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).

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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).

Stay Awake at The Wheel: Putting an End To Drowsy Driving

Your body requires three things: water, food and sleep. You can choose not to drink water or not eat food until you eventually die. Your body’s need for sleep is so strong, however, that you can try not to sleep, but your brain will eventually make your body sleep. When you deprive yourself of sleep (or aren’t getting quality sleep), you become drowsy.

Drowsiness is a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic. Drowsiness can be triggered by your body clock, exposure to daylight/darkness and how long you’ve been awake. The average amount of sleep recommended for an adult is eight hours. Any less can impair you speech and motor skills. It is even likened the effects of being under the influence of alcohol.

How Common is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is responsible for 100, 000 police-reported crashes annually, involving 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. However, studies suggest an even higher rate of drowsy driving. One study goes as far as to say 55% of people drive while drowsy, while 23% fall asleep behind the wheel without incident, and 3% have been in a drowsy/sleep-related accident.

Drivers that are drowsy are usually unaware of how tired they are prior to an accident, and as of now, there is no test for sleepiness after a wreck.  This is due, in part, to the release of adrenaline that an accident causes the brain to release. Drowsy drivers are often fully alert after an accident, which can be misleading. Drivers also tend to be reluctant to tell police they were drowsy after a crash.

What are the Common Characteristics in Drowsy Driving Accidents?

The time of day could be a cause for a driver being drowsy. Our brain tells our body to sleep in the quiet midnight hour, but we get a similar call at the peak hours of the afternoon. In turn, most accidents happen between midnight and 8 a.m., closely followed by 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. So, if you must drive during these times, provide yourself with plenty of sleep beforehand.

82% of reported drowsy crashes involved an individual driving alone. Another person in the vehicle provides a buffer to keep the driver alert. At very least, the passenger has the opportunity to notice when the driver is getting sleepy. Driving with the “buddy system” can allow the passengers in the vehicle to drive on a shift schedule.

One report stated  4% of all fatalities are attributed to people driving drowsy. Good indicators can include no skid marks or witnesses not seeing brake lights.

Who is Most at Risk?

Young drivers make up the majority of drowsy drivers. 55%, to be exact. Males make up 75% of those car wrecks, while females account for the the remaining 25%. Other attributing factors include lifestyle or behavioral choices. Younger people to make tiresome decisions such as to stay up late and work longer hours.

What are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

  • Drifting from your lane or hit the rumble strip.
  • Finding yourself yawning frequently.
  • Catching yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Weakened attention or wandering mind.
  • Tailgating and missing of traffic signs.
  • Having trouble focusing and keeping your eyes open.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving?

Prevent drowsy driving by making sure you (or your driver) is well rested before extended car trips-trips. Another effective measure is to stop and sleep when you feel tired. Also, avoid alcohol and medications that impair your ability to drive. Don’t fall under the fallacy that you’ll be able to shake it off and be fine when you can feel your eyes getting heavy.

Alerting devices can save your life. One of the most effective alerts is the roadway rumble strip to wake a driver who is drifting off but it isn’t a cure-all. Auto manufacturers are also creating new devices to help keep a driver awake on the road.

If healthy sleep habits don’t help your drowsiness, you should get a sleep study. Learn more about sleep studies and sleep disorders.

Understanding Sleep Apnea: How Common Is It?

 

adc-understanding-sleep-apnea-infographicSleep apnea is a very common disorder in which people stop breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, often for a minute or longer and as many as hundreds of times during a single night.
Sleep apnea can be caused by either partial or complete obstruction of the airway (obstructive apnea) or temporary loss of the stimulation from the brain to take a breath during sleep.  As a result, the brain is forced to awaken slightly to restore normal breathing or to relieve the obstruction.  These brief awakenings lead to a substantial decrease in sleep quality.

  • Sleep apnea is very common, as common as type 2 diabetes. It affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotence, and headaches.
  • Sleep apnea is seen more frequently among men than among women, particularly African-American and Hispanic men.
  • Because of the lack of awareness by the public and health care professionals, the vast majority of sleep apnea patients remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated.

Think you might have a sleep disorder? We use 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).

Top 6 Foods That Can Help You Get the Sleep You Need

adc-food-and-sleep

Have you ever noticed how some foods make you feel sleepy while others give you a lift? Not only does food add nourishment to our bodies, but the things we eat and drink can pick us up or slow us down. Knowing how food and beverages affect the body can help keep you alert during the day and get the sleep you need at night. Here are a few foods that will help you avoid sleepless nights:

Lentils

This superfood is rich in magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in sleep. It’s also a good source of potassium and protein to help you sleep through the night.

Almonds

These crunchy nuts do more than add flavor to a party snack. Almonds contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. A handful of almonds or a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep.

Bananas

These nutritional powerhouses contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer abundant amounts of magnesium and potassium, notes UCLA’s Avidan. “Both minerals help to relax muscles and may ease a painful charley horse that can wake you during the night,” he says.

Milk and Cereal

Milk contains the sleep-promoting tryptophan, which the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles. The carbohydrates in cereal make tryptophan more available to the brain, according to the National Sleep Foundation. For the best nutritional bang, choose a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal.

Hummus

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan but also in folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people, and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock.

Chickpeas are a great snack if you’re looking to add some diversity into your diet. You can also eat raw chickpeas by tossing them in a salad, or cooking them up and adding them as a side dish to any meal. Better still, turn to hummus. Hummus is made with chickpeas and it makes a healthy snack or delicious condiment on sandwiches.

