Sleep Hygiene Archives -


Category Archives for "Sleep Hygiene"

Scientists Now Know How Sleep Cleans Toxins From the Brain

Laura Lewis and her team of researchers have been putting in late nights in their Boston University lab. Lewis ran tests until around 3:00 in the morning, then ended up sleeping in the next day. It was like she had jet lag, she says, without changing time zones. It’s not that Lewis doesn’t appreciate the merits of a good night’s sleep. She does. But when you’re trying to map what’s happening in a slumbering human’s brain, you end up making some sacrifices. “It’s this great irony of sleep research,” she says. “You’re constrained by when people sleep.”

Her results, published today in the journal Science, show how our bodies clear toxins out of our brains while we sleep and could open new avenues for treating and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

When we sleep our brains travel through several phases, from a light slumber to a deep sleep that feels like we’ve fallen unconscious, to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when we’re more likely to have dreams. Lewis’ work looks at non-REM sleep, that deep phase which generally happens earlier in the night and which has already been associated with memory retention. One important 2013 study on mice showed that while the rodents slept, toxins like beta amyloid, which can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, got swept away.

Lewis was curious how those toxins were cleared out and why that process only happened during sleep. She suspected that cerebrospinal fluid, a clear, water-like liquid that flows around the brain, might be involved. But she wasn’t sure what was unique about sleep. So her lab designed a study that measured several different variables at the same time.

Study participants had to lie down and fall asleep inside an MRI machine. To get realistic sleep cycles, the researchers had to run the tests at midnight, and they even asked subjects to stay up late the night before so people would be primed to drift off once the test began...;

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Put an Emphasis on a Good Night’s Sleep to Perform Better at Work and Enjoy Life More

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Put an Emphasis on a Good Night’s Sleep to Perform Better at Work and Enjoy Life More

A good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Not getting enough sleep will not only damage your physical health, but it’ll also damage your mental health.

When you lack a decent amount of rest, it takes a toll on your body. Not getting enough sleep can weaken your immune system, put you in danger while driving to work, cause you to have high blood pressure, put you at risk for getting diabetes, cause unhealthy weight gain, give you higher chances of having a stroke, and can even increase your chance of getting some kinds of cancer.

Your mental health also suffers when you’re always drowsy. Lacking proper rest will wreck your ability to think straight, making your work life so much harder than it needs to be.

It also makes you more likely to not be able to remember crucial details that you might need in order to write a paper or give a good presentation during a meeting. Without sleep, your mood also decreases and can make you anxious, depressed, and more likely to get annoyed easier.

If you constantly aren’t getting enough sleep, you can develop long-term anxiety, depression, and even paranoia. Not getting enough sleep affects your work life by making you unable to concentrate.

This means you’ll forget everything you heard in any meetings you went to, which will stunt your ability to get your work done in a way that meets your boss or clients’ expectations.

Sometimes it’s difficult to naturally get yourself back on a good schedule, especially if you have to stay up late for work or your family. However, there are some things that you can do during the day to help ensure that when your head hits the pillow, you won’t be restless and you’ll be able to get a full, good night’s sleep.

Try to not drink or eat anything with caffeine in it past noon, stick to your same work schedule on weekends and holidays to make sure you don’t get off track, don’t go on your phone or computer before bed, and try to spend about an hour or so before bed doing relaxing activities like reading, taking a nice bath, or even doing some meditation.

Getting a good night’s sleep will not only benefit your ability to be a stronger worker, but it will also keep you healthy both mentally and physically. Try different methods to see what works for you in order to be able to go to bed at a normal hour depending on when you need to wake up for work.

How Sleep Deprivation Wreaks Havoc on Your Body and Mind

How Sleep Deprivation Wreaks Havoc on Your Body and Mind

Getting enough sleep is essential to both your body and your mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you might not notice the effects - if you only miss one night of getting the right amount.

But go more than one night of not getting enough sleep and your body and your mind start to pay a price for it. Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is that you’re feeling tired and sleepy.

Sleep acts as a restoration period for the body and mind. It restores and replenishes the body, heals aching muscles and can soothe aches and pains. Without the right amount of sleep, we run our energy level into a deficit.

