There are different factors that affect the amount of sleep we need at a particular stage in our lives. One such factor is age; with the amount of time we spend sleeping diminishing as we grow older. We tend to sleep for up to 16 hours a day when we are at the infant stage. This reduces to around 9 hours a day when we are teenagers and down to 7-8 hours when we become adults. These figures reflect the average time, though the amount of sleep each person needs varies on a case-by-case basis. The pattern also changes during the first few months of pregnancy for women as their bodies adjusting to the hormonal changes. They may end up sleeping for more hours than they normally do.
In cases where people fail to sleep well, they may end up sleeping more on the next day to make up for the lost sleep. This is the body's way of restoring things back to normal. The body will always show side effects when we are sleep deprived. It comes in the form of impaired judgment, clumsiness, slow reaction time, mood swings and hallucinations.
As people grow older, the amount of sleeping time tends to reduce. They start sleeping lightly even though the body still needs the same amount of sleep as it did during the early stages of adulthood. About half the people who are over the age of 65 tend to have sleeping problems. They have problems such as insomnia while others have shorter deep sleep stages. Some people may not even be able to experience the deep sleep stage. This may be as a result of aging and in some cases, it could be a possible side effect of the medication that they are taking.
According to the experts, there are several behavioral patterns that act as signs to help us identify when people are sleep deprived. One such symptom is when you start feeling drowsy during the daytime activities. There are also people who fall asleep immediately after they lie down and this is a telltale sign of how sleep deprived they are. In addition, there are instances where people unknowingly have short periods of sleep when they are meant to be awake, and this can also be taken as a sign of sleep deprivation. The fact that people are used to working for longer hours is responsible for many cases of sleep deprivation.
Studies have been conducted on a group of sleep deprived people and they prove how dangerous sleep deprivation can be. The tests used driving simulators and monitored the coordination between the eyes and hands in people who are sleep deprived. Sleep deprived people were found to perform worse than people who were intoxicated. It was also established that people who are sleep deprived are likely to become more impaired by alcohol than people who are well rested. Over a thousand deaths are attributed to sleep deprivation every year. Using stimulant such as drinks containing caffeine does not really help to keep you awake. If you find yourself yawning or experiencing memory lapses, you are probably not fit to drive. You need to get enough rest before proceeding.
Get yourself a good night’s sleep The way you feel during the day depends on how you sleep at night. Therefore, good sleep strategies are essential for a deep, restorative sleep, night after night. Here are some tips to induce a restful sleep: Create a sleep-conducive environment Keep noise level to a minimum and your bedroom dark and cool. Your sleeping environment should establish the conditions that you need for sleep. You may also want to use sleeping aids like blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise," humidifiers, fans and other devices. Sleep on a good mattress and pillows You should have a good mattress to support your body throughout the night and enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. If you often wake up with a backache or an aching neck, you should invest in a good new mattress and pillows. Keep a regular sleeping schedule Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. This sets the “body’s clock" to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Create a regular and relaxing bed time routineEase the transition from wake time to sleep time with relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Take a bath, read a book, listen to soothing music or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities. Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycleMelatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep- wake cycle and its production is controlled by light exposure. To ensure you stay alert during the day and sleepy at night, you should let as much light into your home/workspace as possible during day time. This way, the melatonin production is boost at night to make you sleepy. Go to sleep when you’re truly tiredIf you’re not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet, non-stimulating activity, like reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep. Try to avoid backlighted screens such as computers, TV and handphones as the light they emit is brain stimulating. Nap earlyIf you need to nap, opt for a short daytime nap. Late-day naps decrease sleep drive and cause a problem to become sleepy during the night. Have regular exerciseExercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. However, exercising right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult as it stimulates and makes the body more alert. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed. Late afternoon exercise is best to help you fall asleep at night. Eat the right amountStay away from big meals at night. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before bed time Many people think that alcohol will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality. It disrupts sleep as you’ll be more prone of waking up later in the night. Caffeine in coffee or tea can cause sleep problems up to ten hours after consumption. Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch. Nicotine is also a stimulant causing withdrawal symptoms, which reduce the quality of your sleep.
