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A New Blood Test May Detect Sleep Deprivation

Researchers in the U.K. may have discovered a way to use a blood test to determine if you’re sleep deprived. They’ve been working on it with volunteers who stayed awake for one to 40 hours straight, and then provided blood samples to the scientists, MedicalNewsToday reports. They discovered 68 genes are affected by lack of sleep, and the blood tests could tell them with 92 percent accuracy who was sleep-deprived. They said they hope to eventually develop a test that would help assess chronic sleep deprivation.

While we wait for the blood test to become a viable commercial product, there is a test you can do quite easily from home, and all it requires is a spoon, a metal tray and a clock. Just lie down in your darkened bedroom to take a nap during early afternoon, hold a spoon over a metal tray placed on the floor beside your bed, and note the time. When you fall asleep and the spoon crashes down on the tray and wakes you up, note how much time has passed.

If you fell asleep within five minutes, it means you’re severely sleep deprived; if it took you 10 minutes to fall asleep, you could use more sleep; but, if you managed to stay awake for 15 minutes or more before falling sleep, you’re probably well rested.

Since lack of sleep influences hormone levels, including increasing the "hunger hormone" ghrelin and decreasing leptin, which is involved in satiety, if you always feel hungry and you get the munchies, this is a waking-time clue that you may be sleep deprived.

Weight gain, memory problems, difficulty making decisions and slow reaction time are also signs of sleep deprivation. If you’re feeling overly emotional and don’t know why, and you seem to catch every little bug that comes along, these, too, may be signs that you need more sleep.

If you’re feeling sleep during the day because you have trouble falling asleep at night, try turning off all your electronics at least one hour before you go to bed. Completely unplug your WiFi, if possible. Eat your last meal at least three hours before hitting the sack, and then when you do go to bed, sleep in a totally dark room.

I would add, though, that perhaps the most important natural "trick" of all for improving your sleep is to make sure you're getting proper exposure to bright light during the day and no exposure to blue light at night. In the morning, bright, blue light-rich sunlight signals to your body that it's time to wake up. At night, as the sun sets, darkness should signal to your body that it's time to sleep.

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