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28 Apr
04 Apr

Moody Much?

Moody Much? The Effects of Sleep on Our Moods

By Lissa Coffey

 

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones – when you are out of sorts and easily irritated, when nothing seems to be working and everything takes more effort? We’ve all been there. And though we tend to blame the traffic, or our co-workers, or the weather, chances are the real culprit that we haven’t gotten enough sleep.

 

Sleep research shows that there is a definite correlation between being sleep deprived, and feeling angry, hostile, and irritable. In addition, a chronic lack of sleep is associated with depression and anxiety.

 

When it comes to emotions, sleep deprivation seems to be the cause of increased emotional reactivity. People who experience sleep loss are much more likely to have a negative reaction when things don’t go well for them. Why is this? It’s got to do with the brain and the part of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for processing negative emotion. When we don’t get enough sleep there’s a disconnect between the amygdala and the area in the brain that regulates its functions. So, sleep loss affects us in two ways: we are more likely to experience negative emotions (or worse than usual negative moods), and we also have less of an ability to regulate those moods.

 

A lack of sleep also affects our positive moods – making them less positive. Without adequate sleep we feel less happy, less friendly, and less compassionate. Even when something great happens for us, for example we win an award, we don’t experience it as positively as we would have if we had gotten enough sleep. Even losing just one hour of sleep could cause us to feel nervous, hopeless, or restless.

 

The good news is that a good night’s sleep can restore these brain connections so that the next day we can do better, and be better, both socially and emotionally. And of course, it follows that adequate, quality sleep promotes positive moods and a sense of well-being.

 

By understanding that this is the case, we can avoid taking on big challenges or confrontations on those days when we haven’t had enough sleep the night before, thereby avoiding possible conflicts and disappointments. We can also wait until days we’ve slept well the night before to celebrate our accomplishments, so that we can enjoy the moment that much more. This understanding also helps us to be more patient with our friends, neighbors and co-workers, and maybe not take it too personally when they snap at us for seemingly no reason.

 

If sleep deprivation continues, emotional problems can become exacerbated. The risk for developing emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety increases. Lack of sleep over time can impair memory, cause us to exercise less and eat less healthfully. We also tend to be less likely to participate in social or leisure activities when we suffer from sleepiness. Chronic lack of sleep affects our relationships, and our work life. In terms of emotions, those few bad days of bad moods can end up turning into weeks as we fall into the habitual lack of sleep. A 1997 study found that insomnia, defined as habitual sleeplessness, or the inability to sleep, increases the risk of a person developing symptoms of depression by more than tenfold.

 

If you’ve been sleeping poorly or feeling depressed for four weeks or more then it is important to address the problem. Experts say that one of the first signs of depression is difficulty with sleep. Lack of sleep and depression often go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to determine which came first. Many who don’t sleep enough are depressed, and many who are depressed don’t sleep well. The same holds true for anxiety. Anxiety makes it difficult to fall asleep. It also makes it difficult to fall back to sleep when we wake up in the middle of the night. Stress affects us in the same way. It makes the body alert and aroused, in the “fight or flight” mode, so that we can’t relax enough to get to sleep. Depression and anxiety cause us to wake up more often in the night, which means we miss out on the vital deep sleep that the mind and body needs to function optimally.

 

Another sleep issue that comes with depression is “hypersomnia” or excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Hypersomnia is when you sleep too much and have trouble staying awake. People with hypersomnia feel abnormally sleepy even when they’ve gotten adequate sleep. As many as 40% of adults with depression struggle with this.

 

Treating a sleep issue often reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. When we sleep well, we feel good. Good sleep helps us to be happier by nurturing our mental and emotional resilience. Sleep also contributes to a robust immune system which helps the body to stay healthy.

 

As you can see, mental health and sleep are intricately connected in many ways. Help yourself to maintain emotional health by following the guidelines that the Better Sleep Council recommends for a good night’s sleep including:

 

– Making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary – keep electronics out, keep the room dark and cool, and invest in a comfortable supportive mattress

– Getting some exercise and sunshine daily

– Getting to bed by 10 pm, and avoiding screen time an hour before bed.

