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Have you ever felt paralyzed upon waking up in the middle of the night? Maybe you want to speak but can’t, or even worse, you feel a presence in your bedroom but you’re unable to do anything about it. Did someone break in? You feel unsafe, completely unable to move. Finally, you fully wake and look around, feeling immediate relief that the experience may have just been a bad dream. But what if it wasn’t a nightmare? These episodes are known as sleep paralysis, caused by REM sleep sensations and wakefulness overlapping as you rest. These terrifying experiences can feel like they last for a lifetime. If you’re wondering, “how long does sleep paralysis last?” the answer is just minutes. However, it feels longer due to the in-between state of consciousness your brain experiences during these episodes. So why does sleep paralysis occur? While we still have much to learn, it could be due to sleeping position, a sleep disorder, severe sleep deprivation, or certain mental conditions like panic disorder.
Have you ever told someone to have “sweet dreams” before bed? We all would prefer to have blissful, enjoyable dreams over terrifying, peculiar nightmares. If you want to have a nice dream over a bad one, research suggests that a couple of lifestyle changes just might do the trick. While we still have a lot to learn about the science of dreams, bad dreams are linked to our brains either preparing for stressful situations in our waking lives or trying to process traumatic memories we’ve already experienced. Moreover, the more relaxed and calm we are before bed, the greater our chances of experiencing soothing dreams that match our mood. That’s why it’s vital to avoid distressing media or conversations before sleep, along with stimulants like caffeine or food that boost metabolism and brain activity. Alcohol is known to fragment sleep and induce bad dreams, too, so opting for your evening cocktail with any early dinner rather than drinking into the night is best. More research may be needed to reveal the true science of dreaming, but bad dreams don’t have to be a nightly occurrence.
Some days you wake up ready to conquer the world, while other days your feet drag the floor and you just can’t seem to get going. Your choices from the day and night before directly influence how you feel upon waking.The world of sleep tracking can feel overwhelming, though, as so many options are available. From expensive, sophisticated wearable devices to free smartphone apps to a simple, DIY bullet journal sleep tracker, there is an option available for your lifestyle and sleep tracking needs.
Like many, you may think that oversleeping is “healthier” than undersleeping. Nonetheless, science suggests otherwise: oversleeping is just as harmful as not getting enough rest. Hitting snooze in the morning often feels euphoric, relaxing, and blissful. However, getting an extra few winks of harmless shut-eye can quickly turn into an extra few hours of sleep. This throws off our sleep patterns and is even thought to cause a handful of health problems that can quickly become life-threatening. Too much REM sleep is known to cause obesity, heart disease, and more. You’re likely wondering, “How much REM sleep should you get, then?” Or: “How much deep sleep do I need?” Research suggests that between 7 and 8 hours every night is the sweet spot. Any more than 9 hours, though, and you’re doing more harm than good.
Grogginess upon waking is normal. However, if it lasts for most of your morning or disrupts your productivity, it quickly becomes a problem. Intense grogginess and confusion upon waking is called sleep inertia. While we aren’t completely sure what causes it, many researchers theorize that sleep inertia is the brain’s way of preventing us from waking up at every little sound or disturbance throughout the night. In extreme cases of sleep inertia, sometimes called sleep drunkenness, this phenomenon quickly becomes dangerous, putting you and everyone around you at risk of injury due to delayed reaction times. High sleep debt caused by sleep deprivation worsens sleep inertia. Moreover, your sleep chronotype influences whether or not you’re likely to experience it. High adenosine levels that build up due to lack of sleep are also to blame, which lower as you pay down sleep debt and establish a consistent sleep routine.
Does it seem like you just can’t get going in the morning? Or do you have no issue rolling out of bed? Some people hit the ground running as soon as they wake up,  prepared to conquer the day with a smile. Others have to ease into productivity, ramping up their energy as the day goes on. Beyond that, certain people find it hard to wake up and even harder to fall asleep at night. Are these people just night owls or early birds? Science says it’s much more complex than that. In fact, modern research has proven that there are at least four different types of sleep chronotypes that determine the time of day we’re biologically the most productive and focused. You’re either a bear, wolf, lion, or dolphin sleep chronotype – and you may even be a mix of more than one. If you’re not sure which chronotype you most closely identify with, certain online quizzes can help you determine yours.
