Lasers Skin Treatments the facts and experts advice
On week 262 we are sharing facts, about Laser skin treatments, resources, and experts advice. It is so important to do research and know as much as you can about treatments that if are not done well can scar you for life. The prices vary but then again if you look for cheap treatments you will find them. The results can be devastating, so it is important to not compromise.
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Have you suddenly found yourself with unwanted skin conditions that you wish to correct? The temptation might be to try the first “miracle cure” you come across which seems to be now just days everywhere. That could be anything from a cream or lotion to a laser treatment a home made product, lunch time fillers and in office, surgeries to mention a few modalities readily available. But, while many of those options work well for some skin conditions and variable different personalities, to say the least, they don’t all work for every person or every skin type. That’s why it’s important to carefully examine all of your laser and non-laser options before choosing one and that is if you need it at all.
Do RESEARCH and find a Dr that is certified and has a lot of experience check the reviews, ask him how long and how often he does upgrading training and how knowledgeable he is about upgrades and new techniques how long has he done the procedures ask for photos and if he or she has people that you can talk to. Ask as many questions as they come to mind because that will make the difference in between a major Aweee!! that may not have fixing and an incredibly well-done procedure. If you are looking for the best price, make sure you don’t compromise quality and integrity, because if you do it will probably cost you more to fix it if it is possible to do so, you can end up with a great regret. What we are saying is RESEARCH it well, from here we are taking you on a journey to learn about the different kinds of Lasers and most of their qualities, pros, and cons.
Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Lasers work by emitting a wavelength of high-energy light, which when focused on certain skin conditions will create heat and treat the problem via destruction. There are many different wavelengths (or colors) of lasers because each wavelength treats different things this is a very important fact. That explains why so many models and types of lasers exist.
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Laboratories, based on theoretical work by Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow. A laser differs from other sources of light in that it emits light coherently. Spatial ( space ) coherence allows a laser to be focused to a tight spot, enabling applications such as laser cutting and lithography. Spatial coherence also allows a laser beam to stay narrow over great distances (collimation), enabling applications such as laser pointers. Lasers can also have high temporal coherence, which allows them to emit light with a very narrow spectrum, i.e., they can emit a single color of light. Temporal coherence can be used to produce pulses of light as short as a femtosecond.
Lasers are a special form of light. Laser light does not exist in nature.
Only human technology can create laser light.
Ordinary light, like sunlight, is made up of many different wavelengths, or colors, of light.
The difference in between daylight and Laser light. First, the light from a laser contains exactly one color or wavelength rather than a lot of different wavelengths. Scientists say that laser light is “monochromatic,” meaning of one color.
Second, all the wavelengths are in phase. That is, they are all “waving” together at the same time in the same direction, like a well-timed audience. All the wave crests (high points) and troughs (low points) are lined up. Scientists say the laser light is “coherent.”
And third, while light waves from ordinary sources (such as flashlights, light bulbs, or the Sun) spread out in all directions the laser light waves are all traveling in the same direction, exactly parallel to one another. This means that laser light beams are very narrow and can be concentrated on one tiny spot. Scientists say the laser light is “collimated.”
Because the laser light is monochromatic, coherent, and collimated, all of its energy is focused on producing a small point of intense power. This focused power makes laser light useful for cutting and welding. It also makes it possible to control laser light very precisely witch extends the versatility of it.
Different Kinds of Lasers and their qualities
Selective Photothermolysis: Photothermolysis means using light (photo) to heat (Thermo) a selected area for destruction (lysis). It is the process by which lasers work to treat skin problems.
Ablative: Ablative lasers were the first type of laser to be used in laser skin resurfacing. They vaporize the top layer of your skin, physically removing (destroying) any skin damage you want to treat and allowing healthy skin to grow back. Old school CO2 laser resurfacing is an example of an ablative procedure. Nowadays, ablative lasers (not fractionated, which is explained below) are rarely used for the face because of the long downtime. It takes months to recover and multiple ablative treatments to get desired results. Some people are also subject to a high risk of scarring and hyper/hypo-pigmentation.
Non-Ablative: Non-ablative lasers penetrate into deep layers of skin without removing the top layer of skin. Therefore, they can treat skin issues without damaging the surface of your skin. These lasers are a significant improvement over ablative lasers because of the large decrease in recovery time. Many non-ablative lasers claim to have “no downtime” and are even advertised as “lunch-time” procedures. However, in my experience, even with a non-ablative laser, you will still experience side effects. But you will be able to go back to your normal life far more quickly than with an ablative laser treatment.
Fractional: While non-ablative lasers were less invasive than ablative lasers, they proved to be weaker. Because of this, fractionated cosmetic lasers were developed. Fractionated, fractional, or fractionally means that a laser beam is split into hundreds of tiny beams (a bunch of dots) instead of one solid beam. Therefore, when a fractionated laser penetrates your skin, it penetrates in a scattered way, treating some skin while leaving skin in between alone. In other words, your skin is only fractionally treated with a laser because the laser beam has been split up (think string cheese instead of a block of cheese). Instead of getting one solid dose of laser in a specific area of your skin, you get a spread out dose, receiving the same benefits minus the downtime. The first fractionated laser was Fraxel, but any type of laser can be fractionated – fractionated ablative lasers, fractionated non-ablative lasers, fractionated carbon dioxide lasers, fractionated nd: yags, etc.
Pixel Laser: Pixel lasers or pixel technology means the cosmetic laser in question has been fractionated.
Continuous Wave: A continuous wave (CW) laser is a laser beam that is constant. The laser emits high energy light non-stop, unlike pulsed lasers which emit laser beams in short bursts. Old cosmetic laser technologies like carbon dioxide lasers and argon lasers are examples of continuous wave lasers. CW lasers are not used to treat facial skin anymore because there are other lasers that produce the same results without such severe side effects and downtime.
Pulsed: A pulsed laser delivers laser beams in pulses. Instead of lasing your skin in one continuous beam, pulsed lasers zap your skin in beats. Therefore, instead of going zaaaaaaap like a continuous wave laser, pulsed lasers go zap, zap, zap. There are long-pulsed pulsed lasers, with a pulse duration of around 30-50 milliseconds, and short-pulsed pulsed lasers, with a pulse duration of around 5-100 nanoseconds.
Q-Switched: Q-switching refers to the technique of making a laser produce a high intensity beam in very short pulses. Q-switched lasers are a type of pulsed laser, but they are short-pulsed pulsed lasers with durations of 5-100 nanoseconds. Q-switched lasers are usually used for tattoo removal on skin.
Long-Pulsed: A long-pulsed laser is a pulsed laser that has a pulse duration of approximately 30-50 milliseconds. It’s still a very short pulse, but compared to short-pulsed pulses, long-pulse pulses are relatively long.
A diode laser emits a wavelength of light at 800nm. They are usually used for hair removal, skin pigmentations, and vascular lesions like spider veins.
Argon Laser: An argon laser is an ablative, continuous wave laser with argon as the medium. It’s an older laser technology and used to be used for laser skin resurfacing. However, because it had a lot of side effects, it is not used that much in cosmetic medicine anymore.
Carbon Dioxide Laser (CO2 Laser): Like argon lasers, carbon dioxide lasers were one of the first cosmetic lasers used to treat skin conditions. A carbon dioxide laser is very strong and can cut into or vaporize skin tissue. As the name suggests, it uses carbon dioxide as its medium. A continuous wave carbon dioxide laser is not as favorable anymore to treat facial skin conditions because of the severe associated downtime. Instead, the carbon dioxide lasers used on skin today are fractional carbon dioxide lasers. Continuous wave carbon dioxide lasers are still used to remove moles and other skin issues though.
Erbium Laser:An erbium laser is an ablative laser used for skin resurfacing. Like carbon dioxide lasers, erbium lasers vaporize the surface of your skin. However, they do not penetrate as deeply as CO2 lasers and are therefore used to treat moderate wrinkles and photoaging on the face, hands, and neck. Non-fractionated ablative lasers are rarely used for the skin anymore because fractional lasers are less invasive. There are several models of fractionated erbium lasers used today.
Dye Laser: A dye laser is a laser with organic dye as the active medium. The most popular type of cosmetic dye laser is the pulsed dye laser.
KTP Laser: KTP stands for potassium (K) titanyl phosphate (TP). A KTP laser uses potassium titanyl phosphate crystal as its medium. KTP lases are known as green colored cosmetic lasers and they are used to treat vascular lesions, such as broken capillaries, spider veins, and redness in the skin.
Nd:Yag Laser: An Nd:Yag laser is a laser that uses neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet as its medium. It is one of the most common lasers, available in both continuous and pulsed modes. There are a variety of Nd:Yag lasers, which are used to remove unwanted hair and treat skin veins and facial redness.
Alexandrite Laser:This laser uses alexandrite as its laser source. Alexandrite lasers are used for hair and tattoo removal. They are especially good at removing green and black colored pigmentations in the skin.
IPL: IPL (also known as Flashlamp, photorejuvenation, and photofacial procedures) stands for intense pulsed light. IPL is not a type of laser, but a light-based treatment often referred to as a cosmetic laser treatment because they both treat similar skin conditions in similar ways. IPL uses short bursts of high intensity light from specific flash lamps to selectively destroy pigment cells, capillaries, and hair roots on your skin. Therefore, IPL is used to treat pigmentation, vascular lesions, rosacea, hair removal, and photorejuvenation. IPL is better for people who have light, pale skin. Though post-treatment side effects resemble a sunburn, some people actually experience skin blisters
Fraxel: Fraxel is a family of three cosmetic lasers made by a company called Solta. All three lasers in the Fraxel family use fractional photothermolysis to treat certain skin conditions. There are two non-ablative Fraxel lasers and one ablative Fraxel laser. The two non-ablative lasers are Fraxel re:fine (used for skin rejuvenation and minimizing fine facial lines) and Fraxel re:store (used for skin resurfacing, treating photodamage, and reducing the appearance of acne scars). The ablative laser is Fraxel re:pair, which uses a CO2 laser to treat skin pigmentation and deeper facial wrinkles. Fraxel was one of the first fractionated lasers on the market.
Vbeam: Vbeam is the name of a pulsed dye laser manufactured by the company Candela. It treats rosacea, port wine stains (birthmarks), and broken blood vessels, essentially minimizing any skin condition involving redness. Vbeam uses a cooling spray with each laser pulse to minimize pain from the treatment.
Radiofrequency (RF): Similar to how lasers are an energy source, radiofrequency is also an energy source for aesthetic medical procedures. The most common cosmetic treatment using radiofrequency is Thermage, a device developed by the same company that makes Fraxel. Radiofrequency is used to heat (or damage) deep layers of your skin (without damaging the surface) so your body will “heal” the injury, producing more collagen to tighten skin and make it look younger. However, radiofrequency contracts fat cells so many people have experienced facial fat loss and thinner faces after receiving radiofrequency treatment.
How it works
The magnetic pulse component of (MP)2 induces the release of growth factors required for the sprouting of new blood vessels, as well as for proliferation of dermal fibroblast. Simultaneously, the RF component induces collagen and elastin synthesis by causing controlled thermal damage in the dermis, which triggers the self-repair mechanism of skin tissue. The result is a marked improvement is skin tightness and elasticity, and in overall skin condition.
(MP)² brings you the power of clinically proven, medical grade Magnetic Pulse Technology with the unique Multi Polar RF, enabling practitioners to offer clients a safe, pleasant and effective skin tightening treatment with excellent clinical results.
Infrared: Infrared is another source of energy used in cosmetic medicine. The most popular infrared skin device is called Titan. It is often used for a “non-surgical face lift.” Heat from infrared energy contracts, but does not destroy, collagen in your skin. Your skin then increases its collagen production to “replace” the lost collagen, resulting in a “lift” in your skin. Ultrasound: Ultrasound is the newest energy source used for cosmetic medical procedures. Ultrasound imaging allows you to visualize the tissue beneath the surface of your skin. Therefore, you can see where damage is located and target them precisely. Ultrasound facial procedures rejuvenate the skin and minimize sagging. Ulthera is the name of a popular ultrasound treatment device.
I got lucky and I was given an Ulthera treatment, from a reliable professional Dr and it works right away, the weird fact is that it keeps on working for at least 9 months it is amazing and no aweee, I just didn’t use make up for a couple of days , I felt that the skin already was trying to heal, so I pampered the skin with Vitamin C, A and D and definitely stayed out of the Sun.
Skin Rejuvenation: Skin rejuvenation and photorejuvenation basically means making your skin younger by minimizing wrinkles, pigmentation, sagginess, and other damage from photoaging. There are three main ways to rejuvenate your skin: 1) thermal photorejuvenation using radio-frequency (i.e. Thermage), 2) chemical photo rejuvenation using chemical peels, and 3) mechanical photorejuvenation using cosmetic skin lasers.
Photoaging:Photoaging is a term used to describe the aging of the skin that occurs because of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
What is laser skin resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing, also known as a laser peel, laser vaporization and lasabrasion, can reduce wrinkles, scars, sun damage, liver spots and blemishes. Newer laser technologies give your plastic surgeon, or Dermatologist a new level of control in laser surfacing, permitting extreme precision, for all over the body and especially in delicate areas.
Laser skin resurfacing can improve many conditions, such as:
Fine lines or creases around or under your eyes, forehead or mouth and neck
Scars from acne or chickenpox, surgeries, burns etc
Non-responsive skin after a facelift,like a slow healing skin
Aged or sun-damaged skin
Improve your complexion if you have yellowish or grayish skin tones
Warts, molds, spider veins
Birthmarks such as linear epidermal nevi
Enlarged oil glands on the nose and general pore size
How does laser skin resurfacing work?
It is about using beams of light. The Dr uses the laser to send short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin issues . This will remove unwanted, damaged skin in a very precise manner one layer at a time.
Laser skin resurfacing’s targeted approach means there are fewer problems with hypopigmentation, or a lightening of skin for procedures such as laser acne scar removal and that includes dark skins or any skin that has that tendency .
The laser beam used in laser resurfacing will remove your outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. It simultaneously heats the underlying skin, called the dermis. This action works to stimulate growth of new collagen and Elastin fibers. As the treated area heals, the new skin that forms is smoother and firmer, Bay like is fantastic!
What happens during laser skin resurfacing?
For the best results, your plastic surgeon may first start you on a few series of skin treatments to prepare your skin for your laser procedure, not always this is a part of all Dr’s procedure, now a day most Dr’s just go right into it. Often these treatments begin 6 weeks or more before your scheduled procedure. These skin treatments are customized for your particular skin type to minimize complications and obtain the best result from your laser resurfacing.
Almost all Cosmetic laser resurfacing are usually done on an outpatient basis and typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, taking time to asses the skin and overall health of the person and if they qualify for it, plus the numbing of the skin prior to the procedure.
