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06 Apr
06 Mar

Did You Know…? Entrancing Sleep Trivia!

When you need some stimulating party conversation, why not talk sleep? The topic of sleep is far from a snoozefest! I’ve scoured the internet to uncover some captivating tidbits that are sure to get your audience’s attention!

 

Can’t Sleep?

  • More than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. 60% of those have a chronic disorder, meaning it has occurred over a long period of time.
  • There are at least 84 different sleep disorders identified by researchers.
  • Insomnia is almost twice as common in women as it is in men.
  • New parents will miss an average of six month’s sleep during the first two years of their baby’s life.
  • Neither mother’s nor father’s pre-pregnancy sleep pattern fully recovers even when the child reaches six years of age.
  • 50% of women with children, and 41% of women without children, say that sleep is the best way for them to recharge.
  • Sleep deprivation was used as an interrogation technique dating back to the 16th The United Nations recognizes sleep deprivation as a form of torture, and it is now illegal in many countries.
  • Adults get tired when they haven’t gotten enough sleep, but children often react by becoming hyperactive. When a child stays up too late or misses a nap, the body makes more cortisol and adrenaline so that he can stay awake. Parents often describe this as the child “fighting sleep.”
  • Stress is cited as the culprit in 65% of people who say they have problems sleeping.

 

Sleep History

  • The legend of the “Sandman” originated in European folklore. This traditional character appears in many children’s books and stories. The Sandman is said to sprinkle sand or dust on the eyes of children at night to help them fall asleep and have sweet dreams. The morning grit found in the corners of the eyes upon waking was supposed to be the result of the Sandman’s visit the night before.
  • “Mr. Sandman” is a popular song written by Pat Ballard in 1954 and recorded by the Chordettes and the Four Aces.
  • In Greek mythology, the god of sleep is Hypnos. Sleep-inducing plants such as poppies grew at the entrance of Hypnos’ home. The name Hypnos is the origin of the word “hypnosis.”
  • The 97th Pokémon (an internationally popular Japanese media franchise) character is named Hypnos, and its signature power is putting others to sleep.
  • In Roman mythology, the god of sleep is named Somnus. From Somnus come the words somnolent meaning sleepy, and insomnia, or “not” sleep.
  • William Shakespeare made several references to sleep in his plays. His accurate depictions of insomnia have led scholars to think that Shakespeare likely suffered from insomnia himself.

 

Sleep Behavior

  • Who sleeps? All complex living organisms including mollusks, insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals… except for:
  • Jellyfish don’t sleep because they don’t have a brain.
  • Sea Urchins also do not have a brain, so they do not sleep
  • Bullfrogs don’t sleep, they are alert both day and night. Scientists haven’t figured out why this is yet.
  • Some insects, such as butterflies, don’t technically “sleep” but rather enter a state known as “torpod” where the body temperature is lowered and they appear dormant. This enables them to go without food for longer periods of time.
  • A baby dolphin doesn’t sleep for the first full month of her life. The mother also stays awake during this time to protect her child from predators until she can fend for herself.
  • Rather than sleeping through the night, giraffes take short power naps in the daytime. It is important for them to stay alert so that they don’t fall down or become vulnerable to a predator. They get about 2 hours of sleep total in a day.
  • Whales also nap in 10-15-minute breaks, and only get about 1 ½ hours of sleep a day. Sperm whales sleep vertically, so that it looks like they are sleeping standing up.
  • Koalas are known as the animals who sleep the most, up to 22 hours a day.
  • Housecats sleep from 16-20 hours a day, with newborn and elderly cats sleeping the most. However, cats can awaken almost instantly if they hear a strange sound. It is a part of the nature that they inherited from their wild counterparts. They are always alert, even when they sleep.
  • We have an average of four to six dreams each night, even if we don’t remember those dreams. About two hours of sleep each night is spent dreaming.

 

Do you have some interesting Sleep Trivia to share? We’d love to hear it! Please post on the Better Sleep Council’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BetterSleepOrg

 

 

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/42/4/zsz015/5289255

https://www.optalert.com/sleep-deprivation-as-a-form-of-torture/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15124720/

https://www.verywellfamily.com/reasons-your-child-may-be-hyperactive-1094971

https://bettersleep.org/research/survey-gender-affects-sleep-and-stress/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnos

https://animalhow.com/which-animals-do-not-sleep-5-species/

https://returntonow.net/2020/11/29/sleeping-whales-photographer-reveals-what-whales-look-like-when-they-snooze/

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/normal-sleep-time-for-a-cat/

 

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02 Mar
27 Jan
04 Dec
15 Nov
15 Nov

ASMR: “Tingles” for Sleep

                                 Find More Sleep Tips from The Better Sleep Council

There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube, with hundreds of millions of views. Most of the videos are designed to help people get into a super-relaxed state so that they can relieve stress and sleep better. There are also many popular audio-only ASMR recordings available for download on streaming services. Just what is this trending phenomenon and how does it work?

