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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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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/articles/201401/between-you-and-me

 

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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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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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/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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02 Jun

Seven Simple Ways to Silence Snoring


If you snore, you might not even be aware that you’re making such a racket in your sleep – but if you sleep with a partner, they sure are! Where is all this noise coming from? It’s basically just noisy breathing that disturbs your sleep and that of your partner. The side effects of snoring include fragmented sleep, resulting in daytime drowsiness.

 

Snoring is a pretty common problem, affecting about 90 million adults in the United States. What causes it? The muscles of the throat relax when we sleep. The tongue falls back and the throat becomes narrow and soft. As we breath, the walls of the throat vibrate, and that’s when some people make that “snnnnnnooore” sound. Aging causes the throat muscles to relax, so older folks are more likely to snore than younger ones. Obesity also contributes to snoring since there is more fatty tissue in the neck area. Then there are also snoring risk factors to consider such the way the nose and throat are structured, how much alcohol you’ve had, and even your sleep position. And snoring could also be caused dry air, a cold, or an allergy.

 

If you are a chronic snoring offender, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea is heavy snoring that requires medical attention when the throat’s walls collapse, causing a cessation of breathing.

 

Here are some simple home remedies that just might help to keep the peace in your household:

 

1) Use a humidifier. Air conditioners and heating units dry out indoor air, and the delicate tissue in the nose and throat are sensitive to this. A cool air humidifier helps to replace some of that moisture in the air, making it more comfortable and easier to breathe through the nose. You may add a few drops of essential oil to the humidifier unit to get added benefits. Peppermint, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus all help to open up the nasal passages naturally. If you’ve got a snoring dog, a humidifier will help that, too!

 

2) Take a steam. A hot steamy shower before bed helps to reduce nasal congestion so that you can breathe more easily. As an alternative, you can inhale steam by putting a bowl of boiled water on a table (add essential oil as an option here as well) and leaning over the bowl. Breathe in deeply. You may want to use a towel over your head to create a tent effect that directs the steam towards your face. Give it at least 5 to 10 minutes to see some results.

 

3) Lubricate the nasal passages. Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old Science of Life, recommends lubricating the nasal passages with sesame oil, or ghee. Ghee is also known as clarified butter. It is used in many Ayurvedic remedies for its medicinal properties. With clean hands, you can simply use your pinky finger to massage the inside of your nostrils with sesame oil or soft ghee. Close off one nostril at a time and breathe in the oil to moisturize further up the nose. Repeat before bed and upon awakening in the morning.

 

4) Lubricate the throat.

-Olive oil is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can decrease the swelling in the respiratory passages. It also relieves soreness and reduces the vibration in the throat that causes snoring. Simply take a shot class full of olive oil all by itself (two to three sips), right before you go to bed.

-Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it coats the throat, reducing snoring vibrations. Mix one teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water, or a cup of chamomile or ginger tea and drink sometime between after-dinner and bedtime. Chamomile is famous as a muscle and nerve relaxant, which will help you to sleep comfortably. Ginger has the benefit of anti-bacterial effects.

 

5) Use Herbals.

-Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties that can help open up the whole respiratory system. Take a drop or two of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water and gargle with it before bed.

-Cardamom has been used as a decongestant and an expectorant, so it can be helpful in opening up blocked nasal passages. You can chew up some cardamom pods, or mix about ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom in a cup of warm water and drink before bed.

-Nettle is helpful to relieve snoring caused by seasonal allergies as it has both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Make a tea from about a Tablespoon of dried nettle and let it seep in boiling water for five minutes. You can drink this anytime to help relieve allergy symptoms.

-Turmeric is a mighty antibiotic and antiseptic. Interestingly, these properties are amplified when turmeric is mixed with milk. This also makes it an amazing immune system booster! Use 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric and mix into a cup of hot milk to make “Golden Milk,” an ancient Ayurvedic recipe. Sip about half an hour before bedtime.

 

6) Sleep on your side. Sleeping on the back can cause the tongue to move to the back of the throat and blocking some airflow, causing snoring. If you can sleep on your side instead, air flows more easily so there’s much less chance of snoring. For those who have trouble sleeping on their side, “Tennis Ball Therapy” was created.

