Category: Sleep Health

Suicidal Thoughts and Sleep Problems: A Deadly Combination

depressionHave you ever wondered what happens while you sleep? It’s simple really: your brain cells replenish, your body grows and your mental state resets for the day ahead. There are recommended hours of sleep for specific age groups for a reason. The younger you are the more your body needs to develop and therefore the more sleep you need. Ignoring your sleep, like most teenagers and young adults do, can impact your health in ways you probably haven’t thought about before.

There are various disorders that can affect your sleep like insomnia, sleep apnea and snoring but did you know sleeplessness can severely impact those suffering from depression? Depression on it’s own can be a debilitating illness. Couple that with sleeplessness and you’re facing a huge wall:

The link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviors is made starkly clear in new research from The University of Manchester, published in the BMJ Open.

In this study, conducted by researchers from the University’s School of Health Sciences alongside the University of Oxford, 18 participants were interviewed about the role sleep problems have on suicidal tendencies.

Three inter-related pathways to suicidal thoughts were identified arising from sleep problems. The first was that being awake at night heightened the risks of suicidal thoughts and attempts, which in part was seen as a consequence of the lack of help or resources available at night.

Secondly, the research found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night’s sleep made life harder for respondents, adding to depression, as well as increasing negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity.

Finally, respondents said sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, providing an escape from their problems. However, the desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleeping which in turn caused disturbed sleeping patterns – reinforcing the first two pathways.


If you or someone you know suffers from depression you are most likely painfully aware of how difficult it can be to lead a normal life. There are plenty of treatments available, with or without medication, that can make depression manageable. But it’s difficult to completely get rid of it. When your enemy is your own mind it’s very difficult to win the war.

When you can’t sleep, you can’t quiet your mind. The dark thoughts tend to plague you in the night when you’re defenseless. Human beings are not meant to be nocturnal. We’re meant to sleep in the night and be productive in the day. Failure to adhere to this causes disruptions in our sleep patterns and makes it difficult to function as a member of society.

That is not to say that those who work strictly at night aren’t productive. Those who work during the night tend to sleep during the day for the recommended number of hours they are supposed to be getting. That’s completely different than someone who sporadically sleeps during the day in order to recover from the loss of sleep during the night.

Those who suffer from depression need to make sure they are sleeping properly. It may help to keep a sleep journal and log the amount of time, and when, they are actually sleeping and take it to their health care provider. If their sleep is too fragmented their health care provider can suggest other ways to obtain a consistent amount of sleep. What is the underlying sleep problem? Does the patient suffer from sleep apnea or snoring? There are simple ways to manage those disorders. The more information you can bring in with you to a medical appointment the better your health care provider can help you.

Let’s all try to get the best sleep we can to keep the dark thoughts at bay.

How Much Sleep is Actually Enough?

sleeplessDepending on what stage of life you’re at you might be thinking that it’s not a big deal if you sacrifice your sleep to get ahead in life. Sure, you can live on four hours of sleep a night so that you can make sure you watch all the episodes of that popular show on Netflix or work the three jobs to afford your fancy car. Our minds like to tell us all kinds of things and sometimes we shouldn’t listen to them. Is your brain a medical professional? Probably not. You might like to think you are because of your personal connections or what you read online but unless you went through grueling medical school, you probably aren’t a doctor or nurse.

There is a reason we’ve been told we need no less than eight hours of sleep. It’s not just a random magical number; it serves a purpose.

Humans need sleep just as much as they need food or water. Sleep is an indicator of overall health and well-being. The amount of sleep one needs depends on a number of factors like age, quality of sleep, previous sleep deprivation, etc.

Most people accumulate what is called “sleep debt” wherein people try to make up for sleep lost during the week during the weekends. But that doesn’t really work. In fact, getting as little as three to four hours of sleep a night is as bad as pulling an all-nighter. Staying up for 24 hours straight and then driving is like driving with a blood-alcohol content that is considered legally drunk in all 50 states.

