Life by DailyBurn » Sleep http://dailyburn.com/life A better you, for life. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 21:38:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 9 Cool New Gadgets to Sleep Better Tonight http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-better-gadgets/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-better-gadgets/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 11:15:23 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=42689 Sleep Better Products and Gadgets

[caption id="attachment_42675" align="alignnone" width="620"]9 Cool New Gadgets to Sleep Better Tonight Photo: Pond5[/caption]

The research doesn't lie: Getting a good night’s sleep is so important. A solid eight hours can help you boost concentration, stress less and exercise more. The problem? There are distractions all over the bedroom, including your addictive smartphone, that blaring, flat-screen TV and a never-ending battle for the ideal sleep temperature. Check out the hard numbers for size: Americans sleep an average of seven hours and 36 minutes every night. And while that may sound solid, 45 percent say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities at least once a week, according to a December 2014 study. Luckily, thanks to a host of ingenious inventions, there are new tools, toys and gadgets promising to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. So turn out the lights, put on your PJs and shop our favorite sleep savers below.

RELATED: 20 Kitchen Gadgets to Make Healthy Eating Easy

9 Items to Sleep Better, Stat

[caption id="attachment_42681" align="alignnone" width="620"]Withings Aura Sleep Better Gadget Photo: Courtesy of Withings[/caption]

1. The Total-Sleep Tracker

The two-part Withings Aura tracker is designed to help you snooze better, aiding you in falling asleep, waking up and figuring out your sleep cycle over the long run. First, there’s a movement sensor that sits beneath your mattress and an LED lamp that promises to relax you at night and gently rouse you in the morning. The unit also promises a library of custom light-and-sound patterns that'll help with “activities” like power napping, getting over jet lag and chilling out with a good book. And now you can pair it with Nest, Google’s home-temperature maintenance tool — and both, of course, have the ability to be controlled from your iPhone. ($300; withings.com)

[caption id="attachment_42683" align="alignnone" width="620"]Blackout Curtains Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond[/caption]

2. The Must-Have Curtain Liners

Darkness is key to getting rest, so outfit your space with a pair of Sound Asleep Blackout Window Curtain Liners. With a seal of approval from the National Sleep Foundation, this surprisingly elegant set can transform any bedroom into a veritable sleep pod with just the help of a single curtain rod. Consider ‘em the biggest eye mask you’ve ever seen. Because anything less than pitch-black isn’t ideal for your overnight snooze session. External lights have been shown to affect sleep patterns. ($60; bedbathbeyond.com)

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Problems — and How to Solve Them

[caption id="attachment_42677" align="alignnone" width="620"]DreamPad Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Integrated Listenings[/caption]

3. The Multi-Tasking Pillow

Drift off to soothing, melodic tunes with this all-in-one pillow that gently vibrates and plays soft music through any MP3 player (iPhones and Androids included) — all without bothering your bed companion, thanks to patented Intrasound technology. By using the DreamPad Pillow System, you can expect a deeper, more sensory-based level of calm and relaxation than you’d get from music playing off speakers. Want Bluetooth connectivity? Shell out an extra $30. Need tunes? Spend $70 for a pre-loaded Sony Walkman. Vintage, right? ($179; dreampadsleep.com)

[caption id="attachment_42679" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sense By Hello Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Hello[/caption]

4. The Intuitive Alarm Clock

Another two-piece system, the Sense by Hello is a sleep tracker and alarm clock in one. And it’s not just any old alarm clock — rather, a modern, spherically-shaped intuitive one. Say, for example, you’ve set your alarm for 7 a.m. but Sense, well, senses that you’re rousing closer to 6:45, it may wake you up earlier instead. The sensor, which is cheekily dubbed “the pill,” has a corresponding app that tracks sleep temperature, humidity and ambient lighting. What separates Sense by Hello from the pack, though, is its particulate monitor, which checks the air quality in your sleep space. And no more throwing the alarm clock across the room — this one shuts off with motion-sensor technology that requires only a wave of your hand. ($129; hello.is)

RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

[caption id="attachment_42684" align="alignnone" width="620"]Definity Digital Good Night Lightbulb Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Definity Digital[/caption]

5. The Not-Bright Lightbulb

Need a little light? Swap out those fluorescents for these top-of-the-line LED bulbs designed to help you nod off. The Definity Digital Good Night Bulbs filter out the blue light found in normal bulbs (or on your smartphone screen) that blocks your melatonin production, a chemical that the body produces, which is critical for sleep. While the bulbs may take a few days to really have an effect on your sleep cycle, the result is worth it — as is the five-year warranty behind it. ($62 each; definitydigital.com)

[caption id="attachment_42676" align="alignnone" width="620"]BedJet Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of BedJet[/caption]

6. The Temperature Regulator

Getting to a comfortable temperature in bed can be nearly impossible — especially if you and your partner have different ideas of which temperature is the right one. That’s where the BedJet Climate Dual Control comes in: Powerful ventilation from the device (which rests under your bed) can wick moisture and cool you instantly, while the almost-instant heat improves poor circulation. Since this particular model has dual air jets, you and your partner will be able to sleep comfortably regardless of whatever temperature each of you prefer. Plus, the corresponding Bluetooth app allows you to change your settings by grabbing your cell — because would you really want to get out of bed? ($1,149; bedjet.com)

RELATED: 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks

[caption id="attachment_42685" align="alignnone" width="620"]37.5 Sheets Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of QVC[/caption]

7. The Perfect Sheets

Want bedding as good at regulating your body temperature as your favorite Nike top? The 37.5 Queen Sheet Performance Set have your back — so much so that QVC nor the company can keep them in stock. These sheets don’t wick away sweat like most performance fabrics do. Instead, 37.5’s technology turns excess heat and moisture into a vapor, which in turn causes the fabric to dry quickly and regulate your body temperature faster. If you’re shivering, it does the opposite, holding in heat to bring you back to a normal body temperature. ($229; qvc.com)

[caption id="attachment_42678" align="alignnone" width="620"]Homedics Deep Sleep Sound Machine Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Homedics[/caption]

8. The Ultimate Sound Machine

Studies show that white noise works: By reducing the difference between background sounds and "peak" sounds, like a door slamming, white noise helps give you a better chance of sleeping undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house. The Homedics Deep Sleep Therapy Machine has 12 different sounds, as well as pre-customized sleep therapy noise programs. Keep the machine across the room and stash the remote atop your nightstand. ($80; homedics.com)

RELATED: 9 Ways to Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep

[caption id="attachment_42680" align="alignnone" width="620"]Tranquility Pod Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer[/caption]

9. The Ridiculous Splurge

Although we can’t recommend spending a whopping $30K on a napping spot in good conscience, we can admit that the Hammacher Schlemmer Tranquility Pod is the stuff that dreams are literally made of. By using pleasant sounds, gentle vibrations and soothing light, you’ll instantly be transported to a far more tranquil state. The ultra-suede-topped memory foam pad is just a bonus to the totally transformative relaxation experience. ($30,000; hammacher.com)

Disclosure: All products featured on our site are hand-picked by our editorial team in the hopes of getting you closer to your health and fitness goals. We only recommend products we love and believe that you will, too. In some cases, you might come across an affiliate link on our site, which means we receive a small commission should you decide to make a purchase. 

The post 9 Cool New Gadgets to Sleep Better Tonight appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Sleep Better Products and Gadgets

[caption id="attachment_42675" align="alignnone" width="620"]9 Cool New Gadgets to Sleep Better Tonight Photo: Pond5[/caption] The research doesn't lie: Getting a good night’s sleep is so important. A solid eight hours can help you boost concentration, stress less and exercise more. The problem? There are distractions all over the bedroom, including your addictive smartphone, that blaring, flat-screen TV and a never-ending battle for the ideal sleep temperature. Check out the hard numbers for size: Americans sleep an average of seven hours and 36 minutes every night. And while that may sound solid, 45 percent say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities at least once a week, according to a December 2014 study. Luckily, thanks to a host of ingenious inventions, there are new tools, toys and gadgets promising to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. So turn out the lights, put on your PJs and shop our favorite sleep savers below. RELATED: 20 Kitchen Gadgets to Make Healthy Eating Easy

9 Items to Sleep Better, Stat

[caption id="attachment_42681" align="alignnone" width="620"]Withings Aura Sleep Better Gadget Photo: Courtesy of Withings[/caption] 1. The Total-Sleep Tracker The two-part Withings Aura tracker is designed to help you snooze better, aiding you in falling asleep, waking up and figuring out your sleep cycle over the long run. First, there’s a movement sensor that sits beneath your mattress and an LED lamp that promises to relax you at night and gently rouse you in the morning. The unit also promises a library of custom light-and-sound patterns that'll help with “activities” like power napping, getting over jet lag and chilling out with a good book. And now you can pair it with Nest, Google’s home-temperature maintenance tool — and both, of course, have the ability to be controlled from your iPhone. ($300; withings.com) [caption id="attachment_42683" align="alignnone" width="620"]Blackout Curtains Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond[/caption] 2. The Must-Have Curtain Liners Darkness is key to getting rest, so outfit your space with a pair of Sound Asleep Blackout Window Curtain Liners. With a seal of approval from the National Sleep Foundation, this surprisingly elegant set can transform any bedroom into a veritable sleep pod with just the help of a single curtain rod. Consider ‘em the biggest eye mask you’ve ever seen. Because anything less than pitch-black isn’t ideal for your overnight snooze session. External lights have been shown to affect sleep patterns. ($60; bedbathbeyond.com) RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Problems — and How to Solve Them [caption id="attachment_42677" align="alignnone" width="620"]DreamPad Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Integrated Listenings[/caption] 3. The Multi-Tasking Pillow Drift off to soothing, melodic tunes with this all-in-one pillow that gently vibrates and plays soft music through any MP3 player (iPhones and Androids included) — all without bothering your bed companion, thanks to patented Intrasound technology. By using the DreamPad Pillow System, you can expect a deeper, more sensory-based level of calm and relaxation than you’d get from music playing off speakers. Want Bluetooth connectivity? Shell out an extra $30. Need tunes? Spend $70 for a pre-loaded Sony Walkman. Vintage, right? ($179; dreampadsleep.com) [caption id="attachment_42679" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sense By Hello Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Hello[/caption] 4. The Intuitive Alarm Clock Another two-piece system, the Sense by Hello is a sleep tracker and alarm clock in one. And it’s not just any old alarm clock — rather, a modern, spherically-shaped intuitive one. Say, for example, you’ve set your alarm for 7 a.m. but Sense, well, senses that you’re rousing closer to 6:45, it may wake you up earlier instead. The sensor, which is cheekily dubbed “the pill,” has a corresponding app that tracks sleep temperature, humidity and ambient lighting. What separates Sense by Hello from the pack, though, is its particulate monitor, which checks the air quality in your sleep space. And no more throwing the alarm clock across the room — this one shuts off with motion-sensor technology that requires only a wave of your hand. ($129; hello.is) RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? [caption id="attachment_42684" align="alignnone" width="620"]Definity Digital Good Night Lightbulb Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Definity Digital[/caption] 5. The Not-Bright Lightbulb Need a little light? Swap out those fluorescents for these top-of-the-line LED bulbs designed to help you nod off. The Definity Digital Good Night Bulbs filter out the blue light found in normal bulbs (or on your smartphone screen) that blocks your melatonin production, a chemical that the body produces, which is critical for sleep. While the bulbs may take a few days to really have an effect on your sleep cycle, the result is worth it — as is the five-year warranty behind it. ($62 each; definitydigital.com) [caption id="attachment_42676" align="alignnone" width="620"]BedJet Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of BedJet[/caption] 6. The Temperature Regulator Getting to a comfortable temperature in bed can be nearly impossible — especially if you and your partner have different ideas of which temperature is the right one. That’s where the BedJet Climate Dual Control comes in: Powerful ventilation from the device (which rests under your bed) can wick moisture and cool you instantly, while the almost-instant heat improves poor circulation. Since this particular model has dual air jets, you and your partner will be able to sleep comfortably regardless of whatever temperature each of you prefer. Plus, the corresponding Bluetooth app allows you to change your settings by grabbing your cell — because would you really want to get out of bed? ($1,149; bedjet.com) RELATED: 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks [caption id="attachment_42685" align="alignnone" width="620"]37.5 Sheets Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of QVC[/caption] 7. The Perfect Sheets Want bedding as good at regulating your body temperature as your favorite Nike top? The 37.5 Queen Sheet Performance Set have your back — so much so that QVC nor the company can keep them in stock. These sheets don’t wick away sweat like most performance fabrics do. Instead, 37.5’s technology turns excess heat and moisture into a vapor, which in turn causes the fabric to dry quickly and regulate your body temperature faster. If you’re shivering, it does the opposite, holding in heat to bring you back to a normal body temperature. ($229; qvc.com) [caption id="attachment_42678" align="alignnone" width="620"]Homedics Deep Sleep Sound Machine Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Homedics[/caption] 8. The Ultimate Sound Machine Studies show that white noise works: By reducing the difference between background sounds and "peak" sounds, like a door slamming, white noise helps give you a better chance of sleeping undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house. The Homedics Deep Sleep Therapy Machine has 12 different sounds, as well as pre-customized sleep therapy noise programs. Keep the machine across the room and stash the remote atop your nightstand. ($80; homedics.com) RELATED: 9 Ways to Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep [caption id="attachment_42680" align="alignnone" width="620"]Tranquility Pod Sleep Better Gadgets Photo: Courtesy of Hammacher Schlemmer[/caption] 9. The Ridiculous Splurge Although we can’t recommend spending a whopping $30K on a napping spot in good conscience, we can admit that the Hammacher Schlemmer Tranquility Pod is the stuff that dreams are literally made of. By using pleasant sounds, gentle vibrations and soothing light, you’ll instantly be transported to a far more tranquil state. The ultra-suede-topped memory foam pad is just a bonus to the totally transformative relaxation experience. ($30,000; hammacher.com) Disclosure: All products featured on our site are hand-picked by our editorial team in the hopes of getting you closer to your health and fitness goals. We only recommend products we love and believe that you will, too. In some cases, you might come across an affiliate link on our site, which means we receive a small commission should you decide to make a purchase. 

The post 9 Cool New Gadgets to Sleep Better Tonight appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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9 Ways to Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-sleep-better-hacks/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-sleep-better-hacks/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:15:27 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=41793 9 Tips for Better Sleep

[caption id="attachment_41911" align="alignnone" width="620"]9 Tips to Sleep Better Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Getting some five-star sleep does way more than make you feel rested the next morning — it’s got a slew of health benefits, too. "Your ability to concentrate, make decisions, exercise and handle stress, just to name a few activities, is dependent in part on your sleep quality," says Natalie Dautovich, PhD, Environmental Scholar for the National Sleep Foundation. But when it comes to getting a solid night’s rest, actually being able to fall asleep is just the tip of the iceberg. "The beginning stages of sleep are physically restorative, but most of your mental repair happens later in the night," says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. Here’s how to make every minute count — and maximize your snooze potential.

How to Sleep Better, Starting Now

1. Work Out — and Work Out Often
"Exercise is the easiest way to sleep better," says Dr. Breus. Although doctors aren't exactly sure why workouts help you snooze, they believe it comes down to two factors. First, since exercise physically tires you out, your body will look to refuel itself with deep rest post-sweat session. And second, because working out releases feel-good endorphins which reduce stress, you’ll also sleep better — and worry free. (As if you needed another benefit from crushing it on the treadmill anyway.)

RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night's Sleep

 2. Freshen Up Your Bed
You know how you change your sheets every week? That same line of thinking should be applied to your entire bed. You should be changing your pillow every 18 months or so, according to Dr. Breus. "You have an eight-pound head on top of your pillow all night long. The pillow's structural integrity will diminish over time," he explains. He recommends spending between $40 and $60 on a pillow. While that may seem expensive, Breus justifies the cost as a worthwhile investment in your health. As for your mattress, kick it to the curb every seven years. "The best mattress for [an individual varies], but over the years, your body will have different support needs. You have to figure out what you need from a mattress perspective as time goes on," says Dr. Breus.

 3. Pump Up the Volume
Of a noise machine, that is. "Unfamiliar sounds can rouse you from the deeper, restorative stages of sleep,” says Dr. Dautovich. “You can camouflage noise through the use of a sound conditioner.”. But thanks to ever-evolving technology, you don’t even need to go out and buy one: Websites like My Noise offer tons of options, such as white noise and rain falling on a tent, to soothe and keep you sleeping.

4. Nix That Nap (Sorry!)
Lazy Sundays — or even brief respites in your daily schedule — shouldn't automatically call for mid-afternoon naps. "You need to be active and avoid or limit napping during the day in order to increase the drive to sleep later on," says Dr. Dautovich. But if you can't completely wean yourself off naps, try these tips for making sure they're quick recharging sessions that don't spiral out of control.

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

5. Set a Consistent Schedule
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythms, including ones responsible for when you get tired as well as when you wake up. ,"We cycle through different stages of sleep multiple times [throught the night]," says Dr. Dautovich. "If you're awakening during the end of a sleep cycle, during the lighter stages of sleep, it'll be easier to wake up without feeling groggy." When you have a sleep schedule, your body learns to predict that timing and prepare to wake up during a lighter stage of sleep. Just keep away from the snooze button, which can confuse your circadian rhythm and leave you feeling even more tired, says Dr. Dautovich.

6. Put a Cork in It
It's tempting to unwind after a long day with a bottle of vino, but wrap it up (and use a cute stopper to cork it) after one (OK, maybe two) glasses. Having too much alcohol in your system is akin to a bouncer in front of Club Good Sleep who keeps you from entering deeper sleep cycles, says Dr. Breus. It reduces REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, according to a 2013 study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, which is far from ideal. REM sleep is when you dream as your brain works on memory and other cognitive functions — pretty important stuff.

7. Cool Things Down
Whether you're a fan of steamy summer temps or you’re more of a cold-weather creature, stick with sleeping in a cool room to maximize your snooze time. "Your body temperature drops as you fall asleep,” says Dr. Dautovich. “We suggest keeping your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit to mimic that.". As a bonus, a 2014 study in Diabetes shows sleeping in a room that's 66 degrees can help increase your levels of metabolism-revving brown fat.

RELATED: The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain

8. Enter the Darkroom
"Light can stop the production of melatonin and have a big effect on both your ability to fall and stay asleep," says Dr. Breus. Melatonin is a hormone that aids in regulating your circadian rhythms, helping you fall — and then keeping you — asleep. In addition to not looking at your phone or computer screens for at least an hour before bed, consider swapping your bulbs for these from LightingScience. "They don't emit as much blue light, which seems to stop melatonin production," says Dr. Breus, who uses them in his own house as well.

9. Skip the Afternoon Coffee Run
You probably never sip coffee right before bed (and if you do, we hope it’s decaf!), but mainlining a PM cup of joe can practically have the same effect. "Caffeine can stay in your system for eight to 10 hours. If you want to get a good night's rest, one of my biggest recommendations would be to stop drinking coffee by around 2:00 p.m.," says Dr. Breus. Instead, try a natural energy bar with wholesome ingredients to help you power through that afternoon slump.

The post 9 Ways to Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
9 Tips for Better Sleep

[caption id="attachment_41911" align="alignnone" width="620"]9 Tips to Sleep Better Photo: Pond5[/caption] Getting some five-star sleep does way more than make you feel rested the next morning — it’s got a slew of health benefits, too. "Your ability to concentrate, make decisions, exercise and handle stress, just to name a few activities, is dependent in part on your sleep quality," says Natalie Dautovich, PhD, Environmental Scholar for the National Sleep Foundation. But when it comes to getting a solid night’s rest, actually being able to fall asleep is just the tip of the iceberg. "The beginning stages of sleep are physically restorative, but most of your mental repair happens later in the night," says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. Here’s how to make every minute count — and maximize your snooze potential.

How to Sleep Better, Starting Now

1. Work Out — and Work Out Often "Exercise is the easiest way to sleep better," says Dr. Breus. Although doctors aren't exactly sure why workouts help you snooze, they believe it comes down to two factors. First, since exercise physically tires you out, your body will look to refuel itself with deep rest post-sweat session. And second, because working out releases feel-good endorphins which reduce stress, you’ll also sleep better — and worry free. (As if you needed another benefit from crushing it on the treadmill anyway.) RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night's Sleep  2. Freshen Up Your Bed You know how you change your sheets every week? That same line of thinking should be applied to your entire bed. You should be changing your pillow every 18 months or so, according to Dr. Breus. "You have an eight-pound head on top of your pillow all night long. The pillow's structural integrity will diminish over time," he explains. He recommends spending between $40 and $60 on a pillow. While that may seem expensive, Breus justifies the cost as a worthwhile investment in your health. As for your mattress, kick it to the curb every seven years. "The best mattress for [an individual varies], but over the years, your body will have different support needs. You have to figure out what you need from a mattress perspective as time goes on," says Dr. Breus.  3. Pump Up the Volume Of a noise machine, that is. "Unfamiliar sounds can rouse you from the deeper, restorative stages of sleep,” says Dr. Dautovich. “You can camouflage noise through the use of a sound conditioner.”. But thanks to ever-evolving technology, you don’t even need to go out and buy one: Websites like My Noise offer tons of options, such as white noise and rain falling on a tent, to soothe and keep you sleeping. 4. Nix That Nap (Sorry!) Lazy Sundays — or even brief respites in your daily schedule — shouldn't automatically call for mid-afternoon naps. "You need to be active and avoid or limit napping during the day in order to increase the drive to sleep later on," says Dr. Dautovich. But if you can't completely wean yourself off naps, try these tips for making sure they're quick recharging sessions that don't spiral out of control. RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) 5. Set a Consistent Schedule Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythms, including ones responsible for when you get tired as well as when you wake up. ,"We cycle through different stages of sleep multiple times [throught the night]," says Dr. Dautovich. "If you're awakening during the end of a sleep cycle, during the lighter stages of sleep, it'll be easier to wake up without feeling groggy." When you have a sleep schedule, your body learns to predict that timing and prepare to wake up during a lighter stage of sleep. Just keep away from the snooze button, which can confuse your circadian rhythm and leave you feeling even more tired, says Dr. Dautovich. 6. Put a Cork in It It's tempting to unwind after a long day with a bottle of vino, but wrap it up (and use a cute stopper to cork it) after one (OK, maybe two) glasses. Having too much alcohol in your system is akin to a bouncer in front of Club Good Sleep who keeps you from entering deeper sleep cycles, says Dr. Breus. It reduces REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, according to a 2013 study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, which is far from ideal. REM sleep is when you dream as your brain works on memory and other cognitive functions — pretty important stuff. 7. Cool Things Down Whether you're a fan of steamy summer temps or you’re more of a cold-weather creature, stick with sleeping in a cool room to maximize your snooze time. "Your body temperature drops as you fall asleep,” says Dr. Dautovich. “We suggest keeping your bedroom between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit to mimic that.". As a bonus, a 2014 study in Diabetes shows sleeping in a room that's 66 degrees can help increase your levels of metabolism-revving brown fat. RELATED: The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain 8. Enter the Darkroom "Light can stop the production of melatonin and have a big effect on both your ability to fall and stay asleep," says Dr. Breus. Melatonin is a hormone that aids in regulating your circadian rhythms, helping you fall — and then keeping you — asleep. In addition to not looking at your phone or computer screens for at least an hour before bed, consider swapping your bulbs for these from LightingScience. "They don't emit as much blue light, which seems to stop melatonin production," says Dr. Breus, who uses them in his own house as well. 9. Skip the Afternoon Coffee Run You probably never sip coffee right before bed (and if you do, we hope it’s decaf!), but mainlining a PM cup of joe can practically have the same effect. "Caffeine can stay in your system for eight to 10 hours. If you want to get a good night's rest, one of my biggest recommendations would be to stop drinking coffee by around 2:00 p.m.," says Dr. Breus. Instead, try a natural energy bar with wholesome ingredients to help you power through that afternoon slump.

The post 9 Ways to Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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6 Ways to Sleep Better and Skip Jet Lag on the Road http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-sleep-better-jet-lag-tips/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-sleep-better-jet-lag-tips/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 11:01:40 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=39812 Common Sleep Issues

[caption id="attachment_32599" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Whether you’re a frequent business traveler, weekend adventurer, or find yourself away from home just once a year, it’s not easy to get your best night’s sleep when you’re not in your own bed. And if you’re in a different time zone, forget it. To help you catch more zzz’s so you can make the most of your waking time, here are tried-and-true tips from frequent travelers and sleep experts to set you up for slumber success.

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Take Every Last Vacation Day This Year

How to Sleep Better on the Road

1. Adjust to your new time zone before you arrive.
Jet lag tends to worsen with the number of time zones you cross, so pre-planning your sleep schedule is crucial, says Gary K. Zammit, PhD, executive director at the Sleep Disorders Institute in Manhattan. Try to get in sync with your new time zone as soon as possible.

“I get the best night’s sleep when I adjust my body clock to the time zone of my destination a few days prior to traveling,” says Bob Jacobs, vice president of brand management for Westin. “If I’m traveling West in a few days after being on the East coast, I’ll stay up an hour or so later at night. And if I’m going to the East coast after being out West, I’ll start getting up a bit earlier each day.” Then, keep your dozing schedule as stable as possible in your new destination. Dimming your lights in the evening hours and opening shades for some bright light exposure in the early a.m. may also help, Zammit says.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (Without Counting Sheep)

2. Pack smart.
Make your destination feel like home to minimize the impact of sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, suggests Zammit. Bring your favorite pajamas and pack your pillow or pillowcase, too. Still can’t unwind? Consider picking up a lavender-scented essential oil to spritz at night or to dab on your pillow. Research has found that lavender may have a positive effect on insomnia and depression.

For business traveler Christina Lampe, packing for maximum hotel room comfort is her number one priority. “You never know how loud, bright, warm or cold a hotel room will be until you get there,” she says. “I always bring a blackout eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, and two types of pajamas in case my room is too hot or too cold. I find that I sleep better when I control the environment to make it feel like it does at home,” she says.

RELATED: 6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired)

3. Stick to your usual routine.
“Whether I arrive at my hotel at noon or midnight, I keep my routine consistent so I feel settled and ready,” says Chelsea Kay Jones, of Forest Lake, Minn. Jones has worked as a Delta flight attendant for six years. “I iron and hang up my uniform for the next day, unpack my toiletries and lay them out by the sink, set up my hair products and makeup for the next day, then put anything back in my suitcase I won’t be needing.” Sticking to your usual before-bed rituals — like reading — can help you feel more comfortable, too.

4. Get moving.
Being active during the day and avoiding naps is helpful for most people, especially if you can get outside and benefit from light exposure, says Zammit. Taking a quick shower in his hotel room, then putting on fresh clothes and going outside helps James Shillinglaw, Editor-in-Chief of TravAlliance Media, adjust to his new environment and time zone. Going for a quick run when he arrives at his destination also keeps his energy levels high throughout the day, and enables him to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly that night.

RELATED: 10 Unexpected Things That Can Ruin Your Sleep

5. Be mindful of your travel diet.
Try not to fall into “vacation eating” mode, chowing down on heavy, greasy foods, suggests Jones. “If you’re hungry, have a light snack before bed and make sure the snack doesn’t contain caffeine or chocolate, which can keep you up at night,” says Zammit.  Beware of foods and drinks that might cause acid reflux, like orange juice, tomato juice or spicy foods. Instead, nosh on something simple and light, like cereal and milk or applesauce. If you’ve got a few hours before bed, eating high-glycemic carbs (like pasta or pretzels) may also help you fall asleep faster, according to research.

Take a hard look at your drinking habits, too. Since she’s constantly going from dehydrating airplanes to hotels rooms that tend to circulate dry air, Jones says she drinks a ton of water on travel days and skips caffeinated drinks later in the day so they don’t hamper her slumber.

RELATED: 10 Simple Snacks for Better Sleep

6. Get up if you can’t fall asleep.
“If I wake up in the middle of the night, I get up and do something, like read or watch TV,” says Shillinglaw. “I try not to just lie there when I find myself awake. I get out of bed, do something productive, and then go back to sleep in an hour.” Most experts agree that if you wake up and can’t fall back asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of bed and do something else. You’ll drift off again later, and your body will thank you the next day.

The post 6 Ways to Sleep Better and Skip Jet Lag on the Road appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Common Sleep Issues

[caption id="attachment_32599" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Photo: Pond5[/caption] Whether you’re a frequent business traveler, weekend adventurer, or find yourself away from home just once a year, it’s not easy to get your best night’s sleep when you’re not in your own bed. And if you’re in a different time zone, forget it. To help you catch more zzz’s so you can make the most of your waking time, here are tried-and-true tips from frequent travelers and sleep experts to set you up for slumber success. RELATED: 7 Reasons to Take Every Last Vacation Day This Year

How to Sleep Better on the Road

1. Adjust to your new time zone before you arrive. Jet lag tends to worsen with the number of time zones you cross, so pre-planning your sleep schedule is crucial, says Gary K. Zammit, PhD, executive director at the Sleep Disorders Institute in Manhattan. Try to get in sync with your new time zone as soon as possible. “I get the best night’s sleep when I adjust my body clock to the time zone of my destination a few days prior to traveling,” says Bob Jacobs, vice president of brand management for Westin. “If I’m traveling West in a few days after being on the East coast, I’ll stay up an hour or so later at night. And if I’m going to the East coast after being out West, I’ll start getting up a bit earlier each day.” Then, keep your dozing schedule as stable as possible in your new destination. Dimming your lights in the evening hours and opening shades for some bright light exposure in the early a.m. may also help, Zammit says. RELATED: 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (Without Counting Sheep) 2. Pack smart. Make your destination feel like home to minimize the impact of sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, suggests Zammit. Bring your favorite pajamas and pack your pillow or pillowcase, too. Still can’t unwind? Consider picking up a lavender-scented essential oil to spritz at night or to dab on your pillow. Research has found that lavender may have a positive effect on insomnia and depression. For business traveler Christina Lampe, packing for maximum hotel room comfort is her number one priority. “You never know how loud, bright, warm or cold a hotel room will be until you get there,” she says. “I always bring a blackout eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, and two types of pajamas in case my room is too hot or too cold. I find that I sleep better when I control the environment to make it feel like it does at home,” she says. RELATED: 6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired) 3. Stick to your usual routine. “Whether I arrive at my hotel at noon or midnight, I keep my routine consistent so I feel settled and ready,” says Chelsea Kay Jones, of Forest Lake, Minn. Jones has worked as a Delta flight attendant for six years. “I iron and hang up my uniform for the next day, unpack my toiletries and lay them out by the sink, set up my hair products and makeup for the next day, then put anything back in my suitcase I won’t be needing.” Sticking to your usual before-bed rituals — like reading — can help you feel more comfortable, too. 4. Get moving. Being active during the day and avoiding naps is helpful for most people, especially if you can get outside and benefit from light exposure, says Zammit. Taking a quick shower in his hotel room, then putting on fresh clothes and going outside helps James Shillinglaw, Editor-in-Chief of TravAlliance Media, adjust to his new environment and time zone. Going for a quick run when he arrives at his destination also keeps his energy levels high throughout the day, and enables him to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly that night. RELATED: 10 Unexpected Things That Can Ruin Your Sleep 5. Be mindful of your travel diet. Try not to fall into “vacation eating” mode, chowing down on heavy, greasy foods, suggests Jones. “If you’re hungry, have a light snack before bed and make sure the snack doesn’t contain caffeine or chocolate, which can keep you up at night,” says Zammit.  Beware of foods and drinks that might cause acid reflux, like orange juice, tomato juice or spicy foods. Instead, nosh on something simple and light, like cereal and milk or applesauce. If you’ve got a few hours before bed, eating high-glycemic carbs (like pasta or pretzels) may also help you fall asleep faster, according to research. Take a hard look at your drinking habits, too. Since she’s constantly going from dehydrating airplanes to hotels rooms that tend to circulate dry air, Jones says she drinks a ton of water on travel days and skips caffeinated drinks later in the day so they don’t hamper her slumber. RELATED: 10 Simple Snacks for Better Sleep 6. Get up if you can’t fall asleep. “If I wake up in the middle of the night, I get up and do something, like read or watch TV,” says Shillinglaw. “I try not to just lie there when I find myself awake. I get out of bed, do something productive, and then go back to sleep in an hour.” Most experts agree that if you wake up and can’t fall back asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of bed and do something else. You’ll drift off again later, and your body will thank you the next day.

The post 6 Ways to Sleep Better and Skip Jet Lag on the Road appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-deprivation-effects-weight-loss/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-deprivation-effects-weight-loss/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:15:57 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=38658 Sleep Myths

[caption id="attachment_38670" align="alignnone" width="620"]The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Can’t figure out why you’re gaining weight — or why it’s so difficult to erase those extra pounds? You might be suffering from sleep deprivation — even if you swear you’re getting enough sleep at night. In fact, one study presented at this year’s Endocrine Society national meeting suggests that getting just 30 fewer minutes sleep than you should per weekday can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes.

Logically, it’s practically impossible to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle if you don’t have the energy for it. “If I’ve gone to bed late or I have a restless night, I'm more likely to turn off my alarm in the morning and skip my workout,” says Paige DePaolis, 24. “It could be me consciously thinking, ‘No way am I going to that exercise class,’ or, unconsciously snoozing to the point that it’s too late to make it to the class.”

RELATED: 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster, Without Counting Sheep

Most of us have been there before. But there are also scientific reasons why a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain.

Sleep: Your Body’s Best Friend

If you thought under-eye circles were the worst consequence of skimping on sleep, you’re in for a shock. “Sleep is important for pretty much every one of your physical systems,” says Janet K. Kennedy, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. “Sleep deprivation leads to deficits in cognitive functioning, whether it’s reaction time, decision-making, or memory.”

Sleep is essential for beyond just what’s going on in your brain, too. “Sleep is involved in the repair and restoration of the body. The rest that happens during sleep really rejuvenates your body for the next day,” says Kennedy.

RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night’s Sleep

Plus, you might be suffering from the symptoms of sleep deprivation, even if you think you’re spending enough time in the sack. “We used to think you needed a significant amount of sleep deprivation for it to have an effect on weight. It turns out that’s not true,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. Just 30 minutes of sleep loss could make you more likely to gain.

Why Sleep Deprivation Causes Weight Gain

[caption id="attachment_38673" align="alignnone" width="620"]The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Losing out on sleep creates a viscous cycle in your body, making you more prone to various factors contributing to weight gain.

“The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite,” says Breus. And it’s not like you’re going to be suddenly ravenous for kale salads, either. “For me, it takes a bit of willpower to choose the salad over the sandwich,” DePaolis says. “When I’m tired, I go for whatever’s going to be easy and make me feel better in the moment.”

Often, that means reaching for bad-for-you foods. “When you’re stressed, your body tries to produce serotonin to calm you down. The easiest way to do that is by eating high-fat, high-carb foods that produce a neurochemical reaction,” Breus says.

A lack of sleep also hinders your body’s ability to process the sweet stuff. “When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down. Sugar remains in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar,” says Breus. Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with insulin, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

When you’re wiped out, your hormones go a little nuts, too, boosting levels of the ghrelin, which tells you when you’re hungry, and decreasing leptin, which signals satiety. In fact, sleep-deprived participants in one small study of 30 people ate an average of 300 more calories per day, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a larger study of 225 people found that those who only spent four hours in bed for five consecutive nights gained almost two pounds more than those who were in bed for about 10 hours, over the course of a week.

One reason you might pack on pounds when you’re sleep deprived is because your body goes into survival mode. Sleeplessness can fool your body into thinking you’re in danger. “Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources, and it also wants more fuel,” says Breus. “I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they're ready to start a diet and lose weight,” says Breus.

RELATED: 6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed 

How to End Your Cycle of Sleep Deprivation

"Sleeping isn’t downtime. You’re feeding your body just as you are when you eat."

Luckily, there are easy ways to make sure sleep never gets in between you and your goal weight again. First, figure out your bedtime. Count seven and a half hours before the time you need to wake up, says Breus. That’s your “lights out” time, which should ensure you’re getting enough sleep to make your body wake itself up at the proper time (maybe even before an alarm goes off). And keep that wake-up time consistent, Kennedy recommends. “Doing that and getting out of bed at the same time sets your body’s clock so you’ll be tired around the same time every night,” she says.

RELATED: Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored

If you feel like you’re still having sleep issues, keep a sleep diary that you can take in to a doctor. “Try to really get a sense of what’s going on day-to-day. Record what time you’re going to bed, roughly what time you fall asleep, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night, when you wake up in the morning, and what time you get out of bed,” says Kennedy. Also make sure to jot down other sleep-related markers, like how you feel throughout the day, exercise, caffeine intake, alcohol and stress levels.

Most important of all, make sleep a priority. “It’s physically unhealthy to lose sleep. And it’s such an easy fix in theory,” says Kennedy. “It requires both a behavioral and conceptual shift. Sleeping isn’t downtime. You’re feeding your body just as you are when you eat.”

The post The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Sleep Myths

[caption id="attachment_38670" align="alignnone" width="620"]The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain Photo: Pond5[/caption] Can’t figure out why you’re gaining weight — or why it’s so difficult to erase those extra pounds? You might be suffering from sleep deprivation — even if you swear you’re getting enough sleep at night. In fact, one study presented at this year’s Endocrine Society national meeting suggests that getting just 30 fewer minutes sleep than you should per weekday can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes. Logically, it’s practically impossible to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle if you don’t have the energy for it. “If I’ve gone to bed late or I have a restless night, I'm more likely to turn off my alarm in the morning and skip my workout,” says Paige DePaolis, 24. “It could be me consciously thinking, ‘No way am I going to that exercise class,’ or, unconsciously snoozing to the point that it’s too late to make it to the class.” RELATED: 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster, Without Counting Sheep Most of us have been there before. But there are also scientific reasons why a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain.

Sleep: Your Body’s Best Friend

If you thought under-eye circles were the worst consequence of skimping on sleep, you’re in for a shock. “Sleep is important for pretty much every one of your physical systems,” says Janet K. Kennedy, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. “Sleep deprivation leads to deficits in cognitive functioning, whether it’s reaction time, decision-making, or memory.” Sleep is essential for beyond just what’s going on in your brain, too. “Sleep is involved in the repair and restoration of the body. The rest that happens during sleep really rejuvenates your body for the next day,” says Kennedy. RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night’s Sleep Plus, you might be suffering from the symptoms of sleep deprivation, even if you think you’re spending enough time in the sack. “We used to think you needed a significant amount of sleep deprivation for it to have an effect on weight. It turns out that’s not true,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. Just 30 minutes of sleep loss could make you more likely to gain.

Why Sleep Deprivation Causes Weight Gain

[caption id="attachment_38673" align="alignnone" width="620"]The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain Photo: Pond5[/caption] Losing out on sleep creates a viscous cycle in your body, making you more prone to various factors contributing to weight gain. “The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite,” says Breus. And it’s not like you’re going to be suddenly ravenous for kale salads, either. “For me, it takes a bit of willpower to choose the salad over the sandwich,” DePaolis says. “When I’m tired, I go for whatever’s going to be easy and make me feel better in the moment.” Often, that means reaching for bad-for-you foods. “When you’re stressed, your body tries to produce serotonin to calm you down. The easiest way to do that is by eating high-fat, high-carb foods that produce a neurochemical reaction,” Breus says. A lack of sleep also hinders your body’s ability to process the sweet stuff. “When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down. Sugar remains in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar,” says Breus. Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with insulin, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine. RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) When you’re wiped out, your hormones go a little nuts, too, boosting levels of the ghrelin, which tells you when you’re hungry, and decreasing leptin, which signals satiety. In fact, sleep-deprived participants in one small study of 30 people ate an average of 300 more calories per day, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a larger study of 225 people found that those who only spent four hours in bed for five consecutive nights gained almost two pounds more than those who were in bed for about 10 hours, over the course of a week. One reason you might pack on pounds when you’re sleep deprived is because your body goes into survival mode. Sleeplessness can fool your body into thinking you’re in danger. “Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources, and it also wants more fuel,” says Breus. “I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they're ready to start a diet and lose weight,” says Breus. RELATED: 6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed 

How to End Your Cycle of Sleep Deprivation

"Sleeping isn’t downtime. You’re feeding your body just as you are when you eat."
Luckily, there are easy ways to make sure sleep never gets in between you and your goal weight again. First, figure out your bedtime. Count seven and a half hours before the time you need to wake up, says Breus. That’s your “lights out” time, which should ensure you’re getting enough sleep to make your body wake itself up at the proper time (maybe even before an alarm goes off). And keep that wake-up time consistent, Kennedy recommends. “Doing that and getting out of bed at the same time sets your body’s clock so you’ll be tired around the same time every night,” she says. RELATED: Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored If you feel like you’re still having sleep issues, keep a sleep diary that you can take in to a doctor. “Try to really get a sense of what’s going on day-to-day. Record what time you’re going to bed, roughly what time you fall asleep, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night, when you wake up in the morning, and what time you get out of bed,” says Kennedy. Also make sure to jot down other sleep-related markers, like how you feel throughout the day, exercise, caffeine intake, alcohol and stress levels. Most important of all, make sleep a priority. “It’s physically unhealthy to lose sleep. And it’s such an easy fix in theory,” says Kennedy. “It requires both a behavioral and conceptual shift. Sleeping isn’t downtime. You’re feeding your body just as you are when you eat.”

The post The Hidden Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Your Body on Daylight Savings Time http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/daylight-savings-time-tips/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/daylight-savings-time-tips/#comments Sat, 07 Mar 2015 14:15:52 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=33602 Daylight Savings Time

[caption id="attachment_33613" align="alignnone" width="620"]Daylight Savings Time Photo: Pond5[/caption]

This month, daylight savings time has us “springing ahead” — or losing an hour of sleep — during the wee hours of Sunday, March 8. While that may sound like you’ll just have to delay weekend brunch plans, one measly hour can be surprisingly jarring on the body.

"The time change is kind of a society-imposed jet lag," says Dr. Ilene Rosen, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and is board-certified in sleep medicine. Here's how to re-acclimate by Monday morning.

What Is Daylight Savings Time?

The time shown on the clock from November to March is known in the Northern hemisphere as "standard time." The rest of the year is considered the exception, or "savings time." Countries in the Southern hemisphere, however, reverse this, observing daylight savings time during their summer — between November and March.

Making matters even more confusing, daylight savings time (DST) isn't practiced everywhere in the world. Most of Asia and Africa as well as parts of Australia and South America don't observe DST at all — nor do Hawaii, Arizona, or many US territories, like Guam and the US Virgin Islands. (Utah may also consider dropping DST, based on public outcry.) Even where it is practiced, clocks are set forward and back on different dates, leading to even more regional variations.

Why Do We Have It?

If you live in a part of the world that experiences wide shifts in weather and daylight hours between summer and winter, you probably relish any extra time you get to spend outdoors in the summer sunshine. Moving the clock forward an hour in the spring gives people an extra hour of daylight in the evening, when they're typically not working, rather than the morning. Added bonus for night owls: It also moves the sunrise an hour later, keeping late-risers' bedrooms conveniently dim.

RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

It's not clear, though, whether all this inconvenience is worth it. One hundred years ago, when DST was first introduced in war-torn Germany, there was a case to be made for saving energy. Moving the clock forward in the spring reduces the number of waking hours between sunset and bedtime (since bedtime remains static while sunset occurs an hour later, according to the clock). Fewer post-sunset evening hours ought to mean fewer lights turned on, and less money spent on energy.

Newer studies throw this hypothesis into question, though. When DST was introduced, lightbulbs were the primary use of household electricity. These days, we use our TVs, computers and other small appliances just as much, whether it's light or dark out. Meanwhile, lightbulbs have grown more efficient. And now that we live in a world where we can control indoor temperature (phew!), it's possible that having more waking daylight hours could, in fact, increase our energy use, since air conditioning uses so much more power than a few measly lightbulbs and is typically turned higher during daylight hours. Studies are inconclusive, but even if it does save money, the savings are estimated to be no more than one or two percent.

How to Deal

In a perfect world, DST wouldn't shock our circadian rhythms twice annually. "Ideally we would be able to allow our internal circadian rhythms to move along naturally with the light-dark cycles that change from season to season," says Dr. Rosen. Since that's not possible, try these tips to transition back to daylight savings time with ease.

1. Shift Your Schedule
To give your body time to adjust, Dr. Rosen recommends going to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night a few days before the time change. She also suggests changing your daily routine so “time cues” your body relies upon are earlier. For example, try starting dinner a little earlier each night. Or, shift ahead bedtime preparations like showering or reading with children.

RELATED: 19 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person

2. Set Clocks Beforehand.
Most cell phones and some electronics will change over to daylight savings time automatically at 2 a.m., but Dr. Rosen suggests changing all other clocks the night before. “Set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime,” she says. This ensures that you get the same amount of sleep as you normally would.

3. Use the Sun
“After the switch forward, head outdoors for some early morning sunlight,” says Dr. Rosen. Hacking your sunlight exposure can help recalibrate your circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and alertness. As always, adding a nap can help fend off drowsiness for anyone still struggling with the switch forward to daylight savings time.

RELATED: Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks

Originally posted on October 30, 2014. Updated March 2015. 

The post Your Body on Daylight Savings Time appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Daylight Savings Time

[caption id="attachment_33613" align="alignnone" width="620"]Daylight Savings Time Photo: Pond5[/caption] This month, daylight savings time has us “springing ahead” — or losing an hour of sleep — during the wee hours of Sunday, March 8. While that may sound like you’ll just have to delay weekend brunch plans, one measly hour can be surprisingly jarring on the body. "The time change is kind of a society-imposed jet lag," says Dr. Ilene Rosen, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and is board-certified in sleep medicine. Here's how to re-acclimate by Monday morning.

What Is Daylight Savings Time?

The time shown on the clock from November to March is known in the Northern hemisphere as "standard time." The rest of the year is considered the exception, or "savings time." Countries in the Southern hemisphere, however, reverse this, observing daylight savings time during their summer — between November and March. Making matters even more confusing, daylight savings time (DST) isn't practiced everywhere in the world. Most of Asia and Africa as well as parts of Australia and South America don't observe DST at all — nor do Hawaii, Arizona, or many US territories, like Guam and the US Virgin Islands. (Utah may also consider dropping DST, based on public outcry.) Even where it is practiced, clocks are set forward and back on different dates, leading to even more regional variations.

Why Do We Have It?

If you live in a part of the world that experiences wide shifts in weather and daylight hours between summer and winter, you probably relish any extra time you get to spend outdoors in the summer sunshine. Moving the clock forward an hour in the spring gives people an extra hour of daylight in the evening, when they're typically not working, rather than the morning. Added bonus for night owls: It also moves the sunrise an hour later, keeping late-risers' bedrooms conveniently dim. RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? It's not clear, though, whether all this inconvenience is worth it. One hundred years ago, when DST was first introduced in war-torn Germany, there was a case to be made for saving energy. Moving the clock forward in the spring reduces the number of waking hours between sunset and bedtime (since bedtime remains static while sunset occurs an hour later, according to the clock). Fewer post-sunset evening hours ought to mean fewer lights turned on, and less money spent on energy. Newer studies throw this hypothesis into question, though. When DST was introduced, lightbulbs were the primary use of household electricity. These days, we use our TVs, computers and other small appliances just as much, whether it's light or dark out. Meanwhile, lightbulbs have grown more efficient. And now that we live in a world where we can control indoor temperature (phew!), it's possible that having more waking daylight hours could, in fact, increase our energy use, since air conditioning uses so much more power than a few measly lightbulbs and is typically turned higher during daylight hours. Studies are inconclusive, but even if it does save money, the savings are estimated to be no more than one or two percent.

How to Deal

In a perfect world, DST wouldn't shock our circadian rhythms twice annually. "Ideally we would be able to allow our internal circadian rhythms to move along naturally with the light-dark cycles that change from season to season," says Dr. Rosen. Since that's not possible, try these tips to transition back to daylight savings time with ease. 1. Shift Your Schedule To give your body time to adjust, Dr. Rosen recommends going to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night a few days before the time change. She also suggests changing your daily routine so “time cues” your body relies upon are earlier. For example, try starting dinner a little earlier each night. Or, shift ahead bedtime preparations like showering or reading with children. RELATED: 19 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person 2. Set Clocks Beforehand. Most cell phones and some electronics will change over to daylight savings time automatically at 2 a.m., but Dr. Rosen suggests changing all other clocks the night before. “Set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime,” she says. This ensures that you get the same amount of sleep as you normally would. 3. Use the Sun “After the switch forward, head outdoors for some early morning sunlight,” says Dr. Rosen. Hacking your sunlight exposure can help recalibrate your circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and alertness. As always, adding a nap can help fend off drowsiness for anyone still struggling with the switch forward to daylight savings time. RELATED: Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks Originally posted on October 30, 2014. Updated March 2015. 

The post Your Body on Daylight Savings Time appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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What Is Melatonin and Should You Really Take It for Sleep? http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-what-is-melatonin/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-what-is-melatonin/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:15:25 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=37629 What Is Melatonin?

[caption id="attachment_37632" align="alignnone" width="620"]What Is Melatonin? Photo: Pond5[/caption]

When it comes to living healthy, you know getting enough sleep matters. You can’t kill it at work and at the gym if you aren’t hitting the sack hard to let your mind and body recuperate. So if you’re a tosser-and-turner, your ears might perk up at the mention of potential relief in the form of the supplement melatonin. But what is melatonin? And is it really a good idea to take something to help knock you out at night?

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

What Is Melatonin, Really?

“Your body [naturally] makes melatonin, which helps create the urge to fall asleep,” says Sanjeev Kothare, M.D., director of the pediatric sleep program at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We call it ‘the hormone of the dark’ because it starts rising as it gets late and the light intensity [of the day] goes down.” Melatonin is key in regulating your body’s internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, says Andrew Westwood, M.D., a board-certified sleep physician and assistant professor at Columbia University.

"It can de-sensitize your receptors so they’re no longer responsive to lower doses of melatonin."

The brain’s pineal gland produces melatonin from the amino acids you get in your diet, says Dr. Westwood. (But don’t turn to food when you can’t sleep — it takes a while for what you digest to turn into melatonin.) As it gets later and darker, your body cranks out higher levels of melatonin. “Normally, by around 8:00 p.m., your melatonin level starts rising. They keep increasing until about 3:00 a.m., when it peaks and your body temperature happens to be at its lowest. We call that ‘biological time zero,’” says Dr. Kothare. After that, your levels drop again.

So, if you’re having trouble drifting off to dreamland, could melatonin be just the thing you’re looking for? “It’s important to understand that melatonin can help induce sleep, but it will not maintain sleep,” says Dr. Kothare. “A lot of people who have difficult falling asleep will take it for that reason, since it’s an inexpensive supplement you can get over the counter.”

Melatonin supplements can also be a great way to break the cycle of insomnia, deal with jet lag, or adjust to life as a shift worker, says Dr. Kothare. What it won’t do: Conk you out for the entire night and leave you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

The Side Effects of Melatonin — and How Much Is Too Much?

Since melatonin is a supplement, it doesn’t require the FDA’s stamp of approval. In other words, buyers beware: What you see is not always what you get. “There’s scientific evidence that shows some supplements don’t actually contain what they say on the label,” says Dr. Westwood. To avoid that “yikes” factor, he recommends patients do significant research for reputable brands before taking a supplement. Even if you do get the real deal instead of something masquerading as melatonin, you might end up with headaches, nightmares and lingering sleepiness in the morning as side effects.

