Tag: sleep

If You Are Sleeping Badly, It Is Probably Killing Your Social Life

You might think leaving the pub early to get home to bed is what’s killing your social life, but scientists have actually found that sleep deprivation is more likely to make you feel lonely and socially isolated. 

The new study from the University of California and Berkeley found sleep-deprived people avoiding close contact with others in much the same way as those with social anxiety do. 

When you are exhausted not only do you want to avoid people, but well-rested people are also more likely to feel lonely themselves after even the briefest of encounters with you – making you subconsciously socially unattractive. 

Researchers found brain scans of sleep-deprived people showed powerful social repulsion activity in neural networks which are typically activated when humans feel their personal space is being invaded.

Sleep loss also blunted activity in brain regions that normally encourage social engagement.

The findings, published today in the journal Nature, are the first to show a two-way relationship between not having enough sleep and becoming socially isolated. 

Given both sleep and loneliness and considered to be an increasing concern in the modern population, these findings shed light on the interplay between them.

Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Berkeley said: “We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers.”

“The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact. In turn, other people perceive you as more socially repulsive, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss,” Walker added. “That vicious cycle may be a significant contributing factor to the public health crisis that is loneliness.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’ between 2016 and 2017.

Surprisingly, younger adults (those aged 16 to 24) were found to experience loneliness more often than those in older age groups; while women, widows, single people, renters and those with poor health were also identified as more susceptible.

But perhaps it is no coincidence that the past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration. 

From an evolutionary standpoint, the study challenges the assumption that humans are programmed to nurture socially vulnerable members of their tribe for the survival of the species.

Walker said: “There’s no biological or social safety net for sleep deprivation as there is for, say, starvation. That’s why our physical and mental health implodes so quickly even after the loss of just one or two hours of sleep.”

To gauge the social effects of poor sleep, the team used tools like MRI brain imaging, videotaped simulations and surveys. They tested the neural responses of 18 healthy young adults following a normal night and a sleepless night.

Finally, researchers looked at whether just one night of good or bad sleep could influence one’s sense of loneliness the next day.

Sleeping More Than 8 Hours ‘Could Increase Risk Of Early Death’

Sleeping longer than the recommended seven or eight hours a night has been linked with a higher risk of premature death, according to new research.

Researchers looked at data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found those who slept for 10 hours were 30% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for eight.

Staying in bed for more than 10 hours was also linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke and a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Poor sleep quality was associated with a 44% increase in coronary heart disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers said their study suggests abnormal sleep could be “a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk” and said GPs ought to ask questions about sleeping patterns during appointments.

Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok, of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, said: “Abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations.

“There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioural, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.”

The study, which also involved researchers from the universities of Leeds, Manchester and East Anglia, said the research was limited as duration of sleep was self-reported and that underlying mental or physical conditions may have had an impact on “extreme sleep patterns”.

Is It Safe For Babies To Sleep Outside During The Heatwave?

Getting babies off to sleep during the heatwave can be a challenge, so some mums and dads are opting to put their little ones outside for a nap in the fresh air. But is it a good idea?

On Mumsnet, parents have been debating the issue, with some saying they leave their children alone outdoors for short periods of time, while others have raised concerns about insects, heatstroke and foxes. 

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at children’s charity NCT, tells HuffPost UK it’s okay to let babies sleep outdoors if it is cooler than the house, but you should take precautions. 

“Make sure babies or toddlers are in the shade and kept out of direct sunlight if you’re outdoors,” she says. “Stay with your baby or toddler and check them regularly to make sure they aren’t overheating.”

Maryanne Taylor, child sleep consultant and founder of The Sleep Works agrees parents should keep a continuous eye on babies sleeping outdoors, which will enable you to respond to any potential problems such as wildlife. 

“Even in the shade, use a parasol or sunshade,” she adds. “Make sure they are dressed appropriately with a nappy and just a vest if very hot. If they appear to be looking sweaty or red cheeked, move them inside.”

With older babies, Taylor warns that moving their sleeping location can cause them to sense a change in routine, actually making sleep less likely. 

“One thing to consider for babies from around five months of age is that the quality of their sleep is likely to be better in their cot as they are becoming more mobile and aware of their surroundings at this stage, and sleeping in a buggy outside may become too distracting,” she says.

Is ‘Beauty Sleep’ Real?

Telling someone you are heading to bed as you need your ‘beauty sleep’ may sound fanciful, but how important is sleep in making you look and feel pretty?

A recent survey found that people who got an average of 9 hours and 10 minutes good quality sleep each night, were most likely to feel they looked their best. 

And dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe concurs that a consistent lack of sleep can have consequences for your appearance.

“When you’re feeling tired, you also feel more stressed and anxious and it’s this stress that induces problems with the skin,” he tells HuffPost UK. “If you’re acne prone, you can get more acne if you don’t sleep. Or if you’re prone to frown lines, it will have the same effect and you will get more lines.”

