Archive for Sleep Tips

Thurday Sleep Tip: Make Spring Forward a Small Bounce

ClockThe start of Daylight Savings time is just around the corner – on March 11th, to be specific. Regardless of whether you agree with the whole ‘Spring Forward’/'Fall Back’ rigamarole, it is reality for most of us, so the most important question is ‘how do we deal with it?’.

 

In general, shifting our sleep schedule one hour isn’t a huge deal. Most people can make the adjustment pretty easily in just a couple days. Nevertheless, there are ways to make it even simpler for you. And, for those who really do struggle with the change the rest of this week’s ‘Thursday Sleep Tip’ should help you out.

Which Problem is Toughest for You?

Adjusting the clock an hour, whether forward or backward, affects our sleep in two ways. It affects the time you go to sleep. And it affects the time you get up. OK, that was fairly obvious. Still, it’s an important consideration because some people suffer more on one end of the sleep schedule than on the other, and it isn’t the same for everybody.

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Nine Ways to Overcome the Snooze Button

I still remember my first digital alarm clock. It was big, had red numbers on it, played radio music for up to an hour as I fell asleep each night. Oh yes, and it had a snooze button.

 

I was a paperboy at the time. I had to get up early to get the newspaper out before school, and I hated that alarm clock. I would hit that snooze button again and again, like Apollo Creed pounding on Rocky’s face. Some mornings I would go 15 rounds before dragging myself out of bed.

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Beating Jet Lag

AirplaneIf you’ve ever traveled in an east-west direction by plane then you have experienced jet lag, or if you prefer the scientific term, desynchronosis.

 

Many of our body’s systems and processes are governed by circadian rhythms. A circadian rhythm is a natural twenty four hour biological clock that resets certain physiological cycles for good health. Our sleep cycle is one example, and jet lag throws off this rhythm. Air travel causes us to move through time zones faster than we can adjust to the change. It creates a shortened or lengthened day, and also alters the light/dark cues we receive from daylight.

The Effects of Jet Lag

Typical symptoms of jet lag include daytime sleepiness, insomnia, repeated nighttime awakenings, headaches, lack of concentration, impaired judgment, and stomach discomfort, to name a few.

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Sleep and Stress: Sleeping the Night before a Job Interview (or other big, important event)

Today I had a job interview. It was the first for me in many years. I usually do pretty well in job interviews, but I still get nervous beforehand. They are very stressful! I found out back in December that my “position is being eliminated”, so I consider this to be the first of potentially many such interviews over the coming weeks and months.

 

When interviewing for a job, of course you want to be at your best. You want to be prepared to answer all those questions, you want to be able to express yourself clearly, you want to know about the job for which you are applying, and so on. Another key part of good preparation is to be well rested. This can be a challenge. Sleep and stress don’t tend to mix that well. The butterflies that spring up don’t usually wait until right before the interview, but may start days beforehand. This can make sleep a challenge the night before, when it is most important.

Now, I am no stranger to the struggles of trying to sleep the night before a big event. I am a runner and a marathoner, and I always get a bit nervous before these stressful events, especially the marathons. In fact, marathons can make me feel a little anxious as much as a week beforehand. Also, a couple times a year I have to teach a forty minute lecture to over 200 people. And, there are other momentous (stressful) events that come up throughout any given year that can make sleep difficult. So, over the years I’ve developed a few tricks that help me to get through the nervousness, and I’m happy to report that last night I was able to sleep reasonably well. How was I able to do it?

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Need Another Reason to Exercise – How about Better Sleep?

Person SwimmingIf you add regular exercise to your life you can expect to see an improvement in your sleep in a number of ways.

  1. You will fall asleep faster
  2. A greater percentage of your sleep will be in the deep sleep stages
  3. You will wake up less frequently during the night

Exercise is particularly valuable for older people, as the benefits all counteract the negative effects of aging on sleep. Physically fit older men fall asleep in less than half the time of their sedentary counterparts.

A study at the University of Washington found that even those who already sleep normally benefit from adding exercise. Test subjects saw an increase in the amount of time spent in deep sleep when they added aerobic exercise a few times a week.

Why Does Exercise Benefit Sleep?

No one is really sure of the exact reasons why exercise has such a significant impact on sleep. There are probably a number of factors, which include:

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Thursday Sleep Tip: The Weekend Sleep Schedule

Picture this scenario. It’s the weekend. You’ve been working hard all week, getting up early, getting to bed early the next night so you can start over the next morning. Now you want to live a little. Nothing to get up early for tomorrow, so no reason to go to bed early tonight. And so, you do what millions of people do every week and you celebrate the weekend.

What you’re really celebrating is freedom. Freedom from that annoying alarm clock that seems to be governing your whole day. It forces you to get up when you don’t want to, so you have to go to bed earlier than you want to, so you don’t get to enjoy the evening activities you want to, like the late night TV or a movie (yeah I know, I live wild). Or maybe you do stay up late one night during the week, but the alarm clock makes you pay for it the next day. Man I hate that alarm clock!

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Napping: It Isn’t Just for Kids

I don’t generally feel anything until noon; then it’s time for my nap.
Bob Hope

Sometimes you just can’t help it. You may be in an important meeting, or driving, or watching a football game. Suddenly your eyes become heavy. You feel warm and a little light headed. You notice that you’re having trouble concentrating. Then the head begins to bob, and before you know it you are nodding off. You’ve just been nap-attacked!

The public opinion about napping has varied over time and from culture to culture. Some societies, particularly those in warmer climates, have celebrated napping and even schedule afternoon ‘siestas’ into the regular work day. In most office environments taking a nap during work, especially in meetings, is usually frowned upon.

If you feel the urge to sleep in the middle of the day what should you do? Should you fight the urge and try to work through it? Should you load up on caffeine? Should you switch activities to try to keep the mind and body awake? Or should you give into the nap?

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Memorization Can Help You Fall Asleep Quickly

Since I was a child I’ve enjoyed memorizing stories, Scripture, songs, scripts, and movie quotes. It began in grade school when I decided to memorize one of Dr. Seuss’ books, The Lorax. I discovered it was a fun challenge. And, like many other skills, the more I practiced the easier it became to memorize new material.

Memorization is a valuable skill with many different applications. You may be surprised that falling asleep quickly is one of them. I made this discovery a couple years ago by accident.

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Sleeping Positions may Affect More than You Think

My guess is that you haven’t given much thought to sleeping positions. That could be a big mistake. Most people sleep in whatever position feels most comfortable for them in the moment. If you’re like me, you probably have a couple favorite positions, “go-to” positions that you rely on to get to sleep quickly. I have used a cycle for many years that moves me counter clock-wise until I fall asleep. The problem is that the position I most frequently end up using is not very healthy.

You may be surprised to learn that sleep position matters at all. I mean, what difference could it possibly make what position my body lies in while it’s asleep, as long as I’m asleep, right? Wrong.

Given that we spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep, it makes sense that body position is very important. Most of us are aware that if we make certain repetitive motions over and over we may become injured, not because of the difficulty of the movement, but because of the constant gradual wearing down of muscles, tendons and tissues through repetitive motion. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most famous example of a soft-tissue repetitive stress injury.

In a similar way, being in one position for long periods of time can be harmful if the position is contrary to the way our bodies were designed to be. Sleeping in an improper position can inflict harm to the body in a single night. Ever wake up with a stiff neck or back? Extend that out to days and weeks of poor sleeping habits and you could develop chronic neck and back injuries. Tens of millions of people visit chiropractors every year for chronic back and neck pain and one of the most common causes of such pain is essentially repetitive stress due to poor sleep habits.

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The 56 Best Tips for Better Sleep

Woman Sleeping

Humans have been sleeping since the beginning of time. You’d think, by now, that we would have a pretty good handle on it, especially when you consider that most of us sleep every day, and that we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping (or at least trying to sleep).

Although sleep can be a challenge from time to time there are a number of things we can do to improve the quality of our sleep. The following is an extensive list of helpful tips I’ve accumulated over the years. If you employ these into your life I am confident that you will begin achieving better sleep right away!

If you have found something that works for you, and it is not on this list, feel free to add it to the comments at the end.

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