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Delay School Start Time & Save a Teen


Both my teenage daughters, responsible teens and smart students with a ton of extracurricular activities, had serious car crashes with significant damage to the vehicle. But with God’s grace, they both survived these crashes.  Not every teen is that fortunate. In 2008, a huge number of teens (6,428) died as a result of vehicular accidents in USA according to Department of Motor Vehicles, California. What can we do to eliminate this? Can later school start time help?

Looking for an answer,  Dr. Robert Daniel Vorona and his colleagues at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA analyzed crash test data for two neighboring cities in Virginia, VB (earlier start times by 75-80 minutes) and Chesapeake and published their findings in this month’s Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. They found that VB teens had significantly higher crash rates than Chesapeake as shown in the following graph.

How can we achieve a later start time for our teens?

For VB and Chesapeake, teen drivers’ crash rates in 2008 were 65.8/1000 and 46.6/1000 (p < 0.001), respectively, and in 2007 were 71.2/1000 and 55.6/1000. Congestion data for VB and Chesapeake did not explain the different crash rates.  

Want to delay school start time in your community? National Sleep Foundation has a few tips here to help you get started.  

Do you have suggestions on how to convince schools to change the school start time? Do you have a story to tell? Let us work together and save a teen.

Open-eye nap can help you, Mr. Vice President


Next time, try my patented Open-eye nap, Mr. Vice President!

In order to learn my patented Open-eye nap, Mr. Vice President, you will have to first learn and practice PREM(Patel’s Relaxed Eye Muscles) nap for a month or so. Then you can try taking it with your eyes open in a public place!

Imagine you are listening to Mr. President’s dull and long presentation that is not going to help you personally even a tiny bit, not to mention the fact that you have heard it ten times within prior 24 hours, but you just can not get up and leave. Can you nap for five minutes at a time with your eyes open and use these minutes to recharge your executive engine? Why not? Fish sleep with their eyes open. A giraffe sleeps while standing. You can do that, too.  So let us get started.

  • Sit in a comfortable position. Sitting upright is fine. If the situation permits, you can slide down in the chair, too. Make sure the chair does not slide away.
  • Pleasantly focus your eyes on Mr. President. Remember that, when we sleep, our ears are open, and we still sleep well. Here, both your eyes and ears are open. With practice, you can successfully shut off your mind (this should not be difficult for a VP based on whatever little I know about US politics) and relax completely.
  • Take slow, deep breaths and relax from head to toe. Do not worry. You will not fall down. The tone of spinal muscles will hold you in the chair. Maintain this pleasant state of relaxation for five minutes (You can set your iPhone on vibrate to wake you up) to derive maximum benefits from Open-eye nap.

What if others start applauding? Do not worry. You will be able to wake up and join in, just as a sleeping mother ignores everything else but hears and responds to her child’s crying in the next room. You can also enlist the help of a trusted neighbor or, better yet, your team member in coming to your rescue should there be a need for you to applaud or smile. Say, “Please tap my knee or shoulder before you stand up and start clapping. I might be absorbed in some other thoughts.”

Knowing your legal background, Mr. Vice President, you may ask if this has been tried before. And the answer is an unequivocal and enthusiastic YES. My colleagues at Notre Dame University have successfully tried Open-eye napping during our executive MBA classes. So, rest assured. It works. Risks are greater if you don’t try it!

Legal disclaimer; please consult your physician before starting any napping practice. Reading this blog does not form patient-physician relationship.

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.

Curing Excitement Insomnia during ICC World Cup


Don’t let the victory keep you up at night!

For my friends suffering from excitement insomnia during ICC World Cup, here are a few helpful tips for this Thursday and Friday night.

  • Avoid caffeine as it will make your insomnia worse.
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise as it will improve your deep sleep.
  • Assign ten o’clock at night to six o’clock in the morning as sacred time, reserved for resting and recharging instead of worrying about India’s performance.
  • Get rid of all your work-related (in this case, cricket-related) material from your bedroom.
  • Continue your relaxing bedtime ritual: shower, relaxing reading, cookies and milk, and meditation, per your preference.
  • Read your favorite lines from the Gita or any other religious book to calm your nerves.Therefore, O Sachin, surrendering all your works unto Me, with mind intent on Me, and without desire for gain and free from egoism and lethargy, fight. -Chapter 3-40
  • Perform Mindful Meditation especially if you can not relax. You can learn about it here.

  • Do not worry. India is going to win. Relax. Turn off the lights and go to sleep.

Sweet dreams!

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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