The scientific consensus is clear: we need more sleep. Our bodies and brains rely on getting sufficient shuteye, and cutting ourselves short deals a compounding blow to our health. A new study adds to the argument by showing that sleeping too little correlates with a bigger waistline and higher body mass index (BMI), among other negatives.
The study of 1,615 adults found that people who slept an average of six hours a night had a waist circumference three centimeters larger than those who slept nine hours a night (that’s about 1.18 inches). The short sleepers also had a higher BMI on average and lower HDL cholesterol (the so-called “good cholesterol” number that ideally should be higher).
Participants had blood samples taken and their waist circumference, weight and blood pressure recorded. Sleep times fell into three categories: average of about six hours, average of about 7.5 hours and average of about nine hours. Across the board, the six-hour group had worse outcomes than the other two groups.
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/07/30/shorting-yourself-on-sleep-could-be-adding-to-your-waistline/#3f91a3fde067
July 17, 2017
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
More than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and growing evidence suggests it’s not only taking a toll on their physical health through heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and/or other conditions, but hurting their mental health as well.
Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717120048.htm
People sleep in a park during hot weather in Dhaka, Bangladesh. CreditAbir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency
Global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases is having clear effects in the physical world: more heat waves, heavier rainstorms and higher sea levels, to cite a few.
In recent years, though, social scientists have been wrestling with a murkier question: What will climate change mean for human welfare?
Forecasts in this realm are tricky, necessarily based on a long chain of assumptions. Scientific papers have predicted effects as varied as a greater spread of tropical diseases, fewer deaths from cold weather and more from hot weather, and even bumpier rides on airplanes.
Now comes another entry in this literature: a prediction that in a hotter world, people will get less sleep.
Some nights, it’s like you can’t get your brain to shut up long enough for you to fall asleep. You’re mentally reviewing the day you just completed while also previewing the day ahead; sometimes, your mind may even reach way back into the archives and pull up something embarrassing you did back in high school. So fun!
Racing thoughts can be a sign of a serious mental health condition like anxiety. But these nights also happen to everyone from time to time — and once we’re too old for bedtime stories, it’s not always clear what to do. There’s no one solution that will work for everybody, of course, so instead, we’ve rounded up suggestions from eight sleep experts. At the very least, it’s something to read next time you can’t sleep.
Distract yourself with meaningless mental lists.
“The absolute prerequisite for sleep is a quiet mind. Think of something else, rather than what’s worrying you — something with a story to it. It can be anything of interest, but of no importance, so you can devote some brain energy to it without clashing into the real world and going straight back to your worries. I fly a lot, so I imagine I have my own private jet and how would I arrange the furniture on it. If you’re someone who likes going to music festivals, what would your lineup be?” — Neil Stanley, sleep expert
Try to stay awake instead.
“Thinking about sleep and wishing for it to happen is a recipe for staying awake. This is where paradoxical thinking comes in. If you give yourself the paradoxical instruction to stay awake instead, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep. If you can be comfortable with the idea of remaining awake, then the performance anxiety and frustration that are associated with trying to sleep have nowhere to go and your arousal level drops.” — Colin Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford
Or just get out of bed.
“If 20 minutes has gone by as the mind races and is unable to relax back to sleep, it’s best to get out of bed. Without looking at your phone or any other screen devices, go to another dimly lit room where you keep a notebook. Write down the thoughts that are keeping you awake. Finish with the words, ‘It can wait until tomorrow.’ Then, go back to bed, focus on the breath, and mindfully relax into those words, giving yourself permission to yield to sleep.”— Jenni June, sleep consultant
Write down whatever’s freaking you out.
“Spend a maximum of 20 minutes just getting everything out of your head and onto paper every day. It’s a therapeutic way to see that you probably don’t have loads to worry about, rather just a few reoccurring things. You can then see which worries are hypothetical (i.e., what if I make a mistake at work and lose my job) or ‘real’ worries (e.g., I made a mistake and have lost my job). For the real worries you can then make an action plan/problem-solve and for the hypothetical ones, learn to let them go.” — Kathryn Pinkham, National Health Services insomnia specialist
Get back in bed and do some deep breathing.
“Deep breathing … acts as a powerful distraction technique, particularly if paired with counting. You want to aim to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, and pause after breathing in and out; so you might choose to count for three when you breathe in, then pause and count to five when you breathe out, then pause. Really focus on your breathing and counting, and if your mind wanders off, just take note of that and return your attention to the exercise. You may need to do this for ten minutes or so.” — Christabel Majendie, sleep therapist
Try not to try so hard.
