Electric Sleep: The Gadgetry Tracking and Hacking The Way We Rest

As activity tracking goes mainstream, an arsenal of consumer technology is rolling out for sleep. But how much do these interventions help?

At 2.16am, I stumble to the bathroom. I catch a glimpse of myself. The light from the red bulb is flattering – I’ve been told to eliminate all blue light on my nocturnal trek – but the sleep-tracker headband, currently emitting the sound of gently lapping waves, kills any woke-up-like-this vibe. I adjust its double straps and feel my way back to bed.

The next time I wake is at 6.30am – after fractured dreams in which the Dreem 2 headband makes many cameos – to birdsong, also from the headband. When I check the app, I see I have slept six-and-a-half hours of my anticipated eight. Anxious to remedy this, I head out for my first coffee. In his new book Blueprint: Build a Bulletproof Body for Extreme Adventure in 365 Days, athlete Ross Edgley warns that this sort of overriding behaviour can bring about “biochemical bankruptcy”. Not now, Ross.

Health influencers like Edgley are all over sleep lately, and no wonder, when so many of us obsess over it. A 2021 report released by the Sleep Health Foundation estimates around one in 10 Australians have a sleep disorder, while a report from 2019 found that more than half are suffering from at least one chronic sleep symptom. Studies have suggested that sleep deficiency can lead to weight gain and a weakened immune system and that poor sleep patterns may contribute to later dementia risk.

In recent years, sleep-fretting has intersected with fitness-tracking, with the latest bio-hacks regularly featured on the podcasts of personal-development heavyweights such as Joe Rogan, whose Whoop Strap – worn around the wrist – told him he was getting four or five hours a night, not the seven or eight he’d thought; and Aubrey Marcus, whose Oura ring measures various biomarkers overnight and gives him a total score in the morning. “If I can get close to 80%, I’m golden for the day,” Marcus told the authors of My Morning Routine.

Wearables, such as watches, rings and headbands, appeal to those of us who enjoy geeking out on our stats, but could they also be cultivating anxiety and feeding into insomnia? Associate Prof Darren Mansfield, a sleep disorders and respiratory physician who is also deputy chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, thinks some balance is needed.

“These devices in general can be a good thing,” he says. “They’re not as accurate as a laboratory-based sleep study, but they are progressing in that direction, and technology enables the person to be engaged in their health. Where it can become problematic is people can become a bit enslaved by the data, which can lead to anxiety or rumination over the results and significance. That might escalate any problems, or even start creating problems.”

As a clinician, Mansfield thinks that the most useful role of these devices is monitoring routine, not obsessing over the hours of good-quality sleep. “There will be some error margin, but nonetheless when we’re looking for diagnostic information, like timing of sleep and duration of sleep, they can capture that,” he says.

Since Mansfield admits his sleep doesn’t need much hacking, I seek out an insomniac-turned-human guinea pig. Mike Toner runs the dance music agency Thick as Thieves, and has been on a mission for five years to fix the sleep issues earned from a decade of late nights in Melbourne clubs and reaching for his phone to answer international emails at 3am.

“I tried everything,” he says. “Magnesium capsules and spray, melatonin and herbal sleep aids. I even signed up for treatment at a sleep centre. You sleep in this room with all these wires connected to you, things coming out of your nose, cameras trained on you. Ironically, I slept better that night than I have any other night.”

He decided to start monitoring his body in earnest, learning about the latest devices from the Huberman Lab Podcast and The Quantified Scientist. Sleep-monitoring wearables have progressed from having an accelerometer to track movements which are fed through an algorithm to predict when a person is asleep, to being able to track sleep latency; sleep efficacy; heart-rate variability; light, deep and REM sleep and sleeping positions.

Toner’s accumulated a few as the technology becomes more sophisticated. He estimates having spent around $1,500 on them, and a further $3,500 for the sleep-centre treatment.

Then there are the cooling devices. Toner beds down on a Chilipad as soon as the weather gets warmer – a hydro-powered cooling mattress.

The idea is that lying down in a cool room – perhaps after taking a warm shower – tricks the body into slumber, since our body temperature drops when we’re asleep.

Non-techy strategies include having hands and feet out from under the covers, or using a fan. Lifestyle guru and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss recommends a short ice bath before bed. Be warned, though: Dave Asprey – founder of Bulletproof, which sells high-performance products – once tried putting ice packs on his body right before bed. As he told MensHealth.com: “I ended up getting ice burns on about 15% of my body.”

Mansfield says that ensuring you’re cooler in the evenings may help with sleep. “Generally, a lower-level temperature is better tolerated at night … 25C can make a beautiful, comfortable day, but can be unbearably hot at night when our own core temperature drops, so 18C or 19C is more tolerable.

“Then in the last two hours before getting up, your temperature rises again – you might have thrown off the blanket in the night and then might wake up at 5am feeling freezing cold.”

And what about the new frontiers of technology? According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, in his influential book Why We Sleep, in the future, we can expect the marriage of tracking devices with in-home networked devices such as thermostats and lighting.