 

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Basically, it is a response to a gentle stimulus that is felt both physically and emotionally and has been found to produce physiological benefits. The sensations vary amongst those who experience it but most report that the effect is a sense of calm and relaxation. The physical sensations usually begin in the head, and move into the neck and shoulders, even down to the base of the spine. Some say that they also experience the sensations in their limbs. It can feel like tingles, chills or gentle waves. The pleasing emotional effects are what cause people to seek out ASMR, and are often described as calming, happy, euphoric, relaxing, or sleepy. One study showed a reduction in heart rate and an increase in positive emotions for those who experienced ASMR. Some participants even reported a reduction in chronic pain.

 

What is surprising is that these effects are the result of a stimulus that is quite gentle, and subtle. It could be as simple and mundane as the tapping or a finger. Or it could be intricate and complex, such as the reenactment of a typical visit to the hair salon.

 

ASMR can be experienced in two ways. The first, and most common, is through using external stimuli. This is where the YouTube videos come in handy. Yet it’s easy to create your own external triggers once you know what they are. The other way to experience ASMR is through internal stimuli, such as creative visualization, or meditation techniques.

 

“Triggers” fall into three different categories. Auditory stimuli could be the sound of a whisper, reported as the most popular ASMR trigger. You don’t even need to hear the actual words, just the soft vocal tones can set off ASMR. Other auditory triggers include a monotone voice, soft tapping, scratching, crinkling paper, or blowing. It could be the sound of slowly clicking through the teeth of a comb, or the sound of hair being cut, or brushed.

 

Visual stimuli may be experienced either internally or externally. Taking yourself back to a restful place, or looking at the ocean, for example, can trigger ASMR. Writing is another common trigger, as is eye contact, and page flipping. Some say that flowing hand movements sets off ASMR in them.

 

Tactile stimuli can also evoke ASMR, such as touching soft fabrics like velvet, or stroking a pet. It’s no surprise that a massage can be very relaxing, and for some this may be ASMR at play. A light touch, such as a gentle caress of the face, can also trigger ASMR.

 

All of these stimuli are comforting, gentle, repetitive and non-threatening. They are performed slowly, steadily, and predictably. Researchers say that the most effective types of stimuli for ASMR include the person receiving attention in some way, through grooming or other care. You’ll notice that many ASMR recordings include a combination of stimuli for greater effect. The presenter speaks to the viewer personally – slowly and quietly, in a pleasant and reassuring tone. This helps the viewer feel relaxed and cared for, a state of mind that contributes to the desired response.

 

Research suggests that the same brain chemicals that are produced in the process of bonding, which also creates a sense of comfort and calm, are responsible for ASMR. Endorphins, sometimes called our “happy” chemicals, can bring on a tingling sensation and sense of euphoria. Endorphins also stimulate the release of dopamine. Dopamine is what drives us to look for stimuli that triggers the release of endorphins. Then there’s oxytocin, also called the “bonding hormone” that produces feelings of contentment and trust.  Oxytocin increases our sensitivity to endorphins, and also stimulates the release of another brain chemical, serotonin. Serotonin helps to give us that feeling of well-being and sense of satisfaction, and also gets us feeling happier in general.

 

Each of us produces these brain chemicals that are said to be the cause of ASMR. And yet, the ASMR experience varies widely from person to person. It may be that we just need to find the right trigger for ourselves, or it may be a difference within our own genes. Just as some people taste spice differently, some preferring lots of heat and others more sensitive to even the smallest bit, our need for a stronger or weaker ASMR stimulus could be genetic. However, we can train ourselves to be more sensitive to stimuli, and thereby more likely to experience ASMR. First, experiment with a few of the more common ASMR triggers to see which appeals to and works for you. Then, just as you would before meditation, find a safe and comfortable environment where you can relax. Since this is meant to be used as a sleep aid, feel free to lie down. If it’s bedtime, tuck yourself into bed. Clear your mind and focus on the stimulus and check in with your body and emotions to better understand where and how you may feel a response.

 

ASMR recordings are most frequently used to help people get into a relaxed state so that they can fall sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. These recordings are similar to the guided meditations that have been used for many years to help with sleep problems. Listening to a recording, or watching a video, helps to focus our attention and keep us from being distracted by all the unresolved problems of the day. It helps to relax the body, releasing muscle tension, and allowing for deeper, slower breathing. This is a great way to self-soothe, with no negative side-effects, and no financial investment.

 

Resources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180621101334.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380153/

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16 Oct

Sleep! It’s Good for Your Bones

There’s a phrase that’s often used when we feel tired – the need to “rest our weary bones.” An interesting bone density study shows us that we should take this phrase literally! Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin found that sleep actually helps to build up our bones.

