Posts for tag: sleep
Sleep is a tricky thing these days, particularly if our goal is adequate (in terms of time), healthy (in terms of quality) and rejuvenating (in terms of whether you wake up ready to take on the world – or ready to go back to bed again). The unfortunate reality is that as a culture, we're experiencing poorer sleep overall and suffering the short- and long-term health consequences.
What can we do about it? There's a science to good sleep we can rely on to ensure we awaken well-rested after an uninterrupted night's sleep. Here are three to help motivate you to get the ZZZZs you need.
1. Embrace the Darkness: Can't get to sleep or find yourself waking up frequently during the night? Maybe your room isn't dark enough. Beyond the fact that our eyes are sensitive to light and will be disturbed by too much light, our body's sleep-wake cycle is based on adequate darkness. The Solution: Turn off all lights and the TV at least 15 minutes before settling in for the night. Use curtains on all windows and avoid a nightlight if at all possible.
2. Technology Is a Turnoff (and Needs to Be Turned Off): We've become accustomed to lounging in bed for hours, watching TV or trolling the Internet with our laptops, tablets or cellphones. All that does is keep your brain on high alert, rather than settling it down for a relaxing night's sleep. The Solution: Make your bedroom a place of peace and tranquility, not a computer lab / video arcade. Do you even need a television in the bedroom when you've got multiple TVs throughout your home? Prepare for sleep the right way – the technology-free way.
3. Drink All Day (But Not at Night): Your body needs water, and if you exercise, you need even more. But drink too much / too close to bedtime, particularly as you age, and you'll find your sleep interrupted multiple times for groggy trips to the bathroom.
The Solution: Try not to drink liquids after 6-7 p.m. whenever possible. Throughout the day, go to the bathroom when the urge strikes to help keep your bladder empty (and avoid bladder infections).
You deserve a good night's sleep, so why are you making it so difficult to achieve? Take these tips to heart and talk to your doctor about other easy ways to kick the sheep to the curb and sleep soundly – tonight and every night.
Saturday night or Sunday morning we will all mindlessly set our clocks ahead and bemoan the hour we won't get back until October.
And on Monday and Tuesday, our risk of having a car accident will rise about 6%, research shows, as will our chances of being in a workplace accident. Productivity traditionally plummets too, in the days after a shift to daylight saving time.
So why do we all engage in this annual ritual?
Probably not for the reasons you think.
There's a national myth that we switch our clocks to give more daylight to the farmers, but it wasn't until 1966, when the farm lobby was shrunk and weakened, that their half-century of opposition to daylight saving was overruled.
Ben Franklin didn't invent it either, although he did suggest that cannons should be fired off at dawn so the lazy Parisians of the mid-18th century didn't waste precious daylight hours.
And, contrary to popular belief, switching our clocks doesn't save energy — in fact, it adds to our tab.
The reason? The switch encourages us to spend more time outdoors in the evening, driving to shopping malls, patronizing local sports teams and stopping at the convenience store to fill up our tanks and ourselves, said Michael Downing, author of the 2005 book, Spring Forward: the Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and a creative writing professor at Tufts University outside of Boston.
Plus, we all revel in long summer evenings, made possible by that shift in time.
Not to be a killjoy, but management professor Christopher Barnes, of the University of Washington, said he only sees a downside to the time shift, which robs us of at least 40 minutes of sleep by Monday morning.
"I have not seen any benefits of this change," said Barnes, an expert in organizational behavior. "I've only seen a downside in my data and the other studies."
Barnes' research has shown that what he calls Sleepy Monday could be called Risky Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday are more dangerous than usual, too, but the elevated risk fades by the end of the week. He's documented an increase in workplace injuries and the severity of those injuries, and more "cyberloafing" — looking at online entertainment websites (and so cute kittens), instead of working. Other research shows that heart attack rates and car accidents are significantly higher on Sleepy Monday.
"Just from a small amount of lost sleep we see a noticeable effect," he said.
Psychologist Stanley Coren, of the University of British Columbia, in Canada, agrees that losing sleep is bad news. But Coren, who did some of the original research on traffic accidents and daylight saving, also sees an upside to the time shift.
Because it'll be brighter for the commute home for the next few weeks, there will be fewer car accidents from twilight driving, he said.
And there's one simple way to make Sleepy Monday safer and therefore reap all the benefits and none of the costs.
"Go to bed an hour earlier," Coren said. "It's not rocket science." and don't forget you change you clock.
By Editorial Staff of To your Health
Whether you're a night owl enjoying the social scene until early morning; a compulsive couch potato destined to watch the boob tube until the clock strikes midnight (or beyond); a parent – new or seasoned – struggling to find enough time in the day to relax, much less sleep; or an overworked, overstressed office worker resigned to daily desk doldrums, fatigue is something we all fight on a daily basis. For some, all that's required is a few extra hours of sleep a night; for too many others, it requires changing your behavior permanently to make relaxation the priority and put fatigue on notice. Here are five ways to fight fatigue and improve your mental and physical health:
- Put your body in motion: Regular exercisers understand that the secret to long-term energy actually comes from expending energy through exercise. Counter-intuitive to non-exercisers and even new exercisers, of course, but a simple strategy for building energy that lasts throughout the day. Not only does the act of exercising naturally “wake you up” from your fatigue-draining day, but it also encourages the production of endorphins, chemicals that reduce pain perception and improve mood. What's more, the more muscle you build and the higher your metabolism, the more your body can handle the demands of your busy day – giving you more energy to get out there and show off your great physique.