“Try not to struggle or ‘try harder’ to overcome the sleeplessness or get rid of unwanted thoughts, as this can worsen insomnia. One successful approach to overcome this negative cycle is to instead learn to observe and accept these struggles, using mindfulness strategies to help.” — Jenny Stephenson, director of HappySleepers
Or maybe plan how you’ll get some sun in the a.m.
“Getting more sun exposure in the midmorning can help readjust the brain’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep later that night. In my book, I write about how sun exposure is now a key part of many professional athletes’ travel schedules, and seen as a way of preventing jet lag. Non-athletes can do similar things. Someone who can’t seem to fall asleep at night may want to try getting as much exposure to natural light in the morning, essentially prepping themselves to fall asleep when they want to.” — David K. Randall, author of Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
And if all else fails …
“The great era of tinkering with sleep aids was popular in early modern Europe. Here are a few of my favorites:
• Put some blood-sucking leeches behind your ears. When they bore holes in the skin, pull them out and place a grain of opium in each hole. (From 16th-century French physician André du Laurens.)
• Kill a sheep, and then press its steaming lungs on either side of the head. Keep the lungs in place as long as they remain warm. (From 16th-century French surgeon Ambroise Paré.)
• After the evening meal, eat lettuce, drink wine, and rub an ointment made of the oil of violets or camphor on the temples. Dissolve a mixture of poppy seeds, lettuce seeds, balsam, saffron, and sugar and cook it in poppy juice. Then listen to pleasant music and lie down on a bed covered with the leaves of fresh, cool plants. (From 15th-century philosopher Marsilio Ficino.)” — Benjamin Reiss, author of Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World
Being mistreated at work can make people take out their frustrations on loved ones at home. But a new study suggests that getting more exercise and sleep may help people better cope with those negative emotions by leaving them at work, where they belong.
People who burned more calories on a daily basis—by doing the equivalent of a long walk or swim—were less likely to take out their anger about work issues on people they lived with, the researchers found in the new study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The researchers used activity trackers to record sleep patterns and physical activity of 118 graduate students with full-time jobs. Each participant, and one person he or she lived with, also completed surveys about sleep, exercise and feelings of mistreatment at home or work.
Previous research shows that employees who are belittled or insulted by colleagues are likely to vent their frustrations and behave angrily toward people outside of work, says study co-author Shannon Taylor, a management professor at the University of Central Florida's College of Business.
The new study backs up this idea, but offers a bit of good news, as well: Employees who averaged more than 10,500 steps a day or burned at least 2,100 calories were less likely to mistreat their cohabitants than those who averaged fewer steps or burned fewer calories.
The researchers even calculated the exact energy expenditure needed to protect against work-to-home emotional spillover. Burning an additional 587 calories, the equivalent of a 90-minute brisk walk or an hour-long swim for a 195-pound male, can “substantially reduce the harmful effects of workplace undermining,” they wrote.
The findings also revealed that when employees felt they had a bad night’s sleep because of work issues, they were more likely to be grouchy at home. “When you’re tired, you’re either less able or less motivated to regulate yourself,” says co-author Larissa Barber, professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University.
Physical activity seems to counterbalance poor sleep, Barber says, because it promotes healthy brain functions needed to properly regulate emotions and behavior. “This study suggests that high amounts of exercise can be at least one way to compensate for sleep troubles that lead to negative behaviors at home,” she says.
Barber acknowledges that finding time to work out and get a full night’s sleep can be difficult when work pressures are mounting—and that often, job stress can directly relate to sleep quality. (Her previous research suggests that not only can a bad day at the office keep us up at night, but that poor sleep can also affect how we interpret events at work.)
But, she says, making the effort to burn some extra calories—and blow off some steam—can be worth it. It’s not only good for you, says Taylor, but it can benefit the people you live with as well.
“I would advise people to think of sleep and exercise from an investment perspective rather than another task on the to-do list,” Barber says. “It may seem like more work upfront, but the boost in motivation and energy can help you avoid sinking deeper into workplace stress and productivity problems.”
January 16, 2017
Taylor & Francis
One in five young people regularly wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media, according to new research. This night-time activity is making teenagers three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school than their peers who do not log on at night, and could be affecting their happiness and wellbeing.
1 in 5 young people regularly wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media, according to new research published today in the Journal of Youth Studies. This night-time activity is making teenagers three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school than their peers who do not log on at night, and could be affecting their happiness and wellbeing.
Over 900 pupils, aged between 12-15 years, were recruited and asked to complete a questionnaire about how often they woke up at night to use social media and times of going to bed and waking. They were also asked about how happy they were with various aspects of their life including school life, friendships and appearance.
1 in 5 reported 'almost always' waking up to log on, with girls much more likely to access their social media accounts during the night than boys. Those who woke up to use social media nearly every night, or who didn't wake up at a regular time in the morning, were around three times as likely to say they were constantly tired at school compared to their peers who never log on at night or wake up at the same time every day. Moreover, pupils who said they were always tired at school were, on average, significantly less happy than other young people.