Shortage of sleep can be blamed for nearly 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths every year. So how much sleep do you need?

The National Sleep Foundation in 2015 came out with a study that recommends different amounts of sleep based on age. The study had 18 researchers comb through 320 research articles to come to its current “sleep time duration recommendations.”

Children aged six and above need at least nine to 11 hours of sleep and teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep. Seven hours of sleep should do for some but sleeping for over 11 hours a day can cause health issues. But some teens may need some extra sleep during puberty.


It’s important to eat a balanced meal and it’s important to drink plenty of water. Just like these basics that have been drilled into us since our youth, sleep is something that is required to have a healthy life. It does get harder as we get older and various stressors come into our lives. Demanding jobs, young children or pets that require a lot of attention tend to eat into our sleep time.

You are the master of your body and it’s up to you to make sure that your temple is in great shape. As much as you schedule in your weekly workout or that coffee date with the guy/girl next door, you need to make sure that you get proper sleep or you’ll pass out into your latté which will probably end your dating chances for a while.

So draw yourself a nice lavender bubble-bath after dinner and try to leave the list of chores and to-dos out of your brain until you’ve had a nice soak. Have a warm cup of tea or milk before you head to slumber land and give yourself the appropriate time to nod off before your alarm screams in your ear.

Sleeping Before Dusk Can Cause Heart Danger

clockSurely you remember the prime of your youth: staying up until 3am working on that final paper for your course or playing video games until midnight. As we get older our bedtimes tend to creep ever forward. We have more stresses in our lives and therefore need more time to recuperate from the long days we sludge through. But having an early bedtime could be a massive warning sign, especially for men:

Men who want an early night could be showing a warning sign of heart problems, medics have warned.

A study of 2,400 adults found that among men, bed times were significantly earlier among those suffering from high blood pressure.

On average, those with the condition – one of the key risks for heart disease – retired for the night 18 minutes earlier than those without it.

And once they got to bed, those with high blood pressure were significantly more likely to spent the night tossing and turning, the Japanese study found. 

Researchers said the desire to turn in early could be a clue to health problems which might otherwise be missed.

While early nights were linked with higher blood pressure, getting more sleep was unlikely to do anything to help the condition, they cautioned. 

Despite going to bed earlier, those with high blood pressure managed no more sleep overall – and scored significantly worse in tools used to measure the quality of slumber. 

On average, those with high blood pressure – also called hypertension – scored 5.3 in assessments, where a score of five or more indicted poor sleep quality. 

Among those with normal blood pressure, the score was 4.7, according to the study findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology, in Rome.

Lead researcher Dr Nobuo Sasaki, from Hiroshima University, said: “Early bed times were associated with hypertension independent of anything else.”


It’s very important to listen to your body. Is it strained? Is it weak? Is it tired? If your body is trying to tell you something you might not be listening close enough. As we age, we start ignoring what our bodies try to tell us in favour of what our minds tell us we can and cannot do. There will come a point in your life where eating an entire large pepperoni pizza on your own is going to cause serious gastrointestinal problems. Sure, you might have been able to pack a whole pizza away in your twenties, but maybe now you’re in your forties and pizza is not your friend.

The same can be said for sleep. Are you really so tired that a 7pm bedtime is appealing? What kind of work do you do? If you don’t do anything overly physically taxing and your commute isn’t that long, wanting to hit the hay so soon after supper is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.

Make an appointment with your medical professional about a sleep study. Remember, we’re supposed to have a full physical at least once a year, possibly more often if you have other health concerns. Sleep is a wonderful thing and lying around in bed every once in a while isn’t really a bad thing. But we’re not teenagers any more. Staying up late and sleeping in until lunch is only going to cause problems, not solve them.

Don’t put off what important concerns and make sure that you address them right away. Chances are if you want to sleep that early, and actually do, you might not be getting the restful sleep you want. This is only going to create more concerns. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, my friends.


Can A CPAP Machine Do It All?

CpapSleep is a precious commodity that we all need in order to survive. During sleep is when our bodies grow, our brain cells replenish and our emotions reset. Regardless of age everyone needs to get a good night’s sleep. There is a reason that children need to sleep more when they’re very young: they’re growing and without sleep those little bodies can’t get much bigger.

Even as adults if we neglect to get a proper sleep we can wake up feeling restless, irritated and just downright cranky. This will impact our daily lives in various ways. But what if you can’t get sleep? There are those who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and snoring. Suffering from a sleep disorder impacts your sleep. Either you can’t sleep or you can’t get quality sleep. Both are detrimental to your physical and emotional health.

When you have sleep apnea you actually stop breathing several times a night. Certainly, this is obviously very concerning and the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine was designed to blow continuous bursts of oxygen into the sleepers airways in order to keep them breathing through the night. Complicated and expensive, yes, especially when compared with something as simple as the ZQuiet mouthpiece ( But can CPAP machines do more than help with sleep apnea?

An international study led by Australian sleep specialists has shown machines designed to help people with sleep apnoea do not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, but significantly improve quality of life.

The study of more than 2,700 sleep apnoea sufferers with cardiovascular disease estimated 25 per cent of middle-aged men and 10 per cent of middle-aged women suffer from sleep apnoea.

The Sleep Apnoea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study monitored sleep apnoea patients with a pre-existing vascular disease over four years in 89 hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, India, the US, Spain and Brazil.

Researchers were looking at whether a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine would prevent major cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke.

Irishman David Cahoon emigrated to Australia more than a decade ago after undergoing heart bypass surgery in the UK in 1994.

“I’ve always been a terrible snorer,” Mr Cahoon told the ABC.

In England he had been prescribed a rubber mouthpiece designed to hold his jaw forward at night to reduce his snoring, but until he came to Australia he did not realise he had sleep apnoea.

Early testing at the Flinders University Sleep Lab in Adelaide indicated Mr Cahoon’s breathing was being interrupted 53 times an hour while he slept.

Most days Mr Cahoon found it difficult to stay awake.


Now that researchers know what a CPAP machine can’t do, they can focus on addressing those concerns. There is no doubt that the CPAP improves quality of sleep which in turns leads to a better quality of life. A better quality of life leads to a better outlook for the future and allows us to be more positive and productive in our everyday lives. You never thought that sleep could be so important, did you?

While it may be disappointing to learn about the shortcomings of the CPAP machine, it just gives researchers more drive to find a better solution to such an important problem. Perhaps an addition to the CPAP machine will address the issues with heart disease or maybe a new medication will do the trick. When it comes to research the disappointments are just as important as the discoveries: they can all lead to a solution. You can rest easy knowing that there are people hard at work trying to find out how to keep you healthy and hale, during your states of consciousness and unconsciousness.

The More You Know: Sleep Edition

We all remember that bright star and following rainbow that would dance across our screens, and interrupt our cartoons, when a public service announcement was played on NBC. Even now as adults we probably sing the little jingle in our head when we learn something new. Education is a positive experience, no matter what the moreyou’re learning about. People are starting to be more proactive about their health and are genuinely interested in finding out the reasons why something is happening to them. This leads to increased visits to their medical professionals and a Google search engine that is nearing the point of exhaustion.

You should never be ashamed to want to learn more about your health; especially if you suspect you may suffer from sleep disorders. These conditions are not widely discussed and often people who snore are used to demonstrate a joke or poked for a good laugh.  Your health is a serious matter and you should never be ashamed to learn more about it:

Sleep-disordered breathing is a problem that should not be taken lightly. In addition to leaving you feeling groggy during the day, untreated sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea can lead to several other health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Effective treatments such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and oral appliance therapy are available to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat during sleep, blocking the upper airway. The traditional treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, which consists of wearing a mask hooked up to a constantly-running machine that provides air to patients while they sleep, helping to keep the airway open. Patients can find the treatment to be uncomfortable and cumbersome, and up to 50 percent of patients do not continue to use CPAP treatment long-term.