 

In the study, done with lab rats, scientists found that a lack of sleep resulted in the interruption of new bone formation. In addition to this, the bones the rats already had continued as usual to decrease in density. When it came to bone marrow, they found a decrease in the fat, and an increase in platelet-generating cell. What all this means is that the rats in the study experienced greatly diminished flexibility, and more fragile bones.

 

Another study from China looked at the association between a reduction in sleep and lower bone density in middle-aged and older women, and found a correlation. A study in Norway found that there was a 52% increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and brittle, for those suffering from insomnia.

 

We can learn from this that in order to have healthy bones, the body must be able to go through this bone remodeling cycle. The process is also vital to keep the body flexible so that we can avoid fractures. With our usual activities, we recover from normal bone wear quickly. However, when sleep deprivation negatively influences bone remodeling, bone density may decrease. So, we can become less flexible, more prone to fractures, and more susceptible to osteoporosis. There’s no doubt about it – sleep is essential for bone health.

 

But here’s the problem: Osteoporosis is associated with aging. And as we get older, it can be more difficult to get that good night’s sleep that we need. One reason for this is that melatonin, also known as the “sleep hormone” because it impacts sleep, decreases with age. The body produces melatonin based on the amount of light that we are exposed to. Getting some sunlight in the daytime helps the body to produce melatonin at night when it is dark. The combination of lower melatonin levels that come with age, with a loss of sleep puts us in a downward spiral that accelerates bone loss.

 

We can’t avoid aging, and we can’t control some of the other risk factors for osteoporosis such as:

– Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, particularly after menopause.

– White folks and Asian folks have a higher risk for osteoporosis than other ethnic groups.

– Tall people, those 5 feet 7 inches or taller, and those who weigh less than 125 pounds have an increased risk.

– Those with a family history of osteoporosis or a diagnosis of a hip fracture, are more at risk.

– Those over the age of 50, who have had previous fractures from low-level injuries, are more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.

 

Fortunately, there are many things that can control to fend off osteoporosis, including staying active and mobile. And there are steps we can take to make sure we get the good sleep that our bones require to remain healthy.

 

1) Increase melatonin. Besides helping with sleep, melatonin also functions as an antioxidant, reducing damage caused to bones from activity and free radicals in the environment.  It can help us to heal from fractures and surgeries. While melatonin supplements can cause us to become dependent on them, there are many other natural options to help amp up our melatonin production. Get some sunlight every day, and sleep in a dark, or dimly lit room. Add melatonin-rich foods to your diet: Sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, eggs, goji berries, and tart cherries are a few examples.

 

2) Get daily exercise. Even just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can help you sleep better at night. Be sure to exercise during daylight hours, not too close to bedtime. You need time to recover and relax after exercise. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to be beneficial for bone health. Weighted vests for walking have become a popular and safe way to exercise without overdoing it. Yoga helps to increase flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of falls and fractures.

 

3) Minerals and Vitamin D. Magnesium has been hailed as a sleep-helper, and it is also great for building strong bones. Calcium, iron, and zinc are also known to help protect against osteoporosis. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, so it plays a key role in fighting osteoporosis. You can get Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, and also from saltwater fish, liver, or Vitamin D fortified foods.

 

4) Avoid alcohol and tobacco. We know that alcohol at night interferes with sleep, but did you know that alcohol is also linked to lower bone density? Tobacco is also a culprit. Avoid these substances as much as possible.

 

5) Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity is associated with sleep apnea, which disturbs sleep.

 

6) Get screened. Talk with your doctor about getting an osteoporosis screening. Osteoporosis comes on slowly, you might not be aware that you have it until you actually break a bone. When identified early on, osteoporosis can be treated effectively before it causes bone fractures.

 

And lastly, make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress. No two bodies are alike, we all have unique bones! When shopping for a mattress feel free to “test rest” each one by stretching out as you normally would while sleeping. Your mattress is an important ally in helping you to get the sleep you need to protect your bones.

 

FOR MORE SLEEP TIPS VISIT THE BETTER SLEEP COUNCIL’S WEBSITE: www.BetterSleep.org

 

RESOURCES:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22946089/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S8756328211011513

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155646#causes-and-risk-factors

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29 Sep
04 Sep

Healthy Sleep Habits

By now you’ve likely heard many of the great habits you can get into that aid in the experience of a good night’s sleep. I’m here to share with you about some of the great habits you can get into, even while you are sleeping, so that your body can operate most efficiently for optimal health and healing.

