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Is Sleep Deprivation Making You Suicidal?

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Recently, right before the Christmas holidays, a 27-year-old woman with a promising future as an investment banking associate at Citi Global Markets and a committed local philanthropist jumped to her death from an Upper West Side apartment building in New York City, blocks from where she lived.

Although police said that the victim, Jessica Fashano, was undergoing treatment for depression, friends and family members were stunned, because, as both The Huffington Post and and The New York Times reported, she was always in high spirits, had a big heart and was committed to doing charity work.

Years ago, around this time -- near the Christmas holidays -- a close friend of mine, who, like Fashano, was seeking treatment for depression, also committed suicide.

I'm now particularly touched and saddened whenever I hear about someone's self-inflicted death, even if holiday suicides are a myth

Clearly, a number of things contribute to person being depressed or suicidal.

Often, I speak about the connection between sugar consumption and mood swings. In fact, I delved into it in detail in my book, "Sugar Shock." And, of course, you may have heard about the connection between taking antidepressant medications and becoming suicidal. (Talk about an oxymoron.) But today I'd like to bring up another connection about which you may not be aware.

Did you know that sleep deprivation can lead to depression and suicidal tendencies, too?

So, this week, to further explore this important topic, I invited
Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, on my Gab with the Gurus Radio Show.

Dr. Oexman (pronounced like "X-Men") pointed out that chronic sleep decreases serotonin. And if you're low on serotonin, you're not thinking as well or reacting as well as you should.

"[By being sleep deprived, you're] setting up the same situation as people with clinical depression," explains Dr. Oexman, who oversees the Sleep to Live Institute's research studies, particularly the studies on the impact of the sleep environment on quality of sleep. The organization, unlike traditional sleep labs, takes a holistic approach to sleep research.

As you'll learn on the Gab with the Gurus Radio Show with Dr. Oexman, the reason we should be concerned, he adds, is because two out of three Americans are living in a state of chronic sleep deprivation. Both depression and chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Remembering details
  • Cognitive thinking challenges
  • Fatigue and decrease in energy
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • An imbalance in leptin and ghrelin, which can lead to obesity
  • A difficulty regulating glucose levels
  • Over-reacting in situations

To make sure that we sleep like a baby, Dr. Oexman offers several suggestions. People should:

  1. Make sleep a top priority.
  2. Curtail the caffeine and not have it within about 12 hours of bedtime.
  3. Spend 30 minutes to an hour getting ready for bed, doing things like taking a hot bath or going into a dimly lit environment.
  4. Keep a regular bedtime schedule. (If you don't, it's like you're having chronic jetlag, he says.)
  5. Meditation. Do it on a regular basis. It's calming.
  6. Get an eye mask or ear plugs, if need be.
  7. Keep your bedroom cool, preferably between 67 to 70 degrees.
  8. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress.
  9. Don't do work until right before bed. (Uh-uh. Guess I'd better work at that.)

Listen now to this fascinating Gab with the Gurus radio interview with Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Mo.

You're also invited to learn more about the connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain, diabetes and other health ailments. This was another interview on my Gab with the Gurus Radio Show with Dr. Thomas Roth, one of the leading authorities on sleep and sleep medicine in the world.

Listen now to find out how not getting enough sleep can cause weight gain and more.

If you are feeling suicidal, here's information about ways to get help:

Connie Bennett is author of the book "Sugar Shock! (Berkley Books). She is now writing her next book "Beyond Sugar Shock: The 6-Week Plan to Break Free of Your Sugar or Carb Addiction & Get a Slimmer, Sexier, Happier, Sweeter Life" (Hay House/Early 2012).

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