Sleepwalking

154452003-smallSleepwalking is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up and walk or perform other activities while sleeping. Symptoms of sleepwalking disorder ranges from simply sitting up and looking around, to walking around, to leaving and even driving long distances. It is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be awakened. It is not dangerous to wake them up, although it is common for the person to be confused or disoriented for a short period of time after being woken up.

There are several factors that may be involved in the development of sleepwalking that may include genetics, environment and medical conditions.

Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in identical twins and is 190 times more likely to occur if s first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has a history of sleepwalking.

Environmental factors that may cause a person to sleepwalk include: sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol intoxication and drugs such as sedatives, neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), stimulants and antihistamines.

Medical conditions that have been linked to sleepwalking include: abnormal heart rhythms, fever, nighttime asthma, nighttime seizures and certain psychiatric disorders such a PTSD, panic attacks or multiple personality disorder.

Usually, no exams are tests are necessary for determining whether a person sleepwalks. However a medical evaluation may be completed to rule out any medical causes of sleepwalking.

A person who has a sleepwalking disorder can take these measures of treatment to help prevent any future instances:

– Get adequate sleep
– Meditate or do relaxation exercises
– Avoid any kind of stimuli before bed

Medications for treatment of this disorder may be necessary if there is a high possibility of injury, if the disorder is causing significant disruption to the family and daytime schedule or when all other measures have proven ineffective.

Five Ways to Prevent Snoring

Regardless of how heavily you sleep, if your significant other has a snoring problem it is often very difficult to get a good nights sleep. According to the Vancouver Sleep and Breathing Center 59% of people claim that their partner snores. If you aren’t one of those people but often notice your partner is grumpy in the morning, there is a good possibility that you are in fact the one that snores. Snoring itself is not a serious problem but it can be associated with sleep apnea as well as simply putting a strain on your relationship. Here are just a few ways to prevent this common menace to ensure that you and your significant other sleep well every night.

1. Take care of your health

  • It may seem like a general tip but keeping healthy can help prevent snoring in most people. Obesity is a very common cause of snoring due to the amount of excess fat compressing the airway causing it to vibrate when breathing. Smoking is another unhealthy activity that can cause snoring, as well as a plethora of other more serious health problems. Working on your overall health by exercising and cutting out smoking from your routine will help alleviate your snoring problem.

2. Sleep on your side

  •  This is a more simple solution that works for some people with less severe snoring problems. Laying on your side actively opens up your airway letting you sleep snore-free. It is important to note that latex or memory foam mattresses are preferable to side sleepers since they provide the most comfort.

3. Try breathing exercises

  •  A great way to prevent snoring is by strengthening your breathing muscles. Just like musicians and opera singers, you should try simple breathing exercises to work out your larynx, making it more difficult for your throat to close up while you sleep.

4. Dental appliances

  •  There are certain retainer-esque devices you can buy that helps pull your tongue forward that will open up your airway to prevent snoring. These devices can actually help mild cases of sleep apnea as well. There is a possibility of discomfort but these devices can be fitted to your mouth by a dentist or bought over-the-counter.

5. Open your sinuses

  •  Stuffed up sinuses can be a major contributor to you or your partner’s snoring problem. If you think this may be a reason you are in luck as it is a fairly simple problem to fix. There are tons of over-the-counter medicines that will flush out your sinuses and help you breath easier when you lay down for the night.

Try these tactics to eliminate you or your partner’s snoring habits so you both can get a healthy amount of sleep each night. If these don’t work it might be a good idea to seek a medical option but before you go to that extreme you may just want to try a more comfortable mattress. Come to Mattresses for Less and look through their extensive inventory of extremely comfortable mattresses so you can catch some Z’s regardless of how loud your partner is.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

Last week we talked briefly about a condition known as REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). This is a disorder characterized by a person physically acting out the dreams that they are having, with potentially dangerous results. Often when someone begins to show symptoms of this disorder they simply write it off as sleepwalking but there is a distinct difference to be made between the two.

When does RBD occur?

REM sleep behavior disorder occurs when the brain fails to send a signal to your spinal chord which would render it temporarily paralyzed when you drift into REM sleep. Since REM is the stage of sleep in which you dream and also exhibit similar brain wave patterns to your waking brain, if your body doesn’t shut down your limb functions your brain controls your body as if you were awake. This potentially means talking, yelling, running, flailing or any other physical activity that you might be dreaming about.

Typically the dreams that RBD sufferers act out are intense and vivid and can often turn violent.

Why does it occur?

The specific reason as to why RBD occurs is still uncertain. It is usually seen in middle-aged to elderly men and is often associated with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease. 45% of all reported cases of RBD are related to alcohol or sedative withdrawal while the remaining 55% is unknown. RBD also often precedes certain neurological deseases. 38% of patients diagnosed with RBD were later diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Can it be treated?

RBD can typically be treated with prescription medicine which eliminates the behavior a majority of the time. Even with proper medication it is a good idea for an RBD sufferer to make their bedrooms a safe environment in case they have an episode. If you were having a nightmare about defending yourself or your family against some kind of agressor, you wouldn’t want a weapon laying around for you to grab and unconsciously flail around at the imaginary agressor.

If you suspect you may have some form of REM sleep behavior disorder it is best not to wait it out. Seek out a doctor and get diagnosed before you unknowingly hurt yourself or others. And, of course, a great way to compliment any treatment for RBD would be to have an irresistibly comfortable mattress. Search the massive inventory at Mattresses for Less and find yourself a mattress that not even your dreaming self will want to get out of.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (Part 2)

We started this two-part blog entry last week when we discussed how REM sleep occurs in you nightly sleep routine. This time we will be going into why the brain requires  REM sleep and what makes it so important to our health. The true function of REM sleep is not fully understood as of yet but there are some well supported theories of its benefits.

One of the most favored theories of REM sleep is titled the Ontogenetic Hypothesis of REM sleep. This hypothesis proposes that the purpose of REM, or active, sleep is vitally important for the development of the brain. This is thought to be true since the stimulation provided during the REM of newborn infants is responsible for forming the appropriate neural connections and nervous system development that they require to properly function and develop. This is shown further by studies in sleep deprivation in children showing that without the proper sleep they can serious behavioral and brain problems later on in life. Also, as you get older the amount of REM sleep you require sharply decreases. This of course implies that REM sleep becomes less important as we get older which may be the case but it certainly doesn’t mean we can do without it.

Another theory is that REM sleep directly benefits the retention of memories. Studies show that REM benefits procedural (memory associated with performance of particular actions) and spatial (memory of one’s environment) memories. Some theories propose that REM acts as a sifter for useless that helps you forget the things that aren’t important and reinforce the things that are. There is some serious opposition to these claims such as a particular case study where a man had little to no REM sleep due to a piece of shrapnel in his brain stem and yet it had no impact on his memory.

There is a theory that we move our eyes during REM sleep because it corresponds to the direction we are looking during our dreams. This is supported by studies that have shown that in dreams where a there is a defined goal, the dreamers eyes point in the directions of what he later described was happening in the dream. This theory is often seen as flimsy since those born without vision as well as unborn children both experience the REM phenomenon.

There are several other more narrowly accepted theories as to why we require REM sleep but scientists continue to remain indecisive on the topic. Regardless of the reason the fact remains that REM sleep is vital to the survival of all mammals and birds. The best way to get the necessary amount of REM sleep is to sleep on a comfortable mattress, preferably one from Mattresses for Less! Check out their massive inventory and get yourself into a ridiculously comfortable mattress tonight!

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep

We have mentioned in the past certain aspects regarding Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep but we have yet to properly explain what REM sleep really is and why it is truly important. Out of the stages of sleep, doctors and scientists agree that REM sleep is the most important. The questions we look to answer are “What is REM sleep”, and “How does it occur?”

Every night when you go to sleep you experience anywhere from 1-2 hours of REM sleep. REM sleep is typically spread out over the night but the majority happens in the early morning hours. The amount you get a night also varies with age. Infants spend a considerably greater amount of time in REM sleep than adults do. This is because REM stimulates the areas of the brain associated with learning so it is a vital part of an infants development.

REM is also the period of sleep in which the vast majority of your dreaming takes place. When you begin to REM sleep the area of the brain called the pons begins to send signals to the thalamus which relays the signals to the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain that is associated with organizing information, thinking, and learning new things. The pons also sends signals to the spinal chord temporarily paralyzing the limbs so you don’t actually move with your dreams. A condition exists called REM sleep behavior disorder where the pons fails to send these paralyzing signals and a person will literally act out their dreams which can have disasterous results. Comedian Mike Birbiglia is one such person with REM sleep behavior disorder and he documents the time he jumped out of a second story window of a hotel in Walla Walla, Washington when he was dreaming a missile was headed for his hotel room. Such is the power of REM sleep. When a person is experiencing REM sleep they demonstrate similar brain patterns to a waking person. This is why REM sleep is often called paradoxical sleep and is the phase of sleep in which you sleep lightest.

REM occurs in mammals and birds but curiously not in cold blooded animals like reptiles. This is why you can see your dog running or whining in his/her sleep. The process of REM sleep is a complex physiological process that interacts with several locations in the brain, but scientists still disagree as to exactly why this happens. Now that we have talked about what REM sleep is, all thats left is why  it happens. Come back next week to find out the interesting theories on why it is the body requires REM sleep and the terrible consequences of neglecting those requirements.

