Tips & Tidbits on Sleep

Sleep tips and tidbitsThree little tidbits of sleep related information for you:

1. You can build muscle overnight! Post menopausal women trying to maintain muscle mass might consider asking their doctor about casein a slow-digesting protein. Men who ingested 40g of casein at bedtime showed 33% more protein synthesis (which fuels muscle growth)overnight than those who took less or a placebo, according to a study in Journal of Nutrition.

2. People who make their bed are 19% more likely to sleep well, compared to those who don’t. (I’m a bed maker! Are you?)

3. If you’re plagued by persistent negative thoughts that may be triggering anxiety and depression, your sleep schedule may be to blame. Binghamton University researchers found that sleep- deprived people who were shown upsetting images had trouble getting them out of their head for hours after the viewing. More research is planned on the link between sleep disruption and the development of psychological disorders.*

Now that I’ve given you your 3 tidbits, here are 3 easy/quick meditations to help you sleep-Remember, a growing body of research shows that mindfulness meditation is an effective way to improve sleep quality:

1. Scan your body- start at the head and go to the toes, or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. What it does it take your attention away from the busy brain.
2. Time your breaths- Focus on your breath as you inhale for 4 counts, and exhale for 6. This triggers a relaxation response in the body.
3. Reflect on your day: Think about a GOOD thing that happened during the day. Taking a moment to feel thankful can help you relax, ward off worries, and get you in the right mindset for sleep.

Please feel free to ask me about how massage can work to support deep and restful sleep. Call me at (518) 744-2315 to schedule your massage session today, or purchase a Massage Gift Certificate!

*https://www.binghamton.edu/news/story/936/people-who-sleep-less-than-8-hours-a-night-more-likely-to-suffer-from-depre

Related Posts:

 

Journaling for Dummies

journaling

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this blog is definitely a little more focused on the women. Journaling is something most of us women have done- you know- the middle school diaries we kept? I’m thinking men, not so much. But EVERYONE can benefit from journaling, so since we’re not middle schoolers any longer, lets read on and see if maybe there’s something to it?

Most of this comes from Real Simple magazine, lest you think all this brilliance is my own- its not. 🙂

Evidence shows that labeling your emotions calms your experience of them. Writing about your sorrow or outrage- owning it, in words, in the journal of your choice, may help you better cope. According to Beth Jacobs, PhD, a clinical psychologist, and author of Writing for Emotional Balance says “There’s an incredible release when emotions become tangible and visible, out of your head an into the world in a contained, self-controlled way”.

But beware the tendency to spew! Allow 3 pages, or 30 minutes to vent (your preference). Then spend a little time (say, 10 minutes) writing a positive affirmation or questions to ponder post-journaling. You might also look at yourself from an outside perspective. Reread whatever you’ve last vented about in your journal, pretending that someone else wrote it, and spend some time reframing it. What would you ask the person who’d written those words? What would you suggest to that person do to move forward? Another helpful exercise for working through sadness and pain is to write about your best possible self– the person you’d be if everything went right. Just the basics- what job would the ideal you hold? What does your ideal self’s house look like? What steps would you take to get there? One study found that writing about he ideal self was at least as beneficial as writing about trauma.

Too touchy-feely for you? Here’s some more practical journaling ideas:

If you want to get organized, get a bullet journal. Use it for scheduling, setting and taking long term plans and goals, and creative writing and drawing. Its great for detail oriented people who crave a sense of control as it keeps daily and monthly tasks and creative pursuits in one place.

If you want to tune in to your creativity – a journal doesn’t have to be text based. It can be a multimedia sketchbook or scrapbook with photos and art. Try this kind of journaling with key words- ponder the days’ experience and write down words phrases, and images that pop into your head without making an effort to connect them, you might gain surprising insight into your psyche.

If you want to be kinder. (Aaaand we’re back to the touchy-feely!) Feeling snarky? Overwhelmed and upset about the state of the world? Grumpy about a co worker? Research has fond that keeping a gratitude journal- a place to write what you’re thankful for- can help you feel better about you life and more charitable toward other people. In one study, people were asked to list 5 things for which they were grateful for once a week for 10 weeks. After, they felt more optimistic and satisfied with their lives than participant in control groups. They also reported fewer headaches, coughs, bouts of nausea and even pimples! Other studies have found that expressions of gratitude are associated with improved sleep and feelings of connection with others.

If you want to sleep better: Nighttime journaling can be a great sleep aid. “When you put your thoughts in a book you can literally close, you can take everything running around your head from the whole day and just plop it in.” Or, first thing in the morning, when your still half asleep, write 3 pages then stop. Just ramble, don’t try to craft anything. When you look back, you may be astonished by what you were working through, and knowing that you’ll unleash everything in the morning can help you rest better at night.

Beginning a journaling practice of your own can be daunting. So, check out the how-to dept on Amazon if you would like a little more guidance.

Getting in touch with your emotions is essential for your mental and your physical health! Learn how I use the mind-body connection in my massage practice and more in some of these related posts:

 

Walking is Powerful Medicine

walking

Every walk is powerful medicine. Simply putting one foot in front of the other can do wonders for your health.

The information from Prevention Magazine I’m about to share is no secret, and we all know getting up and moving is better than having our butts glued to the couch. But before I go into what they say, I’d like to have a little “say” myself. Look at the first 2 sentences: walking is powerfully good for us, and its simple – is the basic meaning of those words.

While you are reading this I’m wondering if you can look at the stuff in your life that stresses you out and think about dealing with it in the “just put one foot in front of the other” way.

Alrighty! Here’s some of the wonderful things walking can do for us:

Brain

Engaging in moderate physical activity, like a brisk walk, for 68 minutes or more a day may improve neuron health, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Immune system

People who walk briskly for 20 minutes a day 5 days a week have 43% fewer sick days than those who exercise once a week or less, per research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bones

Women who walk 4 hours a week have a 41% lower risk of hip fracture than those who walk less than 1 hour a week, the landmark Nurses’ Health Study found.

Mood

A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that 12% of depression cases could be prevented if we all walked (or did another form e of exercise) for at least an hour each week.

Heart

Regularly walking 3 miles an hour or faster can cut your risk of heart disease by half, compared with walking 2 miles an hour or slower, according to a study in Circulation.

More Energy

Need to beat the afternoon lull, or refocus your concentration? According to a recent study in Physiology & Behavior, a bear 10 minutes of walking, or climbing a few flights of stairs, is more energizing than consuming 50mg of caffeine. And unlike a 3 pm shot of espresso, a quick burst of exercise won’t keep you awake at night.

Greater Confidence

A new series of studies published in the journal Body Image found that people who walked in nature were much more likely to feel good about their bodies than those who walked in an urban environment. Researchers think that nature walking dampens our negative thoughts and helps us focus on how our body works rather than how it looks.

Fewer Cravings

Instead of reaching for the kitchen candy