"Our research shows that a small but significant number of children and young people say that they often go to school feeling tired -- and these are the same young people who also have the lowest levels of wellbeing. One in five young people questioned woke up every night and over one third wake-up at least once a week to check for messages. Use of social media appears to be invading the 'sanctuary' of the bedroom." Said author Professor Sally Power, Co-Director (Cardiff) Wales Institute for Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD).
The study findings support growing concerns about young people's night-time use of social media. However, because of the complex range of possible explanations for tiredness at school, further larger studies will be needed before any firm conclusions can be made about the social causes and consequences of sleep deprivation among today's youth.
Start Your Day With an Omega-Rich Breakfast
Want to sleep well? Start your day with omega-3s! These healthy fats lower anxiety and help your body produce the hormones you need to sleep at night. Get your daily dose by adding a couple tablespoons of chia seeds, flaxseeds orwalnuts to your breakfast. Aim for 600 mg or about four tablespoons of flaxseeds a day.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Coffee is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, but drinking it in the afternoon can wreak havoc on your sleep. While a little caffeine is good for you, it can linger in your system for hours and keep you up long after your last cup. Protect your sleep by avoiding caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m.
Set a Kitchen Curfew
While heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime may make you feel drowsy, they actually undermine your sleep by stimulating you late at night. Instead of snoozing soundly, you'll wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. Avoid this by setting a kitchen curfew! Close the kitchen at 7 p.m. and stop snacking.
Keep Your Bedroom Cool
Research shows that insomniacs have a warmer core body temperature than normal sleepers. You can’t maintain your sleep if you’re too hot, so cool down by keeping your bedroom between 65 and 67 degrees.
Replace Pills with Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Skip sleeping pills! While they may seem like a smart idea at the time, they can cause dependency, prolonged drowsiness and overeating. Instead, opt for an all-natural sleep-better solution: progressive muscle relaxation. Systematically tensing and relaxing your muscles signals to your brain it's time to go to sleep and helps distract you from anxieties that may be keeping you up. For beginners, try listening to this guided muscle relaxation from sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus.
MONDAY, April 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- In news that's sure to have mothers everywhere saying, "I told you so," scientists have confirmed that a good night's sleep may keep colds and other infections at bay.
The odds that someone who sleeps five or fewer hours a night had caught a cold in the past month were 28 percent higher than for folks who regularly get more shuteye, the study found.
And for other infections -- including flu, ear infections and pneumonia -- short sleepers had more than 80 percent higher odds of having an infection in the past month compared to those sleeping seven or eight hours, the study said.
"People who sleep five or fewer hours on average are at substantially increased risk for both colds whether head or chest or other infections, compared to people who sleep seven to eight hours on average," said study researcher Aric Prather. He's an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco.
The researchers also found that people who have sleep disorders or those who have ever told their physician that they have sleep troubles had about 30 percent higher odds of having had a cold in the previous month. The odds of infection in the past month for people with sleep disorders were more than doubled, the study said.
Experts cannot say for sure why lack of sleep helps increase susceptibility to infections. However, Prather said, it is known that T-cells, a type of white blood cells that fight off infection, don't work as well when you are sleep-deprived.
The new study builds on Prather's previous work. In a past study, he exposed people to a cold virus and found there was a link between sleep duration and the risk of catching a cold.
In the current study, he wanted to see if real-world data would back up those findings. However, Prather noted that this study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Prather used data from the large U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys (NHANES) from 2005 to 2012. He examined records of nearly 23,000 men and women, average age 46. The study volunteers reported sleep duration, if they had sleep problems or disorders, and whether they had a cold or other infection such as the flu, pneumonia or ear infection in the previous month.
The findings were published as a letter April 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The new research echoes some findings of previous studies, said Sheldon Cohen, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. Cohen has previously studied sleep habits and susceptibility to colds. "We found that seven hours is about the breaking point," he said. "People who got less than seven hours were at greater risk, basically."
When many studies are examined, "the consistency across studies really does suggest that sleep is playing a role [in susceptibility to colds]," Cohen said. "Whether it is because sleep maintains a strong immune system, we can't say for sure at this point."
Other factors, such as lack of exercise, could help explain it, he said. Even so, "the data suggest that sleep may be altering the immune function in some way," with sufficient sleep helping it.
People can become better sleepers, Prather said. Getting up at the same time every day is a start, he said. "Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark," he advised. "Have a wind-down period [before going to sleep]."
To learn more about good sleep habits, visit the National Sleep Foundation.
SOURCES: Aric Prather, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco; Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; April 11, 2016, JAMA Internal Medicine, online
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2016
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