Friday, January 11, 2019

How light affects the quality and length of your sleep

Light can profoundly affect sleep and wakefulness. In fact, since indoor and artificial lights became more prevalent, people have moved farther and farther away from their natural sleep patterns as they remain awake long past sunset. Here’s a quick look at the significant effects of light in getting restful sleep.
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 Light is very important in establishing circadian time. External environmental, as well as social cues, set the phase for the circadian cycle, with daylight as the most powerful factor. This makes it harder to sleep in bright light than in dim light, and better for people to perform cognitive and physical tasks when there’s light than when it’s dark, independent of whether they feel sleepy.

Darkness or the absent of light sends a critical signal to the body that’s time to rest. Light exposure at the wrong times changes the body’s internal sleep clock, interfering with both length and quality of sleep. Melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep, naturally increases in levels during the early evening as darkness falls and continues to rise throughout most of the night.

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Artificial light wreaks havoc on sleep in today’s modern world. It disrupts circadian rhythm that governs not just sleep patterns but also the possibility of having sleep disorders, depression, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. This sleep-disrupting light is mostly obtained from artificially lit screens such as television and iPhones.

Perhaps the most basic advice regarding artificial light is to shield it properly in the bedroom and use light at night only when it’s absolutely needed. There’s absolute merit to staying away from one’s gadgets at least an hour before hitting the sheets, especially if one’s after good, uninterrupted shuteye.

Dr. Lisa M. Cannon graduated from New York Medical College in 1991. She received her pulmonary fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital and was affiliated with Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood and the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. She has since focused on developing her own private medical in New Jersey. More posts like this on this page.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sleep isn’t for the weak: Here’s why you shouldn’t miss a shut eye

For workaholics and hardcore students, the saying, “Sleep is for the weak,” helps in keeping them from falling asleep at night. In a culture wherein working while running on little sleep is praised, promoting healthier sleeping habits can be difficult. Here are a few reasons for one to prioritize sleep.

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Losing sleep increases stress, disturbs mood, and impairs one’s ability to concentrate. All of these short-term effects can impact one’s work productivity and overall performance. In the long run, forsaking proper sleep can cause heightened risk fact for diabetes, increased risk for breast cancer, high blood pressure, decreased immune function, major depression, and obesity.

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Major depression is a serious threat for insomniacs and other individuals who don’t get enough sleep at night. As depression carries a negative effect on sleep patterns, it may develop a cycle that can be hard to break. Lack of sleep can also affect one’s relationship with their partner and loved ones. Inadequate sleep can impair an individual’s ability to appreciate their partners and friends, which can then lead to stress and place tension on relationships.

Sleep is an integral function for a number of reasons. When one sleeps, the brain signals the body to release hormones and compounds helping in decreasing risk for health conditions, managing hunger levels, maintaining one’s immune system, and retaining memory. Having seven to eight hours of sleep a night can help improve one’s overall health.

Dr. Lisa M. Cannon graduated from New York Medical College in 1991. She received her pulmonary fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital and was affiliated with Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood and the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. Dr. Cannon specializes in pulmonary disease, critical care, and sleep medicine. Visit this blog for more updates.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The foundations of good sleep during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of drastic bodily changes, including leg cramps, nausea, heartburn, and a greater likelihood of having sleep disturbances.  Changes in sleep patterns can be caused by stress and anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, as well as the physical discomfort of childbearing.  But it’s not entirely impossible to enjoy a good night’s sleep while pregnant – here are tips to follow.

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Watch what you eat and drink
Cut down on caffeine-containing food and drinks.  Try to avoid heavy meals and spicy food before bedtime, as chili and acidic foods can cause indigestion and heartburn.  If you have heartburn, eat lighter meals and consume your last meal for the day two to three hours before heading to bed.  Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but cut down on it before bedtime to reduce nighttime urination.
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Keep moving
Improve circulation and overall health by exercising regularly.  But don’t do it late in the day, as exercise releases adrenaline, which can keep you awake throughout the night.

Use extra pillow
Pillows can be useful for supporting the tummy and back.  Place a pillow between the legs, too, to help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier.  Some ideal types are the wedge-shaped pillow and the full-length body pillow.

Manage stress
While worrying certainly won’t help, talking about your issues will.  Find a friend, family member, or professional who can listen and help if there are recurring sources of worry or feeling upset in your life, especially during pregnancy.

Get medical help
Your ob-gyne or a sleep specialist can outline the best steps to take if insomnia persists and even worsens during pregnancy.

 Dr. Lisa M. Cannon is a New Jersey-based physician.  She earned her degree in medicine from New York City College and her fellowship in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine from the renowned Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.  Learn more about her practice on this website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Foods for healthier lungs

An average adult breathes 15 to 20 times a minute, amounting to 20,000 breath cycles each day.  When you breathe, the respiratory system (nose, throat, trachea, lungs) is responsible for transporting air throughout the body.  The lungs act as the main machine of the system, as it transports the oxygen to the bloodstream and to the cells.  In short, the lungs play a vital role in maintaining the body’s health and vigor.

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Aside from doing regular exercise to regulate breathing, you can also adjust your diet to make it beneficial for your lungs.  Here are examples of foods that will make your lungs healthier so you can breathe better.

