This usually indicates a severely disorganized circadian pattern.
Insomnia: If you’re regularly unable to fall asleep and spend most of your time awake in bed, you suffer from insomnia. Chronic insomnia can lead to sleep deprivation, resulting in various health problems.
Circadian rhythm is the mechanism behind our sleep-wake cycles. Sticking to a proper bedtime routine and maintaining sleep hygiene is the key to a proper biological clock.
Sleep is as common as breathing. We don’t need to wonder why it happens. It’s what we always do. Every living creature has a set time for sleep, including humans. It’s an intrinsic part of our daily routine, so normal that we never question our sleep habit.
The need for rest has existed since the beginning of time. Ancient humans had several other habits besides sleep that they later grew out of with the dawn of civilization. The eating habits have also changed as civilization has progressed. However, the need for sleep is something that has remained unchanged. The ancient man needed the same amount of rest that the modern man does. What has changed are the sleep habits and patterns.
While the need for sleep has remained unchanged, a lot has changed about the way people get their sleep. The ancient humans got their sleep in ways different than what we are familiar with today. Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, had first suggested the need for sleep by all living creatures. At first glance, sleep can seem like a bad idea. In fact, most people consider sleeping a waste of time. Being unconsciousness for several hours every day robs people of the time to accomplish various necessary activities. When creatures sleep in the wild, they also have the danger of being hunted down by predators. But sleep is something that everyone engages in, nevertheless.
Sleep is mostly needed because it’s a means to conserve energy and replenish the energy lost during the day. Energy is what helps us remain active and alert throughout the day, and without a period of rest, the body has no way to replenish the energy that’s being used up by the cells during the waking hours.
Changes in Sleep Patterns Over the Years
Most of us enjoy sprawling on a soft, comfortable bed in a quiet, cozy bedroom to go into snooze mode. But it wasn’t this way always. The sleep habits of humans have undergone significant changes over the centuries. Did you know that in the 16th and 17th centuries, people went to sleep as early as 6 in the evening? That’s because there was no electricity and nothing to do after dark. Turning out the lamps and going to sleep was also a way to save on energy because oil to light the lamps could be expensive.
After electricity was invented, people started going to bed later because they could work after dark. The dinner and supper times also changed, because people no longer had to go to bed because there was nothing to do. The invention of electrical and electronic devices such as the transistor and the television further influenced sleep patterns, because people enjoyed entertainment after work.
Over the years, sleep patterns, positions, timing, and bedding have undergone tremendous changes. Beginning from the early man to the Egyptians to the modern man, sleep has kept changing throughout the years.
Early Man: Very little is known of the early man’s sleeping habits. But from carvings on cave walls and other ancient documentation, it can be deciphered that they slept in beds of grass and other soft materials on the ground. Because these beds were small and round in shape, it is understood that the early men slept in the fetal position.
Ancient Civilization: At the beginning of civilization, the man had grown out of the wild stage, but still didn’t have the light of knowledge. Sleep, therefore, was a mystery, and people were scared of it. The Egyptians worshipped sleep because they considered it akin to death. With the dawn of civilization, the man had also started to make houses and beds to sleep in. For instance, the Romans had tiny bedrooms with low ceilings and small beds.
Middle Ages: In the Middle Ages, people had proper houses and rooms, but the whole family usually slept in one big bed, in order to conserve heat. Bedframes and mattresses had already been developed, while bedframes started to become ornate and decorative in China.
Industrial Revolution: This is the period when electric light sources are developed, and people start to shift from a mainly agrarian economy. Beginning from the Industrial Revolution, people start going to sleep later. They not only work after sundown but also enjoy reading and other forms of entertainment, thanks to electricity. Having separate bedrooms also becomes the norm from this time.
19th and 20th Centuries: This is the time when metal bedsprings are invented. During the latter part of the 19th century, the waterbed and the Murphy bed are invented. At the end of the 20th century, memory foam is invented and eventually becomes affordable enough for the average people.
21st Century: Sleep is a whole industry today, with various sleep aids and technologies to help people get sufficient and restful sleep. However, technology is also often the reason behind the lack of enough sleep.
Sleep Habits – Then Vs. Now
Sleep habits and practices, as well as bedding, have undergone massive change over the years. How we sleep today is dramatically different from the way our ancestors slept. From the duration of sleep to the types of beds, to the sleep patterns, everything has gone through various changes over the centuries.
During early civilization, beds were of no standard size. Beds were individually made, according to the size and preference of the person. However, today beds have standard sizes and aren’t usually made individually. Mattresses are usually customized, but bed frames are of standard sizes.
Sleep patterns have also changed over the years. Today, people have a monophasic sleep pattern, i.e., sleeping in one long chunk. However, earlier, people slept in two chunks of four hours each, with around two hours of break in between. During this break, people read, visited neighbors, or had sex. By the 1920s, this polyphasic sleep pattern had become unusual.
Bed springs were later used to support mattresses. But earlier, ropes and wool straps were used to make bedframes. Today, there are various types of bed frames, made from iron, wood, as well as engineered wood. Mattresses are also made of various materials and are often have computerized controls.
An interesting fact is that spouses slept in separate bedrooms, while all the children slept in one room. This is unlike today when spouses usually sleep in the same room while children have separate rooms.
Importance of Sleep
We tend to believe that sleep is a period of inactivity. But actually, sleep is when the body and the brain undergo various processes for rejuvenation, development, and growth. When we sleep, our body conserved energy and prepared for the next day.
Some of the things that sleep helps with are:
- Immune system
- Heart health
- Stress management
- Weight management
Although science still cannot pinpoint exactly why we need sleep, we do know that it’s good for us. Going without enough sleep for a long time affects appetite, mood, productivity, concentration, weight, and physical health.
Benefits of Napping
When you’re sleep deprived, napping can provide much of the same benefits. Napping has been found to enhance productivity and performance, reduce accidents, and boost alertness. In some cultures, napping is a regular part of the daily routine. Workplaces have recently started making provisions for employees to nap during the day. Although napping can never make up for sleep, it helps to a great extent.
When napping, remember to set the alarm so that you wake up right after you complete one sleep cycle. Any longer, and you risk entering sleep inertia. Finding a quiet and dark place is also important. Napping is extremely beneficial to physical and mental health, so don’t feel guilty about sleeping in the middle of the day.