Category Archives: Sleep Science

How to Sleep During Pregnancy

pregnant woman sleeping

It’s comes as no surprise that the physical discomfort and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman’s quality of sleep. And if you are experiencing disturbed sleep during pregnancy you’re not alone; 78 percent of women indicated problems sleeping during pregnancy in a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll. Moreover, while your body is growing your bundle of joy, you’re likely to have sleep changes during all three trimesters of your pregnancy, according to the NSF.

Sleep and Aging

elderly woman sleeping

Just as our hair will likely turn grey and wrinkles will probably adorn our faces, as we age many of us can expect to encounter sleep changes.

These sleep and aging changes can result in waking up throughout the night, becoming sleepy earlier, and awakening earlier than we used to.

Sleep and Aging Statistics

As many as 50 percent of seniors experience some sort of sleep disturbance as they embark on their golden years.  And according to the National Institute of Aging, a good number of seniors are not getting enough sleep. One of the reasons that many seniors are sleep deprived is in their trouble in falling asleep. More than a third of women and 13 percent of men reported taking more than an half an hour (30 minutes) to fall asleep (sleep latency), according to a study the institute cited.

Premonition Dreams

premonitions

While many people around the world scoff at the idea of premonition dreams, many people are thought to have had them—even the skeptics. The thing to keep in mind about premonition dreams is that they aren’t always the foretelling of bad things to happen in your life. Sometimes, they bring good news. Unfortunately, those dreams are rarely credited for the premonitions of good fortune they really are.

The science behind dreams is complex, and certainly not clear-cut. While there are the believers that think our dreams — including premonition dreams — mean something, there are other naysayers who don’t.

What is a Premonition Dream?

How do you know a dream you’re having is a premonition dream? What makes it different from other dreams you have? Sometimes a dream is just a dream, right? Premonition dreams are certainly different from lucid dreams, which is the name of the type of dream coined by Frederick van Eeden, and describes the act of dreaming while knowing you are dreaming. However, when dreams foretell a future event, warn of a major health crisis or death (like they did in the Sandra Bullock 2007 film “Premonition“), seem abnormally vivid, recurs over several nights, is shared by others, or occurs in combination with physical symptoms, the chances are that it’s a premonition dream.

Taking a Nap

napping on couch

Are you a napper? If so, you’re in good company. Some famous historical figures, including John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison were nappers, according to the Huffington Post. There has also been reports that Albert Einstein, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush were known to catch some short shut eye.

So, if you have an extra 10 minutes to spare, you might want to spend it taking a nap. A study conducted by researchers at Flinders University in Australia analyzed the benefits of taking a nap, including the ideal length of a nap for the most betterment. The findings, which are published in the research journal Sleep, revealed that a 10-minute nap rendered the most benefit in terms of cognitive performance and reduced sleepiness.

Sleeping with a Concussion

concussion MRI

Suppose your sports-minded child just came home from a game of soccer with a concussion, and tells you that he or she is tired and wants to go to bed to sleep. But you’re not sure if it’s okay to be sleeping with a concussion. So, should you let your son or daughter go to sleep shortly after receiving a concussion?

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), getting plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day is an important treatment for recovering from a concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussion can result from a jarring (big movement) of the brain in any direction that causes its victim to lose consciousness and alertness. The severity of the concussion, which is a minor traumatic brain injury, may depend on how long the concussion sufferer remains unconscious. While concussions are most often heard about in relation to contact sport activities, they can also occur as a result of a car accident or a slip and fall. A concussion can result from a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head or upper body.

How Light Affects Sleep

light on in bedroom

You’ve probably heard people who work late night shifts in hospitals, fire stations, restaurants, or on the road protecting our streets talk about how light during the day has a negative impact on their ability to get a decent amount of restful sleep. But, did you know there is a real reason behind it? It’s not merely a preference for darkness that’s robbing them of the recuperative sleep they need in order to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. But why does light have such a profound impact on sleep and what can people who work these necessary late shifts do to get the kind of sleep they need?

