What is White Noise?

White noise works by reducing the difference between background sounds and a “peak” sound, like a door slamming, giving you a better chance to sleep through it undisturbed. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, creating a constant ambient sound could help mask activity from inside and outside the house.

In your bedroom, white noise can be created by a sound conditioner, a fan or an air purifier, anything that is a consistent and soothing backdrop throughout the night. You might want to experiment with the volume and type to find the white noise that works best for you, or if you have a sleeping partner, the sound that works for both of you.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Stages of Sleep

When thinking about getting the sleep you need, it’s normal to focus on how many hours of sleep you get. While sleep duration is undoubtedly important, it’s not the only part of the equation.

It’s also critical to think about sleep quality and whether the time spent sleeping is actually restorative. Progressing smoothly multiple times through the sleep cycle, composed of four separate sleep stages, is a vital part of getting truly high-quality rest.

Each sleep stage plays a part in allowing your mind and body to wake up refreshed. Understanding the sleep cycle also helps explain how certain sleep disorders, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can impact a person’s sleep and health.

What is the Sleep Cycle?

Sleep is not uniform. Instead, over the course of the night, your total sleep is made up of several rounds of the sleep cycle, which is composed of four individual stages. In a typical night, a person goes through four to six sleep cycles1. Not all sleep cycles are the same length, but on average they last about 90 minutes each.

Are All Sleep Cycles the Same?

It is normal for sleep cycles to change2 as you progress through your nightly sleep. The first sleep cycle is often the shortest, ranging from 70-100 minutes, while later cycles tend to fall between 90 and 120 minutes. In addition, the composition of each cycle — how much time is spent in each sleep stage — changes as the night goes along.

Sleep cycles can vary from person to person and from night to night based on a wide range of factors such as age, recent sleep patterns, and alcohol consumption.

What Are the Sleep Stages?

There are four sleep stages3; one for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and three that form non-REM (NREM) sleep. These stages are determined based on an analysis of brain activity during sleep, which shows distinct patterns that characterize each stage.

Sleep StagesType of SleepOther NamesNormal Length
Stage 1NREMN11-5 minutes
Stage 2NREMN210-60 minutes
Stage 3NREMN3, Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS), Delta Sleep, Deep Sleep20-40 minutes
Stage 4REMREM Sleep10-60 minutes

The breakdown of a person’s sleep into various cycles and stages is commonly referred to as sleep architecture. If someone has a sleep study, this sleep architecture can be represented visually in a hypnogram.

The classification of sleep stages was updated in 20074 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Before that, most experts referred to five sleep stages, but today, the AASM definitions of the four stages represent the consensus understanding of the sleep cycle.

NREM Sleep

NREM sleep is composed of three different stages. The higher the stage of NREM sleep, the harder it is to wake a person up from their slumber.

Stage 1 / N1

Stage 1 is essentially the “dozing off” stage, and it normally lasts just one to five minutes.

During N1 sleep, the body hasn’t fully relaxed, though the body and brain activities start to slow with periods of brief movements (twitches). There are light changes in brain activity associated with falling asleep in this stage.

It’s easy to wake someone up during this sleep stage, but if a person isn’t disturbed, they can move quickly into stage 2. As the night unfolds, an uninterrupted sleeper may not spend much more time in stage 1 as they move through further sleep cycles.

Stage 2 / N2

During stage 2, the body enters a more subdued state including a drop in temperature, relaxed muscles, and slowed breathing and heart rate. At the same time, brain waves show a new pattern and eye movement stops. On the whole, brain activity slows, but there are short bursts of activity5 that actually help resist being woken up by external stimuli.

Stage 2 sleep can last for 10-25 minutes during the first sleep cycle, and each N2 stage can become longer during the night. Collectively, a person typically spends about half their sleep time in N2 sleep.

Stage 3 / N3

Stage 3 sleep is also known as deep sleep, and it is harder to wake someone up if they are in this phase. Muscle tone, pulse, and breathing rate decrease in N3 sleep as the body relaxes even further.

The brain activity during this period has an identifiable pattern of what are known as delta waves. For this reason, stage 3 may also be called delta sleep or short-wave sleep (SWS).

Experts believe that this stage is critical to restorative sleep, allowing for bodily recovery and growth. It may also bolster the immune system and other key bodily processes. Even though brain activity is reduced, there is evidence that deep sleep contributes to insightful thinking6creativity7, and memory.

