Tag: sleep disturbance

Cutting down on screen time helps solve sleep problems

Image: freepick

If you are in the habit of going to bed with your smart phone and keeping yourself glued to the screen until sleep takes over, you are likely not to get up early and refreshed, the next morning. Studies have suggested that blue light emitting from electronic devices can adversely affect sleep time as well as quality. For, too much exposure to blue light impacts the brain’s clock adversely affecting the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Hence, the feeling of fatigue, lack of concentration, and bad mood many of us experience during the day following a bad night sleep.

According to a new study, the findings of which were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Endocrinology (ECE 2019) in Lyon, France, more than four hours of screen time can delay the onset of sleep as well as wake up time by 30 minutes. And reducing the screen time can help reverse the sleep problems.

The study involved a randomised controlled trial on a small group of smart phone users. Researchers examined the sleep patterns in participants vis-à-vis two measures – blocking blue light with glasses and abstinence from using screens during evening.

After a week it was found that both the measures resulted in early onset of sleep as well as wake up times by 20 minutes. There was also reduction in sleep loss in participants.

“Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimising evening screen use or exposure to blue light. Based on our data, it is likely that adolescent sleep complaints and delayed sleep onset are at least partly mediated by blue light from screens,” says study co-author Dirk Jan Stenvers from Amsterdam UMC hospital in the Netherlands.

The lack of sleep is also linked to serious health issues, including obesity, diabetes and heart ailments.


10 sleep myths you can do away with

Image credit: freepick

Sleeping well through the night is crucial to how well one does through the day. But according to the data of World Sleep Day about 45% of the global population is sleep deprived, putting their health at risk. For poor sleep is found to raise blood pressure, lower immune system, and increase mood swings and depression. In the long run, prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to diabetes, stroke, dementia and even cancer.

At the same time, we come across several notions about sleep, which we tend to take for truths. Recently, Rebecca Robbins, who is doing postdoctoral research in NYU Langone Health, and her colleagues, tried separating truth from myth about sleep. They scoured through contents from 8,000 websites and checked them with sleep medicine experts. The exercise resulted in listing of popular myths that were ranked by the degree of falsehood and impact on health. The findings are published on April 16 in the Sleep Journal.

Here are ten myths from the list, one should be weary of:

  1. Adults can do with five or fewer hours of sleep: According to sleep experts, regularly sleeping five hours or less increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and early mortality. A 2007 study found that those who cut down their sleep from seven to five hours or less double their chances of dying cardiovascular disease.
  2. An ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime is a healthy sign: It is a sign of sleep deprivation, which your body tries to compensate with micro sleep or mini-sleep moments. As we go through the day, there will be a build-up of a chemical, adenosine, in the brain. A good night’s sleep brings the level of that chemical to its lowest level by the morning. Hence we feel refreshed after a sound sleep.
  3. Our body and brain will adapt to less sleep: Our body needs to go through four phases of sleep for full relaxation. A good night’s sleep allows sleep cycle time repeat several time. The deeper stages help repair muscles and restore the immune system.
  4. Snoring may be annoying, but not harmful: It is a dangerous sleep disorder that increases the risk of cognitive disorder, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and a slew of other diseases like cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease.
  5. Consuming alcohol before going to bed helps: You may fall asleep, but you will not pass beyond the lighter stages of sleep. Hence, alcohol consumption before bed reduces the quality of sleep and makes you feel less refreshed in the morning.
  6. Though not sleeping, one should stay in bed with eyes closed: If you don’t get sleep within 15 minutes, your mind may start relating insomnia with the bed. Hence, it is advisable to change the environment by getting out and do something.
  7. The time of sleep doesn’t matter: According to experts the biological clock that we set for ourselves control the body temperature, hormones, metabolism and sleep-wake cycles. When this inner clock is out of sync with the outer world, we feel disoriented. This is what is experienced when one travels across time zones. In fact, those who work and sleep unusual hours are a greater health risk.
  8. Watching TV in bed helps: The screen of TV or any electronic device emits bright blue light that keeps our brain in an alert mode. According to sleep experts, the release of sleep hormone is affected most by blue light than any other wavelength of light. Hence, we take longer to fall asleep after watching TV.
  9. Using snooze button on alarm helps: After hitting snooze button the brain falls back into a light sleep and we will be in the middle of a new REM cycle when the alarm goes off after a while. Hence, we wake up dazed and take longer to come out of that state.
  10. We slept well if we could remember what we dreamt of: Experts say those who remember their dreams often wake up more times than those who don’t. For we normally dream four-five times a night but remain unaware of them as we don’t wake up each time.