Another extremely interesting A To Z from the UK Independent. This time on a subject most of us love, but can never get enough of.
Not sex, but Sleep.
Some highlights :
A IS FOR SLEEP APNOEA, a common disorder, often signalled by snoring, which leaves sufferers feeling weary even after a full night's sleep. Tissue at the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway causing the sleeper to struggle for breath until jerking suddenly awake. In the worst affected, this may happen hundreds of times a night though they have no memory of waking. Treatment is with a contraption that blows air directly into the nose to keep the airway open.
B IS FOR BABIES which should always be laid to sleep on their backs. This is the surest way to protect against cot death. A baby laid to sleep on its front is more likely to suffocate or become overheated. On its back with its feet against the bottom of the cot it is less likely to slip down under the covers. Since the Back to Sleep campaign was launched in the early 1990s, cot deaths have fallen from about 1,000 a year to 300.
C IS FOR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, generated and maintained by the body's biological clock. It affects temperature, blood pressure, sleep and wakefulness, mental performance, and the synthesis of hormones. Trying to sleep at the wrong phase of the circadian cycle will usually lead to a disturbed night with frequent awakenings resulting in the exhaustion seen in jet lag and among shift workers.
D IS FOR SLEEP DEPRIVATION Anyone who has gone for two nights without sleep will know what this means. The siren call of slumber beckons irresistibly. Keeping victims awake is a well-known form of torture, to reduce their defences and soften them up for questioning. The human organism cannot do without sleep and prolonged deprivation results in confusion, hallucinations and delirium.
E IS FOR EXERCISE, the friend of sleep. Moving your body during the day prepares it for rest at night as well as easing stress, the enemy of sleep. Thirty minutes of exercise a day is recommended. Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift, walk the dog, chase the children, do the housework. It doesn't have to involve going for the burn in the gym.
H IS FOR HIBERNATION, which may seem an attractive option in the dark days of winter but is not open to human beings. Hedgehogs, doormice and adders hibernate in the UK - a survival strategy that has evolved to see them through the winter food shortage. During hibernation, animals lower their metabolism dramatically and live off their body fat - waking weeks or months later thin and depleted.
N IS FOR NARCOLEPSY, a rare sleep disorder whose sufferers live every day as though the previous 48 hours have been sleepless. Sufferers, of whom there are about 2,500 diagnosed in the UK but many more undiagnosed, may fall asleep during a meal, at the wheel of a car or in mid-conversation. It is thought to be an immune disorder which affects production of the hormone, hypocretin which regulates sleep.S IS FOR SIESTA, which is going out of fashion in the countries of the southern Mediterranean where a leisurely lunch and a snooze were seen for decades as the best way of coping with the midday heat. Now new research from the Harvard School of Public Health published this week suggests it has medical benefits. An afternoon nap can cut the risk of death from heart disease among men and women by a third.
T IS FOR THATCHER, the former prime minister fabled for her capacity to manage the affairs of state on four hours sleep a night, "provided that about one day a week you have a night when you can have longer," as she told a BBC interviewer. Her regular nightcap was a large whisky, and often several, which went against medical orthodoxy that says alcohol helps sleep come but leads to a disturbed night. Mrs Thatcher never showed the effects the next day.
U IS FOR UNSOCIAL HOURS Experts say the 24-hour society is shortening lives and harming health because of the havoc it plays with our biological clock. One in five workers in urban societies is now working outside of normal office hours and paying the price in terms of an increased risk of accidents and of heart disease.Y IS FOR YOUTH and the legendary need for sleep of teenagers. Chronic sleep deprivation is now a recognised medical problem among young people. They need more sleep than adults because they are growing, which takes energy, but often get less. As we get older we need less sleep. The elderly, who have time to sleep, often have the greatest difficulty in staying in bed
Go Here To Read The Full Story