 

There are many more great sleep tips and articles on the BetterSleep.org website.

 

If you are concerned that you might be experiencing depression, or if you have been feeling hopeless and constantly tired for more than four weeks, reach out to a mental health professional. Not sleeping enough, or not getting enough quality sleep, despite following sleep recommendations, or feeling sleepy no matter how much sleep you are getting, could be symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is important to see a professional, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts. You can also call one of these hotlines:

 

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

MentalHelp hotline: 1-888-993-3112

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-you-and-me/201308/

 

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive

 

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood

 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Mood-and-sleep

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6386825/

 

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-insomnia

 

 

 

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04 Apr
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28 Nov

What Are You Wearing? The History of Sleepwear

Pajamas! That’s the popular answer to the “What are you wearing?” question these days. Maybe because we’re at home more, or we just want to feel comfortable and cozy with all the stress in the world, but either way pajamas are definitely a trend in the fashion world. It’s become quite common to see families all dressed up in matching pajamas in holiday pictures on social media!

The purpose of wearing pajamas, or any other sleepwear, is to feel warm and relaxed so that we can get a good night’s sleep. We have so many choices when it comes to sleepwear, so let’s take a look at the history of how these styles came about.

The earliest descriptions of “night clothes” comes from the Middle Ages in Europe. Typically, this consists of a shapeless cloth, similar to a tunic, made of plain linen. Linen was often the fabric of choice because it could absorb perspiration and body oils, and could be boiled and bleached when wash day came around. Both the men’s nightshirt and the women’s “bed smock” looked the same, basically rectangular pieces of fabric simply sewn together.

Later more variety of fabrics were used, including cotton and flannel. The length of the shirt also varied from below the knee to the floor.  Buttons were added, and the design of nightshirts became more distinguishable between men and women. Collars were added for men and lace, ribbons and ruffles for women, but for both men and women this was still a one-piece shirt – no pants!

Women’s nightshirts turned into nightgowns in the early 1900s with embroidered necklines, and fancy sleeves. By 1909 the trend turned less practical and more beautiful as nightgowns turned into negligees made of satin and silk. In 1933 Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue Magazine at the time, had negligees made in Paris sent to her in New York. Her friend, Mary d’Erlanger, a socialite and trend-setter, wore one of the luxurious pink nightgowns to an event as a ball gown and started a new fad.

Pajamas are thought to have originated in ancient India. The word pajama comes from the Hindi words pae jama, meaning leg clothing. These are typically loose-fitting trousers with a drawstring, or now the more modern elastic, waistband. It’s likely that the British, having spent time in India, adopted this tradition in the 1800s. In England, they spell the word pyjamas. Originally, having separate clothes just for sleeping was quite a luxury, so pajamas were considered just for the wealthy. As time went on, more people started wearing pajamas to stay warm, as it was expensive to heat the home. Then the upper class upgraded their sleepwear with fancier, more expensive fabrics to set themselves apart.

By the 1920s pajamas were a definite fashion statement, worn by movie stars of the day. Designers like Coco Chanel made pajamas glamourous with lace and silk and long, flowing matching robes. The trend didn’t last long, though, as World War II had people thinking about being practical and thrifty. Pajama styles returned to their simple nature by the end of the war.

In 1934 It Happened One Night became the first film to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In the popular romantic comedy there is an iconic scene where Claudette Colbert wears Clark Gable’s tailored men’s pajamas. Of course, these pajamas went flying off the shelves of retailers all over the world! The style, a button-up shirt top with matching pants, has stood the test of time because it’s ideal for both men and women who want to look good and be comfortable while they sleep.

