The growth of online ‘mattress in a box companies’
Sleepy Time Tales is a podcast dedicated to helping listeners to sleep in stressful times, but a podcast won’t help if you’re sleeping on a mattress that’s past its best, or is substandard. So I like to share resources that are of use to listeners and insomniacs.
I’m sure many insomniacs will agree that they’re not the most optimistic of people. Whether it’s cause or effect lack of sleep and a negative state of mind are often intertwined.
A new study
A new study from the University of Illinois backs this up, and suggests that optimistic people really do sleep better.
More than 3,500 people ages 32-51 were included in the study sample. The participants included people in Birmingham, Alabama; Oakland, California; Chicago; and Minneapolis.
The research was led by Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.
“Results from this study revealed significant associations between optimism and various characteristics of self-reported sleep after adjusting for a wide array of variables, including socio-demographic characteristics, health conditions and depressive symptoms,” Hernandez said.
Participants’ levels of optimism were measured using a 10-item survey, which asked them to rate on a five-point scale how much they agreed with positive statements such as “I’m always optimistic about my future” and with negatively worded sentences such as “I hardly expect things to go my way.”
Scores on the survey ranged from six (least optimistic) to 30 (most optimistic).
Participants reported on their sleep twice, five years apart, rating their overall sleep quality and duration during the prior month. The survey also assessed their symptoms of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and the number of hours of actual sleep they obtained each night.
Often people claim that specific drinks help sleep. I’m a fan of a rooibos tea or simple hot chocolate. It’s not a magic bullet, but can help satisfy and work as part of the pre-bedtime ritual that helps me to get a good night.
But to keep it short, the following are some popular additives:
” You’ve definitely heard of melatonin, a hormone that’s actually produced in the central nervous system. “Melatonin plays a vital role in controlling the body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock,” explains Madelyn Rosenthal, M.D., a sleep medicine fellow at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “
” And valerian, usually taken as an extract from the root of the valerian plant, has become one of the most common self-prescribed insomnia treatments in the U.S., Rosenthal says. “The exact mechanism of action remains unknown, although studies using mice models suggest valerian inhibits the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which induces sedation.” “
” One study among elderly people who suffer from insomnia found that magnesium may increase sleep time and reduce early-morning waking. Another found L-theanine, an amino acid found primarily in the green tea plant, could have anti-stress effects, which might promote sleep, too. “
But often these ingredients are used without careful oversight and often contain other additives, like sugar. Take a look at whatever you’re interested in, and check that there are no hidden risks.
Sleep on it. This is advice given to us since we can remember. We are told ‘sleep on it’ for decisions and stress and for many of us it has always seemed like good advice. Even if you’re sometimes too stressed to sleep.
A new small study out of the Netherlands suggests there’s science to grandma’s time honoured advice. Mostly thanks to the function of REM sleep.
“The study’s researchers put participants in an MRI machine and exposed them to a smell that they found upsetting. (The findings don’t specify what the smells were, but I’m so curious. Poop? Toxic waste?) Scientists saw that the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for processing emotions, was activated by the presence of the odor. Participants then slept a full REM sleep cycle. REM is the sleep phase in which the brain is most active — that quality sleep often produces vivid dreams, many of which you can actually remember.
When the people in the study were exposed to the smells again, the amygdala remained inactive, meaning they no longer had as much of an emotional response to the odors. It wasn’t that the participants had gotten used to the smell, it was that their brains had processed the emotions they associated with the smell and no longer found it as upsetting. This means that these people re-wired their negative emotional responses overnight I asked some sleep experts to explain how this works.”
Essentially REM sleep is considered to be how our brains process memories and information, and after processing we are better able to cope. So take a listen to the podcast and get dreaming! 🙂
A common challenge for insomniacs is finding the optimal bedtime. Clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, Michael Breus believes that there are 4 types of person and which type you are suggests the optimal bedtime.
In a flair for the dramatic Dr Breus calls them:- Lions, Dolphins, Wolves, and Bears.
Which type do you think you are? I’d like to think I’m a wolf, but realistically, probably a dolphin. 🙂
The Lion (medium sleep drive): “The CEOs of the world.” Fifteen to 20% of the population are the practical optimists that fall beneath the Lion moniker. Lions are driven and focused early risers that rarely nap and are most alert at noon.
Up at 6:00am – 470 min = 10:10 pm
“The Dolphin (low sleep drive): Ten percent of the population is the neurotic, intelligent dolphin chronotype. Dr. Breus defines these as problem sleepers, with no specific time of day associated with optimal function. The majority of dolphins are insomniacs, as they more often than not wake up feeling unrested.
Up at 6:30am – 400 min = 11:50 pm
The Bear (high sleep drive): Members of this classification account for 50% of the population. They are typically extroverts that optimally perform around mid-morning to early afternoon.
Up 7:00am – 470 min = 11:10 pm
The Wolf (medium sleep drive): Wolves account for the remaining 15-20% of the population. They’re impulsive, creative, moody night owls, that don’t require a lot of sleep to function.
Up at 7:00am – 400 min = 12:00 am”
Whichever chronotype you are, developing a routine to attempt to manage and regulate your bedtime is very important, and of course I’m going to suggest my podcast as an aid in this.