We spend the most time in deep sleep during the first half of the night. During the early sleep cycles, N3 stages commonly last for 20-40 minutes. As you continue sleeping, these stages get shorter, and more time gets spent in REM sleep instead.

REM Sleep

During REM sleep, brain activity picks up, nearing levels seen when you’re awake. At the same time, the body experiences atonia, which is a temporary paralysis of the muscles, with two exceptions: the eyes and the muscles that control breathing. Even though the eyes are closed, they can be seen moving quickly, which is how this stage gets its name.

REM sleep is believed to be essential to cognitive functions8 like memory, learning, and creativity9. REM sleep is known for the most vivid dreams, which is explained by the significant uptick in brain activity. Dreams can occur in any sleep stage, but they are less common and intense in the NREM periods.

Under normal circumstances, you don’t enter a REM sleep stage until you’ve been asleep for about 90 minutes. As the night goes on, REM stages get longer, especially in the second half of the night. While the first REM stage may last only a few minutes, later stages can last for around an hour. In total, REM stages make up around 25% of sleep in adults.

Why Do the Sleep Stages Matter?

Sleep stages are important because they allow the brain and body to recuperate and develop. Failure to obtain enough of both deep sleep and REM sleep8 may explain some of the profound consequences of insufficient sleep on thinking10emotions, and physical health.

Sleepers who are frequently awoken during earlier stages, such as people with sleep apnea, may struggle to properly cycle into these deeper sleep stages. People with insomnia may not get enough total sleep to accumulate the needed time in each stage.

What Affects Sleep Stages?

While there is a typical pattern for sleep stages, there can be substantial individual variation based on a number of factors:

  • Age: Time in each stage changes dramatically over a person’s life. Newborns spend far more time (around 50%) in REM sleep and may enter a REM stage as soon as they fall asleep. As they get older, their sleep becomes similar to that of adults, normally reaching a comparable sleep architecture by the age of 511. On the other hand, elderly people tend to spend less time in REM sleep.
  • Recent sleep patterns: If a person gets irregular or insufficient sleep over a period of days or more, it can cause an abnormal sleep cycle.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol and some other drugs can alter sleep architecture. For example, alcohol decreases REM sleep early in the night, but as the alcohol wears off, there is a REM sleep rebound, with prolonged REM stages.
  • Sleep disorders: Sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), and other conditions that cause multiple awakenings may interrupt a healthy sleep cycle.

How Do You Have a Healthier Sleep Cycle?

While you don’t have full control of your sleep cycle, you can take steps to improve your chances of having a healthy progression through each sleep stage.

A key step is to focus on improving your sleep hygiene, which refers to your sleep environment and sleep-related habits. Achieving a more consistent sleep schedule, getting natural daylight exposure, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and eliminating noise and light disruptions can help you get uninterrupted sleep and promote proper alignment of your circadian rhythm.

If you find that you have excessive daytime sleepiness or otherwise suspect that you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, it’s important to talk with a doctor who can most appropriately guide your care. Addressing underlying issues may pave the way for more complete and restorative sleep cycles.

  • References

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  1. 1. Patel, A. K., Reddy, V., & Araujo, J. F. (2020, April). Physiology, Sleep Stages. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526132/
    1. 2. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (2007, December 18). Natural Patterns of Sleep. Retrieved July 28, 2020, fromhttp://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem
    1. 3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). (2019b, August 13). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved July 28, 2020, fromhttps://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep
    1. 4. Moser, D., Anderer, P., Gruber, G., Parapatics, S., Loretz, E., Boeck, M., Kloesch, G., Heller, E., Schmidt, A., Danker-Hopfe, H., Saletu, B., Zeitlhofer, J., & Dorffner, G. (2009). Sleep classification according to AASM and Rechtschaffen & Kales: effects on sleep scoring parameters. Sleep, 32(2), 139–149.https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/32.2.139
    1. 5. Schönauer, M., & Pöhlchen, D. (2018). Sleep spindles. Current biology : CB, 28(19), R1129–R1130.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.035
    1. 6. Yordanova, J., Kolev, V., Wagner, U., & Verleger, R. (2010). Differential associations of early- and late-night sleep with functional brain states promoting insight to abstract task regularity. PloS one, 5(2), e9442.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0009442
    1. 7. Drago, V., Foster, P. S., Heilman, K. M., Aricò, D., Williamson, J., Montagna, P., & Ferri, R. (2011). Cyclic alternating pattern in sleep and its relationship to creativity. Sleep medicine, 12(4), 361–366.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2010.11.009
    1. 8. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (2007, December 18). Sleep, Learning, and Memory. Retrieved July 28, 2020, fromhttp://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory
    1. 9. Cai, D. J., Mednick, S. A., Harrison, E. M., Kanady, J. C., & Mednick, S. C. (2009). REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(25), 10130–10134.https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0900271106
    1. 10. Maquet P. (2000). Sleep on it!. Nature neuroscience, 3(12), 1235–1236.https://doi.org/10.1038/81750
    1. 11. Crosby, B., LeBourgeois, M. K., & Harsh, J. (2005). Racial differences in reported napping and nocturnal sleep in 2- to 8-year-old children. Pediatrics, 115(1 Suppl), 225–232.https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2004-0815D

