Are Your Nightmares Causing Sleep Loss?

October 5, 2012  |  sleep problems  |  No Comments

Are you having sleeping issues because of your nightmares? Have they been constantly disrupting your sleep?

Although it is more prevalent in children, nightmare do also occurs in adults. In fact, fifty pecent of all adults experience nightmares from time to time. Two to eight percent among all adults are gravely troubled by their nightmares. While that may be a small percentage of all adults, you may most certainly be one of them.

Nightmares: What Are they?

Nightmares are terrifying dreams that normally include illusory harm or danger. They tend to scare you until you wake up from your deep sleep.  Nightmare subjects differ from one person to another. The most common among adults would be resemble the following:

  • You are running at high speed because something or someone harmful is chasing you. You are running out of breath because you just could not keep up.
  • You are just a few inches away from falling from the top of a building or a cliff.
  • Any traumatic experience you have encountered may haunt you. The petrifying event seem worse in your dream and may keep on repeating during your sleep.
  • Someone kills you or a member of your family.

When Do Nightmares Occur?

Nightmares commonly happen during REM or rapid eye movement. It is the phase of your sleep when the majority of dreaming come about. Since REM sleep stage gradually lengthens as the night advances, you may be awakened by your nightmares at dawn.

Are Nightmares The Same As Night Terrors?

Both nightmares and night terrors may cause you to get up due to intense horror. Yet, they are still two different things. Unlike nightmares, night terrors strike during the earlier stage of your sleep. When you experience night terrors, you do not usually remember why are so frightened when you wake up. This is because they are not really experienced as dreams, but as feelings.

What Causes Nightmares?

There are many common causes of nightmares among adults, and these are some of the following:

1. Medications. Medicines affecting the substances in your brain, just like narcotics and anti-depressants, may contribute to your nightmares. Other medications that may cause nightmares are blood pressure drugs.

2. Withdrawal. When you are fighting your addiction to substances like tranquilizers and alcohol, or when you change your medication, you may experience withdrawal. Withdrawal may involve pain, discomfort, and even nightmares. When you experience any of these withdrawal symptoms, consult your doctor.

3. Sleep Deprivation. Although sleep deprivation is already a sleep problem itself, it may still cause your nightmares.

4. Eating at Night. Do you like having midnight snacks? Do you eat your dinner very late at night? Eating close to the hours of sleep boosts your metabolism and makes your brain more active.

5. Psychological Factors. Psychological factors that may cause nightmares include depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder).

If you constantly experience nightmares and are troubled by them, you may want to check if any of these factors above are true to you. Some of these factors can easily be avoided – such as sleep deprivation or eating at night.

If you suspect psychological factors to be the cause of your nightmares, try to seek help as soon as you can. Remember that sleep is very important so you should do what you can to improve your sleeping condition right away.

Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Hypertension?

October 1, 2012  |  sleep and health, sleep problems  |  No Comments

You are probably acquainted with the feeling of little to no sleep. You have to peel your eyes to keep them open. You move sluggishly and would readily snap at anyone who would ask simple questions.

Some may think that the remedy is simply to sleep more in the future or make up for it by sleeping for more than the usual the following night. What they do not know though, is that they are setting themselves up as possible candidates of high blood pressure.

Who Is At Risk?

Studies have shown that the less you sleep, the higher your risk is for high blood pressure. If you have been sleeping for less than five hours on a regular basis, then you should really consider changing your sleeping pattern. If you are sleeping for at least six hours or less, the risk may be a little lesser – but it is still there. If you already have high blood pressure, a regular lack of sleep can definitely worsen your condition.

Why Does Lack of Sleep Cause Hypertension?

Studies have shown the relationship between lack of sleep and hypertension. The American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions for example released a study which said that people who did not experience enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours, for adults) at night may have serious repercussions on their health. Some of these adults who do not get enough sleep may have high blood pressure, and in the long run, may develop to resistant hypertension.

Another study from Harvard Medical School shows that people who had enough deep sleep at night had better heart health than those who had light sleep. Some people can sleep for several hours a night but not achieve adequate deep sleep, leaving them tired in the morning.