“Using common machine-learning algorithms applied over time, we should be able to intelligently teach the home thermostat what the thermal sweet spot is of each occupant in each bedroom, based on the biophysiology calculated by their sleep-tracking device,” Walker says. “Better still, we could program a natural circadian lull and rise in temperature across the night that is in harmony with each body’s expectations.”

Mansfield thinks this kind of integration is feasible, and that a thermostat linked to a device measuring circadian rhythms offers plausible benefits in preparing people’s sleep, but he predicts that automated control of room lighting will wind up being manually overridden, because technology can’t necessarily gauge when we’re in the middle of reading a book or having a conversation. “It’s liable to just irritate people,” he says. He’s more interested in technology that will track conditions like sleep apnoea.

As Toner has concluded, no device is a silver bullet. Ultimately, it was a $70 online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course that his GP referred him to that fixed his sleep over three months of strict adherence. Now he just uses technology to make sure he’s not drifting off track.

The key lessons? Only use your bedroom for sleep and sex. Set your alarm for the same time, no matter how late you get to bed. Screens off early. No day-napping. Alcohol is a bad idea. All of these things are easily monitored yourself using a good old notebook, and they don’t cost a cent. They just take persistence.

With those good habits in place, Toner is now mindful of how he will put the CBT pointers he’s learned during lockdowns into practice once his life picks up its pace again.

“I used to put this obligation on myself to be there all the time with my artists, but interestingly, coming out of this pandemic, a lot of the artists are having the same train of thought as I am, wanting to avoid late nights,” Toner says.

He’s even coaching some of them for a charity run – quite the lifestyle change for many. “I’ve spent so long fixing this that one of the things I’ve realized, when we eventually go back to work routines, is I’m going to be fiercely protective of my sleep.

By:

Source: Electric sleep: the gadgetry tracking and hacking the way we rest | Sleep | The Guardian

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Is Melatonin Safe to Take Every Night

Americans aren’t sleeping well. Roughly 80% of U.S. adults say they struggle to fall asleep at least one night a week, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. And research has found that sleep problems are also on the rise among adolescents.

While the causes of America’s sleep woes are up for debate, there’s little disagreement about America’s favorite remedy: Melatonin, by far the country’s most-used sleep aid.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that plants and animals, including humans, produce naturally. The melatonin sold in over-the-counter pills is synthetic, but chemically it’s the same as the stuff the human body makes. It can, if used properly, help certain problem sleepers get to bed at night. Melatonin hormone secreted by pineal gland (red) at night, regulates body’s daily biological rhythm depending on luminosity as light regulates its secretion via a path involving the suprachiasmatic nucleus (green), the paraventricular nucleus (yellow) and the preganglionic sympathetic neurons. BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty

Research has also shown it can help combat inflammation, promote weight loss, and maybe even help children with neurodevelopmental disorders. That’s a lot to claim, though there are some studies to back up the various benefits. One 2011 review found evidence that, in children with autism, melatonin supplementation led to improved sleep and better daytime behavior. A small 2017 study from Poland found that obese adults who took a daily 10 mg melatonin supplement for 30 days while eating a reduced-calorie diet lost almost twice as much weight as a placebo group. The underlying cause might be connected to the fact that blood measures of oxidative damage and inflammation were much lower in the people who took melatonin.

“Some of the emerging science is showing that in people with higher levels of inflammation—which could be because they’re obese, or because they’re in the [intensive care unit] for a transplant—melatonin in the range of 6 mg to 10 mg may decrease markers of inflammation,” says Helen Burgess, a professor of psychiatry and co-director of the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. If someone is healthy, it’s not clear that high-dose melatonin has a similar anti-inflammation effect, she adds. But it’s possible.

Burgess is one of the country’s foremost melatonin researchers. She says that the traditional view of melatonin is that it plays a role in regulating the body’s internal day-night clocks, which is why it can help people sleep. “But there’s a theory that melatonin’s original purpose was as an antioxidant, which is what it does in plants,” she says. This alternative theory holds that it was only later in human evolution that melatonin took on a secondary role as a biological clock-setter.

Inflammation, like poor sleep, is implicated in the development or progression of an array of diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to depression and dementia. If melatonin could safely promote both better sleep and lower rates of inflammation, it could be a potent preventative for a lot of those ills. And melatonin appears to be safe—though there isn’t much research on the long-term effects of taking it in heavy doses.

What is a safe melatonin dose?

According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, “melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses,” which is anything between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.

A 0.5 mg dose may be all that’s needed for sleep-cycle regulation, and should be taken three to five hours before bed, he says. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is appropriate. “Some people report headaches or stomach problems at higher doses, but those side-effects are uncommon,” he says.

Still, there are other concerns. “Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it,” says Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. “But it’s a hormone, and you don’t want to mess around with hormones until you know what they’re doing.”

People with existing medical problems should discuss melatonin with their doctor before using it. While some research has found that melatonin may help treat hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, for example, other studies have shown that, in diabetes patients who carry certain genetic traits, melatonin may interfere with glucose regulation. It’s these sorts of contradictory findings that give experts pause when it comes to issuing melatonin a full-throated endorsement.

