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Midlife sleep

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BEAUTY SLEEP:

What do Hollywood beauty experts have to say on the subject of beauty sleep?

Here’s some sage advice, from beginning to end, from one who knows the increasing importance of getting your beauty sleep, especially in midlife. She aptly contrasts how we can party hardy in our 20s, but lose one or two night’s sleep in midlife, and look like you have aged many, many years. This girl (and I say that with all due respect) knows what she’s talking about. LISTEN UP, MIDLIFE LADIES!

Style: You Are Feeling Very Sleepy – How to Get Your Midlifer Beauty Sleep

To find out more about why beauty sleep makes you look SO good, go to the Sleep Diva’s post: Sleep Diva Beauty Secret

 

 

Image: porbital / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Does this sound like you?

by admin on September 17, 2011 · 0 comments

in Midlife sleep

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I ran across this friend and colleague at a workshop, and when she heard what I did for a living, she was eager to talk about her sleep experiences. Since we don’t do videos of clients for confidentiality reasons, it was very kind of her to share what she’s been through. Everything she talks about is pretty typical of someone with longstanding insomnia problems. Does this sound like you? If so, you’d better take some action and call me.

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In keeping with the new revisions of the Food Pyramid that became The
Food Platter, two of the giants in the field of brain science research, Dr.
Dan Siegel and Dr. David Rock, have come up with a Food Platter for
the Mind. We live in the age of massive emotional stress, technology
and information overload, and what the authors call “an epidemic of
overwhelm”. Stresses of the current economy have added another whole
dimension to these trends. This led the authors to come up with the ideal
components for brain functioning that helps maintain and optimize our
mental health.

Little has been said about how to get to mental health because so much of
the “mental health” field has actually been focused on pathology and what’s
wrong with how we function. With the advent of the Positive Psychology
movement and the decade of the brain, we’re turning our attention to how
to get to health, rather than how to fix illness. In this vein, the authors have
taken a serious look at how we can do things within our control to optimize
what we know works well in the body.

Here are the authors’ ingredients for a healthy mind daily:

Focus Time When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, taking
on challenges that make deep connections in the brain;

Play time When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully
enjoying novel experiences, which helps make new connections in the
brain;

Connecting time When we connect with other people, or take time to
appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, richly activating
the brain’s relational circuitry;

Physical time When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible,
which strengthens the brain in many ways;

Time In When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images,
feelings and thoughts, helping better integrate the brain;

Down Time When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let
our mind wander or simply relax, which helps our brain recharge;

Sleep Time When we give the brain the rest it needs to consolidate
learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Curious? Read the full article here:

It comes as no surprise to this author that sleep makes the list of 7
essential daily activities. But what’s even more relevant is that this could
also be the list for optimal sleep. These are the components of what
creates a relaxing, peaceful sleep. Challenge yourself to positive growth by
keeping these key ingredients in mind each day as you strive for personal
balance. Here is an insightful guideline, not something each of us will
achieve every day, but something to strive for, a road map to genuine
mental health in a tired, stressed out world.

Step up. Take the challenge. Give peace a chance.

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Ever wonder if your sleep is having an effect on your relationship? Researchers at the University of Pittsburg explored this question in a study of couples, their interactions and their sleep patterns. Of course, the answer could be either or both, but the study sought something more definitive.

When partners are not happy with each other, certainly their nighttime sleep patterns can be disrupted.  We all tend to think about the things that are bothering us when we get into bed and try to go to sleep. And likewise, when one or both of the partners can’t sleep, personal interactions are likely to be less positive.  Thus, to the extent that we can study it, where’s the chicken and where’s the egg?

From many prior studies, we know that marital satisfaction is a unique  factor that positively influences many health variables – heart health, blood pressure, weight, diabetes and others.  It would not be a big scientific leap to assume that marital satisfaction also influences sleep.

In this recent study of carefully selected  “normal” couples, both members of the couple wore sleep measuring wristbands called actigraphs, which detect the level of movement throughout the day and let researchers know when people get into bed, when they fall asleep and when they transition to various levels of sleep.  They also filled out questionnaires on their interpersonal interaction that day, which were coordinated with their time to sleep onset.

