There was an article recently that stated that 9 million people are receiving prescriptions for sleeping pills. This shows the true issue with healthcare in America. We want an instant solution and we do not want to do any work. We also do not consider that medication does not give us the same type of sleep natural sleep gives the body.
The issue is why do we need to take pill to sleep and is there another solution that works just as well as a pill? I am not saying that there is not a reason for some people to take sleep medication. But it should not be the first choice to treat, poor sleep and fatigue. The physician treats disease and disorder they do not promote wellness. It is most likely that your doctor is as tired and has as poor sleep habits and is walking around as fatigued as their patients.
The first step is to decide if you have a sleep disorder? If you have an answer to the STOPBANG survey of greater than 3 than you need to talk to your doctor:
1. Do you SNORE loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
2. Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
3. Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
4. Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?
5. BMI more than 35?
6. AGE over 50 years old?
7. NECK circumference > 15.75 inches?
8. Male GENDER?
The next step is to look at your sleep routine. Our brains are computers in that they need a routine to slow down and allow our body to release the hormones that promote sleep. A routine is not put on my pajamas and go to bed. It should be 20-45 minutes prior to going to bed. It also should generally occur 7 days a week at the same time each night. Our brain does not know weekdays and weekends it just knows the 24 hours of the day. Choose a specific bedtime. Do the same activities each night for the 45 minutes prior to going to sleep. These should be activities that will help you to unwind. I do ten minutes of yoga because it helps me to relax and allows me to concentrate on my breathing so my mind will stop racing with ideas. Create a routine that works for you that does not include television or computers.
Electronics are the new biggest issue to increase our inability to sleep. Cell phones need to be away from the bed. The light stimulates the brain to not release Melatonin. In order for our brains to transition from wake to sleep we need exposure to dark. Cell phones prevent that. When we check our cell phones during the night we again stimulate the brain confusing it as to whether they it is supposed to be awake or asleep.
Exercise is another factor to help sleep. Studies show that exercise over the long term helps to increase sleep and its quality. That means that if you work out in the morning it might not help with that particular night’s sleep but that if you work out three days a week for a month your sleep will start to improve. You have to decide what exercise you can fit into your life. There is no right or wrong it is about increased movement.
There are many other ways to help you improve your sleep without turning to a pill as your first resource. It is essential that we look at healthcare for what it is disease management not wellness management. It is important for you to do your research and to understand how important it is for you to make an informed decision about healthy sleep and how you can achieve it. If ultimately you need it than a sleeping pill might help. Just remember pills have side-effects you may not be aware of.
It was a typical night where I was trying to avoid homework from work and from school. Dr Oz has a guest on who was talking about yet another controversial idea about medicine and sleep. It included several different products to help sleep. He did talk a little about routine but again focused on foods and supplements and homeotherapy. In the end the information was not complete and did not take into account lifestyle and the overall goal of helping people sleep.
When we look we should truly be talking about routines. Sleep routines just like when we were raising our kids help to create a good night sleep. This does not include electrics such a television and cell phones. And every routine needs to be individual to the person creating it. It needs to be easy and it needs to help at the same time each night. It also has to take advantage of the exposure to darkness that allows the body to secrete Melatonin.
If we look at a child’s routine we see the bones of it. You set a bedtime, usually a reasonable one, which will allow them to get enough sleep to be successful the next day. You do a bath routine. You know the things that tell a child it is bed time like brushing teeth, washing his face. They change into comfy sleep clothes and climb into an inviting bed with 1 or two stuffed animals but no more. Then you put a glass of water on the nightstand to help eliminate a complaint, you take time to help relax him or her by reading a story or singing a song, sometimes both. You give a hug and keep to leave the child feeling loved and secure.
So how do we move our life to this without making it boring? I think that it depends on the person. My mind tends to wander and get stuck in the worry mode. For me I use one of three routines. On bad days where I have anger or frustration that needs to be processed I will do yoga because deep breathing and movement helps me to unwind and relax. However, if I am stressed about school and work than yoga does not work and I will try progressive relaxation because it helps me relax the muscles that tend to stay tense. Finally if all else does not work I will listen to a guided imagery because sometimes I need to be led and that works for me. I always read before bed because my brain likes to learn.
