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Archive for November, 2007

Why Good Sleep is So Essential

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Getting Good Sleep Matters.

One in 3 Americans suffers from Insomnia. There are currently over 75 categorized sleep disorders, with more sleep disorders being discovered every year. Americans, on average, get 1-2 hours less sleep than is recommended, and for those of us with a bad mattress, those hours that we do get are even less likely to leave us feeling refreshed, and less likely to allow us to reach the restorative levels of deep sleep we need.

In order to feel rested, we must complete a full sleep cycle, which includes REM and NREM sleep.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

This type of sleep is reserved for 25% of sleep we get every night. It happens in intervals throughout your night of sleep. This first interval occurs roughly 90 minutes after you’ve entered into your first sleep cycle. Then it occurs about every 90 minutes increasing in length throughout the night.

Characteristics of REM sleep: Brain is active and dreaming occurs, the eyes dart back and fourth, REM sleep provides energy to brain and body, muscles become immobile and relaxed, levels of hormone cortisol dip at bed time and increase over the night to promote alertness in the morning. Other hormones ghrelin and leptin are regulated over nights that play an integral role on our feelings of hunger and fullness.

Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM)

This type of sleep comprises of about 75% of our nightly sleep cycle. Stages one through four describe the processes that occur during NREM sleep.

Stage One

* Between being awake and falling asleep
* Light Sleep

Stage Two

* Onset of Sleep
* Becoming disengaged from surroundings
* Breathing and HR are regular, steady and consistent
* Body Temperature Drops

Stage Three & Four

* Deepest and most restorative sleep
* Blood Pressure Drops
* Breathing becomes slower
* Muscles are relaxed
* Blood Supply to muscles increases
* Tissue growth and repair increases
* Energy is restored
* Hormones are released (growth hormone)

Damaged Sleep.

All sleep disorders are hindered or worsened, or even caused by the inability of an individual to get restful sleep. Since the invention of artificial light, human beings have been ignoring the natural sleep cycle our bodies were built for and we continue to feel the effects of bad sleep. By ensuring that you sleep in a healthful atmosphere, with the proper support and comfort, you can avoid a number of sleep disorders. Current sufferers can find relief by improving their sleeping conditions.

The following are more rare sleeping disorders that hinder or even prevent REM and NREM Sleep.

1. Narcolepsy: A neurological disorder that is primarily characterized by Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). A narcoleptic is likely to become drowsy or fall asleep at random, inappropriate or completely unintentional moments. Daytime naps may occur without warning and are often physically irresistible.

Human Narcolepsy:

Canine Narcolepsy:

In addition to the stereotypical symptom of narcolepsy, there are four other classic symptoms of narcolepsy:

1. Cataplexy: often confused with Epilepsy, a narcoleptic that suffers from cataplexy attacks results in a similar superficial seizure as seen in epileptics.

2. Sleep Paralysis: this may occur just before or just after waking from sleep. The individual is alert but physically paralyzed.

3. Hypnogenic Hallucinations: This also occurs while one is either falling asleep or waking up from sleep. The individual may experience fear, awareness of a “presence”, chest or back pressure, an inability to breathe, a falling sensation and sometimes a feeling of joy.

The following image is one reconstructed by a sleep patient of a memory of a hypnogogic image he remembered.

2. Automatic Behavior: Spontaneous production of purposeless verbal and motor behavior without concious self control.

3. Sleep Walking:

Medical reports show that about 18% of the population have experienced sleepwalking. It is more common in children than in adolescents and adults. Boys are more likely to sleepwalk than girls. The highest prevalence of sleepwalking was 16.7% at age 11 to 12 years of age. Sleepwalking can have a genetic tendency. If a child begins to sleepwalk at the age of 9, it often lasts into adulthood. Sleepwalking is often triggered by a lack of sleep. When an individual is overtired or sleep deprived, their next pattern of sleep is more likely to occur with possible sleep walking.

4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Pauses in breathing while sleeping. The pauses are called “apneas” which literally means “without breathe.”

Each apnea lasts as long as or longer than one breath. The standard definition of one apneic event is a loss of breath exceeding 10 seconds in length and occurs throughout sleep. The diagnosis of sleep apnea is typically found through an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram.

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