Sleep Thief Solutions

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 23 – 2/25/15

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What Bea has found on and off the Internet about getting a better sleep:

For those of you who have kids, remember when they were small and you established a bedtime routine for them?  You can do the same for yourself.  Turn of the computer or television for 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime.  Warning: Don’t watch the nightly news!  When Bea does this, all the bad news leaves her tossing and turning. Take a nice warm bath. Sit on a comfortable chair and read a book.   

 Both caffeine and alcohol aren’t good for a sound sleep.  Bea has tried a glass of wine before bedtime; however, experts warn against this.  They point out that you might fall asleep more quickly, but you are more likely to wake up in a few hours, or sleep less soundly. 

Around an hour before bedtime have a snack that contains both protein and carbs.  For example, whole wheat bread with peanut butter or whole wheat pita bread with hummus.  Another suggestion I read about in Good Housekeeping magazine is to have a bowl of cornflakes and milk. The cereal enhances our tryptophan levels  (an amino acid that helps us sleep) and increases serotonin in our brain. The milk contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep

No clock-watching, please!  Another thing Bea has been guilty of when she wakes up in the middle of the night; peeking at the clock, which makes her more anxious.  “OMG!  There’s only an hour and a half before the alarm goes off!” 

Try meditation!  As Bea mentioned before in her post about the benefits of meditationresearchers have discovered that mindful meditation leads to better quality sleep for chronic insomnia sufferers.  By meditating, you may be able to turn off that mind chatter that goes on at night when you’re trying to get some shuteye.  

Bea started a new bedtime routine (only in the last few days) after talking to a co-worker who swears by this method; she also let Bea borrow some essential oils and an oil diffuser.   

About 30 minutes before bed, she drags herself away from Facebook and her new favorite game, Word Crack, and turns off her laptop.  She uses an essential oil called Tranquil (containing lavender and other oils) on her temples and the back of her neck.  She lies down on a couch and puts in her Ipod earphones, relaxing and listening to one or two of the guided meditation tracks from an album she downloaded. She just breathes deeply and allows the music into her mind. Before getting into bed, she adds water and a few drops of another essential oil, called Slumber into the diffuser, plugs it in, and lets it do its sleepy time magic.  Sure, it sounds complicated, but if it helps Bea get the slumber she needs, she’s up for it. So far, it seems to be working – which means that her daytime hours are much more pleasant! 

What method(s) or routine do you use to get quality sleep?  Bea would love to get your input.

For additional reading:

You can find some “out of the ordinary” better sleep tips in this article from the Pick the Brain website.

How to Treat Insomnia Naturally

 Foods High in Tryptophan

Melatonin Overview by WebMD

 

 

Insomnia: Sleep Thief

 

 

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Bea’s Wellness Project – Day 22 – 2/23/15

You know as well as Bea does that a lack of sleep simply sucks. During perimenopause, along with all those other fun things such as night sweats and hot flashes, insomnia reared its ugly head and made her life very, very unpleasant. Now menopausal (yikes), Bea still suffers from sleepless nights and they wreak havoc on the daylight hours. 

This lack of sleep makes her grumpy, fuzzy-brained and isn’t too good for her looks. There’s nothing more annoying than have one of her bright-eyed co-workers starting a conversation with “Boy, you look tired!”  Especially if that statement is made every day.

Bea knows she isn’t suffering alone – According to the researchers who study this stuff, at least 40% of Americans don’t get the 7 hours of quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden). Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  (Can we create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?  Maybe we should all get together and start the Middle of the Night Club, since misery loves company). 

For those of you who suffer with insomnia like Bea does, you already know that lack of sleep can lead to crabbiness, inability to focus/concentrate, forgetfulness, lack of energy, just to name a few annoyances.

Chronic insomnia, unfortunately, ends up causing more than just minor disturbances in our lives.

  • Lack of sleep can cause problems with the functioning of our brains. It affects our brain’s plasticity, by weakening our brain’s ability to make connections between brain cells.  This decreases our learning ability.  (Evans & Burghardt)
  • Lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to viruses and infections by weakening our immune system (Evans & Burghardt)
  • In many studies, sleep deprivation has been linked to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease (Aschwanden)
  • Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and even earlier death.  
  • One very recent study has even shown that it can make our brain smaller. Now THAT sounds weird. You can read more in this article from the CNN website.

