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You might be a Werewolf.

13 Sep

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Do you have trouble sleeping during a full moon? You might be a werewolf! In the spirit of Friday the 13th, and with a full moon less than a week away, I thought it was appropriate to write a post on how to maintain your beauty sleep during a full moon. So for all you werewolves and beasts out there, keep reading for how to combat the effects of a full moon. Hurry! There isn’t much time before the transformation begins!

You might be a werewolf but you’re certainly not a night owl!
Go to sleep early! Dr. Christian Cajochen, a Psychiatrist, from the University of Basel, Switzerland, and his team studied 33 volunteers. He noticed that during a full moon the participants took around five minutes longer to fall asleep and woke up approximately twenty minutes earlier than normal. Because of this, it is recommended that you try to go to bed earlier to make up for minutes of lost sleep. Go to sleep 30 minutes earlier two days prior to the full moon and continue for up until two days after. This will help make up for the sleep you will be losing.

Got Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is part of the human sleep-wake cycle. At night, at approximately 9:00pm, your body begins to actively produce melatonin. These melatonin levels stay elevated for about 12 hours and then fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 am. Dr. Christian Cajochen’s study showed that during a full moon your melatonin levels are reduced. So what can you do? You can buy melatonin over the counter at basically any health food store or drug store. Even though you can buy the supplement over the counter, consult with your doctor before taking it or any other hormone. In order for melatonin to work properly you need to know the correct dosage and what time of day to take it. Improper use can negatively affect your sleep and can be harmful to your health.

Control what you can.
You can’t control the moon but you can control your bedtime sleep regimen. During a full moon make sure you do all that you can to aid in falling asleep and staying a sleep. This includes stopping your intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, spicy foods and big meals at an early hour, keeping your room at a cool temperature, limiting the use of electronics an hour before bed and making sure to turn off all light producing electronics when it’s time for bed. These are all sleep habits that you should already be following on a daily basis.

 

Hopefully my tips help you fight your inner werewolf. However, if they don’t, don’t yell at me, howl at the moon!

 

 

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Beware of Football Season

3 Sep

Are You Ready for Some Football? Football season is here and I for one could not be more excited! (High-5 to all my fellow Jets fans out there!)

Whether you’re a football fan or not, football can affect all aspects of your life, including your sleep quality. Think about it. Even if you don’t sit down and watch the game, most likely someone (sister, brother, mother, father) in your house is. All the loud shouting and chanting can affect your stress levels and sleep, even if your not the one cheering. Not only are games an all-day Sunday event but they are also on late during the week. How are you supposed to have a relaxing weekend or night after work, with football on the brain? I know I can’t. I get way too excited knowing a game is looming around the corner. Have fun this football season…don’t let it interfere with your sleep. Here are some points to remember for the 2013 football season.

 

“Waiting all day for Sunday night!”

So Captureit’s finally time for Sunday night football and you’ve invited all of your friends over for the big game. Have fun cheering with your friends! After all that is what football season is all about. Unfortunately there are some consequences to having your friends over for the late night, three hour game and losing out on sleep is the biggest one. No matter what you do you will miss the sleep needed for work the next morning. There’s no way around it. However, here are some ways of dealing with the sleep depriving factors of watching the game.

  1. The night before the big Sunday night event make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep. You want to start the long day off right and make sure you are well rested.
  2. Take a 20-minute nap before your friends come over. “Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation, says Sara C. Mednick, PhD, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she says. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.” A nap will make you feel more refreshed for some of the sleep you will be missing later on.
  3. Make sure to limit your intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages and stop drinking them by halftime. You need to give your body enough time to process the alcohol otherwise it can interfere with your sleep. “Deep sleep is when the body restores itself, and alcohol can interfere with this,” explains Dr John Shneerson, head of the sleep centre at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. ” As the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep, which is much easier to wake from. That’s why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you’ve been drinking.” It takes on average an hour for your body to process one serving of alcohol so stopping the consumption by halftime is a good rule of thumb.

 

Are you kidding me? We lost again!

It’mark-sanchez-fumbles-off-of-his-teammates-butt-in-a-play-that-pretty-much-sums-up-jets-patriotss after midnight on Monday and you are up thinking about your team’s loss against their biggest rivalry. After a major loss I’m always up rethinking the game and how my quarterback could have won the game if he didn’t make a stupid mistake (prime example: the Sanchez fumble). I’m normally still watching post game interviews, yelling at my television screen. Unfortunately the anxiety and stress does not help with the much-needed sleep for work in the morning. So how do you deal with post-game stress?

