Sleep Health

  • 5 reasons to start practicing mindfulness and how it can help you

    Original Article CCN Health By Jen Rose Smith, CNN

    (CNN)Are you paying attention? Maybe not. We spend nearly half our waking lives with wandering minds, Harvard University scientists found over a decade ago. When you’re trying to get something done — such as reading an article about mindfulness, for example — that wandering mind can derail your goals. “If we’re not paying attention to the present moment when we’re trying to get something done, that’s a problem, whether the goal is to read a book or talk to a partner,” said Amishi Jha, professor of psychology at the University of Miami. “Whatever it is, it’s going to require you to actually be in the moment to do it. “That’s where mindfulness comes in.

    With roots in Eastern spiritual traditions, mindfulness has transformed into a secular practice in the West. The term encompasses a range of practices that include breathing exercises, guided meditations and more formal trainings. “It’s the antidote to mind wandering,” Jha said. “It’s paying attention to our present moment experience without editorializing or reacting to it. “Mindfulness is an effective way to quiet your mind. Benefits of mindfulness go beyond focus. Practicing mindfulness can be effective at improving focus, lessening pain, improving sleep, mitigating stress and easing feelings of anxiety and depression, studies have found in recent years. Those are five great reasons to try a mindfulness practice — and we’ve got five ways you can get started today. Enter your email to sign up for the Better Sleep newsletter. “close dialog”

    1. You want to fine-tune your focus

    Constantly getting distracted is annoying, but it can be more serious than that annoyance. “When you are not paying attention to what is in front of you, in the moment, you’re going to have errors, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re likely to have lapses in judgment,” said University of Miami psychologist Jha, author of the forthcoming book “Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day,” which explores how mindfulness can improve focus and attention.

    This 5-minute meditation routine will calm you downShe works with military personnel and first responders, whose jobs require extreme focus in stressful situations. “If you have an attentional lapse, it could be the difference between life and death,” she said. Taking time for mindfulness is like strengthening a mental muscle, she said, and her lab has found positive results from just 12 minutes of daily practice.”It’s parallel to physical activity,” Jha said. “Engaging in a mindfulness practice is strengthening specific aspects of attention so that if we need them, we have access to that.”Try this: Join CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a guided meditation with mindfulness research pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn

    2. You’re living with chronic pain

    More than a fifth of US adults have chronic pain, found the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, conditions that contribute to the country’s opioid epidemic.Mindfulness is a promising technique for managing symptoms while lessening prescription drug use, said Eric Garland, a distinguished endowed chair in research, professor and associate dean at The University of Utah College of Social Work.

    These people started using drugs as children but turned their lives around. Here’s how.“Practice of mindfulness seems to help people cope with chronic pain, and reduce their overreliance on opioids,” he said. “Mindfulness breathing can immediately reduce pain” by 23%, according to Garland’s research.It’s not a long-lasting effect, he added. But his research has found that 15 minutes of mindful breathing is enough for a temporary reduction in pain.”It’s meditation as medication. You’re hurting, and you take some ibuprofen, and it works to alleviate pain,” he said. “The effects wear off in a couple of hours and you need to take another medicine. Mindfulness is similar.”Try this: Follow step-by-step instructions for a short body scan to address pain

    3. You’d like a great night of sleep

    Missing out on sleep is linked to chronic diseases and poor health, but more than 35% of US adults get fewer than the recommended seven to nine hours, according to the CDC.

    Sleep hygiene: 8 ways to train your brain for better sleepIf you’re tossing and turning all night, a mindfulness practice may help, found a 2019 meta-analysis of 18 studies.A wide range of sleep-specific mindfulness meditations are available free online. A popular mindfulness-for-sleep technique is the “body scan,” an approach that outperformed cognitive behavioral therapy in a 2020 trial of adolescents with insomnia.Sign up for the Sleep, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide has helpful hints to achieve better sleep.In a body scan sleep meditation created by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, participants follow recorded instructions to notice sensations in each part of the body, starting at the top of the head and moving toward the feet and toes. The best part? It all happens in bed.Try this: Lie down and cue up UCLA’s 13-minute body scan for sleep

    4. You’re feeling the effects of too much stress

    “There’s definitely support for mindfulness reducing stress,” said Winston of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Years of research back the claim, though Winston noted that the studies’ definitions of stress can vary widely.

