Staring at screens right before sleep turns out to be a lot worse than previously thought. Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, lays out all of the negative effects that bedtime screen viewing can have on the brain and body.
And of course, that’s aside from the effects of the contents! If you read any news, you may find yourself all riled up and annoyed at something you can do absolutely nothing about (or at least not at that moment). If you check your work email, just as problematic.
Gina Rose of Nourished Naturally writes:
I often spend 5-30 minutes a day with my feet up the wall.
What’s going on in this pose?
Your femur bones are dropping into your hip sockets, relaxing the muscles that help you walk and support your back.
Blood is draining out of your tired feet and legs.
Your nervous system is getting a signal to slow down. Stress release and recovery time.
This position is great for sore legs, helps with digestion & circulation as well as thyroid support. If you suffer from insomnia try this before bed.
I’ve done this at times but at the time never thought through why it might be beneficial. Worth a try! And as they say, it doesn’t hurt to try – but of course it could and if it does hurt, obviously stop straight away.
Researchers found something relevant to people with depression while working on something else (original article at Independent.co.uk, tnx Andrew for the link).
In a nutshell, what they found was that people with severe depression had their body clock out of whack: they were essentially living in a different timezone. I don’t think it’s actually news to us, I wrote about this and it being the equivalent of jetlag in the BlueHackers HowTo. But, I do think it’s interesting in the sense that at least in the cases the researchers encountered, for people with severe depression there was a genetic cause. We like to know why things are the way they are, so this new info can help in that respect.
Modern life, in particular with the type of work many of us do, makes it really easy to stuff up your day and night rhythm, and also your eating pattern which is actually related to this as well. Getting your day/night, daylight and food intake patterns right is generally a very important base. Not for everybody, but I think definitely for most of us. And while some of these things might still be hard for some, they’re relatively easy steps compared to others. It’s worth a try and they’re also specifically things you can get external help with – you can get a friend to come by for a walk at a specific time of day, or go get a meal.
Once the new pattern is trained (can take up to three months but often it’s much sooner) you’ll find it much easier to stick to, and also that other tasks become easier.
Mind you, I’m very aware that this is still easier said than done – I have my own company arranged in such a way that it doesn’t create nasty work hours, but I also have a family and thus in the mayhem (or even just because of the weather) I sometimes lose (some of) the pattern for a while. But, I’m now aware of it and that does make a difference already – it’s easier to fix. Typically my food pattern stays ok, but the morning walk loses out (by the way, it may be an afternoon walk that works best for you).
Do you know what’s messed with my morning walk lately? The city council has closed off a footbridge crossing a creek (storm damage), and that was the only way through in that particular direction. I can create other walking loops but they’re less convenient for several reasons – I’ve walked some but it feels less comfortable. I’m generally ok with change but it’s funny how this is just very disruptive!
How do day/night, exercise and food patterns work for you, and how have you tweaked them to work better for you? Please tell, it will help others.
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Jenson Taylor made an insightful post on Google+, I’m reproducing it here as its topic -sleep- is important and has already come up several times. From my own experience, the observations hold quite true.
Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain- wave patterns.
For our purposes, it suffices to say that one sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM (rapid eye movement), sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep. The REM sleep phases are shorter during earlier cycles (less than 20 minutes) and longer during later ones (more than 20 minutes).
If we were to sleep completely naturally, with no alarm clocks or other sleep disturbances, we would wake up, on the average, after a multiple of 90 minutes–for example, after 4 1/2 hours, 6 hours, 7 1/2 hours, or 9 hours, but not after 7 or 8 hours, which are not multiples of 90 minutes.
In the period between cycles we are not actually sleeping: it is a sort of twilight zone from which, if we are not disturbed (by light, cold, a full bladder, noise), we move into another 90-minute cycle.
A person who sleeps only four cycles (6 hours) will feel more rested than someone who has slept for 8 to 10 hours but who has not been allowed to complete any one cycle because of being awakened before it was completed.
First: Warm milk before bedtime does help you get to sleep, cold milk does not. Warming up milk activates the tryptophan that’s naturally present. Good.
I’m not a fan of either medication or dietary supplements, but obviously sometimes they can help you get back (and/or stay) on track – less to worry about.
From a pharmacist friend I’ve learnt that Calcium+Magnesium can assist with sorting out sleep issues, as it’s involved with relaxing your muscles, as well as enabling you to not waking up too early (the latter is something I’ve had problems with and it’s clearly very difficult to “work on that”).
Another acquired wisdom, not quite related but relevant in context, is for men to avoid taking extra Vitamin A. Chances are you have enough already, and more may cause you nasty headaches. Problem is, many multi-vitamins contain it so pick one that doesn’t, and I’ve noticed some milk is fortified with it (usually shown on label so easy to identify) – again pick one that hasn’t.