“Also people will find that on the side they sleep the most on, they will gain more acne or frown lines or whatever problems they have with their skin,” Dr Lowe adds.

But before you blame all your skin woes on a lack of sleep, Dr Lowe also suggests looking at the lifestyle habits that may be preventing you from getting enough sleep – as it may be these, rather than the number of hours you spend in bed, that are having an impact: “If you’re partying all the time and you’re smoking or in smoking areas, this will accelerate skin ageing and make your skin dull”.

Sleep consultant and founder of Sleep WorksMaryanne Taylor also believes that beauty sleep “exists on many levels”.

“Sleep needs vary from person to person but the range is from around 6-8 hours,” she says. “The early stage of our sleep is our deepest sleep, and it is then that our growth hormones are increasing and repairing muscles and bones. These growth hormones are linked to increase in collagen, which is the protein that keeps skin strong and elastic. So insufficient sleep over a period of time affects how our skin looks and feels. 

“But it’s not just our skin that needs beauty sleep. Hair can be affected by lack of sleep. Nutrients, vitamins and minerals from blood flow all stimulate hair follicles. As blood flow decreases when sleep deprived, the hair gets less ‘fuel’ and weakens.

“Even facial expressions are affected as we tend to frown more when tired too.”

If you’re not getting as much beauty sleep as you’d like and you’d like to fake a refreshed glow Dr Lowe advises using products with retinol. “This will stimulate the skin to renew itself,” he explains. “And for those with dry and sensitive skin, adding the adequate amount of moisture via night creams will help replenish the skin barrier.” So you too can look in the mirror and say “I woke up like this”. 

Fatherhood: The Story So Far

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris BuellerIt’s the odd thing about milestones, I just don’t see them. What I mean is, I’ve never actually noticed a…

20 Ways To Get Your Baby To Sleep, As Recommended By Parents

Warm milk, a strict routine and gentle rocking are the top three ways to get a baby to sleep, according to parents. In a survey looking into how little sleep new parents get, mums and dads revealed the tricks and tips they felt worked to…

Three Types Of Caffeine Sensitivity Revealed In Report – Which Are You?

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re up all night after one coffee but your friend can drink a double espresso after dinner and fall asleep with no issue, science might just have the answer.

A physician found a person’s response to caffeine is likely determined by two main genetic factors: whether their liver can metabolise caffeine quickly or slowly, and whether they carry a genetic variation that makes their central nervous system more sensitive to it.

Dr J Langer said coffee drinkers fall into one of three major groups: high, regular and low caffeine sensitivity.

Do you have low, regular or high sensitivity?

“It’s common for people to ask their doctor questions such as why they are kept awake by one cup of coffee, while their partner easily falls asleep after five cups,” said Dr Langer. “The answer is that we are all unique coffee drinkers. Our genetic make-up programmes our reaction to caffeine, just as it programmes our hair colour and eye colour.”

High sensitivity to caffeine 

If you find even the slightest amounts of caffeine gives you a boost and more than one cup of coffee keeps you up all night, it’s likely you have high sensitivity to caffeine.

This is likely due to slow-metabolism in the liver and ‘high binding’ in the central nervous system – basically it impacts the central nervous system more). 


Regular sensitivity to caffeine 

People with this level of sensitivity can generally drink 2-5 cups of coffee a day without sleep issues or adverse reactions.

It’s thought regular sensitivity is caused by a balance between caffeine inactivation in the liver and binding in the central nervous system.

For this group, caffeine is normally not recommended in the evening.

Low sensitivity to caffeine 

If you can drink coffee before bedtime and it doesn’t affect your sleep, you most likely fall into this category. An individual with low sensitivity to caffeine probably will not experience the typically desired effects of caffeine throughout the day, such as wakefulness, alertness and increased concentration.

It occurs because their body metabolises caffeine quickly.In this group, higher intakes of caffeine can be consumed, although people should have no more than five cups of coffee per day for health reasons.

The research is shared in a new report authored for the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.

5 Ways To Boost Your Energy In A Post-Bank Holiday Slump

If there’s one thing that’s a given after a bank holiday weekend, it’s that your workplace will be full of people struggling to keep their eyes open and stifle yawns. 

If you’re feeling drained from three days of fun, we feel your pain. To help, here’s a handy guide for getting through Tuesday. 

1. Fill your body with goodness

What you eat can have a big impact on your energy levels, according to registered nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed

“Food gives you energy, so ultimately making sure you’re not skipping meals and that you’re giving yourself plenty of filling and wholesome foods at each meal can help,” she previously told HuffPost UK. “Foods such as porridge, whole grains, nuts and seeds can help to top up energy levels. Don’t forget to include plenty of fruits and veggies for extra hydration and a boost of vitamins and minerals too.”

