Narcolepsy is the extreme and uncontrollable desire to fall asleep during the day. It is a neurological disorder that specifically affects the control of sleep. Signs of narcolepsy commonly appear between the ages of 15 and 25. However, narcolepsy can also become apparent during any stage of life. Narcolepsy is a very extreme condition, a step above simply not sleeping well.  There are a variety of symptoms that will cause attention to the fact that you may have narcolepsy.

Symptoms

  • Hypnagogic Hallucinations – This is when a person has vivid visions immediately after waking up or during the very beginning stages of sleep.
  • Cataplexy – When experiencing this symptom, loss of voluntary muscle and a feeling of weakness will be present. This usually is brought on by intense emotion that ranges from anger to laughter and results in the body collapsing or experiencing slurred speech.
  • Extreme Daytime Sleepiness – It will be hard to fight off sleep when experiencing this system. Those who suffer with narcolepsy will feel extreme exhaustion, depression and mental cloudiness.
  • Sleep Paralysis – This symptom is one of the scariest to experience. Upon falling asleep or in the process of waking up the body will not be able to move. This symptom usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.

Causes

  • Hereditary Genes – Scientists have discovered that the genes responsible for controlling the chemicals in the brain that directly affect sleep cycles can cause narcolepsy.
  • Brain Abnormalities – REM sleep can be disturbed by brain abnormalities causing symptoms to appear.
  • Autoimmune Disorder – Researchers have found that autoimmune disorders mistakenly attack the body’s tissues and cells commonly causing symptoms of narcolepsy.

Video on diagnosing narcolepsy

Those who experience the symptoms of narcolepsy are encouraged to see their doctor. Sufferers should discuss symptoms with their doctor advise if there is a family history of narcolepsy to help pin point the cause. There is not a cure known at this time. However, therapy, lifestyle changes and medication can work together to improve narcolepsy symptoms and quality of life.

How I Was Able to Sleep Better With the Proper Guidance

Better Sleep Cartoon

Getting a good nights sleep was becoming more and more difficult to me. I began to fantasize about the good old days when I slept like a log and woke up feeling rested and ready for the day. It became more and more frustrating to deal with as time went on and I became difficult to be around. My family and friends weren’t enjoying my morning grumpiness at all.

I finally was so fed up that I began looking for help from outside sources. There were articles, studies, and forums abound on the internet that I read. Different theories and different methods were tried all with varying results. I finally decided to visit my local sleep institute and meet with professionals that dealt with people like me on a daily basis.

When I met the doctors at the sleep institute, I was quite skeptical. I really didn’t think they could do much to help me. However, I figured they may be able to at least shine some light on potential reasons for my issue. First, they made me submit to an overnight study in which they would monitor my sleep. This was certainly interesting and surprising. I decided to try it and see just what the professionals would learn and tell me about myself.

I didn’t fall asleep until well after midnight, as I was shifting and tossing constantly. When I woke up, the good doctors gave me their thoughts. They told me that the biggest issue for me seemed to be comfort. They recommended that simply purchasing a new, comfortable mattress would help a lot. Also, the doctors told me about playing light music which soothes my mind and heart would help in resting my mind as well as my body. I wasn’t sure if they were right, but I knew I had to try.

After my visit to the sleep institute, I followed their advice to the letter. I purchased a new mattress that supported my back and body well. I even purchased a music CD that played soothing tunes and blissful sounds. To my surprise, my sleep did improve drastically and so did my moods.

Great Ways to Sleep Soundly – Consider a New Mattress

sleeping peacefully

There are times when you may be frustrated after trying to sleep all night. This happens to most people at some point in their lives. Not being able to rest peacefully can affect the entire next day when it happens. Some complain they are grouchy, less energetic, and simply not in their best form the following day. This is something that is serious to pay attention to because we all need to be at our best during work or life.

Sometimes, the culprit to sleeping terribly can be the mattress you are sleeping on. There are plenty of older mattresses still out there and after a period of time, they can wear out and lose their quality. This can be seen in the form of sags in the mattress from coils wearing out or the materials losing their elasticity. Others may not see the visible issues, but they can feel them.

A bad mattress can sometimes be told in the way a back feels the following morning. Some wake up to a terrible backache in the morning and attribute it to a physical activity from the previous day. While this is the case sometimes, it is not always true. Sometimes a bad mattress can contribute to back pain and make it impossible to wake up without feeling the aches. This is a major concern for those that experience the severe back pains that a bad mattress can cause.

