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sleep deprivation

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Sleep Deprivation Leads to Less Cognitive Flexibility

Tired people tend to get stuck and cannot shift well when faced with the unexpected.

Sleep deprived people may perform expected tasks well. Yet, when they are faced with unexpected events their reaction times are significantly impaired. These impairments can lead to safety errors and accidents. Early research has found sleep loss or disruptions to circadian rhythms (shift changes, jet lag) make it difficult to switch from proactive control to reactive control. Tired people lose cognitive flexibility.

PositiveTip: Get adequate sleep to maintain cognitive effectiveness.

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Video: What if You Didn't Sleep?

Are you getting sufficient sleep?

In spite of growing evidence that adequate sleep is essential to every aspect of healthful living, estimates suggest that in the U.S. 66 percent of teens and 30% of adults are sleep-deprived. This short video animation provides an excellent summary of the importance of sleep. (Take a moment to complete the quiz that follows to test you knowledge!)

PositiveTip: Sleep is not optional. It is essential to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

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Just One Night of Sleep Deprivation?

Adequate sleep could be the unsung hero of obesity treatment.

When thinking about treating obesity, most of us think of diet and exercise. However, sleep loss increasingly appears to be an important factor. Dogs deprived of sleep for one night suffered a 33% drop in insulin sensitivity. The same 8 dogs had a 21% drop when fed a high-fat diet for 6 months. These results cannot be applied to humans--but poor sleep may yet be linked with overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

PositiveTip: Remember, most adults need 8+ hours per night.

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Sleep Habits Affect Your Food Habits

Sleep deprivation can increase cravings for high-calorie junk foods

Night owls beware, if you're not getting enough sleep you increase your chances of choosing a junk food diet! Researchers from UC Berkely have found that sleep deprived participants were more likely to desire high-calorie junk foods compared to well-slept participants. Brain scans showed that sleep deprived people had less blood flow to the frontal lobe, the area of complex decision making and more blood flow to brain areas governing impulse and rewards.

Positive Tip: A good nights sleep will help encourage healthy choices.

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Tired People Make Poor Food Choices

Sleepiness may encourage bad food choices.

Ever wondered why you have such a hard time resisting that mouth-watering, high-calorie desert? If you are sleep deprived, this could be part of the answer. Preliminary experiments with healthy, normal-weight volunteers found that those who are sleep deprived experience brain changes that make them more susceptible to making poor dietary choices. Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans showed that specific areas of the frontal lobes responsible for making wise choices were negatively affected by sleep deprivation.

PositiveTip: Get adequate sleep each night to support healthy decision-making.

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U.S. Workers Short on Sleep

29% of U.S. day shift workers report 6 or less hours of sleep.

The 2010 National Health Interview Survey has revealed that 41 million American workers sleep no more than 6 hours per night. This is most common among those working night shifts (44%) or rotating shifts (32%). However, 29% of those working regular day shifts also reported sleeping less than 6 hours per night. Sleep deprivation has many negative health effects, including increased risk of accidents, illness, and obesity.

PositiveTip: For optimal health and cognitive performance, sleep 7-9 out of each 24 hours.

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Skip A Night's Sleep. Overeat!

People with chronic sleep deprivation more easily overeat.

Young, healthy, normal weight men showed significantly greater hunger when shown pictures of high-calorie foods following one night of sleep deprivation--regardless of blood glucose levels. Participants served as their own controls with tests spaced two weeks apart. The areas of the brain involved in hunger motivation showed greater activity on functional magnetic resonance imaging. People who do not get enough sleep may be more likely to overeat, and a preference for energy-dense foods may predispose them to weight gain.

PositiveTip: When tired and sleep deprived be extra cautious about the desire to eat high-calorie foods.

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Awake But Still Asleep?

Sleep-deprived rats showed impaired performance while acting fully awake.

During wakefulness, our brain wave patterns are typically fast and of low-amplitude. This is different from the slow, high-amplitude non-REM phases of sleep. Researchers have discovered that, at least in rats, when they were sleep-deprived the rats appeared fully awake, but showed increasing impairment on behavioral tasks. There was also electrical evidence that some neurons were "asleep" and not firing. This evidence supports the idea that sleep-deprived individuals who claim to be fully awake may actually have some of their neurons asleep.

PositiveTip: Get regular, adequate sleep to avoid impaired mental function.

Internet Addiction Leads to Depression in Adolescents

Young despondent girl addicted to the computer.Teens typically use the internet for education and for amusement. While many teens are normal internet users, for others the internet captures the focus of their mind in an abnormal way. They may not know it, but obsessive internet use can become an addiction. 

Internet addiction can be measured using Young's Internet Addiction Scale.

How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?

In a previous blog we discussed how important sleep is for kids. Here is some more information that you might find interesting regarding sleep and kids, from a report by researchers at Stanford University.Young girl sound asleep.

Adolescents need 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep. Children need 10 hours and adults need 8 1/4 hours. Kids rarely get that much due to early school start time, inability to fall asleep until late at night, work, social life and homework.