Category Archives: good night’s sleep

Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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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. (My emphasis)

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 light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night 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.

Less-blue light

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 lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs 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 lightbulbs.

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 or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • 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.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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Your brain learns during sleep – Study

I think sleep may be the most under-appreciated aspect of living a healthy life. Diet and exercise and well-known if not often followed, but sleep is often thought of as an intrusion in our busy lives. I know that back when I was in the working world, I certainly thought of it that way.

Scientific data suggests that all animals probably do sleep—including the most unexpected creatures, such as fish, birds, worms, and flies. Sara Aton, University of Michigan ssistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, can attest to dozing cats, mice, and even cuttlefish, all of which she’s studied as they snoozed. She marvels that biologists once thought bugs and birds and worms never slept.

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“I think there’s this pervasive misconception that your brain is just turning off when you go to sleep, because there’s no obvious output. Outside of a coma, you can’t think of a less interesting behavior to study than sleep, right?” Aton says. “Sleep is something that, as humans, we spend a third of our life doing. And yet biologists and the neuroscience community didn’t have a lot of interest in it.” (my emphasis)

But now that we know better, new questions arise: Do animals all rest for the same reasons?
After studying sleep for the past decade, Aton is convinced that it matters—a lot. “I’m much more protective of, for example, my son’s sleep than I would have been had I not been in this field,” she says.
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10 Hidden Anxiety Triggers You Need to Avoid

There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!

I have posted previously on:

How important is a good night’s sleep?

Super tools for handling stress

Tony

Our Better Health

Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.

And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.

The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.

“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.

Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…

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Sleep Trackers Can Prompt Sleep Problems

I wrote just three days ago in my post on sleep mistakes, “Sleep is one of the truly under-appreciated aspects of living a long and healthy life….” So, I sympathize with anyone taking steps to improve their sleep. It turns out, however, that using some of the new devices can have a negative impact on your overnight rest. The following is from the Rush University Medical Center.

A 39-year-old man whom we’ll call Mr. R received a sleep-tracking device from his girlfriend. Since starting a new job several years earlier, he sometimes had trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Not surprisingly, the next day he’d feel tired, irritable and absentminded.

Sleeping

A man sleeping

Based on data generated by his girlfriend’s gift, Mr. R concluded those symptoms occurred only after he failed to get eight hours of sleep the night before. He set himself an ambitious goal: “to achieve,” as he later told a therapist, “at least eight hours of sleep every night.”

His gauge for deciding whether he had succeeded: his new sleep tracker. And so each night, Mr. R went to bed feeling the pressure of ensuring that the next morning the tracker would display the desired eight hours — a self-induced level of increasing anxiety that’s hardly the ideal recipe for achieving a sound night’s sleep.

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7 Sleep mistakes you don’t know you’re making – Infographic

Sleep is one of the truly under-appreciated aspects of living a long and healthy life. I know for sure that when I was in the working world, I pretty much considered sleep to be an imposition on my busy life.

Times, and my mind, have changed. Please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep for more on this crucial aspect of our daily lives.

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Tony

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Filed under brain, brain function, brain health, good night's sleep, sleep, sleep deprivation, Uncategorized

The Sleep Cure: The Fountain of Youth May Be Close at Hand

I couldn’t agree more with these healthy sleep sentiments. Check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep for more details.

Tony

Mark Zielinski knew he was onto something when his mice stopped sleeping. Normally, the animals woke and slept on a 12-hour cycle. When the lights were on in the lab, the mice were active. When it went dark on a timer, down they went. But Zielinski, who teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, had recently […]

via The Sleep Cure: The Fountain of Youth May Be Closer Than You Ever Thought — Our Better Health

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What is Good Quality Sleep? – NSF

Regular readers know I feel strongly about the value of a good night’s sleep. I have a Page on it – How important is a good night’s sleep?

I consider it to be truly one of the most under-appreciated aspects of good health.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently released the key indicators of good sleep quality, as established by a panel of experts.

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Given the precipitous increase in the use of sleep technology devices, the key findings are timely and relevant. This information complements the data these devices provide, helping millions of consumers interpret their sleep patterns. The report comes as the first step in NSF’s effort to spearhead defining the key indicators of good sleep quality. They key determinants of quality sleep are included in a report published in Sleep Health. They include:

  • Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night; and
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.

Multiple rounds of consensus voting on the determinants led to the key findings, which have since been endorsed by the American Association of Anatomists, American Academy of Neurology, American Physiological Society, Gerontological Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, Society for Research of Human Development, and Society for Women’s Health Research.

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Be Good to your Brain

There are really good suggestions here on protecting the most important organ in your body – your brain.

Please check my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.

With regard to sleep, I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

Tony

Valley Doctor

Throughout the general media, much is being said these days about improving and maintaining good health. Most of this information tends to emphasize our physical health, such as preventing conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, etc. There is much less information, though it is equally important, about keeping our brains healthy, especially as we age.

