7 Simple Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Studies show that your brain has to work harder to do the same amount of thinking when you’re tired as when you’re rested. "When you’re tired, thinking requires a lot more resources and you get fatigued more quickly as a result," says Dr. Philip Gehrman PhD, assistant professor of psychology at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Pointing to the dangers of sleep deprivation, Dr. Gerhman mentions disasters like Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. "A lot of the major industrial accidents of the last 100 years are at least partly attributable to people being sleep deprived," he said. Additionally, insufficient sleep can make people very irritable.

Dr. Gehrman has provided the following sleep hygiene tips:

  • Avoid caffeine after lunch. Caffeine can linger in your system for 10-12 hours.
  • Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it keeps you at a light stage of sleep with poor quality. Even if you sleep for a while, you may not feel well rested the next day.
  • Have a wind-down period 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Do relaxing things that don’t require a lot of mental energy.
  • Your bed should not be your living room. If you make a habit of watching TV or reading in bed, your brain won’t know what is supposed to happen when you lay down to go to sleep.
  • Avoid napping excessively. Napping a lot can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Keep a consistent schedule for going to bed and waking up. This allows your body to develop a natural rhythm and can improve the quality of your sleep.
  • If you can’t fall asleep, don’t linger in bed. If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for about 15-20 minutes, whether it’s the beginning or middle of the night, you should get out of bed and do something relaxing. Then come back to bed when you feel ready to sleep.

"Another reason for getting a good night’s sleep", says Dr. Gehrman, "is that when people are sleep deprived, or only getting about six hours a night, their bodies actually enter a pre-diabetic state, meaning they’re bodies aren’t regulating its hormones in an efficient manner. So not only do you process food differently when you’re tired, in a way that is more likely to store food as fat, but you actually crave higher-fat food at the same time, so it’s kind of a double whammy."

Typically adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night. Non-REM sleep enables our bodies to reenergize and restore themselves, while REM sleep is necessary for learning. "If you go to bed too late, you may miss the opportunity to have REM sleep," he said. "So if you’re not sleeping on a consistent schedule and at regular hours, then you can miss out on one or the other type of sleep."

Snoring May be Linked to Chronic Bronchitis

According to a report in the January issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, chronic bronchitis is more likely to develop in habitual snorers.

From 2001 to 2003, Inkyung Baik, Ph.D., of the Korea University Ansan Hospital, Republic of Korea, and colleagues monitored 4,270 people—52% men, 48% women. The men and women gave demographic information, health conditions, family disease history and lifestyle, and how often they snored. They were re-interviewed every year through 2006, and were classified as developing chronic bronchitis if they reported having a cough and sputum on most days for at least three months per year, for at least two years.

314 people developed chronic bronchitis during four years of follow-up. Individuals who snored regularly were more likely to develop bronchitis than those who did not.

Source: Arch Intern Med. 2008;168[2]:167-173

You Can Repay Your Sleep Debt

6 out of 10 women get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep at night. In due course, sleep debt piles up and affects their health.

A report published in Harvard Women’s Health Watch claims that this debt, however chronic or longstanding, can be repaid.
For instance, if you have a debt of 10 hours sleep, you can repay it by sleeping over the weekend and the week following it. If your sleep debt has piled up over decades, then it is advised that you take a short vacation to a place where you need not have a very busy schedule.

Ensure that you get proper sleep at night and wake up naturally in the morning—no alarm clocks allowed here. During the vacation, determine the amount of sleep you require and ensure that you get the determined amount of sleep everyday.

Source: Harvard Medical School

6 Tips for Beating Insomnia

A recent study has linked chronic insomnia to broader mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Each year, the medical and reduced productivity costs associated with insomnia among U.S. workers is estimated to be $92.5 to $107.5 billion, according to a survey conducted by the Washington-based National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

According to the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Samsung Medical Center, one in five adults suffers from sleep disorders.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo / Korea

FDA Warning on Sleep Medications: Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Others

The FDA has issued stronger warnings on sleep medications, such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Restoril, and has asked the drugs manufacturers to place stronger warnings on the package labels.

The agency cites concerns such as allergic reactions, and sleep walking and "sleep driving" in its statement.

Source: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Study Probes Odor, Sleep and Memory Link

Doctors have long advised that a good night’s sleep is important for memory, but researchers now say a familiar scent wafting in the bedroom might help sometimes, too.

The caveat: In the study, published in the journal Science, it only worked for some kinds of memories and during one stage of sleep, meaning it’s not the answer for people hunting a quick memory boost.