Category Archives: Sleep

Blue Light Can Disrupt Your Sleep

We all know how important it is to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays; but what about the harmful effects of blue light rays?

Before the advent of artificial lighting, days were spent with the rising and setting of the sun, and evenings were spent in relative darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are spent with illumination from other sources, and we pretty much take them for granted.

In its natural form, your body uses blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles.  This is known as your circadian rhythm.  Blue light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase the feeling of well-being. Artificial sources of blue light include your electronic devices, digital screens, your TV, computer, tablet, and smart phones.  Also, LED lighting and fluorescent lighting give off blue light.blue_light_from_electronics

While there are many benefits of blue light, as mentioned, helps boost your energy, regulates your natural sleep/wake cycles, there are some very real harmful effects.

Being exposed to blue light at night, can actually reduce the levels of melatonin in your system, thereby disrupting your circadian cycle, or sleep cycle.

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.

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).

When our sleep patterns are disrupted, without realizing it, our day follows.  We wake more tired, less likely to eat properly, which leaves us in a depressed state, not wanting to be as active as normal.  All of these situations can add up to an overall feeling of not being ‘with it’.

Turning off the lights in your home, not having a television or computer in your room, will all lead to a better, more healthful nights’ rest.  Having a medical alert system available is also another way to rest assured that your health is a priority to others as well.

Steps To Wake Up Energized

Everyone has had those days when you get up and truly feel more tired than when you went to bed the night before. Did you know there are steps you can take to prevent that from happening so that you wake up with energy and vigor and are ready to face the day?

As we age, it’s not as easy to fall and stay asleep but a good night’s sleep goes such a long way in shaping both our mental and our physical health that it’s crucial that you sleep as well as you can. Here are our tips for getting the best night’s sleep you can and facing the day with enthusiasm and energy:

 

  1. Refrain from drinking coffee, wine or other alcohol a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine will make it difficult to fall asleep; alcohol makes it difficult to stay asleep.
  2. Sleep in a room that is cool and dark. If your bedroom is cool your body goes into sleep mode. Having a dark room without distractions such as a television or radio can make falling asleep easier.
  3. Don’t exercise close to bedtime. Exercise in the morning, around lunch or right after dinner. Exercise raises the heart rate and that will make it hard to fall asleep.
  4. Staying away from the computer, or even the television, for an hour prior to bedtime will make it easier to fall asleep. Your brain equates the flickering screens with daytime and will keep you awake.
  5. Resist the urge to sleep in. Getting up at the same time, even on the weekends, gets your body into a sleep/wake routine and the consistency will help you fall asleep.
  6. If you hit the snooze button, you will condition yourself to fall into a fitful sleeping pattern in which it is on alert, waiting for the next time the alarm goes off. If you do need an alarm, put the clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
  7. Drinking water, rather than your usual cup of coffee, as soon as you wake up with help rehydrate you; because dehydration can make you feel tired, getting fluids back into your system will wake you up.
  8. Light will help you wake up and stay awake. If you live in an area of the country that sees minimal light during the winter months you may want to consider purchasing an alarm that has a light on it that turns on slowly to ease you into wakefulness. Opening the curtains and letting in natural light will also help revive you. If you feel sluggish and tired during the winter talk to your doctor and ask about getting an artificial sunlight lamp that simulates natural light.
  9. Eating a high protein breakfast is the best way to start the day. Because the protein contained in eggs or meat will be converted in your body into dopamine you will feel energized. Ingesting carb-heavy meals or sugar and processed foods will make you feel tired.

Eating healthy meals and exercising will help keep you healthier longer and allow you to better age in place.

 

 

 

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Curbing Insomnia in the Elderly

Everyone knows what it’s like to operate on little sleep. Your mind feels groggy and out of sorts and even the simplest tasks can present huge complications. As a caregiver, sleep is often a casualty of the occupation. With trying to look after both your parents and children, in addition to maintaining a day job, it’s a wonder you even find time to rest your head on your pillow at night. But what about your care recipient?  With seemingly little on their agenda each day, you would think sleep would come naturally to them. However, a growing number of seniors today (up to 30%!) experience sleep disorders in the form of infrequent sleep patterns, sleep apnea and waking up too early, among other disorders.

A happy, healthy and well-rested loved one is much more pleasant to care for than the alternative, especially when you yourself aren’t so well-rested. As a caregiver, there are certain measures you can take to help your loved one get more sleep, which can aid in fixing their sleep cycle. Your loved one may be missing out on his or her necessary sleep patterns due to chronic pain, previous illness, medication, lifestyle changes, anxiety or depression. Regardless of the cause, if your loved one is  experiencing problems with sleeping, chances are you will be too when your care recipient wakes up at odd hours, or needs assistance in the middle of the night due to restlessness. When dealing with your loved one’s insomnia, you may want to consider the following:

  • Examine your loved one’s medications for possible sleep-related side effects and consult with their doctor to see if there is a medication they can take in its place.
  • Establish a routine eating schedule. By limiting the food or drinks your care recipient consumes after a certain time, you may be able to curb late night bathroom breaks.
  • Before settling down for the night, suggest your loved one read a book or magazine instead of watching televisionMake sure your loved one participates in physical activity during the day, like going for a short walk, stretching, lifting light weights, or completing balance exercises.
  • Establish a sleep schedule so your loved one goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day.
  • Limit their intake of caffeine before they go to bed.
  • Make the room as conducive to sleep as possible by ensuring the room is dark, and there are no distractions like phones or noisy clocks.
  • If your loved one continues to struggle with staying up at night, remain supportive and helpful.
  • Do not rely on temporary over-the-counter sleeping aids to remedy the problem. They will only lead to short-term gains, but as the body builds up resistance, sleeping problems may worsen.

Sleep is vital to every aspect of your loved one’s health. By examining their sleep-related difficulties, you will also be doing yourself a huge favor. A few minor changes could amount to a world of difference.

Also read The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

In order to maintain your health and operate at your optimum capacity it is important to get enough sleep each and every night, however, this task is a lot easier said than done. Being a caregiver saddles you with added responsibilities and stressors especially if you are in the sandwich generation. Providing financial and emotional care for both your parents and children is enough to keep anyone up at night.

Medical experts say that you should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, but statistics reveal many people are getting less than 5 to 6 hours. Not getting enough sleep can affect both your demeanor and your health, leading to weight gain and a constant feeling of slugishness.

When it comes time to go to bed many caregivers use the time they should be sleeping to finish up chores, complete work assignments or watch TV.  Having so many stressors on your plate, it is also easy to bring your stress-related problems into the bedroom. Bringing your stress with you to bed will only further affect your ability to get the rest you require. Before laying down for bed each night, caregivers have to let their stressors go in order to allow themselves to fully relax. The following are just a few helpful tips to help you drift off a little easier, without enlisting the help of sheep. Continue reading