Baby Sleep Problems

Research Update: Infant Insomnia Prevention 
by Gerrard Mackenzie 

“Insomnia among infants?” Yes you are reading it right. Infants have their own version of insomnia. Latest research says that this is more likely experienced by infants born to mothers who are suffering from depression.

Baby Sleep photoThe University of Michigan did a study which says that the first six months of life is crucial in establishing circadian rhythms - normal sleep and wake pattern. This factor is vital in the development of healthy sleep hygiene among children they grow up.

Being an important stage, this is also a perfect time when prevention measures can be implemented. This is the reason why a mother has to understand and give priority not only to nutrition and other developmental milestones, but also in the establishment of normal sleep patterns and the implementation of ways to ensure that the baby gets adequate amounts of sleep.

The research showed how neglect of this particular aspect affects not just the mother but also the baby. The incidence is found to be higher among mothers who experience mood changes during and after pregnancy. Denial and ambivalence are normally experienced at the onset of pregnancy age. Post partum blues, a mild and temporary form of depression is also experienced by some after giving birth. However, some mothers unavoidably experience extreme depression during pregnancy and after delivery (intrapartum and postpartum depression.)

The cause is not yet clearly understood. However, some studies strongly link postpartum depression to endocrine factors. Regardless of whether the hormones are the culprit or not, the gravity of its effects on the mother and on the baby is undeniably serious.

The mother with post partum depression may experience a wide array of symptoms (severe mood swings, intense irritability and anger, loss of appetite, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal from family and friends, etc.) Furthermore, insomnia here can be one of the causes and it can possibly be a result.

When all these things happen to a mother, indeed, the quality of care given to their babies suffers. There are some who are not capable of taking care of the baby while some even develop a tendency to harm the baby.

According to the University of Michigan (UM) research team, babies born to depressed moms are “prone to having chaotic sleep patterns in the first half-year” as compared babies born to non-depressed moms. Chaotic sleep patterns are manifested among infants who are sleeping more during the day, taking longer time before they can be put to sleep at night, with more frequent waking episodes, which is somehow similar to adults. This also predisposes them to depression as they grow up.

The leader of the UM Sleep Lab, Dr. Roseanne Armitage said that, “this doesn't mean that babies born to depressed moms are doomed to follow in their mothers' shoes, even though depression does tend to run in families.” Likewise she also added that this also does not mean that moms without history of depression should not pay attention to their babies sleep hygiene. It all boils down to one thing - all parents (with or without history of depression) must give importance to the sleep hygiene as early as the infancy period.

Sleep PictureIn general, infants need a lot more hours of sleep than the grown ups. In the first 2 months, infants need 11 to 18 hours of sleep. In the next 10 months, they need 11 to 15 hours, on the average. However, infants get those hours of sleep in shorter chunks of time throughout the day.

Establishing an ideal sleep pattern among babies is quite a new idea for some but parents can implement this in various ways.

Parents can put on day clothes for daytime sleep and change into night clothes to help babies develop normal circadian rhythms, because babies can feel this. It would also help if parents make sure that their babies are exposed to adequate amounts of light during daytime so they can learn to distinguish daytime from nighttime sleep.

There are a lot more rituals that can be done to help strengthen the circadian rhythm of infants, but what we are working on is training the baby’s brain to sleep when it’s dark and be awake when there’s light or when it’s bright. Parents should also remember that the key to ensuring normal sleep among their babies is good parenting. You cannot just leave the infants on bed and expect that they automatically sleep.

Gerrard Mackenzie has taught thousands of the stressed-out, tired and overworked how to overcome their sleeping difficulties at
Article Source: Research Update: Infant Insomnia Prevention

Insomnia Video Help - Relaxation Techniques

Relax Picture10 Things you need to know about Sleep - 5 Simple Ways to Relax Yourself to Sleep 

By Geoff Brown 
Most people will find they can not sleep at night due to a 'busy mind' at some point. This may be the result of anxiety or worry, or equally can be due to excitement or digesting some good news. Whatever the reason, relaxing yourself to sleep is a viable method of setting your mind at rest for long enough that you can drift into a soothing and regenerating night of recuperation. This article looks at 5 key relaxation methods for sleeping and discussed the merits of each one.

Technique #1 - Counting And Mental Distraction 
The most famous of the 'counting techniques' involves counting sheep as they jump over a gate. This is actually one of many related ideas which come under the broad heading of 'engaging your mind'. The idea being that you focus on counting to stop thinking about any worries or concerns.

Technique #2 - Abdominal Breathing Techniques 
Deep breathing, along with related progressive breathing techniques, can lead to relaxing yourself to sleep remarkably quickly. Like many of the relaxing methods, this can work even better when combining the physical effects with purely mental treatments such as counting. The focus on breathing deeper and slower, with the goal being to draw air downwards towards your abdomen is extremely relaxing and can result in sleeping very quickly indeed. 

Technique #3 - Progressive Muscle Relaxation 
Another physical relaxation idea, this can also be completed in parallel with mental distraction or visual imagery sleeping treatments. The idea is that you tense and then slowly relax muscle groups starting at the feet and slowly working your way up the body, slow and deep breathing is required and the process itself involves a certain amount of focus - preventing distractions due to a 'busy mind'. 

Technique #4 - Visual Imagery 
This can be thought of as a more advanced variation of the 'mental distraction' sleeping techniques outlined above. The idea is to utilize the power of your imagination - letting your mind wander to tranquil scenes at the same time as relaxing the body. While common choices include beaches and waterfalls, each individual is free to choose their own imagery, making this idea interesting as well as conducive to sleep. 

Technique #5 - Meditation 
Meditation is really the opposite of the imagery technique, since it involves clearing your mind of all possible thoughts and mental distractions. Performed alongside breathing and relaxing techniques, meditation is a powerful method of falling asleep for those who have been trained in how to achieve this tranquil state. 

For comprehensive yet straightforward information on sleeping disorders, insomnia treatments and tips for better sleep - click now to visit the number #1 dedicated insomnia information portal: Cures For Insomnia
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Sleep Apnea Ranges From Fatigue to Death!

What is Sleep Apnea? 
Sleep Apnea is a night time breathing disorder that affects more than 15 million of Americans. Sleep apnea affects both men and women of all ages; even children can develop sleep apnea syndrome. Most people who display sleep apnea symptoms do not realize that they have this sleep disorder; even though their sleep is frequently interrupted throughout the night.

Sleep Apnea Syndrome PhotoSleep Apnea syndrome is a condition involving pauses or decreases in breathing during sleep, which usually occurs due to airway closure. This collapse happens in the nose and/or the throat, where air enters the nostrils and to the back of the tongue. Frequently, sleep apnea syndrome is inherited and can start in the childhood. During sleep, the throat muscles become relaxed and the brain is not as attentive to the breathing and on inhalation the airway walls can either completely collapse or significantly narrow. This creates a problem because the body struggles to breathe and the brain has to “turn on” to reopen the airway.

Sleep apnea sufferers wake up often throughout the night, it caused by oxygen is being restricted or completely cut off. The sleep apnea syndrome can continue unnoticed because sufferers do not fully awake to recognize they are waking. With sleep apnea, breathing may temporarily stop or become shallow hundreds of times during a night’s sleep.

These frequent awakenings lead to fragmentation of night time sleep. In fact, patients with sleep apnea can wake-up more than 30 times an hour and think that they slept uninterrupted through the night. Since sleep must be continuous and unified in order to be restorative, a number of problems can occur with sleep deprivation: daytime sleepiness, memory problems, concentration difficulties, emotional instability, irritability, slowed reaction time, and an increased risk of vehicle accidents.

Who sleep apnea affects?
Sleep Apnea can affect anyone but men are at greater risk. The risk increases if person is overweight and over forty years old. Other risk factors include a large neck size; 17 inches or greater for men or 16 inches or greater for women. Large tonsils or a large amount of tissue at the back of your throat can cause increased blockage and higher risk as well. Sleep Apnea can run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component.

Sleep Apnea Types
Sleep Apnea not only devastates your sleeping cycle it also affects your body. There are three categories of sleep apnea. All three might be equally lethal.

Sleep Apnea imageObstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome is a widespread type of sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the air passage at the back of the throat becomes blocked. When muscles in the throat relax, this causes the soft palate to relax as well, which then narrows the airway. The same course of events causes snoring, although, not all people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea.

When the airway gets obstructed, it lowers the level of oxygen in the blood and leads to a condition known as hypoxia. The airflow restriction causes a gasping sensation, which prompts a period of shallow wakefulness. While partially awake, normal breathing is restored. This persistent blockage of the airway can happen several times an hour, causing a fragmented night of sleep.

It also elevates the blood pressure and increases stress on the heart. This state prevents the sufferer from entering into sound sleep which leads to the lack of quality sleep. A person suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea snores, wakes up choking and tries desperately to fell asleep again.

Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea is not common. It takes its name from the Central Nervous System, which regulates the body’s necessary functions. This Sleep Apnea Syndrome occurs when the brain fails to send impulses to the body to breath. As a result signal to breathe is delayed; and throat breathing, abdominal breathing and oral breathing cease simultaneously. Though the interruption in breathing lasts a few seconds, it lowers the oxygen level in the blood and tissues significantly. A person suffering from central sleep apnea experiences high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and even heart stroke. People who suffer from heart failure or other heart and lung conditions may also develop Central Sleep Apnea.

Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by experiencing the combination of two Sleep Apnea syndromes— Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Signs
Sleep Apnea and Insomnia
There are many different effects sleep apnea syndrome can cause, both physically and mentally, ranging from mildly irritating to life threatening. The most obnoxious symptom associated with the sleep apnea disorder is loud, pronounced snoring interspersed with gasping for air. When the throat collapses, the body will go without air for a second or two until it rouses and forces the throat open to breath. This gasping sound increases the level of snoring. Another common sign of sleep apnea is a sore or dry throat and headache in the morning. Headaches due to sleep apnea typically are associated with the oxygen deprivation suffered during the sleep.

Frequently people with sleep apnea syndrome wake several times during the night, sometimes by their own snoring, or from a choking or gasping sensation caused by their airway being blocked. These wakeful periods during the night interrupt sleep cycle and cause daytime sleepiness, which is another well documented sleep apnea symptom.

Upon waking in the morning, a person with sleep apnea syndrome often feel tired and disoriented. Some other symptoms include: forgetfulness, mood swings, headaches or a decreased sex drive. Among sleep apnea symptoms are rapid weight gain, lethargy, high blood pressure, lack of concentration and even depression. The sleep apnea symptoms can be confused with symptoms of depression because they are so similar; personality changes, irritability, mood swings, memory problems, feeling lethargic and feeling depressed are some of the shared similarities.

Illness, such as a cold or flu, can increase the frequency of sleep apnea. A person may suffer from dozens of episodes a night, but only remember waking once or twice, even though their natural sleep cycles and rhythms are disturbed. It may take longer than usual to get started on the day and feeling of drowsiness will persist through the whole day.

A person with sleep apnea syndrome never gets a solid night's rest and will begin to show symptoms of sleep disorder. In some cases, where the sleep apnea goes untreated for years, the constant sleep deprivation can impair job performance, social interactions, weight loss efforts and more. While sleep apnea can be treated, knowing whether the problem is physical (obstructive) or neurological (central) or a combination (mixed) can help a doctor diagnose and treat the root causes as well as the actual sleep apnea.

Causes of Sleep Apnea
There can be several causes that lead to the obstruction of your airway passage during sleep, leading to Sleep Apnea. One of the major reasons is that the throat muscles and tongue relax and shrink excessively than normal.

If you are overweight, the soft tissue in the throat can become stiff and enlarged and causes obstruction in the airway passage. The other reasons could be increased size of your adenoids and tonsils, which further contribute in the disruption of flow of air.

Overweight men, over the age of 40 are at the highest risk to develop sleep apnea syndrome, but it can affect anyone including children. Sleep apnea in children may be related to increased the tonsils and adenoids.

Obstructive sleep apnea is related to enlarged tissue in the throat area. The enlarged area of soft tissue collapses, blocking the passage of air through the throat. Some doctors suggest that losing weight may alleviate some of the issues associated with too much tissue and that surgery to remove excess tissue may be an option if more non-invasive methods are unsuccessful in treating sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is distinct because it is neurologically based. The brain is failing to send the correct messages to the muscles that control breathing. Central Sleep Apnea may be related to stroke, brain injury, encephalitis, neurological diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's), cervical spine damage or complications from surgery.
Excessive use of alcohol or any other sedatives before sleep may contribute to sleep apnea significantly.

Untreated sleep apnea leads to a series of health issues including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, memory problems, impotency, headaches and weight gain.

Sleep Apnea Treatments
Mechanical Treatment or Physical Therapy
• Behavioral Treatment
There are many treatments available for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The common ones include losing weight, avoiding alcohol consumption during the evening and sleeping on the side. Medical treatments include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Oxygen Administration. Surgeries are also can be done, tracheotomy is a surgery used in treatment of severe Sleep Apnea syndrome.

