Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category
Daylight Savings Time is nearly here again. Almost all of North America (with the notably sane exceptions of Arizona and Hawaii) will synchronistically change the time on their clocks in the wee hours of next Sunday morning.
Spring Forward! It has such a perky, positive, up-beat sound to it, doesn’t it? Let’s just leap together into the future, bright eyed and bushy tailed! But wait… in order to “spring forward” we must lose an hour of sleep. How can that be? How will that work? Who thought THAT one up???
Sleep is one-third of our lives. When it doesn’t work well the other 2/3rds are likely to suffer. Poor sleep has been tied to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression, car crashes and industrial accidents. Healthy sleep is dependent on a healthy circadian rhythm system and suddenly, arbitrarily changing the clock overnight is definitely a shock to that system.
As a seasoned Sleep Specialist I cringe at the idea of an artificially induced jet lag syndrome being forced upon an entire national population. The symptoms of jet lag include headache, digestive upset, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, muscle aches and insomnia. If the majority of the citizens of a country came down with these symptoms all at once, a major epidemic would be declared and most everything would grind to a halt in the crisis. But we are expected to get up and go to work on Monday as if nothing has happened.
Statistics show there are 8% more car accidents on the Monday following the time change than on the Mondays immediately before or after. Suicides and heart attacks are more frequent in the few days after the Spring change as well. And while the original purpose of Daylight Savings Time was to increase productivity in the workplace, business reports indicate there is less getting done on the Monday after the change, pointing to the increase in personal web surfing and “cyber-loafing” on that day.
So what can we as individuals do (aside from moving to Arizona or Hawaii) to survive the Spring Forward with a minimal amount flack and fatigue? Here are some tips I’ve shared with my sleep coaching clients:
1.) Beat the Rush
Start adjusting your own internal body clock bit by bit in the few days before the time change. Eat your dinner and go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual on Wednesday night. Then 15 minutes earlier than that on Thursday night, and so on. By Sunday your body has started to shift its rhythms enough that when the time actually changes (and you go back to eating and sleeping at the same “clock time” as you used to) you’ll hardly skip a beat.
2.) See the Light
Light, especially sunlight, exerts the biggest influence on our circadian rhythms. So spend a lot of time outdoors on Sunday after the time change to help reinforce the rhythms of day and night on your body. Likewise, when the sun goes down, let that dimness be reflected in your indoor environment too. Keep the lights low, the electronic screens off and think about spending some time actually in the dark! Your sleep patterns will thank you.
3.) Drink the Water
Keep hydrated. Good advice at any time, but dehydration will only enhance any time warp symptoms you may experience and make you ever more miserable. Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol, though as these can further confuse your body clock and exacerbate any sleep disturbances.
4.) Take the Day Off
So, if there are more sleepy, sick and suicidal people on the freeway and there’s not much getting done at the office anyway, why risk the commute? Might as well take the “Monday After” off from work and get some more outdoor exercise with proper hydration topped off with a quiet evening of star-gazing on the dark back porch! By Tuesday you should be well on your way to newly minted circadian rhythms and able cope with the change.
I hope these tips serve you well.
I’d love to hear your ideas, too! Please post them in the comment section and share this article with your friends to hear about their ways of coping.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
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!
All life on Earth is determined, directed or defined by rhythms. Many are obvious, such as day and night, the flow of seasons and birth, growth, aging on to death. We see these play out over and over all around us, but we often forget that we, too, are a part of it all.
Caught up as we are in our electronically choreographed schedules in artificially lit rooms and thermostatically controlled airflow, it is easy to lose track of the subtle, yet relentless rhythm that tries to keep us in balance with the rest of the universal life force.
Our bodies, just like those of the birds and the bees, the bass, bison and birch are designed to function in rhythms. As far as sleep is concerned, the most important rhythms are the circadian rhythms. Circ-dia means “about a day”. These rhythms repeat every 24 hours and are generally driven by or in line with the tides of light. We are programmed to sleep when it becomes dark and cool. For nocturnal animals these same changes signal waking and activity.
