From the category archives:

Sleep

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Guys.  Do you find yourself up late watching those NBA playoffs? There’s just no way to get to bed on time when something that cool is on till midnight and they don’t cancel work the next morning. Want to know what happens when you give your sleep short shrift?

Just when you thought you could skate by on five or six hours of sleep, comes news from the National Institute of Health that an unexpected phenomenon was found in animal research that very likely applies to humans as well.  The animals were sleep-deprived to five or six hours per night, as many of us try to get by with in our very busy world when our responsibilities mount.

What the researchers learned quite by accident was that while appearing to be fully awake the next day, certain brain cells were selectively turned off throughout the next day, so that brief periods of non-functioning occurred.
While we knew that lack of sleep, especially on a consistent basis, had its consequences for cognitive functioning, we did not suspect before this study that specific brain cells ”fell asleep” or ceased to function while research subjects appeared to be (on EEG) and remained fully awake.  Ever have the feeling that your brain just wasn’t working right after a poor night’s sleep?  Now you know you were right.  NIH, our most prestigious and well-funded body of health research, was so excited about the news that they issued a press release, which you can read here about what the NIH calls “sleeping neurons” . To quote the researcher who did the study, “Such tired neurons in an awake brain may be responsible for the attention lapses, poor judgment, mistake-proneness and irritability that we experience when we haven’t had enough sleep, yet don’t feel particularly sleepy.”

This study again underlines not only the need for adequate sleep (7-8 hours for the vast majority of us), but some of the important consequences to our work and daytime performance relative to sleep deprivation. Have you noticed “attention lapses, poor judgment, mistake-proneness and irritability” in yourself and is it time to get serious about getting more sleep more regularly?   Can you and your work afford these next day lapses?
Since we can’t truly make up missed sleep, we just lose what we lose during the playoffs, but the biggest risk is that you may get the idea that you made it through the next day after each game, and you can do this as a regular thing. Think again. The evidence is not really in your favor.  For more information and specific help, contact http://thesleepdiva.com.

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It seems like nobody is getting enough sleep these days.  This week, in honor of Sleep Awareness Week, study after study has highlighted the fact that the average adult gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Lack of sleep can happen for many reasons including stress, anxiety, medical issues or simply hot having enough time in the day to”get it all done”.

One of the first steps toward a better night’s sleep (and all the great things that come from getting enough sleep consistently)  is often the creation of a better sleep environment.  By eliminating distractions in your bedroom, you can often start sleeping better right away.

Here are five places to start when making your bedroom into an ideal sleep environment.

1. Keep the Bedroom a Place of Rest: These days, many of us have notebook computers, wireless Internet, and other mobile devices that make it possible for us to transform any room into an office.

But if you suffer from a sleep disorder, make sure you keep your bedroom a bedroom – a place of rest away from work and play. Don’t allow the bedroom to become an office, a playroom, or a TV room. Those who suffer from sleep disorders need to eliminate all distractions in the form of noise, light, or activity.

2. Ideal Temperature: When creating a good sleep environment, you need to make sure you minimize any discomfort. Being too cold or too hot can disrupt a comfortable sleep and once disrupted (for a person with a sleep disorder) it may be difficult to get back into a deep slumber.

Keeping the room at a constant, ideal temperature will help you get and stay asleep. While it’s debatable as to what the best temperature is, it can be agreed upon that anything about 75 degrees Fahrenheit is too warm and anything below 54 degrees, too cold.

Try a median between 60–70 degrees (65) as a compromise, but the deciding factor should be you personally and what you find to be “ideal.” If you keep kicking the covers off or shivering yourself awake, adjust the temperature until it’s just right – and make note of what that number is for you.

3. Comfortable Bed: One symptom of a sleep disorder or impairment is tossing and turning during the night, and one reason you may be restless is because your mattress is uncomfortable.

As with most anything in life, what’s “right” for you (and your back, your posture, your comfort) is specific to your body. However, research has shown that supple mattresses may be more conducive to a good night’s rest versus a firmer one.

Definitely avoid sleeping on a lumpy mattress if it can be helped. A new mattress may be in order if you’ve outgrown your current one, either in size or comfort. If you have a spouse who prefers a different type of mattress, consider getting the type of bed where each of you set the mattress to your perfect number.

