What is Circadian Rhythm?

Alex Lucio What is Circadian Rhythm_

Did you know that there is a reason we feel awake and tired at the same time almost every day? These feelings are guided by our natural circadian rhythm. Let’s take a closer look at what this means and how it impacts our sleep.


Circadian Rhythm Defined

On the most basic level, circadian rhythm is our internal clock that runs 24/7 and cycles between periods of sleepiness and awakeness. The cycle happens over regular intervals and is also known as our natural “sleep/wake cycle.” Periods of feeling tired or awake can depend on the individual; adults usually have the lowest energy levels between 2 and 4 a.m. as well as 1 and 3 p.m.

A part of your brain called the hypothalamus primarily controls this rhythm, but other factors influence our natural sleep cycles. Sunlight and darkness are both signals for the hypothalamus to either feel awake or tired. When this signal occurs at nighttime our bodies release melatonin, making us feel tired. According to the national sleep foundation, “That’s why your circadian rhythm tends to coincide with the cycle of daytime and nighttime (and why it’s so hard for shift workers to sleep during the day and stay awake at night).”


Can You Change it?

Circadian rhythm is impacted by various factors, and we’ve all changed our sleep cycles without realizing it. When we travel to other time zones our bodies naturally adjust to our new location, but this isn’t the only way we change our sleep schedule.

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What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Strokes?

Obstructive sleep apnea is dangerous for many reasons. Most people just think about the fact that this condition means you will stop breathing in your sleep. This is scary enough. However, obstructive sleep apnea can increase the chances of other conditions as well, including having a stroke.


When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing. This leads to a decrease of oxygen to the brain and an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Furthermore, these factors harm the brain’s ability to prevent it from being damaged. Because you are having these episodes multiple times throughout the nights, it reduces the brain’s ability to meet its own metabolic needs.


Sleep apnea affects your entire body because your body is trying to force you to take a breath. While all its resources are being devoted to this one task, many other functions are negatively affected. Sleep apnea’s effect on the vascular parts of the brain can cause a stroke.


It is important to get treated for sleep apnea because it can result in a catastrophe. Treating the sleep apnea can reduce to chance of stroke, high blood pressure, and other conditions. Sleep apnea doubles the chance of stroke in men. Worldwide, stroke is a significant cause of death, ranking second. There have been many studies, confirming the link between sleep apnea and stroke.


It is an important condition to get under control because if you have a stroke during sleep, it may not become apparent until the morning. This delay is important because if more than three hours have passed before getting treatment, the doctors will not be able to administer drugs that will reverse the effect of the stroke.


Since there is a significant link between stroke and sleep apnea, people diagnosed with sleep apnea need to take steps to reduce the occurrences of both conditions. If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but you exhibit some of the signs, you should be tested. For instance, if you are always tired, even after a full nights sleep, or you have loud snoring, you might have sleep apnea.


Taking charge of your health and contacting the right doctors to educate you on your conditions is key. Without intervention for your sleep apnea, you may suffer a stroke and be left with its devastating effects.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

Sleep Apnea and Driver Fatigue

Sleep is top safety concern in the transportation industry. The public demands that drivers be well-rested before taking commercial vehicles on the road, and trucking companies understand it’s imperative to prevent accidents, but regulations that enforce required sleep minimums aren’t always the answer.

There is increasing industry recognition that among the many conditions for which anyone behind the wheel should be treated is sleep apnea — a disorder that can cause breathing to pause hundreds of time per night, triggering momentary wakefulness that leaves the sufferer feeling sleep deprived the following day. For drivers, this can result in fatigue, impaired judgment and slowed reaction times despite having had the required hours of sleep.

According to The Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration, up to 13 percent of accidents involving commercial trucks may be the direct result of drivers who are too tired to be working safely. What’s worse, the organization believes that truckers have a rate of sleep apnea up to four times higher than the general population, in part due to the lifestyle challenges of being on the road.

While a physician may declare a driver medically ineligible to drive due to an unsafe condition, the rules governing sleep apnea are vague. Since both the cost of testing for the disorder and the equipment necessary to treat it are cost-prohibitive for many, it’s likely that not all recommendations receive follow-up.

