Two recent studies have revealed further evidence that there are dangers associated with sleep deprivation.
The studies were presented in Boston by researchers at the University of California Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, headed by Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience.
The first study by graduate student Andrea Goldstein looked at fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans of 18 healthy adults. The study suggests that the emotional centers of the brain trigger emotional dysfunction and risk when people are sleep deprived. As well, the more naturally anxious someone is, the more effected and vulnerable they will be by insufficient amounts of sleep. To help keep emotions and anxiety in check, it's important to get enough shut-eye every day.
The second study looked at food consumption and lack of sleep. Twenty-three healthy adults underwent MRI scans to look at sleep deprivation and food choices. The brain's frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision making and behaviors, was significantly affected by lack of sleep, meaning those who do not get sufficient sleep are more likely to make bad food choices. Graduate student Stephanie Greer was the author of the study, and says the results may reveal a connection between obesity and sleep loss.
Studies were presented at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, SLEEP 2012.
Tips to help you get a good night's sleep:
- Maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time every day, including weekends. Sleeping patterns will help your body recognize when it is time to go to bed and will help prevent tossing and turning.
- Watch what you eat and drink. Try to stay away from caffeine, as it can have an effect on your body for up to eight hours. The amount of food you eat is also important to consider. Going to bed when you are hungry or when you are stuffed can make falling asleep more difficult. There are some foods and drinks, such as chamomile, warm milk, and bananas, that can help you fall asleep more easily.
- Unplug. Watching TV, playing video games, or going on the computer before bed can actually stimulate your mind, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Dimming the lights closer to when you plan on going to bed, can also put your mind and body into sleep mode.
- Limit naps. If you are going to take a nap, limit it to between 10 and 30 minutes. Napping too long during the day will make it more difficult to sleep at night. As well, try to nap in the mid-afternoon as opposed to later in the day.
- Get active. Physical activity is a great way to help you sleep better. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to help you get a better night's rest. Exercising close to bedtime can make falling asleep more difficult for some people; exercising earlier in the day may be a better option.
- Manage your stress. Tossing and turning before bed could be a result of stress and anxiety. Try to write down the things you are worried about before bed to organize your thoughts, and don't let yourself think about them until the next morning.
Source: University of California