Sleep is an integral part of who we are. It’s an opportunity for our bodies to do repair work and an important (yet often neglected) part of a healthy lifestyle. Our sleep habits can also have ripple effects on other areas of our lives.
This week in Sleep News, we look at how sleep habits can affect our brain-health as we age and how our constantly connected lifestyles translate into rising profits for the sleep lab industry. We also share a sad story of how sleep habits can sometimes have tragic consequences.
Some sad news this week from Canada. A popular television host, Chris Hyndman was found dead in an alley near his home in Toronto. His mother Glenda said Chris was a sleepwalker his entire life.
The thing is, sleepwalking is rare in adults. According to Dr. Colin Shapiro, who conducts sleep research at Toronto Western Hospital, about 15% of children will experience parasomnia (sleepwalking) but outgrow it by their preteens.
Parasomnia is less abundant in adults though. Approximately 3-5% of adults experience walking, talking, driving, eating and even having sex in their sleep on a regular basis. Dr. Shapiro describes sleepwalking or parasomnia as when “part of the brain is awake and part of it is asleep. The part that judges your consciousness and awareness of what you’re doing is totally lacking.”
In most cases sleepwalking is simply a nuisance. In extreme cases, such as with Chris Hyndman, it can have dangerous consequences. (Image of Chris Hyndman from TheStar.com)
Are you a side-sleeper, spooner or spread-eagle sleeper? The effects of your sleep habits, might not be immediate but over time, how you sleep may play a factor in whether or not you develop Alzheimer’s later in life.
A new study from Stony Brook University says that sleeping on your side rather than your back or stomach, might be bad for your brain. According to the study, sleeping on your side opens up a passage in your brain called the glymphatic pathway that dispels waste and other chemicals.
The study was conducted on rodents, but it may have fascinating implications for humans and neurological diseases that plague our species. Stay tuned for more research.
Not only do sleep habits affect your health, they may also affect your wallet.
According to a report from industry researchers at IBISWorld, sleep labs have enjoyed 4% growth every year for the last 5 years and are expected to continue that growth for the next 5 years.
In 2010, 2,280 sleep labs in the U.S. generated approx $5.9 billion. By 2020, the sleep lab industry will hover somewhere around 10 billion dollars.
The report states the main driver of this growth in sleep lab use is related to digital devices. We’re using our smartphones, laptops, TVs and tablets later and later into the evenings and this makes it hard for us to shift into peaceful, continuous sleep.
We have a harder time falling asleep and once we do, our sleep cycles are fragmented. Smartphones are the biggest sleep thief because we take them to bed with us and use them to stream content after we’ve tucked ourselves into bed for the night.
To sleep better, you might try enforcing a “no electronics in the bedroom” rule at your house. One great way to ensure that you’re disciplined is to use a website blocking tool so that you can only spend a certain amount of time on a website or are unable to access it during certain times of day. Sometimes a little reminder is all we need to put ourselves and our sleep first.
At Restonic, we believe getting a good night’s sleep is more than just important, it’s an essential part of a healthy life. Our SleepBlog is full of posts with advice, ideas and simple ways that you can improve your sleep habits and get a better night’s rest.
Here are a few great posts to help you sleep better:
Greg Lehman is a freelance writer and one of the founding members of Spike Creative Solutions, a marketing agency based out of Waterloo, ON Canada. A self-described hippie in a business suit, outside of work Greg is either wandering through a forest, digging in the garden or taking a nap with his two dogs Casey & Dakota. Connect with Greg Lehman online.
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