Sleep deprivation then beings to show up in three ways: mentally, emotionally and physically. Mentally, the brain becomes affected with a lack of sleep and this shows up in trouble remembering even simple tasks.

It causes you to begin to forget important data. You might have trouble following what you’re supposed to do at work or what’s going on with your family. As the sleep deprivation continues, you’ll lose more cognitive ability.

When you’re driving, you’ll react slower to traffic signals, the moves of other vehicles and you’ll be at increased risk of causing or being unable to avoid an accident. You won’t be able to concentrate or pay attention. 

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You’ll become disoriented and if the sleep deprivation isn’t stopped. You may begin to experience hallucinations. You’ll make more mistakes, and if others are depending on you at work or home, those mistakes could have serious repercussions. You may start to experience short-term memory loss. 

Sleep deprivation shows up emotionally, too. You may become irritable even for no reason. You may be angry and take that out on others. You can experience anxiety and depression. 

Studies have shown that getting enough sleep is closely tied with emotional well-being. Sleep deprivation can cause you to engage in behavior you wouldn’t normally do, like taking foolish risks with your safety or engaging in heated fights with others.

Another way that sleep deprivation wreaks havoc is in the body. You will become clumsy and less coordinated. You may start to drop things without warning. You’ll experience muscle aches, pains and spasms. 

A lack of sleep that’s caused by a sleep disorder can cause painful charley horses to occur. With a loss of sleep, your blood pressure begins to climb and your stress level mounts. Your organs can become affected. 

You’ll put on weight - and sleep deprivation elevates your chance of having a stroke, heart attack or developing diabetes. Because sleep deprivation weakens your immune system, you can lose the ability to fight off even a simple virus. 

Not getting enough sleep can cause muscle weakness, eye problems, slurred speech and an inability to communicate. If you’re experiencing sleep deprivation, don’t wait until you begin experiencing severe symptoms to seek a solution. 

The Bad Habit That’s Messing with Your Sleep

​And how you can get on track for a more restful night

The relationship between sleep and diet is a complicated one. Recent news that fiber, sugar, and fat intake can cause sleep problems adds to a growing body of research connecting the two.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that diets lower in fiber and higher in saturated fats and sugar are linked to less restful, more fragmented sleep with more frequent awakenings throughout the night. These diets also were associated with less time in slow-wave sleep, a highly restorative phase of sleep.

A vicious circle of sleep-affecting-diet, diet-affecting sleep occurs: Insufficient sleep spurs appetite, in part by altering hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Short on sleep, our levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin spike, while levels of leptin—a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness—drop.

As a result, when you're sleep deprived, you tend to consume more calories than your body needs. In addition to spiking overall appetite, insufficient sleep specifically increases your desire for fatty and sugary foods and also reduces your ability to withstand these food cravings (there's a strong scientific connection between insufficient and poor quality sleep and obesity)...

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The Simplest Way to Drastically Improve Your Life: More Sleep

Sleep deprivation is the invisible ceiling to how good life can be

Imagine this: Someone walks up to you and pitches you on a brand-new, magical pill.

This pill can measurably improve your memory, overall cognitive performance, ability to learn new information, receptivity to facial cues, mood, ability to handle problems, metabolism, risk for heart disease and immune system.

Would you buy it?

Yeah, yeah, you saw this coming: That pill exists, but not in pill form. You can have all of those benefits cost-free, and all it takes is going to bed a little bit earlier. That’s it.

Yeah, yeah, you saw this coming: That pill exists, but not in pill form. You can have all of those benefits cost-free, and all it takes is going to bed a little bit earlier. That’s it.

And yet! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called sleep deprivation a public health crisis, saying that one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep. Some 80 percent of people report sleep problems at least once per week, and according to a 2016 study, sleep deprivation “causes more than $400 billion in economic losses annually in the United States and results in 1.23 million lost days of work each year.”

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Menopause and sleep changes

Menopause and Sleep Changes

When women get to a certain age, they start going through menopause. During this time of your life, you go through various hormonal and physical changes, including mood swings, night sweats, a change in your weight and metabolism, and an end to your period. Among these other changes in your body, you might also start experience a disruption in your normal sleep pattern.