 

TBT, as it is now known in scientific journals, is a popular snoring treatment designed to help train a person to sleep on their side. Typically, a tennis ball is taped, or attached in some way, to the snorer’s back, impeding them from rolling over onto their back. It doesn’t have to be a tennis ball, but that size seems to work for most people. For my friend Dave, when the tennis ball was ineffective, his wife resorted to duct-taping a soccer ball to the back of his shirt! Snoring prevention has gotten to be big business. Now, conveniently, there are sleep shirts you can get with the tennis ball pocket sewed into the back. Some companies make dedicated inflatable sleeping backpacks to get the job done.

 

7) Play the Didgeridoo. The Didgeridoo is traditional wind instrument from Australia. It has a unique sound, and it requires strong mouth, tongue and throat muscles to play. Practicing on this instrument builds up and tones those muscles so that you are less likely to snore. Any wind instrument will do, just make sure that your practicing doesn’t become more annoying to your partner than your snoring is!

Lots more sleep tips at: BetterSleep.org

 

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20 Apr

Lucid Dreaming

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

 

You’re asleep, dreaming away, and then you realize that you are in a dream. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then you have experienced lucid dreaming. It’s like the “dream within a dream” that Poe writes about.

 

Usually during the dream state, the dream is our reality. We aren’t conscious of the fact that we are dreaming. It is only after we wake up that we can understand we were in a dream and not in reality, sometimes to our great relief! Lucid dreaming is a state in which we are aware that we are dreaming while we are dreaming. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosophy, wrote about this in his treatise “On Dreams” sometime around 350 B.C. He says: often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

 

In 1899 Sigmund Freud in “The Interpretation of Dreams” gave credit to Aristotle as being the first to recognize that dreams “do not arise from supernatural manifestations but follow the laws of the human spirit.” In 1913 Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dream” in his article “A Study of Dreams.”

 

Today researchers estimate that about 77 percent of people have experienced lucid dreaming one or more times. Since most dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, this is when lucid dreaming occurs as well. During the REM stage of sleep, most of the muscles in the body become paralyzed, so that we don’t hurt ourselves while acting out our dreams. But the eye muscles, still able to move, move rapidly. Good quality REM sleep helps improve memory, focus, and emotional regulation.

 

While it is usual to just wake up from a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers are adopting the practice of staying in the dream state and exploring the potential there. They can observe their dreams, think of them in the context of the waking world, and sometimes even control the direction of their dreams. For example, a lucid dreamer may choose to work on a challenging problem in the dream state. Before drifting off to sleep, they think of the problem for which they need a solution. In this way, they train the mind to move in the direction of their goal.

 

There are many applications to lucid dreaming that can be beneficial to a person’s life. Using lucid dreaming to help stop nightmares is called “lucid dreaming therapy.” This has also been helpful for people to overcome phobias. With this technique, the dreamer can consciously take on “superpowers” in the dream to fight back or escape from what they are afraid of, or even choose to wake up from the dream. Lucid dreaming techniques have also been used to treat depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

 

It takes time and practice to both learn and get good at lucid dreaming. If you’re up for it, here’s how you can get started:

 

1) Get good quality sleep. To have dreams, you need restful sleep, which includes as much REM as possible. Practice good sleep hygiene: keep the room cool, dark and quiet. Get to bed by 10 pm. Follow a calming bedtime routine – including no screen time at least one hour before bed. Make sure your mattress is in good condition. If it is older than 5-7 years you’re probably due for a new one. Remember that a mattress is the foundation of a good night’s sleep

 

2) Keep a dream journal. Many people can’t remember their dreams by the time they wake up. And as the day goes on, dream memories fade. Keep a notebook by your bed and as soon as you awaken, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. As an option, you could record a voice memo if this is easier. There are several dream journal apps for phones to keep track of your dreams as well.

 

3) Look for patterns and signs. Once you have a few dreams recorded, start looking for what images show up again and again. It might be people, or places, or themes. When you identify these signs, you’re more likely to be able to recognize when you are in a dream state.

 

4) Reality checks. Lucid dreaming experts say that we can get the brain used to the idea of noticing when we’re dreaming or not. This way we’re better able to do so while we’re sleeping. For example: While you’re awake, check the clock – look away – then look back at the clock. In the waking state, the time will stay the same. In the dream state, the time will likely change. Notice the waking state about 10 times a day, reminding yourself that you are awake.

