Many U.S. workers are sacrificing sleep for work hours, long commutes


Sleep In Says Top Sleep Scientist

A new study shows that paid work time is the primary waking activity exchanged for sleep and suggests that chronic sleep loss potentially could be prevented by strategies that make work start times more flexible.

Results show that work is the dominant activity exchanged for less sleep across practically all sociodemographic categories. Compared to normal sleepers, short sleepers who reported sleeping 6 hours or less worked 1.55 more hours on weekdays and 1.86 more hours on weekends or holidays, and they started working earlier in the morning and stopped working later at night. The highest odds of being a short sleeper were found among adults working multiple jobs, who were 61 percent more likely than others to report sleeping 6 hours or less on weekdays. Respondents who were unemployed, retired or absent from the labor force also obtained significantly more sleep and were less likely to be short sleepers.

“The evidence that time spent working was the most prominent sleep thief was overwhelming,” said lead author Dr. Mathias Basner, assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Short sleepers also traveled more, started traveling earlier in the morning, and stopped later in the evening than normal sleepers. The travel pattern, with peaks at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., strongly suggests that the majority of travel time is associated with commuting.

According to Basner, the results point to several possible solutions for workers’ lack of sleep.

“Potential intervention strategies to decrease the prevalence of chronic sleep loss in the population include greater flexibility in morning work and class start times, reducing the prevalence of multiple jobs, and shortening morning and evening commute times,” he said.

Results show that with every hour that work or educational training started later in the morning, sleep time increased by approximately 20 minutes. Respondents slept an average of only 6 hours when starting work before or at 6 a.m. and 7.29 hours when starting work between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Self-employed respondents with more flexible work times also obtained significantly more sleep than private sector employees and were 17 percent less likely to be a short sleeper.

“Getting at least seven hours of nightly sleep is essential to be at your mental, emotional and physical best for whatever you will pour yourself into, either at work or at home,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, who was not involved in the study.

Basner and colleagues Andrea M. Spaeth, PhD, and David F. Dinges, PhD, analyzed responses from 124,517 Americans 15 years and older who completed the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) between 2003 and 2011. The computer-assisted telephone interview, which is sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, asks participants how they spent their time between 4 a.m. on the previous day and 4 a.m. on the interview day. Responses were combined into 40 distinct activities that captured 99.1 percent of the 24-hour day. Responses combined into the “sleeping” category included napping, waking up and dreaming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of employed U.S. adults typically sleep 6 hours or less in a 24-hour period, which represents approximately 40.6 million workers. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get about 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep for optimal health, productivity and daytime alertness.

The study was supported by funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) through NASA. The work was performed at the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

What is Sleep Challenge: Calling All Sleep Specialists


Can you explain “what is sleep” to an 11 year old?

International contest offers a new cash prize for scientists who can explain complex science in a way that will awaken the interest of thousands of 11-year-olds

According to press reports, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University is challenging scientists to answer an eye-opening question: What is sleep?

That is the wake-up call for scientists in this year’s edition of the Flame Challenge. In this international contest, scientists – from graduate students to senior researchers – are challenged to communicate complex science in ways that will interest and enlighten 11-year-olds, who judge the contest.

“I came up with this contest as a fun challenge for scientists to explain a complex thing like a flame in a way that would make it clear to an 11 year old,” said actor, writer and science advocate Alan Alda, a visiting professor at Stony Brook University. “The idea was to urge scientists to communicate more clearly. I didn’t realize what an extraordinary learning experience it was going to be for the 11-year-olds. By now, tens of thousands of kids from all over the world have excitedly delved into the mysteries of nature as they’ve judged the scientists’ entries.

“This year’s question — “What is sleep?” — should wake them up to a whole new understanding of that third of our lives we know so little about,” said Alda.

Besides kicking off the Flame Challenge, the multi-tasking Alda is currently appearing on Broadway in the play “Love Letters.”

Scientists have until Feb. 13, 2015 to submit their answers in writing, video or graphics. This year, for the first time, a $1,000 cash prize will go to the scientists who submit the two winning answers, one written entry and one video or graphic entry. In addition, as in past years, the winning scientists will receive a trip to New York City, where they will meet Alan Alda and be honored at the World Science Festival in May, 2015. The Flame Challenge is generously sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the AAAS.

