Sweet Dreams

Having a good night's sleep takes more than just a bedtime.

Tag: science (page 1 of 3)

Face-Slapping Alarm Clock Refuses To Let You Sleep In

Simone Giertz describes herself as a professional maker and robotics enthusiast. She also acknowledges a special expertise in crummy robots. Her latest project is the stuff nightmares are made of. It’s a mechanized alarm clock that uses a fake arm to smack the sleeper awake.

The Wake-Up Machine is a DIY wall-mounted robot that you position above your head. When the alarm goes off, a rubber arm whips around, slapping you until you get up and get out of the way.

Giertz posted a video on November 11 that follows along with the build process. There’s enough information there to get you started on making a robo-alarm of your very own if you already have some maker tendencies.

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Be Smart About Sleep

Small changes to your habits and lifestyle can have a big effect on sleep.

 

You might have heard some women talk about their biological clocks in regards to fertility; all living creatures have another type of internal clock, called the circadian rhythm. It refers to the 24-hour cycle of activity and sleep affected by the change from light to dark. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus manages the circadian rhythm, or pattern, by processing information (like when your eyes detect light) and creating sleep patterns. This sleep-wake cycle gives you the cue to go to sleep.

If you have trouble with sleep and insomnia, slightly adjusting your routine and habits may help.

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Teens and Sleep

Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field. Remember: A brain that is hungry for sleep will get it, even when you don’t expect it. For example, drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year. When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury and/or illness.

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Oversleeping: The Effects & Health Risks of Sleeping Too Much

Setting the Stage for Healthier Sleep

The field of sleep science is still looking into the cause and effect relationship between oversleeping and health, but some habits and steps that promote better quality sleep and a healthy sleep duration are known.

While a small percentage of people naturally sleep longer, for many long sleepers (especially whose sleep needs have changed), there are certain conditions, behaviors and environmental factors that can increase sleep need or affect sleep quality (making you feel less rested on a normal amount).

To get an idea of how to avoid oversleeping and get healthier Zzz’s, we reached out a few sleep experts for their words of wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:

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The Best Sleep Position for Your Body

Your p.m. pose can affect a lot more than just your slumber.

Your sleeping pose can have a major impact on your slumber—as well as your overall health. Poor p.m. posture could potentially cause back and neck pain, fatigue, sleep apnea, muscle cramping, impaired circulation, headaches, heartburn, tummy troubles, and even premature wrinkles. Wondering which sleep spot is best? Check out the rankings, below, from best to worst.

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1. On Your Back

Though it’s not the most popular position—only eight percent of people sleep on their backs—it’s still the best. By far the healthiest option for most people, sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position. This means that there’s no extra pressure on those areas, so you’re less likely to experience pain. Sleeping facing the ceiling also ideal for warding off acid reflux. Just be sure to use a pillow that elevates and supports your head enough—you want your stomach to be below your esophagus to prevent food or acid from coming up your digestive tract. However, snoozing on your back can cause the tongue to block the breathing tube, making it a dangerous position for those who suffer from sleep apnea (a condition that causes periods of breathlessness). This position can also make snoring more severe.

2. On Your Side

This position (where your torso and legs are relatively straight) also helps decrease acid reflux, and since your spine is elongated, it wards off back and neck pain. Plus, you’re less likely to snore in this snooze posture, because it keeps airways open. For that reason, it’s also the best choice for those with sleep apnea. Fifteen percent of adult choose to sleep on their side, but there’s one downside: It can lead to wrinkles, because half of your face pushes against a pillow.

3. In the Fetal Position

With 41 percent of adults choosing this option, it’s the most popular sleep position. A loose, fetal position (where you’re on your side and your torso is hunched and your knees are bent)—especially on your left side—is great if you’re pregnant. That’s because it improves circulation in your body and in the fetus, and it prevents your uterus from pressing against your liver, which is on your right side. This pose is also good for snorers. But resting in a fetal position that’s curled up too tightly can restrict breathing in your diaphragm. And it can leave you feeling a bit sore in the morning, particularly if you have arthritis in your joints or back. Prevent these woes by straightening out your body as much as you can, instead of tucking your chin into your chest and pulling your knees up high. You can also reduce strain on your hips by placing a pillow between your knees.

4. On Your Stomach

While this is good for easing snoring, it’s bad for practically everything else. Seven percent of adults pick this pose, but it can lead to back and neck pain, since it’s hard to keep your spine in a neutral position. Plus, stomach sleepers put pressure on their muscles and joints, possibly leading to numbness, tingling, aches, and irritated nerves. It’s best to try to choose another position, but if you must sleep on your stomach, try lying facedown to keep upper airways open—instead of with your head turned to one side—with your forehead propped up on a pillow to allow room to breathe.

This article was originally published on Sleep.org. You can read the entire post, here.

How Often Do We Dream?

You may be shocked to discover exactly how many dreams you have while you’re fast asleep.

Dreams may be a secret window into your feelings, act as inspiration for a creative project, and even help you solve problems.Whether you recall many of your dreams or none at all, read on to find out how many dreams you’re actually experiencing during any given night.

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How Much You Really Dream Each Night

Just because you don’t remember dreaming doesn’t mean you’re not doing it! You generally dream at least four to six times per night, usually during the most active REM stage of sleep if you’re over 10 years old. (Kids younger than 10 dream only about 20 percent of the time in REM sleep.) You usually dream longer as the night goes on because the REM stage of sleep can be anywhere from five minutes early in the night to as long as 34 minutes towards the end of your sleep session. So if you snooze for, say, eight total hours a night, two of them may be spent dreaming.

Why You Forget Your Dreams

You may not think that you’re a big dreamer because most of us forget 95 to 99 percent of our dreams. Why you don’t recall most of your dreams remains a mystery, but one theory is that it’s simply because you’re not concentrating on them while you’re snoozing. (People who think dreams are important and are more interested in them are likelier to recall them—probably because they are motivated to pay attention to their dreams). Another theory is that our lack of recall is partly due to the hormone associated with memory (norepinephrine) being turned off while we sleep, so our brain doesn’t actually encode our night visions into memories.

How To Better Remember Your Dreams

A trick to keeping your dreams from leaving your mind as soon as you wake up is simply to tell yourself that you want to remember your dreams as you’re falling asleep. Keep a dream journal by your bed so you can jot down everything that you can remember about your dreams the second you wake up—before thoughts about the day ahead clutter your mind. Write down everything (even if you can recall only vague images or snippets of your dreams) in order to train your brain to better remember them in the future.

This article was originally published on Sleep.org. You can view the entire post, here.

The Ideal Temperature for Sleep

Find out what the ideal thermostat setting is to help you snooze longer.

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Are you too hot or too cold when trying to snooze? Maybe you’re trying to be money conscious by keeping the temperature as low as possible in the winter and as high as possible in the summer, but if you didn’t know, your thermostat can make or break your
slumber. For some, the temperature has to be just right for an ideal night’s sleep.

In general, the suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. When lying in bed trying to snooze, your body temperature decreases to initiate sleep—and the proposed temperatures above can actually help facilitate this. If your room is cool, rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night.

Thermostat settings far lower or higher than what’s recommended could lead to restlessness and can also affect the quality of REM (rapid eye movement) sleepThe stage of sleep with the highest brain activity. During this stage, you’ll have higher brain metabolism and often dream. There are spontaneous rapid eye movements and minimal body movement. It’s usually difficult to wake a sleeper during this stage.

It can also help to think of your bedroom as a cave—it should be quiet, cool, and dark for the best chance at getting enough rest. If you’re still a troubled sleeper, in addition to the cooler room temperature, you should try placing a hot water bottle at your feet or wearing socks. This will help dilate your blood vessels faster and push your internal thermostat to a more ideal setting.

And if you’re trying to get your baby or toddler to bed, raising the thermostat a little higher between 65 and 70 degrees will suffice. Just make sure to keep the crib or bed away from windows or fans, and be certain that the temperature stays consistent.

This article was originally published on Sleep.org. You can read the entire post, here.

What is a Power Nap?

Man SleepingLearn how to use daytime sleep to boost both energy and productivity.

Think napping is only for the preschool and under set? Think again. Naps can be a boon for both your health and your productivity—a big reason some companies are making daytime sleep a part of their corporate ethos. A power nap is a nap that’s long enough to get you through the day, but not so long that it makes you groggy or unable to sleep at night. For a nap that will power you up, follow these simple rules.

Set an Alarm.

Twenty minutes is the sweet spot for nap length if you want to wake up feeling alert, cheerful, and productive. Unlike at night when the goal is longer stretches of continuous sleep that will give you the restorative benefits of deep REM sleep, keeping naps to lighter, non-REM sleep will help ensure that you wake up bright-eyed. If you’ve got even more time, lucky you. But go big or go home: 30- to 60-minute naps are likely to leave you feeling worse, while a 90-minute nap gives you enough time for a complete, creativity-building sleep cycle.

Maximize Efficiency.

To make your naptime as productive as possible, it’s important to get straight to business—that is, fall asleep fast. To help you do that, rest in a cool, dark room that’s free from distractions. Power down your phone, and try using props like a noise conditioner or sleep mask if you can’t escape ambient noise and light. In an office? Consider hanging a do-not-disturb door sign to keep colleagues at bay.

Time it Right.

An hour or two after lunch is a natural time to nap since your blood sugar and energy levels drop. Instead of topping off your coffee when this afternoon lull hits, consider a nap to perk up your afternoon without interrupting your nighttime sleep. (And if you do need another splash of caffeine, have it before your nap so you’ll wake up feeling the effects.)

Get Back in Action.

After your 20 minutes is up, get right back to whatever you were doing before the nap. Get some sunlight on your face, take a brisk walk, jump in place, or splash some water on your face to let your body know that nap time is over.

Back to School, Back to Sleep

IT’S BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIME, a time when parents do everything they can to make sure their children get a great start to the new school year. They buy them backpacks and school supplies, make sure their shoes still fit and pick out a new lunchbox for the healthy lunches they will pack for them. But how many think about getting their kids into good sleep habits?

During the summer when the days are longer, kids tend to stay up later. When they’re off at camp, parents can’t supervise their bedtimes. And summer slumber parties tend to turn into all-night giggle sessions. So when school starts up again, one of the most important things parents can do to help children succeed is to make sure they get back into good sleep habits.

 

7.30.15 Back to School

 

 

Sleep and learning
Scientists have long known that adequate sleep is important for forming different types of memories. For example, students who get proper rest perform better on tests than those who stay up all night studying.

According to the Associated Press, scientists at the University of Lubeck in northern Germany also found that sleep is important for learning motor skills, which uses a different part of the brain— and often requires more practice—than memorizing facts.

The scientists taught healthy, young students different finger-tapping sequences, and then either let the students sleep or kept them awake for eight hours. When they were re-tested, the rested students performed the tapping sequence 35% faster and made 30% fewer errors than the sleepy students.

It wasn’t that the sleepy students were too tired to physically perform: The difference persisted a day later after both groups had gotten a full night’s sleep.

“This suggests that sleep is important for the brain to properly store the memories of the training only within a critical time period,” the AP reports.

 

 

How much sleep is enough?
School-age children need nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. An Italian study showed that children who slept fewer than 10 hours a day had an 86% increase in injury risk. Lack of sleep also has been mistaken as symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because it’s more difficult to concentrate without proper sleep. And sleep deficiency is associated with obesity, because when kids are tired, they don’t exercise enough and tend to get hungry late at night so they eat more than they need.

 

Establishing a sleep schedule
Here are some tips for getting children back on a school-sleep schedule:

1. Don’t get too far off track in the first place. It’s OK to adjust for later nights when there is a lot of activity, but sleeping until noon should never happen.

2. Make sure children’s beds are the right size. Many kids have growth spurts over the summer, so the start of school is a good time to evaluate your children’s mattresses. They may be ready for bigger beds, especially teens. Also, check the condition of their mattresses. Oftentimes kids inherit hand-me-downs. If their beds are older than five to seven years, they probably need to be replaced.

3. Set up a nighttime routine. Bath, pajamas and a bedtime story help prepare the mind and body for sleep. Have clothes laid out to make the morning easier— calm, quiet, relaxed. For older kids and teens, make it a rule to turn off all technology an hour before bedtime.

4. Make a morning routine. Set an alarm and open the curtains to let in light. Have breakfast on the table and backpacks ready to go—energetic and organized. A few days before school starts do some dry runs.

5. Be consistent every day of the week. During the school year, keep the same schedule on weekends whenever possible, otherwise there will be Monday mornings when the kids don’t want to drag themselves out of bed.

 

This article was originally published by Lissa Coffey for Sleepy Savvy Magazine (Sept 2015). You can view the original post, here.

Learn to Interpret Your Dreams

If you’ve ever woken up from a dream wondering what it all means, we have the decoding tactics you need to interpret your nighttime subconscious.

Interpret Your Dreams

Write it Down

Because remembering dreams clearly is easier when you get a restful sleep, we recommend keeping a notebook on your nightstand. When you wake up refreshed, you can jot down everything you remember happening in your dream.

Keep it Simple

It’s always best to analyze dreams on a basic level before delving deeper. Don’t add in parts that seem plausible, as dreams are everything except. Your dream will most likely be a compilation of unconnected words, imagery and symbols. And that’s okay! There’s actually a modicum of truth in that hazy story. Dreams are reflections of yourself and your daily life, so don’t try to account for pieces that aren’t there.

Go with Your Gut

For more abstract dreams, analyze your emotions and how you felt in the dream. Meaning isn’t always obvious the way we think it will be, like seeing an overwhelmingly obvious image. To find the truth and meaning in your dream, look at what it elicits and then apply it to anything relevant in your life it could link to. It’s definitely not easy at first, but if you make it a daily ritual, you’ll gain a better understanding of your own subconscious. Eventually, you’ll start to notice patterns and see certain symbols reappear. At first the images may seem irrelevant, but soon you’ll start to notice patterns and see certain symbols reappear.

Start Snoozing

The key thing to remember is that dreams are personal and it’s all about what you think and feel. So have fun and let your dreams be your guide…

 

*Sources for this post include:

http://www.dreamdictionary.org/http://www.guidetopsychology.com/dreams.htm

How to Analyze Your Dreams (And Why It’s Important)

http://www.wikihow.com/Interpret-Your-Dreams

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