Managing discomfort: Laser skin resurfacing can be painful for some people and non for others . This is why your doctor may numb the skin with local anesthetics usually a cream. You may also receive a sedative to help you relax. If you are opting for extensive resurfacing that takes longer amount of time, or if you’re having other cosmetic procedures simultaneously, your Dr may use a general anesthetic on extreme cases or if you are having surgery at the same time. Afterwards, the doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable or and anesthetic healing cream. In preparation, your face will be thoroughly cleaned and you will be given eye protection.
Special considerations, risks and recovery
Every skin that’s treated with laser resurfacing may react in different ways. But for most part, it will feel like a mild sunburn, of course evrbody is different . You’ll have some redness and swelling. You may also experience itching or stinging for a few days after the procedure, like Sunburn.
Depending on the treatment, some people may have what looks like a severe sunburn or discoloration. The skin will be raw, and sencitive. Do not scratch or pick at crusts because this can cause scarring and use a strong eco friendly preferable perfume sent free Sunscreen at all times with or without operant sunlight.
Usually, about five days to a week after laser skin resurfacing, your skin will peel and the beautiful new skin will be there waiting for you to love it!.
To achieve an optimum look, follow these steps as part of your recovery:
Clean the treated areas two to five times a day with saline or a diluted vinegar solution pat it on don’t rube or as directed by your plastic surgeon.
We recommend Vitamin E and A, chamomile compresses and a good non premixed vitamin C.
Apply protective skin care treatments that are recommended by your doctor to help your skin heal.
After healing, you’ll need to use sunscreen, particularly one that’s formulated for the sensitive, rejuvenated skin on your face. Every day and really through the day. No exceptions!
Use a liberal amount of Organic moisturizer each day on your new skin, I suggest good oils to.
You can expect that the treated area will peel. After that, the new, rejuvenated skin will be pink, but it will gradually lighten over two to three months. It may take up to a year for the pinkness to go away. It is very important to protect your skin during this time of healing. Redness tends to last longer in blondes and redheads.
You may resume application of Retin-A and/or glycolic acid products around six weeks after laser resurfacing or as directed by your physician.
Complications of laser skin resurfacing can include:
Acne flares of some kind. Your doctor will recommend a treatment regimen.
Some time there is Bacterial infection. Your doctor may recommend taking an antibiotic prior to the procedure and afterwards.
Cold sore reactivation. This may occur if you have laser resurfacing around your mouth specially if you already had outbreaks before. Be sure to tell you doctor about your history of cold sores prior the treatment don’t hold back he will help you prevent them. You can prevent the reactivation by taking an antiviral medication before and after the procedure.
Hyperpigmentation. It’s possible the treated area can become darker in tone. Your physician may recommend a bleaching solution or a different procedure that will prevent this form happening. More rarely you may have hypopigmentation, a lightening of the skin tone.
Milia. These small white bumps may appear during healing. They can be removed by gentle cleansing with a washcloth or agent exfoliation.
Prolonged redness. For some people, the redness just takes longer to disappear, but we sure you it will.
Scarring. This is rare, but possible specially if you PICK!!!! your skin no,no .
Swelling. If you are having laser skin resurfacing around your eyes, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids to manage this swelling,we recommend to follow instructions on these and then go Organic compresses perhaps of chamomile or other ant anti-inflammatory herbs.
Tips for an easier recovery:
Elevate your head with an extra pillow at night so you drain fluids and help to move lymph.
Use an ice pack during the first day or two to ease swelling and discomfort, always place the Ice Pack inside a cloth do not place it straight on the skin it can damage it, do five minutes at a time and place the recomended products from your DR,then you can clean up .
Stop smoking. Tobacco smoke will complicate the healing process by a million%, try to stay away from Alcohol and products that are acid so you don’t contribute to the inflammation .
Recovery times will vary depending on your treatment:
CO2 laser resurfacing: Generally up to two weeks.
Erbium laser resurfacing: One full week.
Camouflage the pink or red skin
Once your treated areas have healed, makeup may be used to tone down the color. Try a green-based makeup to neutralize red color. Be sure to opt for an oil-free makeup. I personally recommend waiting 3 to four days, the longer the better. If you think about it the skin is trying to heal and place Harsh chemicals on top of it. Not so good of an idea, it may create an infection and the whole purpose of the treatment in the first place.
One option you have, especially if you suffer from acne, is mild light therapy. There are several forms of light therapy that could be helpful. One of the most common is intense pulsed light. IPL uses a light beam that doesn’t produce much heat, but it can still treat the affected areas and reduce acne scarring for the right candidates. It’s even a safe treatment for teenagers with specific skin conditions.
Stronger Laser Treatments for More Widespread or In-Depth Issues
If your skin problem is over a widespread area or a more in-depth issue, it may call for a stronger form of therapy. There are several stronger types of lasers that you could try. One type is the non-ablative laser, which treats some deeper skin problems without having a major impact on the surface of the skin. Another type is ablative laser treatment. Ablative laser devices strip away the surface layer of skin, which can reveal a healthier layer underneath. That can be a great treatment for some skin conditions, but it can make others worse. That’s why it’s always important to consult an expert.
A third laser option that you might need to think about is Fractional, also known as Fraxal, laser treatment. Fraxal lasers can essentially drill tiny columns of light and heat through the skin, leaving most of it undamaged. The undamaged cells around the columns are then stimulated into helping to repair and strengthen the damaged cells, creating healthier looking skin. They do that by producing more collagen and other healthy components to strengthen the surrounding tissue.
Non-Laser Treatments for Skin Problems
Of course, there are plenty of non-laser treatments for skin problems. Two common examples are microdermabrasion and chemical peels. Both of those methods resurface the skin in much the same way that sandpaper can smooth out a piece of wood. The major difference between chemical peels and microdermabrasion is that the former works using chemicals, while the latter is actually more like sandpaper, using a tool to buff away the top layer of skin cells.
If none of those options sound good to you, don’t worry. There are many others that you could potentially try, including forms of laser devices not mentioned here, as well as various types of sound wave treatment. But, whether you choose sound wave treatment, lasers, or some other method, the important thing is to pick the treatment that is best for your skin condition and skin type. That’s the best way to get your healthy, youthful appearance back.
There was a time when people could only enjoy the benefits of the age-defying laser by setting up a series of appointments with their dermatologists. But not anymore. Thanks to the Tria Age-Defying Laser, anyone can restore the youthfulness of their entire faces in the comfort and privacy of their homes.
Nutra Laser Hair Therapy is a new treatment system that has been proven in numerous Hair Restoration Clinics around the world to be effective for women and men. Thousands of users have experienced the benefits and success of this non-invasive, pain free laser treatment. Laser hair Therapy Treatment System gained increased popularity over the past 10 years through it’s acceptance by hair loss professionals and clinics through positive coverage by the press about this new technology.
NutraStim Professional Hair Growth Laser Comb is a handheld, cordless and easy to use Hair Laser Comb intended to promote hair growth. It features a sleek design with rechargeable batteries to give you the freedom of movement.
How Sleep affects our Beauty and overall wellness?
Here on week, 261 we are sharing a post on Sleep, it is amazing the non sleep issue. Non-Sleeping has become an epidemic I even hear it from really young kids. It is amazing a number of drugs sold for sleeping “AID”, an estimated 40 million prescriptions for such drugs were dispensed, sales of generic Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) amounted to a whopping $2.8 billion and Lunesta another $912 million. Prescription sleep aids are some of the most heavily marketed drugs to the public and so much more to it with these medications. We are not addressing the bottom line source of the problem we are only suppressing the symptom, no long term relief there not to mention the side effects, addictions and the challenge get bigger and bigger, Here we did extensive research and we have authority based information to aid with this epidemic. We wish for you the reader to find a solution to your sleeping challenge if you have one and if you don’t we are very happy for you, we are sure that you either know someone or will run across somebody that will really appreciate the information, so please pass it along and thank you for the support and following our blog. We take pride to do the research and love making a difference,.thank you from all of us at Isabel’s beauty blog.
