Archive of ‘Hot Topics in Sleep’ category

World Sleep Day 2017: Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life

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Sleep comes naturally for all of us, so much so that we humans spend one third of our entire life sleeping. That means, if we live to be 75 years old and we’re sleeping at least 8 hours a day, 25 years of that is spent sleeping.

But has sleep really been given much importance or has it taken the sidelines and for some, maybe even considered just an option and no longer a necessity?

We’re past the era when people knew very little about the importance of sleep or what happens during sleep and have gone from thinking sleep was a form of death to actually being able to document different brain cycles during sleep – and yet we’re sleeping lesser or not at all either because of sleep issues or by choice.

Because of the significance of sleep in our physical, mental and emotional well-being, it is important that we don’t let sleep be just a nighttime ritual behind closed doors, but an open subject for all to discuss and celebrate and even share with others.

With people sleeping over an hour less than what we did 100 years ago, we have an epidemic of partial sleep deprivation in western society. This is finally being recognised. People are beginning to understand that sleep health is just as important, if not more important, than diet and exercise.  

Sleep Celebration

World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. As of 2016, World Sleep Day had a total of 394 delegates in 72 countries around the globe. Source

This year, World Sleep Day will be celebrated on March 17, 2017 (today!) all over the world and will echo the message of “Sleep Soundly, Nurture Life.”

Celebrate Sleep Your Way

You don’t necessarily have to be a delegate to help spread the good message of sleep throughout the world, you can be a Sleep Ambassador in your own simple way and you can start with prioritising and improving your own sleep.

Here’s how you can help celebrate World Sleep Day:

  1. Check the quality of your sleep: are you waking up refreshed and rejuvenated or are you waking up groggy and with low energy? A good night’s sleep is comparable to charging your batteries to make you fully-charged to start another day. If you don’t sleep well, don’t  buy into the myth that there is nothing that you can do, and that you just have to “put up with it”
  2. Become aware of what affects the quality and duration of your sleep.  What does and doesn’t work for you? Don’t just look at your sleep habits – but what are you doing during the day that affects your sleep at night? If you can’t figure it out or need some help it might be time for a trip to a Sleep Coach.
  3. Be a living testament of good sleep: Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is an expression which might be linked to not being able to sleep soundly thereby affecting your mood and quality of life. If you get enough quality sleep, you’re affecting the world around you with your positivity and vibrance. Sleep more so you can smile more and live longer!

World Sleep Day is a celebration every first Friday of March but that doesn’t mean sleep should only be celebrated then. Sleep should be celebrated everyday and you can start now!

Good night and sleep tight! Don’t let the bedbugs bite!

Does Better Sleep Mean a Better Orgasm?

 

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There are many connections between sleep and having that big “O” moment. 
But did you know training yourself to sleep easier, and more deeply, could help to increase the intensity of your orgasm, and your sex life?

One of the core reasons for this link lies in the mind’s ability to detach from the external world, and move within.

We can gain great insight from a common occurrence for both men and women. Wet dreams, normally associated with men, are also a natural phenomenon for women. It was recently published in the Journal of Sex Research that 85 percent of women have experienced a nocturnal orgasm. In both cases, studies have shown the orgasm was much more intense during sleep, versus when the subject was partaking in sexual activates consciously. This is because while you are asleep, there is less inhibition and less conscious restraint. Studies of brain scans have shown that there is actually a ‘turning off’ of certain areas in the brain that process outside information, motor activity, and emotion at the time of orgasm. This may help explain why there are fewer barriers to intense sexual excitation during sleep than when a person is awake. (Source)

Re-creating this state of being that your mind and body experience during deep sleep, when you’re awake, can result in the same sexual intensity for your active sex life.

Some of the main practices involved are; the ability to surrender, letting go, being fully present, and being immersed in all of the senses. You can train your brain to become better at theses skills by practicing meditation, slowing down, and to increasing the value you place on being present. Something we are rarely do in this technological and fast paced society.

As a result of how our modern world operates, most of us have an overly developed left side of the brain. Its job is to study the past and rehearse for the future. However, it is the right brain that is in charge of present moment awareness, like when you have to catch a ball flying through the air.

Meditation, deep relaxation, or other similar practices force us to exercise our ability to go back and forth between the two hemispheres of the brain, thus helping to balance the two parts of our brain. If we practice often, then we strengthen our ability to be present when we want to, and the practice becomes more easily accessible. These same practices also help us to sleep better.

Having the skill to be present in both your mind, and body can have great results. This is true for your brain, but also for your orgasm. If you are able to control your mind (full presence) and surrender to what your body has to offer you, then you can achieve that state of bliss formerly only known to exist in your dreams.

Another area that significantly affects both our ability to sleep well, and our ability to orgasm, is our capacity to manage our stress levels. Stress decreases the production of the sex hormones, like oestrogen and testosterone, and ramps up your levels of cortisol. When your body releases cortisol, your system shifts from a relaxed state, to being on guard. Essentially, your “fight or flight response kicks in, redirecting blood flow to your muscles, and away from your sex organs, telling your body to prioritise survival over sex, making orgasm nearly impossible. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, when the levels of cortisol in women reached over 40 percent, they were physically incapable of orgasm. (Source) Conversely, lower cortisol levels increase your both capacity for pleasure and better sleep.

If you can learn to go within, connect to your senses, and surrender, you will not only sleep more soundly, but orgasm more loudly.

“Sleep is the best form of meditation.” – Dalai Lama

If you can master the art of sleeping, what else might be possible?

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Insomnia Trends

Did you know that about 30% of adults suffer from insomnia? Considering we ideally spend about a third of our life sleeping (or trying to), that’s an awful lot of time to spend battling this beast. Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, more people than ever are not getting the quality and quantity of sleep they need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

When did we lose our knack for sleeping? Here’s what recent studies have revealed about the trends in insomnia in the past 20 years:

Prevalence of insomnia has increased slightly

In the UK, prevalence of insomnia increased from 35.0% in 1993 to 38.6% in 2007 (source). However, the factors correlated with insomnia remained consistent during the 15 year period (i.e. with insomnia being more prevalent amongst women, those of older age, and those suffering from depression). In other words: insomnia has been gradually on the rise, but amongst the same demographic over time.

A similar study in Finland mirrors this finding: from 1995-2005 they observed a slight increase in insomnia amongst the working age population (source). 

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The use of sleeping tablets to treat insomnia has increased dramatically

A study by Medco Health Solutions revealed that from 2000-2004, use of sleeping tablets doubled amongst adults and increased by 85% in children and young adults in the US (source).

Another study had even more dramatic findings, citing that from 1994-2007, prescriptions for Nonbenzodiazepine Sedative Hypnotics (e.g. Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata) saw a 30-fold increase (540,000 to 16.2 million) in the US (source). Given that there are around almost 9 million Americans using sleeping tablets (source), this indicates that people are being prescribed multiple different kinds of sleeping medications to handle their insomnia.

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The Bottom Line

More and more people are using sleeping tablets to deal with insomnia, though the prevalence of insomnia itself has not increased anywhere near as fast in recent years. That begs the question: Are sleeping tablets effective?

Do Morning People Have More Effective Workouts?

It’s a fairly widespread belief that working out first thing in the morning is best, but is there any truth in this claim? Assuming that morning people prefer to work out in the morning while night people tend to work out later in the day, does this mean that morning people have better workouts than night people?

According to our research, no – your sleep schedule does not determine the quality of your workouts, particularly for professional athletes who train hard.

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Morning vs Nighttime Workouts

There are a couple of major drawbacks to early morning workouts. First, your training may be impacted by some level of grogginess if you haven’t given yourself enough time to fully wake up in the morning. This is more likely to occur if you have arisen to an alarm which has woken you during the deep sleep phase of a sleep cycle. And second, a hard workout early in the morning will leave you exhausted for the remainder of the day (source).

Conversely, working out late in the day is also not a good idea: both because you’re too tired from the rest of the day’s activities to perform your best, and because you’ll be too aroused to fall asleep for several hours after the workout (source).

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What Time of Day is Best?

So then what time of day should you be working out? If history’s any indication, more world records have been set between 17:00-18:00 than any other hour of the day (source).

Alternatively, there is some evidence that one’s biological clock affects athletic performance: i.e. morning people (“larks”) perform better early in the day, while night people (“owls”) perform their best late in the day. A study on MLB players’ performance in 2010 revealed a staggering difference in batting average between larks and owls at different times of day (source):
Early play: Larks, 0.267; Owls 0.259
Mid play: Larks 0.252; Owls 0.261
Night play: Larks 0.252; Owls 0.306

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The Bottom Line

There is no one right time of day to work out: it largely depends on whether you’re a morning person or a night person (or somewhere in between). There is no evidence that morning people have better workouts than night people do.

Work with your circadian rhythm, rather than against it, when scheduling workouts. If you’re an athlete required to perform or compete at certain times of day, consider altering your sleep schedule slightly so that you’re able to perform your best.

Sleeping At Work: Japan’s Got The Right Idea

We live in a culture where it’s perfectly acceptable to be sleep deprived: where it’s normal to roll into work the morning after a late night with bags under our eyes and a jumbo coffee in our hand.

But then we’re expected to stay awake and alert through the entire workday. We’ve got deadlines to meet, projects to complete, meetings to attend; the show must go on, even when we’re exhaustedly dragging ourselves around the office thinking: “If only I could just take a quick nap right now”.

If only. It’s no secret that a 15-20 minute nap noticeably improves alertness (source). What if it were allowed – even encouraged – to take naps in the workplace?

Some companies are starting to embrace this idea: Google, Procter & Gamble, Salesforce, and PWC to name a few have installed sleep pods across their offices.

But one whole nation has long been ahead of the napping game: Japan.

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Source: Wikipedia

Inemuri in Japan

In Japan, they’ve coined a practice called inemuri: meaning “to be asleep while present” (source). It’s common to find employees practicing inemuri while at business meetings, sitting upright with their eyes closed while listening to presentations.

While in other cultures, this would be considered rude or lazy – in Japan, sleeping while on the job is a sign of hard work. It indicates that sleep was sacrificed in favor of a big work day.

The unwritten rules of inemuri require that the person remain upright while dozing off – that way, they can easily engage if called upon in the office. And only those employees higher up in the chain of command, or low-level staff, can typically get away with sleeping at work.

Regardless, sleep is seen as a positive thing in Japan, particularly sleeping at work. Australians could certainly stand to learn from the Japanese, who truly understand the power of the nap!

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