Tag Archives: sleep

Some Things I’ve Learned in 2011…

This year I became much more cognizant of health. (I’m sure, in part, because I’m writing all of my thoughts and research about health right here!)

The process of staying healthy–the effort to eat well, make time for exercise, make better choices, and of course, get enough sleep–is NOT an easy proposition in this day and age.

If you read my last post on what Americans are eating these days, the food options we are choosing are not usually healthy ones. Exercise is often the last item on a daily calendar and somehow that “appointment” gets lost in the shuffle of life.  And sleep. One of my passions these days as a sleep consultant.  As my business has grown, I get A LOT of friends asking, “Does this work for adults too? I have insomnia [or some other sleep issue].” It seems that if we’re lucky enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour each night and able to get enough hours of shut, we’re in the minority.

I say let’s make health a priority for 2012!  There are a whole bunch of different resolutions floating around my house today…some are BIG and some are small, but ALL will contribute to a healthier you (or me):

1.  My husband and I are going back on the Phase 1 diet  after falling off the wagon over the holidays. A nice bonus is that you can quite easily shed those extra fruit cake pounds by eating whole foods.  Try it for 4 weeks. See if that lingering sinus infection or sore throat goes away, and if those migraines or lethargic feelings actually disappear. AND it’s actually LESS expensive (double duty for that financial resolution too!)

2. Drinking more water (including coconut water).  I think I need to be more aware of my hydration…my skin is DRY!

3. Going to bed (and waking up) at the same time every day.  If you read my post about Daylight Saving Time and that extra hour of sleep, you get a sense of the sleep debt we all are carrying around.  If you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, you have a sleep debt.  Try going to bed earlier every night for a week (not sleeping in a few hours on the weekend–that messes up your circadian rhythm) and see if that puts a dent in reducing your sleep debt.

4. Exercise more. I’ve mentioned that I’ve never had an issue with weight…which is actually a downside to being thin. Most people are motivated to exercise because they want to change the way they look. (If you’re someone who does it to get your insides in order too, good for you!) I often push exercise to the back burner when I’m busy. But I’m going to try to walk our dog more and actually get to the gym on a regular basis. I will never be a 5-6 times a week kind of exercise girl, but I should be able to pull off 3-4. That’s my goal.

5. Spending more quality time with my kids.  This year, we’ve had surgeries. Out-of-town guests. I’ve started a new business. I’m volunteering at church. I tutor math.  I make time for all of these things, and I should make more time to PLAY with my kids. Just 20 minutes each day makes such a difference. And not 20 minutes while you have one eye on your computer screen or are mentally reviewing your to-do list in your head. REALLY PLAYING, down on the floor, getting messy kind of play.

6. I try to have one “learning” resolution every year. This year it’ll be to more fully understand all of the computer “stuff” I’m using to grown my business.  I just got on twitter (@sleepbetterbaby) and am feeling like a grandma learning about # and retweets! There are so many things to do with a business Facebook page (mine is Sleep Training Solutions) and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  And Mailchimp.  That cute little monkey “spokesman” is taunting me these days because I’m not really sure how to use email distribution systems.

So those are my resolutions for the New Year. I hope they last into February (and beyond!) It feels productive to write them down and see them on paper (or computer screen). It doesn’t seem so daunting now that all of my IDEAS are a 6 item list.

So HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2012 be a year full of health and prosperous for all  🙂

Care to share your resolution(s)?

One Extra Hour of Sleep

So did everyone enjoy that extra hour of shut-eye on Saturday night?

Considering my new career, I am interested in anything to do with sleep.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I’m now a Sleep Consultant for babies and young children!

In preparation for my 3-day training in Vancouver (when I got that crazy cold!), I read 1000s of pages on the topic of sleep.  I know more about Ferber, Weissbluth, Pantley, The Baby Whisperer and How to Become Baby Wise than I thought was humanly possible!  I can tell you why babies have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.  How parents can teach their children better sleep habits and finally start sleeping through the night. 

But I also learned about sleep in general and was particularly fascinated by our sleep debt.

What is sleep debt?  Imagine you are wearing a backpack.  Every hour that you either go to bed later or wake up earlier, you add a brick to your backpack.  If you are fairly consistent with the same wake-up and bed-times, you can usually “catch up” or get rid of your bricks by getting extra sleep over the weekend or going to bed a bit earlier during the week. But what if you are consistently depriving yourself of good, consolidated sleep?  Your backpack is going to get incredibly heavy and crush you!  Or you’ll walk around really slowly 🙂

One of the books I read for my pre-training was Sleep Thieves by Stanley Coren.  This book was a very interesting read! The main premise is that we, as a society, are operating on a fairly substantial sleep debt, and it affects everyone.  And most people don’t even know they have a sleep debt.  He has stories about truck drivers, pilot, teenagers, college students, to name a few. And the stories are eye-opening, and many make you think about sleep in a whole different way.

One story highlighted pulling all-nighters in college.  The student will stay up all night writing that 20-page paper or cramming for a final.  He is applauded by his parents and professor for his efforts, perseverance, and dedication and rewarded with a good grade.  But wasn’t the paper assigned a week ago (or longer)? And as for finals, those do tend to pop up at the end of every term pretty consistently!  He was basically praised for procrastinating?! When you look at it that way, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…but that’s how our society operates. We are rewarded for output and results and if it compromises our health, so be it.

There were several ideas in the books like this…ones that made you think about a normal everyday situation in a different light.  He also had some pretty dramatic statistics.

One that stuck with me concerned Daylight Savings Time.  After the time change in the Fall (when we gain an hour of sleep), studies have shown a 7% decrease in traffic accidents?! And in the Spring, when we lose an hour, there is a 7% increase in traffic accidents!

I’m fascinated that one hour can have such a huge impact on our lives!  If one extra hour of sleep can have that profound of an effect on our society, it’s pretty scary to think about how sleep deprived we are as a nation!

Do you think you have a sleep debt? Do you wake up naturally at about the same time every day without an alarm clock? If so, you are probably getting enough sleep! But if you rely on that alarm clock 100% to get you up and out of the house on time, your backpack is probably overloaded with bricks.

What can you do to fix your sleep debt?  For at least a week, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, shooting for 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you’ve got a huge debt, you may actually need an hour or two beyond that.  Don’t bring your laptop and do work in your bed, or read that page-turner that you just can’t wait to finish. Watching tv in bed or talking to your best friend on the phone isn’t a great idea either.  When you get into bed, you should relax and not think about work or your to-do list!  Keep a pad and pen by your bed to write down anything that you don’t want to forget and then put it out of your mind for the rest of the night.

One final thought on the importance of sleep…Dr. William Dement, the leading sleep expert and author of The Promise of Sleep, explains: “Healthful sleep has been empirically proven to be the single most important factor in predicting longevity—more influential than diet, exercise, or heredity. And yet we are a sleep-sick society, ignorant of the facts of sleep and the price of sleep deprivation.”

I hope you’ll continue with your good sleeping habits, or change those bad habits ASAP! Sleep well everyone 🙂