An alternative to this treatment is oral appliance therapy. Custom-fit by a dentist knowledgeable in dental sleep medicine, this treatment – which uses a mouth-guard like device to hold the jaw forward and keep the airway open – is easy to use and quieter than CPAP.

Getting in the Head of a Snorer
Researchers are finding that a major obstacle to treating sleep apnea actually lies in the mind – and not the bed – of the patient. In a new study presented in June at the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine's (AADSM) 25th Anniversary Meeting, researchers discovered that a key to helping patients adhere to their sleep apnea treatment plan could lie in convincing the patient of the real and long-term effects of the disease if left untreated.

The study from Columbia University asked 80 people if they adhere to their oral appliance therapy. Fifty-eight patients responded that they are adherent to treatment, and 22 responded that they no longer use their oral appliance. Of these 22 respondents, 10 were not using any treatment at all.


It’s about time we stopped laughing at Uncle Jeff who snores so loudly on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner he rattles the windows. He may be suffering from a serious health condition which could lead to even more serious complications. No one wants their loved ones to be ill or to suffer. It’s important to learn about sleep disorders, their causes, and what you can do to combat them. The more people that are educated the more information can be shared and potential risks identified.

A “Smart” Snoring Pillow?

There are many people in the world who suffer from snoring. You’d be hard pressed to find a country in our vast world where someone doesn’t snore. It’s a natural occurrence but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dealt with. Just like sneezing can be controlled, snoring can be put under control as well.pillow The first thing is to know the causes:

  • Relaxed muscles in the mouth and throat
  • Heavy drinking the night before sleep
  • Unhealthy weight
  • Smoking
  • Use of drugs or sleeping medication

But wait! Sleeping medication is supposed to help you sleep, right? Well, it does indeed help you sleep but because it puts your body in such a state of relaxation you run into loose muscles in the mouth and throat. These loose muscles cause your tongue to fall to the back of your throat thereby cutting off or restricting your airflow. That’s where you’re going to get that well-known sound of snoring. They don’t call it sawing logs without reason.

If you are a person who snores you probably know very well the impact it can have on your daily life. Your sleep is interrupted on a regular basis, if you have a partner who shares your bed they aren’t getting proper sleep either. What can poor sleep lead to? Arguments, poor work performance, issues with memory, irritability, you name it! It’s definitely not an enhancement to your life, anyway.

So what can you do about it?

The simple tips are to cut back on your drinking and smoking before bed, exercise and lose weight, and scale back on the sleep medication (if you can). There are sleep devices you can get to help assist with your tongue falling back into your throat as well as nasal strips which are designed to help open your airways.

If you check Kickstarter you’re going to find something really cool: a smart pillow.

Introducing ZEEQ, the world's most sophisticated and comfortable pillow. ZEEQ is not just another device or accessory, it is an active participant in your sleep. The pillow senses movement and sound and tracks your data, but unlike other sleep technology ZEEQ actually responds to the data it collects.

If ZEEQ hears snoring, it will gently vibrate the pillow to encourage a new sleeping position. Your natural sleep movements are recorded and used to wake you up at the ideal moment in your sleep cycle, making groggy mornings a thing of the past. Most importantly, ZEEQ is the most comfortable pillow you will ever own. All the technology in the world will never be more important than softness, support, and premium materials, but luckily ZEEQ integrates technology and comfort seamlessly. ZEEQ integrates into your existing sleep habits and improves your sleep without you even being aware of it.

ZEEQ links to a smartphone app, so you can see your sleep data, including your Snore Score. If you want to take it a step farther, the app can help you track your diet, exercise and other habits to analyze how these factors effect your sleep, so you can make changes toward more restful slumber.


If that is not the coolest thing you have read today you need to start skimming Kickstarter more often.