Our body chemistry changes with the setting of the sun and many important physiologic functions are dependent upon or at least most efficient in darkness and in sleep. Among these functions are tissue repair, hormonal rebalancing, immune modulation and memory fixing. When we try to force our bodies to work against these pre-programmed rhythms we are fighting against nothing less formidable than Mother Nature herself. When we recognize, respect and align ourselves with the rhythms of nature we recruit this same powerful source as an ally.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night or maintaining your energy through the day you may have lost touch with your internal rhythms. Instead of reaching for counterfeit energy in a can of cola or sugary snack try tuning into what’s going on outside. Get out into the yard, a park or a meadow. Smell real air, feel breezes, even rain. At dusk when the natural light dims, dim your lights too. As the activity outdoors slows, so should you. Open your windows to remember how much it cools down at night. To sleep well you need to cool down as well.
Try spending some time in the dark awake, just being still. When was the last time you turned out all the lights when you weren’t going to sleep? If you can sit outside in the dark you may be able to enjoy the stars and let your imagination open up as your active day drops away. Why should dreaming have to wait for sleep?
These simple steps to bring some awareness back to the natural flow of you within the you-niverse can be giant strides toward deep, peaceful sleep and positive productive days.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
These days life comes at us fast. Our daily tasks are listed and leering at us from our computers and date books. Even our phones chirp and chime at us throughout the day to let us know when it’s time to do this or that. Many of us are so busy we rarely accomplish everything on the list; we just keep moving from one meeting or project or chore to the next until we can’t go on any further and then we collapse. The surprising thing is, that as exhausted as we may be, sleep is not necessarily waiting right there to catch us when we fall! In fact, overfull days can easily become overalert nights.
For sleep to be as consistent and reliable as we would like it to be we need to give it as much respect as all our other appointments and obligations. Sleep needs to be scheduled into the day from the start so that the rest of the day can be built to accommodate it. If we leave sleep as an afterthought, treat it like leftovers or make it a last choice, sleep may become as elusive as a scorned lover. Declare your feelings; let sleep know it is important to you by giving it a priority place on your schedule and keeping your promise to show up on time. Then you will find sleep becomes more available for you.
While we have that BerryPhone out, let’s pencil in some exercise. The ideal time would be mid to late afternoon, but any time is better than no time, as long as you finish at least 2 hours before bedtime. A brisk walk in the sunlight is excellent. A spin class after work, awesome. Let your body move in space as it was designed to do. Get your heart rate up a bit. Sound sleep depends on changes in our core temperature. We sleep better when our inner temperature is falling. If we never do anything to raise our temp in the first place it’s like working in a room with no windows. The natural rhythms of the day and night are lost.
3) Eat Regular Balanced Meals
Speaking of natural rhythms, our bodies take their cues about when it is time to sleep and when to be awake from several different things. Light is really important, as is exercise and temperature changes as we just discussed. Another strong cue can come from regular mealtimes. It is important to eat, i.e. fuel the machine, several times during the day. Good, unprocessed, organic food is always preferable. If you go to bed hungry you are likely to find yourself awake, standing in front of the fridge at 3 a.m. Likewise, if you eat a big heavy meal 30 minutes before lying down for the night, your bodily functions will be busy with digestion. Sleep is likely to be delayed or at least restless for a couple hours. Regular nutritious meals at thoughtful intervals through the day can help you sleep more soundly at night. There are certain foods that can assist or hinder your ability to fall asleep easily or stay awake when required, but that is for another post.
4) Make a Worry List
Here we are back at lists again! This one however is one you should do nearer the end of the day, but not too close to bedtime. Right after dinner would be a reasonable time for this exercise. The idea here is to sit down with a blank piece of paper (several if needed) and let all those nagging little thoughts that are likely to start circling in your brain after lights out and spill them out in ink. You don’t have to be neat — just get it out on paper for safekeeping overnight. You may write out tomorrow’s to-do list, or a reminder to get the tires rotated. You may jot down an idea for next week’s presentation or just a gripe about an inconsiderate neighbor. What ever comes up, put it down. Once this “brain dump” is complete you’re free to slip away to slumber without concern you’re missing something. If, out of habit, one of those petty thoughts tries to rise up after you’re down for the night you can let it go quickly, knowing you’ve covered that ground already and have it well secured on your “worry list”.
5) Invite Sleep In
After our busy day is done, after the workout is over, after the worry list is written and the dinner dishes done, there needs to be one more task to really get the most out of our coming night’s sleep. We need to wind down. There needs to be a very clear separation between our waking day and our sleeping night to reinforce the change in states we are seeking.
