Tag Bedroom

8 Activities to Avoid if You Suffer from Insomnia | Yatin J. Patel MD MBA


Jacob Williams, MS (the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.) and his colleagues published an excellent review article in this month’s CHEST journal. Authors recommend that you should avoid these activities especially if you suffer from insomnia.
1. Frequent napping 

2. Variable bedtimes and wake times 

3. Frequently spending an excessive length of time in bed 

4. Use of stimulants near bedtime (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine) 

5. Stimulating activities too close to bedtime (working, talking about stressful topics, paying bills) 

6. Use of bed for nonsleep-related activities (watching television, reading, snacking) 

7. Poor bedroom environment (uncomfortable bed, too much light or noise, too cold or too warm)

8. Allowing oneself to persist in sleep-preventing mental activities while in bed (thinking, planning, reminiscing) 

5 Tips to Help Keep Your Bedroom Dark


English: By Ruth Lawson. Otago Polytechnic.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Pineal gland, a tiny structure located at the base of the brain secrets melatonin, a powerful sleep-promoting agent. Based on our internal rhythm, this secretion starts in the evening approximately two hours prior to sleep onset and peaks 2 hours prior to wakefulness. This whole process leading to melatonin secretion is extremely sensitive to bright light. Light emanating from even a tiny phone screen can reduce this secretion and prevent you from falling asleep and getting enough deep sleep. Here, are a few tips to help you maximize your internal melatonin secretion.

  1. Choose dark drapes or blinds for the bedroom windows. You can also apply black film over glass windows to block out light completely.
  2. Turn the alarm clock away and keep the brightness to a minimum. My personal preference is not to keep the clock in the bedroom at all.
  3. Completely turn off all the electronic devices including stereo, satellite boxes, TV, laptop, iPad, and others. Again my preference is not to have these devices in the bedroom at all. If you use them in the evening, please use them outside the bedroom and with lowest possible brightness to minimize melatonin suppression.
  4. If your spouse needs nightlight please use one with the lowest brightness. I also suggest you try dark and comfortable eyeshades. These eyeshades come in handy when trying to sleep in those not-so-dark hotel rooms.
  5. Sport those cool looking designer sunglasses while driving home in the evening or during outdoor activities in the backyard. Your Pineal gland would love you for that.

Remember that melatonin is an ally, while light is an enemy of deep sleep.

Can’t Sleep Well during Pregnancy? Follow Twelve Tips from Sleep Doc.


According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 1998 women and sleep poll, 78 percent of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. Following tips can help you sleep better.

  1. Plan, schedule, and prioritize sleep. Follow sleep hygiene with twice the fervor and fanaticism as you are indeed sleeping for two.
  2. Avoid caffeine completely because it will compound the problem of insufficient deep sleep. It being a diuretic will also make your frequency of urination worse.
  3. After checking with your physician, exercise for at least thirty minutes per day.
  4. Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to your fetus and your uterus and kidneys. Keep your knees and hips bent. Place pillows between your knees, under your abdomen, and behind your back. This may take pressure off your lower back. Try to avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time. You may try special pregnancy pillows, which can help you be comfortable during sleep.
  5. Drink lots of fluids during the day, especially water, but cut down on the amount you drink in the hours before bedtime.
  6. If you can’t sleep for twenty minutes, don’t lie in bed and force yourself to sleep. Get out of the bedroom, and read a relaxing book, knit or crochet something for your baby, write in a journal, or take a warm bath.
  7. Learn progressive muscle relaxation. This will help your insomnia, and it will come in handy during delivery.
  8. Avoid looking at bright light at night. A nightlight in the bathroom will be less stimulating, so it will allow you to return to sleep more quickly.
  9. During work days, take a PREM power nap in the early afternoon. During weekends, you can take a longer nap in the afternoon to pay up your sleep debt. If you have difficulty falling asleep at night, then nap earlier in the day or curtail the duration of the nap.
  10. In order to avoid heartburn, do not eat large amounts of spicy, acidic, or fried foods. Also, eat frequent small meals throughout the day.
  11. Recognize that snoring is very common during pregnancy, but, if you have pauses in your breathing associated with your snoring, you should be screened for sleep apnea.
  12. If you develop Restless Leg Syndrome, seek medical attention. Your doctor will check you for iron or folate deficiency. Keep your legs elevated at work and at home as much as you can. This can prevent leg swelling and may help your RLS. Leg stretching exercises can help RLS, too.