Peanut Butter

Next time your sweet tooth is craving something after dinner, swap your dessert out for some peanut butter. PB is rich in tryptophan. Spread some on a few whole-grain crackers, which provide carbs to help the tryptophan reach the brain more easily.

Finally…

If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, consider the foods in your daily diet to see how they might be impacting your sleep cycle. Each item on this list can be eaten individually or mixed together for diverse meals and snacks to add to your diet. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. Contact ADC’s Sleep Center for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by AARP).

Stay Alert: An Inside Look at Drowsy Driving

adc-drowsy-driving

Feeling abnormally sleepy or tired during the day is commonly known as drowsiness. Drowsiness may lead to additional symptoms, such as forgetfulness or falling asleep at inappropriate times. A variety of things may cause drowsiness. These can range from mental states and lifestyle choices to serious medical conditions.

Drowsiness is a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic. Drowsiness can be triggered by your body clock, exposure to daylight/darkness and how long you’ve been awake. The average amount of sleep recommended for an adult is eight hours. Any less can impair you speech and motor skills. It is even likened the effects of being under the influence of alcohol.

How Widespread is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is responsible for 100, 000 police-reported crashes annually, involving 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. However, studies suggest an even higher rate of drowsy driving. One study goes as far as to say 55% of people drive while drowsy, while 23% fall asleep behind the wheel without incident, and 3% have been in a drowsy/sleep-related accident.

Drivers that are drowsy are usually unaware of how tired they are prior to an accident, and as of now, there is no test for sleepiness after a wreck.  This is due, in part, to the release of adrenaline that an accident causes the brain to release. Drowsy drivers are often fully alert after an accident, which can be misleading. Drivers also tend to be reluctant to tell police they were drowsy after a crash.

What are the Common Characteristics in Drowsy Driving Accidents?

The time of day could be a cause for a driver being drowsy. Our brain tells our body to sleep in the quiet midnight hour, but we get a similar call at the peak hours of the afternoon. In turn, most accidents happen between midnight and 8 a.m., closely followed by 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. So, if you must drive during these times, provide yourself with plenty of sleep beforehand.

82% of reported drowsy crashes involved an individual driving alone. Another person in the vehicle provides a buffer to keep the driver alert. At very least, the passenger has the opportunity to notice when the driver is getting sleepy. Driving with the “buddy system” can allow the passengers in the vehicle to drive on a shift schedule.

One report stated  4% of all fatalities are attributed to people driving drowsy. Good indicators can include no skid marks or witnesses not seeing brake lights.

Who is Most at Risk?

Young drivers make up the majority of drowsy drivers. 55%, to be exact. Males make up 75% of those car wrecks, while females account for the remaining 25%. Other attributing factors include lifestyle or behavioral choices. Younger people to make tiresome decisions such as to stay up late and work longer hours.

What are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

  • Drifting from your lane or hit the rumble strip.
  • Finding yourself yawning frequently.
  • Catching yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Weakened attention or wandering mind.
  • Tailgating and missing of traffic signs.
  • Having trouble focusing and keeping your eyes open.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving?

Prevent drowsy driving by making sure you (or your driver) have gotten enough sleep before extended car trips. Another effective measure is to stop and sleep when you feel tired. Also, avoid alcohol and medications that impair your ability to drive. Don’t fall under the fallacy that you’ll be able to shake it off and be fine when you can feel your eyes getting heavy.

Alerting devices can save your life. One of the most effective alerts is the roadway rumble strip to wake a driver who is drifting off but it isn’t a cure-all. Auto manufacturers are also creating new devices to help keep a driver awake on the road.

 

If healthy sleeps habits don’t help your drowsiness, you should get a sleep study. Learn more about sleep studies and sleep disorders.

(Some information provided by Health Line).

Problem Sleepiness And Adolescents

ADC - Adolescents and problem sleepiness

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 preference for a later bed time, 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. 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.

The Problem With Problem Sleepiness

ADC - problem sleepiness

Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.” A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward. You may have problem sleepiness if you:

  • Consistenlty do not get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep
  • Fall asleep while driving
  • Struggle to stay awake when inactive such as when watching televison or reading
  • Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school or home.
  • Have performance problems at work or school
  • Are often told by others that you are sleepy
  • Have difficulty remembering
  • Have slowed responses
  • Have difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Must take naps on most days

What Causes Problem Sleepiness?

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Each day there are two periods when the body experiences a natural tendency toward sleepiness: during the late night hours (generally between midnight and 7 a.m.) and gain during the midafternoon (generally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). If people are awake during these times, they ahve a higher risk of falling asleep unintentionally, especially if they havent been getting enough sleep.

Inadequate Sleep

The amount of sleep needed each night varis among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 8.5 hours. Some people need more than that to avoid problem sleepiness; others need less.

If a person does not get enough sleep, even on one night, a “sleep debt” begins to build and increases until enough sleep is obtained. Problem sleepiness occurs as the debt accumulates. Many people do not get enough sleep during the work week and then sleep longer on the weekends or days off to reduce their sleep debt. If too much sleep has been lost, sleeping in on the weekend may not completely reverse the effects of not getting enough sleep during the work week.

 

What Can Help?

Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activites and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, moe sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bed-time. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 – to 6o minute daily nap may help.

A person with problem sleepiness is limited in reaching their full potential, let us help you find a solution. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.