Remember the bedtime routine your mom set up for you when you were little, or the ones you have for your kids? Well, bedtime routines aren’t just for children. In addition to brushing our teeth, changing into our jammies and checking the closet and under the bed to be sure there are no monsters lurking, there are some grown-up things we can do.
First, an hour before “official” bedtime, turn off all your screened devices. That includes computers, video games and phones. Dim the lights and engage in a relaxing stress free activity. This may be a warm bath, a soothing cup of caffeine free tea, a good lighthearted book or soft music. Relaxing yoga poses, a foot massage or lovemaking can also ease the body toward slumber. With this obvious change in lighting, mood, thought and activity you signal your mind and body to prepare for sleep. In essence, you invite sleep in.
When it’s time, lay your head on your pillow, give thanks for your blessings, turn out the light and
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Business entrepreneurs often feel they have to make a choice between getting the sleep they need and creating the success they desire. An article from US News and World Report turns this notion around and offers “6 Ways Lack of Sleep is Costing You a Fortune”. Below are some of my favorite excerpts. A link to the full article can be found at the end. I would also love to hear about your experiences in trying to balance sleep and work. What worked, what didn’t and what would you do differently if you could? Please leave your comments below.
Here are six ways lack of sleep can cost you money.
1. More Accident-Prone
Driving sleep deprived can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Anywhere from 16 percent to 60 percent of car accidents involve a sleep-deprived driver, and 30 to 40 percent of all heavy truck accidents are caused by fatigue.
2. Increased Medical Expenses
People who don’t get enough sleep are 15 percent more likely to have a stroke and 48 percent more likely to develop or pass away from heart disease.
3. Bad Financial Decision Making
Sleep deprivation causes people to restrict their choices to decisions that promise bigger gains, which aren’t always the best ways to accomplish positive results.
4. Sucking Out Success
When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, your brain doesn’t function as efficiently and isn’t able to remember things as well… The overall GPA of a sleep-deprived student versus a student who gets enough sleep is 2.84 as compared to 3.18.
5. Paying for Convenience
When you are tired, you are less likely to take care of tasks on your own. Be it washing your car, making dinner, or cleaning your house, if you are tired you are more apt to look to other people to take care of those tasks for you.
6. Caffeine Costs
If you buy espresso every day to help you stay awake due to sleep deprivation, you can end up spending upwards of $5,000 per year, or if you buy drip coffee everyday, you can end up spending close to $1,900 per year.
Be sure to leave your comments below!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
The theme of sleeping off the pounds seems to be everywhere these days. JJ Virgin at the Huffington Post did a nice review this morning about how losing sleep can pack on the pounds. Check it out here.
Another blogger named Tina at Finding Food or Love blog looks at it from the other direction. She points out how finally allowing enough sleep on a regular basis can help shed extra pounds. You can read her nice article here.
So while you are all reading these fascinating articles, I have a date at the gym — and then a nap! I’m all for combination therapy. Please tell me about your sleep weight connection in the comments section below.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
The courage to go on
Without sign or post or guide
Is failing now.
I cannot see beyond
To any season that would draw
My heart to sing.
My fears and tears and
Wailing thoughts drown out
The softly lapping
Waves of Possibility.
I yearn to end the effort
With a quiet disappearing.
A sideways slip to some
Where neither touching nor not touching
The longing strings a stone
Around my neck, outweighing far
The morning light
Or Springlit song of nesting ones.
I feel no calling
Now to write or rhyme or reason.
Still less to struggle to
Explain or beg.
I do not feel so much for any cause
Soft, warm slumber
Wrapping round me like a hug
Without the asking.
Lately I’ve been thinking alot about bedtime snacks. There seems to be a bit of a debate going on about whether or not it is a good idea to have “a little something” before retiring at night. There are some very smart folks on either side of the discussion and I was hoping to get a dialogue going on here so I can follow it along with you. Here is some of what I’ve seen of the question:
The Case FOR a Bedtime Snack
Michael Breus, PhD, “The Sleep Doctor”, says you should not go to bed hungry and recommends a high carbohydrate, low protein snack in the hour before bed.
More from Dr. Breus
Today Show nutritionist, Joy Bauer points out that while you should not eat a big meal too close to bedtime, a snack may be just the thing to beat chronic insomnia. The trick is to “combine foods that have some tryptophan with ample carbohydrate”.
