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mind-racing

Insomnia can make you feel like your mind is racing out of control. A revealing new study explains why your brain may be unable to put the brakes on your thoughts. It links the problem to low levels of a brain chemical.

A new study shows that GABA levels are reduced by 30 percent in adults with chronic primary insomnia. The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

GABA is reduced in the brain of individuals with insomnia, suggesting over activity is present. It was explained that low GABA levels create an imbalance of brain activity. This may lead to an inability to shut down waking signals in the brain.

If your GABA levels are low, then your mind can’t slow down. It may race forward at full speed even when it is time to sleep. An over active mind is a key feature of psychophsicological insomnia. At bedtime you are unable to stop thinking and worrying. Your body may be ready for sleep, but your mind remains alert. This state of “hyperarousal” can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Most with insomnia have “secondary” insomnia. It occurs along with another medical problem, mental illness or sleep disorder. It also may result from the use of a medication or substance. In contrast primary insomnia is unrelated to another health problem. Estimates that about 25 percent of people with insomnia have primary insomnia. The study only links low GABA levels to long lasting, primary insomnia.

All participants in the study had been suffering from primary insomnia for mor than six months. The average duration of their symptoms was about 10 years. The GABA connection affirms that primary insomnia is a legitimate disorder.

Recognition that insomnia has manifestations in the brain may increase the legitimacy of those who have insomnia and report substantial daytime  consequences. It was also explained that insomnia can affect your energy, concentration and mood. It also increases your risk of depression.

One solution for the problem of primary insomnia is the use of hypnotic medication. The short-term use of a sleeping pill can help break the cycle of sleepless nights. The study notes that many of the most effective sleeping pills increase activity at the GABA neurons.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps you learn how to correct attitudes and habits that hinder your sleep. Many of these bad habits develop as people try to cope with chronic insomnia.

1. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon.  The record  holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

2. Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but no so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

3. It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervison. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it, microsleep.

4. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.

5. One of the best predicors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having been sleep deprived by young children.

6. The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.

7. REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about 2 hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

8. Dreams, once thought to occure only during REM sleep, also occure (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

9. REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetirive and thought-like, with little imagery obesessively returning to a suspicion that you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

10. Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analogous to watching a film.

11. No-one knows for sure if other species dream, but some do have similar sleep cycles to humans.

12. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

13. Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

14. Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations: sleep and consciousness.

15. REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 percent REM sleep, 20 percent more than full-term babies. Similerly, a newborn kitten, puppy, rat or hamster experiences only REM sleep, while a  newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.

16. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.

17. British Ministy of Defense researchers has been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hours. Tiny optical fibers embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light ( with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing in Kosovo.

18. Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

19. The 1989 Exxon Valdex oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

20. The NRMA insurance estimated fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.

21. Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.

22. The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

23. Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates supress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.

24. In insomnia following bereavement, sleeping pills can disrupt grieving.

25. Tiny luminous rays froma digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you are not fully awake. The light turns off a “neutral switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

26. To doze off, we must cool off; body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfer core body heat to the skin works best between 18-30 degress. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23-25 degress, one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

27. A night on the grog (alochol) will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.

28. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

29. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whome sleep for 10 hours.

30. Dolphins at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

31. Ten percent of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of sufferig a heart attack or stroke.

32. Snoring occurs only in noo-REM sleep.

33. Teenagers need as much sleep as small children ( about 10 hrs.) while those over 65 need the least of all ( about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.

34. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

35. Feeling tired can feel normal after a short time. Those deliberately deprived of sleep for research initially noticed greatly the effects on their alterness, mood and physical performance, but the awareness dropped off after the first few days.

36. Diaries from the pre-electric-light-globe Victorian era show adults slept nine to ten hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.

37. Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years.

38. As a group, 18-24 year-olds deprived of sleep suffer more from impaired performance than older adults.

39. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

40. The extra-hour of sleep received when clock are put back at the start of daylight savings has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

Some sleep disorders can be diagnosed during a routine exam and a conversation with a sleep specialist. But if you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea a further examination may be requested.

