11 Oct 2017

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Posted by Lisa

I was reading an article today that talked about kids and suicide and that there has been a 50% increase in clinical level depression between 2011-2015. I’m going out on a limb here, and tell you about my own experience, and what I have concluded about this horrible statistic. First, I have personal experience with depression. It started when I was a child. It was something we didn’t really talk about then. It was often suggested that I just learn to smile more. Was there a tendency towards depression? Probably! My brother was clinically depressed, and I had heard that an uncle was depressed but they just said he drank a lot. I had another person in my family who was diagnosed but I will not mention his name as I don’t have his permission. What did I find out was the common factor for the depression? We didn’t sleep well. I say that but, what I really mean is we slept very little.

You may be asking yourself, what does sleep loss have to do with depression? Everything! I began to research sleep. I wanted to find out what happened to the body when we don’t sleep. I was blown away with what I was reading. What if my depression, ADD, and allergies could all be attributed to sleep child depressiondeprivation? So, I began to look at every aspect of my life. I started eating better, getting outside each day and took the TV out of my bedroom. Well, my husband didn’t like that! I stopped buying sodas and processed foods and both my husband and children were not happy! What happened? I started to finally sleep. I slept so well my health improved. Then I began to teach sleep at the University of Richmond. Yes, you read that right. I teach a sleep class. My brother asked me this question. “Don’t people know how to sleep?” Let me ask you, do you know how to sleep? The answer may be yes but a better question might be, do you sleep? Is the answer yes but you don’t feel rested when you wake up? Then guess what, you aren’t really sleeping! Your body isn’t repairing, replenishing and rejuvenating because if it was, you would feel energized and ready to start your day.

Let’s say you feel great in the morning but run out of energy during the day. Again, you need to look at your sleeping habits and see if you are truly getting into a deep sleep each night. Let’s get back to children and what is happening to their sleep. Scientists are concerned that we are putting ourselves in a perilous situation due to lack of sleep. I met Russell G. Foster, a Head Professor of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience and Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Oxford University at a convention in 2015. Part of his studies are on alternative methods to investigate the adolescent circadian delay, as well as the impacts on health and mental health in the future. They are finding that asking an adolescent to get up at 7 am to start school at 9 am leads to a significant amount of sleep deprivation. This in combination with 24/7 access to social media, and abnormal light exposure from various electrical devices which emit a low-level light in the blue wavelength has been shown to have a direct, alerting effect on the biological clock which may interfere with the process of going to sleep.

What about the mental health aspects of sleep deprivation? Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist (1856 -1926) noted in his 1883 textbook that abnormal sleep patterns and mental health are linked. Since the 1970’s the Sleep/Clock disruption in schizophrenia has been viewed merely as the by-product of antipsychotic medication. Abnormal sleep in schizophrenia is often dismissed on the basis of lack of work. Do the networks in the brain that generate normal sleep and mental health overlap? Dr. Foster and his team predict that genes linked to mental illness will also affect sleep/clocks. Genes linked to the sleep/clock will also affect mental illness. Sleep disruption may precede a clinical diagnosis of mental illness. Reduction of sleep disruption should improve the level of mental illness. I understand that more research is going into sleep deprivation’s relationship to mental illness which is raising questions on which condition to address first.

While many studies have examined the association between insomnia and depression, no studies have been evaluated utilizing these associations (1) within a narrow time frame, (2) with specific reference to acute and chnewsweek sleepronic insomnia, and (3) using polysomnography. In a present study by Nuffield Department of Neurosciences at Oxford, the association between insomnia and first-onset depression was evaluated taking into account these considerations: The design used a model integrating mixed variables. It was in an Academic research laboratory. The participants were: Fifty-four individuals (acute insomnia & normal sleepers) with no reported history of a sleep disorder, chronic medical condition, or psychiatric illness. The transition from acute to chronic insomnia is indicated by baseline differences in sleep architecture that have, in the past, been ascribed to Major Depression, either as heritable traits or as acquired traits from prior episodes of depression. The present findings suggest that the “sleep architecture stigmata” of depression may actually develop over the course transitioning from acute to chronic insomnia.

I need to only ask my students how they feel after they have pulled an All-Nighter. I have heard that some feel angry or have trouble concentrating and yes, they can even be depressed. My hope is that other organizations or departments like the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences will take a closer look into sleep deprivation and how we can help our children learn to sleep. The best advice I can think of is to have a conversation with them. Show them the studies. Talk about your own experiences with sleep loss and how it has impacted your life. My heart goes out to all the moms. They are so sleep deprived themselves and our children see that. Don’t take the adage that you can make it up on the weekend. It is not possible to make up for lost sleep but your sleep drive will be greater than staying awake so get your rest. For all those working the night shift, I hope that it is something that will change for you in the future. Just remember The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”

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One Response to “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”

  1. Great article! The last paragraph & especially last quote is powerful. Good job!

    I read in a book “Happy for No Reason”, suggestions to increase happiness- try going to bed by 9 pm 3 nights in a row.

     

    Barb Satterwhite

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    Lisa Healthy Hazelgrove

    Lisa Healthy Hazelgrove

    Wellness Education with a side of Energy

    Health & Wellness Educator that has a passion for educating others on how to create balance in their lives so that the body can heal itself naturally. I have been in the Wellness Industry for 12 years and specialize in nutrition and sleep. My focus is on empowering others to take control of their health and in 2008 I began teaching as a Wellness Instructor at the University of Richmond. My health journey began 12 years ago when I was on 10 prescribed pills a day, had no energy and was 70 lbs heavier. I decided to empower myself and take a proactive approach towards my life and create a wellness home for myself and my family.

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