More from Joy Bauer
Here’s another article from Discovery Health by Virgil Wooten, MD that promotes a light healthy snack before bed for more restful sleep. Again, the carbohydrates seem to be the clear favorite.
More from Dr. Wooten
The Case AGAINST a Bedtime Snack
Well known sleep apnea specialist, Steven Y. Park, MD has been very clear on the dangers of eating too close to bedtime. He puts it this way in this MedHelp Journal entry, “Three to four hours is the general recommendation to avoid eating before going to bed. The only thing you can have is water within this timeframe.”
More from Dr. Park
Mayo Clinic offers advice to avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. They also specifically warn against spicy or fatty foods, especially for heartburn sufferers, as these could lead to heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux that could interfere with restful sleep.
More from Mayo Clinic
In his Daily Blog, much beloved Dr. Andrew Weil makes these comments on the subject, “It is more difficult to digest food when lying down. Our digestive tracts work best when we are upright – sitting, standing or even walking. When you lie down after a meal, gravity can disrupt proper digestion; this can lead to acid reflux, or heartburn, which can hinder sleep. Digesting food requires the body to expend energy. This can interfere with the relaxed metabolic state required for sleep.” He also says that any eating before bed should be limited to “small, healthy snacks”.
More from Dr. Weil
So where do you stand on the issue of bedtime snacks?
- Do they help us drift to sleep with the help of tryptophan producing carbohydrates?
- Do they keep our blood sugar even through the night or cause disruptive spikes and troughs?
- Should we fast for hours before sleep or is this advice only for those who have GERD?
- Can the body digest a meal and sleep at the same time? It has to, doesn’t it – since it takes several hours from end to end, as it were…
- If we eat before bedtime what should we eat and what should we avoid?
- What do you think of products like this one? Click here to learn about NightFood
Please post your comments, information, insights and ideas below. I am really interested to hear your thoughts.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I didn’t write this. I just laughed when I read it. I think it is a wonderful (though biased) description of the differences between l arks and owls. Science has now informed us that there is truly a genetic difference. Apparently 30% of us are really truly morning people or quite definitely darkly night folks. The rest of us are “hummingbirds” (?) That may be another post… For now, I have to agree with Duncan –
I Don’t Do Mornings
by Duncan Kelly
Some people are morning people. They get up before the sun rises and they go for a run around the local golf course, scaring the bird trying to get the first worm. They get back home for breakfast and have a shower. Then they catch up on all their letter writing and birthday cards. After making a few calls and concluding a few deals, they toddle off to work, arriving 20 minutes early.
I don’t do mornings. The alarm clock is like the sword of damacles hanging over my slumber. It’s strident clamour heralds the death of my dreams and the destruction of the land of Nod. I hit the sleep button and scrape another few minutes of sleep from the desolation of another workday. The inevitable moment arrives: if I delay one more minute I will be seriously, noticeably, late for work. After chucking on some mismatching clothes, (because my eyes are still stuck shut with sleep) I stumble off to work, eventually waking up about an hour after getting there.
Morning people don’t believe in the existence of non-morning people. They think we are either mad or lazy liars. But go and pick up a morning person for a call out at 7pm and then the boot is on the other foot. They yawn expansively as they get in the car, they mutter incoherent sentences, and only your terrible driving keeps them from sleeping for the remainder of the 3 hour trip. They look at you in awe as you drive on through the night, and cannot believe that your are still wide awake and alert at 2 in the morning. they think you are some kind of freak, but they are impressed none the less.
Yup, we night people can keep going as long as we have to. We don’t do mornings, but we do do nights. Moring people doodoo nights! When the world is sleeping, we go on working, quietly acheiving and prevailing where others would fall down and sleep. We are the epitome of the long life battery, as we keep on keeping on through long nights.
Night people are often unseen, like the long haul train driver, the night flight airline pilot, the technician on a call out, the night watchman. But don’t ask us to get up early. That is being cruel. Our bodies are not designed for early morning activity. A morning run would kill us, and doing anything financial before 9am would be a fast road to bankruptcy. Writing a birthday card would lose a friend and create an enemy!
So if you’re a morning person, spare a thought for your yawning colleague. He’s not lazy. He’s not crazy. He’s just not in the right time zone.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1454196
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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Duncan_Kelly
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1454196
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,