The 1950s brought more sleep style options for women, including “Baby Dolls” – pajama shorts with a loose top. By the mid 1980s sales of women’s pajamas outpaced sales of nightgowns. In 1977 Victoria’s Secret opened its first store in Palo Alto, California, offering women many more options in both lingerie and sleepwear. By the early 1990s the retailer had expanded to more than 350 stores nationwide, with sales of $1 billion. Now the company is still the largest lingerie retailer with more than 1000 stores. Perhaps their “secret” is in the many choices available to women.

When Marilyn Monroe was asked “What do you wear to bed?” she famously said: “Chanel Number Five.” Whether you get dressed, or undressed for sleep, make sure you get a great night’s sleep by sleeping on a supportive and comfortable mattress.

These days, “loungewear” is the term for clothing that can be worn to “lounge” or work at home. Yes, working and lounging are two different things. But the lines are blurred here… who hasn’t worn sweat pants with a suit shirt for a zoom conference call from home? Loungewear can be worn to yoga class, or to the grocery store, and it’s comfortable enough to sleep in. This ranges through anything from cute sweat suits, to knit pants called joggers, or leggings and a tee shirt. The options are numerous, and sales in this space are way up!

We tend to take it for granted that we have pajamas to change into when it’s time to go to bed. It’s a regular part of our nighttime routine, and helps us to get settled in for a good night’s rest. Yet there are many children for whom a pair of pajamas are just a dream. Whether they are homeless, or in foster care, many children live with uncertainty and without a stable environment. To help these kids, The Pajama Program was founded in 2001. This organization provides parents and caregivers with the resources and strategies they need to create and maintain a comforting bedtime routine for those in their care. The Pajama Program supplies inspiring storybooks and cozy pajamas to help parents and caregivers to connect with children at bedtime. We know that a good day begins with a good night’s sleep, and the Better Sleep Council has helped this cause by providing copies of “Freddy Bear’s Wakeful Winter” to The Pajama Program for distribution to the many caregivers they serve. For more information about The Pajama Program and how you can get involved, visit their website at PajamaProgram.org

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15 Nov

Cheer for Chia!

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, a relative in the mint family. They’re whole-grain, gluten-free, and usually grown organically. They are thought to have originated with the Aztecs and the Mayas. “Chia” is actually the Maya word for “strength.” Chia seeds are being touted as a “super food” because they contain all kinds of important nutrients that are beneficial for the body and brain. Let’s look at why these tiny little seeds are good for us, and a some ways to incorporate them into our meals.

– Just one ounce of chia seeds (about 2 Tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 grams of which are omega-3s!), plus generous servings of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a good amount of zinc, potassium, and Vitamins B 1, 2, and 3. And all this for just 137 calories.

– In a one ounce serving (28 grams) chia seeds have 12 grams of carbs. But 11 of those grams are fiber, and not digested by the body. Just 1 gram is digestible carbs. Fiber is in the carb family, but because it doesn’t raise blood sugar or require insulin to dispose of it, fiber’s health effects are entirely different than carbs that come from starch or sugar.

– Chia seeds, with their highly soluble fiber content, expand in water – they can absorb 10-12 times their weight, expanding in the stomach and becoming gel-like. Because of this we feel more full and eat less. Fiber also helps with the good bacteria in the intestine, essential for good gut health.

– If you’re vegan, or concerned about getting enough protein in your diet, chia seeds definitely help as they contain 14% protein by weight, high compared to other plant foods.

– Because chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and omega-3s, they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Of course, this is only possible when accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and diet.

– Chia seeds fit easily into any diet. They have a bland, neutral taste, so they don’t change the flavor of other foods. Unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground up to be eaten. They can be sprinkled onto salads, veggies, cereal, yogurt or rice. They can also be used to thicken sauces, and many people use them as an egg substitute in baking recipes.