The entries will be screened for scientific accuracy before being judged by schoolchildren around the world. Last year, 27,000 students were registered through their schools to serve as Flame Challenge judges. The Flame Challenge began in 2011 with actor and science advocate Alan Alda’s childhood query: What is a flame? Since then, the questions have been chosen from hundreds submitted by children. In 2012, scientists wrestled with “What is time?” Last year, they took on “What is color?”

“The Flame Challenge is an ingenious competition that we proudly support,” says 2015 ACS President Diane Grob Schmidt. “It challenges scientists to explain the world around us in ways that are both understandable and engaging to children. In doing so, the Flame Challenge has ignited a bonfire of interest among children worldwide. It is truly a spark that could help inspire them to explore careers in science and find ways to address the many global challenges facing all of us.”

“This is the first Flame Challenge that asks a question about something that happens inside our brains and our bodies,” said Elizabeth Bass, director of the Alda Center. “We hope that inspires past Flame Challenge contestants to try again, and also attracts people in psychology, medicine and all the cognitive sciences. But the winners don’t necessarily have to be specialists in the topic — they mainly have to focus on understanding what 11-year-olds might know and care about.”

This year’s question, “What is sleep?” was submitted by Ms. Wohlberg’s sixth grade class from Garden City Middle School in New York. Several other students from around the country asked related questions, such as “What are dreams?” In an online poll of children about the next Flame Challenge question, “What is sleep” strongly outpolled questions about electricity, wind, germs and how scientific discoveries are made.

At the Flame Challenge website,, scientists can find more information on entering the contest, and teachers can find information on having their classes participate as judges. The website also contains past winning entries and tips from past winners about how to come up with a good entry.

“The Flame Challenge is unique,” said one of last year’s winners, Melanie Golob of Olympia, WA. “It not only educates us as the scientists who answer the question, but it also gives kids the opportunity to deeply engage in a discussion on a complex scientific topic. This can be the spark that ignites a lifelong passion for science.”

Like many of the past winners, Golob is active in communicating about science to the public. Besides working for a company called Doctor Evidence, she is creating a science TV show called “Science This!” applying real science to everyday situations (or not-so-everyday situations); the website is

The annual Flame Challenge contest is part of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science’s mission of helping scientists communicate more effectively with the public. Located in Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, the Alda Center gives innovative Communicating Science courses for graduate students in the sciences, and conducts workshops around the country. Alan Alda is a founding member of the Alda Center and a Visiting Professor in the School of Journalism.

The Flame Challenge’s sponsors are both major nonprofit scientific societies. The American Chemical Society is chartered by the U.S. Congress and is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research. ACS encourages each of its 164,000 members to speak simply about their science and its importance to all of our lives. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, was founded in 1848. It includes some 261 affiliated groups, serving a total of 10 million individuals, and its mission is to “advance science and serve society.”

CONTACT: Lauren Sheprow, 631-632-4965,



Sleep Facts:

* Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines
and activities, or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.”

A person can be sleepy without realizing it.

A person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward.
You may have problem sleepiness if you:

* consistently do not get enough sleep, or get poor quality sleep;
* fall asleep while driving;
* struggle to stay awake when inactive, such
as when watching television or reading;
* have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home;
* have performance problems at work or school;
* are often told by others that you are sleepy;
* have difficulty remembering;
* have slowed responses;
* have difficulty controlling your emotions;
or * must take naps on most days.

Courtesy of the U.S. National Institute of Health

Nearly 55 percent of U.S. infants sleep with potentially unsafe bedding


Unsafe Infant Bedding use Still Common, Despite Warnings Says U.S. NIH

Nearly 55 percent of U.S. infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, despite recommendations against the practice, report researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions.

Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts, and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk, according to the NIH’s Safe to Sleep campaign. Soft bedding has also been shown to increase the risk of SIDS Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved crib covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Based on responses from nearly 20,000 caregivers, the researchers reported that, although such potentially unsafe bedding use declined from 85.9 percent in 1993-1995, it still remained high, at 54.7 percent, in 2008-2010.

“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.”

—Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Senior Scientist, CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta

“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” said the study’s first author, Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta.