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

How Meditation Can Treat Insomnia

If insomnia is at the root of your sleepless nights, it may be worth trying meditation. The deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.These are some key facts about the practice that may help you get over any hesitation about trying it.

  • It’s safe. Meditation can be a great tool for those looking who are for an all-natural, medication-free way to treat insomnia. In fact, meditation has even been shown to help reduce the use of sleeping pills. The practice likely improves insomnia symptoms by reducing measures of arousal in the brain. And there are no associated risks or side effects to trying meditation.
  • It can be used with other sleep techniques. Combining cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia(CBT-I) with mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve sleep better than CBT-I alone.
  • There are multiple health benefits. Not only can meditation improve your sleep quality, but it may also help reduce blood pressure and ease pain, anxiety, and depression.
  • It’s easy. Meditation is an accessible, budget-friendly practice that everyone can try—insomnia sufferers of different ages respond well to the practice, including older adults. Though you can pay for meditative classes and books that teach you the practice, you can also search online for free apps and YouTube videos if you’d like to try it before you spend money on it.

The basics: Start by finding a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and then close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, directing your attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your attention back to your breath. You might try doing it for, say, five minutes at a time at first and gradually increasing the amount of time as you get more comfortable with the practice.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

 

How Excessive Sleep Can Affect Your Metabolism

Few people worry about spending too much time in bed. An extra hour or two of stolen sleep on Sunday can feel like heaven after a long week of work and family activities. But did you know that clocking more than the recommended amount can negatively impact your health?

For most adults, getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night is ideal. Although a small percentage of people actually need 10 hours, for most adults sleeping more hours than the recommended amount may indicate an underlying health concern. In addition, regularly sleeping more than the suggested amount may increase the risk of obesity, headache, back pain, and heart disease. And a recent study discovered that oversleeping can put the body at risk for metabolic issues. Learn more about how excessive sleep can impact your metabolism.

What the Science Says

In a recent study, researchers analyzed the health, medical histories, and sleep totals of a group of more than 130,000 men and women ages 40 to 69. With this data, researchers were able to link sleeping less than six hours, as well as sleeping more than 10 hours, to cases of metabolic syndrome and related symptoms.

Understanding Metabolic Syndrome

People diagnosed with metabolic syndrome have at least three of the following symptoms: Excess fat around the middle, hypertension, low levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, high fasting blood glucose and high triglyceride levels. In the study, 29 percent of men were deemed to have metabolic syndrome, while a quarter of women showed signs of it.

There are some notable differences between genders when it comes to sleep and metabolism. In particular, women who sleep less than six hours a night may have more belly fat than those who sleep longer, while men are likely to have both bigger waists and metabolic syndrome if they sleep less than six hours. On the other hand, women who sleep 10 or more hours have a much higher risk for metabolic syndrome, while in men it correlates to higher triglyceride levels as well.