4 Effective Natural Sleep Aides

For those of us who typically sleep on a regular schedule but every so often need that extra push to get to sleep, there are several options available that will help you fall into the sleep you desire. Over the counter drugs like NyQuil are sometimes a bit of an over-kill and it is at these times that you should turn to more natural, calming sleep remedies. Here are a few examples of the most commonly utilized natural sleep aides. ‘

1. Melatonin

 

Melatonin is a very popular solution for people who need help falling asleep. It is created in the pineal gland as serotonin and is converted to melatonin when exposure to light decreases. Its effects make you tired about thirty minutes after you ingest it so it is a good idea to plan ahead when taking it. A tasty way to receive melatonin is through cherries, which have high amount of the substance. People with certain serious illnesses or women who are pregnant are not recommended to take melatonin so consult your doctor if you have any doubts.

2. Valerian

Valerian is an herb that people have been using to go to sleep quicker for ages. Although scientific results regarding the herb have been mixed, millions of people continue to take it and swear by it’s effectiveness. Valerian is non-habit forming and does not cause any grogginess in the morning but its effectiveness is spotty. Many people claim that using it continuously for 2-3 weeks in a row sharply enhance the effectiveness of valerian root.

3. Kava

Kava is another herb that has helped people get the sleep the need for many years. Kava is more focused on easing anxiety so for those of you with anxiety related sleep problems kava is a great avenue to explore. Although this herb is effective at easing you to sleep, it is recommended to not take it for long periods in a row. There have been varied cases of people who have ingested large quantities of the herb over time resulting in liver problems so use kava in moderation.

4. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has been around for ages and is a trusted member of the pro-sleep family of herbs. It is a member of the mint family and along with its sleep benefiting properties it also aides digestion. Most people prefer to ingest lemon balm in tea form as the herb doesn’t taste great by itself. Add 2 teaspoons into hot water and stir periodically for 5-10 minutes.

If none of these natural remedies helps your sleep pattern you may want to consider certain over the counter medicines. Ask you doctor which ones are appropriate for you to take regularly to avoid complications. If you don’t see the need for taking medicine or if the medicine still doesn’t work well, you may just need a new mattress. Check out the wide variety of top of the line mattresses at Mattresses for Less and get the sleep that you deserve today!

Dealing with Sleepwalking

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in your kitchen, confused as to how you got there? If you are a person who often finds themselves in random locations with no recollection of getting there, as I’m sure you have already realized, you are probably a victim of sleepwalking. Depending on its frequency and severity, this condition is often accepted with a certain degree of levity. However, if you are a chronic sleepwalker, you would be wise to take it seriously and take certain precautions before you accidentally hurt yourself or others.

If you know yourself to be a sleepwalker, there are some things you will want to avoid before you go to sleep that could be possible inhibitors of such behavior. The first factor often linked to sleepwalking is stress. Try and limit the amount of stress you encounter each day, especially in the hours leading up to sleep. This may seem obvious and stress is often unavoidable but if you live a high-stress life style you should consider taking a while before bed to relax and meditate to attempt to rid yourself of some of your excess stress. Also, as we mentioned before, you should avoid any high-stimulation media right before bed. No TV, computer, or mobile devices before bed will often give you a better nights sleep and prevent the restlessness that can lead to sleepwalking.

You will want to make sure all of your doors and windows are locked before you get in bed. If you are unable to leave your bedroom while you’re sleepwalking there is much less of a chance that you will hurt yourself. If you attempt to open a locked door while asleep, you probably won’t think to find a key.  If, by chance, your bedroom door does not have a key lock than you should think about installing a small alarm on your door that beeps every time your door is open. This way, if it is loud enough, the chime will wake you up before you continue on your sleepy journey.

You may also want to think about hiding objects in your bedroom that you could use to hurt yourself or others. Move any weapons or sharp objects that happen to be in your bedroom to a place that you either wouldn’t typically think to look or a place that is hard to reach. It is also a good idea to put your car keys in a similar place as it has been documented that some people wake up from sleepwalking in the middle of a joy ride.

All of the advice provided here is apt but you must keep in mind that we are not doctors. If you attempt these techniques and your sleepwalking persists, it is our recommendation that you seek out a physician as you may have a sleep disorder such as rapid eye movement behavior disorder. This can be quite dangerous if you do not seek help and get properly treated. But, before you try any of the advice provided above, you may just want to try a more comfortable mattress. If you force yourself to go to sleep on an uncomfortable mattress and your subconscious self keeps try to escape it, maybe your body is telling you something. Try one of the vast array of extremely comfortable mattresses at Mattresses for Less and its likely both your conscious self and your subconscious self will agree that you never want to get out of bed.