  1. First of all stop watching the post game highlights before bed! Record them and watch them the next day. You need to give yourself 35-40 minutes to wind down before going to bed.
  2. Say a prayer for next week’s game! I am not joking! Prayer can reduce stress drastically before bedtime. Not religious? Meditation works just as well. Check out some tips on meditation by visiting http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/12/better-sleep-through-medi_n_676353.html.

Hopefully these tips will help you get the sleep you need throughout this football season. Your sanity, however, will depend on your team’s performance. Good luck and may the best team win!

Children & Sleep – Two things that don’t mix well, especially during the summer months.

8 Aug

Schools out for summer but that doesn’t mean that your child should be breaking all the rules. With summer camps, day trips to the beach and vacations with family and friends, this time of year children need more sleep than ever. This can prove to be very difficult with the increased daylight hours and their constantly changing schedules. Even though there is no “magic” sleep number, toddlers should get around 12 to 14 hours of sleep, school aged children should have 9 to 11 hours and your teenager should get 7 to 9 hours a night. Not only does lack of sleep have an effect on your child’s health but it also causes them to have more fragile emotions, less resiliency, and crankiness. Check out the below tips to help your child get the sleep they need, and you the relaxation you deserve, this summer.

Time large meals and beverWeight-Gain-and-Sugary-Drinksages containing sugar.

Make sure that dinner is served a few hours before your child’s bedtime. Large meals before bed can sit in their stomachs, making them uncomfortable, and can even give them indigestion. You should also make sure they consume all of their sugary drinks earlier in the day. Sugar, like caffeine, will give your child more energy and can make it harder to get them to fall asleep.

Stop vigorous activities at an early hour.duck bath

While I understand it’s summer and your child will want to be outside, running around until the sun goes down, you have to make sure to cut their high-energy activities at least two to three hours before their bedtime. You would think that more activity closer to bedtime would tire your child out but it actually does the opposite. Encourage calm, stress free activities before bed such as reading a book, playing a board game, or making an art project. A hot bath can also help and I am sure they will need it after playing outside all day.

calendarStick to a Routine.

Once school is out it’s hard to keep your child on the same schedule. They want to stay up late and play outside with friends or watch television. They also try to sleep in. Forget about keeping them on schedule while on vacation. However if you try to keep their schedule close to their school year routine, it will help your child get the right amount of sleep they need and it will make your job of getting them to bed much easier, especially when the school year starts up again. Ideally you want to keep bedtime and wake times within an hour of their regular schedule,” says Malia Jacobson, author of “Sleep Tight Every Night” and “Ready, Set, Sleep.” “If kids get in the habit of sleeping until noon, it can take weeks to get back on schedule when school starts.”

While it might be difficult, do your best to enforce these rules and resist their puppy dog eyes and pleas of “Just one more hour!”

Up, Up and AWAY!

11 Jun

il_570xN.370110578_1hp1It’s summer and the vacation season has started, which means that you are more than likely in the midst of booking your flight to some getaway location. Perhaps you are planning a wine tasting tour of Italy, a scenic safari through the dunes of Dubai, or maybe even a trip to the beach in Tahiti to soak up the sun. No matter where the destination, don’t let your lack of sleep ruin it. After all, summer vacations are supposed to be all about fun and relaxation, right? One of the most common summertime sleep disorders is jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that can cause fatigue, disorientation, impaired concentration, lack of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances, and headaches. It is brought on after traveling huge distances, across several time zones, and can last for days. What causes jet lag? Jet lag happens because rapid travel throws off your body’s natural rhythm or biological clock. “Cues such as light exposure, mealtimes, social engagement, and activities regulate our circadian rhythm,” says Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center. “When you cross time zones, it disrupts those, and your internal clock and the external times are desynchronized. Your body needs to get on the rhythm of the new time zone.” How can you get away from home and still enjoy your vacation without the dreaded effects of jet lag? Here are a few tips to get you through those summertime, traveling blues.

1. Pre-flight tips:

  • About a week before your trip, slowly start to shift your sleeping and eating schedule to match that of your vacation spot. This will help your body cope with the time change.
  • Make sure that all of your trip preparations are done well ahead of time. You do not want to be stressed right before your trip. Stress can cause your body to produce more adrenaline, which prevents you from sleeping.
  • Make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before your journey. You want to be well rested since getting quality sleep on a plane can prove difficult for most travelers.

