Posts tagged ‘sleep’

Sleeping Your Best is All About Timing

By Chad Upton | Editor

Sleep can make you more happy, alert, motivated, and productive. If you’re healthy, it’s fairly straightforward to get these benefits from sleep if you know a little bit about your sleep cycles.

First, imagine if washing machines didn’t have timers and you had to guess when they finished their last cycle. If you stopped it too soon, your clothes would still be soapy; if you stopped it too late then it would start all over again. That would be a disaster; nobody would put up with that. Yet, that’s exactly what most people do with their sleep cycles.

You sleep in cycles. Each cycle usually lasts 90 – 110 minutes. It’s called a cycle because your brain and body go through a number of different stages and then it starts all over again. The stages can be divided in different ways, but two of the most common divisions are REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM.

The non-REM “deep sleep” phase is longer during the cycles earlier in the night and tend to get shorter during the later cycles. The REM phase is the opposite. Vivid dreams generally occur during REM sleep, so you tend to dream more as you get closer to your wakeup time.

Most of us get up at about the same time every day. Sometimes, you feel well rested; other times you feel like you barely slept at all. This wide variance can be caused by waking up in the middle of your sleep cycle rather than close to the end. (more…)

January 25, 2012 at 2:00 am 9 comments

Chewing Sunflower Seeds Can Help You Stay Awake

By Kaye Nemec

We’ve all been there: we’re driving late at night, determined to make it to our final destination, growing more tired with each passing mile. We roll our windows down, turn up the radio’s volume, gulp down caffeine — anything to keep our eyelids from dropping.

Drowsy driving is a dangerous situation. In fact, studies show that it can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Of course the best solution would be to pull over and get some rest. But if you have no choice and really need to keep on driving, try chewing sunflower seeds to stay awake.

Eating sunflower seeds (with shells) is not an easy task. The act of using your teeth to crack the seed, figuring out how to remove the seed from the shell and successfully discarding the shell, not to mention eating the seed, will keep your brain focused. Be sure to have an empty cup or bottle handy to spit the shells into or your car will be a mess when you finally get to your destination.  Grabbing a healthy drink to go with the seeds is a good idea too, they are certainly a salty snack and will leave you feeling pretty thirsty.

Mastering the art of eating sunflower seeds “hands free” can take a little time, so if you’re not quite there yet I recommend a few practice sessions at home before taking this trick out on the road. The point is to keep your mind active and alert, but not to be so distracted that you’re unable to focus on safe driving.

Want to kill two birds with one stone? At your next pit stop, get a package of SumSeeds.  They’re a brand of sunflower seeds infused with caffeine, taurine, lysine and ginseng. They come in four flavors; original, salt & pepper, honey BBQ and dill pickle. If your local store doesn’t carry them, you can get them from Amazon.

In addition to the mental concentration and energy it takes to eat sunflower seeds, their nutritional value will also help improve your overall health and wellness. Unlike the sugars and refined carbohydrates often found in common “pick me up” snacks, sunflower seeds are packed with healthy fats, protein and fiber.

Broken Secrets

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Sources: Wikihow.com,  AAAFoundation.org, SUMSEEDS.com, Sunflowernsa.com

Photo: photofarmer (cc)

September 22, 2010 at 5:00 am 4 comments

That Falling Feeling When Going To Sleep

By Chad Upton

When you’re falling asleep, do you ever get that sensation of falling, sometimes followed by a jerk reaction?

It’s pretty normal for this to happen occasionally. Irregular sleep schedules are one known cause and the explanation behind it is pretty interesting.

During REM sleep, your muscles go into a state called atonia. Essentially, all of your muscles except those in your eyes and those used for breathing are temporary paralyzed. You brain blocks signals that are normally sent to these muscles. This is true for humans and common among most other warm blooded mammals.

This is the reason why your muscles don’t actually move when you’re dreaming about them moving. It’s a self preservation mechanism, preventing you from hurting yourself and other people while you’re asleep, which is obviously good for your safety but it also prevents you from waking yourself, ensuring a proper sleep.

If your REM sleep is interrupted, your muscles resume from atonia and your mind returns to consciousness at roughly the same time. But, it is possible for your consciousness to resume before muscle control. You’ll be awake, but paralyzed. This is called “sleep paralysis” and as many as 60% of people will experience it at least once in their lifetime. It can be scary, but it normally occurs for a very brief period of time, sometimes it is so short that you may not even realize it happened.

This sensation is often described with feelings of fear or dread and described like an out of body experience. Auditory and visual hallucinations have been reported and are part of the mythology of some cultures, attributing this feeling to supernatural forces, demons, UFO encounters and so on. There are also people who believe this state is a doorway to the inner mind and they try to remain in this state as long as possible.

Waking up into sleep paralysis a single time is not usually something to worry about, but if it happens more frequently then it could be a symptom of a more serious problem such as narcolepsy and you should see a doctor. Sleep paralysis occurs more commonly when people are on their backs, but doctors do not know why.

Sleep paralysis can also happen while you’re falling asleep. Your mind may realize that you are awake but your body is paralyzed. That disconnect can cause the feeling of falling, which is startling and often accompanied by a hypnic jerk.

Super thanks to Dr Ryan W, the Broken Secrets neurology expert, for his help with this post and for his great work in neurology.

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Sources: Dr Ryan W, Sleepdex, brynmawr.edu, Wikipedia (Hypnagogia, Hypnic Jerk)

Photo: NewEndProductions (cc)

July 16, 2010 at 5:00 am 15 comments


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