March 8th, 2011
By: Ben Patterson
The more often you use “interactive” electronics like cell phones or video games right before bed, the more likely it is you’ll miss out on deep, restful sleep, a new survey claims. I know the feeling.
The new study from the Washington, D.C.-based National Sleep Foundation isn’t the first to claim that the use of “light-emitting” devices like TVs and iPads just before turning in can disrupt sleep patterns. Researchers say that such “artificial light exposure” at night may make you more alert before you hit the hay, making it tougher to get enough shut-eye.
But it does add a new wrinkle to the discussion: namely, that “interactive” gear like video games, cell phones, and laptops are more likely to mess with a good night’s sleep than “passive” gadgets like television sets.
The survey found that just about all of us (or 95 percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64, give or take) feast our eyes on a TV screen, a laptop, a cell phone, or some other type of gadget at least “a few” nights a week within an hour of bedtime.
But the National Sleep Foundation researchers say they found more and more people—particularly so-called Generation Y’ers (20- to 30-somethings) and Generation Z’ers (20-somethings and younger)—using “interactive” gadgets like cell phones and laptop right before bed.
And while watching Leno or Letterman before drifting off isn’t the best recipe for a good night’s sleep, sending one last test message on your phone or blowing away a final bad guy on your Xbox 360 is an even worse idea sleep-wise, according to the study.
The evidence? Turns out that 16 percent of Gen Y’ers and 22 percent of Z’ers—who, apparently, are far more likely to play a video game or send a text message before bedtime—complain that they’re not getting enough restful sleep, compared to 11 percent of Generation X’ers and 9 percent of baby boomers. Or so the study says.
So, what’s the ticket to eight-plus hours of sleep each night? Besides regular exercise, avoiding late-night caffeine and booze, and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule, we’re strongly advised to seek out “bright light” in the morning (which “energizes us” and “prepares us for a productive day”) and keep it dim (i.e., no gadgets with bright screens) at night.
Makes sense, I guess, but easier said than done. Not only do I regularly watch TV until a few minutes before hitting the sack (at least there’s no television in my bedroom), I’m also usually checking e-mail and surfing the Web on my phone at the same time. And yes, I’ve been known to sneak in a little online multiplayer right before diving under the covers.
How am I sleeping? Well … so-so, come to think of it. I rarely have trouble falling asleep, but more and more often, I’ve been waking up early—as in 6 a.m. or so, meaning I’m only getting about six hours of sleep. And I haven’t exactly been bounding out of bed, either.
So, should I turn over a new leaf and leave the gadgets alone after sundown? Probably. Will I? Not a chance.
What about you: Are you watching TV or fiddling with “light-emitting” gadgets right before bed—and if so, having any trouble sleeping?
June 1, 2010
By Kate Devlin
Research found that those who brushed less often were 70 per cent more likely to develop the condition than those who were conscientious about cleaning their teeth morning and night.
Previous studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart disease. Although they are unsure of the exact reason, experts believe that it could be to do with inflammation in the mouth and gums, which they believe is connected to the build up of clogged arteries.
The study is the first to assess how often a person has to brush their teeth to reduce the risk.
Professor Richard Watt, from University College London, who led the study, said: “Our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of (heart) disease.”
May 5, 2010
by Rebecca Smith
They discovered that people who slept for less than six hours each night were 12 per cent more likely to die prematurely – before the age of 65 – than those who slept the recommended six to eight hours a night.
The team from the University of Warwick and Federico II University Medical School in Naples analysed 16 studies involving a total of 1.3 million people before reaching their conclusions.
They pointed out that previous studies had shown that sleep deprivation was associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
However, the researchers also found that sleeping too much was linked to an early death.
Those who slept for more than nine hours a night were 30 per cent more likely to die early, the research published in the journal Sleep found.
That directly contradicts research published in the same journal last week which suggested that people who slept for ten hours or longer a night were more likely to live to 100.
This was thought to be because people who lived into extreme old age were healthier and therefore slept better.
However, the authors of the latest research contradicted this and suggested that long sleep was a sign of underlying illnesses such as depression and low levels of physical activity. Some cancer is also associated with sleeping for longer.
Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the University of Warwick and Consultant Physician at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “Whilst short sleep may represent a cause of ill-health, long sleep is believed to represent more an indicator of ill-health.
“Modern society has seen a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people take, and this pattern is more common among full-time workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working hours and more shift-work. On the other hand, the deterioration of our health status is often accompanied by an extension of our sleeping time.
“Consistently sleeping six to eight hours per night may be optimal for health. The duration of sleep should be regarded as an additional behavioural risk factor, or risk marker, influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to change through both education and counselling as well as through measures of public health aimed at favourable modifications of the physical and working environments.”