Workouts Help Sleep Quality

Regular exercise helps improve sleep
Diet and exercise will always be the best diagnosis a doctor can give you. Often, it’s the simple things that can help reduce your risk of sleep apnea, an increasingly common form of sleep deprivation that affects millions of Americans. Come visit the Clinic’s Sleep Center for more information regarding sleep apnea. Our world class medical staff has been helping victims of sleep apnea for decades.
Visit the Sleep Center website.

How Does Exercise Affect Sleep and Energy?

People who regularly hit the gym sleep better and feel more alert during the day than those who are not as physically active, according to a study.

The results showed that people who did 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week reported a 65-percent improvement in sleep quality.

“Physical activity may not just be good for the waistline and heart, but it also can help you sleep,” study researcher Brad Cardinal, professor of exercise science at Oregon State University, said in a statement.

Participants who worked out for at least 150 minutes also said that they felt less drowsy during the daytime, compared with those who were less physically active.

(People who got 150 minutes of exercise a week reported a 65-percent improvement in their sleep quality.)

Cardinal and his colleagues studied a nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women between ages 18 and 85.The study adds to the evidence showing that “regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep,” Cardinal said.

The study showed that the risk of often feeling overly sleepy during the day dropped by 65 percent for the more active participants.

The study authors noted that the national guideline that recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week was originally set to improve cardiovascular health, but their findings show that that level of exercise has other health benefits as well. Approximately 35 to 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have problems falling asleep or experience daytime sleepiness, according to the National Institutes of Health.

What If You’re Too Tired to Work Out?

The researchers also found that participants who met the physical activity guidelines were 68 percent less likely to experience leg cramps while sleeping, and 45 percent less likely to have difficulty concentrating when tired.

If you often experience daytime drowsiness, it may seem contradictory to spend even more of your lagging energy by going for a run or attending a Zumba class, but such physical exertion will actually make you feel more awake, according to the researchers.

“There are trade-offs. It may be easier when you are tired to skip the workout and go to sleep, but it may be beneficial for your long-term health to make the hard decision and get your exercise,” Cardinal said.

Pass it on: People who get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week sleep better and feel more alert during the day than those who are not as physically active.

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Sleep Study Findings: Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?

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Hunger and Eating/Sleepiness and Sleep: Powerful Internal Drives

A resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School


While we might not often think about why we sleep, most of us acknowledge at some level that sleep makes us feel better. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier and better able to function following a good night of sleep. However, the fact that sleep makes us feel better and that going without sleep makes us feel worse only begins to explain why sleep might be necessary.

One way to think about the function of sleep is to compare it to another of our life-sustaining activities: eating. Hunger is a protective mechanism that has evolved to ensure that we consume the nutrients our bodies require to grow, repair tissues, and function properly. And although it is relatively easy to grasp the role that eating serves— given that it involves physically consuming the substances our bodies need—eating and sleeping are not as different as they might seem.

Both eating and sleeping are regulated by powerful internal drives. Going without food produces the uncomfortable sensation of hunger, while going without sleep makes us feel overwhelmingly sleepy. And just as eating relieves hunger and ensures that we obtain the nutrients we need, sleeping relieves sleepiness and ensures that we obtain the sleep we need. Still, the question remains: Why do we need sleep at all? Is there a single primary function of sleep, or does sleep serve many functions?

An Unanswerable Question?

Scientists have explored the question of why we sleep from many different angles. They have examined, for example, what happens when humans or other animals are deprived of sleep. In other studies, they have looked at sleep patterns in a variety of organisms to see if similarities or differences among species might reveal something about sleep’s functions. Yet, despite decades of research and many discoveries about other aspects of sleep, the question of why we sleep has been difficult to answer.

The lack of a clear answer to this challenging question does not mean that this research has been a waste of time. In fact, we now know much more about the function of sleep, and scientists have developed several promising theories to explain why we sleep. In light of the evidence they have gathered, it seems likely that no single theory will ever be proven correct. Instead, we may find that sleep is explained by two or more of these explanations. The hope is that by better understanding why we sleep, we will learn to respect sleep’s functions more and enjoy the health benefits it affords.

This essay outlines several current theories of why we sleep. To learn more about them, be sure to check out the “Bookshelf” feature at the end of this essay. There you’ll find links to articles by researchers who are studying this fascinating question.

What are Some Theories for Why We Sleep?