RELATED: Can’t Sleep? Your Guide to a Better Night’s Rest

Most over-the-counter melatonin supplements also contain higher dosages than many doctors would recommend. “Melatonin supplements generally range from 3 to 10 milligrams,” says Dr. Westwood. “The body usually works with around half a milligram.” Although you can’t overdose on melatonin, doctors aren’t sure whether relying on it can affect you negatively. Dr. Westwood says there’s a chance it might. “It can de-sensitize your receptors so they’re no longer responsive to lower doses of melatonin,” he says. “Then, if you come off [the supplement], you might have difficulty sleeping — and require more and more melatonin to fall asleep.” On the other hand, Dr. Kothare says if you respond well to melatonin supplements, you can keep taking them long-term without any major negative side effects.

RELATED: 6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed

Melatonin and Sleep: The Bottom Line

Even if you’re convinced melatonin could relieve your sleep woes, head to a doctor’s office first. “In many cases, people actually need something else, like avoiding bright lights and blue lights from things like cell phones and computers a few hours before bed,” says Dr. Westwood.

If your doctor does think you could benefit from melatonin, he or she will likely recommend taking only around a milligram, instead of the higher doses most supplements offer. And, if you’ve been using melatonin and feel like it’s having wonky effects on your body, seek out medical advice. That’s what doctors are there for!

The post What Is Melatonin and Should You Really Take It for Sleep? appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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What Is Melatonin?

[caption id="attachment_37632" align="alignnone" width="620"]What Is Melatonin? Photo: Pond5[/caption] When it comes to living healthy, you know getting enough sleep matters. You can’t kill it at work and at the gym if you aren’t hitting the sack hard to let your mind and body recuperate. So if you’re a tosser-and-turner, your ears might perk up at the mention of potential relief in the form of the supplement melatonin. But what is melatonin? And is it really a good idea to take something to help knock you out at night? RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

What Is Melatonin, Really?

“Your body [naturally] makes melatonin, which helps create the urge to fall asleep,” says Sanjeev Kothare, M.D., director of the pediatric sleep program at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We call it ‘the hormone of the dark’ because it starts rising as it gets late and the light intensity [of the day] goes down.” Melatonin is key in regulating your body’s internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, says Andrew Westwood, M.D., a board-certified sleep physician and assistant professor at Columbia University.
"It can de-sensitize your receptors so they’re no longer responsive to lower doses of melatonin."
The brain’s pineal gland produces melatonin from the amino acids you get in your diet, says Dr. Westwood. (But don’t turn to food when you can’t sleep — it takes a while for what you digest to turn into melatonin.) As it gets later and darker, your body cranks out higher levels of melatonin. “Normally, by around 8:00 p.m., your melatonin level starts rising. They keep increasing until about 3:00 a.m., when it peaks and your body temperature happens to be at its lowest. We call that ‘biological time zero,’” says Dr. Kothare. After that, your levels drop again. So, if you’re having trouble drifting off to dreamland, could melatonin be just the thing you’re looking for? “It’s important to understand that melatonin can help induce sleep, but it will not maintain sleep,” says Dr. Kothare. “A lot of people who have difficult falling asleep will take it for that reason, since it’s an inexpensive supplement you can get over the counter.” Melatonin supplements can also be a great way to break the cycle of insomnia, deal with jet lag, or adjust to life as a shift worker, says Dr. Kothare. What it won’t do: Conk you out for the entire night and leave you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

The Side Effects of Melatonin — and How Much Is Too Much?

Since melatonin is a supplement, it doesn’t require the FDA’s stamp of approval. In other words, buyers beware: What you see is not always what you get. “There’s scientific evidence that shows some supplements don’t actually contain what they say on the label,” says Dr. Westwood. To avoid that “yikes” factor, he recommends patients do significant research for reputable brands before taking a supplement. Even if you do get the real deal instead of something masquerading as melatonin, you might end up with headaches, nightmares and lingering sleepiness in the morning as side effects. RELATED: Can’t Sleep? Your Guide to a Better Night’s Rest Most over-the-counter melatonin supplements also contain higher dosages than many doctors would recommend. “Melatonin supplements generally range from 3 to 10 milligrams,” says Dr. Westwood. “The body usually works with around half a milligram.” Although you can’t overdose on melatonin, doctors aren’t sure whether relying on it can affect you negatively. Dr. Westwood says there’s a chance it might. “It can de-sensitize your receptors so they’re no longer responsive to lower doses of melatonin,” he says. “Then, if you come off [the supplement], you might have difficulty sleeping — and require more and more melatonin to fall asleep.” On the other hand, Dr. Kothare says if you respond well to melatonin supplements, you can keep taking them long-term without any major negative side effects. RELATED: 6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed

Melatonin and Sleep: The Bottom Line

Even if you’re convinced melatonin could relieve your sleep woes, head to a doctor’s office first. “In many cases, people actually need something else, like avoiding bright lights and blue lights from things like cell phones and computers a few hours before bed,” says Dr. Westwood. If your doctor does think you could benefit from melatonin, he or she will likely recommend taking only around a milligram, instead of the higher doses most supplements offer. And, if you’ve been using melatonin and feel like it’s having wonky effects on your body, seek out medical advice. That’s what doctors are there for!

The post What Is Melatonin and Should You Really Take It for Sleep? appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (Without Counting Sheep) http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-fall-asleep-fast/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-fall-asleep-fast/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:15:45 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=37273 How to Fall Asleep Faster

[caption id="attachment_37277" align="alignnone" width="620"]How to Fall Asleep Faster Photo: Pond5[/caption]

If you feel wide awake when your head hits the pillow at night, you’re not alone. Approximately 60 million Americans report having experienced insomnia in any given year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Even worse, 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep disorders.

RELATED: 15 Gadgets for A Better Night’s Sleep

Missing sleep is nothing to yawn about. “Chronic sleep deprivation has lots of negative consequences,” says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She notes that the health risks associated with missed zzz’s can include poor cognitive function, problems with attention and concentration, dementia and an increased risk of heart disease.

Why Every Night of Sleep Matters

Are you getting enough shut-eye? Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, according to Dr. Ancoli-Israel. “People are so busy in their everyday lives and something has to give. They give up on sleep rather than something else,” she says.

If you get tense and worried about not being able to sleep, your frustrated mindset could make it even harder to relax.

Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, odds are you’ve experienced nights when you’ve tossed and turned, wondering why you can’t drift off. “Everyone has a bad night now and then,” says Dr. Ancoli-Israel. But if you get tense and worried about not being able to sleep, your frustrated mindset could make it even harder to relax into slumber the following nights.

The consequences of missing even a few hours of sleep can be serious. Research shows that short-term sleep deprivation can cause you to crave high carbohydrate and high sugar foods. It can even make it harder to choose healthy options when grocery shopping. Plus, one sobering study revealed that drowsy drivers who had been awake for 18 hours were just as impaired as drivers who had been drinking.

RELATED: 6 Signs You’re Exhausted (And Not Just Tired)

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ensure you’ll actually pass out once your head hits the pillow.

9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster

1. Do a 60-minute wind-down.
If you’re moving at full-speed all day, it can be tough to suddenly switch yourself “off” at night. “We are assaulted by information all the time and it’s really up to us to create routines that help separate the buzzing of the brain from our sleep routines,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You). She recommends giving your mind and body a full hour to wind down from work (or happy hour) before you try to fall asleep.

2. Take a warm bath or shower.
Spending time in a steamy shower could be beneficial even if you don’t need to rinse off. Dr. Kennedy points out that your body temperature drops rapidly once you exit the shower. Research shows that this decrease in temperature can trigger a sleepy feeling because your heart rate, digestion and other metabolic processes slow down. This can make it easier for your brain and body to power down, too.

3. Put on socks.
Showering isn’t the only trick in the book. When it comes to optimizing your temperature for sleep, the ideal balance is a cooler core and warmer extremities, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. One study revealed that wearing socks dilates your blood vessels and can help blood flow, leading to a more optimal temperature for snoozing.

RELATED: Can Amber-Colored Glasses to Help You Sleep?

4. Try the 4-7-8 exercise.
We’ve all been there: No matter how many times you flip over, you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that will let you slip into slumber. But instead of trying to find the perfect position, concentrate on finding the perfect way to breathe.

By deliberately changing the pattern of your inhales and exhales, you can change your heart rate and blood pressure, two systems linked to sleepiness. Many relaxation specialists recommend inhaling through your nose, focusing on filling your chest and lungs (for about three to four seconds) and then exhaling slowly through your mouth for double the time you were inhaling. Another method, known as the “4-7-8 exercise,” involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds.

[caption id="attachment_30436" align="alignnone" width="620"]Napping Photo: Pond5[/caption]

5. Don’t get in bed until you actually feel sleepy.
Trying to score some extra zzz’s by going to bed at 8 p.m. is a recipe for disaster. “If you aren’t sleepy, your body won’t settle down,” says Dr. Kennedy. And according to Professor Ancoli-Israel, your sleep will actually be worse the longer you stay in bed. “Eight hours of sleep is more efficient than nine to 10 hours in bed,” she says.

6. Practice calming techniques during the day, not at night.
Relaxation techniques like visualization or progressive muscle relaxation can help you unwind. But don’t wait until it’s dark outside to try these for the first time. “You don’t want to do it the first time when you’re anxious,” Dr. Kennedy says. “You want to start really getting the skill down when it’s easy for you, then try it in more difficult situations.” If you’re using an app to guide you, try to practice until you don’t have to bring your device into the bedroom with you (because that can mess up sleep, too).

Need suggestions? We’ve got our iTunes stocked with wacky wind chimes from Dreaming with Jeff, produced by actor Jeff Bridges, and iSleep Easy, an app with a variety of guided meditations.

7. Get out of bed.
Lying in bed and worrying about your inability to fall asleep will not help. “The second you start feeling tense, go into another room until you start feeling sleepy,” says Professor Ancoli-Israel. You want to condition your brain to associate the bed with sleeping and nothing else, she explains.

Feeling frustrated “creates a stress response where the body creates adrenaline,” says Dr. Kennedy. To combat this harmful feedback loop, divert your attention by reading, doing crossword puzzles, knitting, drinking tea, folding laundry or organizing closets until you start to feel drowsy. “It doesn’t matter, as long as it is relaxing to you,” she says.

8. Hide your clock.
Repeat after us: “I must stop staring at my clock.” You could be waking yourself up even more, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. When you’re constantly checking the time, you’re putting pressure on yourself and creating a more stressful environment. Plus, Dr. Kennedy points out that your phone can suck you back into daytime stressors with every text, email or app notification. If you need to use your alarm clock or phone to ensure you rise on time, put it under the bed or in a drawer so you aren’t tempted to glance at it every five minutes.

RELATED: Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored

9. Vent on paper.
If racing thoughts keep you up, consider jotting down what’s on your mind before you head to bed. Processing your feelings (good and bad!) can help you relax into a sleepier state of mind. “When you’re thinking through that stuff and you’re laying down, it can become circular,” says Dr. Kennedy.

By writing things down or making a list of tomorrow’s to-dos, you’ll tame any bouncing thoughts and turn them into a more linear narrative. Instead of endlessly worrying about the next day’s workload, you’ll have already plotted out how you’ll get everything accomplished before you hit the hay.

The post 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (Without Counting Sheep) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
How to Fall Asleep Faster

[caption id="attachment_37277" align="alignnone" width="620"]How to Fall Asleep Faster Photo: Pond5[/caption] If you feel wide awake when your head hits the pillow at night, you’re not alone. Approximately 60 million Americans report having experienced insomnia in any given year, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Even worse, 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep disorders. RELATED: 15 Gadgets for A Better Night’s Sleep Missing sleep is nothing to yawn about. “Chronic sleep deprivation has lots of negative consequences,” says Sonia Ancoli-Israel, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She notes that the health risks associated with missed zzz’s can include poor cognitive function, problems with attention and concentration, dementia and an increased risk of heart disease.

Why Every Night of Sleep Matters

Are you getting enough shut-eye? Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, according to Dr. Ancoli-Israel. “People are so busy in their everyday lives and something has to give. They give up on sleep rather than something else,” she says.
If you get tense and worried about not being able to sleep, your frustrated mindset could make it even harder to relax.
Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, odds are you’ve experienced nights when you’ve tossed and turned, wondering why you can’t drift off. “Everyone has a bad night now and then,” says Dr. Ancoli-Israel. But if you get tense and worried about not being able to sleep, your frustrated mindset could make it even harder to relax into slumber the following nights. The consequences of missing even a few hours of sleep can be serious. Research shows that short-term sleep deprivation can cause you to crave high carbohydrate and high sugar foods. It can even make it harder to choose healthy options when grocery shopping. Plus, one sobering study revealed that drowsy drivers who had been awake for 18 hours were just as impaired as drivers who had been drinking. RELATED: 6 Signs You’re Exhausted (And Not Just Tired) Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ensure you’ll actually pass out once your head hits the pillow.

9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster

1. Do a 60-minute wind-down. If you’re moving at full-speed all day, it can be tough to suddenly switch yourself “off” at night. “We are assaulted by information all the time and it’s really up to us to create routines that help separate the buzzing of the brain from our sleep routines,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You). She recommends giving your mind and body a full hour to wind down from work (or happy hour) before you try to fall asleep. 2. Take a warm bath or shower. Spending time in a steamy shower could be beneficial even if you don’t need to rinse off. Dr. Kennedy points out that your body temperature drops rapidly once you exit the shower. Research shows that this decrease in temperature can trigger a sleepy feeling because your heart rate, digestion and other metabolic processes slow down. This can make it easier for your brain and body to power down, too. 3. Put on socks. Showering isn’t the only trick in the book. When it comes to optimizing your temperature for sleep, the ideal balance is a cooler core and warmer extremities, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. One study revealed that wearing socks dilates your blood vessels and can help blood flow, leading to a more optimal temperature for snoozing. RELATED: Can Amber-Colored Glasses to Help You Sleep? 4. Try the 4-7-8 exercise. We’ve all been there: No matter how many times you flip over, you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that will let you slip into slumber. But instead of trying to find the perfect position, concentrate on finding the perfect way to breathe. By deliberately changing the pattern of your inhales and exhales, you can change your heart rate and blood pressure, two systems linked to sleepiness. Many relaxation specialists recommend inhaling through your nose, focusing on filling your chest and lungs (for about three to four seconds) and then exhaling slowly through your mouth for double the time you were inhaling. Another method, known as the “4-7-8 exercise,” involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds. [caption id="attachment_30436" align="alignnone" width="620"]Napping Photo: Pond5[/caption] 5. Don’t get in bed until you actually feel sleepy. Trying to score some extra zzz’s by going to bed at 8 p.m. is a recipe for disaster. “If you aren’t sleepy, your body won’t settle down,” says Dr. Kennedy. And according to Professor Ancoli-Israel, your sleep will actually be worse the longer you stay in bed. “Eight hours of sleep is more efficient than nine to 10 hours in bed,” she says. 6. Practice calming techniques during the day, not at night. Relaxation techniques like visualization or progressive muscle relaxation can help you unwind. But don’t wait until it’s dark outside to try these for the first time. “You don’t want to do it the first time when you’re anxious,” Dr. Kennedy says. “You want to start really getting the skill down when it’s easy for you, then try it in more difficult situations.” If you’re using an app to guide you, try to practice until you don’t have to bring your device into the bedroom with you (because that can mess up sleep, too). Need suggestions? We’ve got our iTunes stocked with wacky wind chimes from Dreaming with Jeff, produced by actor Jeff Bridges, and iSleep Easy, an app with a variety of guided meditations. 7. Get out of bed. Lying in bed and worrying about your inability to fall asleep will not help. “The second you start feeling tense, go into another room until you start feeling sleepy,” says Professor Ancoli-Israel. You want to condition your brain to associate the bed with sleeping and nothing else, she explains. Feeling frustrated “creates a stress response where the body creates adrenaline,” says Dr. Kennedy. To combat this harmful feedback loop, divert your attention by reading, doing crossword puzzles, knitting, drinking tea, folding laundry or organizing closets until you start to feel drowsy. “It doesn’t matter, as long as it is relaxing to you,” she says. 8. Hide your clock. Repeat after us: “I must stop staring at my clock.” You could be waking yourself up even more, says Professor Ancoli-Israel. When you’re constantly checking the time, you’re putting pressure on yourself and creating a more stressful environment. Plus, Dr. Kennedy points out that your phone can suck you back into daytime stressors with every text, email or app notification. If you need to use your alarm clock or phone to ensure you rise on time, put it under the bed or in a drawer so you aren’t tempted to glance at it every five minutes. RELATED: Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored 9. Vent on paper. If racing thoughts keep you up, consider jotting down what’s on your mind before you head to bed. Processing your feelings (good and bad!) can help you relax into a sleepier state of mind. “When you’re thinking through that stuff and you’re laying down, it can become circular,” says Dr. Kennedy. By writing things down or making a list of tomorrow’s to-dos, you’ll tame any bouncing thoughts and turn them into a more linear narrative. Instead of endlessly worrying about the next day’s workload, you’ll have already plotted out how you’ll get everything accomplished before you hit the hay.

The post 9 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster (Without Counting Sheep) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired) http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-signs-tips/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-signs-tips/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:15:05 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=36482 Signs You're Exhausted

[caption id="attachment_36488" align="alignnone" width="620"]Signs You're Exhausted Photo: Pond5[/caption]

If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous.

"Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection." So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP

RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It

6 Clues That You’re Totally Exhausted

1. Your Lips Are Dry
If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches, dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”

“You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day.”

Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus.

RELATED: 10 Ways to Stay Hydrated (That Aren’t Water)

2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy
Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen.

This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen.

RELATED: How Exhaustion Might Change the Way You Think

3. Your Workouts Have Sucked
Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that's in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.”

Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen.

RELATED: 10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Workout

4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It)
It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal Sleep. For the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope.

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

 "Even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day."

5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual
Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus.

Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction.

RELATED: The 30-Second Trick That Might Stop Your Food Cravings

6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week
You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction.

Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study in Frontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.”

Ready to make a change? Check out this guide for a better night’s rest.

The post 6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Signs You're Exhausted

[caption id="attachment_36488" align="alignnone" width="620"]Signs You're Exhausted Photo: Pond5[/caption] If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous. "Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection." So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It

6 Clues That You’re Totally Exhausted

1. Your Lips Are Dry If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches, dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”
“You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day.”
Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus. RELATED: 10 Ways to Stay Hydrated (That Aren’t Water) 2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen. This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen. RELATED: How Exhaustion Might Change the Way You Think 3. Your Workouts Have Sucked Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that's in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.” Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen. RELATED: 10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Workout 4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It) It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal Sleep. For the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope. RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)
 "Even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day."
5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus. Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction. RELATED: The 30-Second Trick That Might Stop Your Food Cravings 6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction. Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study in Frontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.” Ready to make a change? Check out this guide for a better night’s rest.

The post 6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/snoring-obstructive-sleep-apnea-symptoms/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/snoring-obstructive-sleep-apnea-symptoms/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 12:15:21 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=36109 Sleeping Dog Morning Person

[caption id="attachment_36115" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Apnea Snoring Photo: Pond5[/caption]

People who snore may think that their partners or roommates are the ones most affected by their nightly symphonies — after all, they're the ones who are kept awake while the noise-maker remains, for the most part, blissfully unaware.

But snoring can be more than just an annoyance to anyone else in the room; it can also be a symptom of a serious health condition, and has been linked to dangers like heart disease and falling asleep behind the wheel.

RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief)

Of course, there are many reasons why people snore and not all of them are chronic or hazardous to your health. If you sleep alone, you may not even be aware that you're "sawing logs" on a regular basis. Here's how to know if you or a loved one is at risk for snoring-related health problems and what you can do about it.

Why We Snore

Between 5 and 15 percent of middle-aged adults probably suffer from sleep apnea, although it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Middle-of-the-night wheezing, snorting and snuffling can happen for a variety of reasons, but they all have to do with obstruction of a person's airways. Most often, muscles in the roof of the mouth (known as the soft palate) or the back of the throat relax and partially block the flow of air.

"If you blow air through a floppy tube, it's going to vibrate and make noise," explains Michael Grandner, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "And at night, for a lot of people, your airways become a floppy tube."

This can occur when people sleep on their backs instead of their sides, when they've had a few drinks before bed (because alcohol relaxes muscles) or when they have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. In fact, about half of adults snore at least some of the time, says Grandner, and it's usually not dangerous. "Most of the time, we can still get enough air to keep things functioning normally."

RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

But other snoring triggers can be harder to fix. For example, having an enlarged uvula (that ball of tissue hanging in the back of your mouth), a large tongue, or being overweight — especially for men, since they tend to gain weight around their necks — all raise your risk for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the heart isn't able to get enough oxygen to function properly.

Spotting the Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Between five and 15 percent of middle-aged adults probably suffer from sleep apnea, Grandner says, although it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. And that's bad news, since studies have shown strong associations between sleep apnea and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions.

For people with sleep apnea, airway obstruction is so severe that breathing slows to a trickle. It may even stop for seconds at a time. These episodes are called apneas, at which point the brain sends alert signals to the body, forcing a gasp, a gag or an extra powerful snore.

"A lot of people think sleep apnea will cause them to suffocate, but it won't," says Grandner. "You're still getting enough air to breathe — and if not, your brain will wake you up." (Note though that according to the Mayo Clinic, for those with underlying heart disease, sleep apnea can lead to sudden death due to cardiac arrest.) The bigger risk, he says, is the long-term damage it can do.

Fluctuating oxygen levels throughout the night causes stress and oxidative damage to cells within your body. They also force the brain to be on high-alert all night and to deliver a shot of adrenaline to the heart every time an apnea occurs, when the body and brain are ideally supposed to be resting and recovering.

"It's much more of a cardiovascular problem than a respiratory one," he says. "People with untreated sleep apnea tend to develop these conditions years before they normally would."

RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It

When to Take Snoring Seriously

So how do you know whether you have run-of-the-mill snoring or a more serious problem? If someone hears you sleep on a regular basis and notices that you periodically stop breathing for several seconds at a time, that's a red flag.

So is the volume of your snoring. "If you can hear it pretty clearly through a closed door, that's a sign that your body is probably working too hard to get sufficient oxygen," says Grandner.

If you don't have a live-in partner or roommate, you can still watch out for daytime symptoms. Because the condition doesn't allow people to get the deep sleep they need, about two thirds of people with sleep apnea experience excessive daytime sleepiness. "If you can stop whatever you doing, just about any place and any time of day, and sit down and immediately fall asleep, that's a problem," says Grandner.

RELATED: Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks

Waking up feeling exhausted is also a sign, especially if that feeling doesn't go away within 10 to 15 minutes of getting out of bed. People with untreated sleep apnea may also have trouble getting high blood pressure under control, even with the help of medication.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

The good news is that sleep apnea is very treatable and easily diagnosed through an overnight sleep study done either in your own home or at a sleep clinic.

Lifestyle changes, like losing weight or not sleeping on your back, may help some people. And if not, almost all cases can be treated by using a device called a continuous positive-air pressure, or CPAP, machine. The device sends air through a tube and a mask, into a patient's nose and mouth while they sleep, keeping the airway open.

"It may take a few weeks of getting used to, but once they get over that hurdle most patients say it literally changes their life," says Grandner. "It gives them more energy during the day, so a lot of them are finally able to exercise, eat better, and really get healthier overall."

The post Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Sleeping Dog Morning Person

[caption id="attachment_36115" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Apnea Snoring Photo: Pond5[/caption] People who snore may think that their partners or roommates are the ones most affected by their nightly symphonies — after all, they're the ones who are kept awake while the noise-maker remains, for the most part, blissfully unaware. But snoring can be more than just an annoyance to anyone else in the room; it can also be a symptom of a serious health condition, and has been linked to dangers like heart disease and falling asleep behind the wheel. RELATED: The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) Of course, there are many reasons why people snore and not all of them are chronic or hazardous to your health. If you sleep alone, you may not even be aware that you're "sawing logs" on a regular basis. Here's how to know if you or a loved one is at risk for snoring-related health problems and what you can do about it.

Why We Snore

Between 5 and 15 percent of middle-aged adults probably suffer from sleep apnea, although it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Middle-of-the-night wheezing, snorting and snuffling can happen for a variety of reasons, but they all have to do with obstruction of a person's airways. Most often, muscles in the roof of the mouth (known as the soft palate) or the back of the throat relax and partially block the flow of air. "If you blow air through a floppy tube, it's going to vibrate and make noise," explains Michael Grandner, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "And at night, for a lot of people, your airways become a floppy tube." This can occur when people sleep on their backs instead of their sides, when they've had a few drinks before bed (because alcohol relaxes muscles) or when they have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. In fact, about half of adults snore at least some of the time, says Grandner, and it's usually not dangerous. "Most of the time, we can still get enough air to keep things functioning normally." RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? But other snoring triggers can be harder to fix. For example, having an enlarged uvula (that ball of tissue hanging in the back of your mouth), a large tongue, or being overweight — especially for men, since they tend to gain weight around their necks — all raise your risk for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the heart isn't able to get enough oxygen to function properly.

