Sharing my learnings from the book, The Nocturnal Brain by Dr. Guy Leschziner
The Nocturnal Brain by Dr. Guy Leschziner
For Dr. Guy Leschziner’s patients, there is no rest for the weary in mind and body. Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, apnea, and sleepwalking are just a sampling of conditions afflicting sufferers who cannot sleep—and their experiences in trying are the stuff of nightmares. Demoniac hallucinations frighten people into paralysis. Restless legs rock both the sleepless and their sleeping partners with unpredictable and uncontrollable kicking. Out-of-sync circadian rhythms confuse the natural body clock’s days and nights. With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.
- sleep is often taken for granted. We give lil thought to how sleep actually works. When we do think about sleep, we consider our minds are still and our bodies at rest. For some, sleep is anything but tranquil (sleep paralysis, debilitating insomnia, hallucinations, sleep-driving, sleep disorders).
- all life on earth runs on a natural 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm, that keeps us broadly in line with the movements of the sun. When it comes to sleep, our rhythm is influenced by the production of a hormone called melatonin. If your sleep pattern is normal, your melatonin levels increase in the early evening, stay high in the night and then drop in the early morning
- Our melatonin production and circadian rhythm can be disrupted. For example. exposure to bright light in the evening
- there is evidence that people working night shifts and who fight against their natural circadian rhythm suffer serious consequences
- It’s possible for us to be in a deep sleep and highly awake at the same time. The parts of the brain responsible for impulse and movement can be awake, while the area dealing with thoughtful activity – planning & rational thought – is fast asleep.
- when we are sleep deprived, our brains show changes in activity that suggest part of us is, in fact, asleep. When you are truly tired, you are partially asleep
- we are currently in the middle of a growing sleep apnea epidemic. The cause? Most often is obesity. With more fat and weight on the chest and neck, breathing is harder & the airway under more pressure. Sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease & stroke. For some, only short term solution is wearing a mask designed to maintain constant pressure in airway every night. For most, focusing on weight loss is a good place to start
- Some sleep problems are nightmarish. Unlucky sleepers suffer from sleep paralysis and hallucinations. While not exactly common, these symptoms are widespread and have occurred throughout history. Sleep paralysis and hallucinations happen when the lines blur between wakefulness & rapid eye movement (stage of sleep in which we experience lifelike dreams & in which most of our muscles are paralyzed). It’s not known why this happens, although sleep disruption is a common factor
- Narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that causes an irresistible desire to sleep, can leave you conscious but collapsed after flickering in and out of sleep. For some, there is a trigger. For others, there is none.
- One in ten adults has chronic insomnia and the daytime consequences that go with it (fatigue, inability to concentrate, irritability, poor motivation). The most promising approach to deal with insomnia is not in drugs but in cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s an attempt to reprogram the brains of insomnia sufferers.