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Discovering Sleep Apnea: My Unexpected Path to Restful Nights



In the pursuit of a good night’s sleep, I’ve tried everything from pills to yoga, meditation, and sleep restriction. But the answer to my insomnia may be simpler than I thought.

I recently had a sleep study conducted in my own home by a man named Parthasarathi and his boss Julius. They attached electrodes all over my body, inserted a cannula into my nostrils, and monitored my sleep throughout the night.

“Then all this kit will track how long and deeply I am sleeping, how much I am snoring, how twitchy my legs are, how often I get out of bed, whether I talk, walk or … I don’t know, juggle in my sleep, what’s happening to my blood oxygen levels, what my heart’s doing and, crucially, how well I’m breathing.”

The results were surprising. I discovered that I stopped breathing for at least 10 seconds, 60 times that night. That’s an average of almost 10 times an hour.

Insomnia has been a problem for me for half my life. It increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression, as well as accidents. Most nights I don’t get much more than five hours’ sleep. I wake at least once in the small hours, often twice or more, and if I wake up any time after 4am there’s a good chance I won’t fall asleep again.

Despite my sleep struggles, I’ve managed to lead a productive life. I hold down a good job, I’m married, and I have a family. But the fatigue is mainly mental. I can usually manage a run, or an exercise class, or some yoga, as well as a full day’s work.

I’ve tried countless methods to improve my sleep. From making sure my bedroom is dark and quiet, getting plenty of daylight first thing, getting plenty of exercise, avoiding blue light from screens in the evening, not sleeping next to my phone, and many more.

“Following these rules almost certainly will help you sleep better.”

I’ve also tried meditation/mindfulness, breathing exercises, yoga and tai chi. They all relax you and some you can practise while lying unhappily in bed.

I even tried sleep restriction, a treatment often described as the gold standard. The aim is to create a strong association between your bed and sleep. I endured almost six months of this – during two of which I had weekly phone calls with my local NHS CBTi service.

The process was exhausting and tedious, but did it work? I began to sleep a little longer and with a little less disruption – but I still wasn’t sleeping well. I began to wonder if I ever would.

I’ve also tried various pills and over-the-counter sleep aids. Some worked better than others, but none provided a long-term solution.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to a doctor who had done a lot of work with sleep. He introduced me to the Japanese concept of kaizen, or continuous improvement. He also told me about a new type of sleeping pill called an orexin receptor antagonist.

But the real gamechanger came when I was diagnosed with “moderate obstructive sleep apnoea” after my sleep study. This condition is far more widespread and often less spectacular than I thought.

The treatment may involve a continuous positive airway pressure (Cpap) machine, to feed me air during the night. But there’s a good chance I can avoid it just by sleeping on my side.

I’ve been trying a combination of willpower and a pregnancy pillow for the last week, and so far the signs are good. I’m sleeping better than I have for ages – on my side, obviously – and waking up more refreshed.

After decades of battling insomnia, I think I’ve finally found a solution. I’m actually looking forward to the next 14,000 nights.

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Sleep Soundly with These 11 Expert-Approved Bedtime Routines




As we age, the quality of sleep tends to decrease. However, proper sleep is essential for maintaining good health and retaining mental sharpness. With a few adjustments to your nightly routine, you can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. Here are eleven bedtime routines that will help you attain a good night’s rest.

Foremost, establishing a consistent sleep schedule is crucial. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, helps regulate your internal clock and enhance sleep quality. This routine will gradually make your body recognize when it’s time to sleep or wake up.

To create an environment conducive to sleep, keep your room dark, quiet, and cool. Light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep. Additionally, noise can be a significant sleep disruptor, and a cooler temperature in the room can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep.

Another good practice is avoiding meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. Late-night meals can cause indigestion that interferes with your sleep, while caffeine and alcohol can have a stimulating effect, hindering your ability to fall asleep. Instead, try a calming drink like chamomile tea before bed.

“Physical activity is often associated with better sleep. Exercise can reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms,” advises the Sleep Research Society. Incorporating regular physical activity into your day can significantly improve sleep quality. However, it’s vital to finish exercising at least three hours before bed as this can interfere with your rest.

Adopting relaxation techniques such as yoga, reading, or listening to calm music can help prepare your mind for sleep. If stress or worry keeps you awake, consider writing in a journal or practicing mindfulness meditation. These methods promote relaxation and can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

The Sleep Health Foundation suggests “using bedroom only for sleep and sex instead of work or recreation. This will strengthen the association between bed and sleep.” By creating this mental association, you’re teaching your body to recognize your bed as a place for sleep rather than activity.

Avoiding bright screens within two hours of your bedtime is also beneficial. The bright light emitted by phones, tablets, computers, and TVs is particularly disruptive. If you must use these devices, consider wearing glasses that block blue light or using an app that reduces the amount of blue light emitted.

Refraining from irregular or long daytime naps can help maintain a healthy sleep pattern. While short power naps can be beneficial, long or irregular napping can negatively affect your sleep.

Another significant factor is managing your fluid intake. Drinking enough liquids to stay hydrated is important, but too much can have you waking up for bathroom breaks. Try to balance your fluid intake to avoid disrupting your sleep.

The Sleep Foundation also emphasizes that your mattress, pillows, and blankets can greatly affect sleep quality. “Ensure that your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. A bed that is too soft or too hard can significantly affect how deeply you sleep and how rested you feel in the morning.” Therefore, make sure your bedding is comfortable and supportive for a good night’s sleep.

Lastly, if you’ve been lying awake for more than 20 minutes, it might be helpful to get out of bed. Staying in bed when you’re actively frustrated can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness.

By integrating these practices into your bedtime routine, you can indeed improve your sleep quality and overall health. After all, a good night’s sleep isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity.

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Unlock the Secrets of Super-Agers: Key Habits That Keep Their Memories Sharp at 80




The gradual deterioration of memory is often considered an inevitable aspect of aging. Misplacing keys, forgetting appointments, struggling with names – these are all too familiar scenarios for many. However, there is a group of seniors who astonishingly defy this norm. Known as “super-agers,” these are individuals in their 80s who retain a memory capacity akin to those three decades younger. Recent studies have begun to uncover some intriguing similarities among them.

The cutting-edge findings were part of two separate studies published in The Journal of Neuroscience and Lancet Healthy Longevity. A total of 119 participants over 79.5 years old, all hailing from Spain, were examined. Among them, 55 were typical older adults, contrasted against 64 classified as “super-agers,” defined as those possessing a memory ability that mirrors people 30 years their junior.

To determine the distinction, subjects underwent a series of tests, including three non-memory tests and one memory test (the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test). Super-agers were identified by scoring above the average of 50- to 56-year-olds on the memory test and at or near the average of their age group for the non-memory tests.

Interestingly, the brain structure of super-agers showed some unique characteristics. They exhibited less brain atrophy, particularly in areas associated with memory, such as the hippocampus. Furthermore, MRI scans revealed they had superior quality white matter in the brain’s frontal part, contributing to better cognition.

It’s essential to note that these super-agers and ordinary adults showed no differences in their genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. According to Bryan Strange, the lead author of the study and professor of clinical neuroscience at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, this reveals “a resistance to age-related decline,” given that both groups had low Alzheimer’s markers but significant cognitive and brain differences.

Super-agers remain a scientific curiosity, with experts unsure about their prevalence. Emily Rogalski, a professor of neurology at the University of Chicago, acknowledges that they are “relatively rare.” Tessa Harrison, an assistant project scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, posits that these top-tier agers might have some sort of predisposition or unrecognized brain resistance mechanism.

Surprisingly, the lifestyles of super-agers and typical older adults do not differ significantly – their diet, sleep habits, professional history, alcohol and tobacco consumption are quite comparable. However, super-agers are distinguished by better mental health and a faster pace than the average older adult. Although they reportedly exercise as often as their peers, researchers suggest super-agers might be more involved in “non-exercise physical activity,” such as gardening or stair-climbing.

While there are inconsistencies within the super-ager group, such as variations in exercise, diet, and smoking habits, one universally shared trait is their strong social relationships.

As we strive to follow in the footsteps of these super-agers, experts recommend a well-rounded approach to brain health. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and an active social life are among the key factors. However, as always, any health-related concerns or questions should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

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104-Year-Old Credits Longevity to Daily Wine and Daring Spirit




The secret to a long life can differ greatly depending on who you ask. However, it’s probably wise to take advice from those who have lived past 100 years of age. Centenarians and supercentenarians often share their secrets to longevity, attributing their long lives to various lifestyle choices or dietary habits. One such individual is 104-year-old Evelyn Eales, who recently revealed her daily beverage of choice that she believes contributes to her longevity.

Eales celebrated her 104th birthday on Leap Day, February 29, in an interview with ABC-affiliate 40/29 News. Although technically her 26th Leap Year birthday, she credits her youthful spirit to a few lifestyle choices and a particular favorite wine.

“Well, I’ve been widowed for 40 years, and I don’t have any children,” Eales said. “And I drink wine every day—Franzia Chillable Red.”

Eales, known for her sense of humor, jokingly expressed her hope that Franzia would “send me a carton of wine.” While the idea of daily wine consumption may be met with varying opinions, it’s a habit that won’t necessarily break the bank. A 3-liter box of Franzia Chillable Red typically costs between $11 and $15, while a 5-liter box is usually priced between $18 and $26.

Eales isn’t alone in her belief in the benefits of wine. Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli, who was once America’s oldest-known person until her passing at age 116, also enjoyed wine regularly.

“When questioned about her secrets, she told others they should, “Have a couple of fingers of red wine with your dinner, and mind your own business,” according to The New York Times.

While the health benefits of red wine have been questioned, and studies on alcohol and longevity have reached varying conclusions, both Ceccarelli and Eales attribute their long lives to their wine-drinking habits.

In addition to her daily wine, Eales also believes that enjoying life is a crucial part of longevity.

“Enjoy it when you have it,” she told 40/29 News. “I don’t know, I just don’t regret anything I ever did, regardless of what it was.”

She added, “Live for the moment,” with a chuckle.

Eales’ great-niece, Teresa Crupper, believes there’s more to her aunt’s longevity.

“She’s an amazing lady. She has a Facebook, she does Sudoku, crossword puzzles, she reads avidly—just very active,” Crupper said.

Eales, who has lived in Bella Vista, Arkansas since 1989, celebrated her 104th birthday with a motorcycle ride, a wish she had harbored for years.

“I’ve wanted to go on this ride for 104 years,” she said, adding that she wasn’t sure why she had this specific birthday wish. “I guess I’m just a daredevil.”

The Summer Fun Run Motorcycle Club granted her wish, taking her on a 10-minute ride through Bella Vista. Eales hopes that for her 105th birthday, another motorcycle-themed celebration will be in store.

“Any time the fellas are ready, I am,” she joked.

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