Is there an ideal sleeping position?

Do you spend the whole night looking for it?

Your sleep position and your mattress provide support for the body while asleep. Sleep can be disturbed by any number of things – things we do during the day, things we do before retiring for the night, and things we do while we sleep. Sleeping position can sometimes aggravate our normal aches and pains and rouse us.

A number of functions can be affected by sleep position: stability of the spine, blood flow to the brain, hormone production, oxygen supply, efficient breathing, muscular function and healing, joint and ligament integrity, digestion, cellular metabolism, blood pressure and heart function. During the night, when there is no pressure on the spine, water is drawn into the discs to heal wear and tear.

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Working while you sleep – getting your ducks in a row!

The body and mind are preparing for tomorrow

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. For many animals, sleep represents a time of vulnerability. Some species even developed special defenses against danger from predators while they slept. Dolphins and many species of ducks and birds show “split brain” activity, where one half of the brain sleeps while the other half remains alert for dangers or performs basic movements like swimming or flipper movement to remain afloat.

If sleep is such a dangerous time, then why do we do it?

Research into the purpose of sleep looked first at what happens when sleep is disturbed. Studies have shown correlations between certain sleep disturbances and future health problems. Sleep and dreaming appear to play a role in memory consolidation and learning. Problem-solving may even occur during sleep. Have you ever awakened and found you “magically” have the solution to a problem?

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How much sleep do you need?

the quantity – the quality – and the timing all count!

Sleep used to be viewed as a passive, dormant state – seemingly insignificant. But research begun in the 1950’s changed that. We now better understand that sleep affects our physical and mental health. Sleep is part of the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle driven by light and dark in our environment. The circadian rhythm controls at least 15% of our DNA, including our body’s repair mechanisms. Most hormone production is regulated by sleep. The recently discovered glymphatic system works to eliminate toxins from the brain while we sleep. And sleep is when we solidify learning and establish memories.

When we don’t get enough sleep we are tired during the day, have concentration and memory problems, decreased attention span, and bad moods. Over time, health problems can develop. The immune system may weaken; obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues can develop due to sleep deprivation.

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Making and Breaking Habits

Why is it so hard to break a bad habit?

Habits are easy to form. Just look at everything you do every day on “auto pilot.” Some of our habits are good, healthy ones – others, not so much.

Habits can be formed by sheer repetition of actions. They can also be formed when the brain’s reward center is triggered by the release of dopamine. Actions or events we find enjoyable – including activities like smoking, overeating, gambling and even compulsive use of computers and social media – trigger dopamine release.

Both types of habits can become hard-wired in the brain. That makes them automatic, so we don’t have to consciously think about them.

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Do You Pandiculate?

Use your brain to re-set muscle resting length

Have you ever watched a sleeping dog or cat wake up? What’s the first thing they do? They look like they stretch before even trying to get up. But that’s not really stretching – that’s pandiculating. Just about all mammals (including humans) pandiculate. And note that the animals repeat this motion many times during the day!

Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines pandiculation as “a stretching and stiffening especially of the trunk and extremities (as when fatigued and drowsy or after waking from sleep.” Pandiculating often includes a yawn.

Pandiculating could be better than stretching!

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Are your adrenals tired?

These tiny glands do a great big job!

You have two adrenal glands; they’re about the size of your thumb and sit on top of each of your kidneys.

The adrenal glands play a large role in human physiology. They secrete more than 50 hormones, some of which are essential for life. They help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, help in protein and fat metabolism, support proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal functioning and have a major responsibility in responding to stress.

When these tiny adrenal glands are subjected to a constant, even low level of stress, they can easily become overworked. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue (aka hypoadrenia) are non-specific; they are general in nature and are present in many conditions. There is no specific medical test for adrenal fatigue. That may be why adrenal fatigue is often overlooked until it has become severe. Doctors often do not acknowledge adrenal problems unless there is extremely little functioning (Addison’s disease) or way too much (Cushing’s disease).

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April is National Stress Awareness Month – April 16 is Stress Awareness Day

(I’d have chosen April 15 — but they didn’t ask me)

Life = change. Change = stress. So you probably don’t need to look far to find stress in your life.

April is National Stress Awareness Month.

The Health Resource Network (HRN) started National Stress Awareness Month in 1992. They chose the 16th of the month as National Stress Awareness Day. Obviously, stress doesn’t take an 11-month vacation and just “show up” in April, but this is a reminder to sit down, take a deep relaxing breath, and consider the stress in your life. Where does it come from? What do you do about it? Stress is unique for each individual; take your own personal inventory.

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