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Category Archives: Sleep Benefits of Exercise

3 Myths and Interesting Facts About Sleep

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Jackie_Martinez_in_B&W_sleeping_with_a_bookSleep is a complex process, and there is a lot we don’t know or have wrong about it. The Huffington Post just published the article 3 Crazy Myths and Facts about Sleep that clears up several myths with some interesting truths about sleep.

Myth #1: Getting up at night for, say, 15 minutes just means I lose 15 minutes of sleep. Unfortunately, when life wakes you in the middle of the night, you lose way more than just those minutes out of bed. Waking to change your pajamas after a hot flash, answer the phone if you’re on call, or of course, comfort a crying baby is harder on us than we ever thought.

I’m surprised it took until 2014 to officially research this, but a first-of-a-kind study in the journal Sleep Medicine looked at the effects of sleep interruption over two nights. The first night, all the study participants slept for eight hours. Then researchers then measured their mood and ability to pay attention. Good so far.

A few nights later, the participants were split into two groups: half slept for only four hours, while the other half slept for eight hours but got woken up four times for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch. So technically, they spent at least seven hours asleep — three hours longer than the four-hour group — just interspersed with awakenings. Then everyone’s mood and attention was measured again.

Anyone who’s ever had a newborn or been on call for work knows the results: the mood and attention of folks with interrupted sleep were just as bad as those who slept for only four hours. Both groups felt depressed, irritable, and had a hard time getting going. Plus, performance on the attention task got worse the longer they kept at it. Indeed, whoever coined the term “sleep like a baby” clearly never had one.

Myth #2: My brain holds my internal clock. Yes, the master clock, technically called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, is in your brain. But almost all your organs, plus your fat and skeletal muscle, follow some sort of daily rhythm as well. Your gut, liver, and kidneys in particular have strong rhythms.

That’s why you feel so lousy when you have jet lag, and that’s why you often wake up groggy or feeling thrown off when you sleep in on the weekend: your whole body is affected.

And over the long term, throwing off your body clocks through overnight shift work, frequent jet lag, or just wacky sleep habits can put you at risk for some serious diseases, including breast cancer and colon cancer

Circadian disruption is also thought to be a final push that sends some of those merely at risk over the edge. For example, only 30 percent of alcoholics develop liver disease. Why? Well, a 2013 study found that circadian disorganization, common in shift workers, increases “permeability of the intestinal epithelial barrier,” or in other words, a leaky gut. In the context of what the researchers called “injurious agents,” i.e., booze, a leaky gut puts folks at higher risk for liver inflammation and disease. They concluded that while there are many factors that determine whether someone with alcohol addiction develops liver disease, circadian disruption may be a swizzle stick that breaks the camel’s back.

Myth #3: If I can’t sleep, I should just wait it out… sleep will come. On the contrary, if you know you’ll be staring at the ceiling for awhile, get up. Yes, your bed is cozy and warm, but here’s why. Much like you probably associate biting into a lemon with puckered lips and Pavlov’s dog associated the bell with food, thereby salivating, you want to associate your bed with one thing: sleep (well okay, two things: I’ll let you guess the other).

When you lie in bed for more than about 15 or 20 minutes without sleeping, you start to associate your bed with wakefulness. And when you watch TV or fool around on Pinterest in bed when you can’t sleep, those too become associations with bed.

With time, bed could mean sleep, or it could also mean CSI, preschool science project pinboards, or planning your day in your head. Yes, even thinking and worrying qualify as activities you don’t want to do in bed.

So what to do? You can still do all these things, just don’t do them in bed. Get them done before you head to bed, and if you can’t sleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something non-stimulating like reading (on paper, not a tablet!) until you feel sleepy. Then try again. If you still can’t sleep, rinse and repeat: get up again to avoid associating the bed with anything but sleep and sex.

This is what behavioral psychologists call stimulus control and it’s the most effective way to combat chronic insomnia. It may take a week or two, but it’s been shown to break the bad habits that maintain insomnia. Before you know it, you’ll be so good at sleeping you’ll do it with your eyes closed!

For the full article click HERE.

 

10 Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep

It is well known that babies are the cause of many sleepless nights for new parents. It is important for babies to get their rest, but it is important for parents as well. Without a good night’s sleep, parents are not as alert or focused as they need to be in order to attend to the demands of a new child. Here are 10 tips to help your infant fall asleep:

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Teach your baby the difference between day and night. During the day it is light out, there are activities and noises, and everyone interacts with each other. During the night it is dark out, quiet, and everything is still. When bedtime is approaching, dim the lights and speak softly to let your baby know that you are transitioning into night and it is time to sleep.

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Set up a routine or schedule that you and the baby follow when you are getting ready for bed. It can be as simple as a bath, followed by a feeding, and finally a lullaby. Whatever it is, follow the same routine every night and the baby will naturally start to respond to the schedule.

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Increase the frequency of feedings when it is getting closer to bed time. The baby will sleep better and longer with a full belly! It also helps to give babies a soft massage to sooth them after eating and help them transition into sleep.

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As with adults, exercise is a great way for your baby to sleep well. Since infants are limited when it comes to activities, exercise can consist of laying on their bellies and kicking their arms and legs or crawling (depending on age).

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Hold your baby close to you and gently rock him or her back and forth. This will help nurture the parent/child bond while helping the baby fall asleep. Another similar method is to purchase a baby swing, which they can actually stay in while napping instead of moving them once they fall asleep.

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White noise can be very effective and soothing for a baby. People use a variety of softer sounds, varying from chirping birds to rushing water to the simple whir of a fan, as long as it is not loud enough to wake the baby.

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One of the harder tips for parents to follow is to not respond to every cry or noise that the baby makes. Wait a minute to see if the crying persists, because sometimes they are just fussy and will fall asleep on their own. If the babies need something, they will continue to cry for more than a minute. You can end up interrupting their sleep when you check on them, when otherwise they would have fallen back to sleep unaided.

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Pretend to be asleep while laying down with your baby. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, imitating sleep patterns. The baby will pick up on this and begin to doze off as well. Who knows, maybe you will catch a nap in the process!

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Keep the baby’s room cooler at night than you do during the day. With the use of a fan or air purifier, you can keep the room cooler while also creating white noise.

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The final tip is to give the baby a conducive sleeping environment. Babies tend to feel safer in a semi-enclosed area such as a crib or bassinet. Click on the link below to check out OMI’s Innerspring and Latex Crib Mattresses and give your baby the healthiest and safest sleeping surface possible.

http://www.omimattress.com/Children.php

Get a Better Night’s Sleep!

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 poll on exercise and sleep, getting more exercise will not only benefit you by gaining a better quality of sleep, but will also help you fall asleep faster and have fewer sleep problems.

Here are the National Sleep Foundation’s definitions of the types of exercise found in the chart below.

“In this self-report measure, vigorous was defined as activities, which require hard physical effort such as: running, cycling, swimming or competitive sports. The next level, moderate, was defined as activities, which require more effort than normal such as: yoga, thai chi and weight lifting. Light activity was defined as walking, while those who do not do any activity classified themselves into the no activity level.”

National Sleep Foundation Results

To view the full summary of the Sleep in America Poll®, click HERE.

Where do you fall on the chart?

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