Posts

How to Avoid Blue Light Insomnia

 

sleep_coach_blue_light

According to recent research, blue light technology is now being slated as one of the main causes of insomnia.  The more time we spend on our iPhones, iPads, or Kindle Fires – all devices which emit blue light – the harder it is to get a good night’s rest.  As wonderful and convenient as these blue light devices may be, avoiding them could be the key to beating your insomnia.

It’s All Down to Blue Light Technology

Believe it or not, sleep was much easier to get before the digital era arrived. However, new research from Penn State and Harvard University has proven that people who regularly read electronic books and stare at blue light screens before turning the lights out sleep for less hours!  They are also more prone to experience periods of insomnia.

This is down to the blue light emitted from these devices, which interferes with the body’s natural circadian rhythm – a ‘fancy’ term for the internal mechanism which synchronizes with the Earth’s 24 hr rotation.  This ‘body clock’ is regulated by our senses, and most importantly regulated by the amount of light that passes through our eyes. When this light travels up the optic nerve to an area in the brain known as the pineal gland, it works to regulate melatonin, the hormone that induces sleepiness.  Any imbalance in this special hormone will cause restlessness in sleep, as well as insomnia.

Blue Light Interferes with the Ages of Sleep

The pressures of modern day living, alongside the use of blue light devices, simply makes it harder and harder for us to fall asleep – or even stay asleep. This is because blue light impairs the effectiveness of the stages of sleep; In fact, it is particularly detrimental to REM sleep which is in charge of storing memories.  Studies carried out by Penn State and Harvard University (US) – published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – support this, showing that screens really can have an extremely powerful effect on the body’s natural sleep pattern.

How to Avoid Blue Light Insomnia – Real Books and Less Technology

Therefore, it is becoming much more clear that if you wish to get a great night’s sleep – but enjoy reading a good book before bedtime – a real book with printed words will help you sleep better than any electronic device. In fact, I believe that limiting the use of blue light devices to at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime is even more helpful when trying to avoid insomnia.  I also believe that televisions, mobiles (and their chargers), as well as all other electronic devices should be kept out of the bedroom – or at least switched off completely before bedtime.

Blue Light is the Enemy of Sleep

As a sleep coach, I am seeing more and more people with sleep difficulties, caused by worry, anxieties, stimulants (i.e. coffee, nicotine, cigarettes and e-cigs), alcohol, and now blue light circadian rhythm interruption ( Wow! Try saying that five times!) to top it all. Though blue light has been a positive breakthrough in computer screen technology blue light IS the enemy of sleep.

 

It seems that living in the city improves your sleep

sleep_coach_blog_city_living

It is hard to believe, but some new sleep research shows that many people who live in the city are getting a better night’s sleep than those who live in the wild countryside. It seems that the natural sounds of far away open spaces, the wonderful broken silence of a sleepy night by the dawn chorus at the end of a quiet twinkly starlit night, and all that fresh air, may not in fact be as good for overall sleep quality as we originally thought. Wendy Taylor, 46, who lives in rural Norfolk agreed that the countryside can be a very noisy place particularly at the break of dawn.

According to their sleep survey, urban Britain sleeps far better than those who live in rural areas and the soundest sleepers appear to live in London. The poll found that 38% of Londoners claimed to be unable to sleep for at least seven hours uninterrupted. Whereas 63% of people living around Nottingham were dissatisfied with their sleep followed by those living near Norwich, with 59% dissatisfaction, and Southampton with 50% sleep dissatisfaction. Who would have thought that the city dwellers would be leaving the way in quality Zzzz…

Apparently the early morning sound of distant cockerels, farming equipment and noisy birdsong were named as the main annoyances for those frustrated sleepers who live in the countryside.
Who would have thought that homes in cities, insulated from most street sounds, away from the fresh air and wild countryside, would be so conducive to more satisfying sleep than many dwellers living and sleeping in the countryside.

These findings contradict previous evidence about the effect and extent of emotional disruption and stress caused by living in cities. One study found that 39% of people living in an urban city environment had a 39% higher probability for mood disorders and 21% greater risk of anxiety disorders. Figures from the office of National statistics released last year also suggest that those living in the countryside were more likely to be happy, with residents of the Orkneys, West Somerset, East Devon and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland reporting the highest levels of life satisfaction.

It is a fact that sleep is vital to not only the way we feel, but also the way we function in our personal and professional lives .If you’re struggling with sleep, get into a natural routine by setting regular sleep and wake up times and remove any distractions like electronics or outside light. Best to avoid caffeine after about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, to take regular exercise (but not at night) and to have warm bath just before going to bed are all shown to improve the quality of sleep.