How Electronics and Technology Affect Sleep Quality
Do you suffer from the pangs of sleep loss? Has it been so long since you’ve gotten a decent night’s sleep that you’ve simply just accepted that this is the way it is? Some people tough it up to insomnia or they have small children and is not much selection of choices. While those reasons are often quite valid (especially the small children, I should know), sometimes you have to look past the easy blames and really determine if there’s some other reason you’re not sleeping well. Like technology, perhaps. There are tons of ways that technology affects sleep. But I’ll overview the most common, and ones that I’ve determined are a problem for so many people so you can decide for yourself if it’s something to consider.
So, What Are The Common Techno Dangers To Watch For?
1) Wi-Fi Signals
Have you ever walked in a room and could tell that there was technology running? You can almost feel the low hum of radio signals in the air. Well, you’re not crazy. This is a thing. And devices that emit a Wi-Fi signal are negatively affecting our sleep. Everything from a wireless router to cell phones, iPads, etc. anything that produces a source of wireless internet in your home will fill the area with invisible electromagnetic signals and our brains respond to that.
A study was carried out in 2007 where scientists took two groups of people and put them in different rooms. One group had real cell phones in the room with them and the other had fake ones. Neither knew that ones were fake. But the group exposed to actual cell signals and Wi-Fi waves had a significantly harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. So how can you determine whether or not Wi-Fi signals are interfering with your ability to get a good night’s sleep? It’s simple. Spend one week with all electronic devices removed from your bedroom. After the first few days, you should experience better sleep. If not, then you should dig deeper.
2) Bright Screens
So, here’s the thing. In order for us to comfortably fall asleep, our bodies have to go through a process. And part of that process is creating melatonin. Melatonin signals our brain that it’s night time, time to sleep. But when we stare at bright screens, the light that is absorbed through our eyes delays the release of melatonin. Thus, making it harder to fall asleep. Nowadays, with the dawn of smartphones, eReaders, and tablets, lets let’s not forget TV we often spend hours at night staring at a bright screen. Even on the lowest brightness setting, it’s still too much for our eyes and for the release of Melatonin.
A study was done by Mariana Figueiro of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she and a group of researchers tested the effects of bright screens on volunteers. The results were conclusive. People who stared at a screen for two hours prior to going to bed had simply could not fall asleep. It took them a long period of time. So how do you rectify this and rule it out for yourself? Spend a week quitting the screen time at least two hours before bedtime. If it’s reading you do, then try hard copy books for a while. If it’s work, maybe on a laptop, then try wrapping it up earlier in the day. But if you must use technology at night, there are programs and apps that to help with this issue. They monitor when it starts to get late and will “warm up” your screens from the cold blue to a soft pink, also you can purchase blue screen shields for very little money, here is a link below.
One of the cons to living in the modern world is the fact that most of us live a “wired life”. It’s tough to get through a single day without using some form of technology. And it’s often for the purpose of seeking information, gaining knowledge. We fill our brains up with information all the time. Whether it’s an action-packed TV show or late night news or even a website full of articles to read. It’s called cognitive stimulation and while it’s great for exercising our brains, it’s best done throughout the day, not at night.
We need at least two hours’ prior to bedtime to help our brains soften and wind down from the overload of the day’s events and the new information we learned. But if you’re laying in bed with your digital device, reading all about the latest updates on the election or scouring through science articles, then your brain will be buzzing. So how do you fix this one? Come on, it’s easy. Stop revving up your brain before bed. There are many ways technology affects sleep, but even watching a boring TV show can stimulate it because the response that happens in your body, the neurons firing up, can still keep you up.
4) Unlikely Alarms
So, anyone who owns a cell phone knows that they set an alarm on it. That’s just common sense nowadays. But these aren’t the types of alarms I’m talking about. I’m referring back to the fact I mentioned before; we’re all living wired lives and even in our sleep we’re “connected”. To better paint you a picture, ask yourself if you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night because your phone pinged to alert you of a new message or update on social media? What about text messages and voice mails? They all create pings and sounds to alert you and our brains are discretely tuned into them.
We don’t realize, but technology has become so commonplace that we simply accept these annoyances as a part of everyday life. But it’s seriously affecting the way we sleep and the quality of rest we incur. So, to remedy this issue, I tried a test for ten days. Before going to bed I turned off all electronic devices. Anything that would produce a sound, ping, or alert. I broke out my old battery operated alarm clock and used that in place of the one I normally used on my phone. And guess what? After an adjustment period of two nights, I began to sleep straight through the night and woke up feeling rested. Coincidence? I think not.
5) White Noise
Whether you believe it or not, electronic devices create a noise. It’s a low hum on a particular frequency and not everyone can pick up on it with the naked ear. But it is there and it affects us regardless. Some call it white noise, but it’s really just the electromagnetic waves (and a bit of the operating system, like in computers). While actual white noise is meant to help you sleep by cutting down on the difference between background noises like city streets and such, the kind of white noise I’m talking about is the opposite. It’s the minute buzzing that all of our devices constantly radiate and it’s like a tick, keeping us awake without us really knowing.
The sound taps into our brains and keeps us on the edge of consciousness, never really allowing us to fall into that deep sleep we actually need. This is called Rem sleep and it’s crucial that we have it in order to properly rest our minds and bodies. There are three main levels of sleep that we go through each night; a light stage where we’re still half awake but slowly falling into slumber. Then there’s stage two where our heart rates slow, our temperature drops and our muscles relax. Then there’s REM. It’s the mother load of sleep stages and without it, we never really rest. How to tackle this issue? Much the same way we’ve been dealing with the others. Either turn off or remove electronic devices from your bedroom before you go to sleep.
This one is a no-brainer. With the rise and increase of technology, so has our addiction to it. We are constantly plugged in. If someone told you ten years ago that you could access the entire web, operate Microsoft programs, watch TV and movies, and read books all from your telephone you’d probably have laughed. But it’s the reality we live in. When we’re in public and our phone dies, we feel a teensy bit lost. Admit it. It’s hard, oh so hard, to let go and get through a single day without the aid of technology. Myself, I spent late hours sitting in bed reading eBooks, playing games, and hanging out on social media. I even caught myself turning off the TV for the night, crawling into bed and then pulling out my phone to check the time and ended up messing around with it for a couple more hours.
So I recommend putting the phone away (somewhere you can’t reach it at night) and just wear a watch and have that by your bedside in case you need to check the time. You can find some of the best military watches over at Authorized boots.
The worst of it are video games, though. Time passes so much faster when we’re engaged online and removed from reality. It’s easy to stay up late, fighting to finish a level or conquering a new game. All of these things affect our sleep schedule, the predetermined settings that we’ve programmed our brains to follow. By staying up a little bit later than normal each night, we unknowingly push back our sleep schedule. Then, on nights where we get the chance to go to bed early, we simply can’t fall asleep until the late hour we’re now used to. So, the solution? Cold turkey. Unless you need your devices for work, just cut them out for an entire week. Nah, that’s just too harsh! But seriously, get a handle on your screen time. Set a limit and cut off time each day.
You know that sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. But, how can you tell whether you’re truly sleeping well? Especially if you work shifts, your sleep probably does not look exactly like other peoples’ sleep. It can be hard to measure your sleep patterns against those of the people around you.