    5 natural ways to boost your mental health during stressful timesThe eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program designed by mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn is a deep dive into practices attuned to alleviate stress. But many shorter guided meditations are available online, including from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.Such techniques may ease health problems that are commonly associated with stress. “It’s helpful with stress-related physical conditions,” Winston said. “It can impact blood pressure, it can boost the immune system, it can improve the healing response.”Try this: Stream Winston’s five-minute guided breathing mindfulness meditation

    5. You’re dealing with pandemic anxiety

    In mindfulness studies, “one of the easier effects to see is lowered anxiety,” said Susan Johnson, a professor of psychological science of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who noted the calming effect of sitting down and taking some deep, slow breaths.

    Americans are not getting the mental health treatment they need, report says“It’s kind of like a glass of muddy water. You let it sit, and the mud settles, and you see things a little more clearly,” she said.Mindfulness has been shown to relieve anxiety and boost mood, welcome news amid a pandemic that has triggered a global mental health crisis.Try this: Take five minutes for a guided breathing practice from Zindel Segal, distinguished professor of psychology in mood disorders at the University of Toronto — Scarborough

    The future — and limitations — of mindfulness science

    Mindfulness is not a cure-all, despite a growing number of studies and eager headlines. Some mindfulness research fails to meet the strictest norms of study design, Johnson said.

    The best yoga mats of 2021 (CNN Underscored)“Only about 10% of studies have active control groups,” she said. In a study with an active control group, some participants use mindfulness while others try a different activity entirely. It helps weed out the placebo effect.A 2021 meta-analysis in the British Medical Bulletin noted a need for more high-quality studies with larger sample sizes and more long-term follow-up. Evidence for some mindfulness benefits is robust, the study found, showing techniques can help with pain, insomnia, anxiety and stress. Evidence that mindfulness interventions help with post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders and eating disorders — some of which have made splashy news in recent years — remain preliminary.”I think (mindfulness) can be beneficial. I do meditate myself,” said Johnson, who calls herself “a skeptic of the exaggerated claims that are made.”Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.And even when it comes to targeting conditions like anxiety and stress, where benefits of mindfulness are strongly supported by research, there are no guarantees. “Mindfulness is not for everybody,” noted UCLA’s Winston. “Some people really respond to it and love it, and others don’t find it helpful.” Winston, too, said enthusiasm about the possible benefits of mindfulness sometimes gets ahead of the research.”Just keep in mind that the research on mindfulness is very young, even though it’s very exciting,” she said. “There’s so much more to do.”

  • Diabetics who sleep badly are at greater risk of dying prematurely, study suggests

    Original Article | CNN Health By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

    (CNN)People with diabetes who had trouble falling or staying asleep were 87% more likely to die of any cause over the next nine years than people without diabetes or sleep problems, a new study finds.

    Poor sleep linked to weight gain in 2-year smartphone sleep tracking studyKnutson and her team also compared people with diabetes who slept well to people with the condition who often experience poor sleep.”People with diabetes who slept badly were 12% more likely to die over a nine-year followup period than people with diabetes who slept without frequent sleep disturbances,” Knutson said.The study is the first to look at the combination of diabetes plus sleep disturbances and mortality risk, she added.