What is Menopause?

During menopause, your reproductive hormones slow down, which is when you typically stop menstruating and no longer have a menstrual cycle each month. This often happens gradually, with perimenopause first. This is often referred to as a transition phase, in which your progesterone and estrogen starts declining gradually, starting in your 40s (for most women). Full menopause is usually reached by the type you are 50, though of course this can vary a lot.

With the changes in your hormone levels, your body and mental health goes through a lot of changes as well, including lack of sleep, increased anxiety and depression, mood swings, hot flashes, and many other physical symptoms.

How Does it Affect Your Sleep?

The first thing you should know is that just because you are a woman around these ages with sleeping issues, doesn’t necessarily mean it is from menopause. That is simple one of the factors. However, if you are struggling with sleep deprivation around the time you started menopause, they are probably linked.

Your body is going through a major change during this time in your life. You just went through 40 or more years of having monthly menstrual cycles and a certain hormone level, so to suddenly have those drop, your body is going to need time to adjust.

The good news is that the insomnia won’t last forever, and there are quite a few things you can do to get better sleep.

What Can be Done About it?

When you go through menopause and have trouble sleeping, there are a few things you can do. Many of these are simple lifestyle changes that might also help with some of your other symptoms as well.

Improve your sleep habits – Start by focusing on sleep hygiene, which includes different habits that can help you get better sleep. Have a quality mattress and bedding, make sure your bedroom is calm and peaceful, and start winding down before bedtime so you are fully relaxed and ready for sleep.

Get regular exercise – Getting regular exercise is really important no matter your age, but especially during menopause. It can help with your cardiovascular health, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and help you sleep better at night.

Eat a healthy diet – Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet with essential vitamins and minerals. You want to have plenty of nutrients through a healthy diet, without too many food restrictions. Don’t focus on weight loss during this time, but instead on having the healthiest possible meals and snacks.

Reduce your stress levels – You might be feeling an increase in your stress levels ever since you started menopause. You can relieve your stress through exercise, meditation and mindfulness, and a simple change in your daily lifestyle habits.

If your sleep issues persist, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. You might have sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea that is the cause for your sleep issues, whether during menopause or not.

Sleep changes when you are pregnant

Sleep Changes When You Are Pregnant

When you find out you are pregnant, you mentally prepare yourself for how much your life is going to change. Not just in your home and your schedule, but your body as well. Another thing you should be aware of is that your sleep habits will change dramatically during pregnancy, with different sleep patterns during each trimester.

First Trimester Sleep Changes

You will notice that your sleep will change during each trimester of pregnancy, and often depending on outside factors like stress, your emotional state, diet, and chronic pain.

During the first trimester, it can include a lot of waking up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. After the first few weeks of pregnancy, you urinate more frequently, often linked to needing to hydrate more than usual.

This can continue throughout your entire pregnancy, though there might be certain stages where it isn’t quite as noticeable.

During the first trimester, you might be even more tired during the day and at night, so you could sleep more than usual. Even so, you may have difficulty sleeping when you start experiencing difficult physical changes, especially if you start getting “morning” sickness, which can happen at any time.

Second Trimester Sleep Changes

Many women describe the second trimester as the best trimester. This is when the frequent urination isn’t quite as frequent, you are tired but not overly tired, and your morning sickness might dissipate as well. Take advantage of how much better you feel, and especially of how much better you sleep!

You might notice that your overall quality of sleep is improved. You feel more rested at night, don’t have as much discomfort from nausea or cramping, and your emotional stress is often less severe during this trimester as well.

If you are experiencing insomnia, it is a good time to speak to your doctor, just to rule out any other causes for it.

Third Trimester Sleep Changes

The third trimester is a beautiful time as you feel more movement from your baby and get closer to labor and delivery, but your sleep might suffer once again. A lot of the sleep issues during this trimester are from body aches and pains.

