The number of overweight children is growing at such an alarming rate. In a nutshell, children today are now spending less time playing outside and exercising, therefore having more time in front of the television, computer, or video game consoles. A normal family today may have less free time to prepare nutritious, home cooked meals for the day. This situation is further worsened by the hectic schedules and high-pressure demands of work and school. Being quick and easy now seems to be the mindset of people, both young and old.
Since before, the number of overweight children and adolescents has more than doubled. Ten percent of kids up to five years of age and more than fifteen percent of children aging from six to nineteen are overweight. If these numbers are combined with the percentage of children who are at risk of becoming overweight, about one out of three children are affected.
Another related study on sleep has also found that lack of sleep in children aged nine to twelve is linked to an increased risk of being overweight. The researchers included in this study were working on a project called Sleep ImageIn that seeks the link between sleep duration in third and sixth grade children and their risk of being overweight. One of the researchers said that many children are not getting enough sleep, and that lack of sleep may not only be making them moody or preventing them from being alert and ready for school, but it may also lead to a higher risk of being overweight.
The researchers in this study found that children who slept for less than nine hours a day were at increased risk of being overweight, and this was unaffected by race, gender, socioeconomic status, or quality of their home environment. Among the sixth graders, those who slept the least were the most likely to be overweight, and among the third grade children, those who slept the least were most likely to be overweight in sixth grade, regardless of their BMI (body mass index, used for measuring obesity) in third grade. On a more positive note, this study found that every extra hour of sleep in the sixth grade was connected to a 20 percent reduction in risk of being overweight in the sixth grade, while in the third grade this was connected to a 40 percent reduction in being overweight in the sixth grade.
Based on their findings, the researchers noted that sleep patterns may have a behavior impact on children. Those who get enough rest have more energy to exercise, such as playing outside instead of lying around and watching TV. And when children are tired, they may be more irritable and moody, and may use food to regulate their mood.
Sleep studies such as this can contribute to the healthcare that children need for proper growth. Researchers advised families who struggle to get their children to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, to seek help from their health care provider. By enforcing an age-appropriate bed time, or even revising school start-times, major improvements can be made to ensure that children have enough of health-giving rest and sleep.
What is sleep?
All living things require sleep. It is the natural state of rest observed not only by human beings but also by other species of the animal kingdom. An adequate amount of sleep is important for ones health and survival. It is during sleep that the body is recharged for another day of work.
Sleep has five stages. The first four stages are part of the non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) phase of sleep. The last stage is the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Stage one is the transition period from wake to sleep. Stage two is the intermediate level of sleep. Stages three and four are referred to as deep or slow wave sleep, with stage four as the deepest phase of sleep. The fifth stage of sleep, the REM stage, is the part of sleep where people have dreams. The term rapid eye movement was coined from the fast movement of the eyes during this phase of sleep.
Studies have been done to find a link between sleep and certain psychological conditions. It was found out that there are two sleeping difficulties that are related to psychiatric conditions. These are:
· Insomnia. A sufferer with this sleeping condition has difficulty falling or remaining asleep. Insomniacs usually complain that sleep is never restful for them. This condition can be classified as acute or short-term, or chronic, wherein the condition lasts for over a month).
· Hypersomnia. A patient who has this condition feels extremely sleepy throughout the day. Hypersomniacs usually sleep long during the night and still take multiple naps throughout the day. Even though patients sleep long, they are still complain that they are not refreshed.
What are the different psychological disorders related to sleeping problems?
As was mentioned above, sleeping disorders have been linked certain mental disorders. Here are some psychiatric conditions that are commonly related to having sleeping disorders.
· Generalized anxiety disorder. A patient with this condition displays frequent patterns of worrying about things. Patients find it difficult to sleep because of the thoughts that swin inside their minds.
· Panic disorder. A patient often experiences extreme fear and anxiety over something unexplainable. Sufferers of this condition usually wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty going back to sleep.