It use to be that you had to travel to an actual ‘lab’/hospital. Most of the time they are hours away, booked for months at a time, and a big inconenience. Some people may have a disability, or dependents, or a job that makes a night in a lab too difficult. Now, finally with our latest technology, cases like these have been answered with: The Home Sleep Test (HST).

There are many home test kits available on the market today. But, none of them record all of the full vital signs that a complete in-lab study would, for other sleep disorders -eye and limb movements that might be related with a neurological disorder, for example. The increasing evidence, however, shows they are highly effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. A home sleep test will collect this kind of information though to be symptoms of OSA:

  • Airflow
  • Breathing efforts
  • Blood oxygen
  • Snoring vibrations/density
  • Head and neck movements
  • Calculated cessations/stops in breathing

With the new acceptance of home testing growing in the sleep community: in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revised their policy and now endorses the use of portable monitoring for a specific group of people. Now, many insurance plans are starting to cover home tests for eligible patients. Many providers of home sleep testing, have an on-site doctor or therapist who will help you with obtaining a home sleep test, if you have difficulties with your insurance plan (we do 😉 )

So…who’s eligible?

The following points are taken into consideration when determining eligibility:

  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age. Home sleep test haven’t been recommended for children or older adults.
  • You have no other major medical problens; such as pulmonary disease (ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease)
  • Patients suspected of having no co-morbid sleep disorder other than OSA.
  • To monitor response to non-CPAP treatments after the dianosis has already been made.

Other medical problems can affect your results, including lung disease, neuromuscular disease, and congestive heart failure, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out any possible infracions that may effect your testing.

You also maybe eligible for a Home Sleep test if health or safety concerns prevent you from being able to leave home for a night. The Home Sleep test may be used to evaluate your response to some sleep apnea treatments, such a titration pressure, and weather you’re a nasal breather or a mouth breather.

A Home Sleep test can and will make things much more clear if you feel that your just not getting a good nights sleep, or if your partner complains about your snoring and even if you’ve ever nodded off while driving. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace and ease of knowing that you’ll be save and yourself a complete and whole night of sleep, waking feeling refreshed! 🙂

snoring.jpgWhere would you feel more comfortable sleeping? Studies show that at home testing is now just as qualifying as going to a sleep lab, although if it is deffinante that you have a form of sleep apnea or sleep disorder,  it will be requested that you spend a few nights at an overnight sleep lab for further documentation to proceed with the proper treatment. A home sleep test involves the use of a portable monitoring system that is small enough for you to use at home. The system consist of a small recording device, senors, belts and related cables and accessories. A typical home sleep test does not detect other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome. Having anoher sleep disorder or major medical problem also may affect the results of a home sleep test.

   Find out if a sleep study is right for you! Answer these questions below:

  1. Do you think you have a snoring problem?
  2. Has someone told you that you snore almost everynight?
  3. Has someone complained about your loud snoring?
  4. Do you tend to feel tired, even after a full nights sleep?
  5. Do you fight sleepiness durning your normal daytime routine?
  6. Has anyone ever told you that you seem unusually sleepy?
  7. Are you overwieght?
  8. Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing in you sleep?
  9. Are you free of other sleep disorders?
  10. Are you free of other mdical problems that may affect your sleep?

If your answer to most or all of these questions is “Yes,” then you may be a good candidate for a home sleep test. Answering “NO,” to many of these questions indicated that an overnight sleep study at a sleep lab may be more appropriate for you.

 sleep-study-doc.jpgAn overnight sleep study at a sleep disorders center is useful for detecting many other sleep disorders. It also remains effective even if you have multiple medical problems or sleep disorders. The results of an overnight sleep study give your doctor the most detailed information about your sleep. Doctors call this study a polysomnogram. It charts your brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing as you sleep.  It also records your eye and leg movements as well as muscle tension. Sensors are placed on your head, face, chest and legs. They send tiny electrical signals to a computer. A clip will also be placed on your finger to note changes in the level of oxygen in your blood. The clip monitors the color of your blood.  As blood loses oxygen, it turns from red to blue.

Although a home sleep test can be convenient, it may not be the best option for you. Many sleep centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). The AASM sets strict standards for centers to maintain. This is to make sure that patients with sleep disorders get the highest level of care. In these centers, a board-certifired sleep specialist always reviews the results of a sleep study.

 


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