Sleep Articles

The Mysteries of Sleep Explained

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

The Mysteries of Sleep ExplainedWe know we need it. If we don’t get it, we’re cranky, have trouble concentrating, tend to overeat and are more likely to make mistakes.  Yet, with the crush of demanding schedules, bad habits, or sleep disturbances, we don’t always get enough.

So what is happening during those precious hours when we’re asleep?  Is it really a time of restoration for our brains?  And is it possible that it’s more than that?

What happens in our brains while we’re asleep is a question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer.

Nuvigil: Not Better Than Placebo for Depression Symptoms in Bipolar

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Nuvigil: Not Better Than Placebo for Depression Symptoms in BipolarMillions of people around the world rely on antidepressants in the treatment of clinical depression and, to a lesser extent, bipolar disorder. Over a dozen such medications exist, and many are also available in generic form.

But for reasons that scientists can’t yet adequately explain, some people don’t respond to many antidepressant drugs. And the drugs they do respond to may carry unwanted side effects that make taking the drug for any length of time downright challenging.

So drug companies are constantly looking for new drugs, new uses for old drugs, and new formulations of old drugs to help improve their batting average. Sadly for this effort, though, we can cross off another potential drug — Nuvigil (armodafinil).

6 Small Changes that Make a Big Difference: Part 2

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

6 Small Changes that Make a Big Difference: Part 2Small changes in six specific areas can make a big difference in your life. New studies in neuroscience show the importance of integrating what some have deemed “therapeutic lifestyle changes” (TLCs) into traditional methods of therapy.

These changes enhance therapeutic results, promote wellness, decrease stress, and facilitate the development of new neural connections, which increases brain health.

In Part 1, we looked at the positive effects of exercise, nutrition and social relationships on mental and physical health.

Here in Part 2, we’ll take a look at the final three.

For A Better Relationship, Catch Some Sleep

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

For A Better Relationship, Catch Some SleepThis guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Robin Goldstein.

When it comes to the subject of sleep, I am a fanatic. I’ll admit I am biased. I have always needed a lot of sleep — nine to 10 hours! — so it’s easy for me to notice the impact of a poor night’s sleep; I get short and irritable.

Still, it seems people can get used to sleeping with less and start to think it’s normal. I hear this kind of thing in my office all the time: “I’ve never slept  well. I do fine on six hours a night. I have too much to do to sleep.”

5 Steps to Improve Sleep & Emotional Vulnerability

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

5 Steps to Improve Sleep & Emotional VulnerabilityMost of us don’t need science to tell us that sleep and emotion are closely linked.  Spend a couple nights with interrupted sleep or talk to any parent of a newborn and the connection is quite clear.

The connection appears not just in everyday life.  In certain physical and mental disorders sleep disturbance and emotion dysregulation are hallmark symptoms. Symptoms of one rare disorder, cataplexy, which often co-occurs with the sleep disorder, narcolepsy for example, include sudden muscle weakness when a person experiences strong emotion, such as anger or fear, or exhilaration.

Lack of adequate sleep also is commonly linked with emotional or psychological problems. Examples include depression and PTSD, while sleep disturbances combined with emotional reactivity are key dimensions of bipolar disorder.

And even when lack of sleep isn’t connected to rare disorders or affective psychological problems, it is linked to increased emotionality. 

New to Mindfulness? How to Get Started

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

New to Mindfulness? How to Get StartedMindfulness is being used in schools, colleges and universities to help teachers and students to improve their attention, interactions with each other, and understanding of others.

Lawyers and judges use mindfulness to listen to and present evidence and reduce distractions. In other work settings, business leaders, workers and HR departments are using mindfulness training to reduce workplace stress, improve focus, communication, creativity and productivity.

And mindfulness is widely used in the treatment of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It’s also used to assist people with medical conditions, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, hypertension and insomnia and to improve the symptoms of stress.

If you’re new to mindfulness, you likely already have some understanding of what it is and its benefits. Now you’ve made a decision to try it.

Go the $%#@ to Sleep: 3 Tips to Use Threats Effectively

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Go the $%#@ to Sleep: 3 Tips to Use Threats EffectivelyI have read every parenting sleep book that has been published in the last 20 years. I’ve been told by neighbors, mothers, siblings, friends, and strangers why my children don’t sleep and how to make them miraculously nod off.

But 11 years after the first insomniac was born, I’m still exhausted, as I am convinced he emerged from my womb with no need of sleep, and then his sister two years later with the same curse. I’m not sure how it happened, being that I’ve always needed eight hours of sleep to stay sane.

The last two months there has been a lot of cussing in our house after 8 p.m., when we begin the rituals. In desperation I headed to my shelf of expert advice to see if any nuggets in there would apply, or at least not nauseate me. I came away empty-handed. Great intentions. Perfect principles. Wise stuff. Just not going to work on my rebels, who defy traditional rules and procedures.

So I’m back to threatening. However, threatening, itself, can be complicated, and deserves its own guidelines.

How to Quiet Your Mind & Get More Shuteye

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

How to Quiet Your Mind & Get More ShuteyeAs soon as your body hits the bed, it’s like a gun firing at the starting line. Your thoughts take off like a pack of horses, each thought racing faster than the first.

Did I do everything on my list? Did I pay the cable bill? What’s the due date on that project, again? Work has been so demoralizing lately. But I can’t quit. I’ll never find another job in this economy.

Oh, crap, I’m still awake. It’s already after midnight, which means I’ll be exhausted even before I start my daunting day.

I’m screwed.

It’s this kind of internal racket that hinders sleep for many people night after night. In their book Goodnight Mind: Turn Off Your Noisy Thoughts & Get a Good Night’s Sleep, authors and sleep specialists Colleen E. Carney, Ph.D, and Rachel Manber, Ph.D, delve into the many reasons our minds keep us from sleeping. They provide valuable tips and techniques that address these culprits.

Self-Sabotage When You Can’t Sleep

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Self-Sabatoge When You Can't SleepIt’s 3 a.m. and I’m awake. Ordinarily I’d be asleep but right now I’m awake and I don’t like it. Strangely this happens at least once every couple of weeks for me. I just wake up early. No real rhyme or reason, it just happens.

At one time in my life, this used to bug me. I would look at the clock and think, “oh no, I must get back to sleep or I’ll be so tired in the morning.” And then I’d spend the next hour or two willing myself to go back to sleep: tossing and turning, demanding that I slip back into unconsciousness; huffing and puffing that I wasn’t sleeping. I’d even check the clock every 10 minutes to see if I’d slept.

But the reality was, and still is, the more that I demand something of myself, the less likely I am to achieve that goal — and that really is the principle of living an unhappy life.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for Insomnia?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for Insomnia?Acupuncture is often touted as a “cure-all” for anything and everything. People seem to either think that acupuncture is an amazing alternative medicine or it is a placebo sham.

I first decided to try it in 2010 to see if it would be able to help ease my lifelong sleeping issues.

Usually I put a lot of thought into the medical providers I work with. In this case, I did not do any research into which practitioner I wanted to use; I simply chose the acupuncturist located one block from my house. It was certainly convenient, and seemed like a good idea at the time.

I recall those sessions as being strange. In addition to needles being placed all over my body, my sessions also involved smoke and fire. Sometimes, an herb would be placed on top of the acupuncture needles, then set on fire. Smoke was used in a procedure called “cupping” where glass jars were suctioned all over my back.

Top 4 Alternative Treatments: Are They Right For You?

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Top 4 Alternative Treatments: Are They Right For You?Psychologists are increasingly integrating alternative and complementary treatments into their work with clients, according to a recent article in Monitor on Psychology.

So what is alternative treatment? You may already have some experience with the most popular, according to the Monitor on Psychology. Meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis and progressive muscle relaxation are all popular complementary or alternative psychological treatments. 

Although you may be familiar with the most popular, there are dozens of alternative and complementary treatments, which typically fall into four categories:  mind-body medicine, biologically-based practices, manipulative and body-based practices and energy medicine.

8 Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Health

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

8 Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your HealthMany people today find that there are not enough waking hours to accomplish all we need to do.  Work, long commutes, email, family responsibilities and household chores can eat up much of our waking time.

In order to get chores done or get in a little extra leisure time, many cut corners on sleep.  We rationalize that a few hours here and there won’t make much difference.

But sleep deprivation can have effects on both your mental and physical health.

So what are these negative effects of not getting enough sleep?

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