 

Sleep on Your Left Side

The best sleep position for most people is to sleep on your left side. While this may be news today, the wisdom originally comes from Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life. The left and right sides of the body are very different from one another. For example, the lymph system is more dominant on the left side of the body. This is because most of the body’s lymph fluid drains into the thoracic duct, which then goes into the left side of the heart, left jugular vein, and left subclavian vein. So, it makes sense that sleeping on the left side benefits the lymphatic drainage system. The lymph system is our first line of detox in the body, so it is the first to become congested when overworked.

 

The spleen is an important part of the lymphatic system, and it is located on the left side of the body. The spleen filters both lymph and blood. While sleeping on your left side, drainage to the spleen gets an assist from gravity. When we move, and the muscles contract, the lymph system can drain all the body’s cells. By sleeping on our left side, we are allowing gravity to help the lymph drain to the heart and the spleen.

 

Sleeping on the left side is also good for the heart. The largest artery in the body is the aorta. The aorta goes from the top of the heart, arches to the left, and then goes down to the abdomen. When we sleep on the left, it is easier for the heart to pump blood downhill into the descending aorta.

 

For better digestion and elimination, sleeping on the left side is the way to go. The large intestine is situated so that it goes up the right side of the stomach area, then across so that it can deposit waste into the colon going down the left side. Gravity is once again our ally when we sleep on the left side. After sleeping well, the descending colon is ready for an easy and complete elimination of waste in the morning.

 

Use a Humidifier

A cool-air humidifier helps to bring moisture into a room, which benefits us in many ways. When the air we breathe is too dry, lacking humidity, we can experience respiratory problems such as sinus inflammation, bronchitis, asthma, or nosebleeds. Dry air can also make us become dehydrated more quickly. When the body gets dried out, it is more susceptible to bacterial infections. We may experience a dry throat, and dry eyes. We may notice dry skin, chapped lips, or eczema. On the other hand, when the humidity in a room is at 45-55%, we breathe more easily and sleep more soundly. A humidifier helps to re-moisturize air that has been dried out from weather, or from air conditioning and heating systems.

 

Another upside to using a humidifier is that you’re much less likely to snore! When you breathe in humid air, rather than dry air, the throat and nasal cavity are less likely to get dried out. The air is free to move through these channels as you breathe, so the snoring sounds don’t occur. If it’s your partner who snores, and you’re the one who is awake because of it, a humidifier will benefit both of you.

 

In addition, a humidifier helps to prevent the skin for drying out while you sleep. While drinking enough water during the day helps to keep us hydrated, using a humidifier at night can help us stay hydrated from the outside in, so that we wake up feeling fresh and rested.

 

Most newer humidifiers run very quietly, giving just a small amount of white-noise, which can be an added benefit to sleep. If you prefer to run a humidifier during the day, it will likely moisturize the air enough to get you through the night with the humidifier off.

 

Another way to incorporate humidity into your room is to run a hot shower or bath, and let the steam moisturize the room. While you’re at it, a steamy shower will also help to open up and moisturize your sinuses.

 

You can also use saline nasal sprays, or the Ayurvedic “neti pot” to irrigate and clean the sinuses. Eating spicy foods is another way to quickly relieve sinus pressure from dry air. If you’re up for it, try having some hot salsa, jalapeno peppers, or chili peppers. Even one bite can make your nose run and your eyes water!

 

Have an After-Dinner Drink

We’ve all heard how warm milk can settle us into sleep – and it’s true! Ayurveda has an even better beverage for us, which is healthy in many other ways as well. It’s called “Moon Milk” and it is fabulous! If you are vegan, or just avoiding dairy, substitute unsweetened nut milk instead. Each ingredient has a purpose. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps to reduce blood clotting, and is an anti-oxidant. Cardamom is known as the “Queen of Spices” and it can calm heartburn and nausea. In addition, cardamom is a natural breath freshener! Nutmeg is a natural sleep aid. Ashwagandha soothes the nervous system. Ginger is great for digestion, and ghee is used as a carrier to get all the herbs where they need to go in the body. If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious night cap, Moon Milk is it!

 

Moon Milk Recipe (1 serving)

1 cup milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk, use any kind of milk you like)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ashwaganda (easy to find online, or in Indian grocery stores)

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ghee (Ghee is clarified butter, look for ghee that is cultured and organic for the best quality)

 

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring milk to a simmer. Add in the herbs one by one, whisking as you go. Add the ghee, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 7-10 minutes to let the herbs incorporate into the liquid. Remove from heat and pour into a mug. Add a little bit of raw sugar if you like it on the sweet side.

 

For more info about how to get a great night’s sleep visit: The Better Sleep Council’s website HERE

 

https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14432

https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/thoracic-duct

https://www.nycfacemd.com/sinus-health-dry-air/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/symptoms-causes/syc-20377694

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2334-13-71

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/this-recipe-for-moon-milk-is-better-than-counting-sheep

 

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