On average, adults should optimally receive between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but those needs vary individually. For example, some people feel best with eight consecutive hours of sleep, while others do well with six to seven hours at night and daytime napping. Some people feel okay when their sleep schedule changes, while others feel very affected by a new schedule or even one night of insufficient sleep.
Here are some statements about your sleep. If these apply to you, it’s a good sign that your sleep is on track. If you’re a shift worker and you don’t agree with many of these, it could mean that you need to make changes in your behaviors and routines to improve your sleep.
You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.
While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
You wake up feeling refreshed as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
You feel alerted and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.
Shift workers who try to sleep during the day often wake up after fewer than seven to nine hours, because of the alerting signals coming from their circadian system. This does not mean they don’t need seven to eight hours of sleep per day—it just means it’s harder to sleep during the day. Over time, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
Most people notice that they naturally experience different levels of sleepiness and alertness throughout the day, but what causes these patterns? Sleep is regulated by two body systems: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock.
When we have been awake for a long period of time, sleep/wake homeostasis tells us that a need for sleep is accumulating and that it is time to sleep. It also helps us maintain enough sleep throughout the night to make up for the hours of being awake. If this restorative process existed alone, it would mean that we would be most alert as our day was starting out and that the longer we were awake, the more we would feel like sleeping. In this way, sleep/wake homeostasis creates a drive that balances sleep and wakefulness.
The circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day, so adults’ strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm, although there is some variation depending on whether you are a “morning person” or “evening person.” The sleepiness we experience during these circadian dips will be less intense if we have had sufficient sleep, and more intense when we are sleep deprived. The circadian rhythm also causes us to feel more alert at certain points of the day, even if we have been awake for hours and our sleep/wake restorative process would otherwise make us feel more sleepy.
Changes to this circadian rhythm occur during adolescence when most teens experience a sleep phase delay. This shift in teens’ circadian rhythm causes them to naturally feel alerted later at night, making it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. Since most teens have early school start times along with other commitments, this sleep phase delay can make it difficult to get the sleep teens need — an average of 9 1/4 hours, but at least 8 hours. This sleep deprivation can influence the circadian rhythm; for teens the strongest circadian “dips” tend to occur between 3:00-7:00 am and 2:00-5:00 pm, but the morning dip (3:00-7:00 am) can be even longer if teens haven’t had enough sleep, and can even last until 9:00 or 10:00 am.
The circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that respond to light and dark signals. From the optic nerve of the eye, light travels to the SCN, signaling the internal clock that it is time to be awake. The SCN signals to other parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or awake.
In the mornings, with exposure to light, the SCN sends signals to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol. The SCN also responds to light by delaying the release of other hormones like melatonin, which is associated with sleep onset and is produced when the eyes signal to the SCN that it is dark. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and stay elevated throughout the night, promoting sleep.
In teenagers, research has shown that melatonin levels in the blood naturally rise later at night than in most children and adults. Since teens may have difficulty going to bed early to get enough sleep, it can help to keep the lights dim at night as bedtime approaches. It can also help to get into bright light as soon as possible in the morning.
Circadian disruptions such as jet lag put us in conflict with our natural sleep patterns since the shift in time and light cues on the brain force the body to alter its normal pattern to adjust. This is why jet lag can leave travelers feeling poorly and having more difficulty thinking and performing well. But these symptoms can also occur in everyday life when the circadian rhythm is disrupted by keeping long and irregular hours. Because of this, it is important to keep a regular sleep schedule and allow plenty of time for quality sleep, allowing these two vital biological components — the sleep/wake restorative process and the circadian rhythm — to help us perform at our best.
In 1929, an invention that enabled scientists to record brain activity challenged this way of thinking. From recordings known as electroencephalograms (EEGs), researchers could see that sleep was a dynamic behavior, one in which the brain was highly active at times, and not turned off at all. Over time, sleep studies using EEGs and other instruments that measured eye movements and muscle activity would reveal two main types of sleep. These were defined by characteristic electrical patterns in a sleeping person’s brain, as well as the presence or absence of eye movements.
The two main types of sleep are rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. On an EEG, REM sleep often called “active sleep,” is identifiable by its characteristic low-amplitude (small), high-frequency (fast) waves and alpha rhythm, as well as the eye movements for which it is named. Many sleep experts think that these eye movements are in some way related to dreams. Typically, when people are awakened from REM sleep, they report that they had been dreaming, often extremely vivid and sometimes bizarre dreams. In contrast, people report dreaming far less frequently when awakened from NREM sleep. Interestingly, during REM sleep muscles in the arms and legs are temporarily paralyzed. This is thought to be a neurological barrier that prevents us from “acting out” our dreams.
NREM sleep can be broken down into three distinct stages: N1, N2, and N3. In the progression from stage N1 to N3, brain waves become slower and more synchronized, and the eyes remain still. In stage N3, the deepest stage of NREM, EEGs reveal high-amplitude (large), low-frequency (slow) waves and spindles. This stage is referred to as “deep” or “slow-wave” sleep.
In healthy adults, sleep typically begins with NREM sleep. The pattern of clear rhythmic alpha activity associated with wakefulness gives way to N1, the first stage of sleep, which is defined by a low-voltage, mixed-frequency pattern. The transition from wakefulness to N1 occurs seconds to minutes after the start of the slow eye movements seen when a person first begins to nod off. This first period of N1 typically lasts just one to seven minutes. The second stage, or N2, which is signaled by sleep spindles and/or K-complexes in the EEG recording, comes next and generally lasts 10 to 25 minutes. As N2 sleep progresses, there is a gradual appearance of the high-voltage, slow-wave activity characteristic of N3, the third stage of NREM sleep. This stage, which generally lasts 20 to 40 minutes, is referred to as “slow-wave,” “delta,” or “deep” sleep. As NREM sleep progresses, the brain becomes less responsive to external stimuli, and it becomes increasingly difficult to awaken an individual from sleep.
Following the N3 stage of sleep, a series of body movements usually signals an “ascent” to lighter NREM sleep stages. Typically, a 5- to 10-minute period of N2 precedes the initial REM sleep episode. REM sleep comprises about 20 to 25 percent of total sleep in typical healthy adults.
NREM sleep and REM sleep continue to alternate through the night in a cyclical fashion. Most slow-wave NREM sleep occurs in the first part of the night; REM sleep episodes, the first of which may last only one to five minutes, generally become longer through the night. During a typical night, N3 sleep occupies less time in the second cycle than the first and may disappear altogether from later cycles. The average length of the first NREM-REM sleep cycle is between 70 and 100 minutes; the average length of the second and later cycles is about 90 to 120 minutes. The reason for such a specific cycling pattern of NREM and REM sleep across the night is unknown. Some scientists speculate that specific sequences of NREM and REM sleep optimize both physical and mental recuperation as well as some aspects of memory consolidation that occur during sleep, but this has not been confirmed.
There are three main sleeping positions with variables of each: side, back, and stomach. Sleep specialists recommend sleeping on your side in order to rest more comfortably and decrease the likelihood of interrupted sleep. While there are many variations of sleeping on your side, all of which are beneficial in helping to alleviate insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation, the most comfortable position involves bending the knees slightly upwards towards the chest area. For those with a bad back, consider placing a pillow between your legs to alleviate pressure on your hips and lower back. Sleeping on your side is actually encouraged for those suffering from back or hip pain or pregnant women since this position doesn’t increase pain in these areas.