Are you tired of the relentless heat and stickiness on your skin due to humidity? If all you want to do at night is tumble into a cool comfortable bed, then you've come to the right place. 1. Keep shades partially closed during the daytime When you're out at work, keep your bedroom curtains or blinds partially closed during the daytime. This will avoid the build-up of heat. Because of the high humidity in most South East Asian countries, you should not fully close the blinds as the constant dark may encourage mildew or mould growth. Instead, keep the curtains or blinds partially closed during the day - enough to block out most of the sun while still allowing sufficient light to discourage mould growth. This way, your room will be cooler by the time evening arrives. 2. Use a fan, air conditioning or air cooler If you can afford to invest in an air conditioning unit, this is an ideal solution. If you will only be cooling your bedroom, the cost may not be as high as you think. However, it is very important to take care of the unit because standing water is produced by condensation in an air conditioner as a by-product of the cooling process. This can run the risk off attracting disease-carrying mosquitos, so regular removal of stagnant water and disinfection of units is necessary. Hence, the upkeep and maintenance of air conditioning units should be taken into account when deciding whether they need to be installed. If air conditioning is not really an option for you, then use a fan to circulate the air. An air-cooler machine that uses an ice bucket can help a lot in decreasing the temperature. 3. Cool off before going to bed Don't go to bed warm. Instead, cool off by having a shower first. Or use a spray mist device (similar to what you might use to water plants) with cold water and spray it on your body. Another alternative is an ice pack wrapped in a towel and placed it over your whole body, from top to bottom, just before you lie down to sleep. 4. Use light bedding Be practical when selecting your sheets. Light cotton sheets are ideal for a cool night's sleep. Don't be tempted by thick luxurious looking sheets which may make you feel too warm. 5. Uncover your feet If you use a sheet on top of you, uncover your feet. Your feet have a surprisingly large surface area, so keeping your feet cool can help your whole body and skin feel cool. Additionally, consider washing your feet in cold water just before bed - this can help get your feet off to a cool start at bedtime. 6. Rethink your nightwear Sleep in loose, comfortable nightwear made from natural fibres. For example, an undershirt and shorts make good sleepwear that can help make you feel cooler. Cotton, linen or silk is ideal as these are natural fabrics. Avoid rayon or polyester as these synthetic fibres will only make you feel even warmer. One important exception to this rule is specialty synthetics which are designed specifically to wick away perspiration, such as CoolMax® which is a type of specialty synthetics designed to make you feel cooler. While it is common to find such moisture-wicking materials for sportswear, it is rare to find standard nightwear made of these materials. Hence, you may consider wearing a pair of shorts and an exercise singlet made of a specialty synthetic to bed. 7. Hydrate to feel cool, calm and collected Drink plenty of cold water. A tall glass of iced water can go a long way to keeping your whole body cool. Make a practice of keeping well hydrated during the daytime - especially in the early evening. This will help you get a cooler night's sleep. 8. Use a latex mattress You may be surprised to know that your mattress has a big effect on how cool or warm you'll feel while sleeping. A latex mattress can get you get a cooler night's sleep because of its excellent air circulation. Latex mattresses are manufactured with pinholes throughout to ensure proper airflow and breathability. This results in a cooler sleep for you. In contrast, memory foam mattresses are known for 'sleeping hot', where you feel warmer in bed than out of it. While this may be a good thing in cooler climates, a memory foam mattress may not be suitable for Dubai's warm climate. The other good news about latex mattresses is that they are naturally mould resistant. 9. Use a cool pillow Most people forget the role a pillow can play in maintaining a cool temperature while sleeping. There are several options. One option is a gel-filled pillow, which pulls heat away from your head. However, these are not made from natural products. Instead, a latex pillow is ideal for keeping your head cool while sleeping. Latex is a highly breathable natural product which allows plenty of airflow. As a bonus, latex pillows are also known for keeping their plush shape properly due to the natural elastic properties of latex. In contrast, an ordinary new pillow will become flat over just a few months. If you need a cool night's sleep, pay attention to your pillow! A soft, supportive latex pillow will deliver wonderful comfort in addition to coolness. Enjoy sleeping cooler and calmer When you use the tips given above, you'll sleep more comfortably amid our hot and humid climate. Remember, if you're feeling too warm at night then you'll toss and turn and simply won't get a good night's sleep. And of course, when you focus on getting a cool night's sleep, you'll start the new day feeling refreshed and in a positive frame of mind. You'll feel happier, more focused, and other people are certain to enjoy being around you. Why not give yourself the advantage of a cool night's sleep?