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Beans, seeds, and most nuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral known to improve lung function.  The essential fatty acids found in legumes and nuts are also good for the cardiovascular system.

Kefir and yogurt are rich in protein, calcium, and digestion-promoting bacteria called probiotics.  Probiotics help prevent respiratory infections and keep colds at bay. Remember that 70 percent of the body’s immune system is stored in the gut area, which is why foods with active cultures work great to keep it healthy.

Good lung function has been proven to be associated with high intakes of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, which are found in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and apples.  Greens such as broccoli contain antioxidants, which makes it ideal for individuals suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders.

Drinking plenty of water is the main cleanser of the body, and it is important in maintaining healthy blood flow in and out of the lungs.  Water keeps the lungs hydrated and the mucus flowing in the right consistency. 

Dr. Lisa M. Cannon graduated from New York Medical college in 1991. She received her pulmonary fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital and has ties with Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood. For more reading material on pulmonary health, visit this blog.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What constitutes a healthy sleep?

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Sleep is a cornerstone of good health that should never be neglected.  It is vital to both physical and mental wellness, and sleeping well means giving the body the time it needs to recharge and recover for another day.  But what can actually be considered healthy sleep – and how can it be achieved?

Adults, on average, are encouraged to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.  It should be known, however, that those needs actually vary individually.  Some people, for instance, are at their best with eight hours, while others are well on six hours alongside daytime naps.

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Aside from quantity, quality is a vital factor in determining healthy sleep.  A restful sleep should be free of common disrupters such as noise and daytime light.  Alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco can also affect sleep quality and thus should be avoided. In addition, having a regular sleep routine will help one function properly, ideally waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at night once sleepy.

Numerous benefits come with healthy sleep, including promoting peak performance and productivity, fighting off infection, and keeping a healthy weight.  It’s also crucial for sharp memory and focus, helping one excel in work or at school.  Healthy sleep balances one’s mood and emotions, and without it, one is more prone to struggle with anxiety and depression.

To achieve healthy sleep one should stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends or during vacations.  Establish a relaxing bedtime routine where the bed is only for sleep, the bedroom is quiet and at a cool temperature, and there’s little to no exposure to bright lights.  Turn off electronic gadgets at least half an hour before bedtime. 

Dr. Lisa M. Cannon graduated from New York Medical College in 1991. She received her pulmonary fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital and was affiliated with Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood and the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. She has since focused on developing her own private medical in New Jersey. For more articles like this, click here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Clean Sleep: More Than Falling Into Deep Slumber

The quality of an adult person’s sleep may not always be good. Having disrupted or a few hours of sleep can affect health and productivity. These days, people are jumping into a health trend called “clean sleeping” where the goal is to have uninterrupted 8-10 hours of sleep.

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But what is clean sleeping all about? It is not just about falling asleep and waking up at the right time. It is also about having the right habits during the day that will facilitate uninterrupted slumber. Some of these habits include having a hearty breakfast before work, morning exercise, drinking the right amount of water, and consuming less caffeine. Some studies suggest that getting these tasks out of the way hours before bedtime will lead to clean sleep.

Sleeping clean is more than falling into deep slumber. Part of this practice also involves sleeping before midnight. Going to bed at 10:30 PM helps the body reach the crucial 90-minute stretch in order to reach rejuvenating levels during sleep that usually happen in the wee hours of the morning.

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Short, disrupted, or light sleep might be some of the causes for the body not to reach its peak recovery levels. The day’s activity and the body’s reaction to it can affect rest. This is why it is important to prepare the whole day to get quality shuteye. The practice of clean sleeping involves a holistic change of activities and health habits. From sunrise to sundown, it encourages a person to be conscious of how the body should be treated.

Dr Lisa Marie Cannon is an internist specializing in pulmonology, internal medicine, sleep medicine, and critical care. Visit this page for more information.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How To Deal With Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism or noctambulism, is a sleep disorder that affects an estimated 1.5 percent of adults. It is a bit more prevalent in children, among whom there is an incidence rate of five percent.

It typically occurs during the slow-wave sleep stage, or during the first third of the sleep, and causes the sleepwalker to act as if he is in a state of full consciousness for as short as 30 seconds or as long as 30 minutes. However, he would have little or no memory of what had happened.

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What the sleepwalker does are usually harmless, repeated activities such as walking to other rooms or even just sitting on the bed. However, there have been reports of dangerous behaviors, including cooking, violent actions, and driving, resulting in injuries to the sleepwalker or other people.

There is no clinically proven psychological or pharmacological intervention that can effectively stop the occurrence of sleepwalking.

However, there are different ways of minimizing sleepwalking incidences, such as increasing the length of sleep to achieve the right amount of deep sleep, avoiding possible triggers like fatigue, alcohol, and some medications, and creating a relaxing routine before turning in.

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Sleepwalking is also usually outgrown over time, so there is no need to worry about it. But if it persists, consulting a sleep specialist or physician is recommended to check for the possibility of underlying illnesses.

New Jersey-based physician Lisa Marie Cannon earned her degree in medicine from New York City College and her fellowship in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine from the renowned Mount Sinai Hospital. Read more about her medical expertise by visiting this blog.