Deep sleep – also known as slow wave sleep – is the time when the electrical activity of the brain slows down. This usually happens several hours into the night or early in the morning and makes the person feel rested in the morning. During this time, the person’s heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline levels also lower, promoting better heart health. Lack of hours at night or poor quality sleep usually means that a person does not achieve enough deep sleep. When blood pressure does not fall at night, it causes a condition called “nondipping,” which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Lack of Sleep And Secondary Factors

Aside from that, lack of sleep also causes secondary health problems, which may also play a role for high blood pressure. For example, people with less sleep at night are more prone to stress or depression. They may also end up making bad food choices and may not have the energy to exercise during the day. These things can also add to the condition.

Sleep For Your Health

It is good to note that hypertension is very rampant worldwide. It can lead to serious complications like cardiac arrest, strokes and heart attacks, which are very fatal. Hypertension involves numerous factors that you cannot control like gender, genetics and age. However, there are things that you can take into your own hands, such as healthy lifestyle, stress, exercise and sleep. Thus, it is important that you take control of these factors.

Be sure to eat well, exercise well, de-stress regularly and get enough sleep at night to help reduce your risk of developing hypertension.

 

Can Sleep Troubles Be Caused by Fear of The Dark?

September 15, 2012  |  sleep problems  |  No Comments

moon in dark sky

Do you usually find yourself awake at night while all others are already in deep slumber?

Do you suffer from a sleep disorder called insomnia?

Well, there are many reasons for this.

Most of the time, sleep problems are associated with sleeping patterns, sleep hygiene and lifestyle.However, recent studies also manifest that these troubles with sleeping may also be associated with the fear of the dark.

What Surveys Say

Researchers from Ryerson University Sleep and Depression Lab conducted a study on 93 college students. They answered a survey that aimed to assess their fear of darkness and sleeping pattern. From the survey alone, they found out that merely 25 percent of the good sleepers confessed that they were afraid of the dark, while a surprising 46 percent of the poor sleepers did.This brought them to the connection between insomnia and achluophobia or fear of the dark.

Eye Blink Latency Test

Aside from the survey, the researchers also ran an eye blink latency test in order to measure the students’ reaction towards sudden sounds when the lights are either on or off.

They measured the speed, the size, and the number of blinks. They did it four times in a virtual bedroom. During the first two times, the light was turned on. During the last two, it was already dark.

At the start of the test, both types of sleepers were startled at the sound. Poor sleepers blinked speedily when they heard the sudden noise. They tended to be more quickly disrupted by the unexpected sound when lights are turned off. Later on, the good sleepers were already becoming accustomed to the unexpected noises, while poor sleepers became increasingly restless and startled at the supposed bumps in the dark. Being able to get used to the noises is a common tendency when there is no fear. The poor sleepers, indeed, became more fearful.

This is where the Reyson University Sleep and Depression Laboratory Director, Dr. Colleen Carney, concluded that fear of darkness or achluophobia may influence the greater stimulation of the poor sleepers once lights are not lit.

Treatment

Carney stated that in order to treat insomnia associated with fear of the dark, you need to prioritize the treatment of the fear directly. Instead of popping pills for sleep problems, you can do this best by undergoing psychotherapy. During this process a therapist may perform a talk therapy focused on changing the patient’s behavior. This may take a number of sessions before the fear of the dark is overcome.

What Else Can You Do?

If you are afraid of the dark, here are some things that you can do to help reduce your sleeping problem and improve your sleep:

Gradually lessen the light in your room until such time you can already sleep with your lights off. For the time being, you may also want to take sleeping pills. Consult your doctor about it first. Lastly, keep your phone near you. Knowing you have people you can call in case of emergency may help minimize the anxiety.

Is Your iPad Causing Sleep Problems?

September 8, 2012  |  sleep problems  |  No Comments

dog sleepingPeople are taking their iPads everywhere – even to bed. 

In fact, you may even be doing the same thing, too.

Yet, did you know that using an iPad before bedtime can have an effect on your sleeping habits?

Reasons Why The iPad Alters Your Sleeping Pattern

It inhibits melatonin release in the body.

The lights emitted by your tablet PC causes an inhibition of the body’s melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that facilitates the circadian rhythms or the sleeping and waking cycles. It is produced by the pineal gland on your brain.

Your tablet possesses a touch-screen LCD that emits light just like that of your television and computer. When the iPad emits its bright light, it suppresses the melatonin production and release in the body. Most people keep their iPads at least a foot or even just inches away from their faces. Doing so exposes your eyes directly to abnormal light, which disrupts your melatonin secretion. This will then cause your sleeping problem.

It stimulates your brain.

Aside from your tablet’s ability to suppress melatonin secretion, it can also stimulate your brain. Instead of relaxing and falling asleep, it keeps you awake longer instead.

What To Di If You Still Want To Use Your iPad To Bed

Most people are not willing to give up their iPads during bedtime. This is expected, after all. Despite its ability to cause sleep problems, it still has features and advantages that you, like many other users, are not willing to give up just yet. You may want to play a quick game of Words with Friends or read the daily news before calling it a night. If this is the case though, here are some things that you can do to optimize your tablet and help promote better sleep.

Turn down the lights. Most of the time, users utilize the full brightness of the device. Don’t forget that your tablet  has an automatic dimmer function that you can use at night. You may switch off the lights in your room, too.

Buy a filter. A filter can aid in lowering the glare and in wiping out the melatonin-killer blue light. In looking for a good filter, choose the one that interrupts wavelengths less than 520 nanometers. This may lessen the color quality, though.

Impose a time limit. Since iPad has the ability to interrupt your circadian rhythms, you may need to limit the time you spend using the product at night.

Use the appropriate proximity. Using the gadget too closely may intensify the negative effects of its light. It would be better if you put a good distance between you and your gadget.

How about the iPhones?

 Other small devices like the iPhone may not influence your sleeping pattern. The reason is simple. The smaller the gadget, the lesser the light. Yet, even if iPhones do not disrupt your melatonin supply, it may still stimulate your brain and delay your sleep. With that said, it’s good to use all devices moderately and follow the tips mentioned above in order to prevent them from running your sleep.

Is Your Birth Control Pill Causing Insomnia?

August 10, 2012  |  sleep problems  |  No Comments

tired womanWhen you’re having difficulty in falling asleep at night – or even have a poor quality of sleep – you may be suffering from insomnia.

It is literally the Latin word for “no sleep”, in which you cannot fall or remain asleep.

You may suffer from acute insomnia, in which the inability to fall asleep may last for a few nights.

If you have had the difficulty of falling asleep for several months to a year, it may be chronic insomnia that you’re suffering from. The number of people who suffer from chronic insomnia small in number.

Normally, people who have insomnia have the ‘chronic-intermittent’ type, which means that you may have difficulty falling asleep, followed by a few months of adequate sleep, and then insomnia returns again.

There are several factors which lead to insomnia, such as stress, jetlag or physical discomfort. It may also be psychological, such as people going through a divorce. But if you’re a woman, you may be surprised to learn that your birth control can be the root cause of your insomnia.

How Do Birth Control Pills Cause Insomnia

The reason why birth control pills cause insomnia is a bit more indirect. The pill content is not actually the culprit for your lack of sleep. What it does though is cause side effects, which in turn may disrupt your ability to relax and fall asleep.

Some of the most common side effects of birth control pills include nausea, throwing up, bloating, sensitivity of the breasts, sensitivity of the eyes, mood swings (which may lead to depression) and headaches. These side effects can make you feel very uncomfortable and irritable, increasing your stress levels and anxiety. When this happens, it becomes hard to achieve that relaxed state required for good sleep.

What To Do

Did you have difficulty in falling asleep when you started taking in your birth control pills? If so, you should try asking your gynaecologist about the side effects of the pill prescribed to you.

Your doctor will ask you about any side effects that you may be experiencing. He may also ask about physical activities, exercises, extracurricular hobbies and work schedules. This will help determine if your sleep problem is caused by other factors related to your lifestyle, or due to the pills and its side effects.

In the event that your birth control pills are the culprit for your lack of sleep, your doctor can switch your prescription to a low-dose drug. There are many brands of pills which contain different doses, too. Your doctor may switch prescriptions from time to time to see which works best for you.

Alternatives To Pills

There is also a possibility that you’ve been experiencing insomnia before and taking in birth control pills  may have aggravated your condition. In the event that you do not find a low-dose version that works for you, you can simply switch birth control plans. You may want to consider other forms of contraception like condoms and intrauterine devices.

While you are in the process of determining the right birth control pill for you, you can try to improve your sleep by making yourself more comfortable. You can learn to reduce stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques and make your bedroom more conducive to sleep.