The treatment of Central sleep apnea depends on the root of the problem. If it is a result of another desiese, for example, congestive heart failure, then the main condition is treated. In this case, the physician would address the congestive heart failure and by doing so, it should take care of the central sleep apnea and the patient should not experience sleep apnea again. If the Central sleep apnea syndrome is caused by other reasons, then the treatment options can vary.

Pure Sleep - Four Stages of Sleep and REM

The Mystery of the Sleep. 

While sleep is still something of a mystery, researchers have determined that there are distinct stages of sleep that a person goes through if they get a full night's rest. The exact function behind each is still being studied, but scientists have come up with at least a few reasons behind the stages. When you sleep, your brain goes through 5 different stages of sleep.

Usually sleepers pass through five stages: 1 - 4  Non-REM sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These stages progress cyclically from 1 through REM then begin again with stage 1. Each stage of sleep exhibits a different brain wave activity and each serves a different purpose.
Insomnia photo

Non-REM sleep. The brain is quiet, but the body may move around. Hormones are released into the bloodstream and our body repairs itself after the wear and tear of the day.
There are 4 stages of non-REM sleep:

Stage 1

Pre-sleep - the muscles relax, the heart beats slower and body temperature falls.

This state has many names such as day dreaming, zoning out and many others. It is the first step of falling asleep. In this stage, a person is still somewhat aware. Sounds may be enhanced and the awareness is being shifted inwards. During stage 1, sleepers may suddenly feel out of balance as if they were falling, or make jerky movements with their whole body.

This is also the most effective stage of sleep when taking a nap. It allows the brain to rest and replenish without shutting down the body. Most people who sleep normally stay in this stage for five minutes or less, but someone with insomnia might stay for much longer.

Stage 2

Light sleep - we can still be woken easily without feeling confused.

Stage 2 is categorized by sudden bursts of brain activity. This is the period when the body is shutting down. It may be accompanied by random arm and leg movements. The on-off transition into deeper sleep ensures that the body is in a safe and secure position before completely shuts off.

In this stage the heartbeat and respiration slow and become very regular. The body relaxes more deeply. Sleepers can still be aroused, but not so easily as when they're in stage 1. Most people spend about 30 minutes in stage 2. Stage 2 accounts for about 50% of all sleep time.

Stage 3

Slow wave sleep - our blood pressure falls, we may talk in our sleep or sleep walk.

This is known as deep sleep and is very hard to rise from. During deep sleep, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate are at their lowest of the day. Blood vessels are fully dilated and blood is allowed to flow to areas that are normally turned off. Muscles are able to be nourished and repaired.

Stage 4

Deep "slow wave" sleep - we become very hard to wake.

Stage 4 is categorized by the deepest, most restorative sleep and if awoken from may result in grogginess. This is when the body has completely shut down and is rejuvenating.

During a normal night, sleep stage 4 which is for really deep replenishment of the body, is only reached during the first few cycles of sleep. It may even never be reached if the body is kept inactive.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. It comes and goes throughout the night, and makes up about one fifth of our sleep time. During REM sleep, our brain is very active, our muscles are very relaxed, our eyes move quickly from side to side and we dream.

Stage 5

REM sleep imageREM sleep is the most fascinating stage of sleep and is associated with dreaming. Scientists still do not know what true purpose it serves and there is much debate about it. The most credible explanation given so far is that it allows our brains to go through the day experiences and process what was learned.

During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly back and forth under closed eyelids. Here, person is temporarily paralyzed, apparently Mother Nature's safeguard to prevent the physical acting out of dreams.

REM sleep accounts for about 20-25% of total sleep time in a normal adult.

Sleep Cycles

During sleep, the brain cycles from sleep stage 1 to sleep stage 5 numerous times. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes.

Early in the night, the brain spends more time in sleep cycles 3 & 4 and proceeds to spend more and more time in REM sleep.

In order for our sleep to be effective we must have enough time to allow for several cycles of Non-REM and REM sleep. If we miss out on any of these stages of sleep then our sleep is less restful. When considering how to get a good night sleep it is important to look at lifestyle, diet, exercise and other factors that affect our sleep.

Unrealistic Expectations About Sleep and Insomnia

15th Sleep Myths You Should Ignore.

In recent years, insomnia epidemic spread across the world and many myths have been created around sleep, yet many of us are not aware of the basic sleep facts.

