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The Fatigue Insider Blog

Can sleep clean out the junk from your brain?

Feb 19, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

The exact reason why we sleep has long been one of the greatest mysteries of modern science, but a recent study offers a theory corroborated earlier research that sleep may act as a way for your brain to flush out all the waste that your neurons produce throughout the day.
 
The researchers focused on the movement of fluids between neurons in mice during the awake and sleep states. They found that there was very little movement of fluids during awake states, and that movement rapidly increased during sleep. These fluids act as drainage for toxic waste that the brain is likely too busy to purge during the day.
 
A 2019 study built on this research, showing for the first time that this mechanism is present in humans and that the fluid present in our brains and spinal cords, called cerebrospinal fluid, appears to synchronize with brainwaves to help remove metabolic trash.
 
Maiken Nedergaard, one of the authors of the 2013 study, commented on the implications that these studies may have on shift workers, as the sleep loss that they experience is likely causing long term damage.
 
In the short term, the build-up of proteins and junk can make you feel foggy after one night of sleep loss as the neurons struggle a bit more to connect with each other.
 
But in the long term, this research can shed light on diseases like Alzheimers, as it is toxic protein plaques that play a key role in memory loss and other cognitive impairments experienced by individuals suffering from many neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers don’t yet know if these plaques are a cause or a result of neurodegenerative disease.

You can read the 2019 study ‘coupled electrophysiological, hemodynamic, and cerebrospinal fluid oscillations in human sleep’ in Science here: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6465/628
 
You can read the 2013 study ‘Sleep drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain, in Science here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24136970

 

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Are sleep pods the answer to a stressful office?

Feb 05, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

The increase of sleep pods and relaxation rooms in offices, ostensibly introduced to combat increased stress and fatigue among employees, may actually be fuelling a 24-hour working culture.
 
In recognition of the importance of sleep, innovative companies like Google, Nike, and Hootsuite have all invested in napping pods and rooms in an attempt to boost productivity. Although it can be hard to work out whether these efforts are in the best interest of employees’ health and wellbeing or suggest an expectation that employees will be spending much more of their time in the office.
 
While napping for 10 to 20 minutes has been shown to increase alertness, it can also delay the onset of sleep later in the night. As such, the provision of facilities for employees to nap can be extremely important for those doing shift work; but for those doing traditional 9 to 5 jobs, napping could just disrupt circadian rhythms and encourage employees to work longer hours.
 
If employees in corporate environments who aren’t working shifts are so tired that they require naps throughout the day, there may be deeper issues present related to workplace culture and expectations of productivity that need to be addressed. It is important for employees to be able to fully switch off from work for a reasonable amount of time each day in order for them to deliver peak performance long-term.

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New Year’s resolutions: Is sleep the new fitness?

Jan 01, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

 

We hope that everyone had a fantastic New Year’s Eve! We are heading into a packed 2020 feeling refreshed and ready to work harder than ever.

Every New Year’s Day, we pledge that this is the year that we get in shape, and we go out in droves to purchase gym memberships and start new diets. Flash forward to a month later, and most of us are back into our packed daily lives with no time to stick to our fitness goals. This year, we’re focusing on our wellbeing by resolving to get a good night’s sleep. In other words, 2020 is the year for sleep to finally become the new fitness!

The world is finally waking up to the fact that when it comes to physical fitness, sleep is just as important as physical exercise and a good diet.
 
Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight
Just like a good diet and exercise, getting the proper amount of sleep is an essential component of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Without sleep, your metabolism could be negatively affected, making it more difficult for you to process insulin. You are also less likely to snack irresponsibly if you are well-rested.
 
Sleep helps you manage stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are issues that most people will have to face at some point, but getting sufficient sleep is key in both dealing with and preventing anxiety from negatively affecting your life. Without sleep, you will find that your body will go into a state of stress. The body produces more stress hormones like cortisol, which will make it more difficult to fall asleep in the future.
 
Sleep helps you fight off depression
Studies have shown that depression may both cause and be caused by sleep disorders, so getting your sleeping habits in check is key for managing your mental health. Just as regular exercising helps to increase emotional resilience, proper sleep hygiene contributes to improved mood and resilience.
 
Sleep helps you live longer
All sorts of diseases have been linked to sleep deprivation, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, the worsening of blood pressure and higher levels of cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that getting enough sleep is a fantastic first line of defence against these conditions and will promote overall health.
 
Sleep reduces inflammation
Exercising and laying off unhealthy foods won’t be enough to reduce inflammation in isolation; sleeping is also key. If you sleep less than six hours a night, your blood levels of inflammatory proteins may be higher than people who sleep more. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging all have strong ties to inflammation, so reducing it is essential for overall wellbeing.
 
With all the reasons that sleep is important to a healthy lifestyle, it makes sense to plan around sleep the same way that you would make plans for physical exercise and diet in 2020.

 

 

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Give yourself the gift of sleep this holiday season

Dec 25, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

The holiday season may be a magical time to catch up with old friends, visit with family and enjoy holiday parties, but it can also be a time of significant stress, sleep deprivation, and habits that can damage our health and immune system. It’s important to prioritise staying as well rested and healthy as possible during the festive season.
 