Spotting the Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Between five and 15 percent of middle-aged adults probably suffer from sleep apnea, Grandner says, although it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. And that's bad news, since studies have shown strong associations between sleep apnea and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions. For people with sleep apnea, airway obstruction is so severe that breathing slows to a trickle. It may even stop for seconds at a time. These episodes are called apneas, at which point the brain sends alert signals to the body, forcing a gasp, a gag or an extra powerful snore. "A lot of people think sleep apnea will cause them to suffocate, but it won't," says Grandner. "You're still getting enough air to breathe — and if not, your brain will wake you up." (Note though that according to the Mayo Clinic, for those with underlying heart disease, sleep apnea can lead to sudden death due to cardiac arrest.) The bigger risk, he says, is the long-term damage it can do. Fluctuating oxygen levels throughout the night causes stress and oxidative damage to cells within your body. They also force the brain to be on high-alert all night and to deliver a shot of adrenaline to the heart every time an apnea occurs, when the body and brain are ideally supposed to be resting and recovering. "It's much more of a cardiovascular problem than a respiratory one," he says. "People with untreated sleep apnea tend to develop these conditions years before they normally would." RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It

When to Take Snoring Seriously

So how do you know whether you have run-of-the-mill snoring or a more serious problem? If someone hears you sleep on a regular basis and notices that you periodically stop breathing for several seconds at a time, that's a red flag. So is the volume of your snoring. "If you can hear it pretty clearly through a closed door, that's a sign that your body is probably working too hard to get sufficient oxygen," says Grandner. If you don't have a live-in partner or roommate, you can still watch out for daytime symptoms. Because the condition doesn't allow people to get the deep sleep they need, about two thirds of people with sleep apnea experience excessive daytime sleepiness. "If you can stop whatever you doing, just about any place and any time of day, and sit down and immediately fall asleep, that's a problem," says Grandner. RELATED: Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks Waking up feeling exhausted is also a sign, especially if that feeling doesn't go away within 10 to 15 minutes of getting out of bed. People with untreated sleep apnea may also have trouble getting high blood pressure under control, even with the help of medication.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

The good news is that sleep apnea is very treatable and easily diagnosed through an overnight sleep study done either in your own home or at a sleep clinic. Lifestyle changes, like losing weight or not sleeping on your back, may help some people. And if not, almost all cases can be treated by using a device called a continuous positive-air pressure, or CPAP, machine. The device sends air through a tube and a mask, into a patient's nose and mouth while they sleep, keeping the airway open. "It may take a few weeks of getting used to, but once they get over that hurdle most patients say it literally changes their life," says Grandner. "It gives them more energy during the day, so a lot of them are finally able to exercise, eat better, and really get healthier overall."

The post Think Snoring Is Normal? Why Sleep Apnea Shouldn’t Be Ignored appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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How Exhaustion Might Change the Way You Think http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/lumosity-exhaustion-brain-112014/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/lumosity-exhaustion-brain-112014/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:15:58 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=34466 Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health

[caption id="attachment_34474" align="alignnone" width="620"]Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Between waking up early to squeeze in spin class and catching up with friends over late-night drinks, we’ve all experienced that groggy feeling of logging too few hours of sleep. It turns out that exhaustion (and your corresponding mood) isn’t just making you feel run down — it’s affecting the way your brain works, too. New research from Lumosity, an online brain training program with more than 60 million registered users, reveals that the hours you’ve slept, time of day, and your mood all have an effect on how mentally sharp you are throughout the day.

RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It

Researcher Daniel Sternberg, PhD, senior data scientist at Lumosity, analyzed how 60,000 people performed on Lumosity’s various tests of processing speed, short term and working memory, task switching, visual attention, and arithmetic and verbal fluency over the course of the year to find out what really makes your brain alert — or totally out of it.

Sleep Is King

Almost everyone’s brain performs better on cognitive tests in the morning hours.

The results may serve as motivation to turn in early tonight: With few exceptions, Lumosity users performed better on cognitive tests when they reported enjoying at least seven to eight hours of sleep the night before. And that effect may be more pronounced in real-life situations, according to Sternberg. “As you train on the same task many times, you get better and better at doing it and your performance doesn’t vary as much,” Sternberg says, noting that each study participant had played these games at least 100 times. “But it may be that when you’re encountering a novel situation, that’s probably where there are bigger differences.”

RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Being in a bad mood doesn’t do you any favors, either. When users logged in to play a game, they were asked to rate their happiness on a scale consisting of five faces, ranging from smiling to frowning. Users’ scores were always better when they reported being in a “smiling” mood, according to researchers. Your state of mind may be an indicator of “life circumstances that specifically affect our ability to concentrate,” the study reports.

[caption id="attachment_34475" align="alignnone" width="620"]Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health Photo: Pond5[/caption]

 

Score One for Night Owls?

Peak time for creativity seems to occur later in the day, possibly from 2 to 4 p.m.

Whether or not you identify as a morning or night person also has an effect on how you think, the research reveals. But here’s the catch: Almost everyone’s brain performs better on cognitive tests in the morning. The only difference was that night owls remained cognitively sharp later into the evening than early birds. “People who reported being evening people…they just were less affected at night. They maintained better performance as night went on, as opposed to people who felt they were sharper in the morning, who were declining,” Sternberg says.

RELATED: 13 Tips for the Best Nap Ever

The researchers also discovered that peak time for creativity seemed to occur later in the day, possibly somewhere in the afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. That's because creativity, which requires thinking outside the box, may actually be easier to achieve if you’re a little less in control of your brain, Sternberg notes. “If you think you’re a morning person, maybe plan more creative activities in the afternoon.”

In the future, Sternberg says he hopes to use Lumosity in conjunction with other tracking devices to give people more precise insights about what times of day they might be able to think more creatively, or when they might be best equipped to handle multi-tasking, or stress. “We might be able to pull in this type of data and say based on data about other people, an extra hour of sleep would be great for you and make a really big difference.”

Plus, he thinks there’s a special place for using Lumosity in conjunction with fitness trackers to help people achieve peak fitness — both mentally and physically. “There’s lots of papers now showing that certain physical activity is pretty good for cognitive health and brain health,” Sternberg says. By tracking both workout habits and cognitive performance, researchers might soon be able to pinpoint exactly how your fitness affects your brain — and vice versa.

The post How Exhaustion Might Change the Way You Think appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health

[caption id="attachment_34474" align="alignnone" width="620"]Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health Photo: Pond5[/caption] Between waking up early to squeeze in spin class and catching up with friends over late-night drinks, we’ve all experienced that groggy feeling of logging too few hours of sleep. It turns out that exhaustion (and your corresponding mood) isn’t just making you feel run down — it’s affecting the way your brain works, too. New research from Lumosity, an online brain training program with more than 60 million registered users, reveals that the hours you’ve slept, time of day, and your mood all have an effect on how mentally sharp you are throughout the day. RELATED: 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It Researcher Daniel Sternberg, PhD, senior data scientist at Lumosity, analyzed how 60,000 people performed on Lumosity’s various tests of processing speed, short term and working memory, task switching, visual attention, and arithmetic and verbal fluency over the course of the year to find out what really makes your brain alert — or totally out of it.

Sleep Is King

Almost everyone’s brain performs better on cognitive tests in the morning hours.
The results may serve as motivation to turn in early tonight: With few exceptions, Lumosity users performed better on cognitive tests when they reported enjoying at least seven to eight hours of sleep the night before. And that effect may be more pronounced in real-life situations, according to Sternberg. “As you train on the same task many times, you get better and better at doing it and your performance doesn’t vary as much,” Sternberg says, noting that each study participant had played these games at least 100 times. “But it may be that when you’re encountering a novel situation, that’s probably where there are bigger differences.” RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? Being in a bad mood doesn’t do you any favors, either. When users logged in to play a game, they were asked to rate their happiness on a scale consisting of five faces, ranging from smiling to frowning. Users’ scores were always better when they reported being in a “smiling” mood, according to researchers. Your state of mind may be an indicator of “life circumstances that specifically affect our ability to concentrate,” the study reports. [caption id="attachment_34475" align="alignnone" width="620"]Lumosity Exhaustion Brain Health Photo: Pond5[/caption]  

Score One for Night Owls?

Peak time for creativity seems to occur later in the day, possibly from 2 to 4 p.m.
Whether or not you identify as a morning or night person also has an effect on how you think, the research reveals. But here’s the catch: Almost everyone’s brain performs better on cognitive tests in the morning. The only difference was that night owls remained cognitively sharp later into the evening than early birds. “People who reported being evening people…they just were less affected at night. They maintained better performance as night went on, as opposed to people who felt they were sharper in the morning, who were declining,” Sternberg says. RELATED: 13 Tips for the Best Nap Ever The researchers also discovered that peak time for creativity seemed to occur later in the day, possibly somewhere in the afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. That's because creativity, which requires thinking outside the box, may actually be easier to achieve if you’re a little less in control of your brain, Sternberg notes. “If you think you’re a morning person, maybe plan more creative activities in the afternoon.” In the future, Sternberg says he hopes to use Lumosity in conjunction with other tracking devices to give people more precise insights about what times of day they might be able to think more creatively, or when they might be best equipped to handle multi-tasking, or stress. “We might be able to pull in this type of data and say based on data about other people, an extra hour of sleep would be great for you and make a really big difference.” Plus, he thinks there’s a special place for using Lumosity in conjunction with fitness trackers to help people achieve peak fitness — both mentally and physically. “There’s lots of papers now showing that certain physical activity is pretty good for cognitive health and brain health,” Sternberg says. By tracking both workout habits and cognitive performance, researchers might soon be able to pinpoint exactly how your fitness affects your brain — and vice versa.

The post How Exhaustion Might Change the Way You Think appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Orange Is the New Black: Sunglasses to Help You Sleep http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-fall-asleep-fast-blue-blocking-glasses/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-fall-asleep-fast-blue-blocking-glasses/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:15:57 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=33949 Sunglasses to Fall Asleep Fast

[caption id="attachment_33957" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sunglasses to Fall Asleep Fast Photo: islaay[/caption]

When Michelle Tam, the 40-year-old blogger behind Nom Nom Paleo, worked the night shift as a hospital pharmacist for over a decade, she pulled out all the stops to ensure she got adequate sleep. Bedtime was at 10:30 a.m., sharp. She banned electronics from her bedroom, installed blackout curtains to block daytime sunshine, wore a soft eye mask to prevent additional light sneaking in, and inserted earplugs to silence her rambunctious family. But her early morning slumber prep involved one other very unusual suspect. 

“As soon as I got off work, I’d stick on these goofy goggles,” says Tam, referring to amber-colored glasses she bought online for roughly eight dollars in February 2013. Despite the dork factor, the plastic specs helped Tam fall asleep after checking email and responding to tweets before crawling under the covers.   

Specs for Snoozing

How does this cheap eyewear influence sleep? Normally, the pineal gland in your brain begins producing melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep, when the sun goes down. But studies demonstrate that the blue light emitted from devices like smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs can disrupt this process. The tinted lenses block the light that tricks the body into thinking it is daytime.

“What we tell people is, stop anything with screens about an hour before bedtime,” says Safwan Badr, M.D., former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The blue light from the screens, he says, shift circadian rhythms twice as long as green light, which has a shorter wavelength.

A small study recently conducted at the University of Basel in Switzerland suggests that blue light-blocking glasses can restore our normal sense of sleepiness after exposure to screens at night. After playing with computers and other digital devices before bedtime for a week, 13 teen boys who wore tinted glasses at night reported feeling significantly sleepier than 13 boys who wore clear glasses. Saliva samples revealed that the boys with blue light blocking glasses had higher melatonin levels, too.

[caption id="attachment_33952" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sunglasses to Fall Alseep Fast Illustration: Nom Nom Paleo[/caption]

Screens Before Dreams

While no one has tracked the number of people who use safety glasses as sleep aides, they’re becoming quite popular in one specific profession.

“It’s like a peaceful knockout. You feel like the thing that was keeping you awake is gone.”

“It’s amazing how frequently you’ll see these in the programming world,” says Dan Schobel, a 33-year-old engineer at Twitter. He explains that wearing this product is a well-known method for “undoing some of the harm of staring at a computer screen” late into the night. 

Two years ago Schobel first read about amber glasses on Paleo websites and later saw his brother, a programmer at Apple, start wearing them. Then, after another engineer popped a pair on at a hacker weekend he decided to try them out himself. For a year now, Schobel says he’s been wearing the specs after 9 p.m. if he thinks he’s going to be up late working. Usually he feels wired when he works at night on his laptop, and claims the glasses help him unwind. “It’s like a peaceful knockout. You feel like the thing that was keeping you awake is gone,” he says. The effect feels similar to taking over-the-counter melatonin supplements, he explains, but notes that for him, the pills don’t induce the same natural “worn-out drowsy” feeling that these frames do.

Even though Tam no longer works nights, she still wears her amber glasses for two hours before hitting the sack. Like many Americans, she needs to use her computer after dark for her job. Tam and her husband leave their electronics out of the bedroom to charge, but according to the National Sleep Foundation 2014 Poll, 89 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have at least one electronic device where they lay their heads at night.

Necessary Night Lights

“I think it’s kind of a fact of my life that I have to work on a computer and on my smartphone before bed to be productive,” says Tam, who catches up on blogging and social media in the evening after her children go to sleep. “I don’t know if it’s all placebo effect, but when I don’t wear [my glasses] it’s harder to fall asleep,” she says. “If I’m consistent about it, I start feeling sleepy when I’m supposed to feel sleepy.”

With at least 40 million Americans suffering from chronic, long-term sleep disorders and 20 million reporting occasional sleeping problems, getting shut-eye is nothing to yawn at. The National Institute of Health is spending the same amount of money on researching sleep as it does on researching food safety. And though it is well established that blue light inhibits melatonin production, American researchers have yet to investigate if tinted glasses or software like f.lux, which changes the colors on your electronic screens to reduce stimulating emissions, can be effective ways to fall asleep faster. 

While they wait for science to shed more light on these glasses, Tam and Schobel will rest, assured.

Would you wear these glasses before bedtime? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

The post Orange Is the New Black: Sunglasses to Help You Sleep appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Sunglasses to Fall Asleep Fast

[caption id="attachment_33957" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sunglasses to Fall Asleep Fast Photo: islaay[/caption]

When Michelle Tam, the 40-year-old blogger behind Nom Nom Paleo, worked the night shift as a hospital pharmacist for over a decade, she pulled out all the stops to ensure she got adequate sleep. Bedtime was at 10:30 a.m., sharp. She banned electronics from her bedroom, installed blackout curtains to block daytime sunshine, wore a soft eye mask to prevent additional light sneaking in, and inserted earplugs to silence her rambunctious family. But her early morning slumber prep involved one other very unusual suspect. 

“As soon as I got off work, I’d stick on these goofy goggles,” says Tam, referring to amber-colored glasses she bought online for roughly eight dollars in February 2013. Despite the dork factor, the plastic specs helped Tam fall asleep after checking email and responding to tweets before crawling under the covers.   

Specs for Snoozing

How does this cheap eyewear influence sleep? Normally, the pineal gland in your brain begins producing melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep, when the sun goes down. But studies demonstrate that the blue light emitted from devices like smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs can disrupt this process. The tinted lenses block the light that tricks the body into thinking it is daytime.

“What we tell people is, stop anything with screens about an hour before bedtime,” says Safwan Badr, M.D., former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The blue light from the screens, he says, shift circadian rhythms twice as long as green light, which has a shorter wavelength.

A small study recently conducted at the University of Basel in Switzerland suggests that blue light-blocking glasses can restore our normal sense of sleepiness after exposure to screens at night. After playing with computers and other digital devices before bedtime for a week, 13 teen boys who wore tinted glasses at night reported feeling significantly sleepier than 13 boys who wore clear glasses. Saliva samples revealed that the boys with blue light blocking glasses had higher melatonin levels, too.

[caption id="attachment_33952" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sunglasses to Fall Alseep Fast Illustration: Nom Nom Paleo[/caption]

Screens Before Dreams

While no one has tracked the number of people who use safety glasses as sleep aides, they’re becoming quite popular in one specific profession.

“It’s like a peaceful knockout. You feel like the thing that was keeping you awake is gone.”

“It’s amazing how frequently you’ll see these in the programming world,” says Dan Schobel, a 33-year-old engineer at Twitter. He explains that wearing this product is a well-known method for “undoing some of the harm of staring at a computer screen” late into the night. 

Two years ago Schobel first read about amber glasses on Paleo websites and later saw his brother, a programmer at Apple, start wearing them. Then, after another engineer popped a pair on at a hacker weekend he decided to try them out himself. For a year now, Schobel says he’s been wearing the specs after 9 p.m. if he thinks he’s going to be up late working. Usually he feels wired when he works at night on his laptop, and claims the glasses help him unwind. “It’s like a peaceful knockout. You feel like the thing that was keeping you awake is gone,” he says. The effect feels similar to taking over-the-counter melatonin supplements, he explains, but notes that for him, the pills don’t induce the same natural “worn-out drowsy” feeling that these frames do.

Even though Tam no longer works nights, she still wears her amber glasses for two hours before hitting the sack. Like many Americans, she needs to use her computer after dark for her job. Tam and her husband leave their electronics out of the bedroom to charge, but according to the National Sleep Foundation 2014 Poll, 89 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have at least one electronic device where they lay their heads at night.

Necessary Night Lights

“I think it’s kind of a fact of my life that I have to work on a computer and on my smartphone before bed to be productive,” says Tam, who catches up on blogging and social media in the evening after her children go to sleep. “I don’t know if it’s all placebo effect, but when I don’t wear [my glasses] it’s harder to fall asleep,” she says. “If I’m consistent about it, I start feeling sleepy when I’m supposed to feel sleepy.”

With at least 40 million Americans suffering from chronic, long-term sleep disorders and 20 million reporting occasional sleeping problems, getting shut-eye is nothing to yawn at. The National Institute of Health is spending the same amount of money on researching sleep as it does on researching food safety. And though it is well established that blue light inhibits melatonin production, American researchers have yet to investigate if tinted glasses or software like f.lux, which changes the colors on your electronic screens to reduce stimulating emissions, can be effective ways to fall asleep faster. 

While they wait for science to shed more light on these glasses, Tam and Schobel will rest, assured.

Would you wear these glasses before bedtime? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

The post Orange Is the New Black: Sunglasses to Help You Sleep appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/common-sleep-issues-solutions/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/common-sleep-issues-solutions/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:15:50 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=32593 Common Sleep Issues

[caption id="attachment_32599" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Kamal Patel is the director of Examine.com, and is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics.

If good sleep could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be the strongest medication ever produced. Numerous studies have connected inadequate sleep to chronic diseases and shortened lifespan. But alas, sleep is not that simple. In fact, it’s the one natural process that might cause the most issues for modern-day adults, with around 30 percent of the American population having some degree of sleep disruption. 

"Correcting sleep deficits could be the single most important thing you do for your health…"

Why is that? Well, we tend to work in offices for long hours during the daytime, often staring at computer screens for hours on end. Occasionally we head to the gym to bust out an intense workout, and then rush to get dinner prepared before trying to get some zzz’s. With that fairly unnatural schedule, is it any wonder that our circadian rhythms are screwed up and unfettered sleep can be hard to come by?

Luckily relief can be found through a variety of tactics. Some of these are quite simple, while others employ new technologies. Sleep issues are complex, so remember that no one treatment is a panacea. But correcting sleep deficits could be the single most important thing you do for your health, so addressing these specific issues is worth the effort. 

Sleep Snatcher #1: Joint Pain 

When something hurts, it’s tough to fall asleep as quickly as usual. Not only that, but sleep and pain join together to form a vicious cycle: When you don’t get enough shut-eye, the pain becomes more annoying, and that leads to even less sleep. Sometimes joint pain is temporary and easy to diagnose, but other times it’s quite complex and even mysterious.

Regardless of the specific cause of pain, there are some things you can try to alleviate its impact on sleep. If sleep is difficult because a shoulder or a hip on one side of the body hurts, it makes sense to sleep on the other side. But therein lies the rub: How do you tell your unconscious body to roll over rather than sleep on a painful joint?

You can actually borrow a tactic from sleep apnea treatment by utilizing a tennis ball to discourage certain sleeping positions. Get a tennis ball and place it in the pocket of your pajama pants or shorts on the painful side, and that should discourage sleeping on that side. Once you’re able to doze off, sleep can be wonderfully recuperative for joint pain.

Another ancient method of addressing pain is massage. While the efficacy of massage for pain has mixed evidence in trials, a variety of studies show that touch and pressure can be therapeutic for specific conditions. If you don’t have a partner to lend a hand, even self-massage has shown benefits for some conditions. Try using either your knuckles or palm, or purchase a simple tool to knead away knots and increase blood flow. Work out any tension or trigger points you can find, for five to 10 minutes (or less if it starts to feel uncomfortable).  

Sleep Snatcher #2: An Annoying Partner

"About a quarter of Americans either have sleep apnea or are at high risk."

What happens when the reason you can’t sleep is laying right next to you? This can cause serious relationship issues, not to mention substantial daytime sleepiness. Typically, the issue with partners is that they produce too much sound, which annoys light sleepers even if their bedmate is sleeping like a rock. A very loud rock.

The obvious answer to noise issues is using earplugs. The downside: Not only can earplugs be uncomfortable for some, but regular use may lead to ear wax issues and increased exposure to bacteria. Luckily there are some alternatives. First, make sure your partner does not have sleep apnea. About a quarter of Americans either have sleep apnea or are at high risk. And since sleep apnea has several treatment options, it’s worth getting tested for. 

If your significant other doesn’t really snore, but instead wakes up before you along with their annoying alarm clock, there is hope. A variety of wrist devices (such as those produced by Fitbit or Jawbone) are now available that gently buzz rather than sounding an alarm, which will wake your partner up but maintain your slumber. If you don’t want to fork out the cash for a gadget and already have a smartphone, apps (like Sleep Cycle for iPhone or Sleep as Android for Android) can duplicate this function if your partner is willing to sleep with their phone strapped to them, as if they were out on a jog. Yes, this might seem extreme. But to some, it’s a small price to pay for an extra hour or two of sleep. 

[caption id="attachment_32600" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Woman Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Sleep Snatcher #3: Racing Thoughts

When you're going to bed late, and you know eight hours isn't attainable, it can be especially hard to fall asleep amidst scattered worries of the day ahead. Will you be too tired to perform well at work? What's the commute going to be like? Maybe something's due. There is no simple fix for racing thoughts, unfortunately, but there are some creative strategies to lessen them. (Note: If anxious thoughts are severely impacting your life, a visit to a therapist may be in order.) 

One approach may be at the tip of your nose. Of the five senses, smell is the one that is rarely discussed in terms of indulgence. A chocolate chip cookie tastes good, and smells great, but the smell is mostly taken as a sign of the goodness to come. However, olfactory treatments can be effective on their own. For example, trials have shown that lavender can help bring on sleep, partially due to its ability to reduce anxiety. Other natural products like lemon balm have somewhat similar effects (though with less clinical evidence).

White noise is another popular approach for those who can't handle falling asleep to silence. It’s a viable option to dissipate racing thoughts, but can also be used in other ways. Take the concept of binaural beats, for example. Preliminary research shows that listening to these two concurrent sounds of similar frequencies through earphones can help reduce anxiety and possibly bring on sleep.

Sleep Snatcher #4: An Uncomfortable Environment

Many external factors that disrupt sleep are not partner-related, but environment-related. People will go years waking up before their alarm due to the rising sun, only to lie in bed trying to get back to bed. This is one problem that can have fairly simple solutions. Many window coverings let in enough light to disrupt sleep, even when fully closed. Replacing these with so-called “blackout curtains,” designed to fully block out the sun, will allow you to get those precious few minutes — or hours — of additional sleep your body needs. 

Temperature is another underappreciated factor when it comes to catching zzz’s. Our circadian rhythms are regulated by a variety of cues that suggest to our body what time it is, and how our body should respond. These cues are called zeitgebers, which in German literally means "timegiver." Temperature is a zeitgeber due to the sun regulating daily temperature cycles — it's warmer in the daytime when the sun is out, and cooler at night. If we don't turn down the thermostat, or cover ourselves with too much bedding or clothing, it may be difficult to sleep due to the warmer temperature. Luckily this is easily fixed with a thermostat, although personal preferences may vary. Wearing breathable clothing (or nothing at all!) in addition to using natural bedding can provide for a cooler sensation than using synthetic materials. 

[caption id="attachment_32601" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Man Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Sleep Snatcher #5: Waking Up Mid-Slumber

This is the bane of some people’s existence. While others get a full night of sleep, or wake up to use the bathroom on occasion, others get up several times a night. When combined with some of the above issues, this can be a serious obstacle. Imagine having racing thoughts and finally falling asleep after an hour or two, only to wake up and return to those same racing thoughts.

First things first, if you wake up often, talk to your doctor about it. It could very well be due to a medical condition like sleep apnea, or potentially a medical issue causing excessive urinary frequency. If medical issues are not the cause, consider alternative approaches.

Melatonin is a hormone involved in bringing on sleep and keeping us there. If you take supplemental melatonin and find that it helps you fall asleep but also causes you to wake up in the middle of the night, consider taking an alternate form. Sustained-release melatonin can help people for whom a quickly-released dose of melatonin leads to disrupted sleep.

Alternately, you can enable your body to produce melatonin naturally by staying away from light at night. This is harder than it sounds, since even the light from one bulb can curb melatonin production. Light intensity is important though, so foregoing computer and TV use, and reading with dim bulbs or dimly front-lit e-readers can help. If you're careful about fire safety, reading by candlelight is also an option. 

One admittedly wacky-looking alternative is to pick up a pair of amber-colored blue light blocking glasses, which greatly help melatonin production due to blocking the blue part of the light spectrum that halts melatonin production. Downloading a free computer program such as f.lux can automatically turn down the blue portion of your computer's color spectrum as the day progresses, mimicking the setting sun. This type of program is also available in app form for mobile devices, for the growing numbers of people who fall asleep with smartphones in hand.

Sleep Snatcher #6: Everything Else

These are by no means not the only sleep issues people have. Sleep conditions are increasingly prevalent, as evident by recent headlines on "sleep drunkenness," a condition that leads to waking up in an extremely disoriented state. And nocturnal issues don't necessarily have to be caused by medical conditions. Just ask a new parent who has an especially hard time dealing with crying infants — that can be just as difficult to overcome as any clinically diagnosed sleep disorder.

