It is 8:00 am, pre-coffee (if that’s your thing), and you’re getting ready to walk out the door after a night of staying up with your sick spouse, child, or roommate. You’re starting to feel super-human, juggling all your pre-work morning responsibilities with a heavy head and groggy eyes, when your spouse/child/roommate walks up to you and asks an innocent question: “I’m hungry. What are we having for breakfast?” You look at their cheerful face and take instant offense. You think, “What do you mean, what’s for breakfast? Can’t you see I’m simultaneously feeding the dog, prepping the beans for tonight’s slow-cooker dinner, and reading Junior’s school newsletter?” According to a new U.C. Berkeley study published in the Journal of Neuroscience earlier this week, there is a strong link between a lack of quality sleep and decreased ability to distinguish between positive and negative emotional facial expressions in others. Researchers viewed brain scans and monitored the heart rates of 18 adult participants while they randomly viewed 70 images of faces with random expressions: positive, neutral, and negative emotions. Each individual viewed the facial images twice, once when they were fully rested and once after they had been awake for 24 consecutive hours. The study noted a neural link between the quality and amount of sleep a person gets and his or her ability to correctly process others’ facial expressions. The results of the study inferred that there is “a role for REM sleep in affective brain recalibration” and “the next-day success of emotional discrimination…” All the more reason to get a good night’s sleep! For more information on the study, you can refer to the following articles: http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/07/14/brain-facialexpressions/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/15/sleep-brain-emotions_n_7801726.html
We all know how it feels to have a restless night. You feel irritable, dizzy, and unfocused throughout the next day. But when you are chronically sleep deprived, it can be seriously detrimental to your health. It can affect your body in many ways and in several different places.
Body Fat– People who get only a few hours of sleep per night tend to have more body fat than those who get a full night’s rest. The lack of sleep/energy is compensated for the following day by consuming extra calories.
Stomach– Lack of sleep leads to a lower production of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and the storage of fat.
Motor Skills– After being awake for an extended period of time, you will notice a loss of precision in your motor skills. There is a delayed reaction from your brain in signaling a physical response.
Blood Pressure– Someone who sleeps very little on a regular basis will have much higher blood pressure than if they slept more. This is due to increased amounts of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress.
Pancreas– People who are regularly deprived of sleep are twice as likely to develop diabetes, regardless of age or fitness level. The regulation of other hormone production is disrupted as well.
Heart– Cardiovascular issues tend to develop in a large portion of people who have chronic sleep problems. The issues can range from weak or abnormal heartbeats to clogged arteries, or even cardiac arrest.
Brain– In a period of just a few days, you can damage and kill brain cells by not getting enough sleep at night. Without precious sleep, your brain cannot rid itself of proteins that cause plaque build-up. Over time, this plaque can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
To learn more about the physical effects of sleep deprivation, check out this article by Arianne Cohen, called 7 Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation, from the Psyche section of Details.
Meet Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist who studies sleep patterns in the brain. In the following video, he speaks about a range of topics relating to the importance of sleep.
He first describes three theories on the main function of sleep, as well as which theory he subscribes to. He then discusses what happens to a person (and the person’s brain) when sleep is lacking, as well as ideas about how to improve sleep quality and duration. Foster debunks some common myths and misconceptions about sleep, then speaks about the correlation between mental health and sleep disruption. He urges people to take sleep more seriously and realize the huge role that it plays in making us happy and healthy.
Watch to learn more:
It is well known that babies are the cause of many sleepless nights for new parents. It is important for babies to get their rest, but it is important for parents as well. Without a good night’s sleep, parents are not as alert or focused as they need to be in order to attend to the demands of a new child. Here are 10 tips to help your infant fall asleep:
Teach your baby the difference between day and night. During the day it is light out, there are activities and noises, and everyone interacts with each other. During the night it is dark out, quiet, and everything is still. When bedtime is approaching, dim the lights and speak softly to let your baby know that you are transitioning into night and it is time to sleep.
Set up a routine or schedule that you and the baby follow when you are getting ready for bed. It can be as simple as a bath, followed by a feeding, and finally a lullaby. Whatever it is, follow the same routine every night and the baby will naturally start to respond to the schedule.
Increase the frequency of feedings when it is getting closer to bed time. The baby will sleep better and longer with a full belly! It also helps to give babies a soft massage to sooth them after eating and help them transition into sleep.
As with adults, exercise is a great way for your baby to sleep well. Since infants are limited when it comes to activities, exercise can consist of laying on their bellies and kicking their arms and legs or crawling (depending on age).
Hold your baby close to you and gently rock him or her back and forth. This will help nurture the parent/child bond while helping the baby fall asleep. Another similar method is to purchase a baby swing, which they can actually stay in while napping instead of moving them once they fall asleep.
White noise can be very effective and soothing for a baby. People use a variety of softer sounds, varying from chirping birds to rushing water to the simple whir of a fan, as long as it is not loud enough to wake the baby.
One of the harder tips for parents to follow is to not respond to every cry or noise that the baby makes. Wait a minute to see if the crying persists, because sometimes they are just fussy and will fall asleep on their own. If the babies need something, they will continue to cry for more than a minute. You can end up interrupting their sleep when you check on them, when otherwise they would have fallen back to sleep unaided.
Pretend to be asleep while laying down with your baby. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, imitating sleep patterns. The baby will pick up on this and begin to doze off as well. Who knows, maybe you will catch a nap in the process!
Keep the baby’s room cooler at night than you do during the day. With the use of a fan or air purifier, you can keep the room cooler while also creating white noise.
The final tip is to give the baby a conducive sleeping environment. Babies tend to feel safer in a semi-enclosed area such as a crib or bassinet. Click on the link below to check out OMI’s Innerspring and Latex Crib Mattresses and give your baby the healthiest and safest sleeping surface possible.
Many scientists have studied sleep and why it is that we devote so much of our time to sleeping. New evidence from a recent study by Maiken Nedergaaed and colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York has refreshed a long-held hypothesis that during sleep the brain cleans itself. The scientists studied mice to find that sleep allows fluids to easily run through the brain and clean out metabolic toxins, essentially cleaning the brain of garbage. Check out this video from D News about the study and it’s findings.
Make sure you get your sleep so you can dump the junk from your brain!
Napping can be a great way to gain more energy. There are many benefits of napping, but how long should you nap? Here is a fun video that discusses the science behind napping.
So grab a pillow and snuggle up to recharge your brain with a quick power nap!