We tend to overindulge on alcohol during this period, whether that be due to of end of year festivities or to deal with our relatives. While it is best to limit alcohol consumption, if you do partake, try to wait a couple of hours before you go to bed to get the best sleep possible.
 
The same can be said for food, as we tend to overstuff ourselves and go for more sweets than usual. If you can, reserve your overeating for specific meals and occasions, rather than falling off the wagon completely and having to work it off as part of your New Year’s resolutions. Eating heavy or sugary meals at night will negatively affect your ability to sleep, so try to leave a significant amount of time between eating and bedtime.
 
Even though you might be dealing with some end-of-year burnout, and even the ability to take naps while you have less work obligations, try to avoid sleeping too much, as it will just make you more tired. If you do feel the need to have an after-lunch food coma nap, try to keep it to 20 minutes or less.
 
It can be a really stressful time, so try to fit in things that provide some relief from all the hustle and bustle. This could be doing some exercise, meditation, or whatever makes you happiest. We hope that you all have a very happy holiday season!

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A positive attitude could lead to better sleep

Oct 16, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

Are you struggling to sleep? Try being more optimistic! A recent study has found that those with a more optimistic disposition had significantly better odds of getting better quality sleep.
 
More than 3,500 people ages 32-51 participated in the 2019 study, which measured optimism by asking participants to assess 10 statements using a 5-point scale.
 
To measure their sleep, participants reported on their sleep twice over a period of five years and rated their sleep quality and duration during the previous month. The survey assessed their symptoms of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, and the number of hours of actual sleep they obtained each night. Some participants also wore activity monitors that collected data on their sleep duration, percentage of time asleep and restlessness while sleeping.
 
Participants with higher optimism scores were more likely to sleep for 6-9 hours each night and 74% less likely to have insomnia.
 
Lead author Dr Rosalba Hernandez, from the University of Illinois, speculated on what could explain their findings: "Optimists are more likely to engage in active problem-focused coping and to interpret stressful events in more positive ways, reducing worry and ruminative thoughts when they're falling asleep and throughout their sleep cycle."
 
You can access the article from the Journal of Behavioural Medicine here.

 

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Simple yoga poses to help you get some shuteye

Sep 18, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Yoga can be a gentle way to help you wind down at the end of the night and bring some awareness back into your body. An American national health interview survey (NHIS) found that over 55% of respondents reported improved sleep, and 85% reported reduced stress. We’ve included some of the most relaxing yoga poses to help relieve your muscles and get you ready for bed.

Child’s pose (Balasana)
Try this kneeling pose with your legs hip-width apart and your arms either by your side or stretched out in front for additional spine lengthening and shoulder relief.

 

 
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Bend forward with your hands clasped to the opposite elbow to achieve a hamstring, calve and hip stretch and provide relief to your neck and shoulders. Shake your head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to release tension in your neck, and softly bend your knees if the hamstring stretch is too intense.

 

Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

 This pose not only releases tension in the lower back and stretches the hamstrings, but also allows your circulation to re-adjust, taking pressure from the feet and ankles and increasing blood flow to the upper body. Try to get your legs as close to the wall as your hamstrings allow.

 
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Traditionally the final pose in a yoga class, use this pose to centre your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and allow every muscle in your body to relax.


 

 

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Save your relationship with these sleep compatibility strategies

Aug 07, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

No matter how much you love your partner, sharing the bed with another person can come with a variety of issues! Millions of couples find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep next to each other, whether that be due to problems like snoring, moving too much in bed, differing sleep positions or even opposing circadian rhythms. Sleep problems with a partner can affect your relationship and make it hard for both of you to tolerate each other, so below are a couple quick fixes for the most common issues.
 
Snoring
This is a big one. Snoring can be indicative of sleep apnea, a condition that should be treated by a doctor. But in some cases, making changes like cutting down on alcohol close to bedtime, or avoiding sleeping on your back can be enough to do the trick. In the mean time, the non-snorers may have to surround themselves with an ear-protecting pillow fort!
 
You go to bed and wake up at different times
Whether this is due to conflicting circadian rhythms or different work schedules, it is unavoidable for many couples to find themselves on totally different sleep schedules. Rather than trying to force each other into working with the others’ sleep needs, both partners need to respect each other’s internal clocks and be considerate when it comes to making noise. Another part of respecting the others’ sleeping habits is reducing blue light exposure by making sure electronics don’t come into the bed while the other is trying to sleep. Making time for intimacy or to talk should be a neutral time where neither partner is exhausted.
 
You need different environments to fall asleep
It’s all about compromise. The couple where one likes to wake up to sunlight while the other needs it to be pitch black may have to consider an eye mask. The partner that can’t go to sleep without their white noise or music may have to invest in a pair of wireless ear buds. The age old fight about the thermostat can be addressed with a middle ground temperature. One partner may have to bundle up, while a bigger bed may appease the cold loving partner, who will be less affected by radiating body heat.
 
In the end, these fixes are fairly self explanatory and easy to implement. The hard bit is getting to a place where you can communicate with your partner about how they could change their habits so that you can get the sleep that you need. No one deserves to be suffering silence, not to mention how much better of a partner you’ll be if you’re well rested!

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