You’ve probably heard people who work late night shifts in hospitals, fire stations, restaurants, or on the road protecting our streets talk about how light during the day has a negative impact on their ability to get a decent amount of restful sleep. But, did you know there is a real reason behind it? It’s not merely a preference for darkness that’s robbing them of the recuperative sleep they need in order to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. But why does light have such a profound impact on sleep and what can people who work these necessary late shifts do to get the kind of sleep they need?
Why Does Light Negatively Impact Sleep?
“In the presence of light, your brain will not produce melatonin,” says Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, Sleep Specialist: On the surface that doesn’t seem like such a profoundly negative thing. However, melatonin is one of the vital hormones that plays a significant role in helping people not only fall asleep but also to remain asleep throughout the night. If a room has too much light, that makes things much more difficult for anyone looking to get a proper amount of sleep.
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.”
There’s just so much going on during those hours of sleep that the body cannot accomplish during waking hours.
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.
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
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”.
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.
Get ready for a shocking statistic: a full one third of American adults suffer from chronic pain. That’s more than all the people who have diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. So why don’t we hear more about this population? Diabetes is national news on a weekly basis. There’s information for diabetics on food labels at the grocery store, running nonstop on commercials, and in just about every information packet you’ll ever get at your doctor’s office. But when it comes to chronic pain there is a deafening silence. I think there are several reasons for this dearth of information and attention. First, chronic pain can refer to a wide range of conditions, from migraine headaches to nerve pain to backaches. And in each case, treatments are often lacking.
When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was always a sleepless night. I’d lie there imagining my presents, trying to get inside Santa’s head: Was I good enough for a bicycle? Could Santa afford that this year? Maybe I’ll get a Nintendo because I put it on my list three times! Or, oh no, maybe that annoyed Santa! I knew the sooner I fell asleep, the sooner Christmas would come. But hard as I tried, squeezing my eyes shut, burying my head in my pillow, it just never happened. Then, of course, I’d spend Christmas Day in a torpor, opening my gifts with bleary eyes and, eventually, falling asleep amidst a forest of wrapping paper. If only I’d had some tricks for falling asleep! Here are some ideas for your over-excited Christmas tot.
Ah, naps. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a mid-afternoon slumber when you’re feeling tired and run-down. I used to hate naps. They left me feeling groggy and out-of-touch, sapping my energy for the rest of the day. I was really suffering with mid-afternoon fatigue but I thought a nap would make it worse. I tried to wake up with coffee but it turns out pumping myself full of caffeine does more harm than good. I’d end up feeling jittery, sick to my stomach, and anxious. My mood suffered too. As 3 o’clock rolled around, I’d be snapping at co-workers and tearing up with irate customers. It was an unsustainable cycle. I decided to revisit napping one afternoon in the dead of winter. It was getting dark around 4 and I just couldn’t keep my eyes open for another second. So, I snuck out to my car, reclined the seat, and slept for about 25 minutes. I woke up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle the evening’s tasks. It was a real eye-opener. Literally. It turns out napping is really good for you. It helps with mood, alertness, memory, and overall health! Who knew? This is especially good news for retirees and new moms, two major napping demographics.