The current study is an analysis of data from the National Infant Sleep Position Study (NISP), which collected information on the influence of infant sleep position and other safe sleep recommendations on infant care practices. Funded by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the survey collected information by telephone from a random sample of more than 1,000 caregivers in U.S. households from 1992-2010.

“Parents receive a lot of mixed messages,” said study author Marian Willinger, Ph.D., special assistant for SIDS at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Relatives may give them quilts or fluffy blankets as presents for the new baby, and they feel obligated to use them. Or they see magazine photos of babies with potentially unsafe bedding items. But babies should be placed for sleep on a firm, safety approved mattress and fitted sheet, without any other bedding.”

Drs. Shapiro-Mendoza and Willinger conducted the analysis with colleagues at CDC, the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, the Boston University School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Medicine. The study was published online in Pediatrics.

SIDS is the unexplained death of a child within the first year of life. In 1992, the AAP issued its recommendation that infants be put to sleep on their backs. Two years later, the NICHD and its partners launched the Back to Sleep campaign, later renamed Safe to Sleep. The rate of SIDS in the United States has fallen 50 percent since 1992. However, since 2000, the SIDS rate has declined slowly, and researchers have reported an increase in other unexpected infant deaths, resulting from such causes as accidental suffocation, entrapment in bedding material or other causes. These accidental suffocation deaths have increased from 7.0 per every 100,000 live births in 2000 to 15.9 in 2010.

As part of the survey, caregivers were asked whether infants were placed to sleep on such items as blankets, bean bag chairs, rugs, sheepskin, cushions, or pillows. Caregivers were also asked about whether the infant was covered with such bedding materials as a blanket, quilt or comforter, sheepskin, or a pillow. The Safe to Sleep campaign advises against blankets or other coverings, and recommends sleep clothing, such as a one-piece sleeper, and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature.

“Bedding use for infant sleep remains common despite recommendations against this practice,” the study authors wrote.

By 2007-2010, most respondents reported following these Safe to Sleep recommendations: placing the infant to sleep in a crib or bassinet, placing the infant on his or her back, and not sharing a sleep surface with the infant. However, use of bedding was consistently 50 percent or higher for each of these years.

From 1993-1995 to 2008-2010, covering with thick blankets declined from 56 percent to 27.4 percent and covering with quilts or comforters declined from 39.2 percent to 7.9 percent. However, the authors did not see significant declines such bedding materials placed under infants, with 25.5 percent-31.9 percent reporting placing blankets under infants and 3.1 percent-4.6 percent placing cushions under infants.

“Interestingly, we also observed a greater decline in bedding use over the infants (quilts/comforters and thick blankets) compared with bedding (blankets) under infants,” the study authors wrote. “This finding raises a concern that parents may incorrectly perceive the recommendations as only pertaining to items covering or around the infant, and not include items under the infant.”

The researchers speculate that among the reasons mothers used bedding were to provide warmth and comfort or to prevent falls from an adult bed or sofa by using pillows as a barricade. They noted that a study of images from popular magazines targeting women of childbearing age found that more than two thirds of these images showed infants sleeping with potentially hazardous bedding such as blankets and pillows.

“Seeing images such as these may reinforce beliefs and perceptions that having these items in the infant sleep area is not only a favorable practice, but also the norm,” the researchers wrote.

The authors also found that caregivers of Hispanic and African-American infants were more likely to use potentially hazardous bedding compared to caregivers of white infants. In addition, younger mothers were more likely to use this bedding than were older mothers, as were non-college educated mothers compared to college-educated mothers.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic


Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.

What you Need to Know (Part 1 in a Series):

* Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes.
* Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.
* Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role.
* An estimated 50-70 million adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder in the U.S. alone according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* Notably, snoring is a major indicator of obstructive sleep apnea.

