Choose a gentle, chime alarm clock - an alternative, soothing alarm clock
When Margaret Chau has a bad night’s sleep, she knows to steer clear of loved ones the next day – she’s cranky and impatient, and she tends to take it out on others.
“I don’t want to deal with things because I’m afraid of not being able to do it rationally or logically,” said the Millbrae woman, who suffers from chronic insomnia due to back pain. “I know myself, and I don’t want to react badly or do something I might regret.”
It’s no secret that the sleep-deprived are usually grumpy, miserable and not much fun to be around, but new research from UC Berkeley using brain-scanning equipment helps explain why. The study, which was published Monday in the journal Current Biology, was the first to use MRI technology to show exactly what areas of the brain are affected by sleep deprivation.
Results show a connection between negative thinking and lack of sleep, and while there is still years, if not decades, of research to be done on the subject, the study’s authors say it could point to a connection between sleep deprivation and psychiatric disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
It could even help explain road rage, said Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and senior author of the study, which was coordinated with researchers from Harvard University.
“One of the functions of sleep is to reset and replenish the emotional integrity of our brain circuits so we can approach the day’s emotional challenges in appropriate ways,” Walker said. “If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’ll be making irrational choices.”
Choose a peaceful chime alarm clock
Americans are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world, doctors and sociologists say. About 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to a 2005 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, and 75 percent reported having some sort of sleep disorder one or two nights a week.
National guidelines recommend people get between seven or eight hours of sleep a night.
Polls also show that Americans are getting less sleep all the time, as people deal with daily distractions, from work and family life to just staying up late watching TV or surfing the Internet. The National Sleep Foundation poll found that only 26 percent of adult Americans were getting at least eight hours of sleep a night in 2005, compared to 35 percent in 1998.
But lack of sleep isn’t just confined to adults.
Dr. Rafael Pelayo, director of Pediatric Sleep Service at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, said he’s noticed sleep deprivation is a growing problem among teenagers.
“They seem to be modeling their parents and getting as little sleep as possible. They’re routinely staying awake past their parents and they’re drinking more coffee,” Pelayo said. “Sleep is still an afterthought for most people; it’s something they can sacrifice. But sleep is actually an important cornerstone of health.”
Lack of sleep can lead to a loss of concentration and memory, can make people more sluggish and reduce motor skills, and can even weaken the immune system. But it also increases activity in the parts of the brain related to a variety of psychiatric disorders, according to the new research.
In the UC Berkeley study of 26 young adults, half of the subjects were kept awake for 35 hours straight and the other half were allowed a normal night’s sleep in that same time period. Then all of the subjects were hooked up to an MRI and shown a series of images, some of them disturbing pictures of graphic violence or gory injuries. Researchers monitored what happened in their brains as each image was shown.
When shown the disturbing images, the sleep-deprived subjects had a significant jump in activity in the amygdala, the section of the brain that puts the body on alert to protect itself. At the same time, activity slowed down in the prefrontal cortex, which controls logical reasoning.
Subjects who had gotten a full night of sleep showed normal brain activity.
What this means for most people is that a sleepless night can cause them to overreact to emotional challenges that they would otherwise be able to tolerate with no trouble, Walker said.
That’s why new parents might be more prone to snap at each other over petty arguments, or morning commuters might be more likely to lay on the horn when someone cuts them off instead of just let it go, Walker said. It also might make horror movies scarier, as the brain doesn’t do quite as good a job at separating fact from fiction.
“We become emotionally dis-regulated,” Walker said. “Ordinarily, if you saw a gun pointed at your face, you wouldn’t overreact because your brain puts it in context and tells you that you’re sitting in a movie theater staring at a screen. But that function seems to be disconnected when you’re sleep-deprived.”
Much more research needs to be done, Walker said, but sleep experts are already hopeful that more study could lead to refined options for treating not just sleep disorders, but psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety.
Dr. Anil Rama, medical director of the Regional Sleep Medicine Laboratory at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, said he’s intrigued by Walker’s research, but notes that the brain responses to sleep deprivation are likely so complicated that not much will change in terms of treatment any time soon.
Eventually, “if we start looking at the pathways that are involved with sleep deprivation, perhaps we can intervene there,” he said. “But I’m skeptical that isolating one particular pathway is very important. It has to be in the context of a whole body of literature, and there are so many things our emotional centers are tied into.”
adapted fro SFgate.com by Eric Allday
Peaceful Chime Alarm Clock - The Zen Clock Store - Boulder, CO
Now & Zen – The Zen Alarm Clock Shop
The Peaceful Alarm Clock Store - Boulder, CO
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Sleep Habits, sleep