Take a guess.  Who was more influenced by the lack of sleep and had that show up in their daytime interpersonal reactions – men or women?

Not surprisingly, womens’ relationships were more influenced by their lack of sleep than were men’s.  Women took much longer to fall asleep and had significantly more negative interactions with their spouse than men.  Do you recognize yourself here in the study?  Are you shorting yourself on sleep in hopes of getting a few more things done for the day? And not realizing you may be paying the price in your relationships?  Follow this newsletter and get more tips on how your investment  in sleep can pay rich rewards for your relationships.

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Many of us can’t sleep because there’s simply too much on our minds. Or too much to do. Or too much left undone.  A classic topic for mental ponderings (and not the innocent soporific kind) is the remains of the day and what’s not completed.  Another favorite object of our thought is worry – over relationships, our health, our money or our future in general.  We try to put all this aside in favor of sleep, but, like a bad penny, it just keeps coming back.  What to do about this may involve some daytime work, not just work on sleep.  As ­­Charlotte Bronte has said, “a ruffled mind makes for a restless pillow”.  How true this is.

What does it mean to simplify life?  Just to do fewer of the things than we now do? Or to do things that take less time?  I don’t think so.  In a key way, simplifying means to do more of the things we value highly. To get greater satisfaction from the things we do by shifting the proportion of things we “must” do compared to pursuing the things of great importance to us. This will be different for each person.  How much time do you spend each day doing things that are part of your cherished value system and your life goals? Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful”.  So says John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Our grandparents did not have the luxury of making such a choice, often having to work from sunup to sunset just providing for their basic needs.  In our modern day world, we have cutting edge technology and household devices, convenience food and round the clock news, banking and entertainment, yet we seem less fulfilled than ever before. We lack even the satisfaction that our grandparents seemed to have with life.

To “get back to basics” means less to worry about and more of what’s really high on our “Values In Action” list – the one we haven’t made yet. To get from here to there will not be simple. It involves moving some of our cherished mental, and often physical, clutter.  A surprising number of us are unsuspecting mental hoarders, it seems.  Clearing mental clutter is the subject of another of my favorite themes – mindful living.  But this is the topic for another day.

In the meantime, read Leo’s blog and take just one of his many ideas for simplifying, implement it, and see if you don’t sleep better.  Get back to me on that.

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If it’s truly low estrogen that awakens us during the night from sleep, and not the hot flashes themselves, then what are we to do about that as women who want to get our sleep? The answer to this question is indeed a complex one, and one that bears looking into, one piece at a time.

Simply replacing estrogen is not the answer it seemed to be since the 1970s when hormone replacement therapy was widely used by doctors treating women who had menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. And why not, you say, could all these doctors be wrong?  In 2001, and again in 2004, we learned from two large studies conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative, that the simple addition of estrogen and progesterone could pose health risks that none of us had anticipated.

Millions of women stopped their hormones as a result, and many physicians prescribing those also experienced confusion about what to do with the study results, since no alternative had been proposed.

To select a single hormone for study is a confusing and at best inaccurate, approach in itself, since all the hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA and melatonin are all interconnected parts of the sleep cycle. To increase one is to affect the balance of another, so it makes better sense to look at the whole picture, although this makes it nearly impossible to achieve viable research conditions.

How do these hormones interact?  This is the subject for endocrinology textbooks, but to summarize briefly here:
When estrogen begins its gradual decline at perimenopause, cortisol rises in direct proportion to the declining estrogen.  As cortisol is the stress hormone, it can directly disrupt sleep as well as speeding up bone loss and contributing to the development of many other symptoms.  External life stressors at middle age – the management of adolescent children, care of or for aging parents and work/home responsibilities all have their role in escalating the degree of the stress hormone cortisol.  It’s a wonder that anyone gets sleep at midlife!

Several things are needed to manage just this one hormone imbalancing interaction – stress  reduction techniques such as meditation/mindfulness (more about this later), attention to and decisions about how to manage the declining estrogen, and good medical advice and education about natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. Mindfulness living and meditation help disconnect the stress from the body, lowering the cortisol level to help promote natural sleep. Deep breathing at times of added stress, and mentally scanning the body for places where stress is held, also activate the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system.

