Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Moon and Your Sleep Cycle

The moon’s cycle is said to affect people in many mysterious ways from inciting more violent behavior to increased fertility. You may not be turning into a werewolf at the sight of the full moon, but it is likely that you have experienced some difficulty sleeping. This relationship has been a troubling subject for scientist that remains quite mysterious.

As with many other superstitions relating to the moon, scientists have tried time and time again to explain the connection between sleep cycles and lunar cycles through experiments and trials.

In one study, volunteers’ sleep cycles were monitored in a light controlled environment with no sunlight or moonlight exposure. The scientists found that during a full moon, volunteers experienced more restless sleep, more difficulty falling asleep and a decreased amount of time in delta sleep (the deepest stage of the sleep cycle). Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the study showed that Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, was produced at a lessened rate.

The natural justification for this phenomenon is increase light exposure during a full moon, however, because we now have light controlled environments, it is hard to support that theory.

The various effects of the moon continue to puzzle the human mind. Although, currently, there is little proof of causation between the moon and sleep cycle disturbances, scientists are looking to other research and historical evidence to attempt to find an answer. Scientists have looked to similar behavior in marine animals for an explanation; however, no conclusive evidence has been found.

At this point, it is hard to determine exactly what is causing this interesting relationship. Whether it be some mixture of gravity, animal instinct and mental awareness – it is clear there is much more for us to learn about the moon and its effects.


“How does the Moon affect sleep patterns?.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 4 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.

BAKALAR, NICHOLAS. “Moon Phases Tied to Sleep Cycles.” Well Moon Phases Tied to Sleep Cycles Comments. The New York Times, 31 July 2013. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.


How Can Technology Help Me Sleep?

Relaxation is a way of life – a state of mind. But in today’s fast-paced world, technology is also a way of life. With new technology emerging each day, it’s not hard to believe that we now have ways to analyze and improve our sleep cycle. Apps and wearable technology have allowed us to learn more about our sleep than ever before.

The Sleep Cycle app not only provides a way for you to monitor your sleep, but also analyzes that information and gently wakes you at the optimal time. The app prompts you to enter a time that you need to wake up, and, throughout the night, monitors your movements. Once the app learns your general sleep patterns, it will begin watching for your lightest portion of sleep 30 minutes before your alarm is set to go off. Sleep Cycle is only available for iPhones, but is perfect for waking up early. Instead of relying on an obnoxious alarm sound to jolt you awake, the app using the accelometer in the iPhone to determine your lightest stage of sleep to begin the alarm sound – ensuring for the least intrusive waking process.

Other apps simply provide soothing sounds or speeches to help you fall asleep such as Sleep or Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson. Yoga for Insomnia is an app for smart phones that features Yoga poses specifically designed to stretch and relax the body.

Wearable technology is a trend increasing in popularity that, generally, helps monitor physical activity. Pulse O2 is a form of wearable technology that – along with other physical tracking such as step counting and exercise goal setting – allows users to monitor the hours you are awake and asleep to improve your sleep cycle. Upon waking, you are provided with a detailed graph depicting the times you woke during the night as well as overall sleep quality.

The Lark Pro wristband also helps to monitor sleep, but in a different way. This technology is ideal for those who wake up before their significant other. The wristband gently vibrates to wake the user without disturbing anyone else. The technology also allows you to record a sleep journal, tag issues your may be having while sleeping and compare results over time – a process ideal for coping with sleep disorders or improving sleep quality.

Currently, there are hundreds of apps for improving sleep and more emerging every day at varying prices. Whether you are looking for a way to get a better night’s sleep or trying to find your optimal alarm time and style, it is clear that technology is becoming the most effective way to monitor sleep.


“The Best Sleep iPhone & Android Apps of the Year.” The 16 Best Sleep iPhone & Android Apps of 2014. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.

“Sleep Cycle.” Sleep Cycle. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.

“Lark Pro™ | Experience.” Lark. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.

“Pulse O₂ Track. Improve..” Withings Store. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <;.

How To Reach Your Peak Performance – Sleep DiagnosticTests

Have you ever wondered if you are getting the right amount of sleep or if you could be doing something to sleep better? Preparing your mind and body for peak performance through better sleep is vital, here are four quick True or False tests to help you understand more about sleep to help you reach your peak. Self-test A reveals your general knowledge of sleep, self-test B tells how likely it is that you are sleep deprived, self-test C examines your current sleep practices, and self-test D probes for problems that could indicate you have a sleep disorder.

Self-Test A: What’s My Sleep IQ?
Please indicate true or false for the following statements:

1. Newborns dream less than adults
2. Men need more sleep than women.
3. Not everyone dreams every night.
4. As you move from early to later adulthood you need less sleep.
5. By playing audiotapes during the night, you can learn while you sleep.
6. Chocolate candies provided on your hotel pillow will help you sleep better.
7. If you have insomnia at night, you should take a long nap during the day.
8. Sleeping pills are very helpful for people who have had insomnia for
9. Arousing a person who is sleepwalking can be very dangerous.
10. A soft mattress is better than a hard one for obtaining good sleep.
11. You are most alert when you first wake up.
12. To promote optimal sleep the best time to exercise is early in the morning.
13. A sound sleeper rarely moves during the night.
14. A boring meeting, heavy meal, or low dose of alcohol can make you sleepy, even if you are not sleep-deprived.
15. Sleep before midnight is better than sleep that begins after midnight.

–This test reveals your general knowledge of sleep, all the above statements are false. How did you score?

Self-Test B: Am I Sleep-Deprived?
Please indicate true or false for the following statements:

1. I need an alarm clock in order to wake up at the appropriate time.
2. It’s a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning.
3. Weekday mornings I hit the snooze button several times to get more sleep.
4. I feel tired, irritable, and stress-out during the week.
5. I have trouble concentrating and remembering.
6. I feel slow with critical thinking, problem solving, and being creative.
7. I often fall asleep watching TV.
8. I often fall asleep in boring meetings or lectures or in warm rooms.
9. I often fall asleep after heavy meals or after a low dose of alcohol.
10. I often fall asleep while relaxing after dinner.
11. I often fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed.
12. I often feel drowsy while driving.
13. I often sleep extra hours on weekend mornings.
14. I often need a nap to get through the day.
15. I have dark circles around my eyes.

–If you answered true to 3 or more of the 15 items, you are probably not getting enough sleep.

Self-Test C: How Good Are My Sleep Strategies?
Please indicate true or false for the following statements:

1. I go to bed at different times during the week and on weekends, depending on my schedule and social life.
2. I get up at different times during the week and on weekends, depending on my schedule and social life.
3. My bedroom is warm or often noisy.
4. I never rotate or flip my mattress.
5. I drink alcohol within two hours of bedtime.
6. I have caffeinated coffee, tea, colas, or chocolate after 6 pm.
7. I do not exercise on a regular basis.
8. I smoke.
9. I regularly take over-the-counter or prescription medication to help me sleep.
10. When I cannot fall asleep or remain asleep, I stay in bed and try harder.
11. I often read frightening or troubling books or newspaper articles right before bedtime.
12. I do work or watch the news in bed just before turning out the lights.
13. My bed partner keeps me awake by his/her snoring.
14. My bed partner tosses and turns or kicks/hits me during his/her sleep.
15. I argue with my bed partner in bed.

–If you answered true to one of the above questions, it is likely that at least one aspect of your lifestyle is interfering with your sleep.

Self-Test D: Might I have a Sleep Disorder?
Please indicate true or false or the following statements:

1. I have trouble following asleep.
2. I wake up a number of times during the night.
3. I wake up earlier than I would like and have trouble falling back asleep.
4. I wake up terrified in the middle of the night, but I do not know why.
5. I fall asleep spontaneously during the day in response to high arousal, such as when I hear a funny joke.
6. I have been told that I snore loudly and stop breathing temporarily during sleep.
7. I walk or talk in my sleep.
8. I move excessively in my sleep.
9. I have hurt myself or my bed partner while I was sleeping.
10. I become very confused, afraid, and/or disoriented after sundown.
11. I cannot fall asleep until very late at night or cannot wake up in the morning.
12. I cannot stay awake early in the evening and I wake up before dawn.
13. I feel mild pain or a tingling sensation in my legs just before falling asleep.
14. I physically act out my dreams during the night.
15. I am often too anxious, depressed, or worried to fall asleep.

–If you answered True to any of the above questions, you may have a sleep disorder.


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.

Mass, James B., Dr. “Sleep Diagnostic Tests.” Power Sleep. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2013. htdocs/diagnostics.htm>.

Do Bright Lights Keep You Awake? Part 2

Studies have proven that bright lights can keep us awake at night. Light affects our circadian rhythm or biological clock in accordance with light and dark. Darkness also affects our pineal gland’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps induce sleep. Light signals your body to produce less melatonin, causing you to stay awake longer and can even lead to self-inflicted insomnia.

The 1998 discovery of a new photoreceptor in the eye—which later turned out to be especially sensitive to blue light—revolutionized the way we think about how circadian rhythm is entrained. Today we understand that blue light has many unique physiologic effects such as: Melatonin Secretion, Body Temperature, Cortisol Secretion, Heart Rate, Alertness, Cognitive Performance, Psychomotor Performance, Brain Bloodflow, EEG Responses, Clock Gene Expression, and Circadian Regulation.  Some of these physiologic effects can even be seen in blind people. Some studies in the 1990’s showed that blind people who still had their eyes showed normal circadian rhythms, and they was able to suppress melatonin secretion and shift circadian rhythm by exposing them to bright light. While some blind individuals, particularly those whose eyes had been removed, showed abnormal, free-running circadian rhythms with attendant sleep disorders, as one would expect for the sightless.

Now, knowing how much light, especially blue light, can affect our bodies it’s not surprising that about 60% of Americans say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night. Around 90% of Americans use some sort of electronics like a television, computer, video game, tablet, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within an hour before bed; and about 63% of Americans say that their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Something as simple as turning off electronics an hour before going to bed could help people get a better and longer night of sleep. But, if turning off your electronics isn’t an option, maybe f.lux will do the trick for you. F.lux software is designed to make your electronic screen look like the room you’re in. You tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live and it automatically adjusts throughout the day for you. Most people report that f.lux makes your screen look better, but more importantly that it can help you sleep better as well.


“Annual Sleep in America Poll Exploring Connections with Communications Technology Use and Sleep.” 2011 Sleep in America Poll: Results. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. <;.

Holzman, David C.. “What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light.”Environmental Health Perspectives 118: A22-A27. Print.

“UCLA Researchers Identify Brain Cells Responsible for Keeping Us Awake.”Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. <;.

“Harvard Gazette: When the Blues Keep You Awake.” Harvard Gazette: When the Blues Keep You Awake. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. <;.

“F.lux.” Justgetflux. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2014. <;.

What To Do With Your Old Mattress?

You’ve done your research on mattresses and found the best one to buy for you or a family member, and you are now anxiously awaiting its arrival. It’s exciting to get a new mattress, but it can become a little confusing when you’re trying to figure out what to do with the old mattress. Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully make the process of getting rid of your old mattress painless as possible.

  • If your mattress is still in usable condition be sure to check with family members and friends who might be in need of a mattress.
  • You may want to consider donating the mattress to a local homeless shelter/church.
  • A nonprofit such as the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, or Goodwill just to name a few, are in need of donations and usually offer pickup services.
  • If you’re feeling a little crafty you can find ways to re-purpose your old mattress. A few suggestions: Outside Swinging Bench/Bed, Lounge Area, Child’s Reading Nook, Pet Bed.
  • If your mattress isn’t in the best condition, but still usable you can try contacting local Pet Rescue Centers to see if they take mattress donations to give the animals a more comfortable place to sit and sleep.
  • If your mattress isn’t in an usable condition check out Spring Back Mattress Recycling to see if they have a location near you. They create employment opportunities for disenfranchised men; and rather than discarding people and disposing of waste, Spring Back is redefining recycling.
  • You can also go to Earth911 to look up where the closest place to recycle a mattress is near you, recycling a mattress helps to reduce the number of mattresses that get dumped into landfills.

Mattress Sizes

Buying a new mattress can be a confusing process that leaves you with a ton of questions. And after you have done your research and finally found the perfect mattress, you may think that you’ve got it all figured out. But, when you go to order your mattress and you see all the different sizes and dimensions that can vary by retailer, the confusion may come back. So here is a quick guide to help with choosing the right mattress size for you.

(click to enlarge)

Standard Mattress Size Chart

European mattress sizes can be even more confusing, they have more size options and are measured in centimeters. Below is a chart of European mattress sizes compared to U.S. mattress sizes.

European Mattress Sizes                                                                 United States

Centimeters                  Inches                                                           Inches

90×190                        35.4×74.8        Single                                     38×75              Twin
90×200                        35.4×78.7        Single Long                             38×80              Twin Extra Long
90×220                        35.4×86.6        Single Extra Long                     54×75              Full
140×200                      55.1×78.7        Euro Double                             60×80              Queen
140×220                      55.1×86.6        Euro Double Long                     76×80              King
160×200                      62.9×78.7        Euro King                                 72×84              California King
160×220                      62.9×86.6        Euro King Long
200×200                      78.8×78.7        Euro Super King
200×220                      78.7×86.6        Euro Super King Long

Lucid Dreaming-Can You Control Your Dreams? Part Two

Lucid dreamers make some pretty remarkable claims and we are only going to list a few for you today, but if you have had lucid dreams please share them in the comment section.

One woman began lucid dreaming in high school and used lucid dreams as a way to problem solve from everyday issues to school work. She continued this practice through medical school and even as a surgeon today who is able to complete a surgery more accurately and on average 40% quicker than her peers. Another person reports that he used lucid dreaming to perfect his defense skills as a black belt and was able to earn his instructing certification in less than a year. Many reports often come from children, one in particular that could recall lucid dreams from the age of five, the dream consisted of flying around the world in a rocket ship made out of a garbage can. The bottom of the garbage can was glass so that he could see everything below while flying and when it was time to land he was aware that he didn’t have proper landing gear, so he just simply said time to wake up right before impact.

Lucid dreaming is even being used as a therapy to help people overcome their fears and nightmares. The idea is that if you know that you are dreaming then the next logical step is to realize nothing in that dream can physically hurt you. No matter how scary a nightmare may be, if you are able to realize that it is just a dream than you should be able to conquer that fear. Many people have reported that after facing their fears or monsters in their nightmares through lucid dreaming that they transform into friendly creatures and even friends.

Even more recently new technology is allowing more possibilities than we thought possible, such as Daniel Oldis, a software engineer who has invented an EEG headband called the Zeo. The Zeo consists of a little red light bulb, internet connection, and programmed to connect with other users for what he calls “social dreaming”. This works by connecting two people in different locations in the world that are wearing the Zeo headband to bed, and it begins to collect brainwave data that it sends to a computer. When Zeo detects that both people have entered into REM sleep the light turns on and cues the sleepers to incorporate the light into their dream, hopefully without waking them, in an attempt that they realize that they’re in a dream and from there they can try to join in each others dreams.

LaBerge, S.. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. < Institute Research Papers.pdf?>

LaBerge, S., and L. Levitan. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Parmy Olson, . N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;

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. < Institute Research Papers.pdf

Hurd, Ryan. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

LaBerge, S., and L. Levitan. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Crisp, Tony. N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

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. <;.

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. <;.