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Are Screens & Gadgets Stealing our Sleep?

More Screen Time = Less Sleep Time

It would probably be no surprise to anyone that we spend about half of our waking hours staring at a screen. Whether that’s a desktop or laptop computer screen, a cell phone or a tablet, we are completely engaged with our electronic devices for much of our waking hours. It is now believed that this much exposure to the artificial lighting of these screens can adversely affect our sleeping patterns.

As the use of these types of technologies increases, so does the amount of sleep disorders we experience. With so many of us watching TV in bed on our smartphones and checking messages or using our tablets right before bed, we are disrupting our body’s normal and natural sleep routine.

Good Night Tech, Good Night Moon

The lighting used to illuminate these devices may be tricking our bodies into thinking it’s daylight. The natural production of melatonin is affected by the amount of light outside. When the sun goes down our bodies start telling us that it is time to go to sleep. The use of gadgets with artificial lighting sources may be interfering with this natural process which makes it harder for us to fall asleep at night.

As great as technology is and with as many great benefits as the Internet delivers to us on a daily basis, there’s always a tradeoff. In this case, it may mean that checking your e-mail in bed will have you feeling groggy in the morning.

One solution is to rid your bedroom of tech devices, creating a sanctuary for sleep and signaling to your brain and body that your bed is a place meant for resting and sleeping, not tweeting and Instagraming.

Beat Sleep Deprivation With 7 Natural Remedies

Are you having trouble falling asleep? Insomnia can cause many effects on the mind and body including depression, fatigue, mood swings, inability to focus, and increase in appetite. Before you reach for the over the counter sleep aid, keep in mind that experts caution sleeping pills are not always safe or effective. Here are seven natural ways to fall asleep fast:

Eat a snack

Eating a calming snack about 90 minutes before bed like 1/2 a bowl of oatmeal with slice banana or a bowl of low-fat ice cream can help the sleeping process. Choose a low protein, high carbohydrate snack that will allow your metabolism to slow before bed.

Take Valerian root

This natural supplement prompts your brain to produce neurotransmitters that make you sleepy.

Take a break

Give yourself a massage by rubbing lotion in circular motions on areas of muscle tightness in your body. This promotes healing and relaxation resulting in a blissful sleep.

Enjoy a nice soak

Soaking in a warm bath raises your body temperature, and the cool down experienced after getting out of the bath produces a calming sleepiness. Add Epsom salts or a soothing lavender oil to the bath for a spa like experience.

Bath Soak

Lavender

A lavender scented eye mask or pillow will help you fall asleep in no time. The scent from lavender oil enhances slow-wave sleep, the very deep slumber in which the heartbeat slows and muscles relax.

Herbal tea

Caffeine free chamomile tea is a warm, soothing drink to sip on before bed. It promotes relaxation and peace.

Herbal Tea

Do yoga

As a form of mind-quieting physical activity, yoga does wonders for relaxation. Also, studies show that those who exercise sleep more hours than those who do not exercise. Yoga is the best of both worlds allowing your body to break a sweat and stretch at the same time.

Sweet Dreams & Nightmares: The Pros and Cons of Sleeping Positions

Catching up at a ladies’ lunch the other day, I listened as my pregnant friend Sarah grumbled about her obstetrician’s latest order. A longtime stomach sleeper, she was trying, and failing miserably, to switch to sleeping on her side. Before long, we were all swapping stories on the pros and cons of our families’ assorted sleep positions.

Back to Bed

There were plenty of understanding chuckles when Julia described punching her husband in the arm to get him to shift from his back to his side whenever his snoring woke her. Making matters worse, he always complains about acid reflux the next day. His doctor has told them that sleeping on your back is the worst choice for those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux. It’s also uncomfortable for anyone who battles leg cramps or restless leg syndrome.

Another friend, Pam, spoke up in the position’s defense, relating how her chiropractor had explained that sleeping flat on your back is the best position for your spine and neck. She also insisted that it helped prevent wrinkles and skin breakouts.

The Full Fetal

Fetal Position On The Beach

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk

Kelly groaned at the mention of a chiropractor. It seems her preference for sleeping curled up in a tight ball gets her plenty of lectures from her chiropractor husband about how the fetal position is awful for the back and neck and can restrict deep breathing. Over time, it can also shorten the hamstrings, leading to lower back pain.

But Kelly has no plans to change her sleeping position. It’s the only position she’s found that doesn’t trigger her restless leg syndrome. Besides, her daughters sleep the same way.

The Freefall

With a wary glance at Sarah, Anna admitted that all three of her kids were stomach sleepers. Shaking her head, she said she didn’t understand how they could sleep that way; just looking at them was enough to put a crink in her neck.

Sarah explained that her favorite, if temporarily forbidden, position was hard on her neck sometimes, but that sleeping on the stomach was good for digestion. She credited it with taming her irritable bowel syndrome.

