Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ten Sleep Facts That May Surprise You

I think we all know that sleep is not only beneficial for good health, but lack of sleep can lead to a number of serious disorders and diseases.   Here are ten sleep facts that may surprise you:

1.    When we are awake our brain cells produce adenosine as a byproduct. The build-up of adenosine in the brain is thought to be one factor that leads to our perception of being tired. (Incidentally, this feeling is counteracted by the use of caffeine which blocks the actions of adenosine in the brain and keeps us alert.)

2.    Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults (7-9 hours) but seniors go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than when they were younger.

3.     We dream only during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep but get the deepest sleep during non-REM cycles.

4.     It is not only important to get sleep to learn, but it is also important to get good sleep after we learn something new to process and retain that knowledge.

5.     Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder after age 60.  People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

6.    Major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.

7.    Hitting the snooze button makes getting out of bed more challenging than simply getting up with the first alarm, because a few more minutes of shuteye causes the brain to enter a deeper sleep cycle.

8.    Losing just a few hours of sleep a week - similar to the effects of jet lag or cramming for final exams - can lead to almost immediate weight gain.  The good news is getting extra sleep can cause those pounds to shed.

9.    Recent studies show that daylight savings time increases risk of getting into an accident by 11% and your risk of myocardial infarction by up to 10% in the three weeks after the change.  To get used to the change, experts recommend soaking in the sun in the evening with the later sunset,  getting some exercise and going to be earlier.

10.   Residents in the Southern U.S. states experience the most sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness, according to a new "sleep map" that outlines how geography can influence sleep patterns.  Residents of the West Coast report better sleep.   Check out the sleep map here.

Here is something I just learned this week.  If you have an iPhone with Siri (4S or later) you can ask Siri to wake you in the morning at a specific time.  It is a great alarm.



6 comments:

pilgrim said...

I have an iphone App called Sleep Cycle. It uses the motion detector in the iphone to tell what sleep cycle you are in, REM or nREM. If I set the alarm for my wakeup time, say 6 am, it's going to wake me up between 5:45 and 6:15 but it is going to cue the alarm during a time when I am in a lighter sleep, thus I will feel less drowsy when I wake up.

Frank Irwin said...

I quit using the snooze alarm years ago, and am glad that I did.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of sleeping pills? I don't take them very often, but there are times when I simply cannot get to sleep and I will take an ambien. It works. I don't think it is harmful once in a while, is it?

Anonymous said...

I have a snorer always keeping me sleep deprived, and haven't been able to resolve the situation unless resorting to be in another room.

Anonymous said...

Also the IPhone 4 comes with the Clock App that has a built in alarm you can use and select the ring you want.
It works great I have used it.

One thing that can really take a hard toll on your health, memory and raise your stroke risk is sleep apnea. I have observed it's affect from when I saw my father have symptoms and get tested for it. After the test the next morning he told the sleep tech from Stanford Sleep Clinic that came to the house and monitored him all night it was the best sleep he had gotten in 30 years.

Ranaul Karim said...

You may already know that heart disease is mainly caused by damage due to oxidation, and inflammation. Although this is widely accepted in the medical community, many professionals still focus on another heart disease factor: cholesterol.