In recognition of the importance of sleep to the nation’s health, CDC surveillance of sleep-related behaviors has increased in recent years. Additionally, the U.S. Based Institute of Medicine encouraged collaboration between CDC and the U.S. National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to support development and expansion of adequate surveillance of the U.S. population’s sleep patterns and associated outcomes. Two new reports on the prevalence of unhealthy sleep behaviors and self-reported sleep-related difficulties among U.S. adults provide further evidence that insufficient sleep is an important public health concern.
Sleep-Related Unhealthy Behaviors

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey included a core question regarding perceived insufficient rest or sleep in 2008 (included since 1995 on the Health Related Quality of Life module) and an optional module of four questions on sleep behavior in 2009. Data from the 2009 BRFSS Sleep module were used to assess the prevalence of unhealthy/sleep behaviors by selected sociodemographic factors and geographic variations in 12 states. The analysis[PDF – 1.1MB], determined that, among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, 35.3% reported <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period, 48.0% reported snoring, 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month, and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. This is the first CDC surveillance report to include estimates of drowsy driving and unintentionally falling asleep during the day. The U.S. National Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving to be responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States.

Sleep and Bulllying Linked Says Study


Kids Who Bully, Have Aggressive Behaviors Are Twice as Likely to Have Sleep Problems, U-M Study Says

Researchers found urban schoolchildren with behaviors like bullying more likely to have sleep-disordered breathing or daytime sleepiness

Children who are bullies or have conduct problems at school are more likely to be sleepy during the day according to University of Michigan Medical School researchers.

Researchers looked at elementary school students in the Ypsilanti, Michigan, public schools who had exhibited conduct problems like bullying or discipline referrals and found that there was a two-fold higher risk for symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly daytime sleepiness among these students. The study was published last week in the journal Sleep Medicine.

“What this study does is raise the possibility that poor sleep, from whatever cause, can indeed play into bullying or other aggressive behaviors – a major problem that many schools are trying to address,” says Louise O’Brien, Ph.D., assistant professor in U-M’s Sleep Disorders Center and the departments of Neurology and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

“Our schools do push the importance of healthy eating and exercise, but this study highlights that good sleep is just as essential to a healthy lifestyle.”

O’Brien said the study showed that sleepiness seemed to be the biggest driver of the behavior problems, not the snoring, which is often a more obvious symptom associated with sleep-disordered breathing.

Sleep-disordered breathing is an umbrella term for a spectrum of breathing problems during sleep, which range from habitual snoring to obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway collapses at night.

The sleepiness experienced by the children in the study could be caused by sleep-disordered breathing, but also by many other factors like chaotic home environments, fragmented sleep or not enough sleep because of too much electronic stimulus from televisions, cell phones or computers in the bedroom, says O’Brien, who is on the faculty of U-M’s Sleep Disorders Center.

O’Brien says that a longitudinal study is needed. Although there are other reasons for these behaviors, if sleepiness does contribute to aggressive behavior as this study suggests, a significant proportion of bullying in children might be eliminated by efforts to reduce children’s daytime sleepiness.

“We know that the pre-frontal cortex area of the brain is sensitive to sleep deprivation, and this area is also related to emotional control, decision making and social behavior,” says O’Brien.

“So impairment in the prefrontal cortex may lead to aggression or disruptive behavior, delinquency or even substance abuse. But the good news is that some of these behaviors can be improved. Sleep-disordered breathing can be treated, and schools or parents can encourage kids to get more sleep.”

O’Brien recommends parents remove electronic devices from bedrooms, make getting enough sleep a priority and encourage children to sleep for the recommended amount of time without interruption. It is recommended that children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, and school-aged children between 10-11 hours of sleep a night.

“Given the high prevalence of aggressive, bullying and disruptive behaviors in schools and the long-lasting consequences for both perpetrators and victims, more study on this issue is needed,” she says.

Additional authors: From the University of Michigan: Neali H. Lucas, Ph.D., Barbara T. Felt, M.D., Timothy F. Hoban, M.D., Deborah I. Ruzicka, R.N., Ph.D., Kenneth Guire, M.S., Ronald D. Chervin, M.D., M.S.. From the Ypsilanti Public Schools: Ruth Jordan.

Journal reference: Sleep Med (2011), doi:10,1016/j.sleep.2010.11.012

The University of Michigan Medical School Clinical Research Program funded this study. U-M consistently ranks among the nation’s top five research universities. There are many, many opportunities for the public to engage in clinical research studies at U-M. Log in at to get started.

