Archive for February, 2012
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep. Without it we yawn and drag through the day and maybe even need a long or involuntary nap to get through it. But you don’t have these obvious signs of sleep deprivation so you must be getting enough sleep, right? Maybe not. Check these 6 signs that you may not be getting all the sleep you need after all.
1. You use an alarm clock.
When we are free of sleep debt we will wake naturally at about the same time each day after our body has completed its restorative tasks. If you keep a regular schedule and avoid substances that alter the natural cycling of sleep and waking, you should not need to be yanked forcefully from your slumber in the morning. Waking to a jangling alarm clock is a nasty, stress inducing way to start the day. A natural, quiet and fresh awakening is a much more pleasant way to greet the new dawn.
2. You lose your keys.
Memory consolidation is thought to be one of the functions of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We generally get the bulk of our REM sleep in the last ½ of our sleep session. Therefore if our night is cut short we miss out mostly on REM sleep and may be more prone to memory glitches. Long term sleep problems have even been shown to have an association with Alzheimer’s Disease.
3. You yell at your kids.
Irritability, lack of tolerance and impulse control problems have all been linked to sleep deprivation. This is true for both kids and adults. It is important for everyone in the family to make a sleep a nightly priority. Then the kids will be more likely to behave and you will be less likely to fly off the handle if they don’t!
4. You would rather eat doughnuts than broccoli.
Sleep balances our appetite hormones. With enough sleep under our belt we will have fewer cravings for carbohydrates and the artificial energy found in sugary snacks. We can then make those healthy food choices more easily.
5. You can’t seem to lose weight.
Along the same lines as #4, sleep is also the time we are most efficient at producing human growth hormone and testosterone. Theses hormones help us achieve and maintain a strong, lean body. Without adequate sleep, all our good intentions, diet plans and workout routines will be far less effective than they would be if supported by just a bit more shut-eye.
6. You’ve had a fender bender.
Just a second of inattention is all it takes. A car travelling 37 miles per hour will cover 54 yard in 3 seconds. That’s more than ½ the length of a football field! If the car in front of you brakes suddenly or someone turns in front of you, your safety, maybe even your life, hangs on whether you can react fast enough to avoid impact. Studies have shown that both chronic and short term sleep deprivation leads to slower reactions times. One study at Stanford even proved that sleep deprived people performed more poorly on reaction time tests than did people who were legally drunk.
So don’t wait until you can’t get through the day without propping your eyelids open with toothpicks. Watch for the subtle signs you need more sleep and make it a point to adjust your schedule to get it. When you get the sleep you need you can live the life of your dreams!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
Love is in the air! February is the month for Cupid’s arrow to fly and Valentine’s Day is the culmination if it all. As shy lovers seek their first kiss and time-tested twosomes renew their promises, gifts are often exchanged to seal the deal.
Traditional gifts of chocolate, wine and roses have been the go-to standards for years. Sought after and savored, they have lingered in lovers’ dreams throughout the ages. But did you know these sweet gifts may actually be stealing your sweetheart’s slumber? Chocolate, wine and roses may just be the perfect recipe for insomnia.
Chocolate – sweet, silky, melty bliss! (Can you tell I’m a fan?) I cling to the research that points up the high antioxidant qualities of the stuff. Its benefits include lower blood pressure and cholesterol and higher serotonin levels. Chocolate has been shown to increase blood flow to the heart and brain and even has cancer fighting credits. But chocolate also contains theobromine and caffeine, known stimulants and sleep stealers. For those who are sensitive or tend to overindulge, it may be best to skip the chocolate dessert at Valentine’s dinner.
Wine – heady, complex, mysterious, marvelous nectar! (Yep… a fan.) What romantic movie scene does not begin with the pop of a cork or the end with the last savory swallow of a beautiful Bordeaux? Though wine and its alcoholic cousins may lead us to feel heavy lidded and seem to whisk us more easily to sleep, the initial daze gives way to broken sleep later in the night. Deep slow wave sleep is replaced by lighter sleep stages. As the liver breaks down the ETOH (alcohol) to other chemicals that can be safely eliminated from the body, one of the resulting metabolites has stimulating properties almost as strong as espresso! Waking between 1 and 3 a.m. with difficulty getting back to sleep is often associated with drinking alcohol in the evening.
Ah, Roses! The sweet and pungent fragrance of deep, red velvet fills the heads of lovers with visions of eternal ecstasy – oh yeah, and pollen… A big bouquet of you darling’s favorite posies may pose another sleeping challenge. If your honey is allergic one of the main physiologic reactions is the release of histamine. This gives us the runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. In the brain, histamine gives a strong signal for wakefulness. Allergies and peaceful sleep are not compatible bed partners.
It seems our favorite perennial presents may not be the stuff of dreams after all. They may, in fact, be keeping our sweetie-pies from the sound sleep they so desperately desire. So next year when Cupid draws back his bow and you are struck with the desire to shower your beloved with tokens of your affection, you may want to skip the chocolate, wine and roses. Perhaps a nice card will do. Oh! And diamonds! No one I know has ever lost any sleep over diamonds!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!