The SOEKS EcoVisor F4 is a 4-in-1 testing device that is designed to:
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 performs express analysis of nitrate content in fresh fruit and vegetables. Nitrate content analysis is based on conductivity of alternating high-frequency current in the measured product (ionometry).
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 defines radiation background level and identifies radioactive contaminated foods and construction supplies. The Ecotester can easily assess the level of radioactivity according to the power level of ion radiation (gamma radiation and beta particles flux).
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 records the electromagnetic field in facilities, living areas and from domestic appliances. When electromagnetic fields are detecting, electric and magnetic field intensities evaluate.
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 evaluates water quality. The analysis is based on measurement of high-frequency alternating current conductivity.
Measurement of nitrate content level is based on the patented technology of a biobased product ionometry (Patent of invention № 23 90 767 Ionometry Method for biobased products and the device for its performance) and has been developed by the SOEKS company.
The technology is based on a specialized procedure method that puts high-frequency electric current through pulp.
Every plant contains ions of potassium, magnesium, ferrum (iron), cuprum, chlorine, plenty of organic acids and other elements in certain amounts that are necessary for proper growth.
The amount of every single element (ionic or molecular) is determined by bio organics of certain plant (it has a basic level of ion concentration) and by contents of water and soil where the plant grows.
People often use fertilization for efficient growth of plants. For instance, saline fertilizers such as nitrates and phosphates. As they break down and the plant easily absorbs these fertilizers.
As it spreads around the plant, saline ions (nitrates, phosphates and etc.) accumulate in different plant parts including fruits. This leads to higher amount of electrolytes and to higher electrical conductivity of fruit as well.
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 has mastered the measurement of nitrate ions content in fruits and vegetables. A percentage of these in fruit and vegetables is identified by an independent analysis method (potentiometric identification of nitrate content according to Russian National Standard (GOST) “Fruit and vegetables recycling products. Nitrate content identification”).
The result of express analysis is shown by the device in the form of nitrate ion concentration and its comparison to maximum permissible concentration for certain product. The device measures the nitrate concentration per kilogram of product netto. 200-300 mg of nitrates eaten within 24 hours is considered to be safe for an adult. If 600-700 mg is eaten within 24 hours, nitrates are considered toxic.
For instance, when measuring a beetroot, the device shows 1000 mg of nitrates per kg. According to the standard measurement, it is safe to only eat 200-300 mg of this beetroot without damaging your health. When measuring a watermelon, the device shows 350 mg/kg. If a person eats 2 kg of watermelon, he or she will consume 700 mg (350 mg/kg x 2 kg) which is toxic.
One should also understand that the shown result is evaluative and cannot be compared to quantified chemical analysis at an advanced laboratory. That kind of analysis requires a lot of time and is not free. Nevertheless, the presence of such laboratory and qualified analytical chemist at home is impossible for the majority of people. The EcoVisor F4 is a like portable lab that allows you to avoid buying suspicious products. This will help protect yourself, your relatives and children from being exposed to these poisonous products.
The nitrate tester analysis takes only a few seconds. The only maintenance it requires is to change the battery or charge the accumulator just as you would your mobile phone.
Of course, you may ask yourself is there an increased electrical conductivity if a fruit or vegetable does not contain nitrate ions? This is possible. But will the consumer feel safer buying a product with increased amount of phosphates or any other ions instead of nitrates or when buying a product that is already going bad? One should not forget that basic electrical conductivity is determined for every single type of fresh fruit or vegetable. When a product goes bad, the content and concentration of organic acids change.
ATTENTION! We strongly do not recommend to measure nitrate content in liquids, chemically and heat-treated products, products that are not included in the device’s menu list. Received data will be misleading and uncertain.
One should also remember that the device is designed for measuring products at a room temperature. Change of the product temperature can increase measurement uncertainty. This regards to products that have just been taken out of fridge or have been exposed to sun rays. In SOEKS EcoVisor F4 there is a function of thermal compensation, which is achieved by means of embedded temperature gauge in probe of the device. Thanks to software patches, when measuring you can get the same measurement result even when temperatures of measured products are different.
There are fruit and vegetables in the list of Nitrate tester, which contain air cavities (for instance, sweet pepper). When measuring such products, it is important not to insert the probe into the air cavity. When the probe is inserted into the air cavity, the measurement result will be misleading.
Some chemical elements (so called radioactive isotopes) contain unstable nucleus that decay into small elementary particles or quanta. Detachment of elementary particles or quanta is called radiation.
Radiation is ionizing, because it leads to atomic ionization of substance that is struck by radiation. Ionization is called the process of striking one or a few electrons out of atom. After that, nucleus and left electrons create a system that is positively charged and is called an ion.