If you prefer to sleep on your back, be careful as it may actually induce lower back pain and even episodes of apnea which interfere with normal sleep and restfulness. However, if you prefer to sleep on your back, there are a few minor alterations to this position that you can do to help sleep more soundly. Try placing a soft pillow or rolled up towel under your knees to facilitate the natural curve of the spine.
If you like sleeping on your stomach, you’re in for a bit of bad news…sleep professionals don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach as it causes strain on your lower back and possible neck pain. People who sleep on their stomach report increased restlessness caused by frequent tossing and turning in an effort to get comfortable. If you do sleep on your stomach use an extremely soft pillow or none at all so as not to put your neck at an awkward angle. For those with sleep problems, to begin with, it’s best not to sleep on your stomach.
Fetus position – A whopping 41% of participants sleep in this curled-up manner. Women are twice as likely to rest like this and it is listed as the most common position. These sleepers are said to have a tough exterior but are still sensitive and may appear to be shy but warm up quickly.
Log position – If you sleep on your side with both arms down, you are a social, easy-going person who is trusting, sometimes to the point of being gullible. The study showed 15% of people sleep like a log.
Yearner position – A close third is a side-lying position with both arms out in front of the body, with 13% of participants sleeping like this. Learners are noted to be open-minded and still cynical, suspicious, and stubborn about sticking to decisions once they are made.
Soldier position – These sleepers lie on their backs with arms down and kept close to the body. This 8% study is said to be reserved, quiet, without fuss, and hold themselves and others to a high standard. Soldier sleepers have a higher likelihood for snoring due to the flat-back position, which may not cause them to wake up often but may result in a less restful night’s sleep.
Freefall position – Those people who lie on their bellies with arms under or wrapped around a pillow with head turned to the side, makeup 7% of the population studied. Freefallers are brash, outgoing, and are very uncomfortable with criticism.
Starfish position – Sleepers who lie on their backs with arms up near their head or the pillow account for 5% of participants. These people are good listeners, helpful, and are uncomfortable being the center of attention. People who sleep in starfish position are more likely to snore and to suffer from a poor night’s sleep more often.
Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs may be especially so.
Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.
But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
Daily rhythms influenced by light
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.
The health risks of nighttime light
Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.
A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.
Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
The power of the blues
While the light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.
If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns and the quest for energy-efficient lighting could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.
The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent light bulbs.
What you can do
Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
What Happens in Your Body When You’re Sleep Deprived?
Lack of sleep has many ramifications, from minor to major, depending on your accumulated sleep debt. Short term, lack of sleep tends to have an immediate effect on your mental and emotional states.
Over the long term, poor sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems, from obesity and diabetes to immune problems and an increased risk for cancer. Plus it raises your risk of accidents and occupational errors.
Unfortunately, few are those who sleep well on a regular basis. Part of the problem is our propensity for using artificial lighting and electronics at night, in combination with getting insufficient exposure to full, bright, and natural sunlight during the day.
This disconnect from the natural cycles of day and night, activity and sleep, can turn into a chronic problem where you’re constantly struggling to sleep well.
Fortunately, the remedy is simple, and if you follow the recommendations at the end of this article, chances are you’ll be able to re-establish a healthy sleep pattern, without which you simply cannot be optimally healthy — even if you do everything else right.
A Single Night Without Sleep Can Have Severe Implications
As shown in the video above, going just one night without proper sleep starts to impair your physical movements and mental focus, comparable to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.
In essence, if you haven’t slept, your level of impairment is on par with someone who’s drunk.
According to researchers, 24 hours’ worth of sleeplessness breaks down cognitive faculties to such a degree that you’ll be 4.5 times more likely to sign a false confession.
Overall, you become more susceptible to “suggested” memories and start having trouble discerning the true source of your memories. For example, you might confuse something you read somewhere with a first-hand experience. According to the authors of this study:
“We propose that sleep deprivation sets the stage for a false confession by impairing complex decision-making abilities — specifically, the ability to anticipate risks and consequences, inhibit behavioral impulses, and resist suggestive influences.”
Lack of Sleep Linked to Internet Surfing and Poor Grades
Other research has linked lack of sleep to more extended internet usage, such as browsing through Facebook rather than studying or working. The reason for this is again related to impaired cognition and the inability to focus, making you more prone to distraction.
Not surprisingly, academic performance also suffers. In one recent study, the less sleep high school students reported getting, the lower their average grades were.
How Sleep Influences and Regulates Emotional Perception
Sleeping well is also important for maintaining emotional balance. Fatigue compromises your brain’s ability to regulate emotions, making you more prone to crankiness, anxiety, and unwarranted emotional outbursts.
Recent research also shows that when you haven’t slept well, you’re more apt to overreact to neutral events; you may feel provoked when no provocation actually exists, and you may lose your ability to sort out the unimportant from the important, which can result in bias and poor judgment.
Reporting on this research, in which participants were kept awake for one whole night before taking a series of image tests to gauge emotional reactions and concentration levels, Medical News Today writes:
“… Eti Ben-Simon, who conducted the experiment, believes that sleep deprivation may universally impair judgment, but it is more likely that a lack of sleep causes neutral images to provoke an emotional response.
The second test examined concentration levels. Participants inside an fMRI scanner had to complete a task that demanded their attention to press a key or button while ignoring distracting background pictures with emotional or neutral content …
After only one night without sleep, participants were distracted by every single image (neutral and emotional), while well-rested participants only found the emotional images distracting.
The effect was indicated by activity change, or what Prof. Hendler calls ‘a change in the emotional specificity’ of the amygdala … a major limbic node responsible for emotional processing in the brain.”
What Happens in Your Body After Two or More Sleepless Nights?
After 48 hours of no sleep, your oxygen intake is lessened and anaerobic power is impaired, which affects your athletic potential. You may also lose coordination, and start to forget words when speaking. It’s all downhill from there.
After the 72 hour mark of no sleep, concentration takes a major hit, and emotional agitation and heart rate increases. Your chances of falling asleep during the day increase and along with it, your risk of having an accident.
In 2013, drowsy drivers caused 72,000 car accidents in which 800 Americans were killed, and 44,000 were injured. Your problem-solving skills dwindle with each passing sleepless night, and paranoia can become a problem.
In some cases, hallucinations and sleep deprivation psychosis can set in — a condition in which you can no longer interpret reality. Recent research suggests psychosis can occur after as little as 24 hours without sleep, effectively mimicking symptoms observed in those with schizophrenia.
Sleep Deprivation Decreases Your Immune Function
Research published in the journal Sleep reports that sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress.
The researchers measured the white blood cell counts in 15 people who stayed awake for 29 hours straight and found that blood cell counts increased during the sleep deprivation phase. This is the same type of response you typically see when you’re sick or stressed.
In a nutshell, whether you’re physically stressed, sick, or sleep-deprived, your immune system becomes hyperactive and starts producing white blood cells — your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders like infectious agents. Elevated levels of white blood cells are typically a sign of disease. So your body reacts to sleep deprivation in much the same way it reacts to illness.
Other study findings suggest that deep sleep plays a very special role in strengthening immunological memories of previously encountered pathogens in a way similar to psychological long-term memory retention. When you’re well rested, your immune system is able to mount a much faster and more effective response when an antigen is encountered a second time.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body loses much of this rapid response ability. Unfortunately, sleep is one of the most overlooked factors of optimal health in general and immune function in particular.
Sleeping Poorly Raises Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A number of studies have demonstrated that lack of sleep can play a significant role in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In earlier research, women who slept five hours or less every night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes symptoms than women who slept for seven or eight hours each night.
According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, after four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants’ insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity.
