Good Sleep For Good Health

All About Sleep

Sleep makes you strong, makes you feel good. It is an important element of human flourishing and well-being, both subjectively and objectively. Sleep is necessary for a healthy and balanced life. Your body and your brain are active when you sleep. We need to sleep long enough (quantity) and well enough (quality) to function well during waking hours. Nearly all physiological and behavioral functions in humans occur on a rhythmic basis, which in turn leads to diurnal rhythms in human performance capabilities. Sleepdex is dedicated to raising awareness of sleep issues and encouraging people to take sleep seriously.

About Insomnia - types, causes, solutions

Sleep Disorders - apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepy, and many more

Circadian rhythms - the cycles of the day and night

How healthy sleep helps you

Drowsy driving

Social and Economic Costs of Insomnia

Tools for sleeping - bedding, medicines, etc.

Fun stuff - naps, deep sleep, mythology of sleep

Sleep and physical and mental health

Most adults need around seven or eight hours of sleep every night to function well. Although many people claim they require less, doctors who study sleep find only 10% require significantly more or less sleep. A chronic lack of sleep and untreated sleep disorders may be factors in the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

"Sleep rock thy brain" – Shakespeare, Hamlet

Sleep is an active behavior. Your body and your brain are active when you sleep. Biochemical and neurobiological functions take place all night long. Contrary to popular belief, the brain does not "shut down" during sleep.

Featured: Awake or Asleep or Inbetween

Networks in Your Brain

sleeping king

In the sleeping brain neurons oscillate between two states. They are either sending out electrical signals similar to those observed when the brain is wake, or they are “off”, when they stop firing. (On an EEG the waking brain produces low-amplitude, high-frequency fluctuations, sleep shows up as high-amplitude, slow-frequency waves.)

Even when the person is awake, some neurons or clusters of neurons switch off, as they are when the brain is asleep. The longer the person is awake, the more likely any neuron is likely to go into this sleep state. This has been shown in rats. This local sleep partially explains microsleeps, dormiveglia, and the decline in measures of performance when a person has been awake for too long.

The orexin system is important in arousal. It also seems to be activated (becomes stronger) by sleep deprivation. This increase in orexin levels may allow the animal to get by in period of short sleep, such as emergencies. Some scientists believe the orexin system – or at least its activation during sleep deprivation – is a recent evolutionary development which led to an animal such as a human to maintain wakefulness for 16 hours before getting sleepy.

Featured: Classifications of Sleep Disorders

sleeping lion

We classify sleep disorders broadly into three categories:

  • parasomnias - problems around the interface between sleep and waking
  • dyssomnias - problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. This includes the most common sleep disorder: insomnia.
  • circadian rhythm disorders - where the body gets off track and doesn't sleep at the right time

Sleep disorders are a 24-hour condition that affect the person all day, not just at night. They lead to an inferior quality of life as patients feel stressed and sleepy during the day.

Not all sleep disorders must be treated. People can live happy productive lives with some sleep disorders, and for a few the treatment may be worse than the disorder. This book describes the disorders so you know what they are like, as designated by the medical establishment.

Only a doctor can give a medical diagnosis. Sleep diaries, actigraphy, electroencephalograms (EEGs), and polysomnograms are among the diagnostic tools employed. So are the patient’s own experiences and reports from people who sleep in the same house. Much of the Sleepdex website is devoted to describing sleep disorders and explaining what doctors and scientists know about them. Even if you don’t have a formal disorder now, there is a good chance you will get one during your lifetime.

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