Ionized atoms strongly differ from average nucleus. Ions destroy other molecules by breaking a bond between nucleuses. That is the reason why ionized radiation influence on human’s health is harmful.
Radiation influence on the human body is called irradiation. Irradiation transpierces any body tissues and ionizes their particles and molecules. This leads to creation of ionized nucleuses (ions or so-called free radicals) that destroy molecules and lead to inclusive death of tissue cells.
As it was said before, nuclear disintegration into elementary particles is accompanied by radiation of these particles. This radiation is divided into following types:
Alpha decay (alpha particles) are inert helium nucleus, the most massive particles.
Beta decay (beta particles) are electrons that move with an enormous speed. They are able to penetrate our body for a few centimeters.
Gamma decay (gamma particles) consist of gamma ray quantum, which although are considered to be particles, represent at the same time electromagnetic radiation such as sunlight, radio waves and x-rays. Their differences consists only of a big energy that every gamma quantum carries. Gamma decay always spreads with the light velocity when other particles are not that speedy. In comparison with alpha and beta particles, you need more materials such as concrete or lead in order to protect yourself from gamma decay.
X-rays are electromagnetic radiation (just like gamma decay) but it has less energy. In everyday life, it is used only at medical institutions.
Neutron radiation is an uncharged particle streams (neutrons). It occurs only in nuclear reactors.
Modern domestic dosimeters measure radiation in micro Sieverts per hour (mSv/h) and micro roentgen per hour (mcR/h). The radiation dose absorbed by human’s body is measured in micro Sieverts and the radiation dose in the air at measurement spot is measured in micro roentgen.
To estimate the radiation influence on the human body, the concept of equivalent dose is used. Equivalent dose is an amount of energy absorbed by mass unit of biological tissue considering biological danger of this radiation type. The unit of measurement for equivalent dose is the Sievert (Sv).
To estimate the influence of gamma decay which are the most absorbed radiation type and give most impute to human exposure, the concept of air radiation dose is used. It has its own unit of measurement – roentgen (R).
There is no natural radiation background standard because radiation background depends on the region, district and amount of radioactive particles that are found in objects around. For instance, radiation background at highlands is always higher than at low land.
SOEKS EcoVisor F4 measures radiation in micro Sieverts per hour (mSv/h) and micro roentgen (mcR/h), where 0.01 mSv/h corresponds to 1 mcR/h according to biological radiation effect.
Natural radiation background usually ranges from 0.08 mSv/h till 0.18 mSv/h. Safe radiation background level for a human is considered to be up to 0.4 mSv/h (the 0.4 mSv/h exposure per hour).
When Level of Radiation is exceeded (more than 0.4 mSv/h), the recommended time of staying in an irradiation area is regressive. The Radiation Level amounts to 0.4 mSv/h, you can stay in the irradiation area for one hour. If the Radiation Level amounts to 0.8 mSv/h, you can stay in irradiation area for half an hour. Duration of stay in area with 1.6 mSv/h radiation amounts shouldn’t exceed 15 minutes and so on.
Electromagnetic Field Measurement – EMF meter EcoVisor F4
Electromagnetic field (EM field) is a special form of matter which measures the interaction of charged particles. It represents interrelated alternating electric and magnetic fields. EM field spreads from one space point to another in form of electromagnetic progressive waves running from source.
EM field is created of particle charges. For example, in physics, students do experiments with ebonite electrification to demonstrate the electric field.
Magnetic field is created when electrical charges move through a conductor.
In order to characterize electric field strength, we use “electric field intensity” definition (mark sign – E, measurement unit – V/m (Volt per meter)). Magnetic strength is characterized by N magnetic field strength, measurement unit – A/m (Ampere per meter). When measuring very low and extremely low frequency, “magnetic density” definition is often used (mark sign – V, measurement unit – Tl (Tesla)).
Electromagnetic Field Influence on Human’s Health
Experimental Data of Russian and foreign research show that electromagnetic fields are highly bioactive and can negatively affect our health.
Many researches of EM field’s biological effect allow us to detect the most susceptible body systems: nervous, immune, endocrine and reproductive systems. These body systems are critical in our daily function.
EM fields influence water rich body organs mostly which are the eyes, brain, stomach and kidneys.
The following are symptoms of high EM field exposure can cause fatigue, irritability, sleep disorders, memory impairment and lack of attention.
The biological effect of EM fields tends to accumulate and can consequentially cause the degenerative process of the central nervous system, blood cancer (leukemia), encephaloma and endocrine system.
EM fields are especially dangerous for children, pregnant women, people with disorders of central nervous, the endocrine or cardiovascular system, allergic individuals and people with a compromised immune system.