Red Flags for Metabolism Issues

For most people, feelings of excessive sleepiness that arise even if they meet the recommended seven to nine hours a night may reflect recent lifestyle changes, such as a new work schedule, job relocation, or increase in physical exercise. It could also be a sign of a disorder such as sleep apnea that results in poor sleep quality, leaving people tired in the morning. But because there may be other health issues at play, including Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety, infections and gastrointestinal disorders, if you are experiencing excessive sleepiness, it’s important to mention it to your doctor. Take the time to describe your symptoms in detail which will help your doctor diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment fit for you.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Mattress Sizes

Comparing mattress sizes starts with looking at their dimensions in regards to length and width. Keep in mind that height/thickness varies depending on the manufacturer and model, so there is no universal thickness for each mattress size. Width and length measurements are standardized for each size and are listed in the table below.

Mattress Size Dimensions (Width x Length)
California King 72″ x 84″
King 76″ x 80″
Queen 60″ x 80″
Full 54″ x 75″
Twin XL 38″ x 80″
Twin 38″ x 75″

 

There are six different mattress sizes available from most manufacturers (in addition to crib/child size beds). For some, the choice can seem overwhelming. However, it’s easy to break the mattress sizes down into two categories: Beds suited for multiple people (couples, parents with children sharing the bed, etc.), and beds best fit for single sleepers. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each mattress size:

Mattresses for Couples & Families

The sizes queen, king, and California king are all large enough to comfortably sleep multiple people. The big consideration with these three sizes is how much extra space you want, as well as how well the larger sizes will fit into your bedroom.

California King King Queen
Dimensions 72” wide, 84” long 76” wide, 80” long 60” wide, 80” long
Surface Area 6,048 square inches 6,080 square inches 4,800 square inches
Best For Taller couples; couples sharing a bed with a pet Couples who prefer maximum space; couples sharing a bed with a child Couples without children or pets sharing the bed
Benefits
  • Extra length is ideal for tall people
  • Well suited for those who share the foot of their bed with pets
  • Maximum width is beneficial for couples and families with small children
  • Accessories are widely available
  • The most common mattress size, making accessories widely available & affordable
  • Easier to move than larger King beds
Drawbacks
  • It can be difficult to find accessories
  • The most expensive mattress size
  • Difficult to move
  • More expensive than the popular Queen size
  • Can make smaller rooms feel cramped
  • Difficult to move
  • Significantly less spacious than King/King XL
  • Will feel cramped for couples sharing the bed with small children

Beds for Single Sleepers

The sizes full, twin XL, and twin are better suited for single sleepers. A full could potentially accommodate a couple in a pinch, but twin XL and twin are definitely only for single people. There are a few other considerations to keep in mind with these sizes:

Full (Double) Twin XL Twin
Dimensions 54” wide, 75” long 38” wide, 80” long 38” wide, 75” long
Surface Area 4,050 square inches 3,040 square inches 2,850 square inches
Best For Single adults under 6′ tall Single adults over 6’ tall; teens Single adults under 6’ tall; children & teens
Benefits
  • Relatively spacious for single adults
  • Affordable
  • Versatile; could potentially be used for a couple or a guest bedroom
  • Ample legroom for taller people
  • Room for single sleepers to share their bed with pets
  • Same length as a Queen or King mattress
  • Very affordable
  • Accessories & bed frames widely available
Drawbacks
  • Nearing the price of a Queen, with much less space
  • Cramped for those over 6’ tall
  • Accessories can be harder to find/more expensive
  • Not suited for couples
  • Not suited for couples
  • Can be outgrown

How to Choose a Mattress Size

The tables in the mattress size guide above give you the basic differences between the various mattress sizes. Before choosing, however, there are a variety of factors that you should consider:

Sleeping Partners – Who do you share a bed with? This is the single largest consideration to keep in mind. Couples will likely want at least a queen, while couples sharing a bed with children will likely want a king. Even pets are a consideration; if you let your animals sleep at the foot of your bed, having a bed with ample legroom will greatly improve your comfort.

Your Height & Sleep Position – How tall are you and/or your partner? Typically those under 6 feet tall will have enough legroom on any mattress, while those over 6 feet tall will want to consider a bed with at least 80 inches of length (twin XL, queen, king, and California king). Your sleep position also factors into this consideration; back and stomach sleepers rest fully extended, and therefore need to consider legroom more than side sleepers.

Bedroom Dimensions – What room will you put your new mattress in, and how spacious is that room? To avoid a cramped feeling, we recommend leaving about 24 inches of space around each side of your bed. It’s best to measure out the approximate measurements of your new bed before purchasing it, to get an idea of how well it will fit in your bedroom.

