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Lucid Dreaming-Can You Control Your Dreams? Part One

Lucid dreaming is when a person has a dream that typically happens during the REM stage of the sleep cycle in which a person is aware that they are dreaming, and then is able to control what happens within the dream. For some people lucid dreaming comes natural and has even been reported to start in children as early as five years of age. But, for others it proves to be much more difficult; taking hours of research and years of practice. Some people are able to learn how to lucid dream, but have to have a lot of practice staying in the lucid state after realizing that they are in a dream and can control what happens, this can cause to much excitement causing them to snap out of the dream. People who get the hang of how to lucid dream can continue to have them as they wish, while others only have lucid dreams for a couple of weeks, months, years. There isn’t an exact science on how to lucid dream, but there is a substantial amount of research being done to learn more.

Lucid dreaming is understood to have been happening since the existence of people, one of the earliest accounts we have is from Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). Who was one of the first writers to try to study the mind and dreams in a systematic way, and then in 1913 Frederik Van Eeden coined the term “lucid”.  Scientist have had a hard time trying to wrap their head’s around the idea of lucid dreaming, and they eventually accepted that being aware and awake are two different concepts. The studying has continued throughout the years and now we can find hundreds of articles and scientific studies on the subject of lucid dreaming.  When looking online it’s easy to find this information, from how to lucid dream in 15 steps on wikiHow, or watching YouTube videos to help take you into a lucid dreaming state, and even joining The Lucidity Institute’s mailing list. While we have all of this information and these scientific studies the statistics aren’t clear on how many people have lucid dreams, though most people report having had a lucid dream at least once in their lives, and only around 20% of the population reports having lucid dreams once a month or more.

LaBerge, Stephen, and Howard Rheingold. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. New York: Ballantine, 1990. Print.

LaBerge, S.. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <http://diyhpl.us/~bryan/papers2/dreaming/Lucidity Institute Research Papers.pdf

Hurd, Ryan. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <http://dreamstudies.org/2011/01/06/the-neuroscience-of-lucid-dreaming/&gt;.

LaBerge, S., and L. Levitan. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <http://www.lucidity.com/LucidDreamingFAQ2.html&gt;.

Crisp, Tony. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/aristotle-on-dreams/&gt;.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

When the majority of people enter into REM sleep they begin to dream, and during this time the body becomes paralyzed (sleep paralysis typically happens during this time when your brain becomes alert, but your body doesn’t). People with REM Behavior Disorder (RBD) aren’t always paralyzed during the REM portion of sleep and are able to act out dreams and/or nightmares, often causing harm to themselves and others.

The first time RBD was diagnosed was in 1985 by Dr. Mark Mahowald and Dr. Carlos Schenck at the University of Minnesota. They also found that more than 90% of RBD patients are male and the disorder doesn’t strike until after the age of 50, although kids have been diagnosed as early as the age of 9. They also go on to say that most RBD patients are calm, easy-going, and good-natured when awake, here are a few case histories documented by Drs. Mahowald and Schenck.

  • A 77-year old minister had been behaving violently in his sleep for 20 years, sometimes even injuring his wife.
  • A 60-year old surgeon would jump out of bed during nightmares of being attacked by “criminals, terrorists and monsters.”
  • A 62-year old industrial plant manager who was a war veteran dreamt of being attacked by enemy soldiers and fights back in his sleep, sometimes injuring himself.
  • A 57-year old retired school principal was inadvertently punching and kicking his wife for two years during vivid nightmares of protecting himself and family from aggressive people and snakes.

RBD can easily be confused with a number of parasomnias, this is why patients should be observed over night in a sleep center. A single night of monitoring almost always reveals a lack of muscle paralysis during REM sleep that leads to a diagnoses of RBD. After a diagnosis has been confirmed a treatment can begin, most commonly Clonazepam is prescribed, a benzodiazepine that can reduce or eliminate the disorder about 90% of the time.

Drs. Mahowald and Schenck made a startling discovery while conducting research on RBD; they found that 38% of 29 otherwise healthy patients with RBD went on to develop a parkinsonian disorder. “We don’t know why RBD and PD are linked,” says Dr. Mahowald, “but there is an obvious relationship, as about 40% of individuals who present with RBD without any signs or symptoms of PD will eventually go on to develop PD.” Other research has also shown a connection between RBD and neurodegenerative diseases related to Parkinson’s.

If you have any concerns about RBD you should consult with your doctor or find a sleep specialist in your area.

 

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

The Sleep Foundation—REM Behavior Disorder and Sleep
Web. 01 Jan. 2014. <http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/rem-behavior-disorder-and-sleep&gt;.

The Golden Rules of Sleep

Optimal Sleep for Optimal Living. According to Dr. James B. Mass if you want to be alert, dynamic, full of energy, in a good mood, productive, creative, healthy, have good concentration, a good memory, and good decision making skills then you need to get optimal sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep the body can’t function properly, while we sleep our bodies do an amazing amount of work. We need to make sure that we are getting enough sleep to ensure that our bodies will be at their best. Dr. James B. Mass gives us The Golden Rules of Sleep, four rules that seem simple and easy. But, with roughly 62% of Americans reporting that they experience sleep problems more than one night per week and another 70 million people suffering from insomnia, it’s harder to follow The Golden Rules than we may think.

  1. Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep Every Night.
    The amount of sleep needed each night differs from person to person, if you get tired or sleepy anytime throughout the day then you’re probably not getting enough sleep at night. At minimum the majority of people need to obtain at least 60 – 90 minutes more sleep a night than what they are getting now. A study by Dr. Roth at Henry Ford Hospital found that sleeping one hour longer boosted a person’s alertness by 35%, and that’s just one of many benefits of sleep!
  2. Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule.
    A regular sleep schedule involves going to bed and waking up without an alarm clock every morning, including the weekends. Keeping a regular schedule will make you feel more alert than sleeping the same amount of time but at differing hours across the week and weekend. Benjamin Franklin said “ Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But in reality it’s better to say “Consistently to rise…” it doesn’t matter when you fall asleep or wake, its duration and regularity that counts.
  3. Get Continuous Sleep.
    For your sleep to be most rejuvenating you should get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block, if sleep is disrupted it will cause you to be drowsy during the day. For example, six hours of continuous sleep is better and more restorative than eight hours of fragmented sleep. Be aware that if you’re not getting good sleep at night and you start dozing off during the day to make up for the loss sleep that it may cause you not to sleep good again that night, causing a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
  4. Make Up for Lost Sleep
    We are living in a 24 hour society and along with work deadlines, vacations, holidays, and social events it’s a given that our sleep bank accounts will be in debt from time to time. Occasional late nights won’t do much damage, but reducing sleep by one hour every night for seven nights has the same effect as staying awake for 24 consecutive hours once a week. That one hour a night doesn’t seem like much until it’s accumulated over the span of the week. It’s important for us to repay our sleep debt in a timely fashion and make up for our lost sleep as soon as possible. It’s also important to remember that you can’t make up for all your lost sleep at once, it’s the same as eating whatever you want throughout the week and exercising one day that weekend, it just doesn’t work and the same goes for sleep.

Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

“Sleeping Disorder Statistics.” Statistic Brain. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013. <http://www.statisticbrain.com/sleeping-disorder-statistics/&gt;.

Feng Shui for the Bedroom

Feng shui is becoming more popular as people’s lives are becoming more stressful, it’s easy to find a variety of books, magazines, classes, and videos on the subject.  Feng shui simply translates to wind and water and is derived from the ancient Chinese art of placement. Feng shui is being used all around us and in many different ways, some popular feng shui arrangements are used for wealth, prosperity, fame, social life, family, relationships, children, health, good fortune, creativity, wisdom, career, spiritual life, and travel just to name a few. But, can feng shui really have that big of an effect on your life, and what about your sleep? Here are a few tips to get you started on how you can use feng shui in your bedroom to create a peaceful retreat, in hopes of losing all negativity to get your most restful nights of sleep.

  • Place your bed flush against a wall as far away from the door as possible while still having a direct view of the doorway; this will add a feeling of safety and security.
  • Your bed should also be centered on the wall with two rounded night stands on each side to create symmetry. (tables with hard edges can create “poison arrows” or harmful energy)
  • Mattresses – choose wisely and invest in one that will give you the best sleep and relaxation, the better you sleep at night the better your health is during the day.
  • Use different levels of lighting in your bedroom, dimmer switches are highly recommended as are lamps on either side of the bed to keep the symmetry; but candles are the best feng shui bedroom lighting choice.
  • Indulge your senses – Invest in luxurious bedding, pillows (pair these up to keep the room symmetrical), and plush rugs.
  • Paint your walls a soothing color, feng shui experts recommend staying within the so-called “skin colors” which vary from pale whites to rich browns. Bring in color by adding touches of “passion colors”.
  • Artwork is an important part of a bedroom, but use caution because art and images carry powerful feng shui energy. Your choices should be soothing and inspiring, not scary or depressing.
  • Open windows as often as possible to let in fresh air and if that isn’t an option then air purifiers are a great option to leave the air clean and full of oxygen.
  • Bring in nature, just not too close to the bed – flowers, plants, a sand/rock garden, or a water feature.
  • Try saying no to having TV’s, computers, exercise equipment, and office space in your bedroom. If this just isn’t an option try using a room divider or a folding screen to keep these out of view when falling asleep.
  • Clutter free is key when it comes to feng shui, the more organized the room the more peaceful it becomes and is easier to sleep at night. Experts also suggest cleaning out from under the bed so the energy flow isn’t interrupted or blocked off.

If you’re feeling drained and not getting the best sleep at night as you could be, then try to incorporated as many of these tips as possible. These little changes can make a huge difference in your sleep and quality of life.

Barrett, Jayme. Feng Shui Your Life. New York: Sterling Pub., 2003. Print.

“Feng Shui Tips to Turn Your Bedroom Into a Retreat.” Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. < http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307149,00.html >.

Hennen, Leah. “Feng Shui Your Bedroom.” Home & Garden Television. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2013. < http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/feng-shui-your-bedroom/index.html >.

Tchi, Rodika. “How To Feng Shui Your Bedroom.” About.com Feng Shui. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013. < http://fengshui.about.com/od/love/qt/perfectbedroom.htm >.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes overwhelming sleepiness and frequent attacks of sleep throughout the day. Narcolepsy is caused when the brain doesn’t have the ability to regulate a normal sleep-wake cycle; which can lead narcoleptics to fall into REM sleep instead of falling into a light to deep sleep cycle. Narcolepsy seems to affect both genders equally and begins showing signs in adolescence or young adulthood, and is often left undiagnosed.

Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, cataplexy, interrupted nocturnal sleep, leg jerks, nightmares and restlessness. Along with excessive sleepiness and sudden onset of sleep the next primary symptom is cataplexy; a momentary loss of muscle tonus typically causing the person to fall to the ground, this usually results from a strong emotion such as surprise, laughter, anger, or elation. Hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis are also common and can be extremely scary symptoms of narcolepsy, causing feelings of suffocation, being on fire, drowning, or being attacked.

What causes narcolepsy? While there isn’t one definite answer, doctors have found that people suffering from narcolepsy have low levels of Hypocretin and even lower levels were found in people who also suffered from cataplexy. Hypocretin is a chemical that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles and REM sleep, what causes the loss of Hypocretin producing cells in the brain is still unknown. There are studies being conducted on Hypocretin replacement, Hypocretin gene therapy, and stem cell transplant in hopes of finding a more effective treatment or cure.

How to cope with narcolepsy: start by adding several short naps to your daily routine, establish a routine sleep schedule, eat and exercise on a regular schedule, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. If the above behavior treatments don’t work on the narcolepsy then there are different treatment options available. Medications for narcolepsy include stimulants, drugs that stimulate the nervous system to help them stay awake during the day. If stimulants aren’t effective then amphetamines may be prescribed, but can produce side effects such as nervousness, heart palpitations, and can be addictive. Tricyclic antidepressants may be used with people who also suffer with cataplexy; and in more extreme cases Sodium Oxybate can be prescribed, but can include some serious side effects.

Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

“Narcolepsy and Sleep.” Narcolepsy Symptoms, Treatment & Remedies. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. <http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/narcolepsy-and-sleep&gt;.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Narcolepsy.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcolepsy/DS00345/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs&gt;.