Why Does Light Negatively Impact Sleep?

“In the presence of light, your brain will not produce melatonin,” says Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, Sleep Specialist: On the surface that doesn’t seem like such a profoundly negative thing. However, melatonin is one of the vital hormones that plays a significant role in helping people not only fall asleep but also to remain asleep throughout the night. If a room has too much light, that makes things much more difficult for anyone looking to get a proper amount of sleep.

Dreams that Feel Real

dream life

Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon that has been well documented over the past centuries. It’s a term that is used to describe the act of dreaming while being aware that you’re dreaming. In other words, dreams that feel real. In some instances the dreamer can even control the dream to some degree in order to determine its outcome or influence what takes place within the dream.

According to Edward Bixler of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, who is a professor of psychology specializing in electrophysiology of sleep and sleep disorders, lucid dreams are what happens “when a person recognizes he or she is dreaming while in a dreaming state and often manipulates the events within the dream.” This is far from remembering those oh-so-elusive details of dreams after you’ve awakened in the morning.

Does Sleeping Help You Grow?

boy checking growth

You’ve probably heard, more than once, that sleep is vital for the growth of healthy children. The scientific community has known for a long time that the hours while the body is sleeping are not idle hours where it literally turns itself off. These are hours when the body is performing critical functions that help children grow. But why is it so important for children?

The Importance of Sleep for Children

Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and graduate of John Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard University, provides important insight as to why age factors into the need for more sleep:

“Sleep is a critical ingredient to good growth, and the amount of sleep we need depends upon our age,” says Dr. Natterson. “Little babies, newborns, and infants get somewhere around 16 hours of sleep for every 24 hours, give or take. Toddlers need about 14 hours of sleep in every 24 hours.”

There’s just so much going on during those hours of sleep that the body cannot accomplish during waking hours.

Sleep Calculator

calculator

Are you getting an adequate amount of sleep at night? Do you wake up each morning feeling well-rested and ready to start the day? Or, do you hit the snooze bar several times because you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed? Or, perhaps you sleep through the alarm, as it blares for all its worth on your bedside table, altogether?

People tend to sleep in 90 minute cycles. Waking at the wrong point in that cycle can have a profoundly negative impact on how rested and alert you feel throughout the day. However, using a sleep calculator to help you wake up at the right point in a given sleep cycle can greatly improve your quality of sleep as well as how rested you feel afterwards, even if you’re getting a less than optimal amount of sleep.

Sleep and Sleep Cycles

Sleep is actually divided up into several different 90 minute cycles. These cycles include 4 stages of NREM sleep and REM sleep. The total process takes approximately 90 minutes and then the cycle repeats. This will happen several times during a night’s sleep. Waking in the middle of a cycle or during the deep sleep portion of the sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy throughout the day. However, waking at the right point, or near the top of your sleep cycle can leave you feeling well rested and ready to tackle whatever it is that lies ahead for you.

clock

Sleep Calculator

A sleep calculator is a tool that will help you calculate the proper length of sleep so that you wake up at the top of your cycle, rather than at a point where you’re likely to feel ill effects from your sleep rather than rested and refreshed as you should. Timing is everything when you’re struggling to get an adequate amount of sleep, or at least feel as though you’ve had enough. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of tools like sleep calculators to help you get the restful sleep you need.

What Sleep Does for the Body

young girl waking up

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health and well-being. Failing to get an adequate amount of sleep can limit the body’s ability to heal itself, recover from wounds, and even lead to premature aging. The bottom line is that sleep is necessary for the body and mind to function properly.

What Happens While You’re Sleeping?

We all know that the body needs sleep. The sleep cycle is important time for your body to restore and recover what’s lost during the day. Young children, especially, require large amounts of sleep because that’s the time when the growth hormone is released in the body. Cellular damage from the sun is also repaired while you’re sleeping. This includes things like wrinkle reduction and collagen production—which is why it’s sleep is commonly referred to as “beauty rest”.