Tag Archive for sleep cycle

Improve Sleep Cycle: Studies Show We Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep loss causes tremendous strains on the body and the brain. Stress, overscheduling, and daylight savings can all lead to sleep cycle disturbances, which then causes more stress on the body, creating an endless cycle of sleep deprivation.

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Daylight Saving: Sleep and the Brain

The end of Daylight Saving Time occurred last weekend and boy are we feeling it! While adjusting in the fall is easier than in spring because we gain an hour of sleep for the fall time change, you might not actually be getting that extra hour of sleep. In fact most of us are trying to adjust to the darker days and brighter mornings leading to sleep cycle madness.

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Wellness Wednesday: Why You Need More Sleep

When you think of the word wellness, sleep may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Sure, “diet”, “organic”, maybe even “exercise” are obvious wellness words but what about sleep? For any wellness goal to be achieved you need the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Springing forward may feel subtle, but it’s one to two hours of extra shuteye is imperative to our cognitive functioning and brain chemistry. » Read more..

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Why Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You & 6 Ways to Solve It

sleep deprivation

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

This is your wake-up call—literally. For years we have known that sleep deprivation is bad for our health, but a new study shows it actually destroys brain cells.  A study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience found that staying awake kills brain cells in mice, and researchers suggest it may do the same in humans. It’s the first study to show that sleep loss can lead to irreversible damage.

So, what do we do? 7-8 Hours of sleep sounds fantastic, but for many Americans it’s nearly impossible.  Not only is it a time an issue, but getting our brains to shut off can be easier said than done. Stress and hectic schedules make it hard to get the zzz’s one needs. Overtime, cortisol elevations cause shifts in other hormones (such as DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone), as well as depletion in neurotransmitter availability.  This often leads to sleep cycle disturbances, which then causes more stress on the body and the cycle continues.

sleep deprivation

We need sleep almost just as much as we need oxygen and food. Recent studies show that sleep may “detox” the brain, flushing out waste products linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Sleep deprivation wears down our normal capacity to deal with daily aggravations and challenges, causing the cycle of stress to wear us down emotionally and physically.  Unfortunately, this can’t be fixed with good vibes alone.

One night alone of disrupted sleep lowers the threshold for “stress perception.” When you’re dead tired, or have had weeks of restless nights, just running an errand or getting stuck in traffic can seem dreadful and daunting.  It is a huge contributor to irritability, mood swings, and interpersonal relationship troubles (as you can imagine).

6 Ways to Solve Sleep Deprivation

1. Testing your neurotransmitters and cortisol levels is a natural way to balance your sleep cycle. It can be helpful to pinpoint what type of support will provide the fastest relief.  Results show what supplementation is needed—and will help work to adjust your sleep cycle. Neurogistics makes this easy with in home testing kits, and customized Brain Wellness Reports.

2. Wind down for 1 hour before bedtime. Ideally this would be unplugged, restorative time (e.g., relaxed reading, bath, or mediation practice). Something to induce the relaxation response. Sleep mediations are all over YouTube and can be listened to as you are lying in bed.

3. Don’t use electronics, even the Nook, an hour before bed.  Avoid TV, phone, tablet, emails, Netflix, Hulu, videogames in bed.  The light, and the activity stimulates excitatory neurotransmitter activity

4. Decrease Caffeine – it exacerbates anxiety and can create disturbances in your sleep patterns. If you drink coffee, tea or soda and you have anxiety, consider getting off caffeine or stopping before 12PM.

If your aim is to get off the caffeine kick, do this gradually:

  • Go from 2 coffees per day to 1.
  • Go from having a large coffee to having a small.
  • Go from a small coffee to a small half-caf.
  • Go from half-caf to black tea.
  • Go from black tea to green tea.
  • Go from green tea to no caffeine. You can have herbal or decaf tea.

5. Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Even on the weekends, try and wake up within 90 minutes of when you do on weekdays.

6. Keep your bedroom dark and cold; even nightlights can keep you awake. Make sure your dreaming den is chilly, this helps you stay under the covers and hit hibernation mode.

Other ways to get your sleep back on track involve taking control of your stress during the day.  Delegate tasks, make time for mindfulness and meditation, and practice deep breathing.  Grab the good pillows, comfy sheets and get ready for a good night’s sleep.  Your body and brain depend on it.

 

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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Back to Bedtime: Tips for Adjusting Your Childs Sleep Cycle for Back to School

back to school sleepy boyBy Emily Roberts MA, LPC

We know summertime schedules make it hard to adjust to back to school demands. The leisurely schedule and later evenings mean more of a push back from kiddos when classes resume. As much as your child may fight or fuss about pillow-time, it is a tool for academic and behavioral success. Kids who don’t get enough sleep, regularly, have been shown to have lower testing scores, more behavioral outburst, and more ADHD-like behaviors. Snoozing on the weekends and struggling to get enough sleep during the week is a typical cycle for some, but can be damaging to long term health. Children and adults need a bedtime routine, and consistent hours for their brain to recharge and rest. This cannot be done two nights a week, we need to help them adjust to do this most days.

Start Now

Even if your child has started school or is doing so in the next week or so, start with a plan of action that you can implement as early as this evening. Changing their entire routine all at once can be too much for some kids to handle, so adding in each piece over the course of a week may help.Experts estimate that preschoolers (3 to 5 years-old) need 11-13 hours of sleep, while school-aged children up to age 12 need approximately 10-11 hours of sleep. Teens need at least 9 hours. back to school kids sleep

Dr. Juan Martinez MD, director of Pediatric Sleep lab at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital suggests:

• The best strategy is to allow the later bedtime initially, but enforce the gradually earlier morning arousal time to a goal of the normal awakening time for school. The late bedtime will eventually adjust to a normal bedtime. All parents and caregivers must be on board and consistent.— We love this, as our bodies will naturally respond to this adjustment after a few days. Starting to enforce an earlier bedtime after a week or so, and rewarding them for getting ready on-time will help.

• Absolutely avoid any caffeinated products after dinner. That includes coffee, cola drinks and chocolate.— We would even go further to say after lunch, as caffeine can stay in kids systems for hours. Sugar before bed can also heighten arousal, so that ice cream after dinner may need to be a mid afternoon treat.

• Have children turn off all electronics, including phones, computers, video games and television early in the night. Have them instead read, listen to soothing music or do other quiet activities.— We agree, and studies have shown that up to two hours before bed our brain’s will be effected by screen time. If your child “needs” their Kindle or begs for their iPhone, come up with rules for the family. It may be painful at first to convince your tween to turn in their phone, but if their goals are to make good grades and get the privilege of having a phone, then they needs to follow the rules. Many kids I work with sleep with their phones and are woken up throughout the night to friends’ texts or to search the web. DON’T ALLOW THIS.

• Have children take a warm bath an hour or two before bedtime to help their body temperature naturally cool down before sleep.— We would also add in doing mindfulness or self-soothing activities. Coloring, journaling, “light” reading (avoid scary or suspenseful literature), back rubs, ect.

• At bedtime there should be no background noises, television or music.— We have some kids who are able to relax by listening to classical music, guided meditations, or sound machines, as it distracts from their anxious thoughts. Try to find something that reduces stimulation.

More tips:

When talking to kids about this adjustment make sure not to say “because I said so” or “that’s our rule.” Rather, explain to them that sleep is important if they want to feel good and focused. Sleep is like food, we need it or our bodies can’t function.back to school sleep tight

Supplements. Make sure your child is taking their supplements as prescribed or suggested. Particular vitamins and minerals can be stimulating. Making sure that they are taking their recommended doses at the right time is imperative.

Make bedtime cozy. When we look at our beds we want to feel comfortable and look forward to shutting our eyes. Kids are the same. Make sure that they help you pick out textures of linens that they like, this is not your bed, it’s theirs. Give them lots of pillows or blankets if they like, as many kids (and adults) feel calmer and safer with soft textures surrounding them. For little ones, have them pick out a stuffed animal or blanket that “lives in the bed.” So they will have something to look forward to when bedtime comes.

Also, this is a great time to ask them about their goals for the school year, what do you want to accomplish or improve on this year? Let them tell you (it can be hard to keep your thoughts to yourself but try) what they want to achieve. “More goals in soccer” or “get an A in Algebra. Then ask them what they need to do to get there. Break down the goals with them and add in steps including healthy living (sleep, diet, supplements, ect).

What if they resist? As a parent you are in charge, and your children will thank you in the long run. Expect a few days or even weeks of push back, maybe even tears, but stay consistent and strong. Validate that sometimes it stinks to head to bed this early, and we all are trying our best to be healthy.

Even if they aren’t tired, which is a common complaint, get them in their rooms, and make their room a bedtime zone. If there is a tv, a computer, bright lights or warm temperatures, fix these things soon. Make the bedroom for sleeping and relaxing not stressful activities. The more we praise them getting into their rooms and in bed the more likely we will help condition their brains to “like”, at least a little bit, the idea of heading to bed. Giving in to later bedtimes may be a “reward” but try rewarding with activities that they would want to do during the day. Sleep is sleep, just like breakfast is a meal. You wouldn’t let them go to school hungry, so why would you let them go with a foggy brain?

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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The Depressed Brain: Alternative Treatments

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

It is estimated that 25 percent of the American population will experience depression at some point in their lives.  What we do know is that depression is treatable, and a variety approaches have been proven effective for reducing and overcoming symptoms.   Many consumers and those who suffer from depression symptoms are under the impression that medication is the only option.  This is not the case.

A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and GlaxoSmithKline (a pharmaceutical corporation), indicates that cognitive therapy is at least as effective as medication for long-term treatment of severe depression, and it is less expensive.  This is not to say that medication is not effective, but rather that there are often options, such as talk therapy, that are overlooked by the average consumer.  We are told by commercials, friends, and even our physicians that depression can be treated with medications, but there are other options.

A recent article by Dr. Daniel Amen confirmed that natural supplements are effective in treating the neurological imbalances causing depression symptoms. Dr. Amen, author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life, is a renowned physician, child and adult psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist.  He discusses the surprising outcomes after speaking to a group of UC Psychiatrists:

As a group, they were very interested in learning about using natural supplements as a way to treat their patients. You have to understand that in most traditional psychiatry programs in the U.S., the use of natural supplements as a treatment option is NOT part of the curriculum. Most psychiatrists get absolutely NO training in this.

And that’s a real shame. Because there are many supplements that have A level (strong) or B level (good) scientific evidence that they are effective in treating a number of mental disorders. Here are some examples:

  • St. John’s wort, SAMe, and sage have A level evidence that they help with depression.
  • 5-HTP, omega-3s, saffron, and DHEA have B level evidence that they reduce symptoms of depression.
  • St. John’s wort, 5-HTP, and inositol have B level evidence that they calm anxiety.
  • 5-HTP has B level evidence that it helps with weight loss.
  • Ginkgo biloba and sage have A level evidence that they enhance memory.
  • Huperzine A, vinpocetine, acetyl-l-carnitine, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3s have B level evidence that they boost memory.
  • Melatonin has A level evidence that it improves sleep.

For more on Dr. Amen Click Here

What has been confirmed by the scientific community is that most forms of depression can be traced to imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, more specifically Serotonin levels.  These levels can be depleted through genetics, or environmental triggers (stress, trauma, and lifestyle).  Serotonin is one of the primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.  Serotonin plays a role in so many areas of the body, and is one of the first neurotransmitters to become depleted.  It is involved in balancing mood, apatite, sugar and carbohydrate cravings (due to low Serotonin levels), sleep cycle regulation, pain receptors (including headaches and muscle pain), and many more.  When looking for alternative options to treating depression, testing ones brain chemistry is extremely important in identifying the neurotransmitters that are out of balance, and is another option for treating depression.  For more information on neurotransmitter testing and depression Click Here.

*If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please contact your practitioner immediately.

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