    Known link between diabetes and sleep problems

    A study of this type can only show association and not causation, said sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the research.Enter your email to subscribe to the Results Are In Newsletter with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.“close dialog”

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    Sign Me UpNo, ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourPrivacy PolicyWhile the study’s findings are disturbing, he said, they are not surprising.”Diabetes is a deadly disease and it can be easily affected by sleep — or the other way around,” Dasguta said. “Are you getting poor sleep because your diabetes is poorly controlled or is the poor sleep making your diabetes worse?”For example, Dasgupta said, people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, tend to be overweight and may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, when throat muscles relax and close the airway, thus disrupting sleep.

    Get better sleep by cuddling up with your partner“People with Type 2 diabetes are also predisposed to kidney issues and make multiple trips to the bathroom in the night because they’re always urinating, especially if their diabetes is poorly controlled,” he added. “They can also have damage to blood vessels which causes leg pain called neuropathy, and It’s hard to go to sleep because of that pain.”It’s also possible that poor quality sleep may impact the body’s ability to regulate blood sugars, thus contributing to the development of diabetes, Knutson said.”There’s experimental work which shows that if you take healthy people and disturb their sleep you see impairments in insulin sensitivity,” she said. “There could be a bidirectional association between the two, so if you have sleep issues for a long period of time it may actually lead to the development of diabetes.”

    What to do?

    Acknowledge and tackle your sleep problems, regardless of whether or not you have diabetes, Knutson said. Sleeping poorly is a risk factor for premature death from any cause all by itself.

    Sleep hygiene: 8 ways to train your brain for better sleep“If you usually have trouble falling or staying asleep, you need to talk to a physician and really get at the root of the problem. Find out why aren’t you sleeping well and then figure out how to fix it,” she said.Want some tips for better sleep? SIGN UP FOR CNN’s SLEEP, BUT BETTER newsletterIf you have diabetes, “treat your diabetes — that’s the take home message from this study,” Dasgupta said.”Diabetes is something that needs to be managed by your primary care doctor and endocrinologist.”If you’re not sleeping well, it may be harder to manage your diabetes, Knutson said.Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter

    Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.”It’s not easy to do and then if you’re sleep deprived, maybe you’re just not as good at remembering to take your medication or measure your blood sugars,” she said.A sleep specialist may also need to do a sleep study to see if you have an underlying sleep disorder, Dasgupta said.”When you tell me someone’s waking up quite a bit and they have diabetes, I may not only do need to treat the diabetes, I need to treat sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome or another sleep issue,” Dasgupta added. “Don’t hesitate to get the help you need.”

  • Adults Sleeping Under 6 Hours A Night Have Greater Dementia Risk

    April 21, 2021 | Original Article: MindBodyGreen

    It’s no secret that sleep is essential for a number of our body’s functions—from cellular repair to muscle growth and, of course, brain health. And one study published in the journal Nature Communications just put forward some new evidence on the link between sleep duration and dementia risk in middle-aged adults. Here’s what it found.

    Studying the connection between dementia and sleep.

    This research analyzed existing data from a long-term study on nearly 8,000 British people since 1985, conducted by University College London. As part of the research project, participants reported how long they slept multiple times over 25 years. Some of them also wore sleep-tracking devices to make sure they were giving accurate numbers on their sleep duration.

    A team of researchers then looked for any correlation between poor sleep and a greater risk for dementia down the line.

    Researchers have long suspected that there is a link between sleep and dementia risk, but they’ve been unsure where that link begins. That is, we don’t know if a lack of sleep can predispose people to dementia or if dementia throws off people’s sleep.

    The important thing about this study is that it started following the sleep patterns of people who were in their 50s, presumably before dementia had set in.

    What they found.

    Sure enough, a correlation was found—though the study authors are careful to note their research still can’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sleep and dementia.

    That said, within the group of almost 8,000 participants, researchers found that middle-aged adults who consistently clocked low sleep durations were 30% more likely to develop dementia—regardless of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors. 

    The study authors considered seven hours to be a normal sleep duration, compared to six hours or less, which was considered short.