Although the current literature about maintaining brain health is geared toward the elderly population, the information in this article is important for the entire population. No one is too young to start thinking about keeping his or her brain as healthy as possible.

The following are suggestions anyone can take to promote a healthy brain:

• Maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This can be done by treating or preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart and blood vessel disease.

• Exercise. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five…

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Daylight Saving Time “fall back” doesn’t equal sleep gain – Harvard

Don’t forget to set your clock back tonight before you go to sleep.

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2:00 am this Sunday. In theory, “falling back” means an extra hour of sleep this weekend.
Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”

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That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days, according to Anthony Komaroff,M.D.,  Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter. Continue reading

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“Early To Bed..” Really Can Make You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise (and Happy!)

Here are some fascinating insights into the value of sleep from Ayurveda. I am consistently amazed at the wonderful truths it holds on our health.

To read further on this subject, please checkout my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

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Tony

STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

According to Ayurveda, our potential for good health depends largely on how we live our day-to-day life. It is our patterns of eating, sleeping, exercise and what we do daily to rejuvenate ourselves that help determine whether we maintain vibrant health throughout our lifetime.

Ayurveda recognizes the importance of our relationship with the universe around us. We are a part of nature: if we live in accord with the laws that structure the world we live in, we can keep our mind/body system functioning efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

One key to living in tune with nature is the time that we go to bed and get up in the morning. There is a saying, “The day begins the night before.” Only by going to be early in the evening can we start the next day fully rested, having synchronized our individual rhythms with the circadian…

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22 Fascinating facts about sleep – Infographic

To many of us (particularly in the working world) sleep is an unnecessary interruption in our day. But, the fact is that sleep is a vital bodily function that we must get enough of or we will pay the price. Enjoy the infographic, but please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep.

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Tony

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8 Ways to improve your brain power – Infographic

Regular readers know that my family has a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so I am keenly interested in anything that might help me in this regard as I am in my mid-70’s.

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I would like to add that I feel strongly about the value of sleep. Check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for more details.

Finally, consider this an addition to point 6 above, I have to add that my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) will add another arrow to your quiver in the fight against cognitive impairment.

Tony

 

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10 Tips for better sleep – Infographic

Sleep, like walking, is one of the most under appreciated aspects of living a healthy life.

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To read much more on sleep, check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

If you really want to get into it, check out Arianna Huffington ‘s excellent book  The Sleep Revolution  at Amazon.

Tony

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Foods That Help Increase Melatonin

Sleep is one of the underappreciated aspects of good health. Please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep for more.

melatonin benefits

Tony

Our Better Health

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland situated in your brain. This chemical offers so many benefits, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that melatonin protects the heart from damage. It’s also proven to help ward off cancer.

However, the most popular role played by melatonin is the regulation of the circadian rhythm — your body clock. Individuals lacking in melatonin often find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Melatonin is something that you will find on various internet articles pertaining to how to combat insomnia.

Because of the ability of melatonin to combat sleep deprivation, so many pharmaceutical companies offer the said hormone in supplement form. The downside to taking melatonin supplements is every capsule or tablet usually contains synthetic ingredients. Their intake can actually do more harm than good in the long run because of the man-made chemicals in them.

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More Bad News about Inadequate Sleep

I created the Page – How Important is a good night’s sleep? more than three years ago after taking a course on sleep. My opening sentence is  “Sleep is one of the under-appreciated aspects of our daily lives.” Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution is one of Amazon’s bestsellers.

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Now comes the University of Helsinki reporting on the damage too little sleep does to the
blood vessels.

Getting too little sleep causes changes in the metabolism of cholesterol, demonstrates a study conducted at the University of Helsinki. According to the results, long-term sleep loss may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

Lack of sleep has previously been found to impact the activation of the immune system, inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism and the hormones that regulate appetite. Now University of Helsinki researchers have found that sleep loss also influences cholesterol metabolism. Continue reading

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Real Preventive Medicine: The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy

It’s nice to hear your own ideas come out of someone else’s brain. To amplify this very useful post, check out these posts:

How much do you need to exercise?

Super tools for handling stress

Sleep habits affect weight loss and more

I have a Page on How important is a good night’s sleep?

Lastly, there is a cute video on Positive Psychology.

5keys

Tony

 

Our Better Health

Elson M. Haas, MD

What is called “Preventive Medicine” in America in the 21st Century is really more appropriately termed early intervention and early diagnosis. Having immunization injections or taking tests such as x-rays and mammograms, prostate exams, and blood tests are not really preventive in nature. Rather, they are an attempt to detect diseases in an early state. What is promoted as cancer prevention with the use of mammograms or prostate exams, sigmoidoscopes or colonoscopes is really early cancer diagnosis. This is done in hopes that cancer can be aggressively attacked before it spreads and destroys the entire body and life. Cancer represents a state of toxicity and its reaction on cellular mechanisms in the body; it is a disease of our body and not separate from it, and represents some breakdown or misguidance of our intricate immune system. After it occurs, it clearly is difficult to treat without…

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