Bea has been trying to find things that will help her sleep better.  In her next post (Wednesday, February 25th) she’ll let you know what she’s found out – by the way, ladies, do you have any “sleep better” suggestions?  What’s worked for you? 

For Further Reading:

Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep

Interested in visuals?

Check out this cool infographic to see what sleep deprivation does to our brain

Resources: 

Evans, S. PhD, & Burghardt, P., PhD. Brain Fit for Life A User’s Guide to Life Long Brain Health and Fitness. 2008. River Point Publications: Milan, MI

Aschwanden, Christie. Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine November 2014. 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Try Meditation for Vital Aging

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 20 – 2/18/15

 Asian woman meditating.

(1) Meditation may help us sleep better. At least 40% of Americans don’t get enough of the quality sleep they need to function well (Aschwanden).  Many of these insomnia sufferers are women.  Our insomnia is caused by hormonal changes we face in our lives, such as pregnancy and perimenopause.  Bea is one of those women, and she’s ready to try meditation to get her zzzzzz’s back! 

(2) Meditation relieves stress, and can help those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

(3) Meditation provides other mental health benefits:  an increase in happiness, self-acceptance and awareness, concentration, focus and more – as found in this article from The Art of Living

(4) Meditation can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and even increase energy levels, just to name a few physical health benefits.  

(5) Meditation may help strengthen our aging brain by slowing down the loss of gray matter, as described in this article from the UCLA newsroom.

Source:

Aschwanden, Christie. (Nov 2014). Counting Sleep. Prevention Magazine.

For Further Reading: 

Want to try Guided Meditation?  Bea downloaded a guided meditation album onto her Ipod, but there are free options online as well:  

 UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

If you search YouTube, “guided meditations,” you’ll also find some good options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.medicaldaily.com/mental-health-benefits-meditation-itll-alter-your-brains-grey-matter-and-improve-319298

Sleep, Sweet Sleep!

 

Sleepless Nights

Why is it that some nights I sleep like a rock and other nights I’m tossing and turning all night? Last night, for some reason, I woke up after just a few hours of sleep and my mind started racing about stuff that I couldn’t do anything about at that moment!  I finally fell asleep just before 5 a.m. and 20 minutes later, my husband’s alarm went off.

Needless to say, I yawned all day at work.

I remember those days when I was a teenager and nothing seemed “cooler” than trying to pull an “all-nighter” with my friends. What happened to those days?  Now, in my fifties, I yearn for a good sleep.  And if I don’t sleep well for several days in a row, well, I’m just a bit CRANKY!

Better Sleep Month

So, May is Better Sleep Month. The question is, how in the heck do we get better sleep?  Insomnia and lack of good quality sleep is a common problem.  At work, I hear people complaining about it all the time.  And we definitely need it.  WebMD talks about why we need it in its article 9 Reasons to Sleep More.

 

(Don’t try this at work!)

An Answer Appears (Maybe)

Fortunately, I  subscribe to WebMD’s health and wellness newsletters. I was reading my emails this evening and there it was, the answer to my sleepn problem, in the form of a slideshow titled: 20 Tips for Better Sleep.

Unfortunately, there are a few tips I probably won’t succeed at: For example, I’m supposed to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on week-ends. Now I know that will never happen. Week-ends are for sleeping in!

Also, the bed is off-limits for pets. Now I’m pretty certain the our dog Desi would never stand for that – his spot is at my feet, or in the case of a thunderstorm, by my head, shaking like a leaf (Jeez, it’s no wonder I can’t get any sleep)!

Sleep Help

Though a good night’s sleep may be a lost cause for me, there may be hope for you, if you read a little further:

For example, you can check out BBC’s Human Body and Mind section to find some extensive information sleep and how to improve it, including:

  • Your personal sleep profile
  • Sleep problems and sleep advice
  • Why we sleep
  • What’s your daily rhythm, and more fun stuff.