Unlike conditions such as diabetes, there are no simple tests that can show how a driver with sleep apnea is affected and if they’re compliant with prescribed treatment.

Industry experts suggest that changing how transportation companies see the threat of sleep apnea can help mitigate the risk. In addition to fears that apnea-associated symptoms may result in accidents, employers are also acknowledging the cost of fatigue in terms of productivity. Several major companies have realized significant health cost savings as well as performance improvements by implementing fatigue reduction programs that specifically include the treatment of sleep apnea.

Until there is a clear and fair regulatory solution to address the problem of sleep apnea among commercial drivers, preventing it’s potentially deadly consequences remains a partnership between drivers and their employers. With a collaborative effort, it can be a win for both the transportation industry and the public.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

The Importance of Treating Sleep Disorders in Fibromyalgia Patients

According to the National Institute of Arthritis, a significant number of individuals, especially the middle-aged women, are experiencing a medical problem that is characterized by stiffness of muscles and extreme pain known as fibromyalgia. This group of individuals also experience joint pains at night while others have sleeping problems. In fact, a large number of fibromyalgia patients have sleeping problems. It is necessary and vital to treat sleeping disorders for people with this health condition for a couple of benefits in particular.


Helps in Eliminating Cognitive Disorders

People with fibromyalgia are said to have a low quality of sleep and additional sleep disorders. Treating sleeping disorders from these patients will help them in eliminating the cognitive problems, a majority of which are associated with lack of quality sleeping. This will help them to have clarity of mind while others will have a clear memory that can help them to remember without difficulties.


Enhance Body Restoration

The body of an individual is made in such a way that it restores itself when one is sleeping. Most of the worn out cells are repaired while sleeping while dead cells are replaced at the same time. However, people with fibromyalgia experience sleeping problems, which means they do not sleep well. Treating sleeping disorders will help these individuals to enhance the restoration of their body. All the dead cells and worn out cells will be replaced and repaired at this time.


Improve Pain Threshold

Poor sleep has been known to lower pain thresholds. Individuals with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain. This condition makes them escalate pain levels in an already painful body, which makes it a bad experience for an individual with this condition. Sleeping disorder will enhance the pain threshold of a patient with fibromyalgia, which makes the pain manageable and tolerable.


Enhance Emotional Balance

Emotional resilience and emotional balance are essential skills to a person with fibromyalgia. However, most of the people with sleeping disorders experience unrefreshing and insufficient sleep which affects the emotional stability of a person with this condition. Most of the individuals with fibromyalgia conditions will always be stressed while at the same time experiencing other psychological problems that will escalate the issue. Treating sleeping problems will not only enhance the mental state of an individual but will improve their emotional balance.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

Is There Such a Thing as “Too Much” Sleep?

Sleep is an invaluable activity for the body, as it allows for the brain, immune system and all essential body functions to recover after trying to maintain homeostasis for so long. Sleep deprivation is a common problem among most Americans, especially college students and full-time workers. However, is there such a thing known as having too much sleep? Too much sleep sounds like a deal too good to be true, but there is now speculation that may suggest the contrary.


Let’s start with what the optimal daily sleep times should be for every human. Ideally, you should be striving to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. However, most end up falling short of this number instead of 5-6 hours. Deprivation of sleep can cause imbalances within the body, but too much sleep could cause similar cognitive dysfunction. Why?


You should understand that too much of anything, in general, is not good. People who oversleep usually do so because the quality of their sleep or their cycles are not optimal. The purpose of oversleeping is within the name. It is because we constantly require more sleep to compensate for what we miss.


Oversleeping is not just about sleeping for more hours than necessary on a night-to-night basis. The most common cause of sleeping too much is because one lacked enough sleep from the night before.


This can cause the brain to develop what is known as “beta proteins” which is linked to declines in memory, cognitive function, and neuron toxicity. When we get sufficient sleep, the toxic side effects are washed away in addition to other free radicals circulating our nervous system.


Per the authors in the embedded study, too much sleep has been linked with disorders such as depression, decreased physical mobility and increased morbidity risk. Also, by sleeping longer than usual, it’s been speculated that too much sleep could affect specific neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin. Side effects of this include lower back pain, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.