Similarly, we only covered a fraction of possible treatments. A wide array of approaches exist, including widely-studied techniques like meditation. We have however seen that there are some simple, natural tactics to combat sleep issues other than the typical advice to "set a bedtime and stick to it." If you have trouble sleeping, just remember that there is a world of research out there, and there is hope.

The post The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Common Sleep Issues

[caption id="attachment_32599" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Kamal Patel is the director of Examine.com, and is a nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University on hiatus from a PhD in nutrition. He has published peer-reviewed articles on vitamin D and calcium as well as a variety of clinical research topics.

If good sleep could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be the strongest medication ever produced. Numerous studies have connected inadequate sleep to chronic diseases and shortened lifespan. But alas, sleep is not that simple. In fact, it’s the one natural process that might cause the most issues for modern-day adults, with around 30 percent of the American population having some degree of sleep disruption. 

"Correcting sleep deficits could be the single most important thing you do for your health…"

Why is that? Well, we tend to work in offices for long hours during the daytime, often staring at computer screens for hours on end. Occasionally we head to the gym to bust out an intense workout, and then rush to get dinner prepared before trying to get some zzz’s. With that fairly unnatural schedule, is it any wonder that our circadian rhythms are screwed up and unfettered sleep can be hard to come by?

Luckily relief can be found through a variety of tactics. Some of these are quite simple, while others employ new technologies. Sleep issues are complex, so remember that no one treatment is a panacea. But correcting sleep deficits could be the single most important thing you do for your health, so addressing these specific issues is worth the effort. 

Sleep Snatcher #1: Joint Pain 

When something hurts, it’s tough to fall asleep as quickly as usual. Not only that, but sleep and pain join together to form a vicious cycle: When you don’t get enough shut-eye, the pain becomes more annoying, and that leads to even less sleep. Sometimes joint pain is temporary and easy to diagnose, but other times it’s quite complex and even mysterious.

Regardless of the specific cause of pain, there are some things you can try to alleviate its impact on sleep. If sleep is difficult because a shoulder or a hip on one side of the body hurts, it makes sense to sleep on the other side. But therein lies the rub: How do you tell your unconscious body to roll over rather than sleep on a painful joint?

You can actually borrow a tactic from sleep apnea treatment by utilizing a tennis ball to discourage certain sleeping positions. Get a tennis ball and place it in the pocket of your pajama pants or shorts on the painful side, and that should discourage sleeping on that side. Once you’re able to doze off, sleep can be wonderfully recuperative for joint pain.

Another ancient method of addressing pain is massage. While the efficacy of massage for pain has mixed evidence in trials, a variety of studies show that touch and pressure can be therapeutic for specific conditions. If you don’t have a partner to lend a hand, even self-massage has shown benefits for some conditions. Try using either your knuckles or palm, or purchase a simple tool to knead away knots and increase blood flow. Work out any tension or trigger points you can find, for five to 10 minutes (or less if it starts to feel uncomfortable).  

Sleep Snatcher #2: An Annoying Partner

"About a quarter of Americans either have sleep apnea or are at high risk."

What happens when the reason you can’t sleep is laying right next to you? This can cause serious relationship issues, not to mention substantial daytime sleepiness. Typically, the issue with partners is that they produce too much sound, which annoys light sleepers even if their bedmate is sleeping like a rock. A very loud rock.

The obvious answer to noise issues is using earplugs. The downside: Not only can earplugs be uncomfortable for some, but regular use may lead to ear wax issues and increased exposure to bacteria. Luckily there are some alternatives. First, make sure your partner does not have sleep apnea. About a quarter of Americans either have sleep apnea or are at high risk. And since sleep apnea has several treatment options, it’s worth getting tested for. 

If your significant other doesn’t really snore, but instead wakes up before you along with their annoying alarm clock, there is hope. A variety of wrist devices (such as those produced by Fitbit or Jawbone) are now available that gently buzz rather than sounding an alarm, which will wake your partner up but maintain your slumber. If you don’t want to fork out the cash for a gadget and already have a smartphone, apps (like Sleep Cycle for iPhone or Sleep as Android for Android) can duplicate this function if your partner is willing to sleep with their phone strapped to them, as if they were out on a jog. Yes, this might seem extreme. But to some, it’s a small price to pay for an extra hour or two of sleep. 

[caption id="attachment_32600" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Woman Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Sleep Snatcher #3: Racing Thoughts

When you're going to bed late, and you know eight hours isn't attainable, it can be especially hard to fall asleep amidst scattered worries of the day ahead. Will you be too tired to perform well at work? What's the commute going to be like? Maybe something's due. There is no simple fix for racing thoughts, unfortunately, but there are some creative strategies to lessen them. (Note: If anxious thoughts are severely impacting your life, a visit to a therapist may be in order.) 

One approach may be at the tip of your nose. Of the five senses, smell is the one that is rarely discussed in terms of indulgence. A chocolate chip cookie tastes good, and smells great, but the smell is mostly taken as a sign of the goodness to come. However, olfactory treatments can be effective on their own. For example, trials have shown that lavender can help bring on sleep, partially due to its ability to reduce anxiety. Other natural products like lemon balm have somewhat similar effects (though with less clinical evidence).

White noise is another popular approach for those who can't handle falling asleep to silence. It’s a viable option to dissipate racing thoughts, but can also be used in other ways. Take the concept of binaural beats, for example. Preliminary research shows that listening to these two concurrent sounds of similar frequencies through earphones can help reduce anxiety and possibly bring on sleep.

Sleep Snatcher #4: An Uncomfortable Environment

Many external factors that disrupt sleep are not partner-related, but environment-related. People will go years waking up before their alarm due to the rising sun, only to lie in bed trying to get back to bed. This is one problem that can have fairly simple solutions. Many window coverings let in enough light to disrupt sleep, even when fully closed. Replacing these with so-called “blackout curtains,” designed to fully block out the sun, will allow you to get those precious few minutes — or hours — of additional sleep your body needs. 

Temperature is another underappreciated factor when it comes to catching zzz’s. Our circadian rhythms are regulated by a variety of cues that suggest to our body what time it is, and how our body should respond. These cues are called zeitgebers, which in German literally means "timegiver." Temperature is a zeitgeber due to the sun regulating daily temperature cycles — it's warmer in the daytime when the sun is out, and cooler at night. If we don't turn down the thermostat, or cover ourselves with too much bedding or clothing, it may be difficult to sleep due to the warmer temperature. Luckily this is easily fixed with a thermostat, although personal preferences may vary. Wearing breathable clothing (or nothing at all!) in addition to using natural bedding can provide for a cooler sensation than using synthetic materials. 

[caption id="attachment_32601" align="alignnone" width="620"]Common Sleep Issues Man Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Sleep Snatcher #5: Waking Up Mid-Slumber

This is the bane of some people’s existence. While others get a full night of sleep, or wake up to use the bathroom on occasion, others get up several times a night. When combined with some of the above issues, this can be a serious obstacle. Imagine having racing thoughts and finally falling asleep after an hour or two, only to wake up and return to those same racing thoughts.

First things first, if you wake up often, talk to your doctor about it. It could very well be due to a medical condition like sleep apnea, or potentially a medical issue causing excessive urinary frequency. If medical issues are not the cause, consider alternative approaches.

Melatonin is a hormone involved in bringing on sleep and keeping us there. If you take supplemental melatonin and find that it helps you fall asleep but also causes you to wake up in the middle of the night, consider taking an alternate form. Sustained-release melatonin can help people for whom a quickly-released dose of melatonin leads to disrupted sleep.

Alternately, you can enable your body to produce melatonin naturally by staying away from light at night. This is harder than it sounds, since even the light from one bulb can curb melatonin production. Light intensity is important though, so foregoing computer and TV use, and reading with dim bulbs or dimly front-lit e-readers can help. If you're careful about fire safety, reading by candlelight is also an option. 

One admittedly wacky-looking alternative is to pick up a pair of amber-colored blue light blocking glasses, which greatly help melatonin production due to blocking the blue part of the light spectrum that halts melatonin production. Downloading a free computer program such as f.lux can automatically turn down the blue portion of your computer's color spectrum as the day progresses, mimicking the setting sun. This type of program is also available in app form for mobile devices, for the growing numbers of people who fall asleep with smartphones in hand.

Sleep Snatcher #6: Everything Else

These are by no means not the only sleep issues people have. Sleep conditions are increasingly prevalent, as evident by recent headlines on "sleep drunkenness," a condition that leads to waking up in an extremely disoriented state. And nocturnal issues don't necessarily have to be caused by medical conditions. Just ask a new parent who has an especially hard time dealing with crying infants — that can be just as difficult to overcome as any clinically diagnosed sleep disorder.

Similarly, we only covered a fraction of possible treatments. A wide array of approaches exist, including widely-studied techniques like meditation. We have however seen that there are some simple, natural tactics to combat sleep issues other than the typical advice to "set a bedtime and stick to it." If you have trouble sleeping, just remember that there is a world of research out there, and there is hope.

The post The 5 Most Common Sleep Issues (and How to Find Relief) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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19 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-become-a-morning-person/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-become-a-morning-person/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:15:30 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=32211 Sleeping Dog Morning Person

[caption id="attachment_32215" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleeping Dog Morning Person_2 Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Let's start with the bad news: Only about 1 in 10 people is a true morning person, according to The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. The good news is, only 2 in 10 fall into the category of night owls, while the rest fall somewhere in between. Better still: Even if you operate best in the wee hours of the night, you can still train yourself to be an early riser. Here’s how.

Plan Ahead

“Hitting the snooze button a couple times before getting up is a clear sign of sleep deprivation.”

Waking well-rested starts with getting enough sleep. "Hitting the snooze button a couple times before getting up is a clear sign of sleep deprivation," says Nathaniel Watson, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "If you are getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake up on time without a morning alarm." Sounds easier said than done? First, follow these tips for catching the zzz's you need to wake refreshed.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene. "Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep," says Dr. Watson. If you need to shift your schedule earlier, start moving your bedtime forward by just 15 minutes at a time. Adjustments more drastic than that will keep you rebounding between early and late bedtimes rather than creating lasting change.

2. Take your time. Balancing your own well-being against other personal and professional responsibilities is tough. Often, finding the right work-life equilibrium starts with saying "No," and so does getting enough sleep. Pare down your evening commitments so that you've got an hour completely blocked off to wind down before bed.

3. Implement a routine. Establishing a schedule can help clue our bodies in to what's to come. Maintaining a regular evening routine will help chill you out and let your mind know that it's nearly time to fall asleep. For example, that could mean drinking a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading for 20 minutes each evening before bed.

RELATED: Can't Sleep? Your Guide to a Better Night's Rest

4. Nap cautiously. If you have a sleep debt to repay, it's better to nap during the day than to mess up your nightly sleep schedule. That said, you don't want a daytime snooze to keep you up at night. (For more napping tips head here!)

5. Eat (and drink) smart. Some experts caution against going to bed too full or too hungry, as the discomfort may keep you awake. The same goes for drinking: Sipping too much before bed can cause mid-slumber trips to the bathroom, and caffeine and alcohol in particular have been shown to disrupt sleep.

6. Power down. Any kind of light can shift circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep at night. And if you’re constantly plugged in, you’re even less likely to hit the hay right away. Research has shown that the blue light emitted by electronics like laptops and cell phones disturbs sleep even more than natural light. Turn off those electronic screens at least an hour before bed to make dozing easier.

7. Prep before bed. Wondering what to do with that electronic-free hour? Use the time to get together anything you'll need in the a.m. — like a healthy lunch, make-ahead breakfast, or a gym bag. Shortening your morning to-do list just might make it easier to roll out of bed.

8. Get cozy. Temperature, noise, light and comfort can all impact your ability to sleep well. A cool, quiet room (around 65 degrees) has been shown to be an effective sleep environment. And if your mattress leaves you achy, you’ve got a good excuse to upgrade — your health may depend on it! The National Sleep Foundation offers even more recommendations for tweaking all of these for better sleep.

[caption id="attachment_32216" align="alignnone" width="620"]How to Become a Morning Person Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Wake Up with Ease

You've set yourself up for success and slept like a boss. But the battle isn’t won just yet. Here's how to skip the snooze button and hop out of bed when that alarm starts buzzing.

9. Set your motive. As with any change, it's important to have a tangible reason for waking up early. Come up with a meaningful goal you'll be able to achieve by starting the day earlier, whether that’s being able to fit in a morning sweat session or having some extra time to cook a healthy breakfast.

RELATED: 4 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate You to Work Out

"When you wake spontaneously, you're likely in a light sleep stage."

10. Play a mind game. The alarm goes off, and the immediate temptation is to hit snooze. Go ahead, do it — but then stay out of bed for those next nine minutes. The idea of the so-called “inverted snooze” is to ease the pain of waking up by telling yourself you only have to stick it out for nine minutes. Move around, stretch, start brewing coffee — anything to keep yourself awake. By the time the alarm goes off again you should be awake and alert enough to start your day rather than still grumpy in bed and (likely) hitting snooze again.

11. Bite the bullet. If you naturally wake within minutes of your alarm, it can be tempting to close your eyes and relish in a few more minutes of rest. But you’re better off just getting out of bed. When you wake spontaneously, you're likely in a light sleep stage, explains Dr. Watson. Going back to sleep could send you into a deeper sleep stage, making it harder to wake up and start your day.

12. Make moves. Finding the right alarm and where to put it can have a big impact on whether you wake in the morning. Try experimenting with the sound, timing and location of your alarm clock to help yourself get up when you need to. For example, some alarms wake you gradually with pleasant sounds to make the transition into daytime less jarring and more relaxed.

13. Seize the day. Waking up with a groan and thinking about all the things you don't want to do is a terrible way to motivate yourself to get out of bed. Instead, think ahead to the best things you'll do all day to fuel your desire to get up and at ‘em.

14. Try an app. There are several apps that promise to get you out of bed in the a.m. For example, Wake n Shake makes you shake your phone in order to turn off the app, while Better Me shares your failure to your Facebook every time you hit snooze. There are also apps, like Sleep Cycle, that use motion sensors to monitor your movement and determine the best time to wake you within a preset window.

RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night's Sleep

15. Brighten up. If you need to draw shades at night to make your room dark or — shudder — you need to wake before it's light out, you can't always rely on the sun to wake you. Fortunately, there are gradual light-up alarm clocks that promise to lull you out of sleep less painfully than your standard alarm.

Power Through the Morning

You've made it! You're out of bed. Now, here's how to get out the door without starting the day in grouch mode.

"Early in the a.m. your willpower stores are at their highest."

16. Pare down to-dos. You've already pre-packed your lunch or gym bag, giving you one less thing to worry about before coffee. Look for other ways to streamline your pre-work routine (including taking advantage of your coffee maker’s automatic timer!) so you can spend less time rushing through those early hours, and start enjoying them instead.

17. Amp up your productivity. If you're a regular snoozer, cutting out that extra nine minutes (or nine minutes times four or five) earns you bonus time each morning. Many creatives swear that early morning is the best time to write or think deeply and creatively about projects. Try taking a page from their book and dedicate even just a few minutes first thing in the a.m. to a project of your choice. You may be surprised at how rewarding it feels to start the day with a few tasks already checked off.

18. Eat a healthy breakfast. To be your best self, it's helpful to eat a good breakfast (trust us, morning meetings are better when you’re not hangry). Whole grain carbs plus protein give you a quick hit of energy and keep you going all morning. For an all-in-one solution that you can prep ahead, try these homemade protein bars or overnight oats.

19. Exercise in the morning. Early in the a.m., your willpower stores are at their highest. By the evening, we get too busy and find too many excuses not to exercise. Plus, morning workouts will give you an extra shot of energy to carry you through the day ahead.

Are you a morning bird or a night owl? How have you changed your sleep-in tendencies to up your productivity?

The post 19 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Sleeping Dog Morning Person

[caption id="attachment_32215" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleeping Dog Morning Person_2 Photo: Pond5[/caption] Let's start with the bad news: Only about 1 in 10 people is a true morning person, according to The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. The good news is, only 2 in 10 fall into the category of night owls, while the rest fall somewhere in between. Better still: Even if you operate best in the wee hours of the night, you can still train yourself to be an early riser. Here’s how.

Plan Ahead

“Hitting the snooze button a couple times before getting up is a clear sign of sleep deprivation.”
Waking well-rested starts with getting enough sleep. "Hitting the snooze button a couple times before getting up is a clear sign of sleep deprivation," says Nathaniel Watson, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "If you are getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake up on time without a morning alarm." Sounds easier said than done? First, follow these tips for catching the zzz's you need to wake refreshed. 1. Practice good sleep hygiene. "Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep," says Dr. Watson. If you need to shift your schedule earlier, start moving your bedtime forward by just 15 minutes at a time. Adjustments more drastic than that will keep you rebounding between early and late bedtimes rather than creating lasting change. 2. Take your time. Balancing your own well-being against other personal and professional responsibilities is tough. Often, finding the right work-life equilibrium starts with saying "No," and so does getting enough sleep. Pare down your evening commitments so that you've got an hour completely blocked off to wind down before bed. 3. Implement a routine. Establishing a schedule can help clue our bodies in to what's to come. Maintaining a regular evening routine will help chill you out and let your mind know that it's nearly time to fall asleep. For example, that could mean drinking a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading for 20 minutes each evening before bed. RELATED: Can't Sleep? Your Guide to a Better Night's Rest 4. Nap cautiously. If you have a sleep debt to repay, it's better to nap during the day than to mess up your nightly sleep schedule. That said, you don't want a daytime snooze to keep you up at night. (For more napping tips head here!) 5. Eat (and drink) smart. Some experts caution against going to bed too full or too hungry, as the discomfort may keep you awake. The same goes for drinking: Sipping too much before bed can cause mid-slumber trips to the bathroom, and caffeine and alcohol in particular have been shown to disrupt sleep. 6. Power down. Any kind of light can shift circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep at night. And if you’re constantly plugged in, you’re even less likely to hit the hay right away. Research has shown that the blue light emitted by electronics like laptops and cell phones disturbs sleep even more than natural light. Turn off those electronic screens at least an hour before bed to make dozing easier. 7. Prep before bed. Wondering what to do with that electronic-free hour? Use the time to get together anything you'll need in the a.m. — like a healthy lunch, make-ahead breakfast, or a gym bag. Shortening your morning to-do list just might make it easier to roll out of bed. 8. Get cozy. Temperature, noise, light and comfort can all impact your ability to sleep well. A cool, quiet room (around 65 degrees) has been shown to be an effective sleep environment. And if your mattress leaves you achy, you’ve got a good excuse to upgrade — your health may depend on it! The National Sleep Foundation offers even more recommendations for tweaking all of these for better sleep. [caption id="attachment_32216" align="alignnone" width="620"]How to Become a Morning Person Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Wake Up with Ease

You've set yourself up for success and slept like a boss. But the battle isn’t won just yet. Here's how to skip the snooze button and hop out of bed when that alarm starts buzzing. 9. Set your motive. As with any change, it's important to have a tangible reason for waking up early. Come up with a meaningful goal you'll be able to achieve by starting the day earlier, whether that’s being able to fit in a morning sweat session or having some extra time to cook a healthy breakfast. RELATED: 4 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate You to Work Out
"When you wake spontaneously, you're likely in a light sleep stage."
10. Play a mind game. The alarm goes off, and the immediate temptation is to hit snooze. Go ahead, do it — but then stay out of bed for those next nine minutes. The idea of the so-called “inverted snooze” is to ease the pain of waking up by telling yourself you only have to stick it out for nine minutes. Move around, stretch, start brewing coffee — anything to keep yourself awake. By the time the alarm goes off again you should be awake and alert enough to start your day rather than still grumpy in bed and (likely) hitting snooze again. 11. Bite the bullet. If you naturally wake within minutes of your alarm, it can be tempting to close your eyes and relish in a few more minutes of rest. But you’re better off just getting out of bed. When you wake spontaneously, you're likely in a light sleep stage, explains Dr. Watson. Going back to sleep could send you into a deeper sleep stage, making it harder to wake up and start your day. 12. Make moves. Finding the right alarm and where to put it can have a big impact on whether you wake in the morning. Try experimenting with the sound, timing and location of your alarm clock to help yourself get up when you need to. For example, some alarms wake you gradually with pleasant sounds to make the transition into daytime less jarring and more relaxed. 13. Seize the day. Waking up with a groan and thinking about all the things you don't want to do is a terrible way to motivate yourself to get out of bed. Instead, think ahead to the best things you'll do all day to fuel your desire to get up and at ‘em. 14. Try an app. There are several apps that promise to get you out of bed in the a.m. For example, Wake n Shake makes you shake your phone in order to turn off the app, while Better Me shares your failure to your Facebook every time you hit snooze. There are also apps, like Sleep Cycle, that use motion sensors to monitor your movement and determine the best time to wake you within a preset window. RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night's Sleep 15. Brighten up. If you need to draw shades at night to make your room dark or — shudder — you need to wake before it's light out, you can't always rely on the sun to wake you. Fortunately, there are gradual light-up alarm clocks that promise to lull you out of sleep less painfully than your standard alarm.

Power Through the Morning

You've made it! You're out of bed. Now, here's how to get out the door without starting the day in grouch mode.
"Early in the a.m. your willpower stores are at their highest."
16. Pare down to-dos. You've already pre-packed your lunch or gym bag, giving you one less thing to worry about before coffee. Look for other ways to streamline your pre-work routine (including taking advantage of your coffee maker’s automatic timer!) so you can spend less time rushing through those early hours, and start enjoying them instead. 17. Amp up your productivity. If you're a regular snoozer, cutting out that extra nine minutes (or nine minutes times four or five) earns you bonus time each morning. Many creatives swear that early morning is the best time to write or think deeply and creatively about projects. Try taking a page from their book and dedicate even just a few minutes first thing in the a.m. to a project of your choice. You may be surprised at how rewarding it feels to start the day with a few tasks already checked off. 18. Eat a healthy breakfast. To be your best self, it's helpful to eat a good breakfast (trust us, morning meetings are better when you’re not hangry). Whole grain carbs plus protein give you a quick hit of energy and keep you going all morning. For an all-in-one solution that you can prep ahead, try these homemade protein bars or overnight oats. 19. Exercise in the morning. Early in the a.m., your willpower stores are at their highest. By the evening, we get too busy and find too many excuses not to exercise. Plus, morning workouts will give you an extra shot of energy to carry you through the day ahead. Are you a morning bird or a night owl? How have you changed your sleep-in tendencies to up your productivity?

The post 19 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Morning Person appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-many-hours-of-sleep/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-many-hours-of-sleep/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:15:27 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=31713 How Much Sleep Do You Need

[caption id="attachment_31715" align="alignnone" width="620"]How Much Sleep Do You Need Photo: Pond5[/caption]

That old wisdom about getting a solid eight hours of sleep per night? Not exactly true. In fact, the amount of sleep you need is totally unique to you — and may not necessarily be eight straight hours. According to a wide variety of studies, the average optimal amount of sleep across the whole population is actually closer to seven hours nightly.

Based on the rash of recent findings, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Sleep Research Society and Centers for Disease Control are convening a conference to determine the right amount for sleep for best health, says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, MD and president-elect of the AASM. Until then, there are a few ways to figure out your personal needs with some help from the pros.

What Science Says About Sleep

"Long sleep may be a surrogate marker of poor health."

"Generally speaking, the proper amount of sleep is the amount that allows the individual to wake refreshed and to remain alert throughout the day without the need for caffeine or other stimulants," says Dr. Watson. "At the moment we recommend seven to nine hours per night," he adds.

Studies provide a range of much more colorful answers, though. One frequently cited 20-year study completed in 2002 analyzed self-reported sleep logs and found that those individuals who were asleep for seven hours per night lived longer than those who slept eight hours or more. Of course, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. According to Dr. Watson, "Long sleep may be a surrogate marker of poor health." In other words, study subjects' poor health may be what’s causing their excessive bedtime routine, not vice versa.

Another more recent study, which focused on cognitive abilities in women 70 or older, reached a familiar conclusion: Sleeping nine hours or more was just as harmful as sleeping five or less. A study of a broader section of the population, based on data from Luminosity, also found that cognitive performance peaked at about seven hours — but dropped off more slowly after seven hours than the former research suggests.

Similarly, scientists have found that for troubled sleepers (including some elderly populations and those suffering from insomnia), it can make sense to restrict sleep to less than seven-and-a-half hours per night. "Conversely, spending excessive time in bed can elicit daytime lethargy and exacerbate sleep fragmentation," they state.

All that said, it’s still hard to generalize the optimal amount of zzz’s. "It’s important we note that no study will tell an individual exactly how much sleep they personally need — we can’t take these studies and make individual recommendations," says Dr. Watson. Keep in mind that much of the scientific research involved self-reported data, considered narrow populations or examined sleep patterns of those with known sleep disorders like insomnia.

RELATED: 6 Things You Didn't Know About Insomnia and How to Treat It

Figuring Out Your Sleep Needs

There is no way to decrease the amount of sleep you need – this is largely determined by genetics.

Dr. Watson suggests using an upcoming vacation to figure out the correct amount of sleep for you. "Try going to bed around the same time each night and waking up without an alarm clock for several days." After a week of regular bedtimes and unlimited sleeping in, you should land on your ideal amount of sleep, which is likely to fall in the seven to nine hour range. (It's important to keep in mind that this kind of sleep experimentation doesn't necessarily work on a weekend. Dr. Watson points out, "The first few nights … you may sleep eight to nine hours if you’ve been extra tired or sleep deprived from the week.")

However, if you're a long snoozer (and you don't experience insomnia or any other bedtime disorders), you shouldn’t stress the potential negatives of over-sleeping. "I would not recommend that anyone achieving eight or nine hours of sleep reduce the amount they’re currently getting," warns Dr. Watson, especially if you’re functioning well throughout the day with lots of energy and little lethargy.

Athletes who put high demands on their bodies should also tune in closely. Active individuals will need extra zzz’s since functions like tissue repair and protein synthesis (key to restoring the body after a taxing workout) mostly take place during sleep.

RELATED: Get Unlimited Workouts at DailyBurn.com

Changing Your Patterns

Wishing you needed less time out cold? Unfortunately, your bedtime necessities are hard to change. "There is no way to decrease the amount of sleep you need – this is largely determined by genetics," says Dr. Watson. If you feel the most on your game after eight and a half hours of sleep, that's just the reality.

The best way to get the most out of your zzz's — especially important when it comes to recovery and training — is to simply get better sleep. Avoid alcohol whenever possible as it can throw off your routine hours. Also try to steer clear of caffeine or other sleep-disrupting meds at least six hours before your head plans to hit the pillow. Lastly, know that sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule is the best way to avoid feeling sluggish.

For more ways to get better sleep, try these expert-backed strategies.

The post How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
How Much Sleep Do You Need

[caption id="attachment_31715" align="alignnone" width="620"]How Much Sleep Do You Need Photo: Pond5[/caption]

That old wisdom about getting a solid eight hours of sleep per night? Not exactly true. In fact, the amount of sleep you need is totally unique to you — and may not necessarily be eight straight hours. According to a wide variety of studies, the average optimal amount of sleep across the whole population is actually closer to seven hours nightly.

Based on the rash of recent findings, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Sleep Research Society and Centers for Disease Control are convening a conference to determine the right amount for sleep for best health, says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, MD and president-elect of the AASM. Until then, there are a few ways to figure out your personal needs with some help from the pros.

What Science Says About Sleep

"Long sleep may be a surrogate marker of poor health."

"Generally speaking, the proper amount of sleep is the amount that allows the individual to wake refreshed and to remain alert throughout the day without the need for caffeine or other stimulants," says Dr. Watson. "At the moment we recommend seven to nine hours per night," he adds.

Studies provide a range of much more colorful answers, though. One frequently cited 20-year study completed in 2002 analyzed self-reported sleep logs and found that those individuals who were asleep for seven hours per night lived longer than those who slept eight hours or more. Of course, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. According to Dr. Watson, "Long sleep may be a surrogate marker of poor health." In other words, study subjects' poor health may be what’s causing their excessive bedtime routine, not vice versa.

Another more recent study, which focused on cognitive abilities in women 70 or older, reached a familiar conclusion: Sleeping nine hours or more was just as harmful as sleeping five or less. A study of a broader section of the population, based on data from Luminosity, also found that cognitive performance peaked at about seven hours — but dropped off more slowly after seven hours than the former research suggests.

Similarly, scientists have found that for troubled sleepers (including some elderly populations and those suffering from insomnia), it can make sense to restrict sleep to less than seven-and-a-half hours per night. "Conversely, spending excessive time in bed can elicit daytime lethargy and exacerbate sleep fragmentation," they state.

All that said, it’s still hard to generalize the optimal amount of zzz’s. "It’s important we note that no study will tell an individual exactly how much sleep they personally need — we can’t take these studies and make individual recommendations," says Dr. Watson. Keep in mind that much of the scientific research involved self-reported data, considered narrow populations or examined sleep patterns of those with known sleep disorders like insomnia.

RELATED: 6 Things You Didn't Know About Insomnia and How to Treat It

Figuring Out Your Sleep Needs

There is no way to decrease the amount of sleep you need – this is largely determined by genetics.

Dr. Watson suggests using an upcoming vacation to figure out the correct amount of sleep for you. "Try going to bed around the same time each night and waking up without an alarm clock for several days." After a week of regular bedtimes and unlimited sleeping in, you should land on your ideal amount of sleep, which is likely to fall in the seven to nine hour range. (It's important to keep in mind that this kind of sleep experimentation doesn't necessarily work on a weekend. Dr. Watson points out, "The first few nights … you may sleep eight to nine hours if you’ve been extra tired or sleep deprived from the week.")

However, if you're a long snoozer (and you don't experience insomnia or any other bedtime disorders), you shouldn’t stress the potential negatives of over-sleeping. "I would not recommend that anyone achieving eight or nine hours of sleep reduce the amount they’re currently getting," warns Dr. Watson, especially if you’re functioning well throughout the day with lots of energy and little lethargy.

Athletes who put high demands on their bodies should also tune in closely. Active individuals will need extra zzz’s since functions like tissue repair and protein synthesis (key to restoring the body after a taxing workout) mostly take place during sleep.

RELATED: Get Unlimited Workouts at DailyBurn.com

Changing Your Patterns

Wishing you needed less time out cold? Unfortunately, your bedtime necessities are hard to change. "There is no way to decrease the amount of sleep you need – this is largely determined by genetics," says Dr. Watson. If you feel the most on your game after eight and a half hours of sleep, that's just the reality.

The best way to get the most out of your zzz's — especially important when it comes to recovery and training — is to simply get better sleep. Avoid alcohol whenever possible as it can throw off your routine hours. Also try to steer clear of caffeine or other sleep-disrupting meds at least six hours before your head plans to hit the pillow. Lastly, know that sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule is the best way to avoid feeling sluggish.

For more ways to get better sleep, try these expert-backed strategies.

The post How Much Sleep Do You Really Need? appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Insomnia and How to Treat It http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/insomnia-causes-treatment/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/insomnia-causes-treatment/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:15:19 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=31613 Insomnia

[caption id="attachment_31615" align="alignnone" width="620"]Insomnia Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Waking up on the right side of the bed can be tough…if you only fell asleep 30 minutes ago. We all know what it feels like to toss and turn throughout the night but for nearly 10 percent of Americans, insomnia is a chronic problem — lasting a month or longer, and characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Untreated insomnia can be a dangerous issue, too, says Steven Feinsilver, M.D., director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Even if you're not nodding off behind the wheel, a consistent lack of sleep can still contribute to headaches, back pain, irritability, lowered immunity and other health problems, he says. "People with poor sleep quality have a higher risk of everything from depression to high blood pressure to early death."

Sleep is a powerful biological drive and if you don't mess it up, it tends to work.

That doesn't mean that sleepless sufferers are doomed. Talking to your doctor can help you determine the root cause of your disorder and the best treatment to get you back on schedule. (Hint: It's probably not a pill!) But before you make an appointment, here's what you should know about insomnia.

1. You may be predisposed.

"Some people are simply better at shutting their brains off at night," says Feinsilver. Those who aren't naturally good sleepers could have a biological reason as to why they’re not (having to do with unique brain chemicals, perhaps). They could also have grown up with bad “sleep hygiene” — never having a regular schedule or a consistent bedtime routine, for example.

Even if you are prone to insomnia, though, treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help retrain your brain. "Sleep is a powerful biological drive and if you don't mess it up, it tends to work," says Feinsilver. "And if it does get messed up, it's usually fairly easy to fix once we pinpoint what the patient is doing wrong."

2. Look out for the "two p's."

When a person who has always slept well suddenly has trouble falling or staying asleep, doctors look for two factors, says Feinsilver: The precipitating cause and the perpetuating cause. The former is a stressful event, good or bad, that creates an initial disruption of sleep. The latter is the reason insomnia continues, even after that stressful event has passed.

Precipitating causes can be anything from an upcoming test you’re worried about and need to study for to planning a wedding. The biggest perpetuator, says Feinsilver, is behavior — for instance, not going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.

3. It's linked with depression.

"Depression can cause bad sleep and bad sleep can cause depression; it's often hard to tell which one comes first," says Feinsilver. A recent Australian study found that insomnia was linked to depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in teenagers, and the study authors note that "having insomnia in addition to anxiety or depression can further intensify the problems being experienced with each individual disorder."  Likewise, a 2013 Canadian study found that treating the two conditions simultaneously can improve symptoms of both.

4. Popping pills won’t get you far.

If you want to kick insomnia for good, medication isn't the answer. (Sleeping pills may help jumpstart your slumber party, but their effects can wear off if they're used long-term.) What's really important is following the rules for good sleep, says Feinsilver. Keep your bedroom dark and cool; avoid caffeine up to 12 hours before bed; go to bed at the same time every night; and don't sleep in more than an hour on the weekends — even if you broke the previous rule and stayed out late the night before. "You're better off getting up at your regular time and taking a nap midday to make up for some of that lost sleep," he says.

And about those naps: They can be very helpful for people who don't get seven or eight hours of sleep at night. But keep them to an hour or less, and don't take them within six hours of your bedtime. Plus, if your doctor recommends sleep restriction therapy (which means spending only a set number of hours in bed, whether you sleep or not), you'll want to avoid crawling under the covers during the daytime entirely.

5. Kitchen "cures" may or may not help.

A recent Louisiana State University study found that drinking tart cherry juice before bed improved insomnia symptoms in older adults, and previous research has suggested that herbal remedies, like chamomile tea, may help as well.

Feinsilver says these probably won't hurt, but believes that much of their benefit comes from the placebo effect. "That's not to say they won't work or that I'm against them," he adds. "If drinking something seems to help you fall asleep, I'm all in favor of it."

Sometimes, the calming herbs in drinks and teas can help slow your mind and give you that sleepy feeling. (Even just hot tea or milk sometimes works for individuals.) Give it a try and see if it’s right for you.

6. Attention can make it worse.

Doctors sometimes ask their insomnia patients to keep sleep diaries in order to help identify lifestyle factors keeping them awake, but Feinsilver advises against logging and analyzing your slumber for an extended period of time. "The more you think about it, the harder it is to fall asleep," he explains. "The best thing you can do is try to ignore it and take your mind off it."

One way to shut out the worry could be through meditation: In a recent study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, insomniacs who practiced mindful meditation for eight weeks reported better sleep and higher remission rates than those who didn't.

To learn more about insomnia and other sleep disorders visit the American Sleep Association.

The post 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Insomnia and How to Treat It appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Insomnia

[caption id="attachment_31615" align="alignnone" width="620"]Insomnia Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Waking up on the right side of the bed can be tough…if you only fell asleep 30 minutes ago. We all know what it feels like to toss and turn throughout the night but for nearly 10 percent of Americans, insomnia is a chronic problem — lasting a month or longer, and characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Untreated insomnia can be a dangerous issue, too, says Steven Feinsilver, M.D., director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Even if you're not nodding off behind the wheel, a consistent lack of sleep can still contribute to headaches, back pain, irritability, lowered immunity and other health problems, he says. "People with poor sleep quality have a higher risk of everything from depression to high blood pressure to early death."

Sleep is a powerful biological drive and if you don't mess it up, it tends to work.

That doesn't mean that sleepless sufferers are doomed. Talking to your doctor can help you determine the root cause of your disorder and the best treatment to get you back on schedule. (Hint: It's probably not a pill!) But before you make an appointment, here's what you should know about insomnia.

1. You may be predisposed.

"Some people are simply better at shutting their brains off at night," says Feinsilver. Those who aren't naturally good sleepers could have a biological reason as to why they’re not (having to do with unique brain chemicals, perhaps). They could also have grown up with bad “sleep hygiene” — never having a regular schedule or a consistent bedtime routine, for example.

Even if you are prone to insomnia, though, treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help retrain your brain. "Sleep is a powerful biological drive and if you don't mess it up, it tends to work," says Feinsilver. "And if it does get messed up, it's usually fairly easy to fix once we pinpoint what the patient is doing wrong."

2. Look out for the "two p's."

When a person who has always slept well suddenly has trouble falling or staying asleep, doctors look for two factors, says Feinsilver: The precipitating cause and the perpetuating cause. The former is a stressful event, good or bad, that creates an initial disruption of sleep. The latter is the reason insomnia continues, even after that stressful event has passed.

Precipitating causes can be anything from an upcoming test you’re worried about and need to study for to planning a wedding. The biggest perpetuator, says Feinsilver, is behavior — for instance, not going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.

3. It's linked with depression.

"Depression can cause bad sleep and bad sleep can cause depression; it's often hard to tell which one comes first," says Feinsilver. A recent Australian study found that insomnia was linked to depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in teenagers, and the study authors note that "having insomnia in addition to anxiety or depression can further intensify the problems being experienced with each individual disorder."  Likewise, a 2013 Canadian study found that treating the two conditions simultaneously can improve symptoms of both.

4. Popping pills won’t get you far.

If you want to kick insomnia for good, medication isn't the answer. (Sleeping pills may help jumpstart your slumber party, but their effects can wear off if they're used long-term.) What's really important is following the rules for good sleep, says Feinsilver. Keep your bedroom dark and cool; avoid caffeine up to 12 hours before bed; go to bed at the same time every night; and don't sleep in more than an hour on the weekends — even if you broke the previous rule and stayed out late the night before. "You're better off getting up at your regular time and taking a nap midday to make up for some of that lost sleep," he says.

And about those naps: They can be very helpful for people who don't get seven or eight hours of sleep at night. But keep them to an hour or less, and don't take them within six hours of your bedtime. Plus, if your doctor recommends sleep restriction therapy (which means spending only a set number of hours in bed, whether you sleep or not), you'll want to avoid crawling under the covers during the daytime entirely.

5. Kitchen "cures" may or may not help.

A recent Louisiana State University study found that drinking tart cherry juice before bed improved insomnia symptoms in older adults, and previous research has suggested that herbal remedies, like chamomile tea, may help as well.

Feinsilver says these probably won't hurt, but believes that much of their benefit comes from the placebo effect. "That's not to say they won't work or that I'm against them," he adds. "If drinking something seems to help you fall asleep, I'm all in favor of it."

Sometimes, the calming herbs in drinks and teas can help slow your mind and give you that sleepy feeling. (Even just hot tea or milk sometimes works for individuals.) Give it a try and see if it’s right for you.

6. Attention can make it worse.

Doctors sometimes ask their insomnia patients to keep sleep diaries in order to help identify lifestyle factors keeping them awake, but Feinsilver advises against logging and analyzing your slumber for an extended period of time. "The more you think about it, the harder it is to fall asleep," he explains. "The best thing you can do is try to ignore it and take your mind off it."

One way to shut out the worry could be through meditation: In a recent study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, insomniacs who practiced mindful meditation for eight weeks reported better sleep and higher remission rates than those who didn't.

To learn more about insomnia and other sleep disorders visit the American Sleep Association.

The post 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Insomnia and How to Treat It appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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13 Tips for the Best Nap Ever http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/nap-tips-sleep-better/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/nap-tips-sleep-better/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 15:15:07 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=30433 Napping

[caption id="attachment_30436" align="alignnone" width="620"]Napping Photo: Pond5[/caption]

A mid-afternoon nap of just 10 minutes can help you stay alert for more than two hours when you're sleep deprived, according to research from the journal Sleep. But it's not just insomniacs who benefit from some midday zzz’s. Napping can also improve alertness, performance, creativity and provide a slew of other benefits among the well-rested and yawning masses alike, says psychology professor and nap researcher Dr. Sara Mednick, PhD, in her book Take a Nap! So how can you harness the power of the restorative nap? Read on for our expert-approved tips for the perfect snooze.

When to Nap

There’s a time and a place for playing catch-up, and while some strategies are universal, others will depend a bit more on your individual lifestyle.  

"A 30-minute nap has been shown to improve alertness and prevent unsafe driving nearly as well as coffee, according to one study."

1. Consider your sleep schedule. Mednick's book notes that the best time to nap depends on when you wake up. For example, early risers who are up at 5 a.m. should nap at 1 p.m., while those who get up at 9 a.m. shouldn't nap until 3 p.m. You can use Melnick's interactive Nap Wheel to find your own best wake-up time.

2. Choose afternoons. It wasn't until the late 80s that researchers began to hone in on the value of napping. One of their first observations about daytime sleep was that the dreaded mid-afternoon slump is part of human nature. They found that, left to our own devices, humans tend to sleep once for a long period at night, and once for a shorter period in the afternoon. So if you can schedule in an early p.m. siesta, there’s no sense in fighting those droopy eyelids — Mother Nature approves.

3. Think ahead. While staying up late (or all night) isn't good for you, if you're going to do it, a nap may be a good idea. Researchers have found that a long nap — of two hours or more — can significantly improve alertness for up to 24 hours. Moreover, a preparatory nap counteracts the effects of sleep deprivation better than a nap taken after the missed sleep. 

4. Put safety first. Sleeping only six to seven hours a night can double your risk of falling asleep at the wheel, compared to getting eight hours. However, a 30-minute nap has been shown to improve alertness and prevent unsafe driving nearly as well as coffee, according to one study. Young adults in particular benefitted the most from a quick snooze.

5. Preempt a night-shift. Anyone who works hours other than the traditional 9-to-5 can reap benefits from napping, too. A study of night-workers found that while an evening nap plus caffeine was the best way to stay awake, a nap alone also improved alertness — especially helpful for those who don't like to rely on caffeine to stay awake.

Nap Smarter

So how do you make the most of your precious nap-time minutes? These tips will help you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.

"It can be hard to fall asleep if you are worried about whether you will wake up at the right time. Setting an alarm takes the pressure off."

6. Time it right. Studies have tested a wide range of nap times, but for most individuals, it seems between 10 and 20 minutes of sleep is best. Longer naps can cause sleep inertia, or a period of grogginess and reduced performance caused by waking in the middle of deep sleep. 

7. Get a wake-up call. "Setting an alarm is really helpful for napping," says Dr. Janet Kennedy, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. "It can be hard to fall asleep if you are worried about whether you will wake up at the right time. Setting an alarm takes the pressure off."

8. Find your napping happy place. For the perfect nap, you want to find a dark, quiet place to lay down. If necessary, use an eye mask, ear plugs, or white noise to help tune out disruptions. (Of course, if you've got a few thousand bucks to spare, you could always get one of these nap pods. Or, the more budget-friendly alternative: the ostrich pillow.)

9. Order up a nappuccino. A “caffeine nap,” or a quick cup of something caffeinated followed by a nap, outperforms both a nap or caffeine independently. Because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, drinking a cup before a 10 to 20 minute nap means the caffeine will start working just as you wake up, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert.

10. Try meditation. You know the feeling: You're practically falling asleep with your eyes open, but as soon as you get all hunkered down for a few zzz's, your mind is suddenly racing. Try calming yourself for sleep with meditation techniques like breathing and visualizations. Need more guidance? Try one of these eight apps for guided meditation.

Who Shouldn't Nap

For some, it’s worth noting, napping isn't always the best bet. Here's how to tell if you're just not cut out for cat naps.

11. Go with your instincts. Dr. Kennedy notes that, "Some people just aren't good nappers." If all of the above tips don't work for you (you can't fall asleep, don't wake up alert, etc.), you just might have to skip the midday option and make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye at your regularly scheduled bedtime.

12. Don't lose sleep at night. Got a case of insomnia? Dr. Kennedy says napping isn't a good bet for you. "If a person is having difficulty sleeping at night — either falling asleep or prolonged night waking — I advise against napping at all," she says. 

13. Avoid being "that guy." Obviously, some work places are not nap-friendly. A mid-afternoon snooze at the office might suggest to your boss that you're not that into your work. You might not want to lose your job for a nap — unless, of course, you can land a gig at one of these places.

What do you think? Are naps best for elementary schoolers or do the off-the-wall startups with nap rooms have it right? 

The post 13 Tips for the Best Nap Ever appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Napping

[caption id="attachment_30436" align="alignnone" width="620"]Napping Photo: Pond5[/caption]

A mid-afternoon nap of just 10 minutes can help you stay alert for more than two hours when you're sleep deprived, according to research from the journal Sleep. But it's not just insomniacs who benefit from some midday zzz’s. Napping can also improve alertness, performance, creativity and provide a slew of other benefits among the well-rested and yawning masses alike, says psychology professor and nap researcher Dr. Sara Mednick, PhD, in her book Take a Nap! So how can you harness the power of the restorative nap? Read on for our expert-approved tips for the perfect snooze.

When to Nap

There’s a time and a place for playing catch-up, and while some strategies are universal, others will depend a bit more on your individual lifestyle.  

"A 30-minute nap has been shown to improve alertness and prevent unsafe driving nearly as well as coffee, according to one study."

1. Consider your sleep schedule. Mednick's book notes that the best time to nap depends on when you wake up. For example, early risers who are up at 5 a.m. should nap at 1 p.m., while those who get up at 9 a.m. shouldn't nap until 3 p.m. You can use Melnick's interactive Nap Wheel to find your own best wake-up time.

2. Choose afternoons. It wasn't until the late 80s that researchers began to hone in on the value of napping. One of their first observations about daytime sleep was that the dreaded mid-afternoon slump is part of human nature. They found that, left to our own devices, humans tend to sleep once for a long period at night, and once for a shorter period in the afternoon. So if you can schedule in an early p.m. siesta, there’s no sense in fighting those droopy eyelids — Mother Nature approves.

3. Think ahead. While staying up late (or all night) isn't good for you, if you're going to do it, a nap may be a good idea. Researchers have found that a long nap — of two hours or more — can significantly improve alertness for up to 24 hours. Moreover, a preparatory nap counteracts the effects of sleep deprivation better than a nap taken after the missed sleep. 

4. Put safety first. Sleeping only six to seven hours a night can double your risk of falling asleep at the wheel, compared to getting eight hours. However, a 30-minute nap has been shown to improve alertness and prevent unsafe driving nearly as well as coffee, according to one study. Young adults in particular benefitted the most from a quick snooze.

5. Preempt a night-shift. Anyone who works hours other than the traditional 9-to-5 can reap benefits from napping, too. A study of night-workers found that while an evening nap plus caffeine was the best way to stay awake, a nap alone also improved alertness — especially helpful for those who don't like to rely on caffeine to stay awake.

Nap Smarter

So how do you make the most of your precious nap-time minutes? These tips will help you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.

"It can be hard to fall asleep if you are worried about whether you will wake up at the right time. Setting an alarm takes the pressure off."

6. Time it right. Studies have tested a wide range of nap times, but for most individuals, it seems between 10 and 20 minutes of sleep is best. Longer naps can cause sleep inertia, or a period of grogginess and reduced performance caused by waking in the middle of deep sleep. 

7. Get a wake-up call. "Setting an alarm is really helpful for napping," says Dr. Janet Kennedy, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. "It can be hard to fall asleep if you are worried about whether you will wake up at the right time. Setting an alarm takes the pressure off."

8. Find your napping happy place. For the perfect nap, you want to find a dark, quiet place to lay down. If necessary, use an eye mask, ear plugs, or white noise to help tune out disruptions. (Of course, if you've got a few thousand bucks to spare, you could always get one of these nap pods. Or, the more budget-friendly alternative: the ostrich pillow.)

9. Order up a nappuccino. A “caffeine nap,” or a quick cup of something caffeinated followed by a nap, outperforms both a nap or caffeine independently. Because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, drinking a cup before a 10 to 20 minute nap means the caffeine will start working just as you wake up, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert.

10. Try meditation. You know the feeling: You're practically falling asleep with your eyes open, but as soon as you get all hunkered down for a few zzz's, your mind is suddenly racing. Try calming yourself for sleep with meditation techniques like breathing and visualizations. Need more guidance? Try one of these eight apps for guided meditation.

Who Shouldn't Nap

For some, it’s worth noting, napping isn't always the best bet. Here's how to tell if you're just not cut out for cat naps.

11. Go with your instincts. Dr. Kennedy notes that, "Some people just aren't good nappers." If all of the above tips don't work for you (you can't fall asleep, don't wake up alert, etc.), you just might have to skip the midday option and make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye at your regularly scheduled bedtime.

12. Don't lose sleep at night. Got a case of insomnia? Dr. Kennedy says napping isn't a good bet for you. "If a person is having difficulty sleeping at night — either falling asleep or prolonged night waking — I advise against napping at all," she says. 

13. Avoid being "that guy." Obviously, some work places are not nap-friendly. A mid-afternoon snooze at the office might suggest to your boss that you're not that into your work. You might not want to lose your job for a nap — unless, of course, you can land a gig at one of these places.

What do you think? Are naps best for elementary schoolers or do the off-the-wall startups with nap rooms have it right? 

The post 13 Tips for the Best Nap Ever appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-hacks-how-to-get-more-energy/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-hacks-how-to-get-more-energy/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 15:15:56 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=27621 Sleep Deprivation

[caption id="attachment_27629" align="alignnone" width="620"]Short on Zzz's? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks Photo: Pond5[/caption]

We know the realities of life make it sometimes impossible to get eight hours (or even half that) of sleep every night. Oh, what we’d give for a few extra hours in the day! More than one-quarter of Americans are stealing those precious hours from their slumber, and are paying a steep price for it. Skipping out on sleep can cause weight gain, emotional irritability, motor skill impairment, mild to moderate cognitive impairment and a weakened immune system. Note: Chronic deprivation has much more serious symptoms and you should seek a medical professional if you suffer from insomnia.

Excuses are endless for not sleeping enough: stressful jobs, school projects, social engagements, parenthood, etcetera and etcetera. We know. And while we don’t condone skimping out on zzz’s on a regular basis, once it’s done there’s still another full day to get through. These tips are no substitute for a good night’s sleep, but they’ll at least help you perk up and get through the day.

Day-After Sleep Hacks

1. Eat Breakfast
A healthy breakfast refills energy stores and resets your body clock to keep you going throughout the morning hours. Your best bet is scrambled eggs, the whites of which stimulate orexin, a neurochemical released during REM sleep that regulates wakefulness. Eat them with whole-grain toast (an unrefined carb for fast energy) and a side of berries (high in the antioxidant anthocyanins, also shown to boost energy levels).

2. Get Moving
“Working out feels counterintuitive because you don’t want to when you’re tired,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. “But getting your heart rate up will make the rest of your day much easier to get through.” Exercise can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and the boost in endorphins help lift your mood. Keep in mind that a high-intensity workout can be more draining than invigorating when you’re running on empty, so save the CrossFit and SoulCycle sessions for another time. Opt for a brisk 20-minute walk around the park to get your blood pumping. Its effects can last up to two hours afterward.

