EIC Social Media Team
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Sleep Disorders and Childhood Obesity: Is Lack of Sleep Making Your Child Fat?
Obesity is a major concern in the United States today, and it doesn’t only affect adults. According to the CDC, nearly one third of American children are considered overweight or obese. But, how harmful is it really for your child to be overweight, and, how can you help them to get their weight under control? An even more important question is whether sleep disorders and childhood obesity are linked.
The health risks of obesity are well documented. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, social and psychological problems, and more, have been connected to being overweight. So, helping your child to control his or her weight involves much more than helping them to avoid the social stigma of being a bigger kid at school. Their health and well-being throughout their entire lives could be affected.
Consider a cause of childhood obesity that you may not have previously thought of—lack of sleep. Recent studies have revealed that those who sleep less (regardless of age or gender), seem to have a slower metabolism. The result is a direct correlation between sleep and weight. Less sleep equals more weight, while more sleep equals less weight.
So, what keeps children awake? Decades ago, kids would beg their parents for a little more TV time before bed. Later, it was video games. Next, it was the Internet. Now, it is often a combination of the three. One major issue is that most children have electronic devices in their room. Bedtime doesn’t necessarily mean sleep time, as children may stay up late (even though they are in bed), using their mobile devices and hand held video games.
What can you do to help?
If your children have mobile devices, teach them to not use these in bed. Perhaps you can have a place in the living room where they must charge their devices at night. This way, not only are the devices not being used, the sounds or vibrations from texts and emails received during the night will not interrupt their sleep. The CDC study alluded to earlier, indicated that kids with earlier bedtimes were also thinner. Thus, although sleep disorders and childhood obesity are linked, they don’t have to be. You may not be the most popular parent in school for urging implementing of these suggestions, at least among the kids, but it might help improve the health of everyone’s child.
MS and Fatigue: New Light On Why
Can you imagine a day where you’re not yawning at 3:00 p.m., or a day when you wake up in a bright and cheery mood, full of vigor and energy? Sadly, in today’s world, there are few who can. Getting enough sleep to feel rested and ready to tackle whatever the day throws at you is something that’s become a rarity in these busy times. In this hectic and stress-filled world we live in, fatigue is becoming an increasing problem. Imagine, however, having to deal with a chronic illness on top of feeling fatigued every day—welcome to the world of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis or MS. A new development may provide a glimmer of hope, though. Scientists have made an interesting connection between MS and fatigue and another chronic condition known as sleep apnea.
What is the link that ties these three together and what does it mean for people who have MS? Multiple Sclerosis is a disease where constant inflammation interrupts the workings of important nervous system functions. Patients with the disease can experience a wide array of symptoms. For most, fatigue—or a chronic feeling of tiredness—is a normal part of living with the condition. Researchers, however, have found that many patients who have MS and complain of tiredness may actually have a different cause for their fatigue, a condition called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person briefly stops breathing during sleep. These nighttime interruptions can make a person feel drowsy and fatigued the following day. The idea that the fatigue could be traced to a different source than the MS is something few had thought about before. This new information could prove valuable in a number of ways.
Recognizing that sleep apnea, a treatable condition, could be causing fatigue, is good news in the sense that this is a treatable condition. Patients that have a history of MS and also complaining of fatigue should not put off being tested for sleep apnea. Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can help prevent MS from progressing and can even eliminate some of the symptoms.
Another positive side to these findings is that, with improved sleep, the immune and nervous systems are strengthened, which is crucially important in the body’s fight against MS. For an MS sufferer, just knowing that their fatigue may be caused by a sleep disorder could potentially improve their well-being and quality of life.
If you or a loved one is suffering from MS and fatigue, ask your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. It may be a factor and it is treatable.
Sleep Apnea and Stroke: Is There A Link?
Tens of millions of people across the United States are afflicted with insomnia. Besides your everyday causes of insomnia, such as stress or anxiety, there are a host of health conditions that can impact a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. In fact, conditions such as heart disease and diabetes seem to be frequently connected with sleep disorders. There may also be a connection between sleep apnea and stroke. Since more than a quarter of a million Americans suffer a stroke each year, this is concern of national proportions. What is sleep apnea, and are you really more likely to experience it if you’ve had a stroke?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that involves momentary pauses in a person’s breathing during sleep. This prevents a person from falling into a deep sleep, as their sleep is interrupted while they start breathing again. A person may not even know that this is occurring—they may simply feel tired upon waking—from what they thought was 8 hours of sleep! If left untreated, this condition can lead to many other serious health concerns.