You are growing a human, and that means a lot of pressure is put on your back and hips. You might notice that you have to wake up a lot at night to move positions, have chronic back pain, and maybe even some cramping. You might also notice other physical discomforts that keep you from getting quality sleep, like heartburn, shortness of breath, leg cramps, increased urination, and sinus congestion.

The best thing you can do is try to be as comfortable as possible at night, whether that means upgrading your mattress, getting different bedding, or using a body pillow to help support your body and decrease the cramps and back pain.

Soon you will have a brand new baby to love, so try to take advantage of as much sleep as possible during your pregnancy.

How to help children get better sleep

How to Help Children Get Better Sleep

It is hard enough getting your own quality sleep, but when your kids aren’t sleeping, neither are you in most cases. Here are some easy tips for helping your kids get the best sleep possible.

Set Your Child’s Bedtime

The very first thing you should do if your children are struggling with sleep is to choose a bedtime. There might be some nights where they don’t quite get to be don time, but the more consistent you are with when they need to be in bed, the better off everyone will be.

Choosing a bedtime isn’t just good for ensuring they get enough sleep before having to wake up the next morning, but for the purpose of good sleep habits. By knowing their bedtime, they also understand when it is time to start their nightly routine of getting ready for bed. It is really important for your children’s development.

Be Consistent with Bedtime Routines

Once you have chosen their bedtime, you can start working on their bedtime routine. This is a routine that should be done every night, which helps get them ready for bed. It might include taking a bath or shower and brushing their teeth, reading a book in bed, drinking a glass of milk to get them sleepy, and maybe taking medications if they have anything they need to take in the evening.

It is also when your kids usually stop watching TV or playing games, and do more relaxing activities. Maybe you start the routine an hour before their bedtime, so they can change into their pajamas and sit on the bed to relax and talk a bit before bed, or you read them a story. These activities get both their brain and body used to the idea of bedtime coming soon.

These sleep habits are a lot more important that you might think, and it is equally important that the routines are consistent.

Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment

Make sure your kids have a bedroom that is calm and soothing. You want them to have a relaxing sleep environment, even beginning with the color scheme of their room. It should have calming and soothing colors, usually on the lighter side, like light blue, green, yellow, purple, and pink. It is okay to have a good amount of color if that’s what they want, but try to avoid anything too bright, as it will make it hard for them to adjust to being relaxed at night.

They should have quality mattresses and bedding, along with proper temperature control. It is difficult to get good sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold, or if it gets bright. A pair of blackout curtains is great to have in their room.

Keep Their Stress Levels Low

If there is an evening when your child is a little stressed, such as a big school project coming up or they had issues with a kid at school, try to relieve their stress before sending them to bed. It is just as hard for a kid with stress to get good sleep as it is an adult. They need to be fully relaxed and eased of any stress or tension before getting good quality sleep, so this might mean talking to them or getting their mind off what they are worried about with a book or cartoon before bed.

Don’t Push Pressure on Sleep

While you want your children to get good sleep, don’t put too much pressure on them. This can actually create more stress and make it even harder for them to sleep. Don’t tell them they NEED to be asleep in a matter of minutes or how early they have to wake up. Just continue their nightly routine and be consistent with their bedtime.

How much sleep do your kids need? This will depend on the child and their age, but most children need about 9-10 hours of sleep on average. As they get older, this will decrease, but it is a good place to start.

Do you have a problem with oversleeping?

Do You Have a Problem with Oversleeping?

Oversleeping can seem like a great thing when your schedule allows for it, but this is actually a lot worse for your health and wellness than you might think. Both inadequate sleep and too much sleep are not good for you. The best thing to do for your health is get a normal amount of sleep, without going too far under or over.

Here are some of the more common signs that you are oversleeping.

You Always Wake Up Tired

It is normal to be a little tired in the morning, especially when you were woken up by an alarm or you went to sleep a little later than normal. However, there is a difference between being sleepy because you just woke up, and being exhausted and severely fatigued. People who are oversleeping have similar effects to waking up after not sleeping much at all. It might feel similar to having jet lag or a bad hangover. When this keeps happening, it is usually a sign that you might be sleeping too much.