Senior author Matthew Brady, Ph.D., an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, noted that: “This is the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years just from four nights of partial sleep restriction. Fat cells need sleep, and when they don’t get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy.”
Similarly, researchers warn that teenage boys who get too little slow-wave sleep are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Slow-wave sleep is a sleep stage associated with reduced levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and reduced inflammation. As reported by MedicineNet.com:
“Boys who lost a greater amount of slow-wave sleep between childhood and the teen years had a higher risk of developing insulin resistance than those whose slow-wave sleep totals remained fairly stable over the years …
‘On a night following sleep deprivation, we’ll have significantly more slow-wave sleep to compensate for the loss,’ study author Jordan Gaines … said … ‘We also know that we lose slow-wave sleep most rapidly during early adolescence. Given the restorative role of slow-wave sleep, we weren’t surprised to find that metabolic and cognitive [mental] processes were affected during this developmental period.’”
The Many Health Hazards of Sleep Deprivation
Aside from directly impacting your immune function, another explanation for why poor sleep can have such varied detrimental effects on your health is that your circadian system “drives” the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level. We’ve really only begun to uncover the biological processes that take place during sleep.
For example, during sleep, your brain cells shrink by about 60 percent, which allows for more efficient waste removal. This nightly detoxification of your brain appears to be very important for the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, the production of which is disturbed by a lack of sleep.
This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).
Courtesy of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging, Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population worldwide. Around 10 to 20 percent of adults with insomnia experience severe sleeplessness. Insomnia is more common in women, but the quality of sleep often decreases as we age, equally in both women and men. Although so-called insomnia cures are promoted widely, there are no guaranteed insomnia cures. There is, however, much that can be done to improve quality and duration of sleep.
In addition to having problems falling asleep at night, many people with insomnia may feel sleepy during the day, fall asleep during meetings or when they are watching a movie, have problems concentrating and remembering things, and feel irritable. Insomnia can also be marked by waking up frequently during the night and having difficulty falling back to sleep; by waking up too early in the morning; and by feeling unrefreshed following sleep.
During sleep, the body produces many important hormones and neurotransmitters, such as human growth hormone (HGH) and serotonin. Researchers are still exploring the long-term health implications of poor sleep, but immune function, memory, mental function, and mood can all be affected.
There are three classifications of insomnia:
1. Transient or short-term insomnia, which occurs infrequently (generally less than once a week).
2. Intermittent insomnia, which comes and goes, usually without a pattern.
3. Chronic insomnia, which is an ongoing problem that occurs most nights and lasts at least a month.
Causes and Symptoms
Many factors can contribute to insomnia, including stress. Others include:
Exposure to extreme temperature fluctuations or environmental noise
Disruption in sleep/wake patterns due to jet lag, work schedules, or other reasons
Side effects of medications
A change in the surrounding environment
Premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
For those suffering from chronic insomnia, the causes are usually more complex and result from a combination of factors, which can include:
Depression (the most common cause)
Restless leg syndrome
In addition, there may be some behavioral reasons for chronic insomnia:
Anxiety about not being able to sleep
Drinking alcohol before bedtime
Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine
Smoking cigarettes before bedtime
Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
Continually disrupted sleep/wake schedule possibly from work schedules or nighttime activities
Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Insomnia Treatment
The following are some of the best possible insomnia remedies:
Establish a consistent bedtime routine. This is one of the most important factors in insomnia treatment and maintaining good sleeping habits. Routines may include taking a warm bath or a relaxing walk in the evening or practicing meditation/relaxation exercises as part of your regular nighttime routine.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. This includes weekends.
Get plenty of exercise during the day. Studies have shown that people who are physically active sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime. Just be sure not to engage in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as that can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Reduce your intake of caffeine, particularly in the evening.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine and limit alcohol. Both, even when consumed early in the day, can affect sleep and inhibit insomnia treatment.
Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Don’t use it to do work or watch TV.
Avoid large meals late in the evening.
If you can’t fall asleep within half an hour of going to bed, get up and read or do something calming until you feel sleepy.
Learn and use a relaxation technique regularly. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are not insomnia cures but do lead to a state conducive to sleep.
Use “white noise” devices to block out the surrounding environmental noise.
Take a hot bath before bedtime. Try a few drops of relaxing oil of lavender in the water.
Short naps are good. Try to get into the habit of napping for insomnia treatment: ten to twenty minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before ten in the morning or after three in the afternoon or use sunscreen.
Try to give yourself some time – up to an hour – in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom and if other members of the household object, wear sunglasses.
The two best natural sleep aids are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. You can find standardized extracts in health food stores and pharmacies. Take one to two capsules a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Try sublingual tablets (to be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve); take 2.5 mg at bedtime as an occasional dose, making sure that your bedroom is completely dark. A much lower dose, 0.25 to 0.3 mg, is more effective for regular use.
Don’t obsess about not sleeping. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that individuals who worry about falling asleep have greater trouble dropping off. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening and there are insomnia remedies.
Top 20 Ways to Fall Asleep Fast! Contribution of Dr. AXE
A too-warm room makes you sweaty, while super cold temps leave you shivering. Opt for a range between 60 and 73 degrees F. A slightly chilly temperature helps decrease your body’s internal thermometer, initiating sleepiness and ensuring you stay comfortable throughout the night.
2. Set the mood.
Dim the lights at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off extra noises, lights, and distractions. Turn on a fan, white noise machine, calming instrumental music or use earplugs to adjust your environment to be the most comfortable to you. Try to make this a routine to tell your body it’s time to sleep and help it ease into a peaceful night’s rest.
3. Use essential oils.
Incorporating essential oils, or aromatherapy, into your nightly routine is a safe, natural and therapeutic way to encourage your body to wind down. I especially love using lavender essential oil and roman chamomile oil to get me in a drowsy mood on those nights I can’t sleep.
I recommend diluting the pure oil with a carrier oil like almond or coconut oils and then spritzing on your pillow or rubbing on your neck. Or add just a few drops to an essential oils diffuser to fill the room with a relaxing scent. Learn more about the power of essential oils and diluting them in my essential oils guide.
4. Unwind your mind.
Settle into bed with a good novel or a spiritual growth book a half hour or so before bedtime. This practice gives your body a chance to unwind instead of forcing it to try and head straight to sleep. But steer clear of thrillers or other brain-jarring reads — you want to lull yourself to bed, not stay awake with a page turner!
5. Skip late night sugar and simple carbs.
Avoid eating sugary sweets, chocolate, simple carbs, juice or high-glycemic fruit just before bed, as it can spike blood sugar, boost your energy and you can wake up feeling hungry. Instead, try a little bit of protein with vegetables or a few complex carbohydrates with protein, which can boost melatonin and help you fall asleep fast!
Some people can tolerate some fruit before bed, but make your snack with a combination of melatonin-forming foods and protein so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night. Some good bedtime snacks are:
half a banana with almond butter on a slice of sprouted grain bread
hummus with carrots, cucumber or celery
apple chips and sunflower butter
a small handful of cashews, 1/4 cup dried fruit with some seed-based crackers
6. Keep electronics out of bed.
Watching television in bed and answering late-night work emails trick your brain into thinking that your bed is just another spot to get things done and not the place to settle down after a long day. Watch your evening programs in the living room, and keep that space sacred by eliminating electronics.
7. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Keep your circadian rhythm in check by adhering to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible — yes, even on weekends! As your body becomes used to getting into bed and waking up at the same hours, you’ll find it becomes easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. Aim for an average of eight hours of quality sleep a night.