 

5) The MILD technique. MILD stands for Mneumonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. As you are falling asleep, repeat a phrase to yourself over and over again. For example: “I will know when I am dreaming.” By doing this you’re encouraging the brain to be aware as dreaming happens, and this increases the possibility of lucid dreams.

 

6) Go back to the dream. If you wake up from a dream, stay in bed and record the details in your journal. Then when you try to go back to sleep, focus your mind on returning to the same dream. Play it out as if you were aware of the dream until you fall asleep.

 

7) The WILD technique. WILD stands for Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming. When you wake up, instead of writing down the dream, keep your eyes closed and go right back to sleep. As you lie there, keep the mind focused and aware. Sometimes in this state, when the mind is awake and the body goes to sleep, you might become aware of “sleep paralysis.” If this makes you uneasy, remind yourself that this is temporary so that you can lucid dream, and that you are safe and comfortable. Salvador Dali, Benjamin Franklin, and Mary Shelley are known to have used this technique to help themselves dream up some of their greatest works.

 

8) Stay in the dream. Often beginning ludic dreamers get excited when they realize that they are in a dream that they wake themselves up. To stay in the dream, experts recommend that you distract the mind from the physical sensations of waking up. While in the dream you could rub your hands together, spin around, fall backwards, or continue doing what you were doing in the dream.

 

9) Video gaming. A recent study found that video gaming is associated with more ability to remember dreams. Video gamers are often immersed in a dream-like, fictional world where they have control over their movements and activities. Just make sure to stay off the screen 1 hour or more before bed to get a good night’s rest.

 

Like any skill, you need to practice and be patient as you work on lucid dreaming. The first step is just to relax and observe. Enjoy the process. Sweet dreams!

More sleep tips at : www.BetterSleep.org

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05 Mar

While You Were Sleeping: The Tale of the Tooth Fairy

As the legend goes, when a child loses a baby tooth, and then places it under their pillow, a sprite known as the “Tooth Fairy” comes along and swaps out that tooth for money while the child sleeps. As many children will tell you, this has happened to them. They put a fallen-out tooth under their pillow, go to sleep, and in the morning when they wake up they find money where they left the tooth. If you’re curious as to how this phenomenon came about, you’re come to the right place. We’ve done some investigative journalism to get to the root of the story!

 

Evidently, the tradition of disposing of children’s lost baby teeth goes way back to ancient cultures. In Medieval England superstition led people to burn the lost teeth. They were afraid that in the afterlife the person would go in search of those teeth if the teeth were still around somewhere. Others believed that if a witch ever got a hold of a tooth she would have power over the person it had belonged to. Elsewhere, children were taught to feed their teeth to animals in order to dispose of them. There were various other ways to get rid of the teeth, including throwing them into a fire, throwing them up to the sun or the sky, or hiding them in a tree. Some thought that burying their children’s baby teeth in the garden would help the permanent teeth to grow in.

 

Money in exchange for teeth started in Northern Europe with the tradition of “tand-fe” or “tooth fee,” paid to the child when they lost their first tooth. In the Norse culture, children’s teeth were said to bring good luck in battle, so the Vikings often paid children for their teeth. These Scandinavian warriors would string the teeth into a necklace to wear when fighting.

 

The legend of a mouse who would sneak into a child’s room at night to trade teeth for money became popular in Russia, Mexico, and many other countries. In Italy today, a little mouse named Topolino stands in for the Tooth Fairy. In Spain the mouse’s name is Raton Perez. In France and Belgium the same character is called “la petite souris” or “the little mouse.” The tale was passed down orally throughout the years starting as early as the 1800s. It is this mouse story that many scholars believe to be the origin of what we now know as the Tooth Fairy.

 

The Tooth Fairy herself is thought to be a very American tradition. In 1908 The Chicago Daily Tribune ran a “Household Hints” column by Lillian Brown. This is the author’s advice to parents: “Many a refractory child will allow a loose tooth to be removed if he knows about the Tooth Fairy. If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.”

 

Sometime around 1927 Esther Watkins Arnold wrote a short play for children that became the Tooth Fairy’s first appearance in a book. Then with the popularity of Disney’s cartoons for children, imaginations were kindled and the Tooth Fairy became a fixture in society. She is often portrayed as very “Tinkerbell”-like – small and delicate, with wings and a wand. This explains how she can get in and out of houses, and under pillows without being detected. It also explains how she can magically carry a coin or a tooth!