Anyone that isn’t able to sleep due to discomfort or that experiences back pain should strongly consider purchasing a new mattress. This is because the longer the issues go on, the worse it may get. It will be important to go to a furniture store and see all of the mattresses available and discuss your options with an experienced salesperson. They will be able to give advice on the available models and which ones may help with any of the issues you are experiencing.

Some of the more popular mattresses can help with a bad back or difficulty getting comfortable in bed. For example, the latex foam and memory foam mattresses made today are helpful for those that experience back pain or other sleeping concerns. This is because they are temperature sensitive options and they mold specifically to the body of the person lying on it. They even work well for couples as the bed will conform to each individual, even on the same mattress. Finding a better bed is going to make resting peacefully a much more likely occurrence and will increase comfort.

How To Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep Each Night

If you want to ensure that you are getting enough sleep there are several things you should do. First, don’t count the time spent in bed as sleep unless you are falling asleep right away. You may be going to be 8 hours before you have to get up, but if you spend a few hours trying to fall asleep you are still going to be sleep deprived. Instead of counting the hours you spend in bed, you should instead track how long you actually sleep for. While it may seem impossible to time your sleep, you can do it if you decided to invest in having a sleep study done. A sleep study is a clinical study done at a medical facility where trained technicians monitor you during your sleep. A sleep study can help to provide you with invaluable information that will let you know how restful your sleep really is.

Sleep studies
Once you have your sleep study done you should take what you learn from it and use it to help yourself to get a good night’s sleep every night. If you have sleep apnea that the sleep study uncovered, make sure that you use either the positive pressure machine or mouthpiece that is prescribed to you. You should also avoid drinking anything with caffeine after dinner so that it won’t affect your ability to fall asleep. One thing that many people don’t consider when they are thinking about their quality of sleep is the quality of their mattress. A poor mattress can make it hard to get comfortable and fall asleep. A poor mattress will also not provide you with the support that you need in order to keep your back and neck healthy. Getting enough sleep each night is essential if you want to stay in good health.

sleeping well and cuddling with dog

Helpful Tips on How to Get a Better Nights Sleep

One of the most common complaints worldwide is the difficulty in getting a good night sleep. Many people suffer from stress, anxiety, worry, sleep disorders and habits that interfere with achieving good quality sleep. Some people may not even realize that they are not sleeping well and continue to live with symptoms such as extreme exhaustion throughout the day, difficulty concentrating, falling asleep while driving and increased appetite. There are numerous tips that will guide you on your way to achieving a better night sleep.