While some people are hesitant to bring more technology into the bedroom, ZEEQ is definitely something you’ll want to invest in if you’re a snorer. By recording your snoring and other sleep data you can bring that information in when you visit your health care professional. This is key if you feel that your snoring is a sign of something more serious.

You already have a smartphone, why not invest in a smart pillow?

Grown Up Sleep Issues in Kids: Do You Know the Signs?

sleeping-childKids are supposed to be fancy-free and energetic. They’re supposed to climb trees, make believe a cardboard box is a spaceship and ask you those thought provoking questions that seem a little wise for their years. Kids aren’t supposed to get sick and they aren’t supposed to suffer those trials we tend to face when we’re adults. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. Kids are not as invincible as we’d like them to be. They do get sick and sometimes, they suffer from issues that should be left to adults. Snoring is one of those issues which can be a sign for other disorders. It’s important to be aware of what these disorders can look like so that you can take appropriate action, if necessary:

Once in awhile, kids suffer grown-up medical problems such as multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea or stroke. None of these conditions are rare, but the fact that they hardly ever occur in children causes special frustrations and challenges for young patients, as a story in the current issue of Neurology Nowdescribes. Doctors don't always think to look for these diagnoses in children, so they may mistake kids' symptoms for other childhood medical problems and treat them incorrectly.

That's especially true of children with sleep apnea, says Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist with Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford who is quoted in the story. Sleep apnea patients repeatedly stop breathing during sleep, making it hard for their brains to get enough oxygen. Kids with this condition are chronically overtired '” and they act that way, as he explains:

Diagnosis of sleep apnea in children is tricky because symptoms such as hyperactivity and inattentiveness can resemble those of attention deficit disorder (ADD), says Dr. Pelayo. Sleep apnea in children generally first appears between the ages of 3 and 6, the same ages when many ADD diagnoses are made. 'It's estimated that as many as 25 percent of children diagnosed with ADD actually have sleep apnea,' he says. 'Sleep disruption should be considered before any kid gets labeled [with ADD].' In many cases, once the sleep apnea is treated, the behavioral problems disappear, he says.

The good news is that with the correct diagnosis, pediatric sleep apnea is usually not difficult to treat. Some children need surgery to remove large adenoids and tonsils, which can block breathing. Patients may also need to wear headgear at night to help their jaw grow correctly, and some children require continuous positive airway pressure while they sleep, a treatment often used for adults. But it's important for parents who notice loud snoring or frequent gaps in their child's sleep breathing to get the issue investigated so that kids don't miss out on needed treatments. 'The misperception is that the problem will go away on its own,' Pelayo says.


Children are the embodiment of all our youthful dreams. Running free in fields and laughing loudly without a care in the world. As much as we want to keep them that way we, as the adults and the parents, need to be on the look-out for potential issues. If these issues are found in a child you know it’s important to have them meet with a medical professional. There are so many other things kids should be worrying about. Their sleep health shouldn’t be one of them, but if it is, you can work with your child to make sure they have the best sleep possible.

The time is now. Counting sheep never looked so good.

Poor Sleep And Its Effects on Your Health

sleep issuesThere is a reason human beings needs sleep. We’re not programmed to run on empty when it comes to both our eating and sleeping habits. Perhaps you’ve heard it before: you’ve got a deadline on a project or essay and you decide to pull an all-nighter. You think you’ll be fine if you skip sleep for one night. You might be fine for one night, but you shouldn’t make it a habit. There are those who suffer from sleep disorders like snoring and insomnia who can’t get that coveted rest without medication or other sleep aids like mouthpieces. These people would probably literally kill to get a good night’s rest. Poor sleep will do more than just ruin your night: it can also ruin your health both physically and mentally. There have been new studies done that have linked poor sleep with inflammation:

A new meta-analysis in Biological Psychiatry reports that sleep disturbances and long sleep duration are associated with increases in markers of inflammation.