· Adjustment disorders. This is a condition wherein a person overreacts to any form of stress in their life. Patients with this disorder often complain of having insomnia.
· Bipolar disorder. In this mental disorder, a sufferer feels periods of mania and depression alternately. Patients with this conditions are most often diagnosed with hypersomnia.
How are mental disorders linked to sleeping dysfunctions?
People who suffer from sleeping disorders sometimes show symptoms of their mental illness or that of the sleeping disorder itself. Here are some of the most noted signs:
· Feelings of anxiety increase at bedtime.
· Feels an inclination to staying in bed more often.
· Fatigue or complete lack of energy.
· Having a difficult time concentrating.
· A tendency to fall asleep when in low-stimulation situations.
· Feels disoriented when awakened.
· Decreased appetite.
· Gets easily irritated.
· Memory impairment.
Recent studies have shown that brain movement noted with mental illnesses have been observed in healthy people whove been deprived of a night’s worth of sleep. An increase in activity in the brains emotion center, the amygdala, was seen in patients whove been asked to miss a nights rest. The same study noted that sleep deprivation affected the way the prefrontal cortex, which damps down the amygdala, reacts. The same disruption of prefrontal cortex function has been noted in patients with certain psychiatric disorders.
Sleep is not just a regular function that we need to engage in to rest our body. It doesn’t only help our body recharge and heal, our minds health depends on it too. Your busy schedule and lifestyle may tell you that sleep is for the weak. But think of how much weaker a lack of sleep may turn you into.
Too much noise and light keeps even a tired man awake. Too many distractions and disturbing thoughts in our minds are also factors that can keep a person’s eyes open when they should be tightly shut at night. Although the body may be ready or more than ready for sleep, the mind will not turn off. Thoughts and worries continue to keep our minds active, which keeps us awake or following us into sleep causing restless sleep, nightmares and disorders.
Not getting enough sleep can make a person feel out of sorts and unfocused. It is almost like a person is one step behind the usual self. It can even make a person feel out of sync with situations and people around them. Every person’s sleep requirements are different, most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep at night, while others can function on as little as 5 hours of sleep.
The amount of sleep a person needs decreases with age. A newborn baby might sleep 20 hours a day. By age four, the average is 12 hours a day. By age 10, the average falls to 10 hours a day. Senior citizens can often get by with six or seven hours a day. A study conducted at the University of Chicago Medical Center suggests that people not only sleep less than they should, but less than they think they do.
If you are not getting enough sleep, there are a lot of over-the-counter medications are available in the market today, however, it is best to take a natural solution first. Those in tune with nature and the human body will say that humans are born equipped with all of the healing properties we will need in life. What isn’t produced within our bodies can be supplemented through natural, safe means. Whether or not you agree with this philosophy, there is no doubt about the incredibly beneficial features of a natural sleep aid called melatonin. To better understand why this substance, already produced in the body, is so helpful for eliminating insomnia and other sleep problems, there is no harm to know a little about it and where to get it.
One of the major reasons melatonin is considered an all natural sleep aid is because this substance is produced in the pineal gland located in the brain. The pineal gland release melatonin when our eyes send messages to the brain that darkness is falling. It is responsible for regulating our wake and sleep cycles. No one is sure why, but studies suggest that older people may not produce as much melatonin as they did when they were younger and this may be the leading cause of insomnia in older adults. That definitely doesn’t mean that younger people can’t be affected as well. Using a product containing melatonin is a great way to aid natural sleep.
Aside from being a non-addictive and an all natural sleep aid, melatonin may have other healthy benefits as well. Recent studies have suggested that people who used this type of product find beneficial results in an overall feeling of wellness and it is thought that it might strengthen the immune system and reduce the number of free radicals hanging out in the body.
