Snorers are often told to sleep on their sides rather than on their backs. This is because if you are lying on your side, the base of your tongue will not collapse into the back of your throat, obstructing breathing.
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However, for some snorers, changing sleep position may not make a difference. There are two types of snorers — those who snore when sleeping on their backs, and those who snore in every position.
According to the New York Times:
“… [W]eight plays a major role. In one large study, published in 1997, patients who snored or had breathing abnormalities only while sleeping on their backs were typically thinner, while their nonpositional counterparts usually were heavier … But that study also found that patients who were overweight saw reductions in the severity of their apnea when they lost weight.”
THE BOTTOM LINE :Sleeping on your side can help reduce snoring, though in people who are overweight, it may not make much difference without weight loss.
*New York Times April 18, 2011
*Harefuah May 2009; 148(5):304-9, 351, 350
*Chest September 1997; 112(3):629-39
Sleep is important for your physical and emotional health. Sleep may help you stay healthy by keeping your immune system strong. Getting enough sleep can help your mood and make you feel less stressed.
Your sleeping area :
•Use your bedroom only for sleeping
•Move the TV out of your bedroom
•Keep your bedroom quiet and dark
Your evening and bedtime routine
•Get regular exercise — but not within 3 to 4 hours before bedtime
•Create a relaxing bedtime routine
•Go to bed at the same time every night
•Consider using a sleep mask and earplugs If you can’t sleep
•Imagine yourself in a peaceful, pleasant place
•Don’t drink any liquids after 6 PM if waking up during the night to go to the bathroom is a problem
Your activities during the day Your habits and activities can affect how well you sleep. Here are some tips.
•Exercise during the day. Don’t exercise after 5 p.m. because it may be harder to fall asleep.
•Get outside during daylight hours. Spending time in sunlight helps to reset your body’s sleep and wake cycles.
•Don’t drink or eat anything that has caffeine in it, such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate.
•Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
•Don’t smoke or use tobacco, especially in the evening. Nicotine can keep you awake.
•Don’t take naps during the day, especially close to bedtime.
•Don’t take medicine that may keep you awake, or make you feel hyper or energized, right before bed. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine may do this and if you can take it earlier in the day.
If you can’t sleep because you are in great pain or have an injury, you often feel anxious at night, or you often have bad dreams or nightmares, talk to your doctor.
If you’re trying your best to eat right and exercise, it might be worth it to make sure you get the proper amount of sleep each night, according to a new study that suggests lack of sleep can throw off a diet.
“The dieters who slept less reported feeling hungrier throughout the course of the study,” CNN said, even though “they ate the same diet, consumed multivitamins and performed the same type of work or leisure activities.”
The study authors concluded that “Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of typical dietary interventions for weight loss and related metabolic risk reduction,” CNN said. The study was released October 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
All living organisms — humans are no exception — are controlled by a master clock. This biological timepiece, located in the brain, aligns an organism’s biological, behavioural and physiological activities with the day and night cycle. Its tick tock wakes us up in the morning, reminds us to eat at regular intervals and tells us when to go to bed.
But what sets this internal timekeeping, known as the circadian rhythm, has remained a mystery for long. This, despite scientists having had clues about its existence for more than a century.
The puzzle is slowly unfolding, thanks to advances in modern biology that offer a better insight into genes and their workings. Scientists now know the exact location of the master pacemaker and how is it regulated.
Research has also shown the circadian rhythm shares a reciprocal relationship with metabolism. In other words, while the circadian rhythm can influence metabolic activity, food intake can also modulate the functioning of the biological clock.
The mechanism by which feeding modulates the components of the clock machinery was discovered last month by a team of researchers led by Gad Asher of the University of Geneva. The paper, which appeared in the latest issue of Cell, shows that a protein called PARP-1 is at play here. The scientists found that mice that lack the gene that secretes PARP-1 fail to give the correct food intake cues to the circadian clock, thereby disrupting the synchronisation.
“This is an important finding,” says Raga Krishnakumar, a University of California San Francisco University researcher who, together with her former mentor W. Lee Kraus, showed early this year that PARP-1 is a multi-faceted protein that also regulates the expression of another protein which plays a vital role in aging, apart from helping contain DNA damage.
Scientists believe disruptions in the synchronisation between the circadian rhythm and metabolism play a key role in triggering many disorders that plague the modern world such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The master clock occupies a tiny area in the hypothalamus region of the brain. Called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), this brain region — the size of a grain of rice — contains a cluster of nearly 20,000 neurons. These neurons, in response to light signals received from the retina, send signals to other parts of the brain as well as the rest of the body to control a host of bodily functions such as sleep, metabolism, body temperature and hormone production.
As per the cues received through these neurons from the master clock, the cellular clocks in the tissues in different body organs are reset on a daily basis. The operation of these cellular clocks is controlled by the co-ordinated action of a limited number of core clock genes.
The year 1994 was a watershed year in research on the circadian rhythm. American Japanese scientist Joseph Takahashi, working at Northwestern University in the US, discovered the genetic basis for the mammalian circadian clock. The gene his team discovered was named CLOCK in 1997. Subsequently, scientists discovered several other genes associated with the timekeeping function such as BMAL1, PER and CRY, which are also involved in the working of the main SCN clock machinery as well as subsidiary clocks in other parts of the body.
The cues received from the master clock are important. Based on them, various genes in the cells change their expression rhythmically over a 24-hour period. It times the production of various body chemicals such as enzymes and hormones so that the body can function in an optimal fashion.
In the normal course, the body follows the master clock in setting its physiological and psychological conditions for optimal performance. While the 24-hour solar cycle is the main cue for resetting the master clock — just like a wall-mounted clock resets after a 24-hour cycle — there are other time cues as well: food intake, social activity, temperature and so on. “Unlike geophysical time, the biological clock does not follow an exact 24-hour cycle on its own. Various external and internal time cues that it receives play a vital role in bringing the periodicity close to 24 hours,” says Vijay Kumar Sharma of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, who has been studying the circadian rhythm for years.
However , modern society often imposes deviations from the regular work-rest cycle. “Basically, mammals including humans are diurnal (active during the day rather than at night). Whatever be the external compulsions (night shifts or partying late), the inner mechanisms of the body follow a diurnal pattern,” says Sharma. “It is bound to be out of sync if we deviate from the routine.”
“A major consequence of modern lifestyle is the disruption of the circadian rhythm. This leads to a number of pathological conditions, including sleep disturbances, depression, metabolic disorders and cancer. Studies reveal the risk of breast cancer is significantly higher in industrialised societies, and that the risk increases as developing countries become more and more westernised. Moreover, a moderate increase in the incidence of breast cancer is reported in women working nightshifts,” says Sourabh Sahar, a researcher working on the circadian rhythm at the University of California, Irvine.
Need more proof that the body has a mind of its own?
Most people don’t know the profound effects of making decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.
If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future. Let’s talk about a few ways you can go about making life changing decisions.
1. Realize the power of decision making.
Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does. Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free. But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.
2. Go with your gut.
Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process. Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with. Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.
3. Carry your decision out.
When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision. What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all. If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.
4. Tell others about your decisions.
There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through. For example, for the longest time I’ve been trying to become an early riser and whenever I tried to use my own will power, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time. Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.
5. Learn from your past decisions.
Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow? The truth is you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions and instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it. Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time? Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.
6. Maintain a flexible approach.
I know this might soundcounter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options. For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end. Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.
7. Have fun making decisions.
Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity. You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.
Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day. Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?