MySleepApnea.Org

Archive for February 2009

The wise words of Wilse Webb, a prominent sleep researcher recently said.

  So, question of pose: How long can humans stay awake?

The experiemental answer to this question is 264 hours (about 11 days).  In 1965, Randy Garder, a 17 year-old high school student, set this apparent world-record for a science fair. Several other normal research subjects have remained awake for eight to 10 days in carefully monitored experiments. None of these individuals experienced serious medical, neurological, physoiological or psychiatric problems.

  On the other hand, all of them showed progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes as the duration of sleep deprivation increased. Nevertheless, all experimental subjects recovered to relative normality within one or two nights of recovery sleep.  Other anecdotal reports describe soldiers staying awake for four days in battle, or un-medicated patients with mania going without sleep for three to four days.

  The more difficult answer to this question revolves around the definition of “awake.” As mentioned above, prolonged sleep deprivation in normal subjects induces altered stated of consciousness ( often described as “microsleep”), numerous brief episodes of overwhelming sleep, and loss of cognitive and motor functions. We all know the dangerous, drowsy driver, and have heard about drowsy flyers crashing planes because they fell asleep while flying. RandyGardner was “awake” but basically cognitively dysfunctional at the end of his ordeal.

 In certain rare human medical disorders, the question of how long people can remain awake raises other surprising answers, and more questions. Morvan’s fibrillary chorea or Morvan’s Syndrome is characterized by muscle twitchings, pain, excessive sweating, weight loss, periodic hallucinations, and severe loss of sleep ( agrypnia ). Michel Jouvet and his colleagues in Lyon, France, studies a 27 year-old man with this disorder and found he had virtually no sleep over a period of several months. During that time he did not feel sleepy or tried and did not show any disorders of mood, memory, or anxiety. Nevertheless, nearly everynight between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., he experienced a 20 to 60-minute period of auditory, visual, olfactory and somesthetic (sense of touch ) hallucinations, as well as pain and vasoconstriction in his fingers and toes. In recent investigations, Morvan’s Syndrome has been attributed to serum antibodies directed again by specific potassium (K+) channels in cell and nerve membranes.

  So, to return to the orginal question, “How long can humans stay awake?” the ultimate remains unclear. Despite studies, there are no reports that sleep deprivation per se has killed any humab ( excluding accidents and so forth ). Indeed, the U.S. Departmend of Defense has offered research funding for the goal of sustaining a fully awake, fully functional “24/7” soldier, sailor, or airman. Future warriors will face intese, around the clock fighting for weeks at a time. Will bioengineering eventually produce genetically cloned soldiers and citizens with a variant of Morvan’s Syndrome who need no sleep but remain effective and happy? I hope not. A good nights sleep is one of life’s blessings.

As Coleridge wrote years ago, “Oh sleep! It is a  gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole.”

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Bad Sleep Habits: it involves the things that you do normally everyday. Although, these habits keep your sleep from being refreshing. They can also keep you from feeling alert during the day. These activities are all the things that you should be able to control. These specific behaviors fall into the follow two general categories:

     1.  Practices that keep you awake.

     2.  Practices that bring disorder to your sleep schedule

Many common factors may keep you awake at night. At first, alcohol may make you sleepy; but it is also more likely to wake you up during the night. Drinking coffee or colas that contain caffeine can make you more alert. The nicotine ina cigarette can have the same effect. People often use these substances to “keep their edge” during the day. This “edge” is not always gone by the time they try to go to sleep.

Other factors that cause you to stay awake when they occure too close to bedtime include the following:

  • Worry
  • Excitement
  • Mental stress
  • Physical exercise

Many other practices can keep you from having a regular pattern of sleeping and waking up. Perhaps you are unable to fall asleep because you spend too much time in bed. Maybe you don’t go to bed and wake up at the same times everyday. Or maybe you nap too often, too long, or too close to your bedtime. These bad habits can confuse your body. This will cause you to stay awake when you should really be asleep.

You can be affected in the followig negative ways:

  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Short attention span
  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Frustration with sleeping
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence

It may often be obvious to other people around you that the things your are doing are hurting your sleep. You, however, may be completely unaware of it. You may also find that your sleep problems tend to come and go. This is because you are likely to change your sleep habits over time.

