Morning Lark or Night Owl

It comes down to this: If you have a party on a Saturday night, do you clean up right after the last guest has left—or do you leave the dishes until the morning? Read on for a link to a quiz which might surprise you in its assessment of your sleep habits. I’m a night owl. In fact, I tell friends that 6:30 only comes once a day for me—in the evening. You won’t find me awake at 6:30 a.m. unless I have an early plane to catch, something I try to avoid! Whether you do your best in the morning sun or when the moon is high can affect romantic relationships, job performance, school achievement and more. There’s science behind this, and genetics plays a role. Your sleep-wake patterns are affected by circadian rhythms, which the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (part of the National Institutes of Health) defines as “physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” Can a night owl and morning lark find happiness in a romantic relationship? It may be one of the questions couples should ponder before getting hitched. [...]

2017-06-28T18:43:24+00:00 June 29th, 2017|

Sleep Games for Insomnia

During my decade working with the Better Sleep Council years ago, our spokesperson was Dianne Hales, a prolific writer and author of the wonderful sleep book “How to Sleep Like a Baby.” There’s an entire chapter in the book devoted to cognitive-focusing exercises (aka mind games) that, in essence, bore you to sleep by using the left and right spheres of your brain simultaneously. It works! Counting sheep is the most famous example—your left sphere is occupied counting and the right sphere is busy visualizing sheep. Serta’s long-time advertising campaign is based on sheep for this reason. The idea is that Serta’s mattresses are so comfortable and sleep-inducing you won’t need to count sheep to fall asleep. Here are three sleep mind games that work for me: Think of famous people (your choice: celebrities, athletes, artists, musicians) whose first and last names begin with the same initial and go through the alphabet, letter by letter. For instance, Alan Alda, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Chaplin, Danny DeVito, Emilio Estevez, Farrah Fawcett, Greta Garbo... you get the drill. I never get too far past Marilyn Monroe before falling asleep. Don’t want to do double initials? Go through the alphabet sequentially naming athletic teams, [...]

2017-06-06T10:39:23+00:00 May 17th, 2017|

Can Stress Make You Sleep Less?

It’s Better Sleep Month. This is a good time to focus on what’s standing in the way of getting your best rest. In our fast-paced, 24/7 world, with smartphones notifying us of every text and email, it isn’t easy to turn off the noise—literally and figuratively—and get to sleep. And, the cruel joke is that the less you sleep, the less likely you are to be able to cope with the problems creating stress in the first place. Talk about a vicious cycle. Now is a good time to re-evaluate and try some strategies to reduce stress and get the sleep you need. Here are a few tips to break the cycle: Don’t bring work into your bedroom. Make the place where you sleep a safe haven from the day’s angst. Turn off your phone. OK, maybe that’s impractical if you need to be available for a family emergency, but most phones can be set to ring only for designated callers. Get into a bedtime routine. Whether it’s a book, a warm shower, hot cocoa or gentle stretches, try to do the same things in the same order each night as a way to train your body to wind down. Take a [...]

2017-06-06T10:41:14+00:00 May 1st, 2017|