Overall it helps to put your routine in words and adjust it until you find what the best is for you. Than you have to do it. The results will help you to sleep better with a shorter sleep onset time. Ultimately better sleep will give you more energy during the day and increase your memory and improve your mood.
One of the most helpful practices is the use of progressive relaxation to deal with the stress at the end of the day. This will help reduce your desire to munch, wine or stair at the ceiling all night. This is not hard to learn and will be an enjoyable part of your sleep routine.
I first learned to do this in a test taking class in high school many moons ago. I later taught my children this as a way to relax. My daughter used it to fall asleep and to help her when her creativity has a momentary block. My son used it when his anger would get out of control. It help me survive their childhood with my sanity.
The first step is to get that comfortable spot. Some people sit up and some lie down. It is a personal preference. It always starts at your feet and tighten them as tight as you can and hold for 10 seconds then relax for 10 seconds. Move to your ankles and do the same thing flex for 10 seconds than relax for 10 seconds. Move up your legs to your bottom. That is a large muscle and will really help you to relax. Move up your abdomen and chest to your shoulders. Then you need to move down your arms. Always tighten for 10 then relax for 10. Finally you need to do your face than your scalp. That is where I start to do visualizations if I am going to.
Visualization is not my strong suit but I imagine a soft while glowing ball growing from the middle of my chest all the way out to my toes and fingers. I see the light heal any soreness and weakness I might have. It is my light so I can make it do what I want.
All of this take about 10-15 minutes and helps me feel very relaxed. It is a tool I am using frequency while I am working and going to school and raising children. It is a great tool for focus and does not require anything special except maybe some music. I have used Jeff Gold’s music to help with my exercise and to relax at night. He has a gift for the beauty that music can lend a relaxation technique.
I had the epiphany that my health has been and always will be in my hands. This realization brought me to an understanding that no amount of support from the outside will allow me to change the way I need to to become healthy and energetic. There is no one but myself how is there to inspire me. I do need role models and mentors of which I do have some of the former and have yet to find the latter.
I bring this up because I have the opportunity to work this week with a young lady who had her child’s life disrupted and she needed a little support to do what she already know needed to be done but was not sure how to best achieve her goal of her child sleeping through the night.
We has two lovely talks about what was going on and I made some suggestion of what might work for her child in changing her disrupted sleep routine. She did start with some of my ideas and the child showed improvement and I gave her a couple more suggestions I have hoped has helped.
The take away is that she is a very dedicated mother. That we do not have mentors and support systems in place anymore to help young mothers, and that I can think of nothing better than to share my knowledge with this young woman in helping her to get a good night sleep.
In my case I am looking for the weight loss mentor. I have role models and the one who currently I can see as where I want to be is Mark Bittman. His idea that we do not eat enough who food, fruits and veggies is true. He believes you need to simply make the decision to be healthy and that the goal is not weight loss but to be healthy. I also read a great deal from Jamie Wicks of Peertrainer.com and JJ Virgin. He devotion to her family is amazing.
So what does this have to do with sleep? Well I had the opportunity to mentor and truly enjoy it but a great mentor will have their own mentor to move forward on their own issues. I do have a spititual and business mentor named Dwight Bain who has changed my life but I believe I need a person who can mentor me to become the body I know I should have.
Now I want to offer to mentor you of you feel the need to change a small part of your life. I will help those who want to sleep better, help their children sleep better or who want to know how to blog. I have received so much from you my followers I want to give it back while I search for my new mentor.
As we start the New Year we always make resolutions or goals we would like to achieve during the year. This past year we have all learned that sleep affects all aspects of your health and so you may want to add a better night sleep as one of your goals for the year. The problem is how to approach this to make it practical. Creating SMART goals are usually the most successful goals.
Let’s look at some small changes you can make and add to your daily life that can improve your sleep. These are not big things but small changes you can add to your routine and as you build one on the other you will find that you will sleep better and have more energy during the day.
· Give you your electronics 40 minutes before bedtime. The light given off by your electronics confuse your brain and make it believe it is daytime. If you turn them off 40 minutes prior to bedtime you give you mind time to relax and allow Melatonin to be releases helping you to sleep. Melatonin is released when you are exposed to darkness. So turning down the lights, turning off the electronics and enjoying the quite time during the evening helps to allow this hormone to be released.
· Practice diaphragmatic breathing. One of the great ways to relax is to deep breathe. Lie down, put your hands on your abdomen just below your ribcage as you inhale push out against your hands, as you exhale pull your abdominal muscles in. This exercise helps you to increase your oxygen levels, increase your lung capacity and calm your brain due to your concentration on your breathing. Doing this for 5-10 minutes as part of your bedtime routine will help you especially if you have transient insomnia, or insomnia caused by a particular issue.
· Create a bedtime that is 15 minutes earlier to increase your sleep time. Large changes in bedtime will most likely lead to insomnia but a small change such 15 minutes will allow you to increase your sleep time without adding time just staring at the ceiling.
· Do not use the snooze button. You will find that if you get up at the same time every day and do not linger in bed you will have more energy during the day. It will also help you to not feel so
· Add ten minutes of sunlight to your morning routine. Open the curtains, sit out on the balcony, or take a walk. Any of these ideas will help you to feel more awake and have more energy. Your brain needs the light to tell you to be awake just like it needs the dark to tell it to go to sleep.
These are just a few ideas to add to your life during the New Year. It is not necessary to add all of these ideas or to add them all at once but when you are making a goal using the smart method is the best way to more ahead. Each of these is measurable, sustainable, and very specific. I know improving your sleep will make this year a great your for you.
It is summer and we love to relax on the weekends. It is a great thing but keep in mind that a nap is good any day and time of the year if used correctly. You can appreciate those lazy days and that nap you can take to recharge yourself for the rest of the day or it could make you feel tired and draggy for the rest of the day.
You can use a nap to recharge your batteries. There are a few rules about how to best take a nap
1. A nap should be approximately 20 minutes long. This allows you to get rest and reboot your brain, moving short term memories to long term memories. It gives you bod that chance to get a little recovery time.
2. Listen to your body’s clock to decide when you are going to take your nap. Your body temperature drops during the afternoon around 3 pm. That is the perfect time to take your nap as it is what your body is programed to do.
3. Your nap should be in your bed with the lights, television and electronics off just like when you are going to bed.
4. Even if you do not think you are sleeping you may be. The lightest stage of sleep, called N1 sleep, still allows you to recharge.
5. If you have insomnia a nap is not your best choice. Napping when you have insomnia will just aggravate the problem.
The quick nap will recharge you so the second half of your day will be more energetic. It can allow you to reboot your brain and allow your body to recharge so you can achieve more.
This is a review of the Bodymedia Fit. I have owned mine for a little over the year and have in no way received any request for this review or any products from the company.
A year ago I started wearing the Link, also known as the Body Bugg from the Biggest Loser television show. I want some help to figure out why I have so much difficulty losing weight. It would also tell me how much sleep I have gotten the night before, great side effect for a curious sleep technologist. You than download it to the website. This tells you how many calories you burned, how many steps you too and how well you slept. They also give you a place to track your food.
This technology works using several different ways to monitor your activity. It monitors movement via actigraphy as well as monitoring the body heat you produce. Using both these ways is more accurate than either one alone. You upload the recording to the website. The programs give you graphs that allow you to evaluate your activity level.
The bad part of the sleep graph is it just tells you when it thinks you are asleep and when you are awake. It does not monitor your sleep stages and it does not take into account movements you might have in your sleep. In most cases if you know your basic sleep cycles you can see that your movements usually coincide with REM cycles. Most people change positions prior to going into REM and coming out of REM. It also how long it takes to fall asleep.
So how does this information get used? That is up to the individual. I personally use it to monitor my calories, steps how long it takes me to go to sleep. I already know I have chronic sleep maintenance insomnia due to medications I need to take, so I am more interested in how long it takes me to go to sleep and if I have any long periods of time that I was awake during the night. I look to see if there is a correlation with my activity or food that could cause my issues, so I can make changes.
The bottom line is if you are a geek like me and want to know if there are correlations between your behavior and your sleep this may be for you. If you want accountability or if you are motivated to compete against yourself that this might be a tool for you. If you are hoping that it will tell you what is going on in your day or give you coaching information than this is not the tool for you.
I have received no products or services for this review.