Exposure to light at night-time is known to lead to health problems (see reference 1). But it's only recently discovered that the blue wavelengths of light are especially harmful in this area. Being exposed to blue light at night causes sleep problems. But the good news is that these problems can be helped with blue light filters or by decreasing your exposure to blue light. Let's find out more about how these specific sleep problems occur and how to solve them. The problem with blue light and melatonin The reason that blue light at night time is harmful toward sleep is because it suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Blue light has a stronger suppressive effect toward melatonin than any other type of light (see reference 2). Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body, and can be thought of as a 'sleep hormone': melatonin levels are high at night and low during the day. It is thought that these cycling melatonin levels help keep the body's circadian rhythms on track. Melatonin is only secreted in the dark. Any night-time light will cause a sharp decrease in melatonin secretion, and therefore result in sleep disruptions. Blue light is the worst culprit in affecting melatonin levels (see reference 2) as it causes the sharpest decline in melatonin secretion. However, be aware that any light at night will negatively impact melatonin levels - blue light simply has the strongest effect. Blue light at night causes real problems with going to sleep The link between blue light and melatonin is well documented, but does this actually translate into problems with people's sleep? The answer is yes, as we'll see here. In a recent study, volunteers sat in front of two different types of computer monitor screens where one screen was twice as blue as the other. They did this right before bedtime for two weeks. The volunteers were tested for memory and skills: measures of alertness. It was found that the blue screen kept the volunteers more awake and alert (see reference 3). Immediately before bedtime is not a good time to be extra alert! Therefore, you should avoid blue light at night time and just before bedtime. Don't banish daytime blue light - you need it! Blue light is only bad for you at night time. During the day, blue light is actually beneficial. This is because as mentioned before, blue light promotes wakefulness and alertness. Also, blue light decreases melatonin levels, so exposure to blue light during the daytime will help strongly define your circadian rhythms (see references 1 and 3). Natural sunlight contains plenty of blue light. Other sources rich in blue light include computer screens, LED screens, high definition TV screens and energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs. As you can see, our day to day lives contain plenty of devices rich in blue light, so the average person will easily be able to get sufficient blue light in the daytime when going about their normal life. However, those who are exposed to very little blue light will benefit from additional blue light during the day such as exposure to computer or tablet screens (see reference 3). Blocking blue light at night time leads to better sleep Filtering out blue light is a solution which results in improved sleep, as two studies have shown. One of these was in cataract patients, where an artificial lens which blocks blue light was implanted during cataract surgery. These patients reported significant sleep improvements two months later. These benefits included longer night time sleeping and less daytime drowsiness, and also there were fewer people who met the criteria for 'poor sleepers' afterward (see reference 4). In another study, volunteers wore goggles during the evening which blocked blue light. They found that these people tended to have much better sleep than those who did not wear goggles (see references 1 and 3). How can we block blue light at night time? We know that blue light in the evening is bad for sleep. But blue light is such an integral part of our lives today, so how can we block it at night time? Aside from the invasive and difficult-to-reverse cataract surgery, there are some easy options you can try. First of all is the blue light filtering goggles, similar to what the volunteers in the study used. These can be readily purchased and often retail for around $50 to $100. Cheaper versions are orange-tinted sunglasses, but these also block light other than just blue, making them impractical for indoor use at night time. Some other avenues for blocking blue light at night time are: Limit your exposure to artificial light for at least an hour or two before bed. Obviously, you can't entirely avoid artificial light after dark since you'll still need to have adequate lighting to see. But about two hours before bedtime, shut down the computer, turn off your TV and set aside your smartphone: these generally emit more blue light than your lamps and light bulbs. Recharge any electronic devices in a separate room from where you sleep. Some phones have bright LEDs indicating when they are charging, or screens which light up when they're done charging. If that occurs during the night it will be counterproductive to your sleep. Keep such devices in a different room overnight. Use small night lights if you must have light in your bathroom or your bedroom at night to make your way to the bathroom. If you instead switch on the main lights, your melatonin secretion will be sharply suppressed, leading to wakefulness. Use the dimmest night light possible that still allows you to find your way. Be savvy about which types of light bulbs you use. Think about which lighting you use predominantly in the evening, for example your living room lights and your reading lamp. For those particular light sources, consider changing to a more yellow (and less blue) bulb. Energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs tend to emit quite a lot of blue light, but they are usually available in more than one brightness option. If you pick the warmest, yellowest or softest end of the range, you can be assured it will emit less blue light than the brightest, whitest or bluest end of the range. Remember, only change out those bulbs which tend to be restricted to evening usage. You still need blue light during the daytime. Conclusion To get a better night's sleep, there is a surprisingly easy solution: avoid blue light in the evenings and at night. As we also learned, it's equally important to make sure that you do get enough blue light in the daytime. And of course, if you're experiencing sleep difficulties, this might be a good time to consider a new and more comfortable mattress. Latex is one of the most relaxing and comfortable mattress materials available today, so a new latex mattress and latex pillow can go a long way to helping you sleep better. References: 1. “Unplug! Too Much Light at Night May Lead to Depression”, by Dr. Mercola, August 2012. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/09/too-much-night-light-causes-depression.aspx 2. "Blue Light Has a Dark Side", Harvard Health Letters, February 2012. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2012/May/blue-light-has-a-dark-side/ 3. "In Eyes, a Clock Calibrated by Wavelengths of Light", by Laura Beil, New York Times, July 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/health/05light.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 4. "Blocking Blue Light Helps Sleep?" by Michael Breus, Psychology Today, September 2013. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201309/blocking-blue-light-helps-sleep
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