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Posts tagged ‘sleep’

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. <http://diyhpl.us/~bryan/papers2/dreaming/Lucidity Institute Research Papers.pdf?>

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

Parmy Olson, . N.p.. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/11/08/saying-hi-through-a-dream-how-the-internet-could-make-sleeping-more-social/&gt;

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;.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a disorder resulting in discomfort, aching or strange sensations in the legs that are only relieved upon moving the legs. 1Insomnia is the major byproduct of RLS and can make staying rested very difficult. The sensations felt in the legs have been described as tingling, itching, creeping and aching. These sensations distract the mind and make sleeping nearly impossible due to lack of comfort.

Symptoms of RLS are most evident in the nighttime, especially when trying to fall asleep. The urge to move the legs can disrupt sleep causing insomnia and daytime drowsiness the following day. Over half of those suffering from RLS symptoms report taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep each night. 2

Between 5 and 15 percent of the population suffer from restless leg syndrome, although many are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. 2 RLS is commonly diagnosed as simple insomnia or depression as many of the symptoms are similar.

RLS can begin at any age but it more severe and pains last longer as age increases. The peak onset period is around middle age. 1 Additionally, RLS is known to run in families. More than 70 percent of children diagnosed with RLS also had a parent with RLS. 2 RLS is more common in females and those who are pregnant, suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or are anemic are at higher risk. 1

Treatment

Treatment for RLS is typically prescribed medication and relaxation therapy. 1 Walking, massaging the legs and acupressure are a few of the techniques proven to help reduce RLS symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as Yoga and Pilates, especially late in the day can assist in stretching the legs and help to alleviate symptoms. 2 Heat therapy in the form of heat or ice packs or simply a hot bath have also been shown to help with relaxation of muscles and helping to ease symptoms.

Caffeine intake can increase chances of developing RLS and can worsen symptoms if intake is not suppressed. Also, those with low iron levels or anemia may develop RLS and should take actions to increase iron intake.

The best way to combat the symptoms associated with RLS is through relaxing and going through the process to get better sleep overall. This includes making the bedroom quiet, cool and comfortable, not eating close to bedtime and exercising regularly.  Additionally, memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses may help with RLS as they help to reduce pressure points.

Teamed with the many other sleep problems and disorders, especially in adults, individuals suffering from RLS can experience a very difficult time sleeping resulting in lack of focus, lack of attentiveness and onset of depression.

Bibliography

1. 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.

2. National Sleep Foundation—Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/restless-legs-syndrome-rls-and-sleep

Health Benefits of Sleep

We are all aware that sleep is “good for us”, but how does the one-third of our lives spent sleeping really benefit us? Chronic sleep deprivation can result in a number of harmful disorders as well as making overall life quality suffer.

1. Restoration of Memory

Sleep is vital to the formation and recall of memories. During REM sleep, dreams are used to help consolidate memory. 1 Without the vital rest the brain needs to create memories, retention and recall of events and information will be severely affected. For instance, staying up all night to cram for an exam will result in short term recall, but no long term memory because the brain never had a chance to store the information as a memory.

2. Prevent Sickness and Flu

Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system making it not as capable of fighting disease such as influenza. Lack of sleep can alter the functioning of the body’s white blood cells used to fight infection. Therefore, lack of sleep can lead to various other sicknesses further preventing sleep.

3. Helps to Fight Obesity and Increase Metabolism

Obesity, a growing problem in the world, has been shown to have a connection with sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation causes the body to crave foods with higher calorie and carbohydrate content to make up for lack of energy. 1 Lack of sleep also decreases metabolism at a rate that mimics metabolic rates of aging. As sleep affects obesity, obesity also affects sleep. Many of those suffering from sleep apnea are overweight and fix their sleep problems by exercising.

4. Restoration and Repair of the Body and Mind

After exercising or exerting yourself in any way, the body’s muscles become tired and need recovery time. Sleep is the time your body and mind use to repair muscles and tissues and improve the body’s functioning. By giving yourself the adequate amount of sleep, you are also restoring your body to its optimal state of functioning.

5. Reduces Stress and Stress-related Symptoms

Stress can bring on severe mental and physical problems such as depression, cardiovascular disorders and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, that result in fragmented sleep can cause increased stress and increase risk for heart problems. 2

6. Improves Mood

Without adequate sleep, it is likely that most will experience an increase in irritability. Sleep deprivation causes stress, anger and overall feeling of mental exhaustion. In addition to the natural grogginess felt when deprived of sleep, individuals will also typically refrain from social interaction and be difficult to work with.

7. Energy and Alertness

Daytime drowsiness causes decreased alertness and increased safety risks. For example shift workers (nightshift/irregular shift workers) are extremely sleep deprived. These workers tend to have more accidents on the job than workers who keep regular hours because of lack of alertness and energy. 3

Sleep is vital to well-being and health. Many of the above factors affect each other and can all be improved by simply exercising healthy sleep habits. Sleep makes everyone happier and healthier and contributes to productivity in our day-to-day lives.

Bibliography:

1. Medical University of South Carolina—Sleep Health Benefits; http://www.muschealth.com/healthyaging/sleep_health_benefits.htm

2. Harvard Medical School—Health Publications: Importance of Sleep and Health; http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health

3. 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.

Does Exercise Help You Sleep Better?

Exercise benefits the body and mind in many ways, one being sleep ability. The National Sleep Foundation’s study showed that those who participated in the national guideline of exercise (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week) showed a 65 percent increase in sleep quality. 1 Physical activity and sleep go hand in hand, and proper integration of both can result in improved overall feeling of well-being.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises include running or jogging, biking, swimming, skiing, tennis, dancing and any other activity requiring a great deal of movement. This active fashion of exercise has shown to drastically improve overall quality of sleep including ability to fall asleep and waking up refreshed. 3 Aerobic activities are thought to give the body more energy, so avoid doing them close to bedtime.Exercising regularly is vital to its success. Stopping exercise for just 72 hours can result in beginning of deterioration of fitness. 2

Yoga

Yoga has been proven to help relax the mind and body. The stretching in yoga can help prepare the mind and body for bed, especially if a harder workout occurred earlier in the day. Sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless legs syndrome have been shown to have reduced symptoms when doing yoga prior to bedtime. Yoga has been proven to help relieve stress and though yoga poses may not help you shed unwanted body weight, they will help you prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Effects of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help improve heart and lung functioning as well as increase the production of endorphins (natural mood enhancers produced by the brain). Endorphins help to reduce pain, relax muscles, suppress appetite and increase overall well-being. 2 Participants in a study conducted by Northwestern Medicine reported overall decreased depressive symptoms, increased vitality and less daytime drowsiness. 3

Just as exercising helps with sleep quality, sleep helps with effectiveness of exercising. No exercise regimen will be successful without the adequate amount of recovery time. Sleep will allow for higher levels of alertness and more energy, making exercise as fulfilling as possible.

Exercising only helps to induce sleep when practiced around six hours before bedtime. If exercising too close to the time you would like to go to sleep you may experience increased alertness and insomnia. Additionally, the body takes around fix to six hours to cool itself down to normal temperature after a workout. If exercising too close to bedtime, increase body heat can cause restlessness. The body’s natural cooling can help to lull individuals to sleep as cooler temperatures have shown to help with sleep quality.

Increasing amount of exercise can provide a cheaper, less dangerous and more effective alternative to sleeping pills and their potential side effects when treating insomnia. When considering increasing physical activity, be sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions that could result in injury when too intense of activity is attempted.

Bibliography:

1. National Sleep Foundation—Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality of Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/study-physical-activity-impacts-overall-quality-sleep

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.

3. Northwestern University—Aerobic Exercise Relieves Insomnia; http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/09/aerobic-exercise-relieves-insomnia.html

What is sleep?

We spend fully‭ one-third ‬of our lives asleep and it’s a vital part of every person’s life,‭ ‬but it’s an activity that most people know very little about— and we oftentimes even take this important need for granted. If you’ve ever been out of your usual sleeping schedule or have suffered from a lack of sleep,‭ ‬you know how critical a good night’s sleep is.‭ ‬In order to improve the quality of your sleep it’s important to understand what happens while we rest.

So, what exactly is sleep? Sleep as defined by dictionary.com is “to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake.”1 We do know sleep is so vital to our survival that it’s a matter of life and death. Laboratory rats that were deprived of sleep only lived two to three weeks.1 A basic sleep tip, therefore, would simply be: don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep.

The National Institute of Health acknowledges that even though we don’t know the exact reason we sleep, it is something our bodies and mind must have. You might think that while we sleep so does our body and mind, yet even though we aren’t aware of what’s going on while we sleep, our bodies and minds remain busy.2

Sleep is regulated by a pair of systems in our body: the sleep-wake process and our circadian/internal rhythmic biological clock. These systems work in tandem both to make us feel tired, [preparing our bodies to sleep], and to help us feel awake during the day— acting as a mechanism to drive our activity and rest. Changes in our daily routines, as well as any kind of stress [in addition to myriad other factors], can alter these sensitive systems and cause people to feel tired in the morning as well as unable to sleep at night. An important sleep tip to remember is that even something so small as missing an hour of sleep for a couple days can throw our internal systems entirely off-balance.

There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement [NREM] and rapid eye movement‭ [‬REM].‭ ‬As we rest,‭ ‬we cycle between NREM and REM around every hour and a half.‭ ‬It’s during REM sleep that dreaming, a vital part of sleep, occurs most often. Though we have barely begun‭  ‬to‭ ‬understand their importance and the reasons for them, they are surrounded by folklore— such as the idea that eating spicy foods just before bed will give you strange dreams. ‭ In fact, a‬ great tip to help you sleep better is to avoid eating or drinking anything at all for at least‭ ‬2-3‭ ‬hours before going to bed‭ so that you‬ fall asleep faster.3

If you feel tired throughout the day, if you can’t fall asleep at night, or if you have some other problem affecting your sleep, “rest assured” that you’re not alone: one out of nearly every four people in the United States suffers from some form of  sleep disorder.3 Sleep problems can be caused by just one or a cavalcade of events and can occur at any age. The most common sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia‭ ‬– inability or difficulty getting to sleep and staying in a resting state.
  • Sleep Apnea‭ ‬– sufferers will snore loudly while sleeping,‭ ‬stop breathing for a short time,‭ ‬then gasp for breath.
  • Narcolepsy‭ ‬– prevents people from entering a regular sleep/wake cycle,‭ ‬causing them to fall asleep uncontrollably.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome‭ ‬– causes a person’s legs to have a sensation of tingling,‭ ‬only alleviated by moving,‭ ‬which interferes with sleep.4

Sleep is both an important and vital part of a healthy, happy life. We have put a great deal of research and development into our  memory foam mattress line, but getting quality rest is affected by many things in your life. The more you understand about sleep and what factors can effect it, the better your overall well-being may become.

Bibliography

  1. Sleep. (n.d.) On Dictionary.com— Retrieved May 11, 2009, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sleep
  2. United States Department of Health & Human Services. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide To Healthy Sleep. Nov. 2005. Jan. 2012. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf>.
  3. Sleep and Aging (Published March 16, 2005)— Retrieved May 11, 2009, from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/sleepandaging/aboutsleep/01.html
  4. Can’t Sleep? Science Is Seeking New Answers; CAM at the NIH Focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume XVII, Number 3: Summer 2005—Retrieved Jan 10, 2012, from http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/090106.htm