 

Now that we are out of the dark ages, what purpose does the Tooth Fairy serve? She actually plays an important role in our family systems. As Lillian Brown writes, believing that the Tooth Fairy will be coming may help alleviate a child’s fears about going to the dentist when a tooth needs to be pulled. They may have some discomfort for a bit, but there’s a happy ending with a nice reward in the morning. At the age when a child loses their “baby” teeth, having a little bit of money to call their own can also help with the transition into adulthood. Money is a symbol of responsibility, and a marker to allow a child to experience some responsibility.

 

The Tooth Fairy also helps to provide comfort to the parents during this transition time. Their child may be losing teeth, but the fantasy of the Tooth Fairy story keeps them reassured that it’s not all going too fast, that their child is still very much a child.

 

Today the Tooth Fairy is quite big business as well! In 2011 the Royal Canadian Mint started selling special coin sets featuring the Tooth Fairy. They also made Tooth Fairy quarters that were issued in 2011 and 2012. In gift shops and online you’ll find custom-made pillows with pockets for the lost-tooth occasion, little pewter boxes to keep teeth in, and several books and cartoons to explain the story. The cost of teeth that the Tooth Fairy pays for teeth has gone up with inflation as well. While you and I might have found some coins under the pillow, according to a survey by VISA, the current average cost of a tooth is currently about $3.70. Some parents report that the tooth fairy pays even more for molars.

 

The Tooth Fairy may just be helping all of us to sleep better at night.

 

Lissa Coffey is a spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, and the founder of CoffeyTalk.com. A lifestyle and wellness expert, she’s written several books and been featured on Today, Good Morning America, and several other national and local television shows.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth_fairy

https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/toothfairy-0010523

http://www.recess.ufl.edu/transcripts/2005/0823.shtml

 

 

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24 Mar

Sleep Your Worries Away

by Lissa Coffey

What’s keeping you up at night? Chances are it is worry. Let’s face it, in our hectic lives there’s always something to worry about, even if it’s the state of the world. Worry can contribute to insomnia, or trouble falling asleep. Worry can also cause what is called “maintenance insomnia” or difficulty in staying asleep. This is when we wake us up in the middle of the night, and then have a problem getting back to sleep.

 

Why does worry affect our sleep so much? During the day we might have all the same worries – but we’re engaged in other activities that take the mind elsewhere. At night, when it is quiet and the mind isn’t distracted, all those same worries come to the forefront of the mind, and we can’t seem to quiet them. It is important to give ourselves that “wind down” time to help settle the mind before hitting the sheets. Read, meditate, listen to soft music, or take a warm bath. And of course, make sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable as this is the key to having a cozy bed to climb into.

 

Worrying is nothing new. It happens to everyone, all over the world. Generations ago, the indigenous people of Guatemala created “Worry Dolls” as a remedy for their stress. These are tiny dolls, hand-crafted with fabrics from Mayan costumes twisted and tied around little pieces of wood and wire. It is all held in place with colorful yarn, which makes up the doll’s head, hair, feet and hands. At just two inches high, the dollars are small enough to tuck under a pillow. The tradition is that when worrying keeps you awake, you tell your worries to the doll, who then does the worrying for you so that you can sleep peacefully through the night.

 

This is the traditional story of how the worry dolls came about, and it is a wonderful way to introduce worry dolls to children to help them get to sleep.

 

The Worry Dolls

 

In the hills of Guatemala there lived an old man, his daughter, Flora, and Flora’s two children Maria and Diego. Their home was a small hut made out of mud and wood. The grandfather was a farmer, as many of his ancestors were, and as he taught his own family to be. One year there was a terrible drought. Without enough rain the crops could not grow well, and they had very little food.

 

The whole family would wake up with the sun and tend to the fields in the hope that the rain would come. Then Maria and Diego would go to school for the day. At night, Flora would make tortillas for dinner with what corn they had, and then weave colorful cloth to sell at the market. Grandfather would tell the children stories before tucking them into their hammocks at bedtime. One of the children’s favorite stores was about a magical doll that could grant wishes.

 

One night a robber snuck in and stole all of Flora’s cloth, everything she had worked so hard to make over many months. She cried that she had nothing to sell at the market and didn’t know how the family would get the money they needed.

 

The next day Flora came down with a fever, and Maria knew that she had to do something to help. She got an idea. She went through her mother’s weaving basket and found scraps of fabric in odd colors and shapes. She brought the basket outside, and told her brother to collect small twigs for her. With the scraps of cloth and the twigs Diego and Maria got to work. They worked late into the night, and kept their project a secret. When they ran out of cloth they saw that they had made dozens of tiny dolls in tiny clothes. Maria hoped that these dolls would be magical like the one in her Grandfather’s story.

 

That night Maria lined up a few of the dolls and spoke to them of her worries: “My little friends, we need your help. My family is in trouble. The fields are dry, my mother is sick, and we have no food or money. Please help us. Good night.” She placed the dolls lovingly under her pillow and lay down to sleep. Maria slept well that night, confident that the dolls would somehow help her.

 

In the morning, Maria and Diego packed up all the dolls and walked a very long way to the market. The family was so poor that the children didn’t even have sandals, they had to walk barefoot. When they finally got to the market they found that it was crowded with people. They had never sold at the market before, and she had never seen anyone else sell tiny dolls there, but she was determined that her plan would work. The two finally found a good spot near a shoe seller.

 

Maria and Diego laid the dolls on the sidewalk. The shoe seller saw them and wondered by anyone would want such tiny dolls. Marie explained that there was magic in the dolls. The shoe seller just laughed and said that the magic in his shoes doesn’t help them to sell. Marie was firm and said: “We shall see.”

 

It was a long day, and no one had bought any of the dolls. The children we getting sad, and worried. As Maria was packing up the dolls to go home, a man in fine clothes and a large hat came by and asked what they were selling. Diego piped up: “These little dolls.”

 

“Magic dolls!” Maria corrected her brother.

 

The man looked impressed. “Well, I could use a little magic. I’ll take all of them!”

 

Maria and Diego excitedly wrapped up the dolls for the man, who then handed them a stack of money, without asking the price. Maria thanked him and the man was gone before Maria could say anything more. She counted the money and found that there was enough for the family to live on for a year.

 

The two bought some food at the market and then excitedly headed for home to tell their mother and grandfather the news.

 

“We sold the dolls we made!” Diego exclaimed.

 

“Magic dolls!” Maria emphasized, and she told them the whole story.

 

“This doesn’t sound like any magic,” Flora said to her children, “It sounds like you worked hard and it paid off.”

 

“Ah,” the grandfather chimed in, “but you are feeling much better, Flora, how do you explain that?”

 

“And look! It’s raining!” Diego jumped up and pointed to the fields. Sure enough, it was raining and the fields were getting the water they needed. The drought was over.

 

That night as Maria got ready for bed, she noticed something in her pocket. She reached in to find a pouch that contained the same dolls she had slept with under her pillow the night before. She was surprised because she was sure she sold all of the dolls to the man. Inside the pouch was a little note that read: “Tell these dolls your secret wishes. Tell them your problems. Tell them your dreams. And when you awake, you may find the magic within you to make your dreams come true.”

 

For lots of great sleep tips visit The Better Sleep Council: www.BetterSleep.org

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911002/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/too-early-to-get-up-too-late-to-get-back-to-sleep

http://blog.shamansmarket.com/the-legend-of-the-worry-dolls/

 

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15 Mar

“Sleepy… Verrrrry Sleepy…”

“You are feeling sleepy… verrry sleepy…” Those are the words that we think of when we imagine being hypnotized. You may have seen a stage show where a hypnosis performer gets people from the audience into a trance, and then gets them to act silly. But could hypnosis really be used to help us sleep better? For many, the answer is a resounding yes!

 

I studied hypnotherapy and got my certification years ago. I’ve found that this is an effective tool to use in many areas of our lives.

 

Hypnotherapy has been used to treat various ailments since the 18th century, although hypnosis itself dates way back to prehistoric days. Hypnosis isn’t magic, or brainwashing, it is actually a heightened state of concentration. There are many times we’ve been in a state of hypnosis and not even been aware of it – for example, when we are engrossed in a really good movie, or super focused on solving a problem. That’s when the rest of the world somehow goes away. We might be called for dinner and not even be aware of it. That’s how hypnosis works.