“My advice is always to treat supplements like drugs, meaning don’t take a pill unless you need a pill,” Moyad says. He urges restraint with melatonin not because there’s evidence it’s dangerous, but because of the lack of evidence showing it’s safe in high doses over long periods. Especially for parents who are giving melatonin to healthy children, Moyad says caution is warranted. Melatonin appears to be safe, and it could provide a range of health benefits. But there are a lot of unknowns.

By Markham Heid

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.

Watch more, Matthew Walker Busts Sleep Myths: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDRrR… Why We Sleep is out now: https://amzn.to/2JugGKV Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep. In this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves into everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence. Find out more: https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/20… Watch a full interview with Dr Rangan Chatterjee on the Feel Better, Live More podcast: https://youtu.be/_N8zlEs6XVk ————————————————————————- Subscribe to the Penguin channel: http://po.st/SubscribePenguinYouTube Follow us here: Twitter | http://www.twitter.com/penguinukbooks Website | http://www.penguin.co.uk Instagram | http://www.instagram.com/penguinukbooks Facebook | http://www.facebook.com/penguinbooks

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Is Melatonin Safe to Take Every Night?

1

Americans aren’t sleeping well. Roughly 80% of U.S. adults say they struggle to fall asleep at least one night a week, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. And research has found that sleep problems are also on the rise among adolescents.

While the causes of America’s sleep woes are up for debate, there’s little disagreement about America’s favorite remedy: Melatonin, by far the country’s most-used sleep aid.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that plants and animals, including humans, produce naturally. The melatonin sold in over-the-counter pills is synthetic, but chemically it’s the same as the stuff the human body makes. It can, if used properly, help certain problem sleepers get to bed at night.

Research has also shown it can help combat inflammation, promote weight loss, and maybe even help children with neurodevelopmental disorders. That’s a lot to claim, though there are some studies to back up the various benefits. One 2011 review found evidence that, in children with autism, melatonin supplementation led to improved sleep and better daytime behavior.

A small 2017 study from Poland found that obese adults who took a daily 10 mg melatonin supplement for 30 days while eating a reduced-calorie diet lost almost twice as much weight as a placebo group. The underlying cause might be connected to the fact that blood measures of oxidative damage and inflammation were much lower in the people who took melatonin.

“Some of the emerging science is showing that in people with higher levels of inflammation—which could be because they’re obese, or because they’re in the [intensive care unit] for a transplant—melatonin in the range of 6 mg to 10 mg may decrease markers of inflammation,” says Helen Burgess, a professor of psychiatry and co-director of the Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. If someone is healthy, it’s not clear that high-dose melatonin has a similar anti-inflammation effect, she adds. But it’s possible.

Burgess is one of the country’s foremost melatonin researchers. She says that the traditional view of melatonin is that it plays a role in regulating the body’s internal day-night clocks, which is why it can help people sleep. “But there’s a theory that melatonin’s original purpose was as an antioxidant, which is what it does in plants,” she says. This alternative theory holds that it was only later in human evolution that melatonin took on a secondary role as a biological clock-setter.

Inflammation, like poor sleep, is implicated in the development or progression of an array of diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to depression and dementia. If melatonin could safely promote both better sleep and lower rates of inflammation, it could be a potent preventative for a lot of those ills. And melatonin appears to be safe—though there isn’t much research on the long-term effects of taking it in heavy doses.

What is a safe melatonin dose?

According to Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, “melatonin is very safe if taken in normal doses,” which is anything between 0.5 mg and 5 mg.

A 0.5 mg dose may be all that’s needed for sleep-cycle regulation, and should be taken three to five hours before bed, he says. For people who want to take melatonin just before bed, a 5 mg dose is appropriate. “Some people report headaches or stomach problems at higher doses, but those side-effects are uncommon,” he says.

Still, there are other concerns. “Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it,” says Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. “But it’s a hormone, and you don’t want to mess around with hormones until you know what they’re doing.”

People with existing medical problems should discuss melatonin with their doctor before using it. While some research has found that melatonin may help treat hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, for example, other studies have shown that, in diabetes patients who carry certain genetic traits, melatonin may interfere with glucose regulation. It’s these sorts of contradictory findings that give experts pause when it comes to issuing melatonin a full-throated endorsement.

“My advice is always to treat supplements like drugs, meaning don’t take a pill unless you need a pill,” Moyad says. He urges restraint with melatonin not because there’s evidence it’s dangerous, but because of the lack of evidence showing it’s safe in high doses over long periods. Especially for parents who are giving melatonin to healthy children, Moyad says caution is warranted. Melatonin appears to be safe, and it could provide a range of health benefits. But there are a lot of unknowns.

By Markham Heid

Source: https://time.com

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Many people who have trouble sleeping use melatonin, but this solution carries risks of its own. Ross McLaughlin reports. Subscribe to CTV News to watch more videos: https://www.youtube.com/ctvnews Connect with CTV News: For the latest news visit: http://www.ctvnews.ca/ For a full video offering visit the CTV News Network: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video CTV News on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CTVNews CTV News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CTVNews Watch CTV News on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WatchCTVNews CTV News on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CTVNews/posts CTV News on Instagram: https://instagram.com/ctvnews/ CTV News on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ctvnews