The early bird gets the worm, while the night owl is usually framed as less productive. But is this really true? As it turns out, night owls are typically more creative than early birds, but not without sacrifice. Night owls are statistically at a greater risk for health issues like diabetes, mental health challenges, and metabolic issues. Moreover, as the onset of your sleep routine becomes delayed, your chances of developing harmful sleep disorders like sleep apnea rise. This worsens the problem – but can you break the cycle? Or is being a night owl just a biological predisposition that you can’t change? While certain pre-existing conditions may cause you to feel more creative and active during the wee hours of the night as opposed to the morning time, tidying up your circadian rhythm and sleep cycles can help you become the early bird you’ve always dreamed of being. By paying closer attention to your sleep hygiene, light exposure, caffeine intake, and more, you can shift your sleep cycle forward each day until you reach the routine you’ve always desired.
We spend a large portion of our lives sleeping or trying to fall asleep. If you experience a bad night’s rest, you know how it interferes with your life at work and home. However, sleep deprivation quickly turns from irritating to dangerous. Over time, poor sleep hygiene wrecks the brain’s ability to restore itself. In fact, our brains run on sleep. Without it, we can’t process memories, retain information, or harness creativity in the same manner as we can when we’re well-rested. Our brain’s ability to heal wounds, revitalize the skin, and manage hunger dramatically decreases when we’re tired. Certain brain waves for sleep help to carry out revitalizing processes we need to stay healthy. Moreover, poor sleep habits cause plaque buildup in the brain known to increase the risk of memory-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Proper sleep hygiene ensures that your brain has its best chances at processing new information, maintaining a healthy appearance, and keeping you at the top of your game.
Good dreams are blissful and exciting. Have you ever woken up from a great dream only to wish you could go back to sleep to relive it? What about a nightmare? Most of us not only never want to relive our nightmares, we’re happy to wake up from them. For some people, nightmares become so frequent and distressing that sleep becomes anxiety-inducing. So why do we have nightmares at all? Turns out, there is a need for them. They help us prepare for life-threatening scenarios. However, sometimes recurring nightmares are the result of a mental health condition like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unprocessed trauma leads to bad dreams that disrupt and diminish our quality of life. Sleep apnea is another potential cause, as this sleep disorder causes a blocked airway and lowered oxygenation during sleep. No matter the reason for your nightmares, rest assured that their occurrence is caused by your brain trying to process memories and protect you from danger.
What you eat matters. Food is fuel, and our choice of fuel determines how we feel. However, even if you’re making healthy food choices, some of the foods you consume may cause insomnia if eaten too closely to bedtime. Moreover, certain foods may have hidden sources of stimulating ingredients like sugar or caffeine. For example, your favorite protein bar may be loaded with extra caffeine, taking your daily intake to a harmful level. If you’re a soup lover, your favorite can from the grocery store might be loaded with sugar, making your favorite comforting, warm meal a sugar bomb that prevents quality sleep. Some of your favorite treats may also unknowingly cause bloating, indigestion, and acid reflux that worsens when you lay down, keeping you awake. Over time, this lack of sleep impairs your ability to stay focused and healthy. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of seven foods that keep you awake.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in America, so it’s understandable that heart health is important to so many people. Common tips to improve heart health include exercise and diet. The way you move your body and how you fuel your body both have direct ties to the health of your cardiovascular system. But what about the way you rest your body? As it turns out, a lack of proper, quality sleep is directly tied to poor heart health. There is a direct correlation between disordered, fragmented sleep and heart disease, mostly due to the way that sleep deprivation and sleep disorders interrupt your heart rate as you rest. Thankfully, there are a few solutions to help you protect both the quality of your sleep and your heart health.
It’s vital for our well-being to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, but many of us struggle to do so. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can feel it. A lack of sleep doesn’t just make you groggy for one day; it causes you to drag throughout the rest of the week. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on our personal and professional lives, causing lowered focus, slower reaction times, and poor emotional regulation. You may think you can “catch up” on a lack of sleep later by sleeping in on the weekends, but the inconsistencies actually worsen the problem. Our bodies rely on a 24-hour clock known as our circadian rhythm. When our sleep and wake times are all over the place, our bodies have a hard time releasing the proper hormones that trigger that cozy, sleepy feeling. If you want to learn how to get more deep sleep, discipline is the answer! Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day and night may sound boring, but this practice is critical for improving your circadian rhythm and sleep quality.