Research has shown that the nervous system of the human body is the most sensitive to EM fields. When affected, it can cause serious malfunctions at the neuronal level, neural synapse and isolated neural structures. People who are in contact with electromagnetic fields, eventually face memory and higher nervous activity disorders.
Nowadays it is experimentally proven that electromagnetic fields negatively affect immunologic reactivity of body. Research data points to the fact that immunogenesis processes are violated and suppressed when being affected by electromagnetic fields.
When being affected by electromagnetic fields, changes in the pituitary adrenal system may occur. When being affected by electromagnetic fields, pituitary adrenal system is stimulated and therefore the amount of adrenalin in the blood rises and can trigger blood clotting. It is acknowledged that hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal cortex system reacts on environmental interaction immediately and consistently.
Reproductive system disorders are usually connected with changes in its regulation within the nervous and neuroendocrine systems. This has been shown in research concerning the pituitary gonadotropic activity condition as it is affected by electromagnetic fields. Continuous EM field irradiation leads to lower pituitary activity.
Many scientists refer EM fields to teratogens that influence women’s health during pregnancy and fetus development. It is thought that electromagnetic fields can, for example, lead to physical defects of fetus. The fetus is very vulnerable at infancy during period of implantation and early organogenesis.
It is proven that fetus sensitivity to EM field is notably higher in mothers and may cause damage during it’s development. Results of epidemiological studies allow us to estimate that pregnant women who are in contact with electromagnetic field might suffer from premature birth. It might negatively affect fetus development and even cause congenital malfunctions of fetus.
Electromagnetic Field in Facilities
Electric field strength of 50 Hz commercial frequency in facilities (at 0.2 m distance from windows and walls, 0.5-1.8 m high from floor) should not exceed 500 V/m (kilovolt per meter).
Magnetic field strength of 50 Hz commercial frequency in facilities (at 0.2 m distance from windows and walls, 0.5-1.5 m high from floor) should not exceed 10 mcTl (microtesla).
Electric and magnetic fields of 50 Hz commercial frequency can be evaluated when domestic appliances are turned off and local lighting is turned on. The electric field is evaluated when ambient lighting is off and magnetic field is evaluated when ambient lighting is on.
Electromagnetic Field in Living Area
The electrical field of 50 Hz commercial frequency from overhead transmission lines and other objects on the territory of residential constructions should not exceed 1 kV/m (kilovolt per meter) 1.8 m high from ground.
The magnetic field strength of 50 Hz commercial frequency from overhead transmission lines and other objects on the territory of residential constructions should not exceed 25 mcTl (microtesla) 1.8 m high from ground.
Electromagnetic Field from Domestic Appliances
In home, domestic appliances are sources of electromagnetic exposure. A person should evaluate their effect at a distance 10 ± 0.1 cm while standing in front, behind and next to the object (except TV).
Electromagnetic field from TV with a diagonal less than 51 cm (20”) is measured at a distance of 50 ± 1 cm in front, behind and next to the TV. When screen diagonal is more than 51 cm, the EM field is measured the same way at a distance of 100 ± 1 cm. The device must be preliminarily turned on and work at least 20 minutes before measuring.
Electromagnetic Field from PC
The electrical field strength from PC ranging from 5 Hz to 2000 Hz should not exceed 25 V/m (volt per meter). The magnetic flux density from a PC ranging from 5 Hz to 2 KHz should not exceed 0.25 mcTl (microtesla).
Electromagnetic field is measured at 50 cm distance from the screen.
Water Measurement (Quality Evaluation) – TDS Meter EcoVisor F4
Water quality measurement is intended for quality evaluation of drinking water, as well as of water from treatment systems such as hydroponics, fish tanks, swimming pools, domestic appliances and from water wells.
The device measures the amount of solid particles that have been dissolved in water (TDS- total dissolved solids) per 1 million water particles – ppm (parts per million).
Among water particles, there is an enormous amount of dissolved water impurities in it. The main impurities are both inorganic salts (such as chlorides, sulfate bicarbonate of calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium) and a small amount of organic substances.
The amount of dissolved in water solid particles depends on natural environment and varies from region to region. In the city, water content is influenced by it’s industrial drainage, rainfall drainage, chlorination etc.
Solids dissolved in water determine our water quality and can affect our bodily functions.
Potassium and magnesium salts affect water hardness. High levels of these elements can worsen the water’s taste, smell, muddiness etc. Hard water negatively affects digestive system, hair and skin when we shower. It can also cause kidney diseases. With the help of EcoVisor F4 now, it is possible to determine whether the water is suitable for drinking, domestic needs or if it requires purification.