 

Hypnosis is often performed by a certified hypnotherapist who guides a person into a trance-like state where suggestions can then be given to the subconscious mind to help that person improve a golf game, increase their confidence levels, decrease anxiety, overcome a fear, or attain other goals such as getting a restful night’s sleep. But we don’t necessarily need a hypnotherapist to achieve these results. We can use self-hypnosis, a technique very similar to guided meditation.

 

When we have trouble getting to sleep, it’s likely that we are having trouble relaxing for one reason or another. We may be stressed, worried, or feeling anxious. Self-hypnosis is one way that we can help fix the relaxation response that triggers sleep. Hypnosis helps us to refocus our thoughts by focusing instead on certain words, music, or a soothing voice. In this way we basically retrain the brain to once again relax when it is time to sleep. We provide the mind and body all it needs to calmly drift off into a pleasant sleep state.

 

The benefit, of course, is that when we awaken from a great night’s sleep we feel more energetic and focused. So, we are naturally more productive and motivated!

 

There are many self-hypnosis apps and recordings available and you can try some to see what works for you. Some of these programs use “binaural beats” as a background “white noise” kind of sound. Before sleep the brain must achieve the delta frequency. Binaural beats, a combination of sound frequencies, are used as a tool to help sync the brainwaves to that delta frequency.

 

Autogenic training, also called Autogenic therapy, is one form of self-hypnosis. This relaxation technique was developed by Johannes Schulz, a German psychiatrist, in 1932. With Autogenics, through a series of sessions, we gradually learn to relax the limbs, heart space and breath.  The idea is to induce a feeling of warmth throughout most of the body, and a feeling of coolness in the forehead. It is a way for us to influence our own autonomic nervous system to counterbalance the effects of stress. The Autogenics technique creates a physiological response, preparing us for sleep.

 

To practice Autogenics follow these guidelines:

 

– Practice alone, in quiet, or with soft background music or environmental sounds.

– Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and no shoes.

– Practice before meals so that the digestive process doesn’t interfere with the relaxation process.

– Take your time, do not rush.

– Sit comfortably in a chair, or lie down.

– If you are practicing at bedtime, make sure your room is conducive for sleep, and that your mattress is comfortable and supportive.

– Now follow these six steps:

 

1) Warm -up: Begin slow, deep breathing. Inhale for one beat, exhale for two. With each breath, increase the duration of the inhales and exhales, always doubling the length of time for the exhales.  Breath to six counts in, and twelve counts out. Then reverse the process all the way back down to one count in and two counts out.

 

2) Heavy and Warm – Heaviness and warmth represent muscular relaxation.  Visualize and actually feel your limbs becoming heavy. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My arms and legs are” and on the exhale: “heavy and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

3) A Calm Heart – Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My heartbeat and breathing are” and on the exhale: “calm and steady.” Repeat two more times.

 

4) A Warm Stomach – this helps you to add a central warmth and peace to your body. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My stomach is” and on the exhale: “soft and warm.” Repeat two more times.

 

5) A Cool Forehead – This helps you provide a calm, stabilizing coolness to the forehead. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “My forehead is” and on the exhale: “cool.” Repeat two more times.

 

6) Completion. Mentally say to yourself on the inhale: “I feel” and on the exhale: “supremely calm.” Repeat two more times.

 

It is important to memorize this “script” so that you don’t have to spend energy trying to remember the words. Many people find it beneficial to record their own voice with the prompts, and this may be a good way to start. The repetition of the words helps to get the body and mind into a calm, relaxed state, which in turns promotes peaceful sleep.

 

When you are first learning Autogenics, practice this routine three times throughout the day. Before breakfast, before lunchtime, and then right before bedtime so that it helps you to fall asleep. Give it some time to see the best results. Most people notice a big, positive shift in their sleep patterns after a few weeks of practicing Autogenics.

 

Important note: Never listen to any hypnosis recording or try to use self-hypnosis while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. Also, hypnosis is not recommended for those with epilepsy or for those with any kind of psychosis. Always follow the advice of your health professional.

 

Here is a sleep hypnosis recording I made just for you!

Download
References

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Yourself-Sleep-Using-Hypnosis

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

https://bebrainfit.com/autogenic-training/

https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/24/the-science-of-hypnosis/

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

Lissa Coffey is the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council. More sleep tips at www.bettersleep.org

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