3. Cool Off
In addition to freshening up your face and body, showers can help stimulate the circulatory system and metabolism. Turning the water cold for the last five minutes can increase your metabolic rate and "shock" both your mind and body into a more awake state.

[caption id="attachment_27630" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Hacks Coffee Photo: Pond5[/caption]

4. Drink Caffeine
Consuming 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine — the amount found in a tall cup of Starbucks coffee or a shot of espresso — can make you more energetic and alert. Just avoid that bottomless cup. “Excessive caffeine tends to backfire and just makes you feel worse,” says Kennedy, “and stop sipping after noon, or you’ll risk another sleepless night.”

RELATED: 10 Unexpected Things That Can Ruin Your Sleep

5. See Red
When you’ve got the didn’t-get-enough-sleep blues, grab a crimson hued shirt or buy some red flowers for you desk. Seeing the scarlet color can actually trick your brain into making your muscles move faster and work harder, giving you a burst of energy when you need it most.

6. Avoid Sugar
You may be craving the sweet stuff big time, but reaching for soda or sugary caffeinated drinks like Red Bull will lead you to crash. Hard. When you stay up late, your insulin and blood sugar levels already fluctuate more than normal, and adding more sugar to the mix will only make it worse. The same goes for simple carbohydrates and starches. “Instead, go for things that give you energy in a more sustained way, like fruit,” says Kennedy.

7. Hydrate
You know the drill: 64 ounces, two quarts, eight cups. However you measure it, make sure you drink water until your pee runs clear. Ample fluids keep energy-fueling nutrients flowing through your body, whereas dehydration will worsen fatigue and your ability to concentrate.

8. Start Sniffing
Aromatherapy research shows that the scent of peppermint or rosemary can help sharpen your cognitive abilities, at least temporarily. Dab a little essential oil on your wrists and whiff away.

9. Bat Your Eyelashes
Nothing gets the heart rate up like a little harmless flirting. Just an innocent smile or compliment can pump you up when you’re feeling sluggish. According to Your Amazing Brain, the act releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which get your heart racing and cause a euphoric feeling. Enamored people also have high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, boosting energy and lessening the perceived need for sleep (and even food!).

10. Eat Smart
By eating smaller meals more frequently, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas. But what you eat counts, too. Opt for salmon, which has lots of omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen brainpower. Take it with complex carbs and vegetables to help combat the effects of lost sleep on your waistline, and finish it off with fruit. Juicy oranges will pep you right up!

[caption id="attachment_27627" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Hacks Sunshine Photo: Pond5[/caption]

11. Soak Up Some Sun
Sunshine helps boost levels of vitamin D, and research suggests that adequate amounts may play a role in sustaining energy by enhancing the activity of mitochondria (the batteries of your cells). Bright light also helps set your body's circadian rhythm, by suppressing melatonin and releasing cortisol and other hormones that keep you alert during the day. “The morning is when your body needs that signal the most,” says Kennedy. “Be sure getting outside is one of the first things you do.”

RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night’s Sleep

12. Stretch It Out
Tap your inner yogi and get stretching. Forward bends stimulate the sympathetic nervous system by allowing energy to flow through the spinal column while increasing blood and oxygen flow to the heart and head — kind of like a head rush without the dizziness. Bonus: Yoga has also been shown to boost immunity, fight food cravings, and more.

13. Power Nap
If you need to sneak in some zzz’s, limit your nap to 30 minutes, which is just enough to reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. Longer naps will take you into the deep-sleep stage and leave you feeling groggy instead of energized upon waking up. Kennedy also says to avoid napping after 2 p.m. and always set an alarm.

14. Get Social
Not only will a mental break revitalize you, but every social interaction is also an exchange of energy. Just make sure it’s with the right kind of high-energy people (enthusiastic, not frenetic). Socializing has also been shown to improve cognitive functioning. Even a small chat can increase clarity and focus. There’s also a link between positive social interactions and levels of orexin, the neurochemical that wakes you up in the morning.

15. Turn Up the Tunes
Studies have found that up-tempo music can make you feel more energetic and put you in a better mood. So blast some Lady Gaga, whip your hair, sing out loud, and get your energy soaring. One song, three minutes — that’s all it takes.

Which sleep hacks work best for you? Share them in the comments below.

The post Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Sleep Deprivation

[caption id="attachment_27629" align="alignnone" width="620"]Short on Zzz's? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks Photo: Pond5[/caption] We know the realities of life make it sometimes impossible to get eight hours (or even half that) of sleep every night. Oh, what we’d give for a few extra hours in the day! More than one-quarter of Americans are stealing those precious hours from their slumber, and are paying a steep price for it. Skipping out on sleep can cause weight gain, emotional irritability, motor skill impairment, mild to moderate cognitive impairment and a weakened immune system. Note: Chronic deprivation has much more serious symptoms and you should seek a medical professional if you suffer from insomnia. Excuses are endless for not sleeping enough: stressful jobs, school projects, social engagements, parenthood, etcetera and etcetera. We know. And while we don’t condone skimping out on zzz’s on a regular basis, once it’s done there’s still another full day to get through. These tips are no substitute for a good night’s sleep, but they’ll at least help you perk up and get through the day.

Day-After Sleep Hacks

1. Eat Breakfast A healthy breakfast refills energy stores and resets your body clock to keep you going throughout the morning hours. Your best bet is scrambled eggs, the whites of which stimulate orexin, a neurochemical released during REM sleep that regulates wakefulness. Eat them with whole-grain toast (an unrefined carb for fast energy) and a side of berries (high in the antioxidant anthocyanins, also shown to boost energy levels). 2. Get Moving “Working out feels counterintuitive because you don’t want to when you’re tired,” says Janet Kennedy, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. “But getting your heart rate up will make the rest of your day much easier to get through.” Exercise can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and the boost in endorphins help lift your mood. Keep in mind that a high-intensity workout can be more draining than invigorating when you’re running on empty, so save the CrossFit and SoulCycle sessions for another time. Opt for a brisk 20-minute walk around the park to get your blood pumping. Its effects can last up to two hours afterward. 3. Cool Off In addition to freshening up your face and body, showers can help stimulate the circulatory system and metabolism. Turning the water cold for the last five minutes can increase your metabolic rate and "shock" both your mind and body into a more awake state. [caption id="attachment_27630" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Hacks Coffee Photo: Pond5[/caption] 4. Drink Caffeine Consuming 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine — the amount found in a tall cup of Starbucks coffee or a shot of espresso — can make you more energetic and alert. Just avoid that bottomless cup. “Excessive caffeine tends to backfire and just makes you feel worse,” says Kennedy, “and stop sipping after noon, or you’ll risk another sleepless night.” RELATED: 10 Unexpected Things That Can Ruin Your Sleep 5. See Red When you’ve got the didn’t-get-enough-sleep blues, grab a crimson hued shirt or buy some red flowers for you desk. Seeing the scarlet color can actually trick your brain into making your muscles move faster and work harder, giving you a burst of energy when you need it most. 6. Avoid Sugar You may be craving the sweet stuff big time, but reaching for soda or sugary caffeinated drinks like Red Bull will lead you to crash. Hard. When you stay up late, your insulin and blood sugar levels already fluctuate more than normal, and adding more sugar to the mix will only make it worse. The same goes for simple carbohydrates and starches. “Instead, go for things that give you energy in a more sustained way, like fruit,” says Kennedy. 7. Hydrate You know the drill: 64 ounces, two quarts, eight cups. However you measure it, make sure you drink water until your pee runs clear. Ample fluids keep energy-fueling nutrients flowing through your body, whereas dehydration will worsen fatigue and your ability to concentrate. 8. Start Sniffing Aromatherapy research shows that the scent of peppermint or rosemary can help sharpen your cognitive abilities, at least temporarily. Dab a little essential oil on your wrists and whiff away. 9. Bat Your Eyelashes Nothing gets the heart rate up like a little harmless flirting. Just an innocent smile or compliment can pump you up when you’re feeling sluggish. According to Your Amazing Brain, the act releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which get your heart racing and cause a euphoric feeling. Enamored people also have high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, boosting energy and lessening the perceived need for sleep (and even food!). 10. Eat Smart By eating smaller meals more frequently, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas. But what you eat counts, too. Opt for salmon, which has lots of omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen brainpower. Take it with complex carbs and vegetables to help combat the effects of lost sleep on your waistline, and finish it off with fruit. Juicy oranges will pep you right up! [caption id="attachment_27627" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Hacks Sunshine Photo: Pond5[/caption] 11. Soak Up Some Sun Sunshine helps boost levels of vitamin D, and research suggests that adequate amounts may play a role in sustaining energy by enhancing the activity of mitochondria (the batteries of your cells). Bright light also helps set your body's circadian rhythm, by suppressing melatonin and releasing cortisol and other hormones that keep you alert during the day. “The morning is when your body needs that signal the most,” says Kennedy. “Be sure getting outside is one of the first things you do.” RELATED: 15 Gadgets for a Better Night’s Sleep 12. Stretch It Out Tap your inner yogi and get stretching. Forward bends stimulate the sympathetic nervous system by allowing energy to flow through the spinal column while increasing blood and oxygen flow to the heart and head — kind of like a head rush without the dizziness. Bonus: Yoga has also been shown to boost immunity, fight food cravings, and more. 13. Power Nap If you need to sneak in some zzz’s, limit your nap to 30 minutes, which is just enough to reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. Longer naps will take you into the deep-sleep stage and leave you feeling groggy instead of energized upon waking up. Kennedy also says to avoid napping after 2 p.m. and always set an alarm. 14. Get Social Not only will a mental break revitalize you, but every social interaction is also an exchange of energy. Just make sure it’s with the right kind of high-energy people (enthusiastic, not frenetic). Socializing has also been shown to improve cognitive functioning. Even a small chat can increase clarity and focus. There’s also a link between positive social interactions and levels of orexin, the neurochemical that wakes you up in the morning. 15. Turn Up the Tunes Studies have found that up-tempo music can make you feel more energetic and put you in a better mood. So blast some Lady Gaga, whip your hair, sing out loud, and get your energy soaring. One song, three minutes — that’s all it takes. Which sleep hacks work best for you? Share them in the comments below.

The post Short on Zzz’s? 15 Research-Backed Sleep Hacks appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
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10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-symptoms-find-relief/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/exhausted-symptoms-find-relief/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:15:28 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=27142 Reasons You're Exhausted

[caption id="attachment_27143" align="alignnone" width="620"]Reasons You're Exhausted Photo: Pond5[/caption]

While many of us accept droopy lids and constant yawning as a daily reality, your lagging daytime energy could be a bigger deal than you think. Whether you feel lethargic during the day or consistently have trouble falling and staying asleep at night, these symptoms of exhaustion could be indicators of a number of health problems, from over-exercising, to a chronic infection, to depression and many more.

“Fatigue is personal and individualized,” says Adam Rindfleisch, MD, University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine. “Since there are a number of reasons why someone could feel fatigued, it’s important your doctor tailors his or her diagnosis to your individual symptoms and needs.”

Not sure what’s causing your drowsiness? Here are some of the most common reasons you may be feeling tired all the time.

1. You’re overtraining.

Whether you stepped up your workout routine to train for a long-distance race (or just swimsuit season) and you feel absolutely spent during the day — or you’re experiencing trouble falling asleep at night — it could be a sign that you’re overdoing it.  “The longer you train, the more rest and recovery your body needs,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, CFT, RDN, CDN, coauthor of The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure. “If you don’t provide your body with adequate rest and nutrition, muscles and cells are continuously breaking down, eventually leading to exhaustion.”

The fix: Sleep at least eight hours a night and try to go to the bed at the same time to keep your internal clock in check, says Lakatos Shames. Also, consider having a 20-minute nap during the day to help you recover if you feel you need it. Make sure you’re providing your body with ample calories from quality carbohydrates and lean protein such as skinless chicken breasts, fish, fat-free Greek yogurt and nuts to charge your training, suggests Lakatos Shames.

2. You’ve got allergies.

When the small intestines become damaged from inflammation, your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients into the blood-stream, which can lead to malnourishment and fatigue.

Allergies are a common culprit behind daily yawning sessions for the 50 million Americans who suffer from them. Allergies take a toll on energy when congestion interferes with your breathing and ability to get a good night’s sleep or if the antihistamine meds you’re taking to relieve symptoms make you feel groggy.

Histamine is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel more awake so if your body is sensitive to antihistamines you’re more likely to feel wiped out from the drugs.

The fix: It’s important to learn what’s causing your allergies so you can remedy the problem, says Dr. Rindfleisch. If the issue is indoor allergies caused by dust mites, mold or pet dander, cleaning and vacuuming might help. If you suffer from outdoor allergies due to pollen and mold spores, take over-the-counter medicine to help and limit your outdoor activities on high pollen count days. If you think antihistamines are making you sleepy, ask your doctor about non-sedating meds to control your symptoms.

3. You’re gluten intolerant.

Food intolerance occurs when your body is unable to digest a certain component of a food, such as the protein called gluten. “When you truly have a food intolerance like celiac disease or are non-celiac gluten sensitive, the gluten can cause your small intestines to become inflamed,” says Lakatos Shames. When the small intestines become damaged from inflammation, your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment and fatigue.

The fix: “If your doctor diagnosed you with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eliminate all forms of wheat, rye and barley from your diet since they contain gluten that will damage the intestines,” says Lakatos Shames.  Look for gluten-free alternatives and be sure to read food labels carefully, suggests Lakatos Shames.

4. You’re anemic.

Anemia can happen when your body isn’t producing enough red blood cells or the red blood cells don’t contain enough iron-rich hemoglobin, says Amy L. Doneen, ARNP, medical director of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center. That lack of oxygen-rich blood in your body can make you feel tired and weak. While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, other causes include heavy periods, sluggish bone marrow, vitamin B12 deficiency or a lack of folate in the diet, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: When your anemia is caused by an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend an iron supplement and suggest eating more iron-rich foods like fish, poultry, cooked beans, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and baked potatoes, says Lakatos Shames. If you suspect your fatigue might be tied to anemia, ask a medical professional to test your iron levels, folate levels and B12 so they can tailor your treatment based on what your body needs, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

5. You’re insulin resistant.

Insulin resistance means the hormone insulin isn’t able to get nutrients, particularly glucose or sugar, into the body’s cells. Since your cells aren’t properly absorbing blood sugar, they can’t transfer energy throughout the body sufficiently, says Dr. Rindfleisch. “There’s a strong correlation between body weight and fat levels increasing and your insulin levels increasing, too,” says Dr. Rindfleisch. “High insulin also creates inflammation which can prevent healing, confuse your body, and affect energy levels,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: Get a fasting glucose test during your routine screenings, suggests Dr. Rindfleisch. If your fasting glucose levels are higher than usual, that could be a sign that you’re having insulin resistance issues. Therefore, you should adopt healthy lifestyle changes, like exercising and making healthier food choices to lower your body weight.

Depression affects every aspect of life, from your sleep patterns, to exercise motivation, and food choices — all of which can affect your energy levels.

6. Your thyroid is out of whack.

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that controls the functioning of many of the body’s organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and skin. When someone’s thyroid levels are low, it affects energy levels because it alters the chemical reactions that get things moving in the body and can also have an effect on blood pressure, how fast the heart beats, chemical pathways, bowel movements, and it can lead to dry skin, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: Explain your symptoms to your doctor, especially if you’ve been feeing tired and depressed, and ask for a thyroid test, says Dr. Rindfleisch. Thyroid problems are often treated with daily medication to help regulate the gland so it’s functioning properly.

7. You’ve got periodontal disease.

One in two adult Americans is likely to have periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bones supporting the teeth. “Any bleeding whatsoever in the gums when you floss or brush, or puffiness of the gum line isn’t normal and could be a sign that you have a chronic infection which could lead to chronic fatigue,” says Doneen. Gingivitis and the advanced stage of it, periodontitis, indicate there’s inflammation in the body, says Dr. Rindfleisch. “The immune system thinks it’s fighting off an infection and with that comes fatigue,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: “I recommend getting fully assessed for the presence of bacteria in the gum line and mouth by going to the dentist every three months, flossing teeth twice a day, and using an electric sonic toothbrush,” says Doneen.

8. You’ve got restless legs syndrome.

The neurological disorder restless legs syndrome can make you feel like you have the urge to move your legs often. You might have a desire to stretch them, bounce them, fidget, or experience aches or pains and feel relief when you get up and walk around. These daytime symptoms might indicate you’re suffering from periodic limb movement during sleep, jerking and twitching throughout the night. This could cause you to wake up frequently or prevent you from going into proper cycles of rest which can affect overall sleep quality and health, says Doneen.

The fix: “You have to settle the legs down so you can keep the body still at night and improve sleep quality,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.  Share your symptoms with your doc to determine if restless legs syndrome could be a reason why you feel tired frequently. Since it’s hard to know if you’re doing it at night, you might not get an official diagnosis until you participate in a sleep study or evaluation to see if you move a lot in your sleep, says Dr. Rindfleisch. If you’re diagnosed, your doc might prescribe medication to help the legs settle down.

9. You’re depressed.

When neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, aren’t balanced in your brain, they can have a direct effect on sleep and energy levels, says Dr. Rindfleisch. The sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin, is created from serotonin, so if that conversion isn’t happening like it’s supposed to, it affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, he says. “Depression affects every aspect of life, from your sleep patterns, to exercise motivation, and food choices — all of which can affect your energy levels,” says Doneen.

The fix: If you notice you’re not finding pleasure in the things that normally make you happy, talk with your doctor so they can determine if you’re suffering from depression.  If he or she thinks your neurotransmitter levels are off, they might prescribe an antidepressant medication to boost serotonin levels. Once your serotonin levels are back up to normal, they can make enough melatonin so you can sleep better, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

10. You’re anxious.

Those never-ending worries about your finances or job could be zapping your energy. One of the main symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is feeling tired all the time, according to the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry. Anxiety creates a sense of alarm in the body and ignites that high-adrenaline “fight or flight response,” which affects hormone levels, creates heart rate variability and blood pressure fluctuations, all of which can lead to fatigue, says Doneen. Your body releases hormones to prepare for that intense response and then the fall from that “high” can create fatigue, says Doneen.

The fix: Talk to your doctor to determine if you’re suffering from anxiety disorder or whether any medications you’re taking may be increasing your heart rate and uneasy feelings. Your doctor may recommend pills to help with anxiety and/or therapy to help you relax and think positive thoughts.

“It’s not OK to be tired all the time,” says Doneen. And it’s totally OK to schedule a doctor’s appointment with the complaint of, “I’m tired.”  Be specific when you talk to your health professional though to help identify what’s causing your fatigue. Let them know if it’s muscle weakness, if it feels like sleepiness, general fatigue all day long, before or after meals or any other specific details that might help them diagnose the problem, says Dr. Rindfleisch. This will help them determine the cause and remedy the situation so you can get back to soaring energy and high-quality sleep in no time.

The post 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Reasons You're Exhausted

[caption id="attachment_27143" align="alignnone" width="620"]Reasons You're Exhausted Photo: Pond5[/caption]

While many of us accept droopy lids and constant yawning as a daily reality, your lagging daytime energy could be a bigger deal than you think. Whether you feel lethargic during the day or consistently have trouble falling and staying asleep at night, these symptoms of exhaustion could be indicators of a number of health problems, from over-exercising, to a chronic infection, to depression and many more.

“Fatigue is personal and individualized,” says Adam Rindfleisch, MD, University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine. “Since there are a number of reasons why someone could feel fatigued, it’s important your doctor tailors his or her diagnosis to your individual symptoms and needs.”

Not sure what’s causing your drowsiness? Here are some of the most common reasons you may be feeling tired all the time.

1. You’re overtraining.

Whether you stepped up your workout routine to train for a long-distance race (or just swimsuit season) and you feel absolutely spent during the day — or you’re experiencing trouble falling asleep at night — it could be a sign that you’re overdoing it.  “The longer you train, the more rest and recovery your body needs,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, CFT, RDN, CDN, coauthor of The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure. “If you don’t provide your body with adequate rest and nutrition, muscles and cells are continuously breaking down, eventually leading to exhaustion.”

The fix: Sleep at least eight hours a night and try to go to the bed at the same time to keep your internal clock in check, says Lakatos Shames. Also, consider having a 20-minute nap during the day to help you recover if you feel you need it. Make sure you’re providing your body with ample calories from quality carbohydrates and lean protein such as skinless chicken breasts, fish, fat-free Greek yogurt and nuts to charge your training, suggests Lakatos Shames.

2. You’ve got allergies.

When the small intestines become damaged from inflammation, your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients into the blood-stream, which can lead to malnourishment and fatigue.

Allergies are a common culprit behind daily yawning sessions for the 50 million Americans who suffer from them. Allergies take a toll on energy when congestion interferes with your breathing and ability to get a good night’s sleep or if the antihistamine meds you’re taking to relieve symptoms make you feel groggy.

Histamine is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel more awake so if your body is sensitive to antihistamines you’re more likely to feel wiped out from the drugs.

The fix: It’s important to learn what’s causing your allergies so you can remedy the problem, says Dr. Rindfleisch. If the issue is indoor allergies caused by dust mites, mold or pet dander, cleaning and vacuuming might help. If you suffer from outdoor allergies due to pollen and mold spores, take over-the-counter medicine to help and limit your outdoor activities on high pollen count days. If you think antihistamines are making you sleepy, ask your doctor about non-sedating meds to control your symptoms.

3. You’re gluten intolerant.

Food intolerance occurs when your body is unable to digest a certain component of a food, such as the protein called gluten. “When you truly have a food intolerance like celiac disease or are non-celiac gluten sensitive, the gluten can cause your small intestines to become inflamed,” says Lakatos Shames. When the small intestines become damaged from inflammation, your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment and fatigue.

The fix: “If your doctor diagnosed you with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eliminate all forms of wheat, rye and barley from your diet since they contain gluten that will damage the intestines,” says Lakatos Shames.  Look for gluten-free alternatives and be sure to read food labels carefully, suggests Lakatos Shames.

4. You’re anemic.

Anemia can happen when your body isn’t producing enough red blood cells or the red blood cells don’t contain enough iron-rich hemoglobin, says Amy L. Doneen, ARNP, medical director of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center. That lack of oxygen-rich blood in your body can make you feel tired and weak. While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, other causes include heavy periods, sluggish bone marrow, vitamin B12 deficiency or a lack of folate in the diet, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: When your anemia is caused by an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend an iron supplement and suggest eating more iron-rich foods like fish, poultry, cooked beans, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and baked potatoes, says Lakatos Shames. If you suspect your fatigue might be tied to anemia, ask a medical professional to test your iron levels, folate levels and B12 so they can tailor your treatment based on what your body needs, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

5. You’re insulin resistant.

Insulin resistance means the hormone insulin isn’t able to get nutrients, particularly glucose or sugar, into the body’s cells. Since your cells aren’t properly absorbing blood sugar, they can’t transfer energy throughout the body sufficiently, says Dr. Rindfleisch. “There’s a strong correlation between body weight and fat levels increasing and your insulin levels increasing, too,” says Dr. Rindfleisch. “High insulin also creates inflammation which can prevent healing, confuse your body, and affect energy levels,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: Get a fasting glucose test during your routine screenings, suggests Dr. Rindfleisch. If your fasting glucose levels are higher than usual, that could be a sign that you’re having insulin resistance issues. Therefore, you should adopt healthy lifestyle changes, like exercising and making healthier food choices to lower your body weight.

Depression affects every aspect of life, from your sleep patterns, to exercise motivation, and food choices — all of which can affect your energy levels.

6. Your thyroid is out of whack.

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that controls the functioning of many of the body’s organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and skin. When someone’s thyroid levels are low, it affects energy levels because it alters the chemical reactions that get things moving in the body and can also have an effect on blood pressure, how fast the heart beats, chemical pathways, bowel movements, and it can lead to dry skin, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: Explain your symptoms to your doctor, especially if you’ve been feeing tired and depressed, and ask for a thyroid test, says Dr. Rindfleisch. Thyroid problems are often treated with daily medication to help regulate the gland so it’s functioning properly.

7. You’ve got periodontal disease.

One in two adult Americans is likely to have periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bones supporting the teeth. “Any bleeding whatsoever in the gums when you floss or brush, or puffiness of the gum line isn’t normal and could be a sign that you have a chronic infection which could lead to chronic fatigue,” says Doneen. Gingivitis and the advanced stage of it, periodontitis, indicate there’s inflammation in the body, says Dr. Rindfleisch. “The immune system thinks it’s fighting off an infection and with that comes fatigue,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.

The fix: “I recommend getting fully assessed for the presence of bacteria in the gum line and mouth by going to the dentist every three months, flossing teeth twice a day, and using an electric sonic toothbrush,” says Doneen.

8. You’ve got restless legs syndrome.

The neurological disorder restless legs syndrome can make you feel like you have the urge to move your legs often. You might have a desire to stretch them, bounce them, fidget, or experience aches or pains and feel relief when you get up and walk around. These daytime symptoms might indicate you’re suffering from periodic limb movement during sleep, jerking and twitching throughout the night. This could cause you to wake up frequently or prevent you from going into proper cycles of rest which can affect overall sleep quality and health, says Doneen.

The fix: “You have to settle the legs down so you can keep the body still at night and improve sleep quality,” says Dr. Rindfleisch.  Share your symptoms with your doc to determine if restless legs syndrome could be a reason why you feel tired frequently. Since it’s hard to know if you’re doing it at night, you might not get an official diagnosis until you participate in a sleep study or evaluation to see if you move a lot in your sleep, says Dr. Rindfleisch. If you’re diagnosed, your doc might prescribe medication to help the legs settle down.