God bless you both!

11 Tips for Deeper Sleep


Sleep does not differentiate us from animals, sleep hygiene does!

Overworked humans are not only getting insufficient sleep but also poor quality sleep secondary to their poor sleep hygiene.  And what exactly is sleep hygiene? Sleep hygiene is your personal set of habits that together determine the quality of your sleep. Sleep hygiene helps you stay healthy by keeping your brain (most importantly, the executive center) and your body rested and strong. In order to get the most return on your investment in sleep, you will have to follow sleep hygiene fanatically.

The following tips will help you improve your return on investment in sleep:

  1. Create a sanctuary for sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet.
  2. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex only.
    Keep work related items out of bedroom. Do not take Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations to bed. Keep Smartphone and laptop out of your bedroom.
  3. Use the might of Mother Nature to your advantage. Going against Mother Nature by ignoring circadian rhythm will result in reduced duration of your deep sleep (stage three and REM sleep). Always maintain a consistent time to rise, even when circumstances prevent you from going to bed at your normal time. And, yes, that includes weekends. There is no point in going to bed two hours late on weekends and waking up two hours late the next day. There is no net gain. In fact, there is a net loss because it disrupts your intrinsic rhythm, the sole cause of reduced productivity on Monday mornings.
    Alcohol robs you of your deep sleep.
  4. Recognize that alcohol induces sleep, but is a poor quality sleep marked by frequent arousals, leading to lighter sleep at the expense of REM sleep.  Alcohol induces sleep but robs you of your deep sleep. Because of this, general recommendation in sleep medicine practice is to avoid consuming alcohol six hours before bedtime.
  5. Make every effort to quit smoking completely because it affects your sleep, too. Nicotine is a stimulant that would rob you of your deep sleep. But if you cannot quit, certainly avoid smoking within three hours of your bedtime.
  6. Avoid eating a heavy meal before bedtime because the process of digestion will interfere with falling asleep and may reduce the amount of deep sleep.
  7. Sweat for sound sleep.  Regularly exercising even for twenty minutes a day has been shown to improve your sleep architecture. Not only does it make you fall asleep quicker, it also increases the duration of deep sleep and thus makes your sleep immensely more restorative.
    Caffeine has a 24 hour duration of action. It robs you of your deep sleep.
  8. Stay away from caffeine, certainly after one o’clock. Caffeine has the duration of action of twenty-four hours, so a cup of coffee in the morning will still be lingering in your bloodstream when you are trying to go to sleep at ten o’clock. Some of my colleagues argue, “I can drink a cup of coffee and go right to bed and fall asleep.” The fact remains, though, that it is still going to rob you of your REM sleep, making your sleep non-restorative. Please taper caffeine off slowly over three to four weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Switch to decaf coffee if you must drink it.
  9. Follow the 2-20 rule of napping. Do not nap after two o’clock, and do not nap for longer than twenty minutes. A ten to fifteen-minute power nap in the early afternoon can energize your day and give you two days in one. But even a brief ten-minute nap in the evening will deconsolidate your sleep at night.
  10. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Listen to the music. Read a nice book. Take a warm shower because the cooling off promotes sleep. Cookies and a glass of milk can help, too, because milk contains tryptophan, a naturally occurring sleep-promoting agent.
    Prayers lead to positive emotions, which get amplified during REM sleep.
  11. REM sleep is a powerful amplifier of emotions, especially negative ones like fear, anxiety, hatred, and anger. To use this amplifier to our advantage, we need to focus on positive emotions all day and then, at bedtime, purge our mind of whatever negative emotions it has collected all day. This is where even a short prayer comes in the picture. Matthew 18:23–26 says, “Have faith in God. I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” Faith drives away fear. Also, do not carry a grudge to bed with you. Bedtime is not the time to review your anger against others who have hurt you in some way. Luke 6:27–29 says it best, “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Forgiveness always brings peace, and there is no better sleep aid than a soul that is at peace. Forgive yourself; forgive others.