What’s your biggest external stressor and what are you doing to keep that stress from imprinting itself on your sleep cycle?  What have you done to study the decline of your natural hormones at midlife and how to make intelligent choices for your own self-care?  Keep up with this series and learn more about how to care for your all-important sleep from the inside out. We’ll be looking at all those topics here.  Or sign up for my Four Weeks to Great Sleep Series.

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It is widely known that insomnia occurs in more than 60% of
midlife women. This is not just a few sleepless nights, but a
regular pattern of waking up during the night – once or many
times – and not being able to get to sleep for longer than 15-
20 minutes. For those affected, this occurs at least 3-4 nights
a week and results in daytime problems of fatigue, irritability,
poor concentration, low energy and poor productivity.
Popular wisdom, as well as many menopausal womens’
nighttime experience, has it that hot flashes (popularly known
as night sweats) are what’s ailing most menopausal women.
The discomfort of being awakened during the night with
your sheets and clothing drenched in sweat is not a popular
one. We know, without any research to tell us, that night
sweats awaken women during menopause and can be quite
uncomfortable, to say the least.
Because of this, many sleep doctors and many women got the
idea that the very common problem of insomnia in menopausal
or peri-menopausal women was caused by these night sweats.
And it would be logical to assume so. But some researchers
looked further into potential causes of the sleep discomfort
of midlife women by studying the nighttime sleep patterns
using polysomnograms (the sleep studies used to diagnose
sleep apnea). As part of these studies, a common denominator
was found that called into question the theory of hot flash
awakenings. These findings showed that a large number of
awakenings (both arousals from sleep and full awakenings)
were common in certain women, but hot flash awakenings
were much less common than the overall number of arousals.
That is to say, while hot flashes could cause you to wake up,
and even to stay awake, there were other causes, probably
resulting from an overall decrease in estrogen, that might be
the cause of both the hot flashes and the many awakenings.
Is this good news or bad news? Well, maybe both. If you’re
taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy), you may be
less likely to be reading this article, thus it is good news.
And knowing the underlying medical cause of any nighttime
problems that messes with our functioning in the daytime is
always good news because it points the way towards a solution.
And how about the bad news, you ask. Many women are
unable to or have chosen not to take HRT for good reasons.
If the decrease in estrogen is actually the cause of disrupted
sleep, as described here, this limits their options for a solution.
What are you doing to help yourself understand and cope with
your menopausal sleep problems? Need some help to navigate
the complex maze of ideas, products, information out there
that purports to help?
You can inform yourself and strengthen your wellness muscles
by contacting the Sleep Diva at www.sleepbetterinmidlife.com
and signing up for my newsletter on midlife sleep. I’m taking
an informal survey…what’s your favorite solution to the night
sweat dilemna. Leave a comment below.

It is widely known that insomnia occurs in more than 60% ofmidlife women. This is not just a few sleepless nights, but aregular pattern of waking up during the night – once or manytimes – and not being able to get to sleep for longer than 15-20 minutes. For those affected, this occurs at least 3-4 nights a week and results in daytime problems of fatigue, irritability,poor concentration, low energy and poor productivity.
Popular wisdom, as well as many menopausal womens’nighttime experience, has it that hot flashes (popularly knownas night sweats) are what’s ailing most menopausal women.The discomfort of being awakened during the night withyour sheets and clothing drenched in sweat is not a popularone. We know, without any research to tell us, that nightsweats awaken women during menopause and can be quiteuncomfortable, to say the least.
Because of this, many sleep doctors and many women got theidea that the very common problem of insomnia in menopausalor peri-menopausal women was caused by these night sweats.And it would be logical to assume so. But some researchers
looked further into potential causes of the sleep discomfortof midlife women by studying the nighttime sleep patternsusing polysomnograms (the sleep studies used to diagnosesleep apnea). As part of these studies, a common denominator was found that called into question the theory of hot flash awakenings. These findings showed that a large number ofawakenings (both arousals from sleep and full awakenings)were common in certain women, but hot flash awakeningswere much less common than the overall number of arousals.
That is to say, while hot flashes could cause you to wake up,and even to stay awake, there were other causes, probablyresulting from an overall decrease in estrogen, that might bethe cause of both the hot flashes and the many awakenings.Is this good news or bad news? Well, maybe both. If you’retaking HRT (hormone replacement therapy), you may beless likely to be reading this article, thus it is good news.And knowing the underlying medical cause of any nighttimeproblems that messes with our functioning in the daytime isalways good news because it points the way towards a solution.
And how about the bad news, you ask. Many women areunable to or have chosen not to take HRT for good reasons.If the decrease in estrogen is actually the cause of disrupted sleep, as described here, this limits their options for a solution.What are you doing to help yourself understand and cope withyour menopausal sleep problems? Need some help to navigatethe complex maze of ideas, products, information out therethat purports to help?
You can inform yourself and strengthen your wellness musclesby contacting the Sleep Diva at www.sleepbetterinmidlife.com and signing up for my newsletter on midlife sleep. I’m taking an informal survey…what’s your favorite solution to the nightsweat dilemna. Leave a comment below.

