sleep disorders

  1. Why you can't sleep in the hospital

    Hospital lighting makes it impossible to sleep

    It's one of the most critical parts of your recovery from any illness -- and it's the one thing you don't get in a hospital.


    Now, the latest research points the finger at the lighting. It's dim during the day -- less than 10 percent of what your body needs to kick off a proper wake cycle -- and dim, but not out, during the night, so you never get into a proper sleep cycle, either.

    Your body can't tell day from night, so you can't slip into a real restful sleep -- and along with poor sleep, the constant low light levels lead to depression and fatigue, according to the study of 40 hospital patients.

    The point of course is to give patients more light at day and less at night -- but while I'd call that a good start, it's still not going to make much of a difference, because lighting is just a small part of the problem.

    Hospitals are louder than airports -- announcements, beeps, alarms, whistles and of course all that shouting, screaming and carrying on.

    Then there are the uncomfortable plastic-coated beds, and all the machines they connect you to. Five minutes after being admitted, you've got more hoses, wires and tubes attached to you than a car engine.

    And let's not forget the constant poking and prodding, day and night. Sit up and swallow this. Stick out your arm and give some more blood. Oh, and don't even think about trying to use the bathroom on your own.

    Push the button and wait... and try not to wet the bed.

    No wonder the hospital is the LAST place you want to be when you're sick!

    Yes, sometimes all the equipment -- and all that noise -- can help save your life. But you'd be surprised at how often it's not necessary at all. If you're unlucky enough to land in a hospital, have a few words with your doc to see if you can get a little peace, quiet and sleep.

    And if you have some extra scratch, upgrade to a private room -- it's worth every penny.

  2. How sleep protects the brain

    A good night's sleep could keep dementia away

    If your brain is like a busy office, imagine what it must look like at the end of the day: a complete wreck with junk everywhere, overflowing garbage cans, coffee stains all over the paperwork and maybe even a few clogged toilets.

    The good news is you've got a night shift -- a cleaning crew that can remove the garbage, fix the toilets and get your "office" back in shape by morning.

    The catch? You need to SLEEP and sleep well to give the night crew time to do its job.

    New research on mouse brains shows how sleep activates an internal cleaning process that clears out a day's worth of junk -- even the beta-amyloid plaques that can lead to dementia if they're allowed to build up.

    During sleep, brain cells shrink just a little bit -- and when they shrink, the junk slips out through the space between cells.

    Now, I realize this is a study on mouse brains, not people brains -- but we've seen the same process unfold in other animals, including dogs and baboons, and it's pretty likely our own brains have a similar cleanup process.

    It's also why you make better decisions when you "sleep on it" and lousy ones after an all-nighter -- and why night after night after night of missed sleep can lead to long-term problems such as memory loss and even dementia.

    (Did you know poor sleep could cause you to pack on the pounds too? Learn more here.)

    Now, of course there's more to avoiding dementia than just getting enough sleep. But as a starting point for brain health, at least, look no further than a comfortable pillow and cool sheets.

  3. Too much sleep leads to memory loss

    Getting too much sleep can be as bad as too little -- and maybe even worse, increasing your risk of memory loss and dementia, according to a new study.
  4. Too much sleep worse than too little

    Too much sleep can increase your risk of heart disease and other problems as much as too little. And in some case, it's even worse.
  5. Common senior meds damage the brain

    The antipsychotic drugs given off-label for everything from sleep disorders to behavior problems can damage brain cells, according to new research.
  6. Blame the moon for bad sleep

    Could the moon be keeping you up at night? Probably not -- but a new study says it might.
  7. Poor sleep leads to weight gain

    When you lose sleep, your metabolism speeds up -- but you also eat more, leading to a gain of two pounds in less than a week.
  8. The deadly toll of insomnia

    Insomnia won't just leave you groggy -- it can kill you, increasing your risk of heart failure by nearly 500 percent, according to new research.
  9. Time to quit your night job

    Love the night life? It ain't loving you back. In fact, it's killing you -- and I'm not talking about a night out drinking, smoking and playing cards with the guys. All that's downright healthy if you do it right -- but there's nothing healthy about a steady night job other than the paycheck.

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