- Eat to win: This is an easy one when it comes to energy production, but unfortunately, it's ignored on an ever-increasing basis. Fast foods, processed snacks and nutrition-deficient meals not only provide short-term energy that quickly fades, leaving you fatigued – not to mention hungry, which can lead to overeating and weight gain (a definite energy-sapper); the sugar and fat content of many of the foods Americans commonly eat also “weigh us down,” literally and figuratively, draining us of our physical ability (and mental desire) to do anything except lie down and take a nap. In short, our eating habits are a recipe for disaster when it comes to staying energized. The solution is straightforward: Replace some of those burgers and shakes with nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins that provide your body with an all-day source of energy.
- Get into a sleep rhythm: Research suggests that the amount of sleep you get is less important than the regularity and quality of sleep when it comes to proper restoration / rejuvenation. That means if you get eight hours of sleep a night, but it's interrupted by barking dogs, crying babies or countless trips to the bathroom, there's a good chance you'll be fighting fatigue more than the person who only gets six hours a night, but does so in peaceful, uninterrupted fashion. What's more, timing is pivotal when it comes to sleep: go to bed at about the same time every night (and wake up at about the same time every morning) and you'll find yourself more refreshed and energized than if your sleep schedule varies widely.
- Get away: Pure and simple, if you never have a chance to relax and restore your energy levels, you'll gradually wear down until the meter's on empty. Whether it's taking a few vacations away from the office – and the city you live in – every year; reserving 15-20 minutes a day to read a good book, soak in the bath or just take a walk and process your day; or reminding yourself that the paperwork on your desk can wait until tomorrow, keep your energy levels high by making some you time to remind yourself that life is great – and so much more rewarding when you've got the energy to enjoy it.
Your Health ~ March, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 03)
Lose Sleep, Gain Weight
Gaining weight may have to do more with how many zzz's you are getting rather than how much you are consuming. New research has found that losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain. Just how much? Let's find out.
Recently, researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 16 healthy men and women for a two-week experiment tracking sleep, metabolism and eating habits. The goal was to determine how inadequate sleep over just one week affects a person's weight, behavior and physiology, according to the study.
During the first week, half the people were allowed to sleep nine hours a night while the other half stayed up until about midnight and then could sleep up to five hours. Everyone was given unlimited access to food. In the second week, the nine-hour sleepers were then restricted to five hours of sleep a night, while the sleep-deprived participants were allowed an extra four hours.
According to the study, researchers found that staying up late and getting just five hours of sleep increased a person's metabolism. Sleep-deprived participants actually burned an extra 111 calories a day, according to the findings published last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, the light sleepers ended up eating far more than those who got nine hours of sleep, and by the end of the first week the sleep-deprived subjects had gained an average of about two pounds. During the second week, members of the group that had originally slept nine hours also gained weight when they were restricted to just five hours. And the other group began to lose some (but not all) of the weight gained in that first sleep-deprived week, according to the study.
It is always recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, if you are looking to lose some pounds, make sure to get your sleep. It might help you get rid of those extra pounds.
If the he thought of making your bed in the great outdoors makes you apprehensive, you’re not alone. Most of us have gotten accustomed to sleeping in a quiet room with lots of pillows and a cushy mattress to help soothe us to sleep. However, you too can enjoy camping out under the stars on a balmy summer’s night by following some of these helpful tips.
Set up your tent on a flat surface. Having your belongings slide into one corner or experiencing all the blood rushing to your head as you sleep because you are on a tilted surface does not make for a restful night’s sleep. Also ensure that the area over which you set up your tent is free of bumpy objects such as rocks and tree roots that will make you wake up feeling sore and bruised.
Use an inflatable sleeping pad (if you are hiking) or an inflatable air mattress (for those who do not have to trek it along for miles) under your sleeping bag to provide extra padding. And if you use an air mattress, don’t forget to bring along the pump or your lungs will likely give out before you have filled it to anything like a useable state.
Check the weather forecast to see what level of insulation you will need for your sleeping bag. Being either too hot or too cold is not conducive to sleep. And remember that even in locations where it is warm during the day, the temperature can often drop significantly overnight. You can purchase a sleeping bag liner that will add an additional 25 degrees of warmth without being bulky. And if it’s too hot, you can always sleep on top of your sleeping bag.
Though some people find the sound of crickets is an aid in lulling them to sleep, for some (particularly city dwellers) it’s worse than traffic noise on a busy Manhattan street. For those who are light sleepers, consider bringing along some earplugs. Or if you are someone who needs white noise and you are not near the ocean or the crickets in your area have gone on strike, there are a number of smartphone apps that can provide sounds such as that of ocean waves or rain falling on the roof.
Be sure your sleepwear is dry. If your clothing is damp or wet, change into dry ones and put on a fresh pair of socks to make you feel extra comfortable. And make sure you do not overdress, as you can become overheated and sweaty, which can lead to getting a chill. A light pair of long underwear is your best bet, and if you are a bit too cool, throw your jacket or a light blanket over your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
A little light exercise before bed can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Nothing too vigorous to get you sweating, just a few sit-ups or some yoga is good for getting the circulation going and tiring you just enough to settle you down to sleep. So take these tips and enjoy your night under the star-filled sky!