Sleep Articles

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?

Sick & Tired? Take this Sleep Quiz

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Sick and Tired? Take this Sleep QuizSleep research has been around for more than 90 years. In the last 15 years, though, researchers have been focusing on partial, or short, sleep rather than total sleep deprivation.

Such research looks at the way sleep affects cardiometobolic disease, the name given to disruption of a variety of physical and cognitive functions. These disruptions can affect basic skills such as appetite regulation and mood. Sleep researchers apparently are issuing the rest of us a wake-up call.

Each of us has an internal clock, a circadian rhythm that regulates our sleep needs. This is synchronized by the amount of sunlight we are exposed to.

But when we are tempted by the demands of our social clock — such as reading that last email, staying up for late-night TV, or going out and staying out late with our friends — we fall out of sync and the effects can take their toll. This circadian disruption often is at the core of numerous problems.

Top 10 Mental Health Apps

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
Top 10 Mental Health Apps

With so many apps on the market, it’s hard to know which are useful.

Many are designed by software developers instead of psychologists, without scientific testing. They range from beneficial, to harmless but useless, to bordering on fraudulent.

The apps selected for this list make no hucksterish claims and are based on established treatments. Progressive Muscle Relaxation, for example, has been used for a century and is likely just as effective in this new medium. Knowledge from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy enrich two apps on this list. Others mix solid information with ingenuity.

The Strange & Surprising Science of Sleep

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The Strange & Surprising Science of SleepIn his book Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, author David K. Randall calls sleep “one of the dirty little secrets of science.” That’s because despite spending almost a third of our lives sleeping, we don’t really know much about the process of sleep.

In fact, Randall, a senior reporter at Reuters, notes that sleep is one of the youngest fields in science. Until the 1950s, researchers believed that our brains remained quiet during slumber.

But the discovery of the stages of sleep shattered this perspective. For instance, our brains are just as active in REM sleep — aptly named rapid eye movement because our eyes shift rapidly against our lids — as they are when we’re awake.

In Dreamland, Randall shares a slew of these fascinating, surprising and eye-opening facts, anecdotes and research studies. These are a few curious tidbits from his book.

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

5 Ways to Beat the Winter BlahsCall it the winter blues or blahs or simply seasonal sadness. Whatever term you use, around this time, many of us start to feel our mood sinking. We feel especially tired and sluggish. We might even feel like the walking dead, moping from one task to the next.

That’s because as the days get shorter and colder, we spend more time indoors and are less active, according to Ashley Solomon, PsyD, a clinical psychologist who blogs at Nourishing the Soul. “We tend to be more sedentary, which we know impacts our level of energy and even interest in activities,” she said.

It also doesn’t help that our bodies produce more melatonin when the sun sets, making us sleepy, said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression. (Interestingly, melatonin is known as “the Dracula of hormones,” because it only comes out at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.)

Can Exercise Make You Smarter?

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Can Exercise Make You Smarter?Scientists have long studied exercise and its impact on any number of physical and emotional factors, including bone density, cardiovascular disease and stress.

But if we take the mind-body connection one step further and study exercise and cognitive functioning, will we see a link?

Are You Tired All the Time? Food Might Be to Blame

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Are You Tired all the time? Food Might Be to BlameDo you feel dull and drowsy much of the day?  As the day wears on, do you find yourself yawning, wanting to lay down, or having difficulty concentrating?

We all feel tired from time to time, and a multitude of factors contribute to tiredness and fatigue.  One factor may be an underlying medical condition, such as anemia, hyperthyroidism or a heart condition.  Struggles with psychological problems — such as anxiety and depression — can also be linked to feelings of tiredness. Medication side effects are yet another factor.

But sometimes when we’re sleepwalking through the day, it’s simply because of what we eat

Eating too much contributes to obesity, which has a significant impact on our energy levels and feelings of tiredness.  But, even when we aren’t overweight, the foods we eat can leave us feeling sluggish and worn out.

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