So, why do stroke victims tend to have this sleep disorder? The fact is a stroke can occur in any part of the brain. While the brain’s sleeping mechanism isn’t fully understood, it is now recognized that the location of a stroke can determine whether or not it impacts sleeping, and, in particular, our ability to breathe during sleep. This part of the brain, the brain stem, makes up the base. It is also where the brain meets the spinal cord. This part of the central nervous system is responsible for many of the activities that our body performs without conscious effort, like breathing. One recent study found that nearly 90 percent of people who experienced a stroke in this part of the brain ended up testing positive for sleep apnea.
The good news about sleep apnea and stroke is that sleep apnea is treatable. So, if you’ve experienced a stroke and are now feeling fatigued, even after getting a full night’s sleep, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. The sooner sleep apnea is diagnosed, and the sooner treatment begins, the less likely you will experience any of the other adverse consequences of this sleep disorder.
Smoking Can Affect Your Hearing: If Hearing Is Important Then You Should Quit Smoking
There are many reasons to quit smoking. In truth, there seems to be an endless barrage of bad news about smoking and the damage it can do to your health. We can add one more reason to quit: smoking can affect your hearing. In fact, it may be doing irreparable damage.
The way sound works and interacts with the ear, and how this is then transmitted to the brain, is a precise and complex procedure. Sound travels through the air as waves, which are funneled into the ear. The subsequent vibrations pass through a number of structures such as the eardrum and three small bones in the ear called ossicles. Once inside, the vibrations are picked up by tiny hairs. The hairs pass on the information in the form of electrical pulses. The auditory or cochlear nerve then carries this signal to the brain. While this may not seem like it has anything to do with smoking, studies have shown that smoking can impair hearing. The question is: how?
There are three main lines of reasoning on the matter.
First, smoking actually produces nearly 1,000 chemical by-products, many which are extremely hazardous. These toxins travel throughout the body and can damage tissue. The sensitive tissues involved in the hearing process can be negatively impacted by these dangerous substances.
Second, these noxious chemicals can stunt the growth and development of nerves. When a young person is exposed to the toxic air that comes from smoking, the chemicals can damage or stunt the growth of the auditory nerve. This is just one more reason to prevent the exposure of children to secondhand smoke, as it is vital for their hearing and crucial in many other ways to their development.
Third, damage to neurotransmitters can severely affect hearing. These transmitters communicate information within the brain. If they are damaged, they cannot relay the information. So, even if the other processes are in place and functioning, signal transfer (hearing) depends on the neurotransmitter.
The evidence is convincing that smoking can affect your hearing. So, if one needs another reason to kick the habit, protecting your hearing is a good one.
Methods For Fending Off Cancer: Proper Sleep Will Help
Cancer is one of the scariest words in the English language and available treatments are often as frightening as the disease itself. So, any time we hear about a natural therapy or practice that can help to prevent cancer or treat it, we are thrilled to know about it. Now, you can add sleep to the list of the methods for fending off cancer.
The evidence is compelling proving that sleep affects our immune system. More sleep equals a stronger immune system. However, the reverse is also true. Perhaps you have noticed certain times in your life when you were not getting enough sleep. Then you came down with whatever illness happened to be going around. Unfortunately, the same principle applies to tumor growth.
A recent study showed that when a person sleeps less, or has their sleep frequently interrupted, tumors both grow more quickly and become more aggressive. In fact, the entire way that the tumors grow changes. Here is how.
The body uses tumors to prevent diseased cells from circulating throughout the rest of the body. It’s kind of like a prison for unhealthy cells. Because the immune system can’t get rid of the cells the diseased cells are kept cut off from the healthy cells. However, when a person with cancer doesn’t get enough sleep, the tumors break through the barrier. The result is a mix of healthy and diseased tissue. Just like a massive prison break would be bad for a neighborhood, and tough for law enforcement to put right, this type of tumor growth is bad for the body and far more difficult to treat.
What the study showed is that sleep is actually an important part of cancer treatment. Even though some cancer therapies may make sleep a little more challenging, managing sleep properly plays a key role in beating the disease. If you are suffering from cancer, be sure to adhere to a regular sleep schedule. If you need help, consult your doctors to see how they can help you. For those suffering from this terrible disease, sleep literally could be a matter of life or death.
This isn’t just advice for patients who are already being treated for cancer. Sometimes a person may have a tumor but it is many months before it is actually diagnosed. Having a good schedule of sleep may help to slow the growth of the tumor until it is diagnosed. Sleep is one of the methods for fending off cancer and good sleep patterns are a healthy, and potentially lifesaving, habit for everyone to have.
Sense of Smell Impairment: It Can Be Treated
Sitting down to a meal puts our brains into overdrive. One of the first things we notice is how that meal smells. We may first see it with our eyes. And we might have heard the clatter of plates as it’s brought out to us. But it is the sense of smell that links a meal to our memory. Next, we excitedly lift our forks to our mouths and taste that first mouth-watering bite. Our sense of smell and taste may be taken for granted at times, but they add richness to our life. Unfortunately, sense of smell impairment does occur and your sense of taste can become impaired. Taste and smell are linked and, in fact, what is often thought of as taste may actually be smell. If your sense of taste and smell has degraded there is help.
There are numerous reasons for the loss or impairment of our sense of smell. The olfactory nerve, the one responsible for smell, can be damaged. It is possible for certain environmental factors to disrupt the process. For example, smoking and secondhand cigarette smoke can adversely affect this sense. Exposure to toxic materials can cause damage as well. Certain events such as head or neck trauma, cancer treatments, and other factors can also have a negative effect on smell and taste. Some causes are physiological. Degenerative nerve disease, nasal polyps, chronic infection, and conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can all play a role in loss of smell. The list continues, but these are some of the main categories with potentially the greatest risk.
The list of what could be affecting your sense of smell may be long, but there are treatments available. The first step is to evaluate how pronounced your sense of smell impairment is and then to pinpoint what is causing it. The next step is to have the correct treatment prescribed and to preserve this important sensory faculty.
After Daylight Savings Ends: Some Advice
Daylight savings has come and gone for another year, and my patients have already mentioned how their sleep patterns were affected by the change. So have members of my staff, and this is even though we gained an hour instead of losing one. So, why is it that after daylight savings ends and we even gained an hour this past Sunday that we feel sluggish or groggy? I hold with most sleep specialists that the sleep pattern changes we normally make on the weekends – staying up later and sleeping in – exasperates the effects of the time change on our bodies. Mondays are particularly hard because of this sleep pattern change each weekend, and with another hour added into the mix, our bodies feel even more sluggish than the usual.
Light is a major tool for adjusting to the daylight savings time change. The more sunlight we get in the morning, the more awake we feel throughout the day. Also, avoiding light before bedtime, especially the blue light of electronics, helps our body naturally shut itself down for proper sleep. This is because light inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone in our body that supports sleep, while darkness encourages it. So, when you get that extra hour each year, instead of using it to sleep another hour, take a walk in the sunlight and rejuvenate your body and mind. Remember, each year after daylight savings ends we lose daylight on the tail end of our days. This makes it extra important to wake up at a proper hour and get outside to enjoy the sunlight we do have. Doing this really helps ward off the ‘winter blues.’ If you haven’t fully adjusted to the time change, take a walk tomorrow morning. If your body still feels out of sorts two weeks after the time change, then it may be indicative of a minor sleeping disorder. If this is the case you should consult your physician or a sleep specialist.
Healthy Sinuses: A “How To” Guide
Sinus infections, congestion, and other symptoms can make this time of year miserable. The good news is there are some things you can do to develop and maintain healthy sinuses. Moreover, if you do get sick, the same strategies that keep your sinuses healthy will also help you heal faster.
Drink up. This is important, as drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can be one of the best preventative measures for our sinuses. When you stay hydrated, it will help to thin mucus discharge. This, in turn, will help prevent congestion and the miserable symptoms associated with it. Drinking water will also keep your immune system strong. Both of these factors are important in fighting off infection and keeping sinuses clear.
Another way to help keep sinuses well lubricated is to use a humidifier. In drier climates, or when a heating system is used (wood heat in particular), mucus membranes will dry out. This can leave you open to congestion, irritation, or infection. Adding humidity to the air also helps you sleep better at night and also helps to keep your skin from drying out.
Limiting alcohol intake and not smoking are proven to help keep sinus passages clear and healthy. If you do smoke, quitting can be hard. It is worth the effort, however, as the health benefits can be seen almost immediately—and this is especially true when it comes to the sinuses.
Traveling can expose you to a number of things. Developing congestion because you are tired and your immune system is weakened, or being exposed to other people with cold and flu infections, are common features of traveling. By a nasal spray before your trip and keep it on hand. Nasal sprays aid in clearing the sinuses and preventing congestion or blockage. Also, avoiding certain allergy triggers will help ensure your nasal passages are not inflamed. Again, drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your trip will help keep your body strong and your sinuses healthy.
No one enjoys the cold and flu season, but by following a few simple guidelines, you can get it through it with healthy sinuses. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, may be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. Taking care of some basic health needs, and having the right tools on hand, can go a long way to keeping your sinuses at their best.
Sleep and Depression: Sleep’s Depression-Fighting Properties
There is a link between sleep and depression. According to one study, when a person sleeps between 7 and 9 hours per night, their risk of developing depression is cut in half. This holds true for both adults and teens alike. Thus, sleep’s depression-fighting properties can be a significant factor in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.
Unfortunately, sleep isn’t the only factor when it comes to mood. However, sleeping well each night may make depression easier to treat. This, in itself, is a big deal.
The reason for this stems from the fact that when we sleep, our brains have a chance to take out the trash, as it were. Imagine a hotel room where one guest immediately follows upon the other, with no chance for a cleaning in between. Imagine what that room would look like, after just a few days. Similarly, each night we need to give our brains the time they need to clean house. Sleep may not eliminate altogether eliminate the symptoms of depression, but it certainly may help to relieve them.
So, if you or a loved one suffers from depression, try to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Of course, for those dealing with chronic depression, that is easier said than done. Talk to your doctor about your sleep problems. Getting this issue cleared up may very well brighten your mood a little, and, every little bit helps when dealing with a debilitating condition such as depression.
Yes, sleep does a body good—especially the brain. We have long known of the importance of sleep to physical health. The same is true of mental health. The link between sleep and depression is strong. But it is good to know that sleep’s depression-fighting properties can be activated simply with proper sleep.
Sleep And Chronic Pain: Sleep Can Help Sufferers Reawaken Their Vitality
For many people chronic pain is a way of life. If you suffer from chronic pain then you know it can affect every aspect of life, making even regular, everyday activities a chore. Chronic pain can also lead to insomnia, or difficulty falling and staying asleep. Lack of sleep creates a host of problems all its own. Those who experience both lack of sleep and chronic pain doubly suffer. This combination can lead to feelings of lethargy and apathy.
Chronic pain and lack of sleep often becomes a vicious circle. We have long recognized that physical activity helps relieve the symptoms of chronic pain. But herein lies a catch-22. How does someone who is constantly in pain and exhausted from lack of sleep stay alert enough for physical activities?
The first order of business in stopping this cycle begins with sleep. This is nature’s way of energizing the mind and body and, through regular sleep and activity, pain levels can be reduced. This can then lead to a better sense of well-being.
If you suffer from chronic pain don’t be discouraged if it takes time to get back into a regular sleep schedule. The way to start taking control of your sleep schedule is to identify what keeps you awake. Is it better pain management? Are there environmental factors that are keeping you up, such as sounds, lights and other interruptions? Do you have a sleep disorder such as OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) that can be controlled? Are stress and anxieties a factor?
Once you have identified the issues responsible for keeping you awake, you can begin to implement changes in your lifestyle or your sleep regimen that will promote better sleep. This, in turn, can give you the energy to be a more physically active, which can reduce your pain. Lack of sleep and chronic pain often go together but finding ways to improve your sleep will also help you to better control your pain.