The research also showed that adults between 25 and 34 were found to have the greatest ability to rest, with 71% saying that they regularly got a good night’s sleep. By contrast, only 46% of the over-55’s said that they were satisfied with their sleep.

And it seems that there is some foundation to the cliché that women are more prone to lie awake at night thinking than men. Just over a third of men said they were unhappy with their sleep compared to 46% of women. It seems that men sleep sounder than women, and most women will agree that their partner usually falls asleep almost as soon as their head hits the pillow.

However, if you are one of those who finds that sleep is difficult in a city, or living in the countryside there are many things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep without succumbing to the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Understanding that sleep hygiene and powerful relaxation techniques, and there are many which combined with sleep routines can have a phenomenally improving effect increasing the restorative effects of natural sleep. I teach the ABC of better sleep at my clinic or you can download my iPhone iPad apps or MP3 sleep programs at http://www.maxkirsten.com/bettersleep/
I wish you a great night sleep, every night!
Zzz…
Max Kirsten

facebook-icon google-icon twitter-icon pinterest-icon

6 Signs that you’re not getting enough sleep

Sleep Coach

We all know how important getting a good night sleep is. However, just yawning a lot and feeling tired all the time are only two of the most obvious signs of sleep deprivation.

Here’s my list of six more signs that you’re just not getting enough sleep.

1: You’ve just crunched your car!
It only takes a moment of distraction, and when we are tired your reactions are impaired. Research and sleep studies have shown that chronic and short-term sleep deprivation produces slower reaction times. one study at Stanford University in the US proved that sleep deprived people performed worse in reaction time tests than people who were under the influence of alcohol.

We all know that if you’re driving a car at high speed whether it’s on the motorway or dual carriageways that sleepiness causes accidents, and drifting lanes whilst drifting off is extremely dangerous. Fresh air and even a short rest before driving again is always the best short-term solution.

But it’s not just the stopping distance of your car that’s impaired by lack of sleep, it can be the simplest manoeuvres like parking or even getting out of the car, opening the door without taking proper care to see if there are any cars or cyclists about to pass before you open the door. So beware of sleep deprived drivers.

2: You shout at the children or family members!
Impatience, intolerance, irritability and rage have all been linked to sleep deprivation. This is true both of adults as well as children. It’s important that everyone in the family gets enough regular sleep, so that the kids are less likely to misbehave and you will be less likely to lose your temper.

3: You just can’t seem to lose that weight!
Hard as it is to believe, not getting enough sleep interferes with your bodies hormonal balance. HGH or human growth hormone and testosterone are to important hormones that help to regulate and maintain a strong lean healthy body. Not getting enough sleep slows down the body’s natural metabolic rate.

4: You have cravings for carbs and sugary things.
Poor sleep can cause cravings for carbohydrates and sugary snacks. Sleep balances our appetite hormones, and reduced sleep interferes with keeping to a healthy diet, and motivation to do regular exercise. Who wants to exercise if you feel tired?

5: You continuously lose things, like your keys!
Being sleep deprived, we miss out on the important REM stage of good sleep. It is thought that memory consolidation occurs during the REM phase (rapid eye movement). Memory glitches, wondering why you walked into a room? What was I looking for? Forgetting the name of even your loved one? Losing your car or house keys? These are signs that you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Long-term sleep problems have even been shown to have an association with Alzheimer’s disease. So get more sleep to improve your long-term mental health.

6: You need an alarm clock.
If you’re getting enough regular sleep, and if you’re going to bed at more or less the same time each night, you will find that you will naturally wake each morning at the desired regular time, feeling refreshed and ready for a new day. However, if you are sleep deprived, and your body hasn’t had a chance to complete its natural restorative tasks, you will feel that it is almost impossible to wake up, and feel you need the noisy unpleasant sound of an alarm clock is almost the only way to wake and then drag your weary body out of the bed. So get more sleep, go to bed earlier, enjoy being in bed more.

So watch out for these classic signs that your body and mind needs more sleep, and then do something about it! Rest is good for you, even if you’re not always asleep!

Learn how to practice better sleep hygiene.

I wish you a great night sleep, every night!
Zzz…
Max Kirsten

pinterest-icon  google-icon  twitter-icon  facebook-icon

Boosting your Melatonin hormone levels for better sleep

sleep_coach

The pattern of waking during the day when it is light and sleeping at night when it is dark is a natural part of human life. Only recently have scientists begun to understand the alternating cycle of sleep and waking and how it is related to daylight and darkness.

