Working Nights

A resource for improving the health and safety of shift workers since 1983

The Impact of Ageing on Sleep

It seems like every day we learn more about the importance of a full night of beneficial and restorative sleep; we understand that it impacts every portion of our lives and without it, we are vulnerable to a myriad of diseases and chronic conditions. Yet, for many of us and for many reasons, that type of sleep is so very difficult to come by.

Unfortunately, as we age it becomes even harder. Older adults face a reduction in the quantity and quality of deep sleep, the stage that beneficially overhauls our cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems and refreshes learning and memory abilities. Beginning in our 30s, each decade represents a significant decline in the restorative deep sleep we experienced when young.

In addition, our sleep also becomes more fragmented; we wake up more during the night, perhaps because of a weakened bladder or aches and pains.

Scientists also have determined that the circadian rhythms (the body’s internal wake/sleep clock) of older people change, resulting in our bodies calling for earlier bedtimes and earlier risings which can disrupt our sleep cycles.

Ageing in general can cause a deterioration in our health, but we are learning that the deterioration of our sleep may be more in play than we previously thought. As we age, we should continue to pay attention to our sleep patterns and discuss them with our doctors. There are steps that can and should be taken to improve and maintain a better night’s sleep….learn about them

Posted 1 year, 11 months ago at 1:12 pm.

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Not Just For Kids!

Naps…they really are not just for kids! Dr. Damien Leger, a French sleep researcher, writes that napping should be considered a basic right, not a luxury or an activity to be hidden or derided. He stresses how important they are for those who work nights and/or for those who routinely sleep six or less hours per day, since studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with diabetes, depression, cancer, obesity and even an increased risk of death.

Dr. Leger does note there are conditions for taking an effective and successful nap. He advises that it should be limited to 20 minutes (set your alarm!) as anything more might leave you with “sleep drunkenness”, rather than the rejuvenation which is sought. Also, find a safe place to sleep whether it is your desk (it is not necessary to lay down), car or an empty office or workspace.

Research has shown that naps or short periods of sleep increase cognitive performance, reaction time and mood, so take the time and try a nap; you may be thrilled with the results!

 

Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 9:12 am.

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Coffee Update

An influential of panel of experts gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded that drinking coffee regularly could protect against two different types of cancer, uterine and liver, although it is not clear why. As recently as 1991, researchers described coffee as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ with links to some cancers. But since then a large body of research has portrayed coffee (for those who drink it regularly) as a surprising elixir, finding lower rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and several cancers.

This is very good news since it is estimated that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee per day. Last year a panel of scientists working on the government’s 2015 dietary guidelines said there was “strong evidence” that three to five cups of coffee daily were not harmful and might reduce chronic disease.

A note of caution…the WHO’s cancer agency has announced that drinking extremely hot (150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, really too hot to drink) coffee or tea may promote esophageal cancer, so do wait a few minutes before taking that first sip.

So go ahead and enjoy that cup or cups of coffee…..

Posted 3 years, 2 months ago at 11:21 am.

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Help for Insomnia

Chronic insomnia is defined as at least three restless nights per week for at least three months. Have you been experiencing this? If yes, you are not alone!  The American College of Physicians (ACP) reports that 6-10 percent of people in the United States have insomnia; this percentage may be even greater among the shift work population.

Often figuring out what to do about it causes even more sleeplessness. A new report issued by the ACP suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might be worth a try. The physicians acknowledge that, while it may not have better results than sleep medications, it does have far fewer side effects.

Learn more about CBT and how it may work for you at the Huffington Post…..

Posted 3 years, 4 months ago at 10:23 am.

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New CDC Sleep Study

 

At Working Nights we often discuss the importance of sleep and the obstacles shift workers face in trying to get enough of it. Lack of sleep is not only a major issue for shift workers but for many adults (and unfortunately, a growing number of children) in the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that, according to a new sleep study, more than one third of adults in America are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. This study is the first to document estimates of self-reported healthy sleep duration (identified as 7 hours or more) in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the study and about some steps you can take to increase the quantity and quality of your sleep, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 9:46 am.

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The Effects of Interrupted Sleep

Ask yourself how often you get a full uninterrupted night’s sleep… do you ever? If your answer is sometimes, rarely or never, you are not alone!

We now know that sleep impacts EVERY part of our mental, physical and emotional lives and that it is the number one ingredient for optimum health. Knowing that, we usually worry about the number of hours of sleep we get and do not as often consider the quality of those hours. A recent study suggests we should….read about the impact of disrupted sleep at (e) Science News.

Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 1:44 pm.

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Sleep…the Key to Staying Healthy This Winter!

Sleep is a subject being studied by researchers more than ever as they continue to learn how it impacts every part of our mental, physical and emotional lives. Working Nights discusses it often since shift workers, due to their unique hours and the disruption of their circadian rhythms, get less sleep than the day working population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. The National Sleep Foundation reported in their 2013 survey that one in five Americans get less than six hours of sleep on an average work night.

As we approach winter and cold and flu season, we need to try even harder to get more undisturbed quality sleep (we are turning the clocks back this Sunday, November 1st, so there is an extra hour!). Working Nights looked at the results of a new UC San Francisco study on the relationship between shortened sleep and catching a cold or virus. Those results show  that those who slept less than six hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold; the odds increased for those who slept even less!

Learn more about the study and its results at (e)Science News.

Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 3:38 pm.

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Take a breath and relax….

So begins an article by Sumathi Reddy published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. How many times have you been given or have you given that advice over the years? Did you know that behind that simple phrase is a complex series of psychological processes that calm the body, help control pain and slow the heart? According to doctors and psychologists, breathing and controlling your breath is one of the easiest ways to improve mental and physical health, without medication and equipment!

By training themselves to breathe more slowly and properly, shift workers may be able to achieve long term health benefits. Go to the Wall Street Journal to learn more…..

Posted 4 years, 7 months ago at 11:54 am.

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Less Might Be More

Good news for shift workers! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that recent sleep studies have found that 7 hours is the optimal amount of sleep, not 8 as were recommended in the past. One study showed that cognitive performance increased as people got more sleep, reaching a peak at seven hours before starting to decline. Another found the lowest mortality and morbidity with 7 hours. Researchers are also reporting that too much sleep may be as harmful as too little sleep. The new sleep guidelines are expected to be issued in 2015.

Experts agree though that the optimal amount of sleep is what is right for each individual. Learn how you can determine what is right for you and learn more about the new sleep studies..

 

Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 9:30 am.

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Is There a Link between Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease?

 

Last month we wrote about a new study that described how the brain cleans itself as we sleep by flushing out the toxins accumulated during our waking hours. We noted that the results of this study are of great interest to Alzheimer’s researchers because one of the byproducts that is cleaned out daily is beta-amyloid, clumps of which form plaques found in the brains of AD (Alzheimers Disease) patients.

Sleep patterns have previously been linked to beta-amyloid plaques. Researchers from The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health have observed that those with AD spend more time awake and have more fragmented sleep patterns than those without the disease. They wanted to determine whether there was a link between beta-amyloid deposits and sleep within community-dwelling older adults.

The test group for their study consisted of 70 adults with an average age of 76; none of the participants had any form of dementia. They were asked to record their sleep patterns which included the duration of sleep and any trouble falling or staying asleep. Various brain imaging techniques were used to measure the beta-amyloid deposition in their brains.

The researchers report that the results of this study were consistent with those from animal research in which sleep deprivation increased interstitial fluid beta-amyloid levels. They note that this could have a tremendous impact on public health as AD is the most common form of dementia and almost half of older adults with the disorder report insomnia based symptoms. They say that “because late-life sleep disturbance can be treated, interventions to improve sleep or maintain healthy sleep among older adults may help prevent or slow AD to the extent that poor sleep promotes AD onset and progression.

The emotional, financial and logistical costs of AD are significant and will only increase as our population ages and more people are diagnosed. Further testing and research regarding sleep and its connection to AD continue to be conducted. The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund of Wellesley Hills, MA, dedicated to ending Alzheimer’s Disease, is currently funding a proposal on this subject.

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 2:46 pm.

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Sleep Cleans Our Brains!

Sleep, that often elusive (especially for shift workers) yet essential part of all of our lives, is in the news again because of a new study published in the journal Science last week.

Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered that sleep, in addition to boosting learning and memory retention and helping us feel more rested and alert, also gives our brains the opportunity to˜take out the trash”.  The trash is the toxic byproducts of activity during the daytime that need to be flushed out. The brain’s cleaning system goes into high gear when we are asleep by shrinking the cells in the brain allowing the cerebrospinal fluid to circulate throughout the brain tissue collecting the waste and sending it into the bloodstream. From there it is carried to the liver for detoxification.

Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, commented that the brain acts like a smart sanitation engineer; it’s easier to move the trash at night when the streets are clear. When we don’t get enough sleep or stay up all night, the toxins aren’t removed as efficiently as when we are sleeping. This explains why sleep deprivation has such strong and immediate consequences, such as mental fog and crankiness.

The results of this study are of great interest to Alzheimer’s researchers because one of the byproducts that is cleaned out daily is beta-amyloid, clumps of which form plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

If we didn’t already have enough reasons for trying to get enough sleep, this can certainly be added to our list!

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 11:34 am.

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Can lost sleep be recovered?

We all know that sleep deficit is a constant problem for many shift workers. And we also know that having a sleep debt impacts every faction of our lives. So the debate continues – what is the best way to make up that sleep? A May 20th article in the Wall Street Journal discusses this issue and offers some suggestions.

What is best for you, your schedule and your sleep type? Should you sleep binge, sleep bank or nap? Click here to learn more…. 

Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 11:18 am.

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A.D.H.D. or Sleep Deficit?

At this point, it appears we all know someone (if not yourself!) who has been diagnosed or has symptoms attributable to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or A.D.H.D. The classic symptoms of A.D.H.D. include procrastination, forgetfulness, the inability to pay attention consistently and the propensity to lose things. However, as a recent article published in the New York Times points out, there is an important diagnostic criterion: symptoms must date back to childhood.  Yet, in many patients, it has been shown they don’t.

Vatsal G. Thakkar, the article’s author, proposes that in a substantial number of cases, these symptoms may be a result of chronic sleep deficit! In today’s 24/7 society, we all get less sleep than we used to, especially shift workers. We at Working Nights often discuss the importance of sleep and what happens if we do not get enough. It has a tremendous negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Learn more about these sleep findings by reading the article in the New York Times.

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 8:38 am.

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Breaking News from the National Sleep Foundation!

In the past, sleep experts had warned us about exercising too close to bed time. They said excitement hormones such as adrenaline, which rise during exercise to give us energy and take about three hours to fall back to normal levels, would interfere with a good night’s sleep.

However, recent studies show this is not the case! These studies indicate that the timing of your exercise has no impact on your quality or quantity of sleep. This research is backed by a survey released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) which makes the case for exercising to improve sleep, regardless of the time of day or night. The survey polled vigorous exercisers who, whether exercising first thing in the morning or right before bed, were twice as likely as sedentary people to report they had a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night the week before. Therefore, the NSF has amended its recommendation for normal sleepers to encourage exercise at any time of day or night.

This is wonderful news for shift workers who often find it difficult to get to sleep and to fit exercise into their schedule. To learn more about this new information, go to the National Sleep Foundation’s website.

Posted 6 years, 6 months ago at 9:27 am.

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The Importance of Sleep

It seems as if each day there is new information on sleep, its importance in our daily lives and the severe implications to our health if we don’t get enough. Sleep deprivation is now considered a widespread public health issue as one in five American adults show signs of it. While this news certainly impacts all people, it is of even greater significance to shift workers, who on average get less sleep.

A recent article in e! Science News talks about the October meeting of Neuroscience 2012 during which a number of new findings on sleep were revealed. One of the findings describes how sleep enables the remodeling of memories — including the weakening of irrelevant memories — and the coherent integration of old and new information.  Another shows that loss of less than half a night’s sleep can impair memory and alter the normal behavior of brain cells.

Dr. Clifford Saper, an expert on sleep and sleep deprivation who served as the press conference moderator, said “As these research findings show, we cannot underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep”. To learn more and read the article in its entirety, please click here..

Posted 6 years, 10 months ago at 2:27 pm.

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