There’s also advice from eHow Health, which talks about how taking certain vitamins can help your sleep, and also how to improve your sleep in 10 easy steps.

Finally, the National Sleep Foundation wants to let us know just how important sleep is to our health and well-being!

How do you sleep?  Got any advice for us tossers and turners?

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Need Help Sleeping? Check Out the Warm Milk Journal

Fellow blogger, Debra, is the creator of the Warm Milk Journal.

She started this blog to help people who want to sleep better, and also for people looking for a little inspiration in life. Like me, Debra is a person who is sharing her experiences and who doesn’t claim to be an “expert.” She’s simply passing along what she’s learned in her life, and hoping people will find value in her words.

Recently, she wrote a good post about how empowering a good sleep can be. You can check it out here.

If you’re like me, you may feel guilty if you’re not being “productive.” However, Debra points out that it’s a good to just permit yourself to be lazy once in awhile!

I also like the ideas she presents in this post, in which she talks about some keys to having a life of quality. She points out that if we want to maintain a youthful outlook, we need to challenge ourselves and contribute something of value to the world.

Thanks, Debra, for the inspiration

Improve your Wellness with Tai Chi

Like yoga, tai chi is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Tai chi originated in China as a martial art, meant for self-defense.

Today, it is an exercise practice that can reduce stress and may even improve your sleep!

The Mayo Clinic experts point out that scientists have only just recently begun to study the effects of tai chi on the body and the mind. However, there is evidence that this practice provides both mental and physical health benefits.

Dr. Paul Lam demonstrates Beginning your journey with Tai Chi

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Got Insomnia? You Are Not Alone!

Photo by Dynamite Imagery

Image: Dynamite Imagery / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Having sleep problems? You’re not alone. Literally millions of people throughout the world are sleepless at night. They lie in bed and their minds start racing: their credit card is over its limit, their child is failing in school, a co-worker is driving them crazy . . . They toss and turn, plump their pillow, kick their snoring spouse. Eventually, they fall asleep, perhaps only to awaken a few hours later and begin tossing and turning again. Arrghhh!

Insomnia is the most common of all sleep disorders. Of course, a racing mind isn’t the only cause. Insomnia can stem from emotional, mental, or physical issues. Insomnia can last a few days, a few weeks, or it can become a chronic problem.

And do I need to tell you that lack of sleep leads to fatigue, which leads to crabbiness, lack of a sense of humor, a desire to sleep (well, duh), forgetfulness, an inability to drive your car (alright, I made that up) and a desire to annihilate your spouse, the one who sleeps so peacefully while you’re suffering!

Can you tell that I’ve suffered from insomnia? I’m okay now, and my spouse, luckily, is safe from my lack-of-sleep induced wrath.

Lack of sleep can also affect your mental and physical health.

Bea’s Three Tips for a Better Sleep (because I can’t think of any more than three right now . . . )

  • Don’t watch the late night news programs. (All that crazy bad news will just keep you tossing and turning and when you DO fall asleep, you’ll have nightmares.)
  • If you get a craving for a meat lover’s pizza at 10:00 p.m., DON”T give in. Try warm milk instead (yea, like that will satisfy your pizza craving!)
  • I’ve never gone for the counting sheep route. I’ve found that counting your blessings works better. Seriously. Focus not on your worries, but on the good things you have going. And believe it or not, even in these tough times, you can find some good stuff.

Conventional therapies for insomnia include medications and cognitive-behavioral therapies, such as sleep hygiene.

Emedicine Health provides a good overview of insomnia, including causes, symptoms, treatments, and so on, here.
If you have chronic insomnia, you may be interested in a holistic approach. There are actually insomnia therapies that date back to ancient times. These include acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology.

Others involve mind-body techniques and include biofeedback, relaxation/meditation, yoga, and (believe it or not) music therapy. These are just a few of the holistic approaches.

Holistic online provides extensive information about sleep and sleep disorders, as well as links to a wide variety of alternative therapies for insomnia.

Sleep tight, my friends. But first, let me know what helps you get a better sleep!

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