Versatility – A new mattress can be a major purchase, so you’ll want to ensure that you get a versatile bed that will last a long time. This means thinking ahead about your mattress needs in the future. Buying a bed for a small child? Consider going one size up to future-proof the bed. Buying your first-ever bed as a single person? Consider going up a size to accommodate future partners and/or pets.

Cost & Value – A new, quality mattress can cost anywhere from $400 to over $3,000 – and the mattress size has a significant impact on the cost. While we don’t recommend cutting corners to save money on a new mattress, the overall expense of a new bed purchase is still a significant factor. Beyond the initial expense, it’s also wise to consider the cost of accessories. For less common sizes (California king and twin XL, mostly), accessories such as sheets, blankets, and bed frames will be more expensive than accessories for more popular sizes.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Common Causes of Night Sweats and How to Fix Them

Sweating is normal and a core part of how the body regulates its temperature. In a sauna or working out in the gym, sweating profusely is expected. Waking up sweating in the middle of the night is another matter altogether. Night sweats can be defined as sweating in excess of that required by the body to regulate body temperature.

Night sweats can occur during sleep and without physical exertion. They aren’t caused by a heavy blanket or warm bedroom. Instead, other underlying health issues may be responsible for these episodes of considerable sweating in your sleep.

Night sweats can reduce sleep quality, concern a bed partner, and provoke serious discomfort. As a result, it’s natural to want to know more about the causes of night sweats and how they can be resolved.

What Are Night Sweats?

As the name indicates, night sweats are episodes of excessive perspiration that happen during sleep. They are often described as soaking or drenching and may require a change of sheets or even clothes.

Night sweats are distinct from simple overheating, which occurs because of something in a person’s environment, such as a heavy blanket or high bedroom temperature.

How Are Night Sweats Different From Hot Flashes?

Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth. Hot flashes can occur at any time during the day, and when they occur at night and provoke heavy perspiration, they are classified as night sweats.

In some resources, night sweats are also called hot flushes, but they are distinct from flushing. Flushing1 is a reddening of the skin from increased blood flow. While night sweats can occur with flushing, flushing itself does not provoke intense sweating.

How Common Are Night Sweats?

Exact estimates of how many people have night sweats are limited. One study of over 2,000 patients in primary care offices found that 41% of people reported2 having had night sweats in the last month. In that study, night sweats were most common in people aged 41 to 55.

Four Common Causes of Night Sweats

The body’s system for temperature regulation is complex and influenced by multiple factors, which can make it hard in some cases to know exactly why a person experiences night sweats.

That said, four common causes identified in research about night sweats include menopause, medications, infections, and hormone problems.

Menopause

Menopause3 is when women permanently stop having their period. During this time, significant changes in the body’s production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are believed to be an important driver of hot flashes4.

Hot flashes are considered to be a hallmark of menopause5, affecting up to 85% of women6. In most cases, hot flashes actually begin in the transition time before menopause, known as perimenopause, and can continue once a woman is postmenopausal.

Menopausal hot flashes normally last for a few minutes and can occur multiple times per day4, including at night, when they can cause night sweats. It’s common for hot flashes to continue occurring for several years, and some women experience them for more than two decades.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many women — up to 64%5 — report sleeping problems and higher rates of insomnia7 during perimenopause and menopause. While night sweats are not the only cause of these sleeping difficulties, they can contribute to poor sleep6, especially when they are severe.

Medication

Certain medications8 are known to be associated with night sweats. These include some antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), steroids, and medicines taken to lower fevers, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, that may paradoxically cause sweating.

Caffeine intake can be a cause of generalized sweating. Alcohol and drug use9 can also increase the risk of night sweats.

Infection

Many infections are associated with night sweats10. Most often, this is because infections may trigger a fever and overheating. Tuberculosis, bacterial and fungal infections, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are a few examples of infections for which night sweats are a significant symptom.

Hormone Problems

Changes in the endocrine system11, which controls hormone levels in the body, can be related to night sweats. Examples of hormone problems with links to night sweats include overactivity of the thyroid (hyperthyroidism12), diabetes and elevated blood sugar, and abnormal levels of sex hormones.

The part of the brain that regulates body temperature is known as the hypothalamus, and it is also involved in the endocrine system. Hypothalamic dysfunction13 may be an underlying issue related to hormone imbalances and night sweats.