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Ever think that one more change could put you right up to that edge?  Though subtle, a one hour time difference in your sleep time could just be that “little” thing.  It’s hard to understand how something so seemingly subtle as an hour can make such a big difference in your life for a couple of weeks, and perhaps even longer.  Mid-lifers take note!

Finding yourself a bit sluggish this week, not only physically but mentally? You may think it’s your imagination that changing your clock by an hour can do this to you, but…researchers in Indiana wanted to know for sure whether changing their clocks affected students taking the SAT.  Because Indiana has some counties on Daylight Savings and others that are not, they compared the SAT scores, controlling for other factors besides Daylight Savings. What they found was significantly lower scores in the counties that had the clocks change vs those that remained on Standard Time.

Since the time change rolled around yesterday, you can do yourself a favor by paying attention to how you’re being affected personally, if you are, and not expecting your peak performance in these next two weeks. I’ll be writing more on the importance of these body clocks soon.

Some hints for fighting back the mind and body fatigue common to most of us:

1.  Get sunlight or blue light into your eyes as soon as you get up.  Light helps adjust the body clock to the new time.  Do this each day for a week, and see if it doesn’t become easier than the first day;

2.  Conversely, start to wind down your evening with darkness and quiet about an hour earlier in the evening;

3.  Force yourself (with an alarm clock, a determined bed partner or your own favorite way of making sure you get up) to get up at the new time;  expect this to be unpleasant for a few days while your body makes the adjustment;

4.  Drive carefully and take a little extra time getting to your daily destinations.  Scientists have noticed that the accident rate goes up on the week after Daylight Savings begins;

5.  Cut yourself a little slack this week in particular, delaying tasks that are ok to do later so that you will be at your mental best to do them next week and give yourself a little extra comfort, such as you would do if you were ill but still had to go to work and function.

Let me hear from you some of your own favorite ways of coping with the time change and I’ll include them in a later post so we can all share in what you’ve learned.   Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Next to the first few month’s of being a mother, midlife is known as a time of sleepless nights. There are many possible culprits ranging from hormonal issues to anxiety. Some sleep disorders show up for the first time in midlife.

One of the first steps to sleeping better is to pinpoint your sleep issue. This is often easier said than done. In the business of life (often made worse by fatigue), focusing on our sleep issues often ends up at the bottom of the to do list.

Yet, nothing can help improve your productivity like getting a good night’s sleep each night.

To overcome your sleep problem once and for all, you need to get to the root of the problem. If you don’t treat the root cause, you won’t sleep any better.

Here is a quick “cheat sheet” of common sleep disorders to get you started on identifying why you aren’t sleeping.

A shortcut to diagnosing your sleep issue, is to talk to a sleep professional.

In honor of National Sleep Week, I am offering free sleep screenings on Friday, March 13. Click here to learn more or to sign up for a 10 minute screening.

Here are some oreasons you may be having difficulties getting to sleep:

Insomnia: A very common sleep problem marked by sleepless nights. You wake up feeling tired or fatigued. You end up being feeling tired or irritable during the day.