EcoVisor F4 can be used for evaluation of water filter efficiency. In addition, EcoVisor F4 is used for reverse osmosis filter. Such filters have a few filtration levels. One of them is represented by reverse-osmosis membrane which stops water impurities that cannot be stopped by other filters. This membrane’s service life period depends on amount of impurities in stream water. If the membrane clogs, it can lead to its mechanical damage and the whole filtration system can break down.
EcoVisor F4 can measure the amount of solid particles entering and exiting the filtration system and record its indication. If the amount of salts when exiting has increased, it is time to wash and change the membrane.
In addition, EcoVisor F4 is used in aquaristics. The device can pick water with necessary amount of solids.
Moreover, EcoVisor F4 can be used when watering plants and flowers. Harsh water can negatively affect plants because it increases concentration of lime in the ground. As the result, the ground becomes alkaline and blocks the nutrition for the plants.
Water with high amount of solids is harmful for domestic appliances (washing machines, coffee machines, and irons with steam generator, kettles, dishwashers and boilers). In all of these devices, there is a heating spiral. The scale on the heating spiral can overheat and breakdown. The EcoVisor F4 can help to evaluate quality of water in domestic appliances and take precautions when using it in the future.
We can now amplify the restorative benefits of sleep. Could this help us cope with later nights and early mornings?
We often wear our sleeplessness as a badge of pride – a measure of our impossibly hectic schedules. Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher, Martha Stewart and Donald Trump have all famously claimed to get by on just four or five hours’ sleep a night – much less than the seven-to-nine hours recommended to most adults. Many of us are following suit: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of US adults fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis.
The consequences – including impaired memory and decision making, and increased risk of infection and obesity – are well known, but easy to ignore. When our immediate demands exceed the hours in the day, sleep is still our top sacrifice.
But what if we were able to simply optimise the sleep experience so that we enjoyed most of the benefits of deep sleep, in less time?
This possibility may be closer than it sounds, thanks to new ‘sleep optimisation’ techniques. Various experiments across the world have shown that it is possible to boost the efficiency of the brain’s night-time activity – speeding up the descent into deep sleep and enhancing our rest once we get there.
It sounds almost too good to be true. Is it?
A slower beat
On a regular night, the brain cycles through many different stages of sleep, each with a characteristic pattern of ‘brain waves’, in which neurons in different regions of the brain fire together, in synchrony, at a particular rhythm. (It’s a bit like a crowd chanting or beating a drum in unison).
It is notoriously hard to convince sleep-deprived people to make the necessary lifestyle changes
During the rapid eye movement (REM) phases that rhythm is fairly fast – during which time we are most likely to dream. But at certain points our eyes cease to move, our dreams fade and the rhythm of the brain waves drops to less than one ‘beat’ a second – at which point we enter our deepest, most unresponsive state of unconsciousness called ‘slow-wave sleep’.
It is this stage that has been of particular interest to scientists investigating the possibility of sleep optimisation.
Research since the 1980s has shown that slow-wave sleep is essential for the brain’s maintenance. It allows the necessary brain regions to pass our memories from short-term to long-term storage – so that we don’t forget what we have learnt. “The slow waves facilitate the transmission of information,” says Jan Born, director of the Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen, Germany.
The slow waves may also trigger the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid through the brain, flushing out potentially harmful debris that could cause neural damage. They also lead to dips in the stress hormone cortisol and help to rejuvenate the immune system so that it is readier to fight incoming infections.
Such results led scientists including Born to wonder whether we might therefore be able to enhance the benefits of sleep and improve our daytime functioning by boosting the production of those slow waves.
One of the most promising techniques to do so works a bit like a metronome counting the brain into the correct rhythms. Experimental participants wear a headset that records their brain activity and notes when they have started to make those slow waves. The device then plays short pulses of gentle sound, beginning in sync with the brain’s natural slow waves, at regular intervals over the night. The sounds are quiet enough to avoid waking the participant, but loud enough to be registered, unconsciously, by the brain.
Born has led much of the experimental work, finding that this gentle auditory stimulation is just enough to reinforce the right brain rhythms, deepening the slow-wave sleep compared with people receiving sham stimulation. Participants wearing the headset performed better on memory tests, showing increased recall for material they had learnt the day before. It also altered their hormonal balance – reducing their cortisol levels – and led to an improved immune response.
In the trials to date, participants haven’t yet reported unwanted responses to the technique. “We can’t really be sure, but so far there are no obvious side effects,” says Born.
Better sleep, in a store near you
Most of the studies attempting to boost slow-wave sleep have been conducted on small groups of young, healthy participants, so to be certain of the benefits of boosting slow-wave sleep, we would need to see larger trials on more diverse groups. But based on the existing evidence, the technology has already made its way into a handful of consumer devices, mostly in the form of headbands to be worn overnight.
