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  • The New Sleeping Pills

    For those patients who have consistent sleep problems that are having a profound or sustained impact on their lives, physicians may recommend the use of prescription sleeping medicines. Where prescription sleeping pills were once actually depression medications that were used for their sedative effects, the new class of sleeping pills works specifically on the sleep cycle rather than as a secondary effect. All of these drugs are much more powerful than any of the over the counter or natural remedies that are available, and it is important that people taking them understand the impact that they have on their bodies and brain functions: prescription sleeping aids interfere with your ability to concentrate, make informed decisions and react quickly, so tasks such as driving or operating heavy machinery should never be undertaken while they are active in your system.  Continue reading

  • Dreaming while Pregnant

    Pregnant women have been found to experience many more dreams than do women who are not pregnant, and this is particularly interesting when you consider the fact that overall, pregnant women tend to get much less sleep. Pregnancy makes women tired but also introduces a great deal of stress and discomfort, particularly during the third trimester when the body’s burden exacts a toll and it is difficult to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. The baby’s kicking can actually wake the mother from a sound sleep, which becomes increasingly rare due to worries about the upcoming responsibility they are facing. Continue reading

  • Thomas Edison's Impact on Sleep

    The biological drive to wake and sleep based upon the rising and setting of the sun each day has been in place in humans since time began. The evolutionary message that runs our lives even in these modern times was influenced by our survival needs as people living in caves, and its influences on almost every aspect of our lives remains just as strong. Scientific experiments done in the last several years have indicated that the body’s response to light is not limited to what we experience through our eyes: even exposing a small patch of skin on the back of our knees can create changes in our circadian rhythm. Other experiments have shown that in addition to exposure to light, changing the body’s chemical composition by adjusting the amount of melatonin present in the blood stream can change our schedules, as  can exercise.   Continue reading

  • The Brain Waves of Sleep

    Brain waves are a measure of electrical changes that take place in our brain. They are measured with a monitoring machine called an EEG, or electroencephalograph. An EEG is a completely non-invasive test: it is not painful or uncomfortable, and involves sensors known as electrodes being placed along key points along the scalp. The electrodes relay the information that they gather about brain activity to a pen moving along a moving sheet of paper. The end result is very similar to what we have seen in crime dramas when a suspect is given a polygraph – or lie detector – test: lines that move up and down in varying heights and rhythms that sleep scientists are able to read and interpret. These lines reflect our brain’s activity level, and are called brain waves. Continue reading

  • Antidepressants as Sleeping Pills

    Traditionally, when patients needed more help falling asleep than they were able to get from over the counter medications or home remedies, physicians turned to antidepressants. Just as antihistamines began to be used as hypnotics because they had a profound and marked side effect of making patients drowsy, the same was true for antidepressants.  In addition to having a sedative effect, they also had the benefit of reducing anxiety, which also helped patients fall asleep more easily. Continue reading

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