Other conditions affecting the endocrine system such as pheochromocytoma14 (a tumor of the adrenal gland) and carcinoid syndrome15 (caused by slow-growing tumors that produce hormones) can also be associated with night sweats.

Other Causes of Night Sweats

Beyond these four common causes, other conditions may give rise to night sweats. Hot flashes may be more common during pregnancy and the post-partum period16. Anxiety and panic attacks have been correlated with night sweats2.

Hyperhidrosis18, a condition of excessive sweating, may affect people during both day and night. Some research has pointed to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)19 as a potential cause of night sweats20.

Night sweats can be a symptom of certain types of cancer or a side effect of cancer treatments21. Hot flushes may occur in people with lymphoma22. They frequently arise as a result of hormone therapy for women with breast cancer23 and men with prostate cancer24. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy for cancer may provoke night sweats.

How to Stop Night Sweats and Get Better Sleep

Night sweats can be worrying and bothersome, and they frequently are tied to serious sleep disruptions. As a result, it’s natural for anyone dealing with night sweats to want to know how to avoid them and sleep more soundly.

Because there are multiple potential causes of night sweats, there’s no single solution for stopping them. Several steps may be involved and can be tailored to fit a person’s specific situation.

Talk to Your Doctor About Night Sweats

You should talk to your doctor if you have night sweats that are

  • Frequent
  • Persistent over time
  • Interfering with your sleep
  • Affecting other aspects of your daily life
  • Occurring along with other health changes

It’s important to consult with a doctor in these situations, but unfortunately, one study of over 900 people who experienced night sweats found that the majority had not raised the issue with a doctor.

Meeting with a doctor is important because they can help determine the most likely cause and order tests to get to the bottom of the situation. Based on that information, a doctor can work with you to create a treatment plan that takes your symptoms and overall health into account.

It’s also important to let the doctor know about any sleeping problems that you have. Sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), may be causing daytime sleepiness and, according to some research, may also be a factor promoting night sweats25.

Treatments for Night Sweats

The most effective treatment for night sweats will vary for any individual patient and should always be overseen by a health professional. Some potential treatment methods include modifications to environment and behavior, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication.

Changes to Your Environment and Lifestyle

A standard approach to night sweats, especially those related to menopause, is to start by trying straightforward changes26 that can minimize the frequency and severity of night sweats while improving overall health and sleep.

  • Sleeping in a Cooler Bedroom: While a warmer bedroom isn’t the central cause of night sweats, it may facilitate or trigger them. Keeping the thermostat at a lower temperature and using lighter bedding can keep heat from building up around the body during the night.
  • Wearing Breathable Clothing: Tight-fitting clothes trap heat, so it’s best to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made with materials that are breathable and airy. Dressing in layers makes it easier to make adjustments to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoiding Caffeine, Alcohol, and Spicy Foods: All of these things can cause spikes in body temperature and induce sweating. Avoiding them, especially in the evening, may cut down on night sweats.
  • Drinking Cold Water: Having a small amount of cool water before going to bed helps some people with night sweats achieve a more pleasant temperature.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Some research has identified a correlation between higher body weight and night sweats. Being overweight or obese can contribute to other health problems, including those that affect sleep, such as sleep apnea.
  • Utilizing Relaxation Techniques: Finding ways to put yourself at-ease can make it easier to fall asleep. Studies also suggest that techniques like controlled breathing may help to meaningfully reduce hot flashes27 in menopausal women.

Many of these tips overlap with broader healthy sleep tips that can be gradually implemented to make your sleep-related habits work in your favor for more consistent and high-quality sleep.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that is commonly used for health problems like depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It is normally conducted in-person by a psychiatrist or counselor, but a number of self-directed programs have been developed.

CBT is based predominantly on reframing negative thoughts in order to promote healthier actions. CBT for insomnia (CBT-I) has a strong track record of success, including in menopausal women7.

Studies have found that CBT for hot flashes and night sweats28 can reduce their frequency and improve mood and quality of life in menopausal women. CBT is compatible with other approaches, such as behavior modifications, and likely has the greatest effect on night sweats29 when combined with other approaches.

Medications

If existing medications are causing night sweats, then changing the prescription, the dosage, or when the drug is taken may resolve night sweats. If the night sweats are caused by an underlying infection or hormone problem, medication may help address them.

