Tag: short sleep

Persistent trouble sleeping can develop from years of shift work

“Sleep Was Easier to Give Up Than the Job”

Several people I interviewed for The Savvy Insomniac blamed their insomnia on stress at work. A trial lawyer attributed his nighttime wake-ups to “mostly job related stress.” A 52-year-old woman on Social Security disability saw her insomnia as resulting from 14 years of shift work as a dispatcher with emergency services.

Work can interfere with sleep in many ways, including shortening sleep duration. The CDC has just released a report on the categories of work most likely to shorten people’s sleep. Here’s what they are and how they may relate to chronic insomnia.

Insomnia may be characterized by reduced GABA and increased glutamate activity at bedtime

Insomnia: Are GABA and Glutamate Involved?

Sleep is regulated by the brain. So it makes sense to look inside the brain to find out what might be hampering insomniacs’ ability to fall and stay asleep. Is there some substance under- or overrepresented in our brains? Something that keeps us conscious when our brains should be turned off?

A study published in PLoS One last month suggests a role for two important neurotransmitters, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. Here’s a bit of background and what the new research tells us about the neurobiology of insomnia.

Short sleepers and insomnia sufferers need to be proactive in reducing susceptibility to colds

Tips for Avoiding Colds When You’re Short on Sleep

The evidence is now solid: short sleepers are far more susceptible to colds than average sleepers. Results of a study published this month in the journal Sleep show that people who sleep 6 hours or less are over 4 times as likely to catch a cold as people who get over 7 hours a night.

Here’s more, including steps you can take to dodge the bullet this year as cold and flu season begins.

Sleep differences in fraternal twins may occur due to different DNA sequencing

Is Short Sleep an Inborn Trait?

We’re often warned about getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Short sleepers—variously defined as people who sleep 5 hours and less or less than 6—are more susceptible than normal sleepers to a host of problems: cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. Many people with insomnia fall within that 5- to 6-hour range. Rarely do we get encouraging news about our prospects for a healthy life.

But recent research on genetic mutations tells a different story. Not only does it begin to explain some of the differences in sleep duration among human beings. It also suggests that short sleep may not necessarily have adverse effects on our health and quality of life.

short sleep may increase the risk of health problems but not that much

Short Sleep: A Dose of Perspective on the Risks

A woman attending a talk I gave on insomnia was worried about developing Alzheimer’s because she wasn’t getting enough sleep.

“Sometimes I sleep only 4 hours a night,” she said, “and I’m really lucky when I get 5.”

There’s a lot of talk these days about the health risks that accumulate if we sleep less than 7 or 8 hours a night. But reports that appear in the popular media can make the risks sound greater than they actually are.

Short sleepers and people with insomnia should take extra measures to avoid colds and flu

Short Sleepers, Steer Clear of Colds and Flu!

Cold and flu season has arrived. If you have insomnia or your sleep is on the short side of normal, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions to avoid these nasty bugs.

Why? Research shows that poor and short sleepers are more susceptible to infection than people who sleep a solid 7 to 8 hours. This heightened vulnerability has to do with the immune system, which is seemingly compromised in short sleepers, just as it’s compromised in the sleep deprived.

Here’s a quick explanation of why we short sleepers need to go the extra mile to stay healthy, followed by a list of suggestions for how to do it.

A Sleep-Friendly Diet, Part II

You wouldn’t think dietary choices would differentiate people who have trouble falling asleep from people who have trouble staying asleep. But apparently they do.

This is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who looked at data collected from over 4,500 participants in a national health survey. The diet of people with sleep-onset insomnia is different from the diet of people with sleep-maintenance insomnia, and both groups make different dietary choices than people who sleep well. It’s possible that making changes to your diet will improve your sleep.

Sleep-Friendly Diet for Long-Term Health, Part I

Evidence for the sleep benefits of some foods—kiwi fruit, gelatin, and turkey, to name a few—is slim. It’s a stretch to believe that eating more of them would actually improve my sleep.

But I’m intrigued by findings published recently from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Those of us plagued by short sleep, and who have trouble falling or staying asleep, consume less of certain nutrients than do good sleepers, their data (based on two huge studies) show. For us, foods high in these nutrients may be golden.