The French start-up Dreem, for instance, has produced a headband (available for around €400 or £330) that also uses auditory stimulation to boost slow-wave sleep using a similar set-up to the scientific experiments – effects have been confirmed in a peer-reviewed trial. The Dreem device also connects to an app that analyses your sleep patternsand offers practical advice and exercises to help you get a better night’s rest. These include things such as meditation and breathing exercises that might ensure you get to sleep quicker and with fewer awakenings during the night. The aim is to improve overall sleep quality across the night for anyone who feels that they could do with a deeper rest.
Philips’s SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband, in contrast, is very explicitly aimed at making up for some of the ill-effects of sleep deprivation – for people “who, for whatever reason, are simply not giving themselves an adequate sleep opportunity”, says David White, Philips’ chief scientific officer.
The device was first launched in 2018, and like Dreem’s product, it is a headband that senses the brain’s electrical activity and periodically plays short bursts of sound to stimulate the slow oscillations that are characteristic of deep sleep. It relies on smart software that carefully adapts the volume of its sound over time to ensure that it delivers the optimum level of stimulation for the specific user. (The device is currently only available in the US for $399.)
White agrees that the device cannot fully replace a full night’s sleep, but he says that it is notoriously hard to convince sleep-deprived people to make the necessary lifestyle changes. By amplifying the benefits of the sleep they do manage to get, this device should at least help them to function better in daily life. Along these lines, Philips’s own experiments have reportedly confirmed that the SmartSleep boosts slow-wave sleep in sleep-deprived people, and that it mitigates some of the immediate effects like poorer memory consolidation.
Future research may suggest many more innovative ways to optimise our sleep. Aurore Perrault at Concordia University in Montréal has recently tested a gently rocking bed that swayed back and forth every four seconds.
Participants were quicker to enter slow-wave sleep, and spent more time in that crucial sleep cycle, as the brain waves synchronised with the external movement
She says that the technique was inspired by a colleague’s new-born baby being rocked to sleep, leading the team to wonder whether adults may also benefit from gentle movement. Sure enough, they found that the participants were quicker to enter slow-wave sleep, and spent more time in that crucial sleep cycle, as the brain waves synchronised with the external movement. As you might hope, they also reported feeling more relaxed at the end of the night, and this was again accompanied by the expected knock-on benefits for their memory and learning. “That was the cherry on the top,” says Perrault.
If such a bed were brought to market it could serve a similar purpose to the sound-stimulating headbands. Perrault is particularly interested whether it might help older people. The amount of time we spend in short-wave sleep seems to decline as we age, potentially contributing to some age-related memory problems – and she hopes that gently swaying beds may be one way to counteract that.
Still, get some sleep
Although the field is still in its infancy, these studies show that there is a lot of promise in the general concept of sleep optimisation to increase the power of our slumbers (however much or little we get).
Perrault and Born are both optimistic about the potential of the commercial products using pulses of sound to stimulate those regenerative slow waves. Perrault emphasises that we still need larger studies to ensure their effectiveness outside the carefully controlled conditions of the lab – but she welcomes that this research could now benefit a wider population.
“It’s great that they’re trying, more and more, to use external stimulation because we know that it impacts sleep,” says Perrault.
In the future, it will be interesting to see whether sleep optimisation could also bring benefits in the long term. We know that chronic sleep loss can increase the risk of conditions like diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease – but it’s by no means clear that these new techniques will help reduce those risks.
For now the only guaranteed way of reaping all the benefits of sleep – both long and short-term – is to make sure you get enough of it. Whether or not you decide to give these devices a try, you should attempt to schedule more early nights, and avoid too much alcohol, caffeine and screen time before bed – factors that are all known to damage the quality of our sleep.
Our brains cannot function without a recharge – and anyone hoping to live a happy, healthy, productive life needs to wake up to that fact.
Sleep is a normal and indeed essential part of our lives. But if you think about it, it is such an odd thing to do. At the end of each day we become unconscious and paralysed. Sleep made our ancestors vulnerable to attack from wild animals. So the potential risks of this process, which is universal among mammals and many other groups, must offer some sort of evolutionary advantage. Research in this area was slow to take off. But recently there has been a series of intriguing results that are giving researchers a new insight into why we sleep and what happens when we do it.
Why do I sleep?
Scientists simply don’t know for sure. In broad terms researchers believe it is to enable our bodies and especially our brains to recover. Recently researchers have been able to find out some of the detailed processes involved. During the day brain cells build connections with other parts of the brain as a result of new experiences. During sleep it seems that important connections are strengthened and unimportant ones are pruned. Experiments with sleep-deprived rats have shown that this process of strengthening and pruning happens mostly while they sleep. And sleep is also an opportunity for the brain to be cleared of waste. A group led by Prof Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York discovered a network of microscopic fluid-filled channels in rats that clears waste chemicals from the brain. Prof Nedergaard told us when her research was first published in 2013 that this process occurs mostly when the brain is shut off. “You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.”