About the U-M Sleep Disorders Center: The University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center diagnoses and treats patients who have problems with their sleep or level of alertness. The Center is among the largest academic facilities of its kind in the country and includes several parts: a number of general and more specialized Sleep Disorders Clinics; the Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Laboratory; the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Laboratory – South State Street; active training programs; and productive research projects.

About the University of Michigan Medical School: The School, which opened its doors in 1850, is consistently ranked among the top Medical Schools in the nation. Our 19 clinical and six basic science departments are committed to a single mission: to educate students, physicians and biomedical scholars and to provide a spectrum of comprehensive knowledge, research, patient care and service of the highest quality to the people of the state of Michigan and beyond.

SOURCE University of Michigan Medical School
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Sleep Deprivation – Most Night Shift Workers Don’t Adapt To The Hours


Most Night Shift Workers Don’t Adapt To The Hours Says Sleep Experts and Studies By NASA

NPR recently featured a in depth report on the topic of Night Shift Workers Don’t Adapt To The Hours Says Sleep. According to the report, numerous air traffic controllers who work the overnight shift have been caught sleeping on the job. Mary Louise Kelly talks to Dr. Charles Czeisler about the effects of sleep deprivation. Czeisler is the director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and has studied the problem of fatigue on the job.

Listen to the Story


We’ve been following the numerous reports about air traffic controllers caught sleeping on the job. Controllers often work overnight shifts or rotate among many different shifts. The Federal Aviation Administration is now changing staff scheduling practices to address fatigue among controllers.

Charles Czeisler is the director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and he told me why workers like air traffic controllers have a hard time adjusting to night shifts.

Dr. CHARLES?CZEISLER (Harvard Medical School): People can become completely adapted to overnight work, but most do not, even if they work permanent night shifts. And the reason for that is that on their days off they typically flip back into trying to function during the daytime and sleeping at night. And…

KELLY: On the weekends and that type thing.

Dr. CZEISLER: Exactly. Moreover, they’re living in a world in which the sun is up during the daytime and it’s dark at night. And the light/dark cycle is the most powerful synchronizer of our internal biological clock. Now, it’s possible to increase light intensity during nightshift work and use shorter wavelengths of light to help facilitate adaptation to working at night.

But nonetheless, most nightshift workers never fully adapt to their schedules, and hence it is more difficult for them to sustain alertness and performance when they’re working at night.

KELLY: You know, it’s curious, because people in all kinds of professions face sleep deprivation, many of the people working essential jobs: police, firefighters, overnight doctors and nurses in the ER. Have other professions figured out a better way to do this, a better way to schedule people to work the night shift?

Dr. CZEISLER: Well, that varies by profession. Certainly, the medical profession has not done so. They currently still schedule resident physicians to work 30-hour shifts twice a week. But change comes slowly in these areas, mainly because the environment has changed dramatically over the last 50 years, requiring people to stay continuously awake in jobs that they often were able to sleep at in times gone by, but the scheduling practices have not kept pace.

In addition, we are a sleep-deprived nation. Every week, nearly two million Americans nod off or fall asleep while driving their cars on the highways. And, you know, it’s part of our 24/7 culture that we think that we should be able to burn the candle at both ends without suffering any consequences, and at some point, the brain seizes control and we involuntarily make the transition from wakefulness to sleep, even at very inappropriate circumstances.

KELLY: One of the things that appears to have been ruled out in trying to tackle this is naps. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this week, and I’m quoting him: “On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps.” Is that a good approach? Could naps be helpful, in your view?

Dr. CZEISLER: It’s a very common approach, although it’s kind of ironic. Controllers are allowed to eat while they’re being paid. They are allowed to smoke cigarettes while they’re being paid, during a break. But they’re not allowed to do the one thing that would help prepare them for work when they’re on break, which would be to take a brief nap.

KELLY: And in your view, would that help?

Dr. CZEISLER: Studies done by NASA for the FAA in relationship to pilots have shown that a brief, 20-minute nap greatly increases the ability to sustain alertness during the remainder of a flight. And yet, FAA regulations do not allow pilots to nap in the cockpit. So on one out of 10 trans-Atlantic flights, the pilots are nodding off in the cockpit, but it’s not scheduled or controlled in any way. It would be far better to recognize that it’s going to happen, to schedule it and to ensure that it doesn’t happen at unscheduled times than to simply ban it and pretend that it’s going to go away.

