Sleep Deprivation


Trouble Sleeping


In our fast – paced society, the risk of developing stress related problems is high. It seems that responsibilities increase as we age. When you use the word “stress” most people assume you’re talking about negative emotional effects, but stress presents itself in many other ways: high blood pressure, headaches, sexual problems, & intestinal trouble.

Stress is also related to sleep depravation. In fact, in one article USA Weekend March issue 06 pg. 10 states: 1 of the most significant conditions associated with chronic stress is insomnia.

      Sleep deprivation hits Americans right in the wallet by reducing productivity. It impairs the abilities to read, write, react, reason, do math & make decisions every faculty that contributes to getting jobs done well. People with chronic insomnia R less productive than normal sleepers, & they report 2.5 times as many auto accidents. But U don’t have to have insomnia to have sleep deprivation impair Ur performance. Guess when doctors R most likely to order the wrong medications for hospital patients: at the end of a long overnight shift. (This applies to nurses as well)


Fortunately, doctors are getting better at diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. So listen up if you are watching infomercials at 3 in the Morning.


Most of us have difficulty sleeping on occasion, and it’s important to note that individual sleep needs vary greatly.

What really matters isn’t the quantity of sleep, but the quality. Insomnia is officially defined as the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor – quality sleep because of one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning or feeling un-refreshed by sleep.

Fortunately, most of these common difficulties are short – lived and sporadic, and people can “catch up” with a good night’s rest. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity linked deepened sleep with lower body fat in nearly 7,000 study participants. I personally noticed that when sleep deprived, not only that I feel fatigued, but slur my words & sometimes I am in difficulty recalling certain vocabulary words; I also find that I am constantly hungry, I believe that lack of sleep alters 2 appetite – regulating hormones, leptin & ghrelin. Other studies conducted at University of Chicago indicate that just a few nights of poor quality sleep significantly increases your body’s fat – storing ability. Unfortunately chronic insomnia can last months, even Years. Sufferers are left with constantly low batteries, which can lead to health problems. Those who R sleepy, often don’t realize it & R apt to deny it (1 indication is yawning). Many cultures honor the afternoon siesta. America should, too. 


The National Snooze Dept.

    Y don’t we notice that we’re sleepy? Blame it on Thomas Edison…. Before the electric light, most Americans took Benjamin Franklin’s advice: Early to Bed early to rise. After electric lightings arrival, Americans still rose early, but they started staying up considerably later & as a result, sleep too little.


 When to see a Doctor

You may want to see a sleep specialist if you regularly have any of these symptoms:

*Trouble getting to sleep

* Frequently waking up through the night

* Excessive daytime Sleepiness

* Inability to concentrate in the daytime

* Feeling a need to move your legs at night in bed

* Air hunger (gasping for air on waking up)


*  Loud snoring or pauses in breathing while sleeping


Stress Working families and community activities are the spice of life. But whether stress is “good” (soccer games, charity balls) or “bad” (unpaid bills, teenager trouble, Family Misunderstandings), the effects on sleep can be the same. Stress is harder to treat than to identify. Some experts recommend relaxation therapy, which usually requires counseling and lots of practice but can be effective.

 If U answered yes to any of these questions U need to look into Ur sleeping patterns.


*  Do U have to rely on an alarm clock to get up in the morning?

*  Do U ever sleep through your alarm?

*  Is getting out of bed a challenge?

* Have U ever experience powerful waves of drowsiness in school, at work, at the movies or anywhere else that requires you attention?

*  Do U ever fall asleep without intending to?

*  Do U ever wonder where Ur get – up - & - go has gone?


The good news: If you can improve other habits, your sleep probably will improve, too. Consider whether you should modify any of the following 14 factors.


1) Tension – Physical or Psychological – keeps us from relaxing sufficiently to fall asleep. People R literally “taking their worries to bed”. Learning some techniques for coping with stress & winding down before bed. Relaxation techniques R also helpful. Ex. Write a worry diary each night & “close the Book” before getting into bed. (The rationale behind this is that we tend to loop things over and over in our heads because subconsciously we are afraid to forget something important, so writing it down insures that we won’t forget, thus enabling us to put it out of our minds and relax).

Try not to associate the bed with wakefulness. If U can’t sleep, get up & Read, Sew, or Watch TV until U feel sleepy. Helpful: Avoid sleeping pills & alcohol.


2) The environment. The environment makes a difference in how soundly you sleep. A quiet, cool (but not cold, dark room with a comfortable, familiar bed (We spend 30% of our lives sleeping, so it makes sense to buy a mattress that won’t make U sick. Most mattresses R treated with toxic chemicals, such as PBDE, polybrominated diphenyl ether, flame retards, which may cause health problems, particularly in sm. Children & r banned in some states & much of Europe.) is your best bet.


3) Jet lag. If you travel a lot, crossing times zones, it helps to get on the new schedule right away. Some experts recommended taking melatonin, the “dark hormone”, a substance our bodies produce so we can tell dusk from dawn. Clinic’s policy on melatonin: for jetlag, OK, for chronic insomnia, it’s not.