9. You’re depressed.

When neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, aren’t balanced in your brain, they can have a direct effect on sleep and energy levels, says Dr. Rindfleisch. The sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin, is created from serotonin, so if that conversion isn’t happening like it’s supposed to, it affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, he says. “Depression affects every aspect of life, from your sleep patterns, to exercise motivation, and food choices — all of which can affect your energy levels,” says Doneen.

The fix: If you notice you’re not finding pleasure in the things that normally make you happy, talk with your doctor so they can determine if you’re suffering from depression.  If he or she thinks your neurotransmitter levels are off, they might prescribe an antidepressant medication to boost serotonin levels. Once your serotonin levels are back up to normal, they can make enough melatonin so you can sleep better, says Dr. Rindfleisch.

10. You’re anxious.

Those never-ending worries about your finances or job could be zapping your energy. One of the main symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is feeling tired all the time, according to the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry. Anxiety creates a sense of alarm in the body and ignites that high-adrenaline “fight or flight response,” which affects hormone levels, creates heart rate variability and blood pressure fluctuations, all of which can lead to fatigue, says Doneen. Your body releases hormones to prepare for that intense response and then the fall from that “high” can create fatigue, says Doneen.

The fix: Talk to your doctor to determine if you’re suffering from anxiety disorder or whether any medications you’re taking may be increasing your heart rate and uneasy feelings. Your doctor may recommend pills to help with anxiety and/or therapy to help you relax and think positive thoughts.

“It’s not OK to be tired all the time,” says Doneen. And it’s totally OK to schedule a doctor’s appointment with the complaint of, “I’m tired.”  Be specific when you talk to your health professional though to help identify what’s causing your fatigue. Let them know if it’s muscle weakness, if it feels like sleepiness, general fatigue all day long, before or after meals or any other specific details that might help them diagnose the problem, says Dr. Rindfleisch. This will help them determine the cause and remedy the situation so you can get back to soaring energy and high-quality sleep in no time.

The post 10 Reasons You’re Exhausted and What to Do About It appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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8 Signs You’re Way Too Stressed (and How to Deal) http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-deal-with-stress/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/how-to-deal-with-stress/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:15:35 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=25746 Stressed-Featured-Image

[caption id="attachment_25752" align="alignnone" width="620"]Photo: Pond5 Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Unless you surround yourself with Tibetan monks, chances are, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in your life — including you — that wouldn’t say they’re stressed about something. And while stress can sometimes be good — it can help you conquer fears or motivate you to get something done — when you’re constantly in a state of tension and anxiety, it can have an effect on your body’s physical and emotional state. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related.

So what’s the best way to get a handle on your stress levels? We’ll help you identify eight red flags that you need to relax a bit more — and how to do it.

1. You’re perpetually sick and just can’t seem to get over it.

If it seems like every week you’ve got a cough, sore throat or a fever, you might want to blame your workload and not just your sneezing coworker. “When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short-term,” says Richard Colgan, MD, professor of family and community medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine, author of Advice to the Healer. “But if you’re stressed out constantly, these hormones aren’t as helpful and can become depleted over time.” Colgan says cortisol and other hormones are components of the immune system and though they help the body cope with stress, when these hormones are withdrawn, we become more susceptible to sickness.

And the side effects don’t end there. “Stress can also slow wound healing, contribute to the reactivation of latent viruses, and increase vulnerability to viral infections,” says Keri Tuit, clinical psychologist at Yale University.

What to do: Listen to your body when you feel tired or drained and make time for rest and extra sleep. Whether you recently spent time traveling, finalizing a huge work project, or just had a lot of late dinner meetings all week, allow your body the time it needs to recover.

 

 

"A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness.”

 

 

2. You’re having trouble concentrating.

When you’re too overwhelmed to focus on what’s in front of you, or you can’t remember simple things like a coworker’s name, it could be a sign you’re overworked. Research has connected long-term exposure to excess amounts of cortisol to shrinking of the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, says Tuit. Studies have shown that long-term stress stimulates growth of the proteins that might cause Alzheimer’s disease.

What to do: If you find that you’re experiencing this during the workday, taking a few long inhales and exhales can help when faced with a high-pressure situation. “Deep, even breathing not only affects whether or not our thoughts control us or we control them, but it also affects the bodily sensations that are experienced when faced with a high-stress situation,” says Tuit. This type of breathing can help control the heart rate and blood flow, as well as muscle tension, she says.

3. Your have a constant headache that just won’t go away.

If you experience throbbing or feel pressure anywhere on the head or temple area, there’s a good chance it’s a tension or stress headache, says Dr. Colgan. Oftentimes people point to particular troubles in their life that might be causing this pain, but  lifestyle might be to blame instead. Keep in mind, if your head pain feels like a “migraine headache,” “the worst headache of your life,” or a headache that wakens you from sleep, those are signs of a dangerous health problem and you should visit a doctor immediately, advises Dr. Colgan.

What to do: “When stress is the cause of your headache, the easiest thing to say is, ‘have less stress in your life,’ but that advice itself is stressful,” says Dr. Colgan. Knowing what your headache‘s coming from is helpful therapy. People oftentimes feel worse worrying and trying to figure out what the cause could be, so knowing it’s not some serious health problem may make a person feel better. “Sometimes the most effective way a doctor can treat a patient is to teach them about their symptoms,” says Dr. Colgan.

4. Your back or neck is always aching.

If you’ve got knots in your shoulders, a stiff neck or your lower back cramped up after a long day of work, it could be the constant of a job or personal situation, not just the position you sit in during the day. “High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms,” says Dr. Colgan. And stiff muscles in your neck can also lead to headaches, he says.

If your back pain developed after an accident or emotional trauma, it could also be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The National Institute of Health recommends talking to your primary doctor, as many people aren’t able to heal their back pain until they deal with the emotional stress that’s causing it.

What to do: “Many relaxation techniques can help with stress reduction, including guided imagery, taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, meditation, massages and yoga,” says Tuit. Try devoting time for stretching breaks throughout the day to help prevent muscles from tightening up, and make time for some of these yoga poses to unwind at the end of the day.

5. You having trouble sleeping well.

“If you find yourself wakening up and worrying or ruminating over things, it could be a sign of anxiety or depression,” says Dr. Colgan.  After a long day, sleep should come easy and getting into bed she finally be a time when you can shut your brain off and relax. If you feel tired but have a difficult time falling asleep, it’s possible you have stress-related fatigue.

What to do: Talk to your doctor if this is regular occurrence and discuss whether your chronic stress may have led to depression, says Dr. Colgan. When you’re not sleeping well, everyday annoyances might make you feel even more overwhelmed and frustrated because you’re more vulnerable. “A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness,” says Tuit. She suggests addressing your sleep issues by asking yourself if you’re getting six or more hours of sleep each night, and if not, determine what’s interfering with that. “Cutting back on caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and increasing exercise can also improve sleep patterns," she says.

6. Your hair is starting to fall out.

If you’re waking up with more than a few strands on your pillow, you may be suffering from a medical condition called alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune skin disease brought on when the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing small round patches of hair loss on the scalp. “It’s not dangerous, but it’s likely to be associated with a severe stressor, like an assault or significant traumatic event in one’s life,” says Dr. Colgan. This disease more likely to occur in young women or adolescent girls.

What to do: In most cases, this is typically a temporary condition and your hair will grow back once stress is minimized. But don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about what’s going on, says Dr. Colgan. While your MD might recommend injectable scalp steroids to help with hair growth, it’s best to have an examination, as the hair loss could possibly be a sign of a scalp fungal infection, a bacterial function or even a thyroid disorder.

7. You’re getting UTIs.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting that dragged on for hours or were so focused on an assignment that you didn’t get up from your desk for a bathroom break, you could be putting yourself at risk for urinary tract infections, says Dr. Colgan. “When people are under increased stress or working too hard, they sometimes put off going to the bathroom, but that’s one of the biggest risk factors for a UTI,” says Dr. Colgan, who’s also a UTI expert.

What to do: C’mon, you’re an adult! When you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, give yourself permission to take a break and go. An uncomfortable urinary infection is going to feel way worse than those few minutes you spent trying to crank out your work. 

8. Your sex life is suffering.

While you or your partner might not be aware of it, stress and tension are the leading causes of erectile dysfunction. “A lot of men walk into my office and say they want Viagra, but oftentimes I’ll tell them I don’t think a pill will help their problem when I believe it’s stress that’s causing the issue,” says Dr. Colgan. It’s a vicious cycle, as erectile dysfunction can also cause more stress for the person experiencing it. “And since they’re stressed, sometimes guys will start drinking alcohol to reduce their inhibitions, but I’ll remind them that this is a muscle relaxer, so it won’t help them perform better in their sexual relations,” he says.

What to do: Identify what’s causing the problem. “I tell patients, the body and mind are like significant others: When one doesn’t feel well, the other sympathizes,” says Dr. Colgan. “If you’re having a rocky relationship, increased financial stresses, or lost your job, it’s illogical to think that with all that worry and tension in your life, your body is going to stand by idly and not act differently.”

Dr. Colgan also recommends talking with your partner to let them know what’s going on in order to work through the problem. “I tell them the answer isn’t a pill. The solution is for you and your partner to communicate so you can help them understand that you’re under a lot of stress and tension right now.” If you can work to relieve that tension, your sex life should improve as well.

What are your favorite tips to minimize stress in your life? Share them in the comments below.

The post 8 Signs You’re Way Too Stressed (and How to Deal) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

]]>
Stressed-Featured-Image

[caption id="attachment_25752" align="alignnone" width="620"]Photo: Pond5 Photo: Pond5[/caption]

Unless you surround yourself with Tibetan monks, chances are, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in your life — including you — that wouldn’t say they’re stressed about something. And while stress can sometimes be good — it can help you conquer fears or motivate you to get something done — when you’re constantly in a state of tension and anxiety, it can have an effect on your body’s physical and emotional state. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related.

So what’s the best way to get a handle on your stress levels? We’ll help you identify eight red flags that you need to relax a bit more — and how to do it.

1. You’re perpetually sick and just can’t seem to get over it.

If it seems like every week you’ve got a cough, sore throat or a fever, you might want to blame your workload and not just your sneezing coworker. “When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short-term,” says Richard Colgan, MD, professor of family and community medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine, author of Advice to the Healer. “But if you’re stressed out constantly, these hormones aren’t as helpful and can become depleted over time.” Colgan says cortisol and other hormones are components of the immune system and though they help the body cope with stress, when these hormones are withdrawn, we become more susceptible to sickness.

And the side effects don’t end there. “Stress can also slow wound healing, contribute to the reactivation of latent viruses, and increase vulnerability to viral infections,” says Keri Tuit, clinical psychologist at Yale University.

What to do: Listen to your body when you feel tired or drained and make time for rest and extra sleep. Whether you recently spent time traveling, finalizing a huge work project, or just had a lot of late dinner meetings all week, allow your body the time it needs to recover.

 

 

"A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness.”

 

 

2. You’re having trouble concentrating.

When you’re too overwhelmed to focus on what’s in front of you, or you can’t remember simple things like a coworker’s name, it could be a sign you’re overworked. Research has connected long-term exposure to excess amounts of cortisol to shrinking of the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, says Tuit. Studies have shown that long-term stress stimulates growth of the proteins that might cause Alzheimer’s disease.

What to do: If you find that you’re experiencing this during the workday, taking a few long inhales and exhales can help when faced with a high-pressure situation. “Deep, even breathing not only affects whether or not our thoughts control us or we control them, but it also affects the bodily sensations that are experienced when faced with a high-stress situation,” says Tuit. This type of breathing can help control the heart rate and blood flow, as well as muscle tension, she says.

3. Your have a constant headache that just won’t go away.

If you experience throbbing or feel pressure anywhere on the head or temple area, there’s a good chance it’s a tension or stress headache, says Dr. Colgan. Oftentimes people point to particular troubles in their life that might be causing this pain, but  lifestyle might be to blame instead. Keep in mind, if your head pain feels like a “migraine headache,” “the worst headache of your life,” or a headache that wakens you from sleep, those are signs of a dangerous health problem and you should visit a doctor immediately, advises Dr. Colgan.

What to do: “When stress is the cause of your headache, the easiest thing to say is, ‘have less stress in your life,’ but that advice itself is stressful,” says Dr. Colgan. Knowing what your headache‘s coming from is helpful therapy. People oftentimes feel worse worrying and trying to figure out what the cause could be, so knowing it’s not some serious health problem may make a person feel better. “Sometimes the most effective way a doctor can treat a patient is to teach them about their symptoms,” says Dr. Colgan.

4. Your back or neck is always aching.

If you’ve got knots in your shoulders, a stiff neck or your lower back cramped up after a long day of work, it could be the constant of a job or personal situation, not just the position you sit in during the day. “High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms,” says Dr. Colgan. And stiff muscles in your neck can also lead to headaches, he says.

If your back pain developed after an accident or emotional trauma, it could also be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The National Institute of Health recommends talking to your primary doctor, as many people aren’t able to heal their back pain until they deal with the emotional stress that’s causing it.

What to do: “Many relaxation techniques can help with stress reduction, including guided imagery, taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, meditation, massages and yoga,” says Tuit. Try devoting time for stretching breaks throughout the day to help prevent muscles from tightening up, and make time for some of these yoga poses to unwind at the end of the day.

5. You having trouble sleeping well.

“If you find yourself wakening up and worrying or ruminating over things, it could be a sign of anxiety or depression,” says Dr. Colgan.  After a long day, sleep should come easy and getting into bed she finally be a time when you can shut your brain off and relax. If you feel tired but have a difficult time falling asleep, it’s possible you have stress-related fatigue.

What to do: Talk to your doctor if this is regular occurrence and discuss whether your chronic stress may have led to depression, says Dr. Colgan. When you’re not sleeping well, everyday annoyances might make you feel even more overwhelmed and frustrated because you’re more vulnerable. “A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness,” says Tuit. She suggests addressing your sleep issues by asking yourself if you’re getting six or more hours of sleep each night, and if not, determine what’s interfering with that. “Cutting back on caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and increasing exercise can also improve sleep patterns," she says.

6. Your hair is starting to fall out.

If you’re waking up with more than a few strands on your pillow, you may be suffering from a medical condition called alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune skin disease brought on when the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing small round patches of hair loss on the scalp. “It’s not dangerous, but it’s likely to be associated with a severe stressor, like an assault or significant traumatic event in one’s life,” says Dr. Colgan. This disease more likely to occur in young women or adolescent girls.

What to do: In most cases, this is typically a temporary condition and your hair will grow back once stress is minimized. But don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about what’s going on, says Dr. Colgan. While your MD might recommend injectable scalp steroids to help with hair growth, it’s best to have an examination, as the hair loss could possibly be a sign of a scalp fungal infection, a bacterial function or even a thyroid disorder.

7. You’re getting UTIs.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting that dragged on for hours or were so focused on an assignment that you didn’t get up from your desk for a bathroom break, you could be putting yourself at risk for urinary tract infections, says Dr. Colgan. “When people are under increased stress or working too hard, they sometimes put off going to the bathroom, but that’s one of the biggest risk factors for a UTI,” says Dr. Colgan, who’s also a UTI expert.

What to do: C’mon, you’re an adult! When you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, give yourself permission to take a break and go. An uncomfortable urinary infection is going to feel way worse than those few minutes you spent trying to crank out your work. 

8. Your sex life is suffering.

While you or your partner might not be aware of it, stress and tension are the leading causes of erectile dysfunction. “A lot of men walk into my office and say they want Viagra, but oftentimes I’ll tell them I don’t think a pill will help their problem when I believe it’s stress that’s causing the issue,” says Dr. Colgan. It’s a vicious cycle, as erectile dysfunction can also cause more stress for the person experiencing it. “And since they’re stressed, sometimes guys will start drinking alcohol to reduce their inhibitions, but I’ll remind them that this is a muscle relaxer, so it won’t help them perform better in their sexual relations,” he says.

What to do: Identify what’s causing the problem. “I tell patients, the body and mind are like significant others: When one doesn’t feel well, the other sympathizes,” says Dr. Colgan. “If you’re having a rocky relationship, increased financial stresses, or lost your job, it’s illogical to think that with all that worry and tension in your life, your body is going to stand by idly and not act differently.”

Dr. Colgan also recommends talking with your partner to let them know what’s going on in order to work through the problem. “I tell them the answer isn’t a pill. The solution is for you and your partner to communicate so you can help them understand that you’re under a lot of stress and tension right now.” If you can work to relieve that tension, your sex life should improve as well.

What are your favorite tips to minimize stress in your life? Share them in the comments below.

The post 8 Signs You’re Way Too Stressed (and How to Deal) appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-insomnia-myths/ http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/sleep-insomnia-myths/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 12:15:42 +0000 http://dailyburn.com/life/?p=25578 Sleep Myths

[caption id="attachment_25580" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Myths Photo: Pond5[/caption]

The real reason you can’t fall asleep might not be as simple as you think. If you’ve ever said, “I need to catch up on sleep,” or cranked up the radio while driving to offset fatigue, you’ve been letting some of these myths creep into your life. Quit believing in these six misconceptions and instead take our experts’ advice on how to kick that tired feeling to the curb — for good.

1. “If I miss sleep during the week, I can make up for it on the weekend.”

You can catch up on short-term sleep debt if you do it within a few days, explains Dr. W. Christopher Winter, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. If you slept poorly last night, go to bed early tonight and you’ll probably make up for the sleep you lost. But you can’t make up for the zzz’s you lose over a long period of time. Trying to catch up on those all-nighters you had in college with better shut-eye now isn’t going to repair any damage done.

 

"The last thing we want is for someone to attach a feeling of frustration to their sleep environment. We don’t want people to 'try' to fall asleep."

 

While this still might tempt you to shortchange yourself during the week, making up for lost sleep on the weekend is really too late, says Joyce Walsleben, RN, PhD, associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine. “You’ve already been irritable and possibly experienced poor reaction times that may have caused accidents,” she says. “Snoozing late on the weekend can also disrupt your sleep rhythm and make it difficult to go to bed Sunday night, so you’ll be starting the next week already in the hole,” Walsleben says.

2. “If I wake up in the middle of the night, I should stay in bed and try to fall back asleep.”

While you may think counting sheep will send you back into Snoozeville, if hundreds of animals have traipsed through your mind and you’re starting to feel stressed out about it, getting out of bed may help, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

“If you can lie in bed awake in the dark and stay relaxed, thinking positive thoughts, then I advise those people to stay in bed,” Winter says. “The people I tell to get out of bed and go to a new environment are those who get frustrated and irritated when they can’t fall back asleep.” If that’s the case for you, go to another room and try reading a book. “The last thing we want is for someone to attach a feeling of frustration to their sleep environment,” Winter says. “We don’t want people to try to fall asleep.”

If you wake up in the middle of the night and experience problems falling back asleep frequently, change up your bedroom by buying new sheets, painting your room, or making the room darker with new blinds. Make it feel like a different environment other than the one you associate with your lack of sleep.

3. “I have to get eight hours of sleep because that’s what’s recommended.”

There isn’t a magical amount of sleep that’s universally right for everyone. Winter recommends a healthy, young person aim for seven-and-a-half to eight hours a night, but it’s a matter of personal trial and error. If you get eight hours of sleep a night and you’re exhausted during the day, that might not be enough for you. On the other hand, if you’re getting a solid seven and a half hours of sleep a night but you experience trouble passing out at night, that could be your brain saying it doesn’t need quite as much time in bed as you may think it does. The amount of sleep your body requires may change over the years, so listen to it and adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.

4. “My snoring is normal and not really a problem.”

Although 40 percent of us will snore at some time, it shouldn’t go ignored, Walsleben says. Snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, when your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. Sometimes people with sleep apnea wake up during the night gasping for breath. These breathing pauses all night long can strain the heart and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Snoring can happen at any age and should be evaluated by a doctor to determine what’s causing it. Sometimes sleeping on your side or with your head elevated will make a difference, as will weight loss in those that are overweight, Walsleben says.

5. “If I feel sleepy when driving, turning up the music and opening the window wake me up.”

Research has shown that nothing will correct drowsiness while driving except sleep. “If you recognize that you’re having trouble staying alert, pull over to a safe location and take a brief nap,” says Walsleben. The brain is like a computer: When it begins to get tired, it shuts down its 'programs' one at a time. One of the first areas to shut down are the frontal lobes where our judgment centers are located. So we are usually the last to know when we’re tired and having trouble concentrating. Having another passenger in the car may come in handy to spot signs of weariness, and possibly take over driving responsibilities if they’re alert and able.

6. “I have insomnia and never sleep.”

If you are reading this article, you sleep. Insomnia is when you don’t get quality sleep, or quality sleep that meets your expectations. “I see patients every week who tell me they never sleep or only sleep about an hour a night, which just isn’t true,” says Winter. You create more sleep issues when you start framing your problems based on a premise that may not be true. These perceptions are as equally damning as the lack of sleep itself, Winter says. Try not to tell yourself, others, or your doctor that you never sleep. Rephrase the issue to say you’re having trouble falling asleep or that you’re waking up during the night or more specifically identify the problem at hand. Best case scenario, you’ll hit the hay with a more positive outlook ahead.

The post 6 Sleep Myths to Finally Put to Bed appeared first on Life by DailyBurn.

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Sleep Myths

[caption id="attachment_25580" align="alignnone" width="620"]Sleep Myths Photo: Pond5[/caption] The real reason you can’t fall asleep might not be as simple as you think. If you’ve ever said, “I need to catch up on sleep,” or cranked up the radio while driving to offset fatigue, you’ve been letting some of these myths creep into your life. Quit believing in these six misconceptions and instead take our experts’ advice on how to kick that tired feeling to the curb — for good.

1. “If I miss sleep during the week, I can make up for it on the weekend.”

You can catch up on short-term sleep debt if you do it within a few days, explains Dr. W. Christopher Winter, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. If you slept poorly last night, go to bed early tonight and you’ll probably make up for the sleep you lost. But you can’t make up for the zzz’s you lose over a long period of time. Trying to catch up on those all-nighters you had in college with better shut-eye now isn’t going to repair any damage done.
  "The last thing we want is for someone to attach a feeling of frustration to their sleep environment. We don’t want people to 'try' to fall asleep."  
While this still might tempt you to shortchange yourself during the week, making up for lost sleep on the weekend is really too late, says Joyce Walsleben, RN, PhD, associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine. “You’ve already been irritable and possibly experienced poor reaction times that may have caused accidents,” she says. “Snoozing late on the weekend can also disrupt your sleep rhythm and make it difficult to go to bed Sunday night, so you’ll be starting the next week already in the hole,” Walsleben says.

2. “If I wake up in the middle of the night, I should stay in bed and try to fall back asleep.”

While you may think counting sheep will send you back into Snoozeville, if hundreds of animals have traipsed through your mind and you’re starting to feel stressed out about it, getting out of bed may help, according to the National Sleep Foundation. “If you can lie in bed awake in the dark and stay relaxed, thinking positive thoughts, then I advise those people to stay in bed,” Winter says. “The people I tell to get out of bed and go to a new environment are those who get frustrated and irritated when they can’t fall back asleep.” If that’s the case for you, go to another room and try reading a book. “The last thing we want is for someone to attach a feeling of frustration to their sleep environment,” Winter says. “We don’t want people to try to fall asleep.” If you wake up in the middle of the night and experience problems falling back asleep frequently, change up your bedroom by buying new sheets, painting your room, or making the room darker with new blinds. Make it feel like a different environment other than the one you associate with your lack of sleep.

3. “I have to get eight hours of sleep because that’s what’s recommended.”

There isn’t a magical amount of sleep that’s universally right for everyone. Winter recommends a healthy, young person aim for seven-and-a-half to eight hours a night, but it’s a matter of personal trial and error. If you get eight hours of sleep a night and you’re exhausted during the day, that might not be enough for you. On the other hand, if you’re getting a solid seven and a half hours of sleep a night but you experience trouble passing out at night, that could be your brain saying it doesn’t need quite as much time in bed as you may think it does. The amount of sleep your body requires may change over the years, so listen to it and adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.

4. “My snoring is normal and not really a problem.”

Although 40 percent of us will snore at some time, it shouldn’t go ignored, Walsleben says. Snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, when your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. Sometimes people with sleep apnea wake up during the night gasping for breath. These breathing pauses all night long can strain the heart and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Snoring can happen at any age and should be evaluated by a doctor to determine what’s causing it. Sometimes sleeping on your side or with your head elevated will make a difference, as will weight loss in those that are overweight, Walsleben says.

5. “If I feel sleepy when driving, turning up the music and opening the window wake me up.”

Research has shown that nothing will correct drowsiness while driving except sleep. “If you recognize that you’re having trouble staying alert, pull over to a safe location and take a brief nap,” says Walsleben. The brain is like a computer: When it begins to get tired, it shuts down its 'programs' one at a time. One of the first areas to shut down are the frontal lobes where our judgment centers are located. So we are usually the last to know when we’re tired and having trouble concentrating. Having another passenger in the car may come in handy to spot signs of weariness, and possibly take over driving responsibilities if they’re alert and able.

6. “I have insomnia and never sleep.”

If you are reading this article, you sleep. Insomnia is when you don’t get quality sleep, or quality sleep that meets your expectations. “I see patients every week who tell me they never sleep or only sleep about an hour a night, which just isn’t true,” says Winter. You create more sleep issues when you start framing your problems based on a premise that may not be true. These perceptions are as equally damning as the lack of sleep itself, Winter says. Try not to tell yourself, others, or your doctor that you never sleep. Rephrase the issue to say you’re having trouble falling asleep or that you’re waking up during the night or more specifically identify the problem at hand. Best case scenario, you’ll hit the hay with a more positive outlook ahead.

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