Side Sleeper

Sarah shared how her obstetrician wanted her to sleep on her side in order to keep her growing bulk from putting pressure on the vena cava. Since the vein is the main drain for the lower body, compressing it can lower the blood flow to a fetus. It can also trigger swelling in the mother-to-be’s feet and up her risk of hemorrhoids. For those who aren’t pregnant, the position can restrict blood flow in the shoulder, causing shoulder and arm pain. The position is sometimes blamed for sagging breasts too.

Announcing that she and her husband were side sleepers, Ellen pointed out that the position is best for those prone to snoring and sleep apnea. Sleeping on the left side also minimizes heartburn.

It seems as though every sleep position has its own pros and cons. One person’s sweet dream is another’s nightmare.  What is certain is that a good pillow can make all the difference.

Top 5 TV Scenes That Occurred In Dreams

We all know that the right bedding can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep and thus the quality of your dreams.  With that connection in mind, we decided to dive in to the world of dreams on the small screen.

Even when The Wizard of Oz was fresh in theaters, the “it was all a dream” trope was getting old. Writers have learned to avoid excusing outlandish events with dream rationale because it tells the viewer that what they were watching wasn’t important. That said, dream sequences can work powerfully on both the big and small screen. Here are the top five TV scenes that turned out to be dreams.

#5: SNL Deconstructs the Dream

Some of Saturday Night Live’s most creative sketches happened within the context of their digital shorts. “The Mirror” parodies the overuse of nightmare sequences to get cheap scares from the audience. In the short, Ellen Page plays a girl who sees a zombie in the bathroom, only to wake up from her nightmare in a cold sweat. This happens again and again until we’re not sure who’s dreaming what.

#4: Tony In a Coma

David Chase made ample use of dream sequences in his HBO masterpiece, “The Sopranos.” Perhaps none were as effective as Tony’s sixth-season dream of a different life, far away from the violence of the mafia. The dreamscape puts Tony in the role of a traveling salesman while his body remains on a hospital bed back in the real world.

#3: Mork From Ork

Some of the best dream sequences in TV and movie history leave doubt as to whether the events really occurred or not. This happened on a later season episode of “Happy Days” when Richie Cunningham had an encounter with the mysterious Mork from Ork. While the events of the show are revealed to be a dream, Mork got his own spinoff show, seemingly legitimizing his reality. “Mork and Mindy” went on to become a big hit in its own right, vaulting Robin Williams to superstardom.

#2: Bob Newhart Flips the Script

Bob Newhart is one of the few television performers who can legitimately claim to have had two hit sitcoms. After finishing up “The Bob Newhart Show,” he went on to star in “Newhart” as the proprietor of a small New England bed and breakfast. The final scene of the series framed the entirety of the show as a dream when Newhart woke up next to his original TV wife, Suzanne Pleshette. The show is often cited as one of the most effective TV finales of all time.

#1: Bobby Ewing Takes a Shower

When Patrick Duffy left “Dallas” after season eight, producers were forced to take the show in a new direction. They killed off Duffy’s Bobby Ewing and built season nine off the events of his death. When Duffy decided to return for the 10th season, the writers had to come up with an explanation for his absence. The scene of Victoria Principal opening the shower door to find her husband inside has gone on to become a truly legendary moment in TV history.

Foods That Help & Hurt Your Sleep

Beware Nighttime Snacks!

Before rummaging through the refrigerator for a late night snack, stop to consider your food choices – your body and brain will thank you in the morning. Just like certain foods are good or bad for your heart, so too are certain foods good or bad for your sleep cycle. The right morsel can send you happily off to dreamland, while the wrong one can keep you awake for hours on end.
Cheese

Do’s

Good choices include snacks that are rich in tryptophan, a substance that makes you drowsy and promotes sleep. These foods include:

  • • anything in the dairy category, such as cheese and milk
  • • nuts
  • • bananas
  • • honey
  • • eggs

Giving into you carb cravings isn’t a bad idea either – carbs increase the amount of tryptophan to just the right proportions in your blood to help you drift off.

 

Bigtime Don’ts

But whatever you do, don’t eat a heavy meal right before bed – stick to light snacks. A large amount of food sitting in your stomach will activate digestion, which may disrupt your drifting-off-to-dreamland process.  One easy way to do this is by looking how much is left in the fridge when you’re done eating.  If it started out full, and looks like this at the end, you may be doing it wrong!

Late-night refrigerator hunting.

Avoid Fats Like The Plague

What’s more, you should steer clear of foods high in fat as well, like burgers, steak, or French fries.  Recent studies indicate that fatty foods disrupt sleep cycles, especially if eaten right before bed. So if you’re getting late night cravings, choose your nibbles wisely for a restful and successful night’s sleep.

This Sounded Familiar

You may have noticed that the advice here could just as easily have been found in a general diet article.  Just like eating the right foods has other benefits, if you eat right, you’ll get more sleep and function better throughout the day.