A good nights sleep has many important health benefits which I will write about in this article. I am the kind of person who is just unable to perform to my best if I have only had a small number of hours of sleep, I also have a step-daughter who is extremely moody during the next day, if she has not had slept for around seven hours during the night.
I would have to say that I would even class sleep as a hobby of mine, you may think that this is a bit strange but it is true. I feel very safe and comfortable when I am in bed and some people suggest that it is possibly like the way young infants feel when they are in their mothers womb.
When I am in the type of mood that means I find it hard to get to sleep, for example when I have a lot on my mind, I imagine that I have driven off to some long off place in the distance, parked up the car and then have gone to sleep in the back of the car with around four pillows and three quilts. I suppose this is a way of me dreaming of running away from my troubles to an area where no-one can hurt me and again making myself extremely warm and comfortable. This again might be a bit weird in some peoples eyes but it helps me to get to sleep. It certainly beats counting sheep.
Sleep itself has many benefits. People who often find themselves in a depressed state, which is what I have been in the past, can find that a good nights sleep can have a very positive affect on their overall state of mind. This could be because it helps people to think in a clearer and more positive way. The sleep helps bring more life and energy into people helping them to start fighting their problems and challenges.
Sleep can also help people who are often stressed. This is very much for the same reasons as above. What people may of course say is that they actually find it hard to sleep when they are stressed or depressed. This is very understandable and the example above where I have described how I manage to get myself to sleep in this situation, may hopefully be of use to people. Other methods would be to think of other ways of trying to switch off the mind from over worrying about things, as an example people can read part or all of a good book before attempting to fall asleep.
From a personal point of view, I have found that even though it is important to sleep for quite a long time (around seven or eight hours per night), that it is also important not to over stay in bed in the morning. I am not sure exactly why this is but I always have a sense of feeling heavier. This leaves me in a negative and lethargic mood all day. This could be just me of course. I basically in general go to bed at around ten at night and wake up at around seven in the morning.
What I enjoy most of all is what happens in my house at around eight o’clock most evenings. This is when my son goes upstairs to bed. He always has around an hour of playing with his toys before he decides he is ready to go to sleep and he likes me to listen to him whilst he is playing. This is fine by me as it allows me to lie in my bed and relax. I do not always fall asleep but it is extremely enjoyable to hear him play while at the same time I am in a way re-charging my batteries.
In conclusion, I would advise people to enjoy the benefits of sleep. Sleep in some peoples eyes is a hassle and they would rather be watching the television or socialising with their friends. As previously stated I treat sleep as a hobby and look forward to going to bed. For people who are prone to depression or who are often stressing about this or that, a good nights sleep could be exactly what you need.
Sleeping on your side (with arms on the sides or with legs bent)
Sleep on your side with your legs drawn up slightly toward your chest and a pillow between your legs. Use a full-length body pillow if you prefer.
This position can help keep your skips level and reduce any pain you might have there.
Also , this position may be particularly helpful if you have osteoarthritis in the spine, spinal stenosis a narrowing in the spine or hip pain.
Sleeping on your back (with arms by the side or with arms by the head)
If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support. Support your neck with a pillow.
This position may be helpful if you have low back pain.
Sleeping on your abdomen
It is generally not good for your back to sleep on your stomach, but if you need to for some specific reason, then it will help reduce back strain if you put a pillow under your pelvis and abdomen . Use a pillow under your head if it doesnt place too much strain on your back. If it does cause strain, try sleeping without a pillow under your head.
This position may be helpful if you have degenerative disease or a herniated disk in the central portion of your spine.
Tips for the best positions for lying down or sleeping:
- Try to maintain the curve in your back (such as lying on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back, or on your side with your knees slightly bent).
- Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress, since this can cause back strain and can be uncomfortable for your neck.
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress.
- Try a back support to help you feel more comfortable. Try tying a rolled sheet or towel around your waist.
So .. Enjoy your sleep !
How did you sleep last night?