2. All aboard! In flight tips:

  • Change your watch to match your destination’s time zone as soon as you board your flight. “This is mostly psychological,” says Siebern, “but it helps you get into the mind-set of what you’ll be doing in the place where you’re going.” Mimic the time of day at your destination location. If it is nighttime at your destination then sleep and if it is daytime then try to stay awake. This, along with resetting your watch, will help your mind and body prepare for the new time zone.
  • Hydration is key. Make sure to drink plenty of water right before your flight and during your flight. Airplanes are often dry atmospheres, which aid in dehydration. Dehydration can actually cause the same symptoms as jet lag and can add to the fatigue, loss of energy, and headaches that you feel.
  • Minimize sleep distractions. If you are a light sleeper make sure to pack earplugs or headphones, a sleep mask, a pillow, and a blanket for your flight.

3. You’re finally there! Make sure the first day is dedicated to getting your body on track so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation.

  • Watch your food and liquid consumption. Alcohol, caffeine, and large or spicy meals can interfere with a good nights sleep so avoid these your first day in your new location.
  • Make sure that when you are ready to go to sleep that all incoming light in your new location is silenced. Close your curtains, or blinds, and turn off electronics. Light has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up and actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness.

Vacation is supposed to be a break from the real world. Don’t let the jet lag interfere! Start planning now so that your vacation will be a true trip to paradise.

Summer is Upon Us!

24 May

Grab your swim trunks and your “flippie floppies”! Summer is here! Okay, well maybe summer isn’t officially here yet but this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which signifies the unofficial start of summer. If only mother earth knew! She might not be ready for summer, but I know I am! While summer is the best season, in my opinion any way, it also is the time of the year when Americans lose the most sleep. Even though we all love the warm weather, it plays a huge role in sleep deprivation. I decided to research the many reasons why Americans tend to lose sleep during the summer months and dug up some ways to combat those summer night sleeping woes.

Heat is one of the major reasons Americans lose sleep during the summer months. The temperature of your bedroom directly affects REM sleep. Why? “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature, the temperature your brain is trying to achieve, goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University. “Think of it as the internal thermostat.” If it’s too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point and causes you to wake up which in turn affects your quality of sleep. So how can you fix this problem? Simply turn up the AC right? Well if you don’t have central air or if you want to keep your electric bill down, like me, here are some tips to cool down those summer nights.

1. Keep your windows and shades completely closed during the day and then open your windows when you go to sleep at night. By doing this you will block most of the daytime sunlight from entering your room and in turn will lower the overall temperature of your bedroom.

2. You get a new wardrobe in the summer, why shouldn’t your bed? Just like you store away your winter coats and sweatshirts, put away your comforter and flannel sheets. Try using sheets made with natural fibers. Sheets made of natural materials are more breathable versus synthetic materials, which don’t allow ventilation. You can also try a light-colored sheet. Light shades reflect light rather than absorb it, keeping your bed nice and cool.

3. “Go to the mattresses!” Go to war against the summer heat by literally going to the mattresses. Just like the material of your sheets matter, so does the material used in your mattress. Go natural! Not only is this good for the environment but it also helps you catch some extra ZZZ’s. Mattresses made with natural materials keep you warm in winter and cool in the summer. Why? Because they are more breathable than man-made materials and help wick moisture away from the body. Looking for a natural, hand-made mattress? Shifman Mattress Company helps reduce the carbon footprint by only using materials that are natural, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, which is why the number one material used in their mattresses is cotton. They actually use up to 83 pounds of it in one mattress! With a cotton mattress in your arsenal you are ready to go to war again the heat of summer.

In addition to heat, sunlight has a direct effect on the body by signaling your brain to wake up. The light actually stops the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which responds to darkness. Long summer daylight hours can make sleeping difficult. In the summer the sun rises at around 5:30am! Doesn’t the sun know that summertime is for sleeping in? Unfortunately the sun doesn’t rise and set by the simple flick of a switch. So what can you do?

1. Use dark, heavy blinds and curtains. This will block most of the morning sunlight from seeping into your room and waking you up. It will also put you in control, not the sun, of deciding when you want to wake up.

2. Still too much light coming in? (What are you a vampire?!) Try using an eye mask. By using all three of these sun-blocking tools, you are ready to go to battle against the morning sun.

Summer is for fun in the sun and for rest and relaxation. By following these tips you are sure to kick off your summer right and keep you going strong all season long!

Sleep: Who Needs it More?

8 Mar

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationDo women need more sleep than men? “Yes!” says  Jim Horne, author of Sleepfaring: A Journey through the Science of Sleep. Horne explains that women need about twenty more minutes of sleep than men each night. “Women tend to multi-task  –  they do lots at once and are flexible  –  and so they use more of their actual brain than men do. Because of that, their sleep need is greater.”