A key factor in how human sleep is regulated is exposure to light or to darkness. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the retina in the eye to an area in the brain. There a special center that initiates signals to other parts of the brain that control the key sleep hormone called melatonin, but also body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide awake.

If you are finding it difficult to achieve good sleep it may well be because of the fact that, as we age, our bodies seem to produce less and less amounts of this sleep hormone called melatonin (which is created in the pineal gland located in the front of the brain), or because your natural circadian body clock’s rhythm has been disturbed by either jet lag from travelling across international time zones, or you may be a shift or night worker and therefore probably not getting enough natural sunlight which also contributes to intermittent sleep problems, reduced melatonin also increases the risk of long-term health problems like cancer etc.

In the US and other parts of the world outside the EU, it’s possible to buy melatonin over the counter as a food supplement, although it’s important to note that the synthetic form of melatonin seems to work far less well than the completely natural form.

However in Europe, particularly the UK, unless you have a prescription from your doctor, it’s illegal to be able buy melatonin ‘over-the-counter’ in the chemists or health food shops unlike in the US.

However this need not be a problem. There are in fact completely natural ways of boosting your levels of melatonin production naturally. There are a number of melatonin boosting fruits and foods. Top of the fruit list is the pineapple. Amazingly researchers have found that pineapples boost melatonin by 266% and next at the top of the list are bananas that boosts melatonin by 180%, followed by oranges that increase melatonin by approximately 47%. Other foods that boost melatonin are oats, sweetcorn, tomatoes, rice and barley.

So not only can you boost your melatonin by adding these fruits and food elements to your daily diet, but you can also improve melatonin production by getting enough natural sunlight in the daytime and then by also reducing screen time from the use of computers, iPads and mobiles that emanate ‘blue light’ which interferes with the production of melatonin late night by fooling.

And when you go to bed is important of course that you have darkness, ideally complete darkness which also helps to encourage the natural production of melatonin in the pineal gland in the brain. So if your blinds let into much light, either replace them and or use a sleep mask to achieve real darkness.

It is also important to consider the fact that some prescription drugs inhibit the production of melatonin, these include beta-blockers, anti-anxiety drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and some SSRI antidepressants. If you are taking one of these medications I recommend you avoid taking them in the hours just before you go to bed if possible.

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.
Zzzz…
Max Kirsten

Image Image Image Image

Practical Sleep Tips for Achieving Better Sleep

sleep_coach_better_sleep

This week I thought I would try to solve some of the practical sleep tips for achieving better sleep, because some of the most recent research into the nations sleep habits shows that 45% of us are sleeping for less than six hours (which is not good). Ideally most people need between 7-9 hours sleep (although as we age though we begin to need less as our bodies produce less and less melatonin. I will cover all the issues of hormone Melatonin in a later blog).

One of the simplest things that we can do to improve the quality of our sleep is to eat and drink the right things at the right times of the day.

So firstly:

the last meal of the day should be ideally eaten at least two hours before bed, this make the digestion process easier for the body.  So make it a rule to always try to eat dinner early, and avoid heavy rich foods, spicy and acidic foods that can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. A light salad, perhaps and some chicken or steamed fish is ideal. If you are vegetarian then eat a salad more nuts, super foods and pulses etc….

Second:

for those who drink alcohol, whenever possible, avoid drinking several hours before bed. It may help you to fall asleep BUT it is more likely to wake you up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated.

Third:

begin to reduce your intake of caffeine 6-8 hours before bed time. This can be anything from coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks. Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic (which means that it encourages the body to flush out water from the body) causing both dehydration and extra unwanted trips to the toilet in the early hours of the morning. I also recommend reducing the amount of fluids water, juice, tea etc’s before bed time.

Fourth:

if you haven’t quit smoking already for all the usual worrying health reasons, I recommend that all insomniacs quit nicotine as soon as possible to improve the quality of their sleep. Get rid of those e-cigs! Nicotine is a stimulant (not a relaxant) causing the heart to beat faster, and if you are still smoking real tobacco –  the carbon monoxide in the smoke makes the smoker’s sleep very heavy, and feel very un-refreshing in the morning. Get free of smoking tobacco ASAP. It’s hazardous to the quality of your sleep.

Fifth:

taking regular exercise is proven to improve the quality of your sleep. Taking breaks at work, 5 – 10 minutes or even longer can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. And the more bright natural sunlight that you get on your face in the daytime the more balance your natural regulation of melatonin will be in the night time.

Although exercise in the evenings before bed can in fact have a negative effect. The increased heart rate and metabolic rate before bed can make it harder for the body to wind down before sleep. The only exercise should be taking the evenings is relaxing, perhaps with some yoga or stretching or deep some breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.

