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Category Archives: Sleep Facts

The Science of the Brain During Sleep

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Our brains account for only 2% of our body’s mass, yet they use approximately a quarter of our entire energy supply. How does the brain receive and then expel the vital nutrients needed for all that energy? New research suggests that sleep has some amazing impacts on the brain. This Ted Talks video features Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist, who explores the unique functions of the brain during sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and the Scary Effect It Can Have on Your Health

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The importance of a good night’s sleep is often ignored as impending deadlines approach, or the countless tasks of the day require you to stay up later and later. But what is the damage that can be caused by not getting enough sleep? A sleep study was preformed last year, and the results were astonishing. The study showed that just sleeping less than six hours a night for a week caused changes to more than 700 genes! Here are some of the scary effects that not getting enough sleep can cause:

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After one night of inadequate sleep you are…

More likely to eat more and be hungrier. Studies have shown that short-term sleep deprivation can result in a preference for high-calorie, high-carb foods and a greater likelihood of choosing unhealthy foods options.

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You can be less focused and have memory problems. Being exhausted zaps your focus and renders you forgetful. According to Harvard University, sleep is thought to be involved in the process of memory consolidation, which means that not getting enough sleep can make it more difficult to learn and retain new things.

More likely to have an accident. Getting less than six hours of sleep can triple your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

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More likely to catch a cold. Proper rest is a major factor in a healthy immune system. A study preformed by Carnegie Mellon University found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night tripled the risk of coming down with a cold.

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You can’t look your best. Beauty sleep is a very real thing! Researchers have found that there are links between sleep deprivation and skin aging.

After an extended period of sleep deprivation you will experience an increased risk of stroke, obesity, some types of cancers, and heart disease, as well as other serious medical issues.

To see the full article by the Huffington Post, Horrifying Picture of What Sleep Loss Will Do To You click HERE.

Make getting 7-8 hours a sleep of night your New Year’s resolution for next year and sleep your way to better health!

What Happens to Your Body When It’s Deprived of Sleep?

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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.

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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.

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Stomach- Lack of sleep leads to a lower production of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and the storage of fat.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Benefits of a Cool Sleeping Environment

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Recent studies have found a correlation between cooler sleeping environments and metabolic health, relating to the volume of “brown fat” that is stored in a person’s body.

“Brown fat” is one of two types of fat found in mammals, along with the more common “white fat.” An abundance of brown fat is found in newborns and hibernating mammals, generating body heat for those who do not shiver.

Research has shown that this type of fat is metabolically active, unlike white fat. It takes sugar out of the bloodstream to burn calories and maintain the body’s core temperature.

It was previously thought that adults didn’t have brown fat stores in their bodies, but recent studies have detected small amounts stored in their necks and upper backs.

In a new study, five healthy male adults volunteered to sleep in climate-controlled rooms over the course of four months. Their blood-sugar and insulin levels were tracked throughout, along with their caloric expenditures. At the end of each month, they measured the amount of brown fat found in their bodies.

After four weeks of sleeping in cooler temperatures (66º F), the volume of brown fat had almost doubled, and improved insulin sensitivity was also seen.

By sleeping in a cooler room, adults could over time add to their stores of brown fat and lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic health problems.

To learn more, read this article: “Let’s Cool It in the Bedroom” by Gretchen Reynolds from the New York Times.

10 Foods That Help You Sleep

There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

1. Cheese and Crackers

house_calls_enCheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!

2. Almonds

5081954872_021e68ccb7_zThese delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

3. Walnuts

walnut-328091_640Another nut that helps you catch your zzz’s are walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of melatonin, helping your body respond to stress and allowing you to relax.

4. Bananas

Banana_bunchBananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.

5. Cereal and Milk

3599466415_f2df29705c_bMilk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.

6. Cherries

cherries-390932_640Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock.

7. Decaffeinated Green Tea

8151509619_f434aca966_bGreen tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

8. Hummus

Hummus_from_The_NileChickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!

9. Pumpkin Seeds

1414256_20140128070420Pumpkin seeds are another snack that are packed with a variety of nutrients and tryptophan.

10. Lemon Balm Tea

peppermint-tea-1109_640Tea made from the herb lemon balm contains naturally occurring oils with terpenes, organic compounds that promote relaxation and better sleep.

So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!

Take Sleep Seriously!

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:

Why Do We Dream?

Dreams are a very mysterious nightly phenomenon. We can only speculate on the purpose of dreams, but they are usually extraordinary in nature and a bit confusing to analyze. Why is it that most of the time we forget what we dreamt about as soon as we wake? Why are our accounts of dreams often unreliable or distorted?

The following video delves into theories about REM sleep and how important it is for forming and storing memories. It also discusses lucid dreams, sleepwalking, and a theory behind why we have so many negative feelings like anxiety and anger while dreaming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GGzc3x9WJU

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