Sleep Apnea: The most common of the three types of sleep apnea is “obstructive sleep apnea,” which occurs when enough air isn’t able to get through your mouth/nose and into the lungs.

Because the air isn’t getting through, you start breathing shallowly or stop breathing completely,– at least for a few seconds. You may snort, cough, or snore as your body tries to restart the breathing process.

You do get back to sleep – but because of all of the snoring and coughing, you are not getting quality, uninterrupted sleep. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it is a symptom.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Do you legs burn, itch or tingle at night? If so, you may suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. Moving your legs makes them feel better, but the movement causes a low-quality restless sleep.

Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD): PLMD is similar to Restless Leg Syndrome. Unlike RLS, the leg twiching and movement is involuntary.

The legs are usually affected by PLMD, but sometimes your arms move too. You may not even be aware that you are moving. The movement causes restless sleep.

This usually takes place in the legs, but for some, the arms are also affected. These movements – though you may be unaware of them – lead to a restless sleep. You wake up tired and fatigued because you didn’t sleep well.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS): Do you often feel like you were born to live in a different time zone? If you’re suffering from DSPS, it seems as if your circadian rhythm (an internal 24-hour cycle) is off by half a day, and you’re unable to sleep during nighttime hours. Because you aren’t on the same sleep schedule as your friends and family, DSPS can seriously affect your quality of life.

Narcolepsy: A dangerous disorder defined by excessive sleepiness during the daytime, as well as periods when the body’s muscles are weakened into a state of cataplexy. You’re at risk when you’re doing everyday tasks, like driving a car from Point A to Point B, since a narcoleptic attack could occur at any time.

These are a few of the causes of chronic sleep problems. There are many others ranging from hormonal issues, to poor sleep environments, snoring, seasonal affective disorder, sleepwalking, racing thoughts and more. Any of these issues can lead to sleep deprivation and take a physical, mental or emotional tool on your life.

If you are having trouble sleeping, take me up on my offer for a free sleep screening this Friday. Click here to find out more.

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It seems so easy.  Just get into bed and go to sleep.  It seems easy, but it’s so troublesome for the majority of us. Why can’t we find the right formula for sleep, night after night?  This blog is all about finding that formula, from both a scientific and an ordinary sleeper’s point of view.  Double the questions and the equation for MIDLIFE.  There’s too much to do, too little time, so many obligations. And our bodies are undergoing the biggest change since adolescence.

Finding balance in a number of things will be the subject of this blog on getting your best night’s sleep in midlife – tonight and most every night.  A number of ingredients make up the recipe for balance and you’ll see them all examined here, but here are the main keys to balance:

  1. SIMPLIFY
  2. BALANCE YOUR HORMONES
  3. BREATHE AND BE MINDFUL
  4. EAT GENTLY
  5. SLEEP VERY WELL

Sounds easy enough doesn’t it, yet each of these areas has something important to contribute to good sleep that isn’t immediately obvious.

SIMPLIFY – Take a deep breath and ponder what routines could be done with less complication in your life; is it mental or physical clutter that has you in a whirlwind of activity, or just doing too much and thinking you have to do all those things to get through your day and then somehow drop into bed and sleep peacefully? Be all about being, not just doing;

BALANCE YOUR HORMONES – A key to midlife wellness and soothing, peaceful sleep is an understanding of how your hormones work and your options for keeping them in balance.  Learn some of that here;

BREATHE – A simple, easy, free way to activate the body’s own, natural calming down system, but it’s important to know how it works, to practice regularly and to  scan for tension to see how your efforts are paying off;

AND BE MINDFUL – Mindfulness is the most well-known and scientifically-researched way of calming both the mind and the body so we slide peacefully into sleep, and go through our day with a lowered level of tension doing our daily work with a greater sense of purpose and mastery;

EAT GENTLY   It might be going too far to say that What You Eat is How You Sleep, but this neglected aspect of sleep needs more focus as we plan for the latter part of our day, and transition from work to home in that Happy Hour without alcohol that helps us move from work to home and begin our descent into sleep;

SLEEP VERY WELL  A series of formulas for making sleep work, involving examining hormones, sleep habits, the light-dark cycle, sleep disorders, the latest research on midlife and many other sleeping well topics.

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