What happens when I don’t get enough sleep?
It seems that a lack of sleep alters the way in which the genes in the body’s cells behave. Researchers at Surrey University in Guildford have found that genes involved in inflammation seem to increase their activity. Dr Malcolm von Schantz, who is involved with the Surrey research, believes that the genes are responding to lack of sleep as if the body is under stress. He speculates that in the distant past in times of stress our ancestors’ bodies would prepare themselves for injury by activating these inflammation genes which would cushion the effects of attacks by wild animals or human enemies. “It puts the body on alert for a wound but no wound happens,” he told Sleep Advice. “This could easily help explain the links between sleep deprivation and negative health outcomes such as heart disease and stroke.” In modern times though preparing for an injury that never happens has no beneficial effect – in fact the consequent activation of the immune system might increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Why is it hard to think when I am tired?
The expression “half asleep” might be an accurate description of what is going on in the brain when you are feeling slow-witted. Research suggests that parts of the human brain may well be asleep when it is sleep-deprived. Studies on whales and dolphins show that when asleep they continue to use half of their brain to swim and come up to the surface for air. A study on human patients showed that something similar goes on in our brains. As they became more sleep-deprived, parts of their brain became inactive while they were still awake. What’s more the local sleep areas move around the brain. So although when we go to bed we think one moment we are awake and then there is an abrupt change to sleep – it may well be more of a continuous process.
What is the role of dreaming?
That’s a question that psychiatrists, notably Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, have tried to answer but with limited success. More recently a team at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto in Japan has begun trying to answer some of these questions by building the beginnings of a dream-reading machine. They asked volunteers to doze off in an MRI scanner and recorded their brain patterns. The volunteers were then woken up and asked to tell researchers what they were dreaming about. The team then listed 20 separate categories of dream content from these accounts such as dwelling, street, male, female, building or computer screen. The researchers then compared the accounts with the pattern of activity in the area of the brain responsible for processing visual information – and to their amazement they found that there was a correlation. So much so that they could predict which of the 20 different categories they had listed the patient had dreamt of with 80% accuracy. The device is a very rough tool but it may well be a first step to something that can see in more detail what happens in our dreams and so help researchers learn more about why we dream.
How is modern life affecting our sleep patterns?
Several studies show that the light bulb has led people shifting their day and getting less sleep. On average we go to bed and wake up two hours later than a generation ago. The US Centres for Disease Control reported in 2008 that around a third of working adults in the US get less than six hours sleep a night, which is 10 times more than it was 50 years ago. In a later study it was also reported that nearly half of all the country’s shift workers were getting less than six hours sleep. And a study led by Prof Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School found that those who read electronic books before they went to bed took longer to get to sleep, had reduced levels of melatonin (the hormone that regulates the body’s internal body clock) and were less alert in the morning. At the time of publication he said: “In the past 50 years, there has been a decline in average sleep duration and quality. “Since more people are choosing electronic devices for reading, communication and entertainment, particularly children and adolescents who already experience significant sleep loss, epidemiological research evaluating the long-term consequences of these devices on health and safety is urgently needed.”
What’s stopping you sleeping?
– One in eight of us keep our mobile phones switched on in our bedroom at night, increasing the risk our sleep will be disturbed.
– Foods such as bacon, cheese, nuts and red wine, can also keep us awake at night.
Many studies report that there is evidence that sleep loss is associated with obesity, diabetes, depression and lower life expectancy – while others, such as Prof James Horne, a sleep researcher at Loughborough University believes that such talk amounts to “scaremongering”. “Despite being ‘statistically significant’, the actual changes are probably too small to be of real clinical interest,” he told Sleep Advice. “Most healthy adults sleep fewer than that notional ‘eight hours’ and the same went for our grandparents. “Our average sleep has fallen by less than 10 minutes over the last 50 years. Any obesity and its health consequences attributable to short sleep are only seen in those few people sleeping around five hours, where weight gain is small – around 1.5kg per year – which is more easily rectified by a better diet and 15 minutes of daily brisk walking, rather than by an hour or so of extra daily sleep.” A team from the universities of Surrey and Sao Paulo in Brazil have spent the past 10 years tracking the health of the inhabitants of Bapendi, a small town in Brazil where modern day lifestyles haven’t yet taken hold. Many of the inhabitants of this town get up and go to bed early. The investigators hope to find out soon whether the old adage “early to bed and early to rise” really does make us, if not “wealthy and wise”, at least “healthy and wise”.
