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Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • The Perfect Amount of Sleep

    Do you know what your optimal amount of sleep is? Some people insist that they don’t need more than six hours to feel fine, and if you go by your teenaged son’s weekend habits you would guess somewhere on the order of twelve or thirteen hours, but the truth, according to a recent study, is somewhere right in between.

    Though most of us get less than seven hours of sleep per night, a study that was recently published in the journal Sleep says that men need a tiny bit more sleep than women do, but that both genders need just shy of eight hours of sleep per night. The scientists who gathered data in this study tracked almost four thousand people over a seven year period. They determined, based on information on number of days out of work for illness and a variety of sleep tracking information they had gathered on the group, that men need 7.8 hours of sleep per night and women need 7.6 ours of sleep per night. The group made all of the appropriate controls and adjustments for age, health, mental health, education and working conditions in order to arrive at these numbers. Continue reading

  • Simple Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep

    Sometimes, we overthink our problems, and that is a particularly common response to the problem of sleep deprivation and fatigue. Most people today report feeling that they are getting too little sleep, and for many the answer is simply a matter of being more disciplined and setting sleep as the priority that it should be. Others spend so much time stressing about the fact that they aren’t falling asleep immediately, or that they are awakening in the middle of the night, that they work themselves into a state of anxiety that is highly counterproductive. Continue reading

  • New Sleep Device Launched on Kickstarter

    Following the incredible response to the Sense sleep monitor and feedback device on Kickstarter, another sleep aid has just been introduced. The Sleep Shepherd’s creators are hoping to raise a modest $50,000 in order to put the item into mass production, and interested investors can pledge $140 for a single unit or $270 if you want a pair.  So what is it and what does it do?

    The Sleep Shepherd looks like a black ski cap that you’d see any teen girl wearing in cooler weather, but it is actually a highly-engineered device that is designed to help you gently fall asleep and wake up. The beanie has sensors built in that monitor your brain activity and respond by sending a rhythmic pulse that is said to help you let go of anxiety or stressors that are keeping you awake. Continue reading

  • New Study Links Tongue Fat to Sleep Apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that afflicts millions of Americans as well as people around the world. The condition can lead to stroke, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and depression among other health issues, and has been linked with obesity. Now a new study out of the University of Pennsylvania is indicating that one of the possible causes for the condition may be a “fat” tongue.

    Obstructive sleep apnea presents itself with patients gasping for air in the middle of the night. It has been attributed to the muscles and tissue of the throat and airway collapsing onto itself while the patient is asleep, thus blocking the flow of oxygen to the body. Generally the patient ends up gasping for air as the brain reacts to the lack of oxygen. The condition puts tremendous stress on the body, and has been linked to high blood pressure, inflammation in the arteries, and of course fatigue. Though in some cases the obstruction may be caused by abnormalities of the palate or large tonsils or adenoids, in most cases physicians have attributed the condition to the patients’ weight and the first line of defense is often weight loss. The new study points to a specific type of fat. Continue reading

  • Using Sleep App Data to get a Better Night’s Sleep

    These days, your smart phone is so much more than a communications device. It is a portable computer and keeper of all of your correspondence and personal information. It is your alarm clock and your scrapbook. It is your office away from home and the book you can pull out and read wherever you are. It’s no wonder that we all panic when we think we’ve forgotten it at home or when we realize we are below 20% charged. Without our phones many of us feel disconnected from life.

    Of course, all of the upsides that today’s technology provides have to have a downside, and according to sleep scientists one of the biggest problems with our smart phones is the fact that it is likely keeping us awake and interfering with the quality of our sleep. What’s worse is that it’s doing that for a bunch of reasons – not just one. First there is the issue of the particular blue-wave light that the phone emits. Science says that our brains see that light and register it as time to wake up, so it stops producing melatonin and we end up staring at the ceiling all night. On top of that there is the stress that may come from whatever was said in the last email or news report we read, or simple stimulation from whatever game or video we were involved in. Having our phones next to us on the nightstand presents the temptation to constantly check it when we wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, making it all the less likely that we are going to get the good night of sleep that we need. Continue reading

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