While women are supposed to be getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, many women are actually chronically sleep-deprived. Aside from the daily grind, there are many other biological factors that affect a woman’s quality of sleep such as:

  •  Pregnancy: Most women experience discomfort from weight gain and the position of the fetus.
  •  Hot flashes due to menopause
  •  Anxiety and stress – (Science Daily reports that women have higher anxiety than men due to cell signals and hormones).

If women have a more difficult time sleeping, but also need more sleep than men, what can be done? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that women combat insomnia by limiting their caffeine and alcohol intake, increasing their daily exercise, and setting a routine sleep schedule.

Also, investing in a comfortable mattress will help improve an individual’s sleep environment, allowing for both comfort and relaxation.

Women of world: take a nap. Statistics show you need it!

Sleep and be well!

Hallo-Lean

17 Oct

Ahhh… the onset of Halloween. Endless bowls of candy replace your summer decor as the inevitable commencement of the holiday season subtly inches closer and closer.

Temperatures begin to fall, the days get shorter — and people put on weight. And aside from the obvious reasons why people gain weight –less exercise & heartier meals– a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that chronically sleep deprived individuals are more likely to store fat than their well rested counterparts. Further, the study noted that those who were sleep deprived were also at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

YIKES! Now that’s something to scream over.

According to the study, not getting enough sleep reduces your fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is crucial for regulating energy storage. So, in the same way that your brain becomes groggy when you’re sleepy, your fat cells do, too!

Are YOU getting enough sleep?

David Neubauer, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center said: “The study reinforces the importance of good sleep generally in promoting health… [The study] is an important step in our understanding of the relationship of sleep and physiological functioning, particularly regarding the increased risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity in people who have inadequate sleep.”

So the next time you’re straining to keep your eyes open to watch a little more late-night television, surrender! Just let sleep do its thing.

Best Mattresses for Back Pain

28 Aug

Is back pain wreaking havoc on your mornings? Slamming your snooze button, stumbling to the shower and leaving your home with an unfriendly pain in the you-know-what, doesn’t have to be your morning routine! Don’t let early morning anguish pave the way for a bad day. (Right Daniel Powter?)

 

Cheer up! It’s not that you’re waking up on the wrong side of the bed, it simply could be that you’re waking up on the wrong mattress. In fact, sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause lower back pain or worsen existing back pain. A mattress that lacks support reinforces poor sleeping posture which absolutely contributes to body aches.

Everyone has a different definition of comfort. Finding a mattress that is both comfortable and supportive is the key to a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to invest in a mattress with a long comfort life as well (since buying a mattress is as much of a health decision as it is a financial decision).

  1. Choose Comfort! First and foremost, it’s important you choose a mattress that is comfortable. Make sure you try out all of your favorite sleep positions before you purchase. Lying flat on your back isn’t a great indicator of how comfortable a mattress is if that’s not normally how you sleep. Feel free to sprawl out and roll over. Remember, this is your hard-earned cash, spend it wisely. Also, if you share a bed with a partner, make sure that he/she finds it comfortable, too!
  2. Mattress Ingredients: Know what’s in your mattress! Having a little knowledge about what your mattress is made of goes a long way. Don’t buy a mattress that has a history of body impressions. Take advantage of the internet and online reviews. Keep in mind that you’re trying to solve your achy back problems, not add to them.
  3. Proper Support: Make sure your sales rep educates you on how the mattress components work together to provide proper support. Coil construction, upholstery materials and boxspring information are components you’ll want to know about. I highly recommend buying a mattress set with a true boxspring (not a solid wood foundation). A true boxspring acts as a shock-absorber and decreases the wear and tear of the mattress. In addition, investing in a two-sided mattress (and turning it regularly) will help decrease the onset of body-impressions. A lot of companies will tell you that their one-sided mattresses defy the laws of gravity and don’t need to be flipped. Sure it’s a great marketing tactic, but it’s simply not true. Always remember that two sides are better than one!
  4. Be A Discriminating Shopper: Know what mattress is right for you! If the goal of your purchase is to alleviate back pain, make sure that you buy a supportive mattress that caters to correct sleep posture, pressure relief and improved circulation. A mattress that adapts and reacts to contour the curves of your body will help reduce pressure on the spine and help you achieve a better night’s sleep.
  5. Know When To Buy A New Mattress: A quick fix is not what you need. If you see that your mattress is sagging and you’re waking up with back pain, then know that the solution to this problem isn’t a new mattress topper; it’s an entire new mattress set!

