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Sleep-problems

Why Power Naps Are Clinically Proven Health Boosters

Ever wondered, when tired, if you should opt for a really strong espresso coffee or a power nap to help you push through the day?

RELATED: 5 Tips To Help You Fall Asleep Fast

The science is in, lady, and you should choose a power nap every time. NASA research has shown pilots who had a 26-minute nap in the cockpit were more alert – by 54 per cent – and had improved performance by 34 per cent. Of course, if you aren’t an astronaut and work in a corporate environment, your boss may not love you napping at your desk! However, you can always try to counter this by telling your superior power naps boost productivity; ease stress; and are good for our heart, blood pressure and even weight management. Or, you could always don one of these to drown out the world – including your boss’ shouting.

women's health, power naps, sleep problems
I recently had the good fortune to meet a preeminent sleep specialist and he gave me some amazing tips, which I’m going to share with you here, dear reader. Sleep specialist guy says power naps of 29 minutes exactly are clinically proven to be the best for us. He says it’s just the right amount of time to refresh and revitilise ourselves, thereby boosting our alertness, learning, memory and performance.

One method he advises is grabbing a set of keys, laying down, and holding the keys in the palm of your hand over the edge of the bed. When you fall into a deep sleep and drop the set of keys, it’s time to wake up. I’m feeling sleepy just writing about all this!

women's health, power naps, sleep problems
Another great tip sleep specialist guy gave me was the power of sleep apps: he advises all his clients to try these two from the App Store on iTunes: 1) A free audio app called Power Nap With Andrew Johnson and 2) A free audio app (although the paid one is better and well worth the money) called Health Through Breath – Pranayama. Both these apps have greatly helped me unwind of late and get better quality sleep after my sleep patterns have been destroyed by two pesky toddlers under three, who wake often and cry out repeatedly in the night.

Andrew Johnson is a Scottish clinical hypnotherapist renowned for teaching relaxation and coping skills and even has a pleasing accent to boot. Meanwhile, Health Through Breath – Pranayama is a training tool that uses music and animated visuals to guide you to slower, deeper breathing. It’s not specifically designed for sleep, but makes me so relaxed, I usually drop off fairly quickly. It works off the concept of slow diaphragmatic breathing alleviating stress, anxiety and depression. Happy power napping, ladies!

Images via YouTube, Keep Calm-O-Matic and Hammacher

 

I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore

Are you a secret snorer? Live in shame no more, sister – for I have it on good authority that many, many women (and men) actually snore. In fact, a huge number of people from both sexes suffer from sleep apnoea and don’t even know it, according to my GP.

RELATED: How To Cope With New-Parent Sleep Deprivation

Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder whereby the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep, blocking off the upper part of the airway. Sufferers experience poor quality sleep and fatigue and there are varying degrees of its severity.

Confession time: I’m a mild snorer. Hot, I know, sob.

In fact – gasp – I come from a long line of snorers, and even my children and bloody pets are prone to snoring like truck drivers at times. Have I cursed my family with the snoring gene? Is it hereditary?!

I pride myself on being a feminine, girly girl – so my snoring isn’t exactly ideal for me, or my husband (although he snores too, perfect!). When said husband has been so bold as to chide me for snoring, I like to tell him that it’s not snoring, it’s just me sleeping loudly, hmph.

snoring, women's health, sleep apnoea

My snoring has never been a problem until post-pregnancy, when it seems to have worsened. And while it’s not so much an issue for my husband (especially as I happily endure his snoring, too) it’s starting to worry me that I’m now waking myself up several times a night and am extra tired the next day. Although how much of this is just due to having two toddlers aged three and one, I’m not sure, and is yet to be determined.

So, off I trotted to kindly GP last week, who was quick to reassure me that both snoring and sleep apnoea are very common in both men and women. And, get this, fellow super-exhausted mums of small children, the more tired you are, the more the likelihood you are to snore. The vast and infinite horror!? No wonder I’m bloody snoring, I’m exhausted and sleep-deprived!

My GP patted me on the arm, said to chillax, and referred me to a sleep specialist whom I don’t contact, but who contacts me, after she receives my details via fax. It’s all a bit clandestine, isn’t it? Have I joined a secret, underground snorers’ movement? Is there a club? Do I now have to proclaim: “Hi, my name is Nicole and I’m a snorer”?!

Stay tuned for more. I’m still impatiently awaiting the sleep specialist’s phone call. Here’s hoping she makes contact soon… Zzz.

snoring, women's health, sleep apnoea
Main image via blog.khoobsurati.com; cartoon via www.rottenecards.com and final image via www.studiobdental.ca.

How To Stop Screens From Stealing Your Sleep

Not only we stay up late, glued to our computers, phones or TV, but once we get to bed we find that falling asleep is not that easy. Our brains keep on running at high speed, going over everything that we’ve just seen and designing our plan for the next day.

I used to blame the horror scenes from the news for my sleeplessness. I’d toss and turn for hours and when I finally fell asleep, I’d have nightmares about what I’d seen. I stopped watching the news and the nightmares were gone, but falling asleep didn’t get any easier. Then I recently found out that screens affect us not only on psychological, but even on chemical level. The screen is a source of light and when you’re looking at it, the body gets the message that it’s day time – time to stay awake. Your brain suppresses the production of melatonin, which is the hormone we need to relax and get ready for sleep. The most melatonin-suppressive light is the blue light, which is what our devices usually emit.

How can you reclaim your sleep?

  • Don’t use technology in the last hour or two before going to bed. Give your body and your mind the opportunity to wind down.
  • Use f.lux, a program designed to adjust the brightness and the colour of your screen depending on the time of the day. This software makes your screen look like sunlight during the day and it displays warmer colours at night.
  • Make your bedroom a screen-free zone. It can be hard to resist checking your iPhone one last time, if it’s right there next to you.
  • Monitor your sleep. You can make it a conscious focus to pay attention to your habits or you can use a monitor like Fitbit to tell you exactly how much sleep you’re getting. Sometimes, just being more aware gives you the motivation to change.
  • If you’re finding that the promise of a good night’s sleep is not enough to drag you away from your screen, enlist someone in your family to help you or a friend to call you at a certain time to give you a nudge.

Image by JESHOOTS via Pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova