Jan 30, 2019 ISS Comments (0)
There is a close relationship between mental health and sleep. Poor sleep can be both a symptom and a cause of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Therefore living with a mental health condition can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, which in turn can have a negative impact on your mental health.
The vicious cycle of lack of sleep leads to one being tired throughout the day, making it difficult to cope with day-to-day life. The inability to cope lowers one’s self-esteem, increasing stress and again leading to lack of sleep.
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, are often experienced by those suffering from mental health conditions. Insomniacs sleep less overall and do not spend adequate time in the deeper parts of sleep, including REM. The REM stage of sleep is a restorative part of our sleep cycle, providing emotional and cognitive benefits. REM sleep allows us to regulate our emotions, maintain our memory capability and make good judgments. Without REM sleep, we tend to be moodier & irrational, suffer from memory lapses and are more inclined to make poor decisions. It’s easy to see how important REM sleep is, particularly for those suffering from mental health conditions.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a type of medication that is most commonly used to combat depression and anxiety and essentially increase serotonin in the brain. A recent study on those who take SSRIs has shown that the medication is more effective on people who are early risers compared to night owls. It is believed that night owls tend to have more irregular schedules and are also exposed to less light in the morning and more in the evening, resulting in out of sync circadian rhythms. SSRIs boost how the body clock responds to light. Therefore, irregular schedules and light exposure would make SSRIs less effective. Along with seeking professional medical support and making lifestyle changes, we would suggest ensuring morning natural light exposure where possible, as well as keeping a more consistent schedule where possible.
Dec 12, 2018 ISS Comments (0)
Humans are diurnal, meaning we are normally programmed to sleep during the night and are active during the day (unlike our koala friends). Our circadian rhythm is regulated through our optic nerves. Our bodies are signalled to stay awake when light enters our eyes and triggers communication via our optic nerves. When light wanes and we enter darkness, our brains are prompted to produce and release the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Without darkness, our body doesn’t know when to produce/release melatonin.
So what happens when you're exposed to constant light?
The summer solstice in Australia is fast approaching. However, unlike our clients and friends in the northern hemisphere, we don't get to experience perpetual daylight during summer! In places like Scandinavia, their summer break allows for fun and excitement after long, cold and dark winters. But being exposed to light when one should normally be experiencing a nocturnal period, can lead to sleep deprivation and other sleep-related health issues. This seems to be more of an issue for us as visitors than it is for the locals. We can definitely vouch that the lack of darkness completely threw our sense of time out the window. If it wasn’t for block-out curtains, eye masks and melatonin there is no doubt a zombie transformation would have occurred!
For those in the southern hemisphere, enjoy your summer downtime! And for our friends in the north, your time in the sun will come (in precisely 6 months!).
For more information on light and circadian rhythms, read our previous blog posts here:
Jun 21, 2018 ISS Comments (0)
Every day deserves to be a day of recognition, celebration and/or awareness of worthy causes. Today, the 21st of June 2018, we get to know our
fearless leader, Dr Adam Fletcher, a little more - over an espresso or two (or red wine) - with questions relating to today’s international recognition
days and their link with fatigue and sleep.
What role do you believe Yoga has in Fatigue Management?
“I can only speak from my personal experience on that question. I have been practicing yoga on a weekly basis for about 7 years, and it has definitely helped me manage stress in my body and mind as well as improve my sleep.”
What relaxation techniques can be used for sleep, fatigue, etc?
“There is a large and growing set of scientific/medical research papers on this question. Some relations techniques require more discipline, and some are quite simple, which is what I personally lean towards. When I am trying to sleep, I simply focus on my breath, and don’t force anything but just let the breath happen.”
What music do you like to listen to when you are winding down?
“The only time I really listen to calming, classical music is when I am about to sleep; mainly just on a digital classical radio station.”
What music do you listen to, to keep yourself awake?
“Having looked at a variety of research on this topic I am not convinced that music can help a person stay awake for any sustained period. However, I do have different music choices for different types of tasks. Sometimes heavy rock for getting a report done, dance music for processing data and doing analyses and Jazz for reflectively working on strategic questions.”
What are the long-term effects of less natural light exposure, and the reverse?
“That’s a very difficult question to answer, and maybe impossible. That’s because there are so many effects of light (or lack of it). Without being too wordy, I’d say having a healthy sleep pattern depends on light but many other systems also depend on the downstream effects of light, such as getting Vitamin D and the many benefits that can have on health.”
What are your tips in getting the right amount of natural light exposure during the winter months?
“For healthier circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, the ideal is to get a similar amount of light each day (the brighter the better), although that is impractical for many of us. Unfortunately, many places in the world are not conducive to Vitamin D production for many months of the year, so oral supplementation is necessary”.
If you have questions for Adam, or suggestions for future posts please let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Feb 09, 2018 ISS Comments (0)
The team at ISS are seasoned travellers, working with clients and attending events around the globe. We may have a few around the world trips under our belts, however we certainly aren’t breaking any records like Andrew Fisher.
Andrew, an airline executive, recently circled the globe, flying 3 different airlines in a record-breaking 52 hours and 34 minutes. His trip begun in Shanghai, where he boarded a flight to Auckland, then Buenos Aires and Amsterdam before returning to Shanghai.
Having been in transit for a short total of 5.5 hours, Andrew admitted that travelling continuously is emotionally and physically taxing. When we are travelling long distances, we like to:
Dec 20, 2017 ISS Comments (0)
The winter solstice is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, and the days are becoming shorter and colder. It is quite normal to be feeling the winter blues at this time of year, but some people experience a more extreme and seasonal form of depression that interferes with things like their mood and sleep. This condition is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is believed to be caused by a decrease in light exposure during the winter months.
The body’s circadian rhythm depends immensely on sunlight, and when it’s not in abundance during the winter months, disruptions to the biological clock can be experienced. With lower vitamin D absorption, and lower serotonin and melatonin production, the following can be experienced:
During the winter months, we recommend to get as much sun as possible, stay active and ensure you don’t sleep for more than 7-9 hours a night.
Nov 17, 2017 ISS Comments (0)
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the human body by the pineal gland. It aids the body to regulate its circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced in the evening, creating a natural drowsy effect in the body. During the day or throughout periods of light exposure, its production is suppressed.
At ISS, we use melatonin supplements for to adjust our circadian rhythm in order to manage our jet lag or to adjust to a certain shift schedule.
The dosage for melatonin supplements we use, varies depending on what we are using it for. If we are trying to nudge our circadian clock, we would generally take 0.5 milligrams per day. However to when adjusting to a new time zone to alleviate jet lag, 3 – 5 milligrams once a day is recommended.
Melatonin is available in tablet form, but we also recommend using Sprayable, a topical melatonin spray. Each bottle contains roughly 250mg of melatonin, which equates to the dosage being 0.05mg (or two sprays). We are a huge fan of this product, as less melatonin is better and using it topically is far more effective than orally.For more information on melatonin, contact us via Facebook, LinkedIn or comment below.
Sep 22, 2017 ISS Comments (0)
At ISS, we’re frequently travelling overseas to work with clients, and it’s safe to say we’re self-proclaimed nerds when it comes to avoiding jet lag.
On the top of our must-do list for avoiding jet lag is using light, especially when crossing more than five time zones (or through hyperspace).
In practical terms, when travelling west, get bright light for an hour or more starting from when you would normally go to sleep. This aims to delay your sleep and (hopefully) allow you to sleep in and wake up closer to your new time zones social schedule.
When travelling east, you would ideally get up earlier than normal and expose yourself to bright light for an hour or more in the few days leading up to your travel. Also turn your lights and devices (e.g. smart phones, tablets) off early, at least two hours before the time you want to fall asleep. This aims to kick your sleep time and wake up time earlier, more aligned with the social cues further east of you.
If you don’t mind looking nerdy like us, we recommend the intergalactic-looking Re-timer LED glasses. If you want to avoid light at certain times during your travel, search online for blue blocking sunglasses or use an eye mask.