I had a great nights sleep, but when I woke up I thought what a powerful effect a great night’s sleep has on your metabolism, and I wanted to share with you some ideas about how to get a better night’s sleep.
Now my idea of a great night’s sleep is one in which you sleep soundly and wake fully refreshed and full of energy. During a great night’s sleep you rarely, if ever, think about your troubles, your never think about the news, and you usually fall asleep within 10 minutes of your head hitting the pillow (with positive thoughts in your mind).
Also, a key factor in determining if you had a great night’s sleep is if you dream ‘positive’ or ‘fun’ dreams. Because if your night full of ‘bad’ or ‘stressful’ dreams then you’re most certainly tossing and turning throughout the night and NOT getting a “restful” sleep.
Why is it so important to get quality sleep each and every night? Your body and your mind break down and get worn out from stress during the day.
The only time that your body and your mind repair themselves and rejuvenate is when you’re sleeping. But it’s important to note here that “restful” sleep is the key. Tossing and turning all night or waking up every few hours is not considered restful sleep. I recently read an article that made it to my research center that stated the facts about how snoring effects your sleep and your health. People who snore tend to disrupt their sleep, on average, 300 times each night – now that’s not a restful night’s sleep! Now think about it this way for a moment – if you’ve been under stress lately, or if you’re mattress sucks, or if you just plain haven’t been able to sleep well for the past few weeks (or months), then you haven’t given your brain or your body the time it needs to repair itself.
So you actually start each and every day a little bit less focused and less metabolically healthy than the previous day.
Don’t try to catch up on your sleep. People tell me all the time that they know that they don’t get enough sleep during the week – but they “catch up” on the weekends. Let me put an end to that myth right now. That does not work!!! Your body and your mind need a regular sleeping pattern to repair and rejuvenate – without it you’re actually deteriorating yourself rather than re-energizing yourself.
So what’s considered enough sleep?
Generally speaking, everyone should strive to get 8 hours of restful sleep. Now if you eat a very healthy diet and exercise properly, and give yourself a few mental breaks during the day, and if you sleep like a baby and awaken fully refreshed every day, then you might be the type of person who can get away with less sleep – maybe 6 hours each night.
On the other hand, if you experience extraordinary amounts of stress each day (mental or physical), then you’ll need more than 8 hours. A marathon runner for example, tends to put his/her body through a lot of stress each day – that person needs more than just 8 hours because their body needs more repair time than normal. The same holds true for the person going through massive mental stress as well.
So what can you do to help facilitate a better nights sleep for yourself and those around you?
10 Steps To Help You Get A Great Night’s Sleep:
1. Make a list of what you need to do the next day, write it all down and keep that paper and pen near your bedside in case you think of anything else you need to do. When you write things down youre giving your brain the signal that it no longer needs to think about those tasks.
2. Don’t watch television or listen to the radio (especially the news) before retiring for the night – and certainly do not fall asleep with the TV or radio on.
3. Read some inspirational or self-growth material for at least 30 minutes prior to bed. Your goal is to fill your mind with inspirational thoughts before falling asleep so that the last thoughts you have before drifting off are uplifting thoughts – as opposed to the stressful thoughts that most people fall asleep thinking about.
4. Make sure the room that you’re sleeping in is as dark a room as possible – the body is made to sleep when it’s dark out – the darker the room the more potential for a deep sleep.
5. Make the room as silent as possible – turn off all electric devices and ask others in the house to be as quiet as they can be.
6. Don’t eat for at least 3 hours before going to bed. When there’s undigested food in the stomach, your body is forced to focus on digesting that food rather than being focused on repairing your body and mind – which is what sleep is all about! The body was designed to digest food best while moving – not while laying down.
7. Try to go to bed at approximately 10:00 pm and awake at approximately 6:00 am. In Ayurvedic medicine it’s believed that there are cycles that are the most conducive for certain activities. Going to bed at 10:00 pm and arising at 6:00 am appears to allow the body to rest the deepest, rejuvenate the most, and give the person the most energy throughout the day.