See this video for ways to sleep better

  • Create a Relaxing Environment – Purchase a mattress that provides you with comfort and stability. Choose bed sheets and blankets that are soft and durable. Choose calming colors for your bedroom décor such as beige, ivory and brown. Place curtains or blinds over your windows or use black out curtains to keep light from shining in the window and disturbing your sleep.
  • Create a Bedtime Routine – Bathe in essential oils like lavender or chamomile that produce the feeling of serenity and peace. Turn off or silence your cell phone and any other technical equipment. Even the glare of a computer screen can affect your sleep in a negative way. Read a book or listen to soft music to help your mind unwind from a busy day.
  • Set a Sleep Schedule – Go to bed at the same time every night and stick to the schedule. Your body’s internal clock will grow accustomed to sleeping at certain times of the day and it will allow you to wake up at the same time every day. Even without an alarm clock.
  • Stop Eating Two Hours Before Bed – Going to bed on a full stomach can cause acid reflux and heartburn. These issues can cause snoring and discomfort during the sleep process. Finish your last meal or snack at least two hours before your scheduled bed time.
  • Avoid Alcohol Before Bed – Alcohol consumption before bed will cause you to wake up frequently during the night and may make it difficult to go back to sleep.
  • Quit Smoking – Smokers experience nicotine withdraw during sleep hours that cause them to wakeup frequently due to the discomfort they experience. This is also the reason why many smokers have to immediately reach for their cigarettes first thing in the morning.
  • Reduce Caffeine Intake – Limit your coffee consumption to your favorite cup of morning coffee. The caffeine in coffee and soda can still have an effect on your body up to 12 hours after consumption.
  • Avoid Drinking Liquids Late in the Evening – Consuming liquids before bedtime will cause you to awake frequently during the night to go to the bathroom. At times, it causes you to have difficulty falling back to sleep and you can lose hours of sleep.
  • Quiet Time – Try to make your room as quiet as possible. If you hear your neighbor’s dog barking or traffic in the distance you can play soft music or use a fan to drown out the noise.
  • Stop Worrying – This is most-likely the most difficult tip for many to achieve. Life is full of stress and busy schedules. It is difficult to not have hundreds of thoughts running through your mind at night. One of the best ways to put a halt to your worrying is to make a to-do list. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish the next day. Put the list in order by priority to make your day go smoother and give you more of a chance to conquer the most important tasks on the list. Reaching the goal of taking care of important tasks will lessen your worries and stress level. If you have a more serious life issue that is causing you worry, journal about it before you go to bed. Put all of your worries on paper and get out all of your feelings. This will help you at least rest for the night and enjoy good quality sleep.
  • Sleep in on Your Day Off – While it is recommended to adhere to your sleep schedule, it is ok to occasionally sleep in when needed. Your day off is meant for relaxation, take advantage of it. Sleep in about two hours than usual. This is also advised if you are feeling under the weather. Your immune system strengthens while you sleep and will help fight your sickness.
  • Keep a Sleep Journal – If you are experiencing problems sleeping on a daily basis, it is wise to keep a sleep journal. Each night for about two weeks write down the habits and routine you used before going to sleep, the time you fell asleep, how many times you woke up during the night, if you were snoring or woke up gasping for air and any other physical symptoms you experience. Once the two weeks are over review your journal. Try to find reoccurring symptoms and habits. For example, if you find that the nights you ate a late meal were causing you to wake up with heart burn, you will want to assure that you don’t repeat this behavior any longer.
  • Know When to See a Doctor – This tip may make you feel nervous. Who likes going to the doctor? But it is essential to your health and well being. Knowing when to see your doctor is key. If you are experiencing occasional insomnia due to your busy schedule this is a minor issue. However, if you are experiencing physical symptoms such as heavy snoring, gasping for air, holding your breath during sleep, you will want to discuss this with your doctor. Bring your sleep journal with you to your appointment to provide your doctor with important details that will help diagnose the cause of your sleep issues.

These tips will guide you on your journey of achieving a better night sleep. Adults, children and seniors will benefit from following these tips. A good night sleep will allow you to wake up refreshed, energized and ready to take on the world. Enjoy your journey to achieving a good night sleep and share your techniques with others to help them get the rest they need. Everyone deserves to get the rest they require to live a happy, healthy life.

 

How Sleep Works

Every human being requires sleep to survive and live a healthy life. Although many people may cheat themselves from hours of sleep now and then, it is still an essential must for everyone. Many may wonder how sleep works. What are the stages? What does the body go through when sleeping? These are all important questions that have surprising and interesting answers.

Characteristics of Sleep

A person will lie down on a comfortable flat surface such as a bed or sofa. Their eyes are closed, muscles are relaxed, they have a slow rhythmic pattern of breathing, the heart slows down and about twice an hour the person adjusts their sleeping position.

the brain on sleep

Go to bed for a healthy brain!

What Happens in the Brain?

During sleep delta and theta brain waves are present. According to Slumber Sage, As a person falls into a deep sleep the brainwave patterns slow down. 25% of the night sleep is spent in REM sleep. REM is also known as rapid eye movement and it is experienced three to five times per night during sleep.  Follow Slumber Sage on Twitter @slumbersage or Facebook.

Dreams

Dreams are created by the brain when random electrical activity is processed about every 90 minutes during the sleep process. It is the brains response to random impulses. Dreams usually involve the person who is having the dream. Dreams can be in black and white or vivid color.

Stages of Sleep

  • Stage One – The process of being awake and falling asleep. Light Sleep.
  • Stage Two – The onset of sleep allows the heart rate and breathing pattern to be regular and the body temperature drops.
  • Stage Three and Four – The muscles are relaxed, blood pressure drops, breathing becomes slow, blood supply and muscles increase, hormones are released, tissue repair and growth occurs, REM sleep occurs, dreams occur and the body is restored with energy for the next day.