The best way to rectify this situation is to get more sleep and begin from an earlier hour so you do not have to overcompensate. Sleep is valuable, but as you can see, there is a thing as too much.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

New Sleep Disorder from Sleep Trackers

It’s official: our devotion to sleep trackers has created an entirely new sleep disorder.

In our efforts to try and get the best sleep possible, we’ve become obsessed in doing so. Researchers have named this latest development “Orthosomnia.” “Ortho” means straight or correct (like why orthodontists have that prefix in their titles, because they’re literally straightening teeth) and “somnia” for “sleep.” And the disorder is being applied to those who become obsessed with the data from their sleep and fitness trackers.

Now, sleep and fitness trackers are not inherently bad, but when users are self-diagnosing themselves with sleep disturbances based on that data alone, it becomes a problem. They convince themselves they have a sleep disorder, even when they might not actually have one.

Although sleep and fitness trackers can offer insight into our daily habits and sleep analysis, they are not infallible. More to the point, they don’t (yet) account for everything that may impact one’s sleep. For example, your sleep tracker might indicate you had a bad night’s sleep if you received less than eight hours, regardless of how well you felt you slept. But, the truth is, different people need different amounts of sleep, and the machine doesn’t take that into consideration.

Instead, sleep trackers are feeding into this idea that there is a perfect night’s sleep, and that if we don’t get that perfect night, we become anxious until we do. This anxiety and worrying, however, is making us sleep worse because we’re so preoccupied with the prospect of having a less than “perfect” (according to the fitness tracker) night’s sleep.

Trackers can do good things, but they can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that’s when it’s time to take them off. If you’re still convinced something is wrong with your sleeping, experts suggest going old school: keep a physical log about your sleep habits. In it, you can write down what time you got up, what time you went to bed, how long you took to fall asleep, and how alert you felt waking up. The information could very well surprise you, and indicate a stark contrast in how your body feels and what your sleep tracker is telling you.

Of course, if sleep issues persist, it’s best to see a doctor and discuss the symptoms with them. But make sure you’re going to the doctor because you feel something’s wrong, not just your sleep tracker.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

5 Things That Can Make Sleep Apnea Worse

Affecting up to 6 percent of all adults and 2 percent of all children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), sleep apnea is a widespread sleep disorder. It’s characterized by spontaneous interruptions of breathing or restricted breathing while a person sleeps. Due to its negative impact on sleep quality, many people who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from chronic fatigue. To minimize the effects of this disorder, sleep apnea sufferers should familiarize themselves with the following five things that can make this disorder worse.

Sleeping on Your Back

Many people prefer sleeping on their back because it doesn’t stress their spine. When a person sleeps on their stomach, his or her spine bends, thereby increasing the risk of back pain. But sleep apnea suffers shouldn’t sleep on their back either as the weight of their chest compresses their lungs and worsens this disorder.

Being Overweight

A person’s weight influences his or her risk of sleep apnea as well as the severity of this disorder. Excess weight is the leading cause of sleep apnea. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop this disorder because the excess fatty tissue in their mouth and airways restricts their ability to breathe.

Drinking Alcohol

Not only does it increase the risk of fatty liver disease, but drinking alcohol can worsen the effects of sleep apnea. Being a depressant, alcohol slows down the body’s metabolic processes. After drinking alcohol, a person’s lungs and upper respiratory muscles function more slowly. As a result, there’s a greater risk of interrupted breathing while the person sleeps.

Drinking Full-Fat Milk

While an excellent source of calcium and protein, full-fat milk isn’t the best choice of beverage for sleep apnea sufferers. Studies have shown that people who consume lots of high-fat milk and other dairy products are more likely to develop sleep apnea than their counterparts.

Taking Muscle Relaxants Before Bedtime

Muscle relaxants are often prescribed to people suffering from muscle spasms and pain. They work by forcing muscles to relax rather than remain constricted. The downside to muscle relaxants is that they affect all muscles, including the upper respiratory muscles. Therefore, taking them before bedtime can worsen sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance; it’s a serious disorder that can lower a person’s quality of life. By making the right lifestyle changes, however, individuals can minimize the effects of sleep apnea.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net