Inactivity Theory

One of the earliest theories of sleep, sometimes called the adaptive or evolutionary theory, suggests that inactivity at night is an adaptation that served a survival function by keeping organisms out of harm’s way at times when they would be particularly vulnerable. The theory suggests that animals that were able to stay still and quiet during these periods of vulnerability had an advantage over other animals that remained active. These animals did not have accidents during activities in the dark, for example, and were not killed by predators. Through natural selection, this behavioral strategy presumably evolved to become what we now recognize as sleep.

A simple counter-argument to this theory is that it is always safer to remain conscious in order to be able to react to an emergency (even if lying still in the dark at night). Thus, there does not seem to be any advantage of being unconscious and asleep if safety is paramount.

Energy Conservation Theory

Although it may be less apparent to people living in societies in which food sources are plentiful, one of the strongest factors in natural selection is competition for and effective utilization of energy resources. The energy conservation theory suggests that the primary function of sleep is to reduce an individual’s energy demand and expenditure during part of the day or night, especially at times when it is least efficient to search for food.

Research has shown that energy metabolism is significantly reduced during sleep (by as much as 10 percent in humans and even more in other species). For example, both body temperature and caloric demand decrease during sleep, as compared to wakefulness. Such evidence supports the proposition that one of the primary functions of sleep is to help organisms conserve their energy resources. Many scientists consider this theory to be related to, and part of, the inactivity theory.

Restorative Theories

Another explanation for why we sleep is based on the long-held belief that sleep in some way serves to “restore” what is lost in the body while we are awake. Sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself. In recent years, these ideas have gained support from empirical evidence collected in human and animal studies. The most striking of these is that animals deprived entirely of sleep lose all immune function and die in just a matter of weeks. This is further supported by findings that many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.

Other rejuvenating aspects of sleep are specific to the brain and cognitive function. For example, while we are awake, neurons in the brain produce adenosine, a by-product of the cells’ activities. The build-up of adenosine in the brain is thought to be one factor that leads to our perception of being tired. (Incidentally, this feeling is counteracted by the use of caffeine, which blocks the actions of adenosine in the brain and keeps us alert.) Scientists think that this build-up of adenosine during wakefulness may promote the “drive to sleep.” As long as we are awake, adenosine accumulates and remains high. During sleep, the body has a chance to clear adenosine from the system, and, as a result, we feel more alert when we wake.

Brain Plasticity Theory

One of the most recent and compelling explanations for why we sleep is based on findings that sleep is correlated to changes in the structure and organization of the brain. This phenomenon, known as brain plasticity, is not entirely understood, but its connection to sleep has several critical implications. It is becoming clear, for example, that sleep plays a critical role in brain development in infants and young children. Infants spend about 13 to 14 hours per day sleeping, and about half of that time is spent in REM sleep, the stage in which most dreams occur. A link between sleep and brain plasticity is becoming clear in adults as well. This is seen in the effect that sleep and sleep deprivation have on people’s ability to learn and perform a variety of tasks.

This theory and the role of sleep in learning are covered in greater detail in Sleep, Learning, and Memory.
Although these theories remain unproven, science has made tremendous strides in discovering what happens during sleep and what mechanisms in the body control the cycles of sleep and wakefulness that help define our lives. While this research does not directly answer the question, “Why do we sleep?” it does set the stage for putting that question in a new context and generating new knowledge about this essential part of life.

For more about why we sleep, watch the video Why Sleep Matters and explore Consequences of Insufficient Sleep.


Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is the only Sleep Center in the Panhandle area accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Give us a call at 806-358-0200 to set up your sleep study.

Having Trouble Sleeping? Hit the Gym!

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Try adding exercise to your daily routine to enjoy better sleep.

Do you toss and turn? Do you wake up after a few hours and find it impossible to fall back asleep? First, the bad news: so are 60 million other Americans. 60 million Americans will experience some form of insomnia this year.

The Good News

Sleep disorders are treatable, and you can find help at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. The center specializes in the diagnoses and treatment of patients who have sleep difficulties.

There may be personal changes that can also help that don’t require a physician. Putting your smartphone away an hour before bedtime helps your mind and body “power down.” Caffeine stays in your body for 6 – 8 hours after drinking a cup of joe, and your liver needs an hour to break down alcohol. So try having your beverage of choice earlier in the day.

Researchers have found sleep quality improves with exercise.

If you’ve been tossing and turning for twenty minutes, you often become anxious about not falling asleep. Getting out of bed and distracting yourself for a few minutes can help – reading, watching a relaxing show, meditating. But one study shows “a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise.”

People who regularly hit the gym sleep better and feel more alert during the day than those who are not as active. An Oregon State University sleep study showed that participants who exercised 150 minutes a week slept better and felt less drowsy during the daytime.

Regular physical activity may help those suffering from insomnia without medication.

Why Does Exercise Help?

Oddly, not all exercise seems to assist in battling insomnia. Running, lifting weights and other vigorous aerobic exercise does not immediately improve sleep. After a period of daily exercise, (a few months) adults following vigorous workout routines reported better sleep quality. They reported falling asleep more quickly than they did before starting their exercise regimen, and also sleeping for longer periods of time.

Exercise causes the body to elevate its temperature. This increase in body temperature can last for up to four hours after your workout. The post-exercise drop in temperature promotes falling asleep, so get that workout in before dinner. After that, a little light yoga or an after-dinner stroll is helpful – but don’t take a late HIIT workout.

If you don’t have problems falling asleep, but you wake up after a few hours, a morning jog may be the most beneficial. Beginning the day with exercise will help the body remain in its rested state longer. Make sure that you stretch and warm up if you go this route – your body needs time to adjust from sleep to activity.

Exercise Helps in Other Ways

Insomnia is often linked to depression and anxiety, ranging from mild to severe cases. The release of endorphins as a result of exercise plays a large part in reducing those symptoms.

Circadian rhythm also plays a part in some types of insomnia, and exercise can help to “reset” that natural cycle. Adding exercise early in the day sets the body cycle naturally to rest after a period of time. If your body clock is broken, a quick exercise regimen may be just the thing you need to fix it.

Beyond Exercise

If you have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at night or excessive daytime sleepiness, we are here for you. If it seems like nothing works, don’t worry. We have you covered – read this, and learn more about our Sleep Disorders Center here.

How To Set Up A Home Sleep Study

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body. Overnight sleep studies are typically thought of as taking place in a hospital or sleep clinic laboratory setting.

However, a few years ago, new technologies made it possible for sleep studies to take place in patients’ homes.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following: Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Should You Get a Sleep Study?

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluationask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you have a problem with snoring? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Our sleep professionals are dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

5 Important Sleep Mistakes You Might Be Making

Sleep isn’t just “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. Listed below are top reasons people regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep:

1. “Catching up” on Sleep

Though you may feel more rested on Monday morning after sleeping in all weekend, that extra shut-eye doesn’t erase all of the drawbacks from not getting enough sleep during the week. While extra weekend sleep does help reduce daytime sleepiness and stress, your ability to focus and pay attention will still be reduced. It can also throw off your internal body clock (also known as your circadian rhythm) and lead to Sunday night insomnia.

2. Caffeine

When it comes to sleep, caffeine has the power to interfere with regular sleep patterns, as well as help hide existing sleep deprivation, which can, in turn, lead to issues like insufficient sleep disorder. To avoid caffeine-related sleep problems, stop intake of the substance—whether through coffee, soda, chocolate, or any other form—for at least four to six hours before going to sleep. Doing so is one step toward creating good sleep hygiene habits. And remember: caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so if you’re a person who is highly susceptible to caffeine-related side effects, it’s best to avoid having caffeine any time after lunch.

Solution: Give yourself three good night’s sleep to get back to a  normal routine after serious sleep deprivation.

3. Hitting The Snooze Button

The extra sleep that you can get by hitting snooze comes in small chunks and isn’t good quality—and it can actually do you some harm. Since the snooze session doesn’t last long enough for you to finish a complete sleep cycle, you could end up feeling super groggy for the first hour and a half of your day.

Solution: Set your alarm for when you actually need to get up. Try to set it for the same time every day (even on the weekends). This regularity can help you wake up without the need for an alarm in the long run.

4. Alcohol

Drinking actually increases deep sleep during the first part of the night. Although this is true, you aren’t actually getting the rest your body needs. Here’s why: during the second half of the night, this sleepy effect wears off and you’ll be more likely to wake up or toss and turn, reducing your overall time spent asleep. In addition, REM sleep (the deepest stage of sleep, during which you dream) is negatively affected by booze. This is the stage of sleep that helps boost memory, concentration, and learning, so paying attention at work may feel a tad challenging after a night of one too many drinks.

Solution: Avoid drinking alcohol just before you go to bed. On average, it takes an hour for the body to process one unit of alcohol. Instead, opt for herbal teas, such as chamomile or sleepy time tea.

5. Technology

It may seem harmless to knock out a few emails before bed or unwind with a favorite movie, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. And if you’re surfing the web, seeing something exciting on Facebook, or reading a negative email, those experiences can make it hard to relax and settle into slumber. After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, your mind needs time to unwind.