Before bed, if you’re still hungry, eating either chicken or turkey, or a bowl of whole grain cereal, or granola with low-fat milk or yoghurt, or eating a banana, or avocado helps to improve levels of the neurotransmitter Tryptophan which combined with any simple carbohydrates seems to allow for better sleep.

Above all- after creating the best environment to sleep, consuming the best foods for sleep, the most important thing about sleep is to never try to sleep. Sleep should be natural effortless and easy. Learning how to get away from the washing machine of the mind is simply annex size inputting your attention elsewhere. I recommend learning how to relax and let go… I teach the ABC of Better Sleep technique. I teach how to get out of the way so that sleep just… slowly creeps up on you without your even noticing its arrival.

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Zzzz…

Max Kirsten

Image Image Image Image

Thanks for following me and welcome to my Sleep Coach blog

the_sleep_coach_blog

So, now the clocks have gone forward. Most people will know that when the clocks go forward we actually lose an hour of sleep time as I was saying in my previous blog. However, having spent all of last week advising people how not to get caught out by the summer solstice, beginning of British summer Time, I have tweeted, broadcasted on half a dozen radio stations, mentioned it here, there and everywhere!

But now last night as the moment of truth arrived in my own household was I ready? Authenticity, congruency, walking the talk, did I set my clocks, my watch etc an hour ahead a few hours before I went to bed? Yes I did it ….so I’m not a hypocrite! I even went to bed an hour earlier than usual (although my watch said that it was the usual time) and I have to say that I slept well and woke feeling reasonably refreshed.

One of the reasons why I practice as a sleep coach is that I have had personal experience of chronic insomnia and having overcome my own sleep difficulties naturally, helping others to learn to sleep well naturally is one of my life’s greatest passions. Addictions to Zopiclone, Ambien Valium etc etc… is just not the way!

Late Rooms

I was looking at some sleep research put together by laterooms.com who I’ve been consulting for over the last few weeks and it amazes me that 45% of us regularly sleep less than six hours per night. Learning how to go to bed an hour earlier will improve sleep times and your health.

There is real research that shows that if we are able to sleep one hour more than usual, that the improvements in overall health and well-being and cognitive and motor functions is a no-brainer.

One of the reasons why many of us have poor sleep is that our partners snore. Why suffer? Find a good pair of earplugs! Do your research as not all earplugs are the same. There are a earplugs for men and earplugs for women, who tend to have narrower ear canals. There are even earplugs that knock out almost all noise and earplugs that filter out only part of the sound spectrum. There are earplugs attenuated for fulltime parents (so that you can still hear the sounds of small children and babies, but not so much the sounds of rumbling traffic).

Another problem is light. Too much light in the bedroom can interfere with the production of melatonin. This hormone is produced naturally in the Pineal gland which helps the body in many ways to sleep, restore balance and the healing process. Get a good set of blinds/ curtains or at least purchase a good quality sleep eye mask. Again not all eye masks are equal – it’s worth shopping around and doing your eye mask research.

Considering how many hours a night we spend, or need to spend sleeping ideally well, it amazes me how few people take the time to find the right bed, pillow, bed linen, sleep mask, earplugs etc etc…

As a self-confessed sleep nut, the research needed for a great night’s sleep is worth every wonderful Zzzz…

the Sleep Coach

When I created ‘The ABC of better sleep‘ as a downloadable app I wanted to teach people to use my ABC sleep technique anywhere in the world. I also included a number of ambient recordings that are rather wonderful to drift off to sleep with but then I realised that as a sleep training programme there was still something missing. I wanted to create something that was so relaxing and delicious that will help you to drift off and fall asleep using my ABC technique that went deeper and deeper… and didn’t count you back up again to waking consciousness. Something really to fall asleep with, whether at night or just for an  afternoon nap. So that is the difference between ‘The ABC of Better Sleep‘, and my second app called ‘The Insomnia Cure.’

But ultimately, I believe in teaching how to fall asleep naturally without potions, headphones, apps or anything else. To give up trying to sleep, which is always the first mistake. Great sleepers never try to sleep, they just fall asleep naturally!

Instead of trying to sleep learned to relax. To relax your body and then your mind. To become so relaxed that, even if you’re not asleep yet, you reach a point of being so relaxed you don’t even care. And when you’re that relaxed your body is getting what it needs while you relax, and drift in and out, until you drift off…

Learn to let go of letting go.

Wishing you a great night’s sleep every night.
Zzz…

Max Kirsten Read more