Ignore Sleep, Ignore Life.

Sleep Well, Lead Well.

Tired? Sleepy? Exhausted? Take a PREM Nap!


A fifteen minute PREM nap can rejuvenate your afternoons and evenings.

 

Technique of a Conventional Power Nap

Following tips will you help you rejuvenate your day with a 15 minute power nap.
• Proudly let your staff know that you will be taking a fifteen-minute nap. “Doctor’s orders,” you may add.
• Set your Smartphone alarm, preferably on vibrate, to go off in fifteen minutes. A study from Australia has shown that napping for less than ten minutes is suboptimal. More than twenty minutes can be counterproductive because of post-nap grogginess.
• Turn on relaxing music. You can try noise-canceling headphones. Bose are the best.
• Put on eye shades. I find my Notre Dame cap very useful, especially when taking a nap in the public place. I just pull it down over my eyes, and I am off to the land of dreams.
• Stretch on the couch or recline in the chair. Turn the chair away from people and toward the window or wall. A study from China showed greater benefit with stretching on the couch as opposed to sitting.
• Close your eyes, shut off your mind, and relax.
• Wake up with a smile and vigor when the alarm goes off.

A REM nap improves creative problem solving by a whopping 40 percent. A very interesting study done by Dr. Sara Mednik and her team at University of California, San Diego, looked at creative problem solving before and after a nap. Participants were given three words and asked to find a word that can link all of the three words, for example, sixteen, candy, and heart. The answer is sweet: sweet sixteen, sweet candy, and sweet heart. There was an amazing 40 percent improvement after a nap containing REM sleep.

Remember that REM sleep has an active brain in a paralyzed body. Mother Nature made it so we do not act out our dreams. Also, studies have shown that REM sleep has a tremendous amount of random, bizarre, and seemingly unrelated activity going on, which our brain is trying to connect together to make some sense of it. Some researchers believe this is why REM nap is able to boost creative problem solving by linking these random and totally unrelated activities together. This is the wildest and craziest form of thinking outside the box. Studies have shown that REM sleep plays a pivotal role in memory consolidation, too.

Can we do better than just lie down and relax for fifteen minutes? Can we modify our technique to make our nap more restorative, more recuperative, and more energizing? I think we can by adding just a few steps to our conventional nap. I should clarify that these recommendations are not based on any specific scientific studies, but my experience as a practicing sleep specialist and lifelong nap-taker.

Let us learn to take PREM (Patel’s Relaxed Eye Muscles) nap.

Read a couple of lines from the Bible, Gita or any other religious book before the nap. You can store them on your Smartphone and read them before setting up the fifteen-minute alarm. REM sleep, the sleep stage with vivid dreams, unfortunately, has predominantly negative emotions like fear, anxiety, guilt, and anger. Here, we are trying to replace them with joy, optimism, love, and faith. Matthew 18:23–26, says, “Have faith in God. I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Luke 6:27–36 says, “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also.”

• Begin your nap with five to ten slow, deep, and regular breaths. Control of breathing is control of life. Breathing, unlike heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and gastrointestinal motility/secretions, is the only vital function that we can easily control. And it is a time-tested tool used for centuries to achieve relaxation.

• Progressive muscle relaxation is incompatible with somatic anxiety. So, by focusing on respiration and relaxation, we are getting rid of anxiety, both from our conscious and our subconscious. As you breathe in and out, relax the muscles of your eyeballs and then continue to relax all the other muscles from head to toe and drift down into a state of pleasant relaxation. And when the alarm goes off, wake up with tremendous positive energy.

I call this my PREM nap! This revolutionary power nap taps into REM sleep’s restorative power and limitless creativity.

Please watch this seven minute instructional video and start regaining your afternoons and evenings.

Happy Napping!

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