5 Myths about sleep!

Till Roenneberg

1.You need eight hours of sleep per night.

That’s the cliche. Napoleon, for one, didn’t believe it. His prescription went something like this: “Six hours for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.”

But Napoleon’s formula wasn’t right, either. The ideal amount of sleep is different for everyone and depends on many factors, including age and genetic makeup.

In the past 10 years, my research team has surveyed sleep behavior in more than 150,000 people. About 11 percent slept six hours or less, while only 27 percent clocked eight hours or more.  The majority fell in between. Women tended to sleep longer than men, but only by 14 minutes.

Bigger differences are seen when comparing various age groups. Ten-year-olds needed about nine hours of sleep, while adults older than 30, including senior citizens, averaged about seven hours. We recently identified the first gene associated with sleep duration —  if you have one variant of this gene, you need more sleep than if you have another.

Although it’s common to hear warnings about getting too much sleep — and 80 percent of the world uses an alarm clock to wake up on work days — it’s not difficult to figure out how much sleep we need. We sometimes overeat, but we generally cannot oversleep. When we wake up unprompted, feeling refreshed, we have slept enough.

In our industrial and urban society, we sleep about two hours less per night than 50 years ago. Like alcohol, this sleep deprivation significantly decreases our workperformance and compromises our health and memory.

 

2. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin’s proverbial praise of early risers made sense in the  second half of the 18th century, when his peers were exposed to much more daylight and to very dark nights. Their body clocks were tightly synchronized to this day-night cycle. This changed as work gradually moved indoors, performed under the far weaker intensity of artificial light during the day and, if desired, all night long.

The timing of sleep — earlier or later — is controlled by our internal clocks, which determine what researches call our optimal “sleep window.” With electric light, our body clocks have shifted later while the workday has essentially remained the same. We fall asleep according to our (late) body clock, and are awakened early for work by the alarm clock. We therefore suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, which we try to compensate for by sleeping in on free days. Many of us sleep more than an hour longer on weekends than on workdays.

My team calls this discrepancy between what our body clocks want and what our social clocks want “social jet lag.” This is most obvious in teenagers. Their tendency to sleep longer is biological, not because they’re lazy, and it reaches its peak around age 20. Studies show that teenagers who sleep later and start school later exhibit improved academic performance, higher motivation, decreased absenteeism and better eating habits.

Yet, many cultures reward people who start work early, even if they’re operating on reduced sleep. As a result, many successful people are short-sleeping early-risers such as Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton. Fortunately for those of us who like to hit the snooze button, success is not restricted to early birds. Albert Einstein and Elvis Presley, for example, were late sleepers.

 

3. Exercise helps you sleep.

Exercising may contribute to falling asleep earlier, and it certainly helps us sleep soundly through the night. But it’s light, not physical activity, that proves the German proverb “Fresh air makes you tired.” Exercise often means being outside and getting more light — on average, 1,000 times more than indoor levels. Exposure to sunlight synchronizes our body clocks with daylight.

Sleep is not only regulated by the body clock, but also by how long we were awake (also known as the buildup of “sleep pressure”). But not all waking hours are equal. We’ll get more tired skiing, for example, than sitting at a desk sending e-mail. This is one reason we sometimes lie awake at the end of a long day at the office despite utter exhaustion.

 

4. Sleep is just a matter of discipline.

Most parents and teachers think that if teenagers are zombies in the morning, they just lack the discipline to go to bed early. Although it is true that exposure to computer and television screens late at night makes for late rising, early-to-bed teenagers will still have a hard time getting up at the crack of dawn.

Think of teenagers as early shift-workers who suffer the most social jet lag. They go to school at their biological equivalent of midnight with profound consequences for learning and memory. They suffer from sleep deprivation during the school week and certainly should be allowed to catch up on weekends. However, they should sleep with daylight coming into their bedrooms and should refrain from using light-emitting devices after 10 p.m.

 

5. Most couples have very different sleep habits.

We’ve all heard stories: A woman tries to sleep while her husband is reading. Or one spouse needs to sleep in, but the other wants to start the day. When I ask lecture

audiences whether such scenarios sound familiar, I frequently see a majority of hands go up.

But again, this is a matter of biology and genetics, not habits and personal preference. Women generally fall asleep earlier than men, who tend toward night owlishness. Women, however, tend to control the sleep times in a partnership. Husbands of women who work late shifts at night, for example, go to bed much earlier when their wives are at home than when their wives are working late, research has found.

One finding that might be surprising, given how much time we spend in our beds: Men and women don’t seem to give any consideration to sleep patterns when choosing a mate.

roenneberg@lmu.de

 

SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE

SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience.

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

A loss of interest in judging other people

A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

A loss of interest in conflict

author anonymous  12/31/15

Back to School with Paula 2015

View Full Size Image

It is that time of year when college students are getting ready to leave for school, high school students are getting ready to begin classes and fall sports such as football or activities such as Marching Band are starting.   Elementary and Middle School students are starting to bicker at home and Mom is getting ready for the kids to head back to school.  School produces a lot of anxiety in children.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.  Even students in Kindergarten have homework.  Besides the work load children are often involved in sports or music lessons or religious education and more.   Though most of these activities are valuable they also increase stress and our children may have little down time.  Hours on video games don’t reduce stress.  How does a family organize life to lower stress and maintain achievement.

Here are some ideas.

College students: 

Students leaving home for the first time have the most difficulty.  They are leaving friends and family for the first time and though excited for new life experiences are fearful of the challenges and losses.   When someone is leaving anger may pop up as a way to cope with leaving.  Parents can manage this by being empathetic and responding to the underlying emotions rather than the anger.   Parents are often under stress at this impending change in their life as a loved child is growing up and leaving home for college.  Sharing thoughts and feelings of pride in a child’s growth and success in life is important as well as love and affection recognizing that being apart may make one sad.  Preparing together is a good thing.  Shopping, planning and discussing the excitement and challenges of college are important.  Encouraging and reinforcing your student and their abilities is helpful.  Planning parent visits to campus is also important.  It is better for a student to get connected with their new school and develop new friends and engage in the full experience of college life than to come home too often.  Holiday and extended breaks at school are better choices for visits home.

 Elementary and Middle School students:

K through 8th grade students face many stresses and challenges.  The school day is intense.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.   Good sleep habits, good eating habits and exercise are important.  Most children benefit from structure.  A schedule chart at home can be useful and reduce conflict or tasks not completed.  A chart should include the morning (before school) routine and the evening (after school) routine.  Charts can be tied to a reward system that provides positive reinforcement for cooperative behavior.  Many students have sports, or classes like dancing or music after school and schedules can be tight.  It is important that children have play time to be active and unwind as well.  Homework can be a challenge.  Students should have a quiet place where parents can monitor homework progress or help when necessary such as the kitchen table.  TV time should be saved until homework and dinner are done.  As students reach 3rd or 4th grade assignment note books become important to manage school work.

Bedtime Difficulties:

When children have difficulty getting to sleep at a reasonable  time the following ideas might help.

Have a bedtime routine.  Schedule bedtimes by the child’s age and sleep needs.  An eight year old and a twelve year old should not have the same bedtime.   After dinner and homework, time should be monitored and baths, brushing teeth, quiet reading alone or with a parent and prayers are some of the activities to prepare for sleep.  A child should have their own bed.  Reduce stimulation by ending video games, TV or rough housing prior to the bedtime routine as they interfere with sleep.

High School students:

High school students are often stressed.  The academic and social challenges of high school are significant.   Adequate sleep, healthy eating habits and physical activity are important for high school students.   The use of cell phones, iPods, and computers and other media increase stress, reduce focus on academics and may interfere with sleep.  Parents should remove phones and other media at bedtime when your student is expected to sleep.  Peers often call each other during the night interfering with sleep.   Keep up with your teen’s life.  Try to find ways to meet their friends and learn about the social context of their life.  As they mature they will be exposed to activities that are risky such as alcohol use, drug use or sexual experimentation.   Parent involvement in their student’s life by frequent meals together, activities together, and religious activities are important ways to keep channels of communication open.  Let your teen put their music on the car radio, driving time with kids often is a door to what is going on in their life.  Knowing the influences in your teen’s life will help you to head off problems.

Comments on the topics discussed in this article or ideas you would like to share are welcome.

Diet Myths? Busted!!!

 

Your Best Fitness

With so many people offering advice on weight loss, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. All too often I’ve overheard a hardworking gym-goer sharing a well-meaning but ill-informed tip with another exerciser. And I’m not the only one who’s heard fitness folklore being swapped on the training room floor. I spoke to top experts in the field to find out the common fitness myths they hear from clients. From the pseudo miracles of the“fat-burning” zone to the misguided magic of working out on an empty stomach, here are the fitness falsehoods you should never follow.

MYTH #1: The best way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories

“Our bodies are smarter than we think,” says Jari Love, star of the Get Extremely Ripped: 1000 Hardcore DVD. “When we eat too little, our body believes that it’s starving so our metabolism slows down and holds onto fat as a potential energy source.” A much better approach: Eat more often, but eat less food at one time—and focus on these 7 Foods Not to Ditch When You Diet. For the fastest weight loss, break up your total daily calorie allotment—don’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories if you’re a woman or fewer than 1,800 calories if you’re a man—into five to six small meals to keep your metabolism humming.

MYTH #2: Heavy weights will bulk you up

“This just isn’t possible for most women,” says personal trainer and Preventioncontributing editor Chris Freytag. “Ladies have too much estrogen in their hormone makeup. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us women aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for building man muscles.” Plus, muscle is the secret to a revved up metabolism, as it burns more calories than more fat, even when you’re sitting on the couch or at your desk.

MYTH #3: Keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone

If you’ve been exercising at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate in order to shed flab faster, you could be slowing your slimdown. “The fat-burning zone is a complete myth,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Preventionadvisory board member and fitness research director at Quincy College. “While it’s true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall.” For instance, if you get on a treadmill and walk at a 3.5 MPH pace for 30 minutes, you might burn 250 calories. If you raise the speed to 7 miles per hour, you’d burn 500. Bottom line? “It’s much better to go at the faster speed.” Prefer the elliptical trainer? Make sure you’re not making one of the Top 10 Elliptical Trainer Mistakes.

MYTH #4: Boosting cardio is the best way to bypass a plateau

“The most effective way to lose weight is to include both cardio and weights in your routine,”says Love. “One study found that when individuals cycled for 30 minutes a day, they lost 3 pounds of fat and gained a half pound of muscle in 8 weeks. But individuals who cycled for 15 minutes and weight trained for 15 minutes a day lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of calorie-burning muscle.”

MYTH #5: Ab exercises are the fastest way to a flat belly

“Doing abdominal exercises can strengthen the different ab muscles, but it won’t burn body fat and reveal the ‘6-pack look,’” says Aaron Swan, Private Trainer at the Sports Club/LA-Boston. “Abs are made in the kitchen—not from doing crunches.” A proper diet low in refined carbohydrates and full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables will bring you closer to the flat belly you’re after. Still, you should work your tummy! Here are 6 Surprising Moves for Flatter Abs.

MYTH #6: Doing squats will make your butt big

“This one cracks me up,” says Freytag. “We all know what makes your butt big and it isn’t squats. All of us who sit in front of a computer, at desk, or in a car seat all day are at risk for developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it.” One of the best fixes: Squats! “Science shows that this move will help to lift, firm, and strengthen your buns,” says Freytag. “Just be sure to focus on good form. Keep your knees above your shoe laces and sit back into an imaginary chair; squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing.”