4) Medications. Many people who use decongestants for allergies find that the medicine affects their sleep. If you are one of these people, try to take the decongestant early in the Morning.


5) Caffeine. As a nation, we consume so much caffeine. We wake up after disturbed slumber, bleary – eyed and tired, but we have a meeting we must be cheery for, so what do we do? Put on a pot of coffee! WE then drink coffee all day for stimulation. That evening, the caffeine disturbs us and we don’t get rejuvenating sleep. Specialists recommend a limitation of up to 200 milligrams daily. That’s two small cups of weak coffee or four cans of soda & lets not forget chocolate.


6) Alcohol before bed. Is the wrong way to decompress?

Different people have different ways of unwinding at night. 1 common practice is to have a few drinks. After a hard day’s work, some choose to relax with a few cold beers, wine or a cocktail or two. While Alcohol certainly may have a calming effect at bedtime, but don’t count on it to help you stay asleep through the night.

Research has shown that alcohol disrupts the normal sleep pattern, it can disrupt the second ½ of the sleep period, & leads to diminished energy & fatigue for the next day. Also, those who regularly drink alcohol before bedtime find that its ability to make them sleepy decreases over time. Your brain is busy all night. Sleep is your body’s way of recovering its batteries (the immune system cannot fully defend against disease causing microorganisms with out a good uninterrupted sleep pattern). Consider it nature’s way of allowing your system to recover from the day’s grind, & prepare you for the following day’s challenges.


    The brain goes in cycles, called stages, progressing from very light sleep to deep sleep. Four of these stages occur before the onset of what is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Here is what happens: U start to fall asleep this is a light sleep and systematically progressing through the various stages of non REM sleep, moving from stage 1 to Stage 4 (see below for chart) At this point U enter the REM phase of sleep, which can last from several Min. to an hr., getting longer with each subsequent cycle. Afterward, the cycle repeats.


7) Tobacco. Nicotine is a stimulant. The best thing for your health: Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, abstain for a few hours before going to bed.

8) Irregular schedules. Physicians and shift workers certainly identify with this! Waking up throughout the night for phone calls from any were (friends, work, wrong #s etc.) Can take a toll. Try to minimize these types of disruptions.


9) Napping. An occasional nap on a lazy Saturday afternoon is fine, but regular napping can affect your ability to rest at night. Try to stay on a regimen in going to sleep at the same time every night.


10) Exercise. Moderate workouts help you sleep by “purging” adrenaline. But vigorous exercise an hour or two before bed can disturb sleep. So exercise moderately, and not just before you hit the sack.

    So, what help is available? Fortunately, losing a night or two of sleep doesn’t require special treatment.

Sleeping pills often are prescribed for people with excessive daytime somnolence (EDS). But use them with caution; they have side effects and can be habit-forming. If your sleep is disturbed more than occasionally, see a Doctor. Remember the saying “We have seen the enemy, and he is us!” That’s fairly accurate for most who can’t sleep. Resolve to be a buddy to yourself and get a good night’s sleep.  


11) Snacking. Try to avoid snacking late and in the middle of the night. This reinforces insomnia.


12) Finish up any work – related tasks early in the evening so U don’t take stress to bed with U.


13) The Common cold. Ever catch a cold after pulling an all-nighter?

“ A person with a lg. Sleep debt is much more vulnerable to infections & other illnesses, explains peter Hauri, Ph.D. director of the insomnia Research & Treatment Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

14) Vitamins. Try to take your vitamins earlier in the day on a full stomach as opposed to a late dinner. 


How to get rid of nightmares

   A nightmare, technically, is a frightening dream that awakes U. Its contents R no different than the contents of a normal dream, What is different: How U react. How we respond to our dreams is affected by how we feel both physically & emotionally. U can eliminate nightmares by getting rid of things that can cause U to react badly to your dreams.

 These include…


*  Medications. Certain drugs can increase the incidence of nightmares, including beta-blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, sleeping pills, nasal sprays etc…

Solution: Ask your doctor about changing prescribed medications.

*  Stress. Feeling on edge increases your susceptibility to nightmares.

Solution: Exercise. Try a cup of Chamomile tea or a B complex a couple of hrs. before bed.

*  Illnesses. Any illness that makes U feel bad can cause nightmares.

Solution: With minor illnesses, the nightmares will go away as U get better. If they don’t & other nightmare – causing factors R ruled out, see your doctor for an evaluation.

 *  Miscellaneous problems. For many, nightmares have no obvious cause.

 Solution: Figure out what’s causing the nightmares by making a connection between them & real life – think metaphorically. EX. A nightmare about being assaulted may be a metaphor for feeling threatened or intimidated by your boss, a friend or relative.


Stage 1:

Light sleep, easily awakened

Stage 2:

Light Sleep, Body temperature decreases

Stage 3 & 4:

Deep Sleep. Know as low – wave or delta sleep, it’s characterized by rhythmic breathing. Stage 4 is more intense the stage 3.