For menopausal women, medications may be considered if behavioral treatments don’t work. Several types of drugs, notably hormone therapies, can reduce night sweats, but these drugs can have significant side effects. A doctor is in the best position to discuss the benefits and downsides of any specific medication.

Alternative therapy with estrogen-containing products like black cohosh, red clover, or soy have not been proven to be effective26 in addressing hot flashes caused by menopause. Even though these may be available as supplements without a prescription, patients should always talk with their doctor before taking them in order to help prevent potential adverse reactions.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Tips for Buying a New Mattress

 

You will spend one third of your life sleeping, so it is important you look at a new mattress for your personal needs and health.  Mattresses are an investment for yourself.

 

Do some investigation – Discuss mattress shopping experiences with friends and family.  Get recommendations from trusted sources – online reviews, such as Yelp.

 

Ask yourself – Why are you shopping for a new mattress?  What do you like and not like about your current one?

 

Find a location – What are your retailer’s policies for exchanges if you don’t like the mattress you first pick out?  Does this location have good reviews?

 

Bring your favorite pillow – Mattresses can feel different with a different style of pillow, so it is important to bring in your favorite pillow or try out a new pillow from the store.

 

Shop – Look for reliable brands.  Dedicate a good amount of time to testing several types of mattresses.  It is recommended to test each option for five minutes and wear comfortable clothes while doing so.  Everyone sleeps in certain positions throughout the night which is something your body has become accustomed to over time.  Test each option using your favorite sleeping positions.

 

Different Comfort Levels – Levels vary from firm to medium to soft and everything in between.  You will want to select your preferred comfort level.  Once you know what you prefer, you will be able to look at other options with similar comfort at different price points.

What You Need To Know Before You Buy A New Mattress

You’ve had an active day, eaten right, taken a bath, donned your favorite PJs, and banished your phone and other screens from your bedroom — just like experts say to do for optimal sleep. But you’re still tossing and turning.

Turns out, your mattress may be to blame.

“The sleep surface is critical to sleep quality, and unfortunately is too often overlooked,” Terry Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator and author of Sleeping Your Way To The Top, told The Huffington Post. Too many people reach for sleeping pills or an over-the-counter sleep aid without even considering what they are sleeping on, she said.

One study published in Applied Ergonomics found that new bedding systems improved measures of pain, stiffness, sleep comfort and quality across the board in a group of 62 men and women compared with their old beds, which on average were more than nine years old.

Want to know more? Here’s a five-point guide to picking out a new mattress:

  1. Know when it’s time.

It’s time to buy new “when you sleep better away from home (in a hotel room or elsewhere), or if you prefer to sleep on your recliner or sofa,” Cralle said. Additional signs your mattress needs replacing include waking up with aches or pains, not feeling as refreshed in the morning or waking up in the night because you’re too hot or restless, she said.

Worn or sagging spots in the middle of your mattress or at the edges are physical signs your mattress has seen better days, according to recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation — and you should be able to sleep undisturbed on your side of the bed if your partner rolls over or gets up in the middle of the night. Though there is no hard and fast rule on how long to keep a mattress, most have a lifespan of about eight years, according to the NSF.

Cralle suggested evaluating how well your mattress is meeting your sleep needs after about seven years, or if you’ve had an injury or illness, a significant weight change or a new bed partner: “You may have forgotten how good a new comfortable mattress can feel.”

  1. Understand what your mattress needs are.

In addition to everybody having their own body type and sleep needs, our bodies and those needs change over time. A mattress that was comfortable when we were 35 will not be as comfortable at 45, Cralle said. Factors like pain, weight loss, weight gain, and chronic disease can all affect our sleep preferences.

“The mattress that is comfortable for a 98-pound woman with arthritis may not be comfortable for a 250-pound man who sleeps hot,” she pointed out.

But the good news is that new bedding technologies and materials means mattresses have come a long way, and there really is a mattress out there for everyone, Cralle said. “Just remember: The mattress that your neighbor raves about may not be the mattress you rave about.”

  1. Make sure to pick the right mattress for you — not the fanciest, most-hyped one.

Experts say expensive mattresses are not always superior, and some mattresses are better suited for your sleep position than others. Overall, your mattress should feel comfortable to you, bed expert Dan Schecter, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the cushioning product company Carpenter Co., told The Huffington Post. “The most important factor is comfort.”