    The takeaway:

    While the jury is still out on whether this connection is a direct cause-and-effect, it’s certainly a good reason to consider getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, particularly if you’re in your 50s or 60s and/or have a history of dementia in your family.

    The study authors note that more research is needed to better understand the relationship between sleep and dementia risk, but given how important sleep is for so many bodily functions, there’s really no reason not to aim for a full night of quality sleep, every night.

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  • Make Disease Disappear With Sleep

    Sleep is one of the most undervalued components of our health – if we can improve the quality of our sleep, we can improve the quality of our lives.

    Getting more sleep improves every aspect of our lives – it makes us less prone to injury when we exercise, boosts our productivity and enhances our ability to lose weight. Yet so many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

    Can sleep help make a disease disappear?

    Dr. Rangan Chatterjee thinks you can. Often referred to as the doctor of the future, Rangan is changing the way that we look at illness and how medicine will be practiced in years to come. He highlighted his methods in the groundbreaking BBC TV show, Doctor In The House, gaining him much acclaim from patients, his contemporaries and the media.

    His own journey of learning was accelerated when family members fell ill and now Rangan is helping people to take control of their health by addressing the root causes of their illnesses, something which is often not achieved in 21st century health care, evidenced by a steady increase in the rates of chronic disease.

    Follow his blog for more information at:

  • Stress Negatively Impacting the Quality of Sleep for Half of Americans, Finds ResMed Survey

    Original Article: Sleep Review | Posted by Sree Roy | Mar 20, 2021 | Demographics

    For half of Americans, stress over the past year is negatively impacting the quality of their sleep, according to the results of a nationwide survey of 1,000 adults commissioned by ResMed. What’s more, many are ignoring sleep challenges that could point to a larger underlying health concern.

    ResMed published the survey in conjunction with National Sleep Awareness Week (March 14-20) and World Sleep Day (March 19), and as part of Sleep for a Better Tomorrow, an education and outreach initiative to build awareness of the critical role good sleep plays in physical and mental health—and how to get our best sleep.

    “COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our lives, including our sleep health, leading many people to struggle to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night,” says Carlos M. Nunez, MD, chief medical officer for ResMed, in a release.

    Beyond the pervasive effects of stress, the survey found the impacts on sleep vary across gender and working arrangements.

    • Thirty-five percent of women reported worse sleep quality in the past year compared to just 26% of men. Women selected stress and anxiety as the most significant impacts on their sleep.
    • More individuals working from home reported improved sleep quality since the pandemic began vs those who haven’t worked from home (39% vs 21%).
    • Across all respondents, more than one-third say they are having a harder time falling asleep, and nearly one-third say they are sleeping less over the last year, and one-quarter started taking naps more often.

    [RELATED: How Abnormal Sleep Architecture Can Be a Predictor of Stress Vulnerability]

    Snoring & Sleep Apnea

    The survey revealed that more than one in two Americans say they snore, or a bed partner has told them they snore. But 78% of those who snore aren’t concerned it could be related to an underlying health condition, despite snoring being a top symptom of sleep apnea. Additionally, nearly half of survey respondents said their doctor had not asked them about their sleep quality, reinforcing the importance of consumers being aware of the potential health impacts of poor sleep and acting on key sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring.

    “While data show that stress and worry are key factors impacting many people’s sleep, now is an opportunity for everyone to take measure of all of the factors that could be impacting the quality of their sleep, which could include sleep disorders that can have negative long-term impacts to overall health,” Nunez says.

    “Sleep apnea can impact all types of people from all walks of life, and while some people are more prone to have sleep apnea, it does not discriminate. If you snore, have been told you stop breathing in your sleep, or feel tired each day despite getting enough hours of sleep, ask your doctor if sleep apnea—which is 100% treatable at home—could be the cause.”

    The survey was conducted in February 2021 among 1,000 individuals 18 and older in the United States. The survey was fielded using Qualtrics Insights Platform, and the panel was sourced from Lucid.