Tag Archives: sleep
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Insomnia affects approximately 60 million Americans each year. What gives? Hectic work schedules, stress, and even diet can have an impact on overall quality of sleep. Before turning to prescription medication, give any or all of these natural beverages a try and put your insomnia to bed once and for all.
It’s no secret that Valerian encourages relaxation and even drowsiness for some, so a cup of this herbal tea before bedtime could send you off into a sound sleep until the alarm sounds in the a.m.
Loaded with potassium, bananas might be all you need to drift off to a peaceful slumber. Try combining a half a cup of low-fat milk or unsweetened soymilk with a small banana. It’s tasty too.
Many people love the flavor and drink it on a regular basis, but coconut water is also jam-packed with potassium and magnesium. The healthy drink contains B vitamins too, which have been known to reduce stress. If you’re not already sipping coconut water, you might want to start.
Almond milk and honey
Almond milk is high in tryptophan and magnesium, both key components for good sleep. Raw honey is known to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can keep you asleep through the night. The two together could be the winning combination your body needs to get a full night’s rest.
Tart cherry juice
Cherries contain melatonin, which could be the reason the tart fruit juice will put you into a sound sleep. An eight-ounce serving twice per day is recommended for optimal benefits.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
You’re not alone if you have trouble relaxing before bedtime. Many people struggle with turning life off to catch a good night’s sleep. With all of the stressors in today’s world, clearing your head so you can snooze for 7-8 hours each night is easier said than done. You can, however, give these relaxation techniques a try the next time you find yourself wide awake late at night while your body and mind are yearning for sleep.
Give meditation a try.
Become hyper-aware of your body and feelings. Tune into those feelings, paying special attention to where you feel relaxed and comfortable, and where you feel uptight and not at ease. Think back on your day from beginning to end as if your thoughts were a movie or television program. Try and recall as may details as you can while you play back the last 12-18 hours.
Try switching off your toes one by one, and then eventually your limbs, as you move up the body and relax from head to toe. Let your mind wander until you fall asleep.
Try deep breathing exercises.
Breathe in and breathe out at least five times. Imagine all of the day’s thoughts exiting while you exhale, and any tension from the day melting away.
Write down what’s on your mind.
If you have unfinished business from the workday, jot a few notes down on a pad, keeping it beside you on your bedside table. If you wake in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, write down any thoughts, so you can fall back asleep.
Try practicing some basic yoga poses and stretches before retiring. Any exercise should be gentle and relaxing, so you remain calm and ready for sleep.
Read a great book.
There’s nothing like an amazing read at any time, but books in bed tend to direct any anxious thoughts toward the story so you can put your worries to bed for the night. Aim to read a chapter if you’re super tired, and two chapters if you get into bed a little earlier than usual. Set a higher goal than what you think you can finish, and you’ll probably drift off to sleep in no time.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
It’s no secret that I look forward to my morning cup of coffee. The caffeine certainly helps fuel my desire to indulge, but I also enjoy the ritual and flavor. Having been away from home the past couple months, I have deeply missed my fresh-ground café latte in the mornings. And while coffee shops abound, unfortunately, Starbucks just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Last week I found hope: a new coffee shop nearby with an appeal to the coffee connoisseur (at least I thought so). Excited for the prospect of some good Joe, I turned this place into my office for the day and drank a variety of coffee creations with reckless disregard of getting to sleep that night. While I did get all my work done for the day, I also found myself wide-awake at 2:00 that morning. Wow! That’s some good stuff.
I’m not usually this sensitive to caffeine, and definitely have a new appreciation for this powerful stimulant. What I’m even worse at is self-control, which is why I was happy to discover a new app, called Up Coffee, that helps you manage your coffee intake throughout the day. It’s free to download, and all you have to do is enter information about your gender, weight, height, caffeine sensitivity and regular bedtime. Then, when you have a caffeinated beverage make note of it on the app, which will then tell you approximately how long it will be before you can get to sleep.
In addition to the time to your target bedtime, Up Coffee will also show you charts of how caffeinated you are throughout the day (may be helpful for planning time for prime productivity), compare your consumption to other users (which may be a bit skewed due to the fact that the only people using the app are the ones drinking lots of caffeine), and other fun little tidbits.
Is a coffee management app right for you?
I don’t usually drink coffee in the late afternoon or evenings, save the occasional affogato (espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream), so there really isn’t much of a need for me to adjust my caffeine intake to get a better sleep every day. Plus, I don’t usually go to bed until after midnight anyway. However, if you’re drinking coffee well into the early evening on a regular basis and need to get to bed at a decent hour, then a little app like this may be just what you need.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
A lot of the articles I’ve posted here on the Charles P Rogers blog deal with ways to help you sleep better. A comfortable bed, proper diet, enough exercise, and a solid routine are all cornerstones to a good night’s sleep. However, I recently came across a study that found simply believing you’ve slept well improves cognitive performance, even if you actually didn’t sleep well at all — a classic example of mind over matter.