2. Keep moving during the day

When you’re tired it’s tempting to hunker down in one spot, but regularly moving during your working day can help you feel more energised. In 2012 research from sports scientist Jack Groppel found that when employees completed small but frequent bursts of movement throughout the day – such as walking around the office or stretching – they felt less sluggish.

In fact, 37% of employees reported high levels of energy in the middle of the day after taking part in a trial movement programme – an 11% increase compared to when they were static. 

3. Stay hydrated 

Being dehydrated can lead to fatigue and lack of concentration. Although downing tea and coffee may feel like a quick-fire way to beat this, according to the NHS, caffeinated drinks can make the body produce urine more quickly and are therefore not the best way to keep the body hydrated. 

Similarly sports drinks or energy drinks may provide you with a short-lived energy boost, but are often high in sugar, meaning they’re also high in calories and contribute to tooth decay. Your best bet, therefore, is to drink water. It may seem unexciting, but at least it’s cheap.

4. Take a lunch break

More than half of people in the UK (56%) do not take the full lunch break they’re entitled to, and it could be making us feel more drained.

In 2011 research from the University of Illinois found taking a break from a task can help increase your productivity for the afternoon. So if you’re struggling to keep maintain focus, ditch lunch al desko and get outside for some fresh air, go to a gym class or find some headspace with a meditation app. 

5. Remember it’s a short week 

If all else fails, take a minute to remember all the fun things you did this weekend that made feeling this crap totally worth it. Also, it’s only three more sleeps until Friday.

Why Your Saturday Lie-In Is Actually Saving Your Life

If you hit snooze at the weekend or don’t bother setting an alarm at all, there is now absolutely no reason to feel guilty.

New research suggests adults under the age of 65 who get five hours of shut-eye per night or less have a higher risk of death compared to those who consistently get six or seven hours of sleep per night. 

But the good news is having a weekend lie-in seems to counteract these detrimental effects. In fact, the study, based on data of more than 43,000 adults, found those who tend to catch up on sleep at the weekend had no raised mortality risk compared with those who consistently get to bed early during the week. 

The study, by Stockholm University’s Stress Research Institute, and Karolinska Institute, used data from a medical survey conducted in Sweden in 1997. Researchers then used data from the national death register to calculate death rates among the participants. 

Participants who regularly had under five hours of sleep, without catching up at the weekend, were found to have a 52% higher mortality rate than those who had six-seven hours of sleep or more, seven days per week. But when those sleep-deprived on weekdays slept for nine hours or more at the weekend, their mortality rates were no different to consistent sleepers. 

“The results imply that short weekday sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” the study authors wrote. “This suggests that short weekday sleep may be compensated for during the weekend, and that this has implications for mortality.”

While weekend lie-ins may help you to live longer, previous research has suggested trying to reduce your “sleep debt” by staying in bed longer at the weekend won’t improve your brain function if you’ve skimped on sleep during the week.  

The research published, in the American Journal of Physiology- Endocrinology and Metabolism, found weekend lie-ins helped to reduce inflammatory and stress hormones after a sleep-deprived working week, but brain function remained unimproved. 

The moral of the story? Try to get plenty of sleep during the week and treat yourself to a weekend lie-in to stay on top form. We don’t need telling twice. 

Put Your Phone Down By 10pm To Boost Mood

If you’re scrolling on your phone past 10pm at night, you might be heightening your risk of mood disorders.

A new study by the University of Glasgow has found a disrupted 24-hour body clock, typically caused by things like checking Facebook at midnight or getting up to make a cup of tea in the middle of the night, could increase your risk of depression and bipolar disorder. It was also associated with decreased happiness and health satisfaction, and a higher risk of reporting loneliness.

Are you a late-night social media scroller? 

Circadian rhythms are variations in physiology and behaviour that recur every 24-hours, such as the sleep-wake cycle and daily patterns of hormone release. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.

Professor Daniel Smith, Professor of Psychiatry and senior author on the study, told The Times a 10pm cut-off with technology would give the average adult time to wind down properly before sleeping, therefore giving them the chance to establish a regular sleeping pattern.

Interestingly it’s not just disrupted sleep that can upset the fine balance of your circadian rhythm, it’s also important to be active during the day and inactive at night – so that evening gym session probably isn’t for the best.

“Especially in the winter, making sure you get out in the morning in the fresh air is just as important in getting a good night’s sleep as not being on your mobile phone,” said Smith. “Benjamin Franklin said that ‘early to bed and early to rise makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise’. There’s a lot of truth in that.”

Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples.

For the latest study, researchers analysed activity data on 91,105 people to measure their daily rest-activity rhythms (also known as relative amplitude). Those with lower relative amplitude were at greater risk of mental health problems regardless of age, sex, lifestyle, education and previous childhood trauma.

Prof Smith said this study is important on a global scale because “more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes”.