A good night’s sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and energized in the morning. Starting the day off with a negative attitude because of your saggy mattress is not the way to live your life. Make things easier on yourself, buy a supportive mattress. And then maybe, just maybe, you could be that person on a beach in the early morning silhouetting a sunrise, enamoured with the shining prospect of a new day.

Work and Play AND Sleep?

18 Jul

It’s Friday night and you’re looking forward to going out and letting loose. There’s just one problem: you’re exhausted from working all week. What do you do? Take a quick nap? Drink an energy drink? Forego your night and slip on your jammies?

Work hard, play hard, sleep hard.  Ah, the virtues of hard-work counterbalanced by our focus on play. Of course, nowhere in this phrase does sleep play a role, although, it definitely should.

According to a study conducted by the independent, nonprofit organization, National Sleep Foundation, working too much and sleeping too little takes a serious toll on the professional and personal lives of many people.

The report also found that workdays mean less sleep for a high percentage of individuals.

Polls showed that 33 percent of consumers (the largest percent), are getting anywhere from 6 to less than 7 hours of sleep on workdays, with a similar percentage, 30 percent, getting seven to less than eight hours of sleep. Meanwhile, the average number of hours slept per weekday was 6 hours and 44 minutes!

“Studies show that habitually getting inadequate sleep — less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night –- creates long-lasting changes to one’s ability to think and function well during the day,” said Thomas J. Balkin, PhD, co-chair of the poll task force and NSF vice chair. “These negative effects can accrue slowly over weeks, months, and even years of inadequate sleep habits and cannot simply be reversed by a few nights of good sleep.”

The National Sleep Foundation says that in order to survive in today’s fast-paced world, many people say they use a variety of coping methods when getting an inadequate amount of sleep.

  • 84 percent say that they just accept it and keep going;
  • 58 percent of respondents say they consume caffeinated beverages;
  • 38 percent say they choose foods high in sugar and carbohydrates;
  • 37 percent say they will later take a nap;
  • And, 5 percent take alerting medications.

So what’s the solution? The answer is easy: get more sleep! But for many people, fitting sleep into their busy lives is often a burden.  That’s why it’s important to realign your schedule during the day: running errands on your lunch break, making dinner earlier or just simply organizing yourself are all ways to get to get to sleep earlier. Of course, I should mention that buying a new, comfortable mattress helps, too!

The reality is, you need sleep to be productive. Don’t let your professional and personal life suffer due to bad management skills. Figure it out, get more sleep and enjoy your life.

The Truth About Beauty Sleep

14 Jun

The movie “Sleeping Beauty” left behind a highly romanticized image of what women should look like asleep. Let’s face it… not all of us sleep in beautiful gowns, cuddling a rose with perfect hair and a full face of make-up. (And frankly, it might be a little strange if we did). The reality, however, is that men and women don’t always look so hot when they sleep: snoring, sweating, drooling and sleeping in twisted positions with our mouths open are all agreeably unattractive ways to be caught snoozing, but they’re accurate!

The point I’m trying to make here is that it doesn’t really matter what you look like WHILE you sleep. What actually matters is HOW you sleep.

Swedish researchers say that “beauty sleep” is more than just a flighty phrase, it’s science! The British Medical Journal published a study which found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, less attractive and more tired than that of their well-rested counterparts. “Sleep is the body’s natural beauty treatment” said John Axelsson, a Swedish researcher from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. “It’s probably more effective than any other treatment you could buy.”

Twenty-three healthy adults ages 18 to 31 were photographed once after eight hours of sleep and photographed again after staying awake for 31 straight hours and sleeping for only five hours.

The photos were judged by 65 individuals in three categories including how healthy, attractive and tired the individuals appeared. The study found that the sleep-deprived participants were less attractive and appeared to have less color, smaller eyes and puffy skin.

Now it’s no surprise that after 31 hours of sleep deprivation and only 5 hours of sleep, study subjects won’t look their best. But according to Axelsson: “It’s possible you get these effects through chronic sleep deprivation.” Meaning, if you happen to be a chronically sleep deprived person (always receiving less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night) then it’s likely that your physical appearance consistently suffers from an inadequate amount of sleep.

Therefore, although we might not always look like beauties while we sleep, sleeping more can effectively improve our physical attractiveness. Additionally, getting a great night’s sleep also puts us in a better mood, so you’ll not only look better, but you’ll feel better, too!

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