4. Keep the Clock Out of Sight: If you can, try to keep your clock out of sight. Set your alarm and then put it somewhere else or turn it away from you – out of your general view. For instance, instead of having the clock on the nightstand, put it on the dresser in the far corner.

If a clock is visible, you may find yourself staring at it or waking up periodically to look at it. If you’re making an effort to create a good sleep environment, it means that you’re aware of an impairment.

If you’re trying to break the cycle of sleeplessness, then it’s important that you don’t focus on time. Seeing how early it is or how little time has passed, can only lead to frustration.

5. No Lights: Remember that a dark bedroom can help your body “know” it’s time for rest. Light triggers a lot in us and is associated with our waking hours. To help the body adjust to a regular sleep cycle, make an effort to distinguish between daytime and bedtime

When it’s time to sleep, keep light sources to a minimum, including when you get up to go to the bathroom. As with a TV, computer, or video game, you’ll want to avoid anything that can stimulate your brain or body out of rest. Even if your eyes are closed, light in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep.

If you start with these steps, you may find yourself getting more sleep each and every night.

In honor of National Sleep Week, I am offering free sleep screenings.  Sign up using the box to the right of this post.

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Do you catch up on Facebook or check your e-mail right before going to bed? You are not alone…

A study released on Monday indicated that people in the United States are losing sleep over their late night television watching and social media activities. You can read more about the National Sleep Foundation study here.

According to the study, 95% of us play video games, watch television or use smartphones or laptop computers right before going to bed.

Spending that last hour before bed staring at the light from your monitor or smartphone makes getting to sleep more difficult because the light supresses the release of sleep-producing melatonin and makes you more alert.

According to the study, 43 percent of people ages 13 to 64 felt they rarely or never got a decent night’s sleep during the work week.

Cutting back on gadget use an hour before bedtime will help you relax and get  a better night’s sleep.

Stay tuned for more tips tomorrow on how to create a bedroom environment conducive to sleep (yes, kicking the computer out of the bedroom is a good start…)

In honor of Sleep Awareness week, I am offering free sleep screenings on Friday, March 11.  Fill out the form on the right side of this page to schedule your appointment.

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Have you tried ‘everything’ and still can’t sleep?

One of the first (and hardest steps) of treating a sleep problem is recognizing that all those sleepless nights may by signs of a treatable sleep disorder. Many people ignore the symptoms of a sleep problem … willing themselves to get more sleep each night and waking up tired every morning. We tell ourselves to “get more sleep” but often, this is easier said than done.

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 you particular sleep problem. One of the most helpful things is to talk to a professional about your sleep issues.

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 (sign up using the box on the right)

Here are some of the reasons you may not be sleeping well:

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.  The sign up box is to the right on this website.

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Today is National Women’s Day. At TED Women, Arianna Huffington recently talked about getting more sleep can change the world. Enjoy…

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Here’s a short quiz for you.

Question:  What’s one of the greatest benefits of getting enough sleep every night?

Answer:  WEIGHT LOSS AND LESS HUNGER THROUGHOUT THE DAY!!!

Wow.  How’s that for a free benefit you can do on your own, and without spending any money or buying any equipment?

Click here to read this great article from Psychology Today.

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Sleep and Stress are two sides of the same coin. Click here to see the American Psychological Association’s take on what systems of the body are affected by stress. 

Can you find what systems are being affected by your own stress, and figure out how this affects your sleep?

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Bedtime routines can be a great way to wind down from an eventful day and can set the tone for a good night’s rest. Bedtime activities seem to be pretty universal across the U.S., but this study explores an interesting connection between racial/ethnic backgrounds and bedtime rituals and sleep quality.

Click here to read the article.

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Do you consider yourself a night owl?   This video provides some insight into why some are “night owls” while others are “early risers”.  It also describes how our sleep rhythms can be problematic and what to do to get things back on track.

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The Gentle Art of Sleeping

by admin on October 18, 2010 · 0 comments

in Sleep

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The SCIENCE of sleep is a complex study of chemical and biological systems.  The ART of sleep is a more intuitive way to approach getting to a peaceful state of rest.

In this video are a few simple ideas to help you tune into your body and environment, so you can master the Gentle Art of Sleeping.

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