Sleepless Nights Are Bad for the Heart

According to a study of some 52,000 Norwegian participants, both male and female, conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, consistent sleepless nights may increase oneís risk of an acute myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack).

Lars E. Laugsand, M.D. and his colleagues found that there was a 30-45 percent higher risk of heart attack among those who struggle to get to sleep or to stay asleep.

In fact, the more numerous the symptoms of insomnia, the greater the risk according to their report in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers observed that insomnia may affect as many as one-third of the adult population. The symptoms of insomnia are pretty straightforward and recognizable.

Additional pertinent information on insomnia could be obtained in clinical risk assessment studies. The  report indicated that the results would be useful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The issue of insomnia could be managed simply by following good sleep hygiene recommendations. Certain pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies might be necessary, however, to treat chronic insomnia.

Some 52,610 men and women responded to a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers. The subjects resided in a single county in Norway. The incident of heart attack was then followed by means of national vital status and hospital registries in the Nord-Trndelag Health Study.

In a period consisting of 11.4 years of follow-up, there were 2,368 heart attacks recorded.

Of the study participants, 3.3 percent reported difficulties in getting to sleep on a nightly basis. In addition, 2.5 percent of the study participants reported trouble maintaining sleep, and 8.0 percent reported nonrestorative sleep more than once a week.

It was found that among those who struggled to fall asleep each night 45 percent were at increased risk of having a heart attack compared with those who had no trouble sleeping. Among those who struggled to stay asleep it was found that 30 percent were at a heightened risk of heart attack. For those reporting nonrestorative sleep, several times a week the risk of heart attack was 27 percent.

Adjustments were allowed in the study for variations in age, educational level, marital status, gender and shift workers. Other considerations included such factors as anxiety levels and depression as well as the amount of physical activity and smoking.

Sensitivity analyses excluded the first five years of follow-up treatment as well as non-hospital verified heart attacks and people with chronic somatic disorders.

It was interesting to note that when study participants on sleep medications were excluded, it strengthened the association between trouble falling asleep and risk of heart attack.

This may indicate a connection between the use of sleep medications and fewer heart attacks, possibly because the medication reduces the initial difficulty in falling asleep. Further investigation beyond the present study is needed, however, before drawing any conclusions.

Also to be considered are other potential mechanisms that are common risk factors for heart disease and insomnia including high blood pressure and increased sympathetic activation.

In the study, sleep apnea was not assessed as that link has already been connected to cardiovascular disorder.

Additionally, the evaluation of sleep quality by means of polysomnography, the absence of data duration of sleep and the inability to exclude possible uncontrolled confounding were factors affecting conclusions in the study.

Also, the researchers caution, the results did not take into account the effects and sleep habits of those living at lower latitudes, different risks of a heart attack due to location and environmental factors, or sleeping and circadian habits.

Professional Tricks For Better Shaving Results

For a lot of men, the morning shaving seems to be more of a tiresome duty than an easy job. If you’re in this boat yourself, rest assured that you don’t have to live with razor burn and irritated skin forever.

In days gone by, shaving was less of a chore and more of an art. Barbers used to do a thriving trade in shaving, and their skills were nothing less than phenomenal. If you educate yourself on shaving like the experts, you can replicate their results! Just check out the handy guidelines laid out below.

Before Shaving

Every shave should be preceded by a rinse with warm water. Celeste Hilling, the founder, and CEO of Skin Authority says that this rinse will soften up your skin and keep your face healthier. Next, up, you have to wash your face. According to Hilling, the ideal cleanser for this job is a gel with an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) for an antibacterial effect. This will also open up your pores and let your shaving products sink in better. Facial scrubs that have large, abrasive particles should be avoided – they can contribute to shaving complications like breakouts and inflammation.

At this point, your skin should be damp. Use a clean towel to remove excess water, but not all of it. Remember to use gentle patting motions rather than hard scrubbing. This will reduce the risk of razor burns.

Starting The Perfect Shave

A gel is the ideal shaving product because it minimizes friction and causes less irritation. Doctor Neal Shultz, a dermatologist practicing in New York, says that high-priced specialty products aren’t required; the gels you see in your local supermarket or drug store are quite capable of doing the job.

Your razor should have some weight to it. Multi-bladed models are also a good idea. Many authorities (including Hilling) suggest that an old-fashioned straight razor gives the very best results, but it takes a long time to master the skill of using one. Stick to a disposable head razor with two or more blades to get great results right from the start. In Beverly Hills, Hollywood stylist Billy Lowe recommends heavier razors to all of his male clients. Lightweight plastic razors tend to buck, causing nicks and cuts. A razor with a weighted handle will glide smoothly and require less control.

You should always shave with the grain of your facial hair. Lowe warns that shaving against the hair leads to a host of problems, especially on the neck. He recommends making multiple passes – he personally uses three passes to achieve the best results. Multiple shades produce added benefits, cutting closer and exfoliating the skin.

If your skin is especially sensitive, you should strongly consider investing in a high-quality electric razor. Dr. Schultz says this is often the best solution to chronic razor burn and skin irritation. Shaving with the grain and spacing out your shaving schedule can also help if you want to stick with ordinary razors.