One-third of a person’s life is spent sleeping. Sleeping provides a wide range of health benefits including contributing to a healthy immune system. The entire process of sleep in naturally built in to every human being and occurs on a daily basis. Unless the person chooses to reduce the hours of sleep they experience. Working late, studying or dealing with an emergency are common reasons people choose to sleep less.

It is recommended to stay on a sleep schedule and rarely veer off track from it. This will keep the body clock on a rhythm which will help improve the quality of sleep. At times, sleep disorders and problems may occur. If signs and symptoms such as extreme fatigue during the day, difficulty staying awake, waking up choking or gasping for air arises, it is highly recommended that the person see a physician immediately for proper diagnosis.

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy can affect anyone at any age throughout a lifetime. Luckily there are treatments available and preventative measures that can help reduce the symptoms and even cure the sleep disorder. The human body will always require a daily sleep process and it is up to the person to care for themselves and allow themselves to sleep well.

 

 

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder experienced by many. It occurs when a person has a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep. It results in poor-quality sleep or lack of sleep. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of issues and has symptoms that will alert you that it is a possibility you may be experiencing insomnia. There are two types of insomnia, primary insomnia that is not directly associated with other health issues and secondary insomnia which is a result from a medical disorder such as arthritis, heartburn and asthma.  Insomnia will definitely lead to sleep deprivation.

Causes of Chronic Insomnia

  • Chronic stress.
  • Physical pain.
  • Anxiety.

Causes of Acute Insomnia

  • Physical discomfort.
  • Emotional discomfort.
  • Environmental factors such as extreme temperature, light and noise.
  • Life stress like going through a divorce, experiencing job loss or a death of a loved one.
  • Serious illness.
  • Side effects from prescription medications.
  • Jet lag.
  • Working a night shift.

Symptoms

  • Exhaustion during the day.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Problems with memory.
  • Feeling tired when waking up.
  • Problems falling asleep.
  • Waking up before the alarm.

Diagnosis

If you feel that you are experiencing insomnia visit your physician immediately. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to determine if your insomnia is linked to a medical condition. In addition, the doctor may require you to keep a sleep journal and encourage you to keep notes of your sleep habits. Depending on your specific situation and your doctor’s opinion, you may be referred to a sleep specialist for further review.

Treatment for Acute Insomnia

Short-term insomnia may not require treatment. Sometimes acute insomnia is a brief result of life stress and dissolves on its own as the stressful situation is resolved. Other time, improving sleep habits is beneficial to curing acute insomnia.

 

Treatment for Chronic Insomnia

Long-term insomnia usually requires treatment by a physician. First your doctor will treat any underlying conditions that may be the cause of your chronic insomnia. Relaxation exercises and behavioral therapy are also tools that help dissolve and prevent chronic insomnia.

Improving Sleep Habits

Whether you have chronic or acute insomnia improving your sleep habits such as aroma therapy, taking a warm bath with essential oils, reading a book, exercising on a regular basis, avoiding caffeine and quit smoking, go to sleep at the same time every night and don’t eat two hours before bed will be beneficial.

Insomnia is a common complaint that people have who are under extreme stress for long periods of time. While stress is a part of everyday life, many people have a difficult time dealing with serious life issues. The constant worry, fear and focus of a stressful situation can cause many to lie awake at night and experience insomnia. Although the stressful situation might still be apparent, improving sleep habits will assist in calming nerves and relaxing the mind. Insomnia can be maintained, prevented and cured with the right tools and under the guidance of a physician.

10 signs you are sleep deprived

Almost everyone has a time in their life when they stay up late to finish a report for work or just need a few extra hours in the day to clean the house or conduct late night research online. It’s common for you to easily shave off a few hours of sleep to complete a task. Besides, how else are you going to add hours to your day? While it is ok to occasionally and randomly miss out on a few hours of sleep, making it a daily habit can cause you to become sleep deprived. There are specific signs that will alert you that you are experiencing sleep deprivation.

  • Inability to Handle Stress – Daily life is full of stressful situations big or small. If you are showing signs that you can’t handle small stressful situations without losing your temper there is a chance that this is a sign of sleep deprivation.
  • Poor Memory – Are you becoming forgetful? Not just about what time your favorite show is on, but forgetting important appointment times and days. Or, even forgetting acquaintances names? Chronic poor memory loss can be directly linked with sleep deprivation.
  • Experiencing Clumsiness – It is one thing to stub a toe every now and then, but are you dropping things, bumping into things or experiencing clumsy moments on a daily basis? Chronic clumsiness is frequently caused by lack of sleep.
  • Stressful Relationships – Are your spouse and children running into another room when you arrive home? Are friends avoiding you? It is a possibility that your lack of sleep is causing you to become moody and grouchy, possibly taking your frustrations out on the ones you love.
  • Lack of Concentration – Are you unable to focus on your work or school work? Do you have to read the same sentence a few times just to comprehend it? Lack of concentration or difficulty focusing and understanding a situation or work related information can be caused by sleep deprivation.
  • Increased Appetite – Do you feel like you are hungry more than usual throughout the day and evening? An increased appetite happens when you lack sleep and your body does not have the chance to regulate hormones that affect your appetite, causing you to feel hungry and consume more food than usual.
  • Falling Asleep Immediately – Placing your head on your pillow at night and immediately falling to sleep is a sign that your body is exhausted and needs more sleep.
  • Zoning Out – Suddenly zoning out mid-conversation or in the middle of work or traffic is a dangerous symptom of sleep deprivation. It can cause accidents, errors in your work and cause arguments with others due to your lack of attention.
  • Impulsive Behavior – Making quick decisions based on emotion instead of thinking the topic through can be caused by sleep deprivation. It is possible that you are so tired that you are carelessly making decisions just to get through the day.
  • Sleeping in Public Places – Falling asleep in public places such as a movie theatre or restaurant is a sign that you need to sleep more. This shows that your body is experiencing sleep deprivation and is trying to find time to sleep at any moment you enter a dark, cool environment.

As you can see the sleep deprivation signs can have a negative impact on your day to day life. If left untreated you can truly cause many problems in your life ranging from job loss to an automobile accident. If you are experiencing these symptoms and are noticeably having difficulty sleeping or you are overwhelmed with your daily schedule, it is wise to seek consultation from your doctor.

 

Good Sleep: Ounce of Prevention and A Pound of Cure

There’s a saying that sleep finally caught up with me, and I quietly drifted off to sleep, woke up and didn’t realize having slept for an entire day! With the increasing numbers of technological gadgets, many of us are addicted to social media, videos and solitude games. The flashing lights and constant movement of the screens are captivating and addictive.

With the increasing desire for some to stay totally connected to a small number of friends and relatives, but a whole world of strangers, it’s likely that households across America have multiple devices in the home for each family member in which they are multi-tasking or at least attempting to do so. Even knowing that one needs to go to bed at a decent hour in order to get up freshly rested and ready for the new day, kids and adults constantly retort, “I’ll be all right, but please ‘just give me one more minute.’ And before you know it, that one minute extends to 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes. Walk in any bedroom with teenagers and adults, and you are likely to see that the lights have been turned down for the night, but glowing lights let you know that someone is still up chatting, reading, surfing, tweeting, posting, and playing on one or more devices.

At the break of dawn, sleep heads are grumpy and difficult to awake. Even though it’s just a lack of sleep, they may substitute the truth with complaints about feeling too sick to go to school, an appointment or work.

According to the Washington Post, ongoing and emerging research has linked insufficient or irregular sleep patterns over time to the development of serious illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and even cancers. Some studies have shown a direct correlation between hormonal and protein imbalances that cause illness, inflammation, chronic joint and muscle pain, as well as autoimmune diseases. Apparently, sharing information and continuing to study sleep behavior is sounding an alarm and is a wakeup call that sleep depravity may be taking its toll and causing an increasing number of illnesses and diseases too many people who have doubted that lacking sleep is a serious problem that is headed for an epidemic.

Lawrence Eppstein, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, stated that some sleep slackers, much to their detriment, have erroneously believed that they can control and manipulate sleep without any consequences.

The evidence continues to show that getting less than six hours of asleep a night eventually creates a dysfunction of the various human body systems that require optimal support in order to function efficiently. There seems to be an alarming number of people who are sick because of some serious conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, just to name a few.

Watch this video on 3 exercises to overcome insomnia

With continued research and discussions about the impact of sleep on one’s overall health, perhaps those who are not worried and who sleep enough just to get by will wake up before it’s too late.