Solution: Give yourself a tech curfew, move your electronics out of the bedroom if needed.

Finally…

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Sleep isn’t just a “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. If you’re failing to get a good night’s sleep, contact us to schedule an appointment or answer any questions.

(Some information provided by Sleep.org)

How Does A Sleep Study Work?

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following: Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Should You Get a Sleep Study?

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you have a problem with snoring? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered.

What to Expect?

The first step will be an initial visit with our sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit. To help determine if a sleep disorder exists, your physician will need to know what physiologic changes occur during your typical night of sleep. We do this by recording your brainwave pattern (known as the EEG) as well as your eye movements and degree of muscle tone. Using an EKG monitor, we will measure your heart rate and check for irregular heart beats during the night. Other measurements will include oxygen saturation, snoring, leg movements or jerking and respiratory effort. An intercom in the room will allow communication with the technician should you have any questions or require assistance. Studies will usually begin between 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm and will conclude at about 6 am. You will then follow up with your physician who will make recommendations for treatment of the disorder.

How to Prepare?

In order to feel more comfortable with your stay, feel free to bring your toiletries and usual sleepwear and if you prefer, your own pillow. (It is helpful to avoid using hair products or skin lotions on the night of the study). It is recommended that you eat a meal prior to your study and continue to take medications as prescribed (unless your physician specifies otherwise). It is also preferred that you not consume foods or beverages containing caffeine after 5pm.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

How Sleep Deprivation is Inhibiting You From Your Full Potential

If you’re getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, chances are you’re sleep deprived. What’s more, you probably have no idea just how much lack of sleep is affecting you.

How is it possible to be sleep deprived without knowing it? Most of the signs of sleep deprivation are much more subtle than falling face first into your dinner plate. Furthermore, if you’ve made a habit of skimping on sleep, you may not even remember what it feels like to be truly wide-awake, fully alert, and firing on all cylinders. Maybe it feels normal to get sleepy when you’re in a boring meeting, struggling through the afternoon slump, or dozing off after dinner, but the truth is that it’s only “normal” if you’re sleep deprived.

You May Be Sleep Deprived if You:

  • Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
  • Rely on the snooze button
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon
  • Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
  • Need to nap to get through the day
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed

Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation

While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk.

The effects include:

  • Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
  • Moodiness and irritability; increased risk of depression
  • Decreased sex drive; relationship problems
  • Impaired brain activity; learning, concentration, and memory problems
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions
  • Inability to cope with stress, difficulty managing emotions
  • Premature skin aging
  • Weakened immune system; frequent colds and infections; weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents; hallucinations and delirium
  • Increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers

How to Get The Sleep That You Need

Whether you’re looking to resolve a specific sleep problem, or just want to feel more productive, mentally sharp, and emotionally balanced during the day, experiment with the following sleep tips to see which work best for you:

Rule out medical causes for your sleep problems. A sleep disturbance may be a symptom of a physical or mental health issue or a side-effect of certain medications.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can improve the symptoms of many sleep disorders and problems. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity on most days—but not too close to bedtime.

Be smart about what you eat and drink. Caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods can all disrupt your sleep, as can eating heavy meals or drinking lots of fluids too close to bedtime.

Get help with stress management. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake at night, learning how to handle stress in a productive way can help you sleep better at night.

Improve your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and reserve your bed for just sleeping and sex.

Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations late at night. Instead, wind down and calm your mind by taking a warm bath, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique to prepare for sleep.

Postpone worrying. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve.

Finally…

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Sleep isn’t just a “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. If you’re failing to get a good night’s sleep, contact us to schedule an appointment or answer any questions.

Some information provided by Help Guide).

Problem Sleepiness and Teenagers: How Much Sleep is Actually Needed

Research shows that most teenagers and do not get the sleep that they need on a daily basis. Teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Because of this, they need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

There are many factors that keep teens from getting enough sleep. Causes for their lack of sleep include the following:

  • Rapidly changing bodies
  • Busy schedules
  • Active social lives
  • A wrong view of sleep

Teen sleep problems can begin long before they turn 13. The sleep habits and changing bodies of 10 to 12-year-olds have a close link to the teen years. The sleep patterns of teens are also firmly set in their lives. It is not easy for them to change the way they sleep. Thus teen sleep problems can continue well into their years as adults. For these reasons, the information found here may apply to anyone from 10 to 25 years old.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs. Many U.S. high school and college have signs of problem sleepiness such as:

  • Difficulty getting up for school
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Struggling to stay awake while doing homework

The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. At the same time, many teens begin to show a preference for a later bedtime, which may be due to a biological change. Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.

Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults, but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:

  • Social activities with peers that lead to a later bedtime
  • Homework to be done in the evenings
  • Early wake-up times due to early school start times
  • Parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtimes
  • Employment, sports or other extracurricular activities that decrease the time available for sleep

Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:

  • Automobile crashes
  • Poor performance in school and poor grades
  • Depressed moods
  • Problems with peers and adult relationships

Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine nicotine and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Sleep – There is no substitute! 

The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed.

Finally…

Try to help your teen have a proper view of sleep. Sleep is not something to fight off or try to avoid. Sleep greatly benefits teens who make it a priority. They feel more alert and have more energy. They think more clearly and make better decisions. They will be happier and enjoy life more. There are simply too many benefits of good sleep for a teen to miss out on them. If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with your doctor to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by UCLA Health).

What is Narcolepsy? Hint: It’s More Than Feeling Tired

Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder in which a person (even with an adequate night’s rest) experiences excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness.  Daytime sleep attacks occur repeatedly with or without warning.

This sleep disorder occurs equally in men and women and is thought to affect roughly 1 in 2,000 people. The symptoms appear in childhood or adolescence, but many people have symptoms of narcolepsy for years before getting a proper diagnosis. Left untreated, narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in a person’s social, personal and professional lives.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

People with narcolepsy feel very sleepy during the day and may involuntarily fall asleep during normal activities. In narcolepsy, the normal boundary between awake and asleep is blurred so characteristics of sleeping can occur while a person is awake. For example, cataplexy is the muscle paralysis of REM sleep occurring during waking hours. It causes sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to a slack jaw, or weakness of the arms, legs, or trunk. People with narcolepsy can also experience dream-like hallucinations and paralysis as they are falling asleep or waking up, as well as disrupted nighttime sleep and vivid nightmares.

Getting Support

Narcolepsy is diagnosed by a physical exam, taking a medical history, as well as conducting sleep studies. If you do have narcolepsy, the most effective treatment is often a combination of medications and behavioral changes. People who are diagnosed with narcolepsy should seek counseling through educational networks and support groups. Getting a diagnosis of narcolepsy and managing the symptoms can be overwhelming and the disorder is not well understood by the general public. It helps to learn best practices and access support through others who have the disorder.

Currently, there is no cure for narcolepsy, but medications and behavioral treatments can improve symptoms for people so they can lead normal, productive lives. The first step to a sleep study is setting up an initial visit with a sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine. Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. We are here to help! Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

Our Top Tips: How To Get the Sleep You Need

Unfortunately, getting a full night’s sleep is not an easy task for some. The good news: ADC is here to help. The bad news: You won’t be able to change your sleep schedule overnight.

The most effective tactic is to make small changes slowly, starting with your sleep schedule. If you’re trying to go to sleep at 10:00pm, rather than midnight, for example, try this: For the first three or four nights, go to bed at 11:45pm, and then go to bed at 11:30pm for the next few days. Keep adjusting your sleep schedule like this. By working in 15-minute increments, your body will have an easier time adjusting.

What Are My Options?

Sleep disorders are diagnosed and treated by many different healthcare professionals, including general practitioners and specialist in neurology, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, psychology pediatrics, and other fields. As part of its mission, the American Academy Of Sleep Medicine (AASM) strives to increase awareness of sleep disorders in public and professional communities. The AASM is the major national organization in the field of sleep medicine. We represent several thousand clinicians and researchers in sleep disorders medicine. At ADC, we focus on diagnoses and treatment of patients who have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at night, problems with excessive daytime sleepiness or other medical problems that may occur or exacerbate during sleep.

What Is Our Advice?

The following guidelines can be used for a variety of sleep disorders. They will help most people sleep better. For more specific guidelines for your particular sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Maintain a regular wake time, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Try to go to bed only when you are drowsy.
  • If you are not drowsy and are unable to fall asleep for about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when, and only when, you are sleepy. Repeat this process as often as necessary throughout the night.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex, and times of illness.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Confine vigorous exercise to early hours, at least six hours before bedtime, and do mind exercises at least four hours prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep the inner clock running smoothly.
  • While a light snack before bedtime can promote sound sleep, avoid large meals.
  • Avoid indigestion of caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy. Even a small dose of alcohol can have a potent effect when combined with tiredness.
  • Avoid the use of nicotine close to bedtime or during the night.
  • Sleeping pills should be used only conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or other medications.

Talk To Us

A good night’s sleep is within reach. If you suspect that you may have a sleep disorder, contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Sleep.org).