We might feel drowsy as we start to fall asleep, but our brain is still active, and noises or discomfort can disturb us. As we drift into light sleep, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus starts to block the flow of information from our senses to the rest of the brain. But it will still let through noises, which need to be able to wake us up. After about half an hour of light sleep, most of us enter a type of deep sleep called slow-wave sleep. Our brains become less responsive and it becomes much harder to be woken up. But some things will always get through – such as our names being called out loudly. Missing out on parts of our usual sleep cycle reduces the quality and quantity of sleep.
We all have a built-in body clock which tells us when we are tired. It helps synchronise thousands of cells in our body to a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The main synchroniser for our body clock is light. Our eyes react to light and dark, even when our eyelids are closed. Daylight prompts our brains to reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes us feel more alert. If we get less sleep during the night, because of going to bed late or waking up early, we’re unlikely to get as much deep sleep as we need.
The wrong temperature
Our core body temperature should drop by half a degree when we are asleep. So as sleep approaches, our body clock makes blood vessels in our hands, face and feet open up, in order to lose heat. But if we get too cold, we get restless and find it hard to sleep. Or if our bedrooms or duvets are too warm, our bodies can’t lose heat, which can also cause restlessness.
Stimulating food and drink
We can have trouble sleeping after we consume food and drink that act as stimulants.
Drinks high in caffeine make it harder to fall asleep and can interfere with our deep sleep. Caffeine can stay in our system for many hours, so our sleep quality can be affected by the caffeinated drinks we consume earlier in the day.
In the course of a night we usually have six to seven cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, during which our brains process the information we’ve absorbed during the day. This leaves us feeling refreshed. But a night of drinking means we’ll typically have only one to two cycles and wake up feeling tired.
Foods containing a chemical called tyramine, such as bacon, cheese, nuts and red wine, can keep us awake at night. This is because tyramine triggers the release of noradrenaline, a brain stimulant.
A busy mind
Stress is the enemy of sleep. In bed, our mind is left free to wander and anxiety concerning sleep will only make it worse. It’s difficult to keep track of time when you’re lying down in the dark waiting for sleep. People often nod off and wake up again but it feel as if they’re getting no sleep at all. This delivers fragmented sleep with much less time spent in the important deep sleep stages.
Sleep experts recommend that people with this problem get up and do an activity which distracts the mind from worry – such as a puzzle – before trying to sleep again.
Do you like to have a weekend lie-in or a nightcap before going to bed? These habits could actually be harming your sleep.
Relax your mind
Simple breathing exercises can help. Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for three seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Practise this for ten minutes at night (five minutes is better than nothing).
Some people find that lavender oil, valerian or other herbs help them to sleep.
If you still have problems, you could try massage, aromatherapy, or even acupuncture.
If you still find yourself tossing and turning, abandon the bedroom and find something enjoyable and absorbing to do. Jigsaws are perfect. Don’t go back to bed until you begin to feel sleepy.
Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. Just be careful not to do it close to bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
This being the case, exercising in the morning is an excellent way to wake up the body. Going for a run or doing some aerobics releases stimulants into the body, which perks you up.
If you are injured or disabled, you can still benefit from exercise. Check out disability exercise tips.
Create a calm bedroom environment
Your bedroom should be for sleep only. Avoid turning it into an entertainment centre with televisions, computers and stereos.
Two thirds of children have a computer, games machine or TV in their bedroom and could be losing out on sleep as a result.
It’s fine to have a nightcap, but too much alcohol can make you restless. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate (never welcomed during the night).
Drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow into the lungs. This reduces oxygen in your blood which disturbs your sleep and contributes to your hangover.
Caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in your system for many hours. So avoid sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, cola drinks and non-herbal teas.
Watch what you eat
Eating a large heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep.
Spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night.
Foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
If you get the munchies close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread or grain, cereal will do the trick.
Set a regular bedtime and wake up time
Create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps anchor your body clock to these times. Resisting the urge for a lie-in can pay dividends in alertness.
If you feel you haven’t slept well, resist the urge to sleep in longer than normal; getting up on schedule keeps your body in its normal wake-up routine.
Remember, even after only four hours, the brain has gained many of the important benefits of sleep.
It’s only natural
Most of us have a natural dip in alertness between 2 – 4pm.
A 15 minute nap when you’re tired can be a very effective way of staying alert throughout the day. Avoid napping for longer than 20 minutes, after which you will enter deep sleep and feel even worse when you wake up.
See a doctor if your problem continues
If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, snore, or stop breathing during sleep you might have a sleep disorder. It is advisable to seek more advice from your doctor. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.
Sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. It causes your airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, or have a family history or small airways. Children with enlarged tonsils may also have it.
Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results.