Stage 5:

REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep. Intense dreaming occurs from heightened brain activity, but this is a lighter sleep than Stages 3 & 4.

A person may go through 5 sleep cycles in a typical night. The cycles recur in sequence, with the 1st one usually lasting about 100 minutes.

 Sleep gives the brain an opportunity to process & store information from the day. Deep sleep triggers the release of human growth hormone – a substance necessary for physical development.

Sleep is vital to bolstering the immune system.


Newborns typically sleep just a few hours at a time,

 S.I.D.S. Safety:

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Experts aren’t sure what causes it; however, there R ways U can help protect against it.

Take these precautions:

    Put your baby to sleep on his/her back. (Since 1992 pediatricians have recommended that infants be placed on their backs to sleep, SIDS dropped by more than 40%)

      With his/her mouth pressed up against the mattress, a stomach – sleeping baby is more likely to be…… deprived of oxygen – rich air.

    Don’t Smoke. Babies who live in homes where a parent smokes R twice as likely to die of SIDS.

    Co-sleeping. The more people who share a bed with a baby, the higher the risk of SIDS. Why? An infant can become trapped between the mattress & bed frame & suffocate, or someone can inadvertently roll over onto her.

    Choose a firm mattress, skip the soft bedding. In 1 study, infants using soft bedding were 5 times more likely to die of SIDS than those sleeping on harder surfaces. Also, clear the crib of stuffed animals, comforters & blankets (a Sleep sack will keep your baby warm).

    Dress your Baby lightly. Overheating can make your baby sleep so deeply that arousal is difficult, so don’t dress him/her too warmly for bedtime (about 68 degrees).

    Consider using a pacifier. Studies have found that babies who use pacifiers R at lower risk for SIDS. Some researchers speculate that a “binky” may discourage a baby from rolling onto her tummy.


 Hopefully, Ur child has settled into a bedtime routine & is regularly sleeping through the night. Don’t wait until your child is rubbing his/her eyes or yawning to put them to bed, by then their over tired. Children ages 1 – 3 yrs. need 12 to 14 hrs. of sleep (including naps) and 3 – 5 yr. old should get 11 – 13 hrs. 


If your child goes to bed at 10:00pm on a school night, he/she is not getting enough sleep. School aged children need 10 –11 hrs. of shut eye a night. Those who get less R prone to injury & illness & they lack concentration in school. The fix is surprisingly easy. “Just get rid of the bad habits. I’m sure U know what the R”.

Snooze Solutions for Older Children



   Cut Caffeine. The National Sleep Foundation explains that 26% of children drink at least 1 caffeinated beverage per day – and consequently lose 30 minutes of sleep nightly. Caffeine is ingested through colas, coffee, and chocolate.

   Banish the TV from the Bd.Rm. Children who have TV or computers in their rms. Go to bed an average of 34 min. later, losing nearly 3 hrs. of sleep weekly.

   Make reading part of the bedtime routine. Children who read or R read to; R most likely to get enough shut – eye.

   Be alert for health – related symptoms. Loud snoring, mouth breathing & gasping can signal sleep apnea (Apnea means a lapse in breathing), a condition that causes a child to stop breathing intermittently. This pattern continues all night long, keeping oxygen from entering the blood resulting strains on the heart, elevating blood pressure & preventing deep sleep. If u notice anything out of the ordinary, consult a sleep specialist.

 Do U Snore Or Is It More???


     Snoring usually is not a health problem, but many people have a more severe condition: obstructive sleep apnea.

It occurs when a person stops breathing off & on throughout the night, sometimes dozens of times each hour. As a result, oxygen in the blood stream falls to a dangerous level {the loss of O2 kills off brain cells in regions that regulate blood pressure, which can trigger hypertension or wide swings in blood pressure, leading to a stiffening of blood vessels}. Over time, apnea increases the risk for developing high blood pressure, pulmonary artery hypertension (elevated blood pressure in vessels in the lungs), irregular heartbeat, depression fatigue & decreased mental sharpness. Also, people with apnea have some impaired mental sharpness that increases risks while driving, operating heavy equipment, etc.

One of the most effective treatments is to lose weight. Other fixes: mechanical devices to open the airway; machines to “blow” air into the chest while sleeping; surgery.

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with some simple studies but sometimes requires an overnight polysomnogram (sleep study)

See a sleep specialist


Average snores R between 60 & 80 decibels. That’s equivalent to a garbage disposal or freeway traffic.




Brought to U by Nancy's Universe 

Source of reference: Daily News, Healing Unlimited, U.S.A. WEEKEND 3.24-26 06, Prevention, Natures Cures 341,


  Notice: This site is intended as a reference Volume only not as a medical manual. The information given here is designed to help you make informed decisions about your health. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment that may have been prescribed by your doctor. If you suspect that you may have a medical condition, please seek a competent Medical Herbalist/ Doctor.