8. Don’t take drugs or vitamins/herbs that are supposed to help you sleep (unless required by your physician). Most of these artificial sleeping aids do nothing more than deaden your senses – the goal of ‘sleep’ is to give your body the time and means to repair itself and prepare for the coming day. When you drug yourself to sleep, every system in your body is slowed down, including all those systems that are responsible for repairing you.
9. Make sure that there’s a fresh air supply in the room. The air indoors is said to be some of the most toxic air around. When you sleep, you’re only able to breath in the air that surrounds you in your enclosed bedroom. Try opening a window (if it’s cold outside then just open the window a crack). The fresh air that comes in while you sleep will help your body repair itself because you’ll have access to cleaner, more oxygenated air.
10. During the day, do 60 minutes of mild exercise. If you don’t have time to do 60 minutes in a row, then break it up into 2 – 30 minute sessions, or 3 – 20 minute session, or 6 – 10 minute sessions — just get a full 60 minutes in. The best exercise when talking about general health and preparing your body for a great night’s sleep is walking.
I wish you the best night’s sleep tonight and every
Just when one thinks that there is just one too many sleep aids available in the market, think again. A new sleep aid that can promote dreaming has been formulated by drug researchers and pharmacologists. The said is also said to be effective in improving one’s memory. This medication specifically targets the orexin system, which is also associated with the urges connected with feeding and addiction. Orexin is a type of hormone that was discovered in 1998 and is known to control or induce a number of physiological reactions and conditions such as narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder where people can fall asleep several times a day and experience paralyzing musculo-skeletal contractions.
A Swiss drug company named Actelion has also unveiled a new candidate drug known as orexin-RA-1 that can block the orexin system. Laboratory rats slept soundly and performed better in maze tests the following day than rats given with only conventional sleep aids, suggesting that the drug improves memory capacity. Measurements of muscle tone and brain activity revealed an increase in the dream phase of sleep. According to Actelion CEO Jean Paul Clozel, the dream phase is when memory is hardwired in the brain. According to Clozel, older medications reduce REM sleep. Lack of REM sleep makes people still feel tired even after they just woke up.
Shahrad Taheri, a doctor from the University of Bristol, said that orexin has great potential for promoting sleep and regulating appetite. Taheri said that orexin can be used to reduce cravings for food.
The new sleep aid drug is now undergoing stage trials. Clozel says that the drug could be available in the market by 2012. He admitted that there are plans to extend its application beyond insomnia. Unlike older generations of sleep medications, orexin-RA-1 showed no signs of being addictive or of losing its effects over time. However, this type of medication should have a thorough inspection for possible unwanted side effects. Existing sleep aids being sold in the market are known to have a number of side effects. Tests should be done in order to fully analze a new drug’s effects in the brain, and how it can provide other beneficial effects without harming other human internal systems.
Aside from using medications, people with insomnia should continue receiving non-medical help to overcome sleeplessness. Among the most common advice given to insomniacs by doctors and behavioral therapists include:
Cutting down on caffeinated drinks especially during hours that are too near sleeping time
Avoiding stimulating activities such as games, exercise, and watching action movies when on is about to sleep
Keeping the bedroom as a private place for sleeping. An insomniac should not do work inside the sleeping quarters.
The room must be kept dark, free from noise, and comfortable enough to induce relaxation and drowsiness.
In very severe cases of sleep deprivation, the help of medical and psychiatric professionals should be sought. Insomniacs, however, must make sure to consul these professionals first before using any sleep aid. Using sleep aids without proper consultation could lead to substance abuse and, worse, to accidental death. Sleep aid overdose is a very serious risk faced by insomniacs who use medications without the proper prescription.
Soon, however, new drugs such as orexin may help people with severe sleep deprivation gain back the ability to sleep, rest, and dream about better days and nights ahead.