For more great exercise ideas, check out the Free Feel-Your-Best Fitness Newsletter from Prevention.

MYTH #7: It can take only a few weeks to reach a reach weight loss plateau.

“Recently, a woman told me she had been training for one month and the scale had already stopped moving,” says Love. “She insisted she had been sticking to her diet and that she was in a plateau, but that likely wasn’t the case.” Why not? A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that it takes 6 months for an individual to reach a weight loss plateau. “If you are only a couple weeks into your program and weight loss has halted, you probably need to watch your diet,” says Love.

MYTH #8: I can slim down by switching to diet soda

There may be zero calories, but chugging those cans of chemicals could be plumping your paunch. “A study at Purdue University found that rats given artificial sweeteners ate more calories and gained more weight than rats given sugar,” says Love. “A better option is to drink water that is naturally flavored with lemon or cucumber slices to keep calories low and hydration high.”

MYTH #9: An empty stomach means more fat burn

You’ve probably heard that working out sans food forces your body to tap into fat reserves to work, but this is far from true, says Freytag.“Science has shown you need to have some glucose in your system in order to ignite your fat-burning furnaces. If you run out of stored glucose, your flame goes out and you start burning up muscle.” Having a little pre-workout snack—check out our list of 14 Snacks That Power Up Weight Loss for ideas—30 to 60 minutes before your workout gives you the energy to go longer and harder, which boosts your burn.

MYTH #10: You can target trouble spots

It would be nice to be able to choose where our bodies store fat (bigger cup size and thinner thigh, please!) but that just isn’t possible.“The scientific truth is that your body decides where to burn fat  based on genetics, regardless of the body part you are exercising,” says Samantha Clayton, personal trainer and co-star of YouTube’s Be Fit In 90.  Instead of focusing on one area, spend your time doing full-body workouts that blast calories, like running or body-weight circuits, for all-over slimming.

6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

Written by Meredith Walker

Depression is a difficult illness for even the most iron-willed of individuals. Whether you’re clinically depressed or just in a rut, depression can make basic tasks like cleaning the house, taking a shower and even getting out of bed incredibly difficult and physically and mentally draining. It is important to stay motivated to continue to live your life and work towards feeling better, even when you’re at your lowest point. Here are some simple ways that you can motivate yourself on a daily basis:

•    Don’t be too harsh with yourself. It’s going to take time to get things done like you used to and to feel like your old self. Changes are not going to happen overnight, so don’t be overly critical of yourself if you make mistakes or don’t get as much done as you’d like. You’re having a hard enough time without getting on your own case.

•    Be realistic. Making a laundry list of things to do is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure. Start with small positive changes and work from there. If you’re not realistic you’ll just end up frustrated and more depressed.

•    Surround yourself with people. While you may just want to curl up and be alone, this isn’t the best or easiest route for you when you’re depressed. Having others around you to give you a helping hand, talk to you and provide you with inspiration is important to feeling better and getting back into the swing of things, even if you feel like you just want to shut everyone out.

•    Move around. Lying in bed all day or hunkering down on the couch isn’t going to do much but give you more time to feel bad about things. When you force yourself to get up, even if only for a short walk or to tend to some plants outside, you’ll be helping yourself feel better physically and mentally.

•    Start a project. For many, this may seem like that last thing they want to do but an enjoyable project can give you something to concentrate on that will bring your thoughts away from depression and give you something to feel proud of when you’re done.

•    Make a plan. If even the smallest tasks seem like a chore, start small with planning out what you’re going to do each day. In the morning, write down the things you’d like to accomplish and in the evening, go back and check off what you did. This can help you regain your sense of control over your life at a time when it seems the most chaotic.

Recovering from depression is a hard road, but with some planning and slow but steady progress you may be able to start feeling optimistic about your life again. For a list of more great depression resources, click here.

Meredith Walker is a guest blogger for PickTheBrain.com.

Here are few websites that might be helpful.

www.pickyourbrain.com