A person may not be aware that his/her sleep is interrupted throughout the night due to snoring or obstructions. This is because he/she may not be fully conscious during these occurrences. However if a person feels drowsiness during the day, he/she should consult a doctor about getting a sleep study. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents, and other medical problems. If you have it, it is important to get treatment. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces and surgery may help treat sleep apnea in many people if their diagnosis is mild. But if the diagnosis is moderate to severe, CPAP is the gold standard of treatment for optimal results.
You talked, we listened, everyone gets what they need. The DeVilbiss IntelliPAP® Platform has been designed with patients and providers in mind, incorporating many of the recommendations solicited through research to optimize patient comfort and adherence. The IntelliPAP combination of comfort, education and adherence tracking with SmartCode® and SmartLink® as well as the patented comfort feature called SmartFlex® help to ensure patient compliance – all in a highly efficient platform that makes great business sense for providers.
What Is the Biologic Fate of Nitrates and Nitrites in the Body?
Exposure to nitrates and nitrites may come from both internal nitrate production and external sources.
Intake of some amount of nitrates is a normal part of the nitrogen cycle in humans.
The mean intake of nitrate per person in the United States is about 40–100 milligrams per day (mg/day) (in Europe it is about 50–140 mg/day).
Nitrate can be synthesized endogenously from nitric oxide (especially in the case of inflammation), which reacts to form nitrite.
Nitrite and nitric oxide can be produced and utilized from exogenous and endogenous sources.
Absorption Nitrates and Nitrites
In the proximal small intestine, nitrate is rapidly and almost completely absorbed (bioavailability at least 92%).
Inorganic nitrate/nitrite can be absorbed via inhalation.
Inorganic nitrate/nitrite does not undergo first pass metabolism.
Distribution Nitrates and Nitrites
Inorganic nitrates/nitrites are distributed widely through the circulation with approximately 25% of absorbed nitrate concentrating in the salivary glands.
Salivary, plasma, and urinary levels of nitrate and then nitrite rise abruptly after ingestion.
An increase in inorganic nitrite levels peaks around 3 hours post ingestion and can be detected about an hour after ingestion.
Metabolism of Inorganic Nitrates and Nitrites
The two main metabolic pathways for inorganic nitrates / nitrites are
The nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway (Figure 1) and
Enterosalivary circulation pathway (nitrate reductase activity of bacteria on the tongue generates nitrite and nitrite which is metabolized to NO in the stomach and circulation).
Approximately 5%–10% of the total nitrate intake is converted to nitrite by bacteria in the saliva, stomach, and small intestine.
In vivo conversion of nitrates to nitrites significantly enhances nitrates’ toxic potency.
This reaction is pH dependent, with no nitrate reduction occurring below pH 4 or above pH 9.
The high pH of the infant gastrointestinal system makes them more susceptible to nitrite toxicity from elevated nitrate/nitrite ingestion.
The metabolic pathway of plasma and tissue nitrates depends on local conditions such as tissue oxygenation, and inflammatory state. In the skin, local conditions also include ultraviolet light exposure.
Nitrate can be reduced to nitrite and nitric oxide when needed physiologically or as part of pathological processes (see Figure 1).
Mammalian metalloproteins and enzymes that have nitrate reductase activity include aldehyde oxidase, heme proteins, mitochondria and xanthine reductase.
The reaction of nitrite with endogenous molecules to form N-nitroso compounds may have toxic or carcinogenic effects.
Excretion Nitrates and Nitrites
Approximately 60% to 70% of an ingested nitrate dose is excreted in urine within the first 24 hours.
About 25% is excreted in saliva through an active blood nitrate transport system and potentially is reabsorbed.
Half-lives of parent nitrate compounds are usually less than 1 hour; half-lives of metabolites range from 1 hour to 8 hours.
In the Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, urinary levels of nitrate were measured in a subsample of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) consisting of participants aged 6 years and older during 2007-2008. The geometric mean for urinary nitrate (in mg/g of creatinine) for the US population aged 6 years and older during 2007-2008 was 47.7, with a 95% confidence interval of 45.9-49.7. Note that these measurements are used in population based public health research and not intended for clinical decision making on individual patients.
Key Points the Biologic Fate of Nitrates and Nitrites in the Body
Exposure to nitrate and nitrites may come from both internal nitrate production and external sources.
Intake of some amount of nitrates is a normal part of the nitrogen cycle in humans.
Nitrate can be reduced to nitrite and nitric oxide when needed physiologically or as part of pathological processes depending on local conditions such as inflammation and tissue oxygenation.
In vivo conversion of nitrates to nitrites significantly enhances nitrates’ toxic potency.
Approximately 5%–10% of the total nitrate intake is converted to nitrite by bacteria in the saliva, stomach, and small intestine.
60-70% of an ingested nitrate dose is excreted in urine within 24 hours.