  Who gets it?
It is typically not found in younge children. It may develop though, as early as the teen years.

It may also begin at anytime throughout adulthood. The timing of when it begins depends on when the habits that distrurb sleep are developed. The rate at which it affects males and females differently is not known.

  How do I know if I have it?
First, you need to determine if you have insomnia:

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, or not feeling refreshed after sleeping?
  2. For a child, does the child resist going to sleep or sleeping alone?
  3. Does this problem occur even though you have the opportunity and the time to get a good night’s sleep?
  4. Dout have at least one of the following problems? You have:
  • Low energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Attention, concentration or memory problems
  • Poor performances at school or work
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Trouble making errors at work or while driving
  • Tension, headaches or stomach aches
  • Frustration or worry about your sleep

If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then you might have insomnia. Now continue to see if you might have inadequate sleep hygiene”

  1. Have you had these problems for at least one month?
  2. Do you you have at least one of the following bad habits?
  • You have a bad sleep schedule. You nap a lot, go to bed and wake up at different times everyday, or spend too much time in bed.
  • You often use products with alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine near bedtime
  • You actively do things that excite your mind, body, or emotions near bedtime.
  • You often use the bed to do things other than sleep. This includes paying bills, talking on the phone and eating.
  • You do not keep a comfortable sleeping environment. Research shows that having your bedroom slightly cooler ( via a cieling fan and the slight noise of the fan) are helpful. Low dim lighting such as nightlights are requested, and lavender sented candles can help soothe you into a good sleep regimen.

If you also answered yes to these questions, then you may have inadequate sleep hygiene.

It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

  Do I need to see a sleep specialist?
Talk with a family doctor about your difficulty sleeping. See if you are able to correct the bad sleep habits that are affecting your sleep. Are you having a hard time improving your habits? Or are you still having a sleep problem even after making these changes? If so, then you made need to see a sleep specialist.

  What will the doctor need to know?
First, the doctor will need to know when your insomnia started. He or she will also want to know what else has been going on in your life. The doctor will need to know about any other medical problems you have today or had in the past. Be sure to tell the doctor if you are taking any medications.

Keep a sleep dieary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. The sleep diary information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it.

  Will I need to take any test?
Doctors do not need any tests to treat most insomnia patients. A sleep specialists may give you a written test to analyze your mental and emotional well-being. The specialist may need to test your blood in the lab if he or she thinks that you have a related medical problem.

  How is it treated?
Many cases of insomnia will respond to changes that you can make on your own. You can often sleep better by simply following the practices of good sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene consists of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep. There are also easy ways to make your bed and bedroom more comfortable.

  You need to seek help from a therapist if stress or depression is the cause of your sleep problems.

When self-treatment does not work, a doctor can provide help. Doctors can teach you different ways to improve your sleep. An example of this is to use relaxation exercises when you go to bed. They can also help you find ways to take your mind off of sleep. Staying out of bed until you are tired is a good way to start off slowly. These methods are a part of what is known as behavioral therapy. With slow changes, you will see the biggest change at the end, feeling refreshed and happy.

  Are you satisfied with your life? If not, how’s your sleep? A new study shows there may be a connection.

Life satisfaction and sleep quality are known to be important factors in your overall health and well-being. But how are they related?

Does poor sleep cause you to be less satisfied with your life? Or does low satisfaction with your life lead to sleep problems?

The researchers sought to find the an answer. Their study involved 18,631 same-sex twins in Finland.

They measured life satisfaction, sleep quality and other factors. Then they did a follow up six years later and recorded the same measures.

  What did they find? People who became dissatisfied with their life during the six years between study points were more likely to have had sleep problems. Fifty-nine pecent of these newly dissatified people had reported at the beginning of the styd that they sleep poorly.

The results also show that poor sleep predicted a consistent pattern of life dissatifaction. But the reverse wasn’t true; life dissatisfaction did not consistently predict poor sleep.

Studying twins also provided a genetic look at the connection. The study shows that both sleep quality and life satisfaction has a strong genetic component; there was substantial heritability for both traits.

Both genetic influence is different; the genetic component shared by sleep quality and lif satisfaction was relatively weak.

The study supports the idea that poor sleep may have direct effects on the brain, emotions and mood.

  So how is the quality of your sleep? You can get a better idea by completing this brief sleep evaluation.


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