So it’s important to spend enough time looking and shopping for the mattress that’s right for you, he said.

  1. Before you shop, think about everything from health to budget and bedroom space.

Know your budget, what size mattress you need and any health concerns or personal needs that might be affected by your mattress — like arthritis, back pain, sleep apnea or allergies.

Try taking the Better Sleep Council’s mattress shopping quiz for a breakdown of everything you should know before you hit the mattress showroom. The quiz doesn’t recommend a specific brand or type of mattress, but it does prompt you to answer a series of questions to make the mattress-shopping experience more productive.

“Consumers have been reluctant to make mattress shopping a priority,” said Cralle, who is also a spokesperson for the non-profit group. The information from the quiz can really help empower the consumer in selecting a mattress that best fits their needs, she said.

  1. Yes, you can try out a mattress.

Lay on it for at least 15 minutes in the store, or longer if you can, and be sure to lay in the position you sleep in, Cralle advised. Also try changing positions — is it easy to roll over and change positions? Is it easy to sit up and get out of bed?

And be sure you’re trying it out with a pillow — either bring your own, or ask to try one in the store that is similar to yours.

Pillow top fans rest easy: A firmer mattress is not always better, Cralle said. “People always tell me they hear that, but that is not always the case and not a hard and fast rule.”

 

This content was created by The Huffington Post

 

NSF Tool to Get the Right Amount of Sleep

NATIONAL SLEEP FOUNDATION — How much sleep do you want? NSF’s Bedtime Calculator™ is now available to help you figure out what time to go to bed or wake up for better sleep health.

As a sleeping tool, the Bedtime Calculator conveniently calculates what time you should go to sleep or wake up based on the number of sleeping hours you want. NSF is making this tool available free to the public in its effort to promote public awareness of the need for sufficient, restful sleep for individual and societal health and safety. The Bedroom Calculator is available at sleepfoundation.org/bedtimecalculator.

NSF encourages everyone to get the sleep they need. NSF recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults aged 18-64 and 7-8 hours for older adults aged 65 and over.

  • To get a good night’s sleep, follow these simple and effective sleep tips:
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed.

How Sleep Is Different for Men and Women

A cup of coffee isn’t the only thing that can cause your energy levels to jump around. The other reason why you feel wide-awake at some points of the day and drowsy at others? Your circadian rhythm, an internal clock that helps regulate the cycle of when you feel sleepy and when you feel alert.  In a broad sense, circadian rhythms are similar from person to person, operating on roughly 24-hour cycles. But it turns out there are some notable differences in the sleep/wake patterns of women and men, which could explain why men tend to be night owls while women are more apt to be early risers.

How It Works

Circadian rhythms are controlled by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Other influences include light (which sends a message to your brain that it’s time to wake up) and darkness (an indicator to your body that it’s time to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep). Regular sleep patterns—waking up and going to bed at the same time daily—also keep your circadian rhythm functioning normally, helping to reduce the chance of sleep trouble such as insomnia.

What Sex Has to Do with It

Beyond these factors, there’s another important variable that influences your internal clock: sex. It turns out, male and female circadian rhythms don’t exactly match up. Men’s clocks tend to run truer to a full 24-hour cycle or longer (on average, men have a circadian cycle that’s six minutes longer than for women ) meaning they may feel less tired in the evening. In women, the internal clock is more likely to be shorter than a full 24-hour cycle, making it more likely that they will awaken earlier, which may also increase their susceptibility to early-waking sleep disturbances like insomnia.

Handling Sleep Cycle Interruptions

While eight hours per night on average is ideal for both genders, it turns out that men are harder hit by periods of deprivation.5 Lack of sleep causes work performance to suffer more for men than for women, and men recover less quickly from lack of sleep than women do.  On the other hand, women’s shorter cycles mean they are more likely to have a dip in energy at night, which could help explain why there’s an increased risk of work-related injuries in female shift workers.  Of course, it is possible to learn how to re-train your inner clock to help you feel more awake or sleepy at different parts of the day depending on your lifestyle needs. But left to its own devices, the body’s natural rhythms make it more likely that if you are a man, you will be a night owl, and for women, an early bird.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation