Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sleep impaired Judgment

I am sure the BBC news came as no surprise to any parent, as they reported that "lack of sleep can impair many functions, including concentration and memory." It was reported in the latest edition of the US sleep journal that researchers found soldiers struggled to make snap decisions in emotionally charged situations after being deprived of sleep for two nights. The authors suggest this could be important for other professions, including doctors, who have broken sleep and need to make quick decisions in a crisis.

The researchers studied 26 healthy soldiers to judge whether a given course of action would be "appropriate" or "inappropriate" in a range of test situations; from minor inconsequential ones to serious dilemmas where the decision could theoretically harm another person. In general, the soldiers found it harder to perform the task after they had been awake for 53 continuous hours. The longest stint ever recorded was a person who went 11.5 days without sleep, but they suffered psychiatric symptoms, such as, psychosis.

The report also raised concern regarding the trend towards a 24-hour society, with people burning the candle at both ends. I have added here are a few common sense tips about aiding a healthy body clock:

Sleep Hygiene

1. Getting Ready For Bed
a. Develop a routine before bedtime, so your body can learn that this process means it is time to relax and stop thinking about work or other worries. Perhaps drink a glass of milk.
b. Don’t take your worries to bed. Leave your worries about job and daily life behind as you get ready to go to bed. Some people find it useful to assign a "worry period" during the evening or late afternoon to deal with their issues.
c. Light snacks before bed. Warm milk and foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as bananas, may help you to sleep.
d. Practice relaxation techniques before bed.
e. Establish a pre-sleep ritual. Pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can help you sleep. Don’t watch TV as this can be engaging and keep you awake.

2. Sleep Time
a. Routine - Fix a regular bedtime and awakening time. Do not allow bedtime and awakening time to drift, as the body "gets used" to falling asleep at a certain time.
b. Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime. It is common to believe that alcohol helps with sleep. However, whilst alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect, a few hours later as the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall with a resulting wake-up effect, leading to disrupted sleep.
c. Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and is contained in many foods, such as chocolate. Food and drinks containing caffeine should be avoided before bed.
d. Exercise - but not right before bed. Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoon, can help sleep. But don’t exercise within the two hours before bedtime as this can decrease the ability to fall asleep.

3. Sleeping Environment
a. Bedding. Make your bedding as comfortable as possible. Also find a comfortable temperature setting and keep the room ventilated.
b. Eliminate as much light as possible. This will help your brain understand it is night time and help with the sleep process
c. Block out all distracting noise This will reduce the chances of being disturbed
d. Reserve the bedroom. Never use the bedroom as an office or a place of work. Let your body "know" that the bedroom is associated with sleeping.


Anonymous said...

the picture is making me feel zzzzzzzz a little zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzleepy....zzzzzzzzzzzz

Chrysalis said...

I changed the lighting to a soft glow, it looks light candle light. I also placed certain pictures around me that I enjoy. As soon as I walk in there, I instantly feel the tension lift from me. Refuge after a long day.

simon said...

well, I think I lack in a few areas. but one thing is for sure.. the neighbours dogs that NEVER stop barking are beginning to cause stress/lack of sleep :o(

Anonymous said...

A comfy bed is certainly very important, and I do enjoy a dark room. I usually go to sleep straight after my head hits the pillow, I can't even read as my eyes become heavy. In fact, it's time to turn in now.

Ian Lidster said...

I basically follow the steps in the routine you outline. And I have no problem in falling asleep, in fact, often do in front of the television by 9 p.m. But, regardless of when I go to bed or the time of the year, I am awake by 5 or 5:30 a.m. I hate that. We were in France in October. It took me 3 days to adjust to the time change (8 hours), and then it was 5:30 awakening again. I don't even have a guilty conscience (at least not now I don't) that is waking me up. I've resigned myself to this being my lot in life. Anyway, Dr. Michelle, I'll scrutinize your suggestions more closely. Thanks.

Clare said...

I rarely have problems falling asleep so I guess I must be quite lucky. It's quite noisy where I live so when I go somewhere quiet I do find it hard to fall asleep as it's so quiet.

David Anthony said...

It was reported in the latest edition of the US sleep journal that researchers found soldiers struggled to make snap decisions in emotionally charged situations after being deprived of sleep for two nights.

They had to conduct a study to find that out??

Big Brother said...

When I was in the army we once went without sleep for 72 hours during an exercise. Strange things happen after 3 days, you start to see things that are not there, rationally you know that what you are seeing isn't real but you see them anyway. I guess the brain just decides to dream even if your eyes are open. I saw people fall asleep standing up and wake up as they fell over. I can well believe that your thought processes are impaired. We sure weren't very rational on the third day. ;o)

jmb said...

Hi Michelle,
Here is a dubious award, ignore it, no offence taken, you don't have this kind of blog, but it is a mark of my esteem.

James Higham said...

This is an issue I've posted on numerous times and I get my clients to take seriously. Your post clearly sets out the aspects of it and I thank you for that and shall use the info [attributed of course].

SeaSpray said...

I can pretty much sleep anytime, except after working an 11-7 shift, which thankfully, has been only been a handful of times. Even tho everything is darkened and I throw on some sort of white noise - never hit that rem sleep and then miserable feeling for a couple of days. I don't know how people do it.

After the birth of my 2nd son - my room mate said that I was falling asleep mid sentence. it wasn't difficult but just such a happy and exciting time and all the interactions, I wasn't getting sleep - so guess my body decided to take over.

Thank you for the good post. :)

James Higham said...

DMT, you might like to check out the Blogfocus this evening, in which you feature.

Liz Hinds said...

One thing in life that I am good at: sleeping.

Reading the list of dos and donts, I do follow most of them coincidentally.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Good Night Sleep

Lack of sleep can result in stress, lack of concentration, moodiness, memory loss, lower motivation and fatigue. It is important to get a good night sleep otherwise it may lead to different sleep disorders. More than eighty percent of people suffering from depression are suffering with sleep problems.

At present, one of the most common problems is Sleep deprivation. In fact the Better Sleep Council surveyed a thousand adult respondents and discovered that more than 30% of them confessed to not getting enough sleep each night.

Here are 101 ways to get good night sleep for those who experience difficulty in getting sleep.

1.The bedroom should not be too hot or too cold. High temperatures can lead to disturbances in the quality of sleep. The optimum temperature is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the room is too cold, use humidifier or warm blankets.

2.Don’t discuss about the bills or problems or watch television in the bedroom.

3.Drinking warm milk before going to bed helps in soothing the nervous system. As milk contains calcium, it works on the nervous system and makes the body relax.

4.Sleep on back as it allows all the internal organs to rest properly and it is the best position for relaxing.

5.Stop the habit of watching the clock, counting the hours and remembering the hours as it leads to lack of sleep.

6.For a restful sleep, put a pillow under the knees to relieve lower back pressure.

7.Some people may not like taking warm bath; they can soak their feet in warm water for fifteen to twenty minutes before going to bed. Apply oil and massage each foot before going to sleep.

8.If feeling of tiredness leads to sleepiness during the evening, try to resist going to bed early than usual time.

Rest of the tips....