“It is important to highlight that both too much and too little sleep appears to be associated with inflammation, a process that contributes to depression as well as many medical illnesses,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Insufficient sleep is considered a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, have been associated with increased risk of inflammatory disease and mortality.

Substances that increase in response to inflammation and circulate in the blood stream, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), predict adverse health conditions including cardiovascular events, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Many studies have investigated the mechanism behind the association between sleep health and immunity, but variations between studies have made it difficult to understand the effects.


People with a normal sleep duration get 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night. The analysis showed that sleep disturbance (poor sleep quality or complaints of insomnia) and long sleep duration (more than 8 hours) were associated with increased levels of CRP and IL-6. Shorter sleep duration was associated with increased levels of CRP. No associations were found with TNFα.


As we get older and life becomes more demanding we tend to think we can get away with cutting back on our diet or our sleep patterns. As adults, the rush of the day to day can make it seem like we never get a time to unwind unless we stay up until 2am, even though we need to get up for work by 6am.

If you are a person who suffers from a sleep disorder there is even more reason for you to get an appropriate amount of sleep each night. As outlined in the article above, insufficient sleep can do a serious number on your physical health which can affect your mental health. If you aren’t physically and mentally healthy, you won’t be able to provide for yourself. You may find yourself on disability, unable to work, which is definitely not going to help you feel good about yourself.

If you snore, feel you may suffer from insomnia or any other sleep disorder, you may need to get a sleep study to determine what exactly your issue is. The more you know, the better armed you can be when seeking treatment methods. Treatment can be as simple as wearing a mouthpiece to keep yourself from snoring or as complicated as an exercise and medication regime. The point of the matter is, you can take control. Isn’t it about time you did?

Count Sheep, Or Count Robots – Smart Mattresses?

refreshed-ladyThere is always room for improvement and sleeping is just one of those areas that we can always work on. Maybe we need to sleep more, or maybe we need to sleep less (looking at you, Mr. I-Don't-Get-Up-Before-Noon). Perhaps our sleep positions need to change or maybe we just need to be able to ensure we're getting quality sleep in the limited time we have.

Smartphones have revolutionized the communication world and now smart mattresses are coming into the fray. Forget counting sheep; you'll want to start counting robots:

Everybody sleeps and now technology wants to help us to do it better. New apps can control and monitor every aspect and activity in the bed, including some that are better left in the dark.

Technology ranges from a space-age prototype that gives the ultimate assist in making sure your bed is always neatly made to a 'Smartress,' a mattress that knows if someone else is sleeping in your bed. It might even tip you off via an app on your phone, CBS2's Kristine Johnson reported.

It's a so-called 'cheating alert,' courtesy of sensors embedded in the mattress to detect motion when there's not supposed to be any. But for 3-year-old Bella Marlow, and her dad Ian, smart technology has given their family peace of mind.

'I'm amazed at some of the statistics that we're able to get from what she has and notifications come through on our phone to tell us if she's gotten out,' Marlow said.

Marlow can track Bella's sleep patterns on an iPad or phone, and knows when she's had a restless night, or gets out of bed when she not supposed to.


While some of the alerts may prove to make you more paranoid there's no denying that a lot of benefit comes from them as well. If you live in a large home and want to know if your kid is getting out of bed, then a smartress is going to help you with that.

If you've had a hard day at work and your muscles are aching, being able to get the mattress warmed up before you even walk in the door is going to be the most amazing part of your day. Then you can just stumble out of your clothes and allow yourself to be wrapped in the bliss of sleep.

Being able to adjust the comfort level of your mattress while you sleep can also help lessen the impact snoring may have on your body. Sleep position can be a major culprit and all the assistance you can get in addressing it is going to make your life easier.

Of course these mattresses are going to put a dent in your pocket but when it comes down to it, wouldn't you like a nice comfortable bed by any means possible? Who knows, in the future our mattresses may even start singing us lullabies.