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From Napping to Dreams: Topics in Sleep

Stress 101 Article   (892 Views 4 Comments 775 Words)
by J.Adderton J.Adderton (Member) Writer Verified

J.Adderton has 20 years experience .

80 Likes; 6 Followers; 28 Articles; 24,202 Visitors; 183 Posts

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Nurses educate patients on the benefits of quality sleep on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we do not always take time to evaluate the quality of our own sleep. This is National Sleep Awareness Week and provides an opportunity to explore how sleep impacts our overall health.

From Napping to Dreams:  Topics in Sleep

Sleep is often welcomed after a long day of work, school or play.  A good night’s sleep gives the body and mind an opportunity to rest and refresh.  Unfortunately, most of us will experience difficulty falling or staying asleep at some point in our lives.  National Sleep Awareness Week is taking place March 11th-17th and provides an opportunity to examine our own sleep habits and how they impact our overall health. To highlight the week, let’s explore a few interesting sleep topics.

Do Dreams Affect Your Sleep?

Whether you remember dreams in great detail or they are a passing deja vu, dreams are a normal part of sleep.  In fact, everyone dreams for a total of about two hours nightly.  Pleasant and happy dreams may leave you with a sense of relaxation.  However, scary and dark dreams can leave you wondering if you experienced any quality sleep at all.  The National Sleep Foundation provides a few insights on how dreams affect our sleep:

  • Nightmares often making falling back to sleep difficult. Also, the images and details of scary dreams may lead to a “bad dream hangover” and affect your mood the next day.
  • Nightmares don’t necessarily change your sleep cycle and the time you spend in the various stages of sleep.
  • Research shows people with insomnia report fewer positive emotions about their dreams when compared to good sleepers.  

Dreams often reflect what is going on in our life.  Therefore, if you are stressed and anxious, your sleep quality may be compromised.  If you are highly satisfied in your day-to-day life you may have more positive dreams.

Types of Insomnia

About 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia and have difficulty falling or staying asleep. The result.....  irritability and lack of energy due to non-restful sleep.  There are several different ways insomnia can be described:

  • Acute insomnia-  A brief episode of difficulty sleeping usually caused by a life event (i.e. job change, travel, stressors).  Acute insomnia usually resolves without any treatment.
  • Chronic insomnia-  Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least 3 nights a week for three months or longer.
  • Comorbid insomnia- Occurs with another condition (i.e. anxiety, depression, pain)
  • Onset insomnia- difficulty falling to sleep at the beginning of the night
  • Maintenance insomnia- sleeping only a few hours, waking up and struggling to go back to sleep.

The good news…. Insomnia is treatable.  Treatment depends on the type and may range from improved sleep hygiene habits to  medications.  If a medical condition is causing insomnia, treatment the medical condition may help.

Spring Forward and Your Circadian Rhythm

Do you find yourself feeling jet lagged when the clocks are moved forward each spring? Losing an hours sleep may throw off your body’s circadian rhythm and affect how much melatonin is released.  It also doesn’t help your body’s internal clock that it is now dark when you wake up.  The good news….. the disruption to your circadian rhythm is temporary and within a few days your body will start readjusting.  Until then, try going to bed an hour earlier to make up for lost sleep.

Picking the Right Pillow

Choosing the right pillow could mean the difference in a less than stellar or a good night's sleep.  It is even more important if you have special conditions, such as, back pain, gastroesophageal reflux disease or sleep apnea.  The key to picking the right pillow is determining what is your preferred sleeping position.

  • Side sleeper- you need a pillow that will support your head, neck and shoulder.  Try placing a pillow between your knees or thighs to help maintain spinal alignment.
  • Back sleeper- You may benefit from a thinner pillow to reduce stress on the neck.
  • Stomach sleeper- You need the thinnest pillow possible to minimize stress on the lower back.

As a rule of thumb, look for a pillow that will help maintain the spine’s natural, neutral position.

The Benefits of Napping

Research has shown a short nap improves alertness, performance and overall mood.  A 20-30 minute nap will provide needed rest without interfering with your regular night’s sleep.

What sleep tips do you have to share?

To explore additional sleep topics, visit The National Sleep Foundation website here.

Are  you experiencing sleep debt?  Read more from the American Sleep Association here.

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RN MSN with over 20 years nursing experience in a variety of settings. Enjoys writing articles with student focus and exploring nurses in recovery.

80 Likes; 6 Followers; 28 Articles; 24,202 Visitors; 183 Posts

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227 Likes; 1 Follower; 44,084 Visitors; 2,941 Posts

Purely anecdotal..... I suddenly developed insomnia over 15 years ago. I stressed about it for many years, tried every sleeping pill, etc. 

Suddenly the "light bulb" went on. I realized I often felt fine, functioned well, on 2 - 4 hours of intermittent sleep. Yet sometimes I  would sleep for 6 solid hours and feel like crap all day.

I stopped looking at the clock, stopped counting the hours, stopped obsessing over it. I love my Kindle I get most of my reading done at 2:00 am.

It's not perfect, when I have several nights  of poor sleep, especially if it's caused by being worried about a problem, or my sleep is interrupted for some reason and I can't get back to sleep, (not just my normal insomnia), it bothers me. I may take a sleeping pill.

 

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I retired 6 years ago after 40+ years military and civilian healthcare, during that time I had always had trouble sleeping. Even as a kid I wouldn’t sleep sometimes for days. It did improve somewhat during my adult career not by much. One would think that now at 69 no work or money worries, that things would improve. Not a chance, seems like I’m repeating my childhood. Medication, by choice and some bad reactions I don’t take narcotics ie. Xanax I do really stupid things taking narcotic based meds. OTC meds some like melatonin horrible night terrors. I get 8 to 11 hours sleep out of 48. Wife says I’m possessed or obsessed and/or both. Do I need mental health don’t think so, I’m not nuts just can’t sleep. So I spend long night hours in my shop working on art projects. I don’t feel sorry for anyone else with this affliction, not really I enjoy the company. 

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227 Likes; 1 Follower; 44,084 Visitors; 2,941 Posts

1 hour ago, MarionT said:

I retired 6 years ago after 40+ years military and civilian healthcare, during that time I had always had trouble sleeping. Even as a kid I wouldn’t sleep sometimes for days. It did improve somewhat during my adult career not by much. One would think that now at 69 no work or money worries, that things would improve. Not a chance, seems like I’m repeating my childhood. Medication, by choice and some bad reactions I don’t take narcotics ie. Xanax I do really stupid things taking narcotic based meds. OTC meds some like melatonin horrible night terrors. I get 8 to 11 hours sleep out of 48. Wife says I’m possessed or obsessed and/or both. Do I need mental health don’t think so, I’m not nuts just can’t sleep. So I spend long night hours in my shop working on art projects. I don’t feel sorry for anyone else with this affliction, not really I enjoy the company. 

You, and I, just don't need a lot of sleep. I heard Einstein had insomnia also. Obviously highly intelligent people don't need a lot of sleep 😁.

I agree about sleeping meds. They sometimes leave me feeling odd the next day.

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