8. Limit caffeine after 12 p.m.
Did you know caffeine’s effects can last up to 12 hours? If you can’t sleep at night, your mid-afternoon cup of joe might be to blame. Try an alternative, caffeine-free drink for a daytime jolt instead. I love this Cilantro Ginger Smoothie. Filled with refreshing cucumber and ginger, it’ll give you a boost of energy without the sleep-depriving effects of caffeine.
9. Work out in the morning.
That rush of endorphins you feel after a solid workout is awesome — until it’s the reason you can’t sleep at night. Try shifting your workout schedule to the mornings. You’ll feel great having completed your exercise session bright and early, and it’ll be easier to unwind at night.
10. Journal before bed.
Oftentimes, it’s our own thoughts preventing us from falling asleep. Instead of running through situations or problems in your mind after lights out, try journaling before bed. It’s a therapeutic way to address what might be troubling you and chronicle your day before drifting to sleep.
11. Eat melatonin foods and melatonin-producing foods.
Melatonin is one of the major keys to a natural, healthy sleep cycle. So eating a combination of certain fruits and carbohydrates that support melatonin or contain tryptophan, which contributes to melatonin production, will help you sleep and stay asleep.
I don’t recommend having a heavy meal right before bed or eating a large amount of sugary fruits but include these items during your dinner or an hour before bed as an evening snack, to increase your melatonin production and ensure a sound sleep.
“Foods that contain tryptophan can also be eaten in the evening as this help induce production of serotonin, which is required to make melatonin”
Grass-fed dairy products
Fish, chicken, turkey
Beans and pulses
Rice (black, brown or red rice are the best)
NOTE: Most people notice a better sleep when they combine 15-20 grams of carbohydrates in their evening snacks; however, some people do better without carbohydrates later at night. So, listen to your body. If snacking late doesn’t sound good, then just incorporate these foods into your dinner.
12. Add magnesium food or supplements.
A magnesium deficiency can lead to sleepless nights. While there are plenty of magnesium-rich foods you can eat naturally, adding a supplement can help jump-start your levels and help you sleep better. In fact, one study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that magnesium supplements improved insomnia and sleep efficiency. Opt for 500 milligrams daily.
13. Don’t count sheep.
If you find yourself having trouble going to sleep for over 20 minutes, and you still feel restless, don’t just lay there trying to force yourself to sleep. It’s better to get up and do something else for a few minutes, rather than lay there worrying about the clock. Again, avoid technology, watching TV or doing any work, but try reading a book, journaling or any lower light activity.
14. Get some sunshine.
Starting your day with natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock. It also balances your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels. Try going for an early morning walk or leaving the office during your lunch hour to get your dose of sunshine.
15. Relax with a detox bath.
Instead of taking a rushed shower, try a Detox Bath instead. It’ll help relieve your body of toxins, release the power of essential oils, and soothe both your body and brain. The lavender bath is my favorite to bring the body into balance and help it feel relaxed.
16. Sip on chamomile tea
If you’re the type who likes curling up with a warm beverage after dinner, cozy up to a mug of chamomile. Not only can sipping on a warm drink before bed makes you feel drowsier, the naturally caffeine-free tea has a calming effect on the body.
17. Meditate with breathing,
Take several deep breaths, and let it all out. Let your thoughts rest, and focus on relaxing each part of your body. Then spend a few minutes reflecting on what you’re thankful for, praying or just spending some time alone with your thoughts. Always dwell on the positive parts of your day and the bright things you have to look forward to, as it can have a powerful effect on easing your mind into a restful state.
18. Use natural sleep supplements.
If you find yourself facing a chronic lack of sleep, consider natural sleep supplements like valerian, passion flower and melatonin. Often, these are available in a tea or in supplement tablets. These can get you over the hump when you’ve had several sleepless nights and help your body get some much-needed rest. But these should be used for a limited time only — if you find that minimal sleep has become the norm over several weeks or months, consult your doctor.
19. Engage in full-body exercise.
Working larger muscle groups during the day, like your legs or all-over body workouts helps physically exhaust your body, making it easier to fall asleep. I also love burst training; these short but intense exercises really wear you out. You’ll sleep like a baby!
20. Invest in a good mattress.
All these strategies are null and void if you’re sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress! Your health depends on getting a good night’s rest, so you want to be sure your mattress is up for the challenge. Check out my tips to choose the right mattress to ensure great sleep every night.
Sleep is one of the most undervalued essential practices in modern society.In 1910, an average night’s sleep was 9 hours. By 1975, it was down to 7.5 hours. From 2000 to 2002, polls found that it had fallen to 6.9 hours. Today, many people average just 5-6 hours of sleep per night.
At the same time, obesity rates have doubled! Sleep and the neuroendocrine system are intricately entwined. Chronic lack of sleep is thought to be linked to diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss. Lack of sleep increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
A recent study by the University of Chicago found that cutting sleep from 8 hours to 4 hours a night for less than one week produced physiological changes that resembled the effects of advanced aging and early diabetes.
Those changes happened in less than one week!
The study’s participants took 40% longer to regulate their blood-sugar levels after eating and their ability to secrete insulin and respond to it decreased by 30%.
Lack of sleep affects the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone and increased levels of the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
The study found that recovery occurred and above-average functioning occurred when the subjects slept more than 8 hours a night.
So how does sleep affect weight?
Sleep affects the release of hormones by the hypothalamic-pituitary axes (HPA) and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Sleep triggers or inhibits the production or release of various hormones.
Growth hormone is affected by sleep. You can work out for hours, but if you don’t get enough sleep your body is not going to turn fat into muscle.
Lack of sleep raises the level of cortisol which triggers the fight-or-flight response. During stress, our body shuts down normal maintenance. It activates fat storage and releases lots of sugar (for instant energy) into the bloodstream. It depletes the body of nutrients and triggers cravings for simple carbohydrates and sugar. Chronic stress promotes insulin resistance.
Leptin and ghrelin are two very important appetite-controlling hormones that are linked to sleep. Leptin suppresses appetite and ghrelin increases it. When people are subjected to sleep loss, leptin levels fall and ghrelin levels rise. Even when they received plenty of nutrition, people that didn’t get adequate sleep were compelled to eat more. Because leptin levels were low, their brains just didn’t get the message that they were satiated—instead, they just kept getting the message: “Hungry! Eat!” When deprived of sleep, study participant’s desire for high-carbohydrate and calorie-dense foods increased by 45%.
A joint study conducted by Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin measured leptin and ghrelin levels, body fat and sleep amounts in 1000 people. They found that those who slept less than 8 hours a night had low leptin levels, high ghrelin levels and higher levels of body fat. The participants that slept the fewest hours a night weighed the most.
snoozing alarm clock Another study, presented at the 2006 American Thoracic Society International Conference, came up with some confounding information. 70,000 middle-aged women were studied for 16 years.
The study found that:
Women who sleep 5 hours or less weigh more than those that sleep 7 hours.
Women who sleep 5 hours per night are 32% more likely to experience the weight gain of 33 pounds or more and 15% more likely to become obese than those that sleep 7 hours.
Women that sleep 6 hours a night are 12% more likely to gain 33 pounds or more and 6% more likely to become obese than those that sleep 7 hours.
What was confounding in this particular study is the fact that the women that slept less did not eat more.
“Prior studies have shown that after just a few days of sleep restriction, the hormones that control appetite cause people to become hungrier, so we thought that women who slept less might eat more,” says the study’s leader, Sanjay Patel. “But, in fact, they ate less. That suggests that appetite and diet are not accounting for the weight gain in women who sleep less.”
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