You Have Brain Fog

You might also be oversleeping if you are experiencing brain fog. Of course, brain fog can occur from many different situations and conditions, but oversleeping is definitely one of them. When you have brain fog, you feel out of it. Almost like you are walking around like a zombie without being able to really focus or concentrate on anything much. There are different levels of brain fog, but typically you just feel like your brain can’t quite focus on any one thing at a time.

You Wake Up with a Headache

If you find that you are waking up with headaches, that might be a sign that you have slept too much. Before assuming your headaches are from oversleeping, consider other potential causes, including sleep deprivation, stress, hormones, or clenching or grinding your teeth while sleeping.

Unusual Weight Gain

Any time you gain weight without changing your diet or habits, it is something you should look into. You might be gaining weight for any number of reasons, including medical conditions like thyroid disease, so it is not something you should ignore. However, your weight gain might actually be from oversleeping. People who sleep too much have a tendency to gain weight due to lack of energy throughout the day, a poor diet, and less time spent with physical activity during the day. Oversleeping can also be linked to changes in your appetite, so without realizing it, you might be eating more than usual.

Physical Discomfort

Lastly, consider if you have more body pain than you used to. This might include arm and shoulder aching, your hips hurting, or your legs aching. These types of body pains come from laying for too long in one position, or just because you are not stretching out your muscles and joints enough. If the physical pain has come on after you started sleeping a little more than usual, it is often linked to oversleeping.

Sleeping too much might seem like a blessing if you have struggled with insomnia in the past, but it can be detrimental to your health just like lack of sleep can.

Sleeping aids: natural vs over-the-counter remedies

Sleeping Aids: Natural VS Over-the-Counter Remedies

If you are having trouble sleeping, and just switching up your habits isn’t enough to help, you might need to turn to sleeping aids. There are three main categories of sleeping aids – prescription, over-the-counter, and natural. We are going to discuss all three of them, but focus mainly on OTC and natural options for improving your sleep.

Prescription and OTC Sleep Aids

The first types of sleep aids are either available at your local drug store over-the-counter, or by prescription from your doctor. There are some pros and cons for every sleep aid, whether it is natural or not. It is good to understand what each medication can do for you in order to make a decision on which might help you the best.

Prescription Sleep Aids

First we have the sleep aids available by prescription. Benzodiazepines are a type of prescription medication that help to slow the activity in your brain. These are often given to people for anxiety and other mental health disorders, but they can also help rest your brain to help you sleep better. These include medications like lorazepam, diazepam, triazolam, and temazepam.

There are also non-benzo prescription sleep aids like eszopiclone and zolpidem, or names you might recognize more easily – Lunesta and Ambien. These are good when your insomnia is from a short-term situation, like an increase in your anxiety or following a traumatic event. They are not intended for long-term use.

Your doctor might also recommend antidepressants, which can help with the serotonin levels in your brain to encourage better rest at night. The most common antidepressants prescribed for insomnia are amitriptyline and trazodone.

Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids

The OTC meds are good because they don’t require a prescription, but you also need to be careful about tolerance and addiction.

Most OTC sleeping aids are a type of antihistamine or diphenhydramine. There are drowsy formulas of drugs often taken for allergies, sinus, and colds. These might include Benadryl, Advil PM, Unisom, and Sominex.

These are also not recommended on a long-term basis, since they can cause drowsiness throughout the next day after taking them.

Natural Sleep Aids

For something you can take more on a continued basis, look at the natural options. These are not as harsh on your body, and can often help with long-term sleep issues.


The first natural sleep aid to consider taking is melatonin. This is a hormone you already have in your body that will help you decide when it is time to sleep. Unfortunately, you might have a decline in this hormone, and need to take a melatonin supplement. It is really beneficial for people who need to sleep during the day or at different times each day from a shift work schedule.


You can also try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily routine. If you are not getting enough magnesium through natural food sources, you might notice a decline in the quality of your sleep. There are different types of magnesium, from supplement pills you can take, to powder you add to your water.

Natural Herbs

If you are a fan of herbs and essential oils, there are a few that can help you get better sleep. Some o the best ones are lavender, rose, and chamomile.