KELLY: Charles Czeisler is director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Czeisler, thanks very much.

Dr. CZEISLER: Thank you.

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25 Foods That Help You Sleep


25 Foods That Help You Sleep and Catch the ZZZ’s you Need

Andrea Carter

We all know that a cup of coffee can get you going in the morning, but for the millions who need some extra help getting to bed, is there a food that can help out? Surprisingly, the answer is: “yes, and there’s more than one.” Those who are looking to go the opposite way of coffee can find many natural choices foods for better sleep.

To help, below we have listed 25 foods that can help you sleep. They include fruits, veggies, meats, and a few others that may not be as commonly known. Don’t be afraid to combine them in all sorts of inventive ways to get the maximum benefits.

Produce That Help You Sleep

Whether grown over ground or underground, these fresh fruits and veggies can help you get a good night’s sleep and contain loads of other health benefits.

1. Tomatoes Grown on the vine, the tomato is a natural source of melatonin, a chemical produced by the body during sleep. Although it is recommended to get fresh sources, tomatoes can be found in sauces, paste, and even in ketchup. They are also full of antioxidants.

2. Cherries Far more than a sundae garnish, the cherry is also similar to the tomato. Also boasting high levels of melatonin, tart cherries where found to have loads of anti-oxidants and other nutrients. Be sure to steer clear of the sugary, canned variety which can actually detract from sleep.

source :

3. Radish Also a high source of fiber, there are many types of radishes that contain melatonin. One of the highest rating radishes was the Japanese radish. They can be prepared a number of different ways including radish butter.

4. Bananas Ever wake up in the middle of the night from a Charlie Horse? Than a banana has two ways in which it can help you sleep. A high source of potassium, it is a natural muscle relaxant. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which can help sleep.

5. Ginger The ginger root has a significant amount of melatonin. Whether in root form, ground up, or in a natural tea, they are all good sources of ginger and sleep. It can also be taken as a supplement.

6. Sweet Corn Although not available all season, sweet corn contains high levels of natural melatonin. You can eat it straight from the cob, make it into a cornbread, or even as a frozen food when out of season. Other health benefits include a high level of folate and Thiamin for the heart and mind, respectively.

7. Grapes That glass of wine might be doing more for your sleep than previously thought. Researchers at the Institute of Vegetable Virology found that Nebbiolo grapes contained the most melatonin of all the grapes tested.

8. Spinach If you have dark circles under your eyes, lack of sleep is often thought of as the culprit. But as reported on by Nature’s Basin, it could be lack of Vitamin K. They recommend eating foods high in it, which include spinach.

Main Dish Foods That Help You Sleep

Whether as an entree, side, or even beverage, all of the below foods can help you get a good night’s sleep.

9. Milk Ever wonder why mothers give kids milk before bed time? It’s probably because it will help both of them get through the night. In fact, one of the doctors at WebMD took the time out to give the medical reasons why.


10. Goat Milk Because not all milk comes from cows, check out this tryptophan loaded substitute. Both sweeter and saltier than traditional milk, goat’s milk is commonly drank in other parts of the world. Also a good substitute for the lactose intolerant.

11. Poultry One of the reasons many people feel worn out after Thanksgiving is the turkey. A natural source of tryptophan, it is like many poultry dishes that are also high in it. Other choices include chicken and even duck. Baked is best, while fried can have the opposite effect.

12. Oats Quick and easy to prepare, oats are said to be an excellent breakfast. However, especially when combined with milk and/or honey, oats can also have a calming effect useful for sleep. They are also a good source of tryptophan.

13. Walnuts A good source of protein, walnuts make an excellent snack or vegan option. They also contain high levels of melatonin in addition to many heart benefits. A quick visit to Whole Foods shows the high level of omega fatty acids and other vitamins contained in walnuts.

14. Sardines There are many reasons to eat one of the world’s most natural super vitamins. Just a few ounces of sardines provide many nutrients including vitamin B12, selenium, and Vitamin D. Click here to get the amazing amount of tryptophan levels they contain (over 50 grams!).

