Health & Body

Lack of Sleep Riskier For Women … Lack of sleep raises a woman’s risk of heart disease more than it does for a man, according to research at the University College London and the University of Warwick. Researchers found levels of inflammatory markers – indicators of heart disease – vary significantly with sleep duration in women, but not men. Earlier research suggested people who sleep less than 5 hours a night have an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who get a full 8 hours of sleep. This new study showed that among women, even a single hour of lost sleep made a significant difference.

Athletic Performance Lagging? Try Sleep … Losing your oomph, your zip, the spring in your step ? U.S. News and World Report health blogger Katherine Hobson points out that a performance decline in your favorite athletics can be attributed to a number of things, including lack of sleep. “The cause of a bad workout week might be as simple as not getting enough sleep. Sleep is sometimes called a ‘legal performance aid’ because of its ability to promote recovery from workouts or power based sports, suxh as running, biking or weightlifting. Research also suggests sleep helps embed a task or skill, which is important for athletics in precision sports .” she writes.

ACA: Right Mattress Can Improve Sleep Comfort, Reduce Pain … A recent press release from the American Chiropractic Association reminded Americans that a good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and that a good mattress is an essential part of healthy sleep. The ACA recalled the 2006 study conducted at Oklahoma State University and published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, which revealed that sleeping on a new mattress can significantly reduce stiffness and back pain. “Researchers found that study participants reported immediate and sustained benefits after sleeping on a new mattress,” the ACA said. “This was especially true of participants who entered the study with back pain complaints, as they reported a 63% improvement in back discomfort with a new mattress.” The ACA also offered the following advice. Shop for Support: Look for a mattress that provides uniform support from head to toe. If there are gaps between your body and the mattress (such as the waist), you are not getting the full support you need. Mattresses can be too firm so pay close attention to uncomfortable pressure on prominent body features such as the shoulders, hips and lower back. Shop for Comfort: Does the bed provide enough room for you and your sleeping partner if you have one? The ideal mattress will minimize the transfer of movement from one sleeping partner to the other, which means one person shouldn’t feel motion as the other leaves the bed. “Generally, a mattress should be replaced every five to eight years to ensure proper support and comfort.” The ACA advised. “Be aware that life’s changes can signal the need for a new mattress as well.”

Tired Brain Goes into Default Mode … New research suggests that a sleep-deprived brain may switch on the equivalent of an internal screen saver instead of concentrating on the tasks at hand. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that the brain default network - a little understood process that activates when people are daydreaming, recalling the past or when the mid wanders – was more likely to kick in and interfere with concentration when people were kept awake. MRI scans showed reduced activity in the brain of sleep-deprived volunteers while they performed mental tasks that required periods of waiting. The findings suggest that the default network could be turning on or remaining on when sleep-deprived brains are trying to concentrate, leading to errors.

Sleep Helps Regulate Blood Pressure … Middle – aged adults who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop high blood pressure, according to a five-year study at the University of Chicago. Researchers monitored blood pressure and sleep duration of 578 adults with an average age of 40. Participants who slept fewer hours were significantly more likely to have both high systolic and diastolic blood pressure. For every hour of sleep missed, researchers founds a 37% increase in the chance of developing High Blood Pressure. In a related study, The University of Chicago sleep lab disrupted the sleep of healthy male college students for 14 nights. By the end of the two-week period, the young men tested with blood chemistry equivalent to 70-year old men with elevated heart disease and high blood pressure risks.

Study Says New Mattress Good News For Bad Backs … 85% of consumers will experience back pain some time in their life. The latest OSU study has found that sleeping on a new mattress results in significant improvements in lower back discomfort, spine stiffness, sleep quality, sleep comfort and sleep efficiency (time in bed spent sleeping). Importantly, the age of study participants’ original mattresses was one of the stronger predictors of back discomfort and stiffness. In each case, participants had been sleeping on mattresses that were art least five years old. The mean age of the old mattress was 9.7 years. Here are some impressive findings after four weeks on a new mattress:

  • 63% reduction in low back pain
  • 63% reduction in spine stiffness
  • 66% improvement in sleep quality
  • 77% improvement in sleep comfort

Even study participants without back pain or other problems benefited by sleeping on a new mattress said Dr. Bert Jacobson, lead researcher. He went on to say, “I was not surprised at the levels of improvement for the people in the study with problems sleeping. What did surprise me were the significant improvements among the people who thought they had been sleeping well,” he said.

America, We Have a Problem With Sleep … American adults average 6.9 hours of sleep a night – less than the eight hours of sleep experts recommend. More than three-quarters of partnered adults say their partner has a sleep-related problem –most common being snoring. One-quarter of American adults report that their sleep problems have some negative impact on their daily lives. While most adults don’t use any type of sleep aid, alcohol appears to be the popular choice which is used by 11% at least a few nights a month. Another 9% use over-the-counter sleep aids and 7% use prescription medications.

Too Little Sleep Accelerates Aging … Research published in the journal Aging indicates that the consistent lack of a good night’s sleep can speed up the aging process. You may be able to tolerate less sleep when you are young without any immediately noticeable side effects, but that changes as you get older. Lack of sleep decreases your ability to handle stress, increases motor and neurological deterioration, and ultimately shortens your life. “This study suggests that young individuals may be able to handle certain stresses, but the same insults at an older age cause genetic damage and appear to lead to health problems and earlier death. All of the above is linked to biological clocks in humans. The Better Sleep Council recommends that a mattress and foundation be evaluated for replacement every 5-7 years.


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