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You’ve probably heard, more than once, that sleep is vital for the growth of healthy children. The scientific community has known for a long time that the hours while the body is sleeping are not idle hours where it literally turns itself off. These are hours when the body is performing critical functions that help children grow. But why is it so important for children?
The Importance of Sleep for Children
Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and graduate of John Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard University, provides important insight as to why age factors into the need for more sleep:
“Sleep is a critical ingredient to good growth, and the amount of sleep we need depends upon our age,” says Dr. Natterson. “Little babies, newborns, and infants get somewhere around 16 hours of sleep for every 24 hours, give or take. Toddlers need about 14 hours of sleep in every 24 hours.”
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There’s just so much going on during those hours of sleep that the body cannot accomplish during waking hours.
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It’s a busy world we live in today. Thanks to advancements in technology, we seem to be always connected. Add that to the stress of dealing with a demanding job, worrying about our children or aging parents, or concern over a health condition either for ourselves and a loved one, and there’s no surprise that some of us have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some tool that could relax our minds and let go of our stress and worries to fall into a peaceful deep sleep? Well there is, and it’s called guided imagery.
What is Guided Imagery for Sleep?
Have you ever “counted sheep” to help you to fall asleep? If so, you were practicing guided imagery without even knowing it. In a nutshell, guided imagery is a relaxation technique where one’s thoughts are purposely redirected through imagination and visualization to achieve a desired goal. While this goal is commonly to help with falling asleep, it’s also used to help adults cope with a serious health condition, such as cancer, manage stress, depression, pain, and anxiety. It’s also a helpful technique for children, particularly in helping to chase away their fears.
Benefits of Guided Imagery for Sleep
Using guided imagery for sleep disturbances can help both adults and children alike find a soothing, relaxing, and comforting way to drift off to sleep. As a directed form of visualization, guided imagery is based on the thought that the body and mind are connected. By tapping into one’s own imagination, guided imagery can relax oneself into a soothing slumber.
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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as the “winter blues” in its milder form, impacts roughly half a million individuals each winter, according to Mental Health America. This disorder makes its presence during the months of September through April, but peaks during the winter months of December, January, and February.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
One of the hallmark signs of seasonal affective disorder is winter sleep disturbances. Among feedback from nearly 300 SAD patients, complaints of excessive oversleeping, termed hypersomnia, were made by 80 percent of the respondents, according to a study by researchers at Brigham’s and Women’s Hospital.
Aside from winter sleep hypersomnia, other symptoms of SAD include:
- excessive morning grogginess (difficulty waking up)
- difficulty staying awake
- carbohydrates cravings
- lack of energy and feeling of lethargy and fatigue
- withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
- decreased sex drive
- weight gain
- difficulty concentrating on tasks
- not completing tasks
- feeling depressed
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Are you getting an adequate amount of sleep at night? Do you wake up each morning feeling well-rested and ready to start the day? Or, do you hit the snooze bar several times because you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed? Or, perhaps you sleep through the alarm, as it blares for all its worth on your bedside table, altogether?
People tend to sleep in 90 minute cycles. Waking at the wrong point in that cycle can have a profoundly negative impact on how rested and alert you feel throughout the day. However, using a sleep calculator to help you wake up at the right point in a given sleep cycle can greatly improve your quality of sleep as well as how rested you feel afterwards, even if you’re getting a less than optimal amount of sleep.
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Sleep and Sleep Cycles
Sleep is actually divided up into several different 90 minute cycles. These cycles include 4 stages of NREM sleep and REM sleep. The total process takes approximately 90 minutes and then the cycle repeats. This will happen several times during a night’s sleep. Waking in the middle of a cycle or during the deep sleep portion of the sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy throughout the day. However, waking at the right point, or near the top of your sleep cycle can leave you feeling well rested and ready to tackle whatever it is that lies ahead for you.
A sleep calculator is a tool that will help you calculate the proper length of sleep so that you wake up at the top of your cycle, rather than at a point where you’re likely to feel ill effects from your sleep rather than rested and refreshed as you should. Timing is everything when you’re struggling to get an adequate amount of sleep, or at least feel as though you’ve had enough. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of tools like sleep calculators to help you get the restful sleep you need.
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For one Pittsburgh surburbia teen, Sleeping Beauty isn’t just Walt Disney movie or fairy tale book. For Nicole Delien, Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), sometimes referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, is more like a nightmare of wondering when the next sleep episode is going to strike and worrying about how much of her life she’ll miss out on the next time it does.
According to a recent interview on CBS, Nicole’s longest sleeping episode lasted from Thanksgiving into January, 64 days to be exact. The only time she would waken during these sleep cycles was in a sort of sleep-like state to eat and then she would return to sleep.
What is Sleeping Beauty Syndrome?
KLS is an extremely rare neurological condition that only affects about 1,000 people around the world according to this Huffington Post article. It’s a severe form of primary hypersomnia that happens to be an extremely difficult condition for physicians to diagnose. Part of the difficulty is that it is such a rare condition. For Nicole, the diagnosis took nearly 25 months to complete. Before the final diagnosis was made, doctors considered everything from a severe virus to epilepsy, and even questioned whether or not she was simply faking an illness in order to gain attention.
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Sleep is a precious commodity in many households around the world. For some people, it’s falling asleep in the first place. For others, it’s managing to remain asleep that’s the problem. One of the more common causes of problem sleeping is distractions brought on by noise in the environment. That’s why many people are beginning to take matters into their own hands in order to find sounds they sleep to so that they can ignore the sounds that tend to wake them up or keep them up at night.
What Sounds Distract from Restful Sleep?
Knowing how important it is to get a good night’s sleep only seems to pile on the pressure some nights when your brain is hijacked by every random noise of stray thought that crosses paths with it. Some of the sounds that may be preventing you from getting the sleep you so desperately need include:
- Barking dogs
- Dripping water faucets
- Garbage trucks
- Street sweepers
- Noisy Neighbors
Of course there are plenty more sounds that might be making a difference in your own little corner of the world, but these noises are some of the most commonly complained about.
Read More // TAGS: calming sounds, how to fall asleep, music, nature, noise, sleep, sleep sounds, sleeping sounds, sound, sounds to sleep to, white noise
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Natural Latex is the Eco-Friendly Solution
As more and more consumers integrate the eco-conscious decision making process into their buying habits, one of the areas of the home that is being taken into account is the bedroom. And rightly so – we spend a full one-third of our lives in our bedrooms. Asleep. On our beds. Those savvy consumers who have already jumped aboard the green movement and are sleeping on a natural mattress can attest to the many great benefits of sleeping on the likes of natural latex. Not only is an all-natural latex mattress not made of petrochemicals and thus healthier, but the cost of a latex mattress made from botanical latex foam is much cheaper than a traditional bed in the long run.
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Investing in Latex
In fact, the purchase of a natural latex foam mattress is a very wise investment in terms of durability and longevity. Generally a 100% natural latex mattress will run right around $2,000 (depending upon the size); any less and you probably aren’t getting natural latex, but instead a hybrid or blend or 100% synthetic. More expensive than that you are probably paying a premium for brand equity, or overhead for the fancy showroom floor. But let’s take a look at the true cost of a natural latex bed based upon, for example, the warranty of the mattress and the price tag. We’ll take the round figure of $2,000 that can be had for buying a high quality organic latex mattress online instead of at a physical establishment, since that is where you’ll end up getting the most for your money. With the round figure of $2,000 and a mattress warranty of 25 years (that’s the high end, most average in the 20-year time frame), the cost per night for sleeping on premium natural latex foam is only about .22 per night! Compare that to a traditional innerspring mattress, for example, that you replace every 5-7 years on average, and you come up with some pretty health savings on top of the health benefits.
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According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, somniloquy, also known as sleep talking is a condition that impacts half of all young children and nearly five percent of all adults. While it can be somewhat alarming and completely frustrating at times, there are also nuggets of humor to be found in the sleep talking process. The main thing to remember is that sleep talking alone is rarely cause for alarm and is more common than most people realize.
What is Sleep Talking?
The problem is that it can be different among different people. There is no static rule for what it sounds or looks like. It can be loud and alarming. The words can sound harsh and angry. Or it can be soft and melodic in a sort of sing-song voice. It can be complete sentences that are perfectly understandable, one word statements, or even total gibberish. It can sometimes be very graphic and adult in nature. At times, the talk can be downright humorous, as captured by a loving wife of her “Sleep Talkin’ Man” husband.
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Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health and well-being. Failing to get an adequate amount of sleep can limit the body’s ability to heal itself, recover from wounds, and even lead to premature aging. The bottom line is that sleep is necessary for the body and mind to function properly.
What Happens While You’re Sleeping?
We all know that the body needs sleep. The sleep cycle is important time for your body to restore and recover what’s lost during the day. Young children, especially, require large amounts of sleep because that’s the time when the growth hormone is released in the body. Cellular damage from the sun is also repaired while you’re sleeping. This includes things like wrinkle reduction and collagen production—which is why it’s sleep is commonly referred to as “beauty rest”.
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Every year I make a new resolution—to exercise more, lose weight, save more money, spend more time with family, or keep my house cleaner—and every year I find myself struggling to meet my goals. I’m not alone. Statistics show that by mid January half of Americans have already given up their resolutions. Clearly there are many reasons for this but I think the main reason is that we set unrealistic goals. I know I’m a messy person. It’s just in my nature. When I make my resolutions, I don’t aim for achievable goals like putting away my laundry right after I wash it. I aim for lofty goals, like organizing every closet, dusting weekly, and never letting an item of clothing sit unfolded. I have a busy life and I just can’t possibly keep this up without a complete personality overhaul. Short of mood-altering drugs, this isn’t going to happen. This year, I’m setting a simple, achievable goal for myself: take steps to get better sleep.