Post-Shave Skin Care

Your first step after your shave is complete is to pat your face dry. A clean, dry towel is also a must here. Rubbing should be avoided in order to prevent skin irritation.

If you normally use aftershave, try going without it for a while. Alcohol-based aftershaves are needlessly harsh on your skin; a simple moisturizer will deliver many healthier-looking results. According to Lowe, and post-shaving products you use need to be free of alcohol, retinol, glycol, and any harsh chemical toners. Even the best shave leaves your skin in a weakened, vulnerable state. That’s why Lowe strongly encourages the immediate use of moisture cream after you’re done the shaving. It shouldn’t be put off until later.

If you encounter skin problems related to shaving, you should address them promptly and thoroughly. The dreaded razor burn can be treated with an ordinary styptic pencil and a dab or two of antibiotic cream, according to Schultz. For long-term razor burn relief, Hilling recommends using a toning product that includes at least two percent salicylic acid and eight percent glycolic acid. (Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be applied immediately after your shave, though! Use your skin toner at a well-separated hour.)

If you can’t seem to avoid nicks and cuts no matter how carefully you shave, Lowe recommends trying out night-time shaving. Running out the door in the morning with blood-splotched toilet paper stuck to your face is never a good idea. Save right before you go to bed and take all the time you need to handle any shaving-related complications.

Hopefully, this information will give you the “leg up” you need to perfect your shaving routine and start achieving better results. Contrary to what some people think, shaving isn’t a natural skill. It needs to be practiced and studied like any other. Put in the necessary time, and you can certainly master the art of shaving!

Poor sleep, high blood pressure?

If you suffer from poor and interrupted sleep, you may be more at risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a new research study.
A new study has revealed that men who donít regularly reach the deeper stages of sleep, known as slow-wave sleep, have a much higher chance of developing high blood pressure over men who more easily reach deeper levels of restorative sleep.
These results remained consistent despite other factors, like weight and length of sleep time.
According to Dr. Susan Redline, a well-noted sleep specialist based at Harvard Medical School, a lack of reaching the deepest levels of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of high-blood pressure and other health issues.
Published in the August 29th edition of the Journal of Hypertension, these results seem to confirm other research studies that have linked sleep problems with obesity and the risk of heart disease, and chronic illness.
Dr. Redline studied close to 800 adult men, as part off of a Sleep Disorder and Older Men research project.  At the beginning of this study, none of the men showed signs of high blood pressure. They all had ideal blood pressure readings in the 120/80 range.  However, when they returned for a follow-up a few years later, 243 of the men studied were diagnosed as having high blood pressure.
For the study, the men were separated into four distinct groups. Men with low amounts of slow-wave sleep were placed in one group. While men with high amounts of slow-wave sleep were placed in another.
Other factors like age, race, and BMI were taken into account as well. Even after considering these parameters there was still evidence of a significant statistical link between lack of slow-wave sleep and high blood pressure.  Issues like sleep-associated breathing disorders and overall time slept were also factored in by the researchers.
Redline has also observed that slow-wave sleep seems to decrease with age. She has noted that children spend about 40 percent of their nightly sleep in the slow-wave state, while healthy adults average bout 25 percent of their sleep time in the slow-wave state.
Also, her study revealed that older men averaged about  11 percent of their sleep in the slow-wave stage. Men in the lower of the groups averaged less than 4 percent.  Further investigations have revealed that older men have lower levels of slow-wave sleep than women do.
Itís important  to understand that while this study does reveal a link between slow-wave sleep and high blood pressure, it doesnít necessarily prove that there is a causality.
What the study does indicate, is that getting reaching regular levels of restorative sleep is very important. According to Dr. Alberto Ramos, from the University of Miami Sleep Disorders Clinic.
Most experts do concur that not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact over time. This can include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Ramos does note that the both the level and quality of your nightly sleep is extremely important to a personís overall health. In fact, it may be just as important as the amount of sleep the average person achieves every evening.  And can help lower the risk of health problems and high-blood pressure.
The exact mechanism of how this works is not completely understood, however, both Redline and Ramos are  adamant that achieving deep levels of sleep is important.
Dr. Redline advises that during sleep a personís blood pressure falls. It also appears that most of this natural blood pressure drop occurs during the slow-wave cycle. She theorizes that this naturally occurring night-time drop in may aid in keeping blood pressure levels low during the day.
Dr. Ramos also agrees that this may be the explanation for the link between a good nightís sleep and overall cardiovascular health.
There are quite a few things that adults can do to increase the amount of deep sleep they get.  According to Dr. Redline itís important to avoid anything that interrupts sleep repeatedly and awakens you during the night.
Also assessment for disorders that interrupt your sleep, like sleep apnea, can also help you achieve a more restorative night’s sleep.
Both Ramos and Redline agree that itís important for adults to be mindful of sleep quality and not just how long you sleep.  Dr. Ramos noted that the link between the lack of deep sleep and hypertension remained consistent, even when weight was  researched as a factor. Those achieving the lowest level of deep  sleep were also heavier in weight than the other groups.  He advises that watching your weight may also have positive effects on your nightly sleep quality.