15. Potatoes This starch is often used as the staple in many foods, including the American. Whether baked, roasted, or mashed, the potato is also a high source of tryptophan and fiber. If fried, the high fat content can actually have the opposite effect and disturb sleep.

Other Foods That Help You Sleep

Get the best of the rest in foods that help you sleep below.

16. Honey In a study, those who drank more honey improved the antioxidant levels in their blood, making it a useful cure for insomnia. Dark honey is thought to contain more and honey also has vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5, and B3.

17. Cheese and Crackers Although alone they have the carbs and tryptophan that can induce sleep, combining the two can help even more. Keeping both the cheese and crackers natural, with as few additives as possible is also a good choice for those seeking better sleep.


18. Yogurt and Cereal Like the above, this snack combines carbs and tryptophan in one easy snack. It is also small enough to not overdo the digestive system. Best when done with a low fat yogurt and low sugar cereal.

19. Barley Often used in baking and even some beers, barley is also a natural source of melatonin. It can be purchased in many specialty stores or even in the health aisle at many national chains. Although found in beer, the alcohol in it can actually deter sleep.

20. Rice Another world staple, rice is often the main or side dish in many countries. Although brown rice is higher in melatonin content, it can also be found in many natural white rice varieties. As with potatoes, eating rice just about any way but fried is the best way to get its sleep benefits.

21. Sunflower Seeds They may be annoying to open and discard, but sunflower seeds can be high in melatonin. Along with many other useful nutrients, these seeds can also be substituted for fennel seeds, green cardamom seeds, and others.

22. Hummus Made from the chick pea and other ingredients, this is more than a Mideast favorite. The dip is high in amino acids and tryptophan that can help sleep. Best when combined with whole grain pita bread.

23. Tahini Another Mideast food, this one is made from sesame seeds, which are similar to sunflower seeds. Other health benefits include anti-aging properties and digestion. Visit to get more on tahini and even a few authentic recipes.

24. Tea Although many teas contain caffeine and are stimulants, there are also others that are specifically designed for sleep. One of them is Valerian tea is made from an herb that has long been used for insomnia. Check out this entry from Cathy Wong, the alternative health expert at

25. Bedtime Snack Although eating right before bed can be a disaster, it can also be a good thing. Combining two or more of the above foods in small doses can actually help sleep. It can also keep a rumbling tummy from keeping you awake.

Although items such as melatonin and tryptophan can aid in sleep, simply changing a diet may not be enough. Because many sleep aids can be bought over the counter, it is important to consult a doctor before using any of them or if you are having consistent trouble sleeping.

Sleep Apnea Device Eases Fatigue Says New Study


Sleep apnea device eases fatigue in three weeks Says New Study by University of California, San Diego

Press reports reflect that people with breathing problems that disrupt their sleep were less tired after three weeks of treatment with a breathing device compared to those treated with a placebo, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

The findings show that regular use of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks reduces fatigue caused by obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disorder that affects 12 million Americans.

Sleep apnea raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat and diabetes.

It occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway and causing the brain to rouse the sleeper, who gasps for air — a cycle that can occur as many as 30 times in an hour.

CPAP disrupts this cycle by providing a steady stream of air through a mask that keeps the airway open during sleep.

Companies that make CPAP treatments include Graymark Healthcare and ResMed Inc.

“These results are important as they highlight that patients who comply with CPAP therapy can find relief from fatigue and experience increases in energy and vigor after a relatively short treatment period,” Lianne Tomfohr of San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, whose study appears in the journal Sleep, said in a statement.

Several studies have shown that CPAP treatment can reduce other health risks, such as lowering the risk of stroke, but few have studied the impact on fatigue, which can reduce work performance and increase the risk of accidents.

For the study, Tomfohr and a team at the University of California, San Diego, studied 59 adults in their late 40s who had at least 10 partial or complete pauses in breathing per hour of sleep.

These volunteers were randomly assigned to get either CPAP or a sham therapy. Both groups were trained on the proper use of the equipment and filled out questionnaires.

After three weeks, volunteers who got CPAP treatment had significantly less fatigue on two independent scales measuring fatigue and they reported having more energy.

There was no such improvement among those who got the placebo treatment.

CPAP treatment is the most common treatment for sleep apnea.