CHIA SEED PUDDING RECIPE

Serves 4

The basis for this recipe is the proportion of seeds to almond milk. for every 2 cups of liquid, use 1/2 cup of chia seeds. From there you can improvise and add whatever you like!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk (or rice, oat, or coconut milk)

1/2 cup chia seeds

2-3 tablespoons sweetener: honey, sucanat, brown sugar, whatever you like (optional – if you are using sweetened milk you don’t need any sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

7-8 strands saffron, broken up

2 Tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions:

Put all the ingredients into a large jar, put the lid on tightly and shake it up vigorously. Make sure the chia seeds separate and there aren’t any visible lumps.

Refrigerate overnight.

CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

2 cups almond milk (or substitute)

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 teaspoons cacao powder

2-3 Tablespoons sweetener

1/4 teaspoon ground dardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pour everything into a jar, and shake vigorously.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serves 4. Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate for a lovely presentation!

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04 Nov

Sleep Quotes and the Wisdom (or Not) Behind Them

Sleep is one thing we all have in common. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what language you speak, if you’re alive, then you sleep. Since we’ve all been doing this sleeping thing our whole lives, we might just have some thoughts to share on the subject. And if you happen to be a celebrity, these thoughts might be shared with the public. Let’s look at some of these famous quotes about sleep, and see if we’re getting good advice.

 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  – Benjamin Franklin

 

Franklin was likely speaking from experience. His routine was that he would sleep from 10 pm to 5 am. Today, that’s the same routine for other successful people, including Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington. Ellen DeGeneres gets in her eight hours from 11pm to 7pm. However, Elon Musk and Barack Obama get to bed later, at 1 am, and then sleep until 7 am. So, can we thrive on less sleep?

 

There’s more than comes into play, including how people spend their daytime hours. Are you getting enough exercise and sunshine? Are you eating healthy foods? The quality of sleep you get it also very important. A study at John Hopkins University found that short but uninterrupted sleep is better than long hours of interrupted sleep. This is because interruption doesn’t allow the brain to go through all the sleep stages we need for energy and mental alertness. So, if you are getting that deep, uninterrupted sleep, even for fewer hours, and you are functioning optimally during that day maybe you don’t need as much sleep.

 

Research has shown that a good night’s sleep does make us smarter – or at least perform better on tests. A study at KU Leuven University in Belgium found higher test scores for students who slept seven hours each night during the exam period than those who got less sleep. The research accounted for differences in study habits, health and socioeconomic backgrounds.

 

Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure that they are not the same hours. – T. Boone Pickens

Here’s a successful guy who believed in balance. Work, sleep, and then also live your life. Good advice. If you’re working too much and not giving the mind some downtime to rest before sleep, you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep, and probably not sleep as well.

 

I need nine hours of sleep because of all the activity I do. It doesn’t always happen, but I really try. – Ana Ivanovic

 

8 hours sleep is average – the ballpark for most of us. But some people need less, like Elon Musk, apparently! And some of us need more, like pro tennis player Ana Ivanovic. You don’t have to be an athlete, either – expending mental energy also requires a body-mind reset through sleep. If you find yourself yawning in the afternoon, or feeling like you need a nap, you might just need more sleep at night. When you’re getting enough quality nighttime sleep you shouldn’t need to take a nap. Young children and the elderly are exceptions, they usually need a nap in the day.

 

I don’t sleep enough, and it does… what is the opposite of wonders… horrors. It does horrors for my skin. – Kate McKinnon

I think my biggest tip – and I consider it a part of my beauty routine – is getting my sleep, without a doubt. I do a true eight hours. – Tracee Ellis Ross

 

There’s a reason why we call it “Beauty Sleep” and these actresses will tell you! It works both ways. Get good sleep and it shows on your face – your skin, your eyes, your smile. Or stay up too late missing those precious sleep hours and that will show up on your face, too. There’s only so much that make-up can do to hide the signs of lack of sleep. Who better than an actress to confirm this?