The study, “Placebo Sleep Affects Cognitive Functioning,” was conducted by researchers from Colorado College, and is published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. In a nutshell, the researchers hooked up their participants to a bunch of fancy equipment and told them that it would measure the amount of REM sleep they got. Note: The equipment did not actually measure anything. The researchers then reported back to the participants with made up numbers about how much REM sleep they got the evening before. Participants were randomly told they got 16.2 percent or 28.7 percent REM sleep, regardless of what may have actually been recorded.
After being told their results, the participants were asked to take a series of tests to measure their cognitive performance. As the title of this post suggests, the participants who were told they had a higher level of REM sleep the night before performed better on the tests than their peers. Some other controls were put in place to help get rid of bias and the subjects’ self-reported sleep quality, and the results held.
So what does this mean for the rest of us? Basically, it confirms the adage that if you change your mind, your body will follow. If you’re in the mindset that you’re getting good sleep, then your brain will perform like you actually got good sleep irrespective of your actual sleep quality. The opposite also holds true: if you’re always thinking about what a bad night’s sleep you got, then your mind will perform like you did, even if you slept wonderfully the night before.
So while a comfortable bed, in an ideal sleeping environment may help you actually sleep better, you need to believe that you are sleeping better too. For me, I’m going to make a conscious effort to tell myself what a good night’s sleep I got and hope that my mind adjusts accordingly. This may be especially important with a lengthy test coming up next week, one where I’ll need every cognitive advantage I can find.
As an update to last week’s article on barn doors in the bedroom, I’ve included some pictures of what my barn door looks like. There is still a lot of work to be done with the bathroom remodel, but it’s good to see some progress! While I was a little skeptical about how would look in my room, and how functional it would be, I honestly couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It fits over my existing doorframe like a glove, and the substantial heft of the reclaimed barn wood blocks affords a lot more privacy than I had expected. An unexpected bonus is that I was able to use old hardware that was reclaimed from an old barn nearby. The door has a lot of character and, in my mind, is truly irreplaceable. It is definitely something I plan to keep and use wherever I live.
Post by Kyle St. Romain
In previous articles, we’ve discussed the three basic ingredients for a good night’s sleep: (1) a dark room; (2) a cold room; and (3) a luxurious bed. There are some other things you can do that will help you sleep more restfully, like: getting enough exercise, eating the right foods, and even wearing a pair of socks to bed, but a comfortable bed in a cold, dark room are the pillars of good sleep.
Unfortunately in today’s world, many people sleep in relatively light rooms. Some people even sleep with the television set on — something I do not understand. But even if you’re able to fall asleep in a lit room or actually prefer it, chances are you’re not getting the best night’s sleep you could. So today we’re going to discuss exactly why total darkness is a must-have for your mind and body to rest properly.
Darkness was probably something our ancestors took for granted (read: feared). With no electricity or artificial lights, early humans lived by the natural cycles of day and night — the key word being natural. With the advent of fire we started to become masters over our domain. Fast forward to present time and it’s all but impossible to find total darkness outside unless you’re camping somewhere remote. This is especially true for those of us who live in urban environments where almost every street is laden with artificial lights — lights that are considerably brighter than what we would otherwise be exposed to at night (the moon and stars).
In darkness, our brains are wired to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps lower blood pressure, glucose, and body temperature. The production of melatonin is one of the most important physiological responses that helps us sleep better. When melatonin production is suppressed, we start to go into sleep debt, which can cause fat gain, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
When we are exposed to light before going to sleep, however dim, our bodies’ natural rhythm gets thrown out of whack. Making matters worse is that many light bulbs, computer screens, and smartphones emit blue light, one of the most stimulating colors of light. Exposure to blue light from a computer screen is why it’s harder to fall asleep quickly after responding to those late night emails.
If you’re struggling with overexposure before bed, here are some helpful tips for eliminating light before sleep:
- Blackout curtains are an easy way to keep unwanted light from coming through your windows.
- Get rid of electronics in the bedroom. All those little power indicators can create quite a bit of light in an otherwise dark room. Clock radios, televisions, computer screens, and other gadgets are common sources of light in the bedroom. Even if these devices are not emitting light, their electrical currents can still disrupt your sleep pattern, so get them out of the bedroom.
- Color shift your computer screen. Working late is a fact of life for many of us, but if you have to be on the computer after sundown, you should at least try to minimize the damage. Having used the program f.lux for a number of years, it now hurts my eyes to look at a “regular” screen at night. This is something I cannot recommend enough.
So next time you’re having trouble going to sleep, think about how much light you were exposed to right before bed. You may find that a little less light is just what your body needs to get out of sleep debt.