Myth 1: Everybody needs 8 Hours of Sleep.
Restless Sleep PictureA lot of people buy into this myth and allow it to dominate their thoughts about sleep. When it becomes clear that, once again, the magic 8 hours aren’t going to happen tonight, panic starts to set in, driving away any possibility of getting a good night's sleep. Contrary to what many people believe, 8 hours of sleep is not that necessary. Millions of people function perfectly well on 5-7 hours of sleep. Accepting the truth those 8 hours is nothing but a myth can be your first step in ending insomnia.

Myth 2: During sleep, your brain rests.
The body rests during sleep. However, the brain remains active and gets “recharged.” During sleep, you drift between two sleep states, REM and non-REM sleep, in about 90-minute cycles.

Myth 3: Sleep Is A Passive Event.
Sleeping is not passive at all. The brain can be more active during dream sleep than it is in its awake state. Although the metabolic activity during REM sleep is high, it is essential in rejuvenation, memory rebuilding, and feeling refreshed.

Myth 4: The more I dream, the more tired I am.
It is well accepted that dream sleep is important to rejuvenation, and to feeling refreshed. All dreams, even nightmares, are sign of the full sleep cycle.

Myth 5: You can learn to get less sleep.
Poor sleep photoThere is absolutely no way to "train" yourself to get less sleep. Researches has shown that restricting a person to 5 hours of sleep per night for a period of weeks can severely effect performance, impair judgment, cause mood swings and depression.

Myth 6: Napping will help me catch up on last night’s sleep.
If you buy into this myth, you will further disrupt your natural sleep rhythms and make it harder for you to fall asleep next night. What you need to do is stay awake until your regular bedtime and allow your natural tiredness to send you into dreamland.

Myth 7: There is such a thing as weekend sleep "Catch up".
When you don't get the proper 7 to 9 hours of sleep, you are accumulating a sleep debt. On weekends it would seem ideal to wake up later to catch up on lost slumber. However, it is much more efficient and healthier to develop a daily schedule that allows you a consistent 7 to 9 hours per night.

Myth 8: Losing an hour of sleep is no big deal.
When you get less sleep than you need, your ability to learn and physical activities is greatly reduced. As sleep loss builds over the time you develop a sleep debt. Having a sleep debt can interfere with hormones that monitor your appetite, change your moods and increase the risk of long term illness.

Myth 9: I can fall asleep and feel better if I stay in bed longer.
Trying to force yourself to sleep is self-defeating because it will increase your anxiety which will in turn make it harder for you to fall asleep and reinforce your fears about going to bed. Get up and do something that takes your mind off getting to sleep. Do not just stay in bed trying to force yourself to sleep.

Cant Sleep ImageMyth 10: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed, count sheep, or toss and turn until you eventually fall back asleep.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, relaxing thoughts may help to induce sleep more than counting sheep, which may become distracting. Most experts agree that if you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed, and engage in a relaxing activity like listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. And please avoid watching the clock.

Myth 11: Snoring is normal and indicates a state of deep sleep.
Everybody knows that snoring is very common, but frequent snoring can be a symptom of a life- threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea, or pauses in breathing while sleeping, preventing air flow, reduces oxygen levels and strains the heart and cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. People with sleep apnea awaken frequently during the night. Obesity can contribute to sleep apnea.

Myth 12: Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep.
Difficulty falling asleep is only one of the four symptoms associated with insomnia. Insomnia itself can be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other health problems. According to a recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll, 58% of adults in the country reported at least one symptom of insomnia in the past year.

Myth 13: Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression are unrelated to the quantity and quality of a person’s sleep.
Studies have found a direct relationship between poor sleep and health problems. Insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity. As the amount of hormone secretion decreases, the chance for weight gain increases. Blood pressure usually falls during the sleep cycle. However, interrupted sleep can affect the normal decline, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Insufficient sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, leading to the onset of diabetes.

Myth 14: Older people need less sleep.
Older people have a tendency to get less sleep than youth and adults, but that does not mean they need less. The elder people need the same amount of sleep as the rest of us, they only may not be able to achieve this easily due to lower melatonin levels circulating in the blood. This is why you may notice older people nap more throughout the day, as their bodies try to make up for the lack of sleep.

Myth 15: Children with less sleep will become more tired.
Children have very different metabolisms than adults. If you think that by making your child stay awake in order to tire him/her out to fall asleep faster... think again. Children without enough sleep have a tendency to produce an excess of adrenaline and can end up more energetic, even hyper-active from a lack of sleep. Sleep disorders in children have been linked with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, children with sleep apnea have been linked with poor school performance and lower sports and health activities.