A Diet for Better Sleep

Want to clock more ZZZ’s? Change up your plate. Certain nutrients in your diet—like vitamin C, lycopene, and selenium—are associated with healthier sleep patterns, according to a new study on 4,500 people published in Appetite.

Researchers crunched sleep and nutrition data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They broke people up into four sleep categories: “very short” (less than 5 hours per night), “short” (5 to 6 hours), “normal” (7 to 8 hours) and “long” (more than 9 hours) and examined the participants’ diet patterns from 24-hour food recall interviews.

One key finding from the study: People who ate a more varied diet were more likely to be “normal” sleepers (about 18 foods versus 14 in the shortest sleepers). Eating a variety of foods may indicate you’re consuming more nutrients. In turn, “that may provide the nutritional coverage to help your body work optimally, which, among other things, would translate into better sleep,” says study coauthor Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

So why’s the sleep-diet connection so important? People who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night are generally healthier. Research shows those who log less hours have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, while sleeping more than 9 hours has been linked to depression.

“This study should remind us that not only is sleep an important part of overall health, but sleep and diet are related to each other,” Grandner says. The reasons why vary—people who sleep better may make more nutritious food choices, or they may make healthy eating a priority. Other studies have shown that sleep loss affects certain hormones that control hunger and appetite.

Although Gardner says his research didn’t uncover why certain foods are related to better sleep, it can’t hurt to eat more of the nutrients identified in the study that help make your night better. Here are five:

Lycopene: A cancer-fighting antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.

Vitamin C: One cup of strawberries or one medium kiwi packs more than 100 percent of your daily value of this heart- and cancer-protective antioxidant.

Selenium: An ounce of Brazil nuts or a can of tuna are both excellent sources of this anti-inflammatory that’s key for immune function.

Theobromine: Find this heart healthy phytochemical in tea and chocolate.

Lauric acid: Most commonly found in coconut oil. Though it’s a saturated fatty acid, studies show that it may improve “healthy” HDL cholesterol without affecting “bad” LDL levels.

This article was originally published by Men’s Health. See the original article here.

Why Do We Sleep?

Sleep deprivation can cause serious health and cognitive problems in humans. In short, it can make us fat, sick and stupid. But why do humans need so much sleep? Science correspondent Miles O’Brien talks to scientists on the cutting edge of sleep research and asks if there’s any way humans might evolve into getting by with less.

See the original post from PBS here – Can Sleep Make You Smarter?

How to Design a Bedroom for Better Sleep

The bedroom can serve as a multifunctional room–such as an office, library, or laundry room–but in the end, it is a sanctuary for sleep. This room should be the most luxurious and personal space in any home – a soothing oasis that is conducive to relaxation and comfort. Here are some tips on how you can design your bedroom for better sleep, which should be considered along with color options, styles, and furniture.

1. A good mattress is the key to a good night’s rest.

A good night’s rest may be as simple as getting a new mattress. If your mattress is too lumpy, hard, or soft, it will keep you up all night trying to get comfortable. There are many different types of mattresses, such as pillow, foam, innerspring, adjustable, waterbeds, and airbeds; each type has manufacturers who guarantee comfort and better sleep.

When you shop for a mattress, follow these simple steps:

  • Research extensively, because this is a very important and expensive purchase.
  • Once you have a mattress in mind, test out your mattress. If your mattress has a 30 or 60 day guarantee or your money back, take advantage of it. Also, don’t be afraid to try out a mattress in the store by lying down on it like you would at home.
  • Figure out what size you need (King, Queen, or Full), because this may be the reason you cannot sleep; a small mattress may be your issue, especially if you share a bed.

To determine if you need a new a mattress, these simple guidelines from The Better Sleep Council can help you make that determination.

2. One of the most important conditions needed for sound sleep is darkness.

According to Brandon Peters, M.D. , who is trained in clinical sleep medicine and neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, explains how our mind and body’s natural circadian rhythm lean towards following dark-light cycle. Therefore, the amount of light in your bedroom will affect your sleep.

Our modern lifestyles can disrupt us from dark, calm environments that our bodies need for sleep. These modern devices are digital clocks, televisions, phones, and computers, which can light up your bedroom and interrupt your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Some solutions you can use in your bedroom are armoires to hide televisions or computers, and vintage open-faced alarm clocks versus bright digital alarm clocks. Remove phones from your bedroom; if it’s important to have a phone in your bedroom, hide it away in a side table drawer.

3. Air temperature can affect your sleep.

If the room is too cold or warm, it too can affect how you sleep at night, according to Ralph Downey III, PhD, Chief of Sleep Medicine at Loma Linda University. A simple solution, which can be tested if you believe this is your issue, is altering your thermostat. Other options you can incorporate in your bedroom to help with room temperature is a ceiling fan, portable heater, or heavy blinds and window treatments, which will help keep the room dark and prevent outside weather conditions from entering your bedroom.

4. Soothing colors and soothing sounds make for a good night’s sleep.

Bright, vibrant colors can be fun, but sometimes it’s best not to use them within a bedroom, especially if you have trouble sleeping. Instead, use calm, soothing colors like muted blues,greens, and pastels, which are more peaceful and calm. If you still would like to incorporate bright colors in your bedroom, use them as accents on your pillows or within artwork.

Besides color, soothing sounds can promote sleep too, such as a babbling brook, soft wind chimes, or crickets’ chirping. You can incorporate these sounds in your room with a CD player or any other electronic device hidden away; if you prefer the real thing, then place a small fountain in your bedroom or hang some wind chimes outside your window.

5. Too much clutter can cause anxiety and lack of sleep.

Too much clutter in your bedroom may cause your sleep deprivation. This is a feng shui no-no and good advice to bear, since too much clutter can cause anxiety and uneasiness in any room. Try to keep your bedroom in order so you’re not worried about tripping over stuff when you get up in the middle of the night or toss-and-turn about cleaning up before you go to sleep. There are several storage options you can use in your bedroom or closet that will tackle the clutter, which are appealing and affordable, too.

One or more of these design tips will help you maintain a sanctuary of sleep and rest in your bedroom. Next step to designing your bedroom is to determine your style, color scheme, and furniture.

 

See the original article from About.com here.

Sleepy’s 30 Insane Facts About Sleep [Infographic]

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What Are Your Nightmares Made Of?

Last night, I experienced something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I woke up in a panic, shaking, and scared for my life… from a nightmare.  I thought I was crazy.  I’m an adult – shouldn’t I have grown out of this by now?  But apparently, I’m not the only one.   According to U.S. News, 85% of adults experience nightmares occasionally, while between 2% and 6% experience nightmares on a weekly basis.

In order to understand our nightmares, we first have to understand why they occur. There are two basic types of nightmares, post-traumatic dreams & idiopathic nightmares. Post-traumatic dreams are pretty self-explanatory. They occur as a result of a past traumatic experience from your life. Now you may be thinking, “Why on Earth would your mind want to re-live a traumatic experience”? The answer may lie in healing. According to some theories, nightmares actually “aid people in working through traumatic events”. So, an event that you would not consciously want to think about or relive can be worked on subconsciously through your nightmares.

Idiopathic nightmares, on the other hand, usually do not have a clear or distinct cause behind them. U.S. News points out that they are typically more personal and reflective of an issue within a relationship as opposed to a traumatic experience. While there are some specific times in your life when the cause of a nightmare might be more obvious – for instance, dreaming of showing up late to work right before starting a new job – having a nightmare without knowing the cause can be an unsettling experience. Although occasionally losing sleep because of a nightmare may be an inconvenience, nightmares aren’t considered to be a serious issue unless they interfere with your sleep on a regular basis.

If you have concerns about nightmares or any other sleep disorder, talk to your doctor.
 

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

Sleepy’s Teams Up with Covenant House to Sleep Out

Sleepy’s really is “making the world a better place to sleep”.

Executives sleep outside so homeless youth don't have to.

On the night of Thursday November 21, David Acker, Sleepy’s CEO & President, and Adam Blank, Sleepy’s COO, participated in the annual Covenant House Executive Sleep Out.  The executives put themselves in the shoes of homeless youth and slept on the streets of NYC.  With little more than the clothes on their back, a sleeping bag, and a piece of cardboard to lie on, they camped out overnight in solidarity as 300 youth slept safely inside the walls of the Covenant House.

The candlelight vigil in Times Square was inspiring. Everyone standing together with one common goal: save homeless youth.

 

After an inspiring candlelight vigil in Times Square, all of the executives marched back to Covenant House to sit down with some of the youth whose lives have been impacted by the help of Covenant House.  Hearing their stories and listening to their experiences was inspiring and overwhelming. These young adults have experienced more in their short lives than any child should ever have to bear.

Sleepy’s executives were two of the over 180 executives that called the streets of New York City home for the night. Thanks to the generous donations of friends, family, and colleagues, the Sleepy’s team was able to raise enough money to equip 10 children with the education they need to seek their first job.

Sleepy's executives trying to stay warm & get some shut eye.

After reflecting on the night’s events, David Acker commented on his Sleep Out experience:

“An inspiring experience to meet and understand what these young adults have and have not experienced in their lives.  So many have experienced abuse and lack proper parental guidance and support, while not living with the feeling of the possibility for a well-rounded life. Teenagers and young adults, homeless and sleeping on the streets for extended periods of time.  You know that’s not right.  I’m so thankful to be able to help. Adam and I are proud to represent our company at this event as we look forward to continuing efforts to contribute to Covenant House.”

Sleepy’s is proud to have two leaders who want to make the world a better place to sleep, for everyone.  To learn more about the Covenant House, or to find out how you can help, visit www.covenanthouse.org.

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy

Sleepwalking: Harmless or Harmful?

You’ve seen sleepwalkers depicted in movies, on TV, and even in some beloved cartoons.  From the hilarious Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers to Disney’s take on a sleepwalking Pluto, we’re used to seeing sleepwalking in a humorous light. However, sleepwalking isn’t always a laughing matter.

Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, occurs when some parts of the brain are awake while other parts of the brain are still asleep.  While sleepwalking more commonly affects children, about 25% of children who sleepwalk will continue to do so through adulthood, according to a study done by the University of Montreal.  This study also explains that sleepwalking may be genetic, with 80% of sleepwalkers having a family history of the disorder.  Although there is no clear cause for sleepwalking, anxiety and stress, lack of sleep, use of alcohol and certain medications can increase a person’s chance of sleepwalking if they are already predisposed to it.

Most sleepwalkers perform routine activities such as changing their clothes, sitting up in bed, watching TV, or going to the bathroom.  However some people have reported much more dangerous behaviors like leaving their homes or even driving a car.  The National Library of Medicine says that most sleepwalking episodes last for no more than 10 minutes, although some rare instances have been reported to last for over a half hour.

Now there’s a new generation of somnambulism referred to as “sleep-texting”.  We live in a world of constant connection.  The ability to communicate and connect with others at any time of day has become a great convenience, except for when you’re trying to get some sleep!  Sleep-texting is exactly what it sounds like—sending a message while you’re sleeping that you don’t remember sending upon waking up.   Some people have reported sending messages to unintentional recipients or sending messages that make no sense to them upon waking up.  To prevent sleep-texting, shut down all of your electronic devices before going to sleep.  You’re less likely to send a message in your sleep if you have to go through the extra step of turning on your phone.  You can learn more about the benefits of “unplugging” before bed here.

So, what do you do if you encounter a sleepwalker or sleep-texter?  You’ve probably heard the old wives tale to “never wake a sleepwalker”, but this is not always the case.  If you wake a sleepwalker they may become disorientated or confused.  However, if you know someone with a history of getting into precarious sleepwalking situations, then it is safer to wake them in order to prevent them from accidentally harming themselves or others.  If you don’t feel comfortable waking them up, you can gently guide them back to bed instead.  If left alone, sleepwalkers will eventually go back to sleep, although they may not return to bed.  They are more likely to go to sleep wherever is convenient at the time, such as on a couch, in a chair, or even on the floor.

If you have concerns about sleepwalking, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Keep up with the latest on everything sleep by following me on Twitter & Instagram!  And don’t forget to like Sleepy’s on Facebook!

 

Contributor: Elizabeth Murphy