 

I drink a ton of water. And I never go to bed too full. – Chrissy Teigen

 

Chrissy Teigen has the right idea when it comes to eating. It’s best not to go to bed on a full stomach, because then your body is busy digesting instead of focusing on getting you into a sleep state. But it’s also not good to go to bed hungry either. Chrissy posts on her Instagram account about her “night eggs” that she swears by for sleep. She eats one lightly seasoned hard-boiled egg before bed, and it give her just enough protein to get her through the night without being hungry. But when it comes to water – it’s great to drink water during the day, but definitely limit your intake after 7 pm or your sleep will be interrupted when you need to get out of bed to visit the bathroom!

 

Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight. – Phyllis Diller

Make sure you never, never argue at night. You just lose a good night’s sleep and you can’t settle anything until morning anyway. -Rose Kennedy

 

I think we’ve all heard this from marriage and relationship experts: “Never go to bed angry.” Worst advice ever! What is the alternative? Like Phyllis Diller says, stay up and fight? I’m sure Phyllis was joking – how can anyone possibly sleep after getting all riled up in a heated argument? I think Rose Kennedy has a better idea. Never argue at night. Table the argument, go to sleep and figure it out in the morning. Chances are, after a good night’s sleep, the argument won’t seem so important anyway. You’ll be able to think more clearly and may even have dreamt up a solution to the problem!

 

Nothing makes you feel better than when you get into a hotel bed, and the sheets feel so good. Why shouldn’t you wake up like that every day? Spend money on your mattress and bedding because these things make a difference on your sleep and, ultimately, your happiness. -Bobby Berk

 

Bobby Berk is an interior designer and television host. He travels a lot for work, so he knows about staying in hotels. Many people experience a great night’s sleep when they stay in a hotel. And when they come home it’s just not the same. The difference? The mattress. Hotels are really good about getting fresh new mattresses all the time so that their guests are comfortable. So, Bobby is giving us really good advice. A new mattress is an investment in both our health and happiness. And of course, the bedding should feel good when you’re in bed, and look good enough to make you smile when you’re out of bed!

 

 

https://podcasts.hopkinsmedicine.org/2015/12/18/december-24-2015-interrupted-sleep/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/11/13/the-sleep-habits-of-highly-successful-people-infographic/#1459a7376d7f

 

https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

 

 

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19 Oct

Circadian Rhythms and Blues

Nature has a rhythm. We see it in the way the seasons change, the way the tide comes in and out, and the way the sun rises and sets. It all just happens as it is supposed to. A circadian rhythm is the physiological processes of all living animals and plants within about a 24-hour cycle. This rhythm is created internally, but it can be modified by external factors such as temperature and sunlight. When we look at patterns of daily behavior, such as eating and sleeping, circadian rhythms are key.

 

Back in the days before electricity, staying in rhythm with nature’s cycle was the norm. People would wake up with the sun, work in the daylight, and go to bed sometime not too long after dark. It wasn’t that long ago that the few television channels we received signed off at midnight and there was no programming overnight. But now, we live in a 24/7 world. We do business with foreign countries by computer at all times of the day and night. We travel across oceans and time zones in a matter of hours. We don’t have to wait for stores to open, we can shop online anytime we want. And between the thousands of television and radio stations we have access to, along with internet options, we are never lacking in around-the-clock entertainment. Given all the amenities of life that we have access to it’s understandable how easily our own rhythms can get out of synch with nature.

 

Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old Science of Life from India, says that the mind and body operate most efficiently when we go to bed at the same time each night, 10 pm, and arise at the same time each morning, 6 am. According to Ayurveda, this is an essential practice for people to be in harmony with nature and to be their healthiest and happiest selves. Ayurveda advises that for people who need less sleep, that they get up earlier in the morning. And for those who need more sleep, that they go to bed earlier at night. Meal times are also planned for optimal digestion, with the largest meal of the day consumed around noon.

 

While this sounds like a healthy lifestyle choice, is it possible for everyone?

 

Modern science has identified “chronotypes” amongst people. While habits play a role in this, a person’s chronotype, or internal clock, is most influenced by genetics and can be difficult to change. There are morning birds, and night owls, and many others in between. We each have a chronotype that fits on a bell curve alongside everyone else’s. 30-50 percent of people fall in the middle of this curve, sleeping between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. About 40 percent of people have sleep cycles that fall about an hour or so down the sides of the curve, sleeping between 10 pm and 6 am, or between midnight and 8 am.

 

Then there are those who fall on the edges of the curve. Many teenagers tend to be in this category as their changing hormones can affect their chronotype. They prefer to stay up later, and wake up later, though this pattern shifts earlier as they age. Because both science and educators have recognized this, some schools are now starting a bit later to help their students to be more alert and productive during class times. With flex schedules, and more jobs available for nighttime workers, for some people it can be a benefit to be a night owl.

 

Having a sleep schedule that is outside the norm can be a problem, as society tends to reward early risers. The expression “the early bird catches the worm” dates back to the 1600s! For those who need to get to bed early and wake up early, it’s not so difficult to fit in. But those whose chronotype gives them the need to stay up late, and wake up late, often struggle conforming to the duties and expectations that come with a 9-5 job.

 

When a person’s body clock is out of sync with society’s clock scientists call it “social jet lag.” Social jet lag puts stress on the body and mind that can affect job performance and undermine health. Research from 2012 showed that those with social jet lag were more likely to be overweight, had a greater risk for depression, and were more likely to participate in risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking. It’s not the chronotype itself that causes these problems, it’s the mismatch between the chronotype and the daily schedule. In addition, if night owls are getting less sleep because they are getting up earlier, while not going to bed earlier, this ongoing sleep deficit can also create a risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

 

If night owls can’t change their work hours, there are ways that they can shift their internal clock to earlier in the day. However, this requires commitment, and can be difficult to maintain.

One way to shift is through a combination of bright light therapy and melatonin. Usually being out in the sun provides the natural light exposure necessary for our internal clock. But when working from an office all day, we don’t always get the sun we need. There are lamps that mimic the sun that can be helpful. Leaving the curtains open at night so that the morning sun streams in is a good strategy, as is going for an early morning walk or run. With light therapy you must stick to the same schedule every day of the week. If you sleep in on the weekend you can set-back all the progress you’ve made up to that point.

 

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin at night when it is dark, but melatonin production varies from person to person. Taking a melatonin capsule 3-4 hours before the desired bedtime will help a night owl to feel sleepier earlier than they usually do. Think of this new routine with light therapy and melatonin as a sleep diet, and be diligent with it.

 

Another option to re-set the body clock is chronotherapy. Rather than trying to go to bed earlier than usual, night owls can try going to bed two hours later each night until they reach their desired bedtime. This process can be successful, but it takes about two weeks. Few people have such control over their schedules for that length of time to follow through with the plan.

 

Another strategy for groggy night owls is the midday coffee nap. When you feel tired, adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep, circulates throughout the body. When you fall asleep, adenosine levels drop. Caffeine competes with adenosine, preventing adenosine from being received by the brain. So, you feel less sleepy. It takes 20 minutes for caffeine to take effect. So, on your lunch break, quickly drink a half of a cup of coffee or so, then set your alarm for a 20-minute nap. This way the body doesn’t get into the deep sleep state. You can also just rest or meditate during that time if you prefer. At the end of the 20 minutes the caffeine starts to kick in, and you also have the energy boost from the quick nap or rest. Just make sure that you don’t consume caffeine any time past 2 pm or you’ll have a more difficult time getting to sleep at bedtime.

 

Whether you’re a night owl or a morning bird, or anything in between, make sure the sleep you get, whenever you get it, is on a comfortable and supportive mattress. This way you’ll wake up refreshed no matter what time it is!

More sleep tips at www.BetterSleep.org

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/circadian_rhythm.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212003259

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2015/12/18/10450300/case-against-sleeping-in

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-nap

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011935/

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01 Oct

The Science of Relationships

Recently I was interviewed by a UK Magazine for an article about my take on the science behind relationships. The questions were interesting and thought-provoking – so I thought I’d share with you here:

SR: In terms of the science of attraction, what is it that attracts us to another person in the first place?

LC: In a word… karma. We have a kind of contract with certain people in this particular life – and we are compelled to fulfill it.

SR: How important is physical attraction in comparison to connecting emotionally and being on a similar intellectual level? What is the most important out of these three?

LC: Physical attraction opens that door so that you can connect in the other ways more quickly. But in terms of a relationship sustaining, if we’re talking about romantic relationships, you need all three equally.

 

SR: What is the key to a successful relationship? Is there some kind of formula?

LC: Kindness. Truthfulness. Some people say communication is key, but what good is communication if you’re not being truthful?

 

SR: What makes a happy relationship?

LC: Commitment. Knowing someone has got your back. Knowing you’re safe and can be yourself without fear that you will be abandoned.

 

SR: Are some of us naturally better at making relationships work than others?

LC: Our past has an impact on how we view relationships, and how we learn to be in relationships. So, some are lucky to have had positive experiences and role models which makes it easier for them. Others need to struggle to unlearn bad habits, or change thought processes that hold them back from being successful in relationships.

 

SR: How important is sex in human relationships?

LC: During procreation age, it is very important, it’s a way to communicate. We are naturally driven to create a family, a nest. Those instincts come out as wanting to have sex. But after that, sex as recreation is not important. It’s intimacy that is important, and we can get that in many other ways besides sex.

 

SR: Humans are one of the only species that evolved to have sex for pleasure rather than simply for reproductive purposes. Why do you think that is?

LC: That would be a question for an anthropologist! But from a spiritual perspective, we have these five senses, and we search for happiness through those senses, through our connection to the outside world. We’re looking in all the wrong places. True bliss is only found within, when we discover and experience our connection with the Divine.

 

SR: Which do you think is more natural for humans; monogamy or promiscuity? Why?

LC: More natural? Monogamy. Although many would argue differently. We are not animals. We are spiritual creatures living in this human body. To experience the spiritual it is far better for us to have that intimate experience with one person. To dive deep and learn about ourselves through our relationships.

 

SR: Unfaithfulness/infidelity – is it a conscious choice or something beyond our control? Does it have a place in society or does it do nothing but harm?

LC: It’s our ego out of control. We think it is fun, we use the excuse that we can’t help it, but it just shows spiritual and emotional immaturity.

 

SR: Do you think love and lust are separate, or are they linked?

LC: Love, true love, is seeing the divine in your partner. Lust is merely hormones and ego.

 

SR: What impact do you think social media is having on our ability to find, start and maintain healthy relationships?

LC: It is certainly helping us to find and start relationships. To maintain them that’s up to us. You can’t really maintain a relationship just via social media. I do think it is helping grandparents stay in better touch with grandkids, and help them to know what is going on in their lives, seeing their photos of all their activities and such. That’s a good thing. Reconnecting with old friends. But for genuine, healthy, intimate relationships you have to go beyond social media.

 

SR: Following on from the above question, online chat rooms and dating apps have changed the way we meet potential partners. Is this a good change or a bad one? How do you think this will change in the future?

LC: It’s good up to a point. It’s also bad. We don’t know who is genuine or not, or what their motives are for participating. I think it will change in that there will be more safeguards, more vetting involved – purely out of necessity.

 

SR: In the UK, statistics show that divorce rates are very high. Why do you think that is? Have we become a society of giving up rather than trying to fix things, or is it better to let go when you know something isn’t right?

LC: We’re living longer, that’s a part of it. It’s really difficult to sustain a marriage over a lifetime. People grow and change and drift apart. They’re not the same people as they were when they first got together. And also I think there’s this impulse in young people – they want a marriage and don’t see it as a lifelong commitment. That’s why we have all these “starter” marriages.

 

SR: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing relationships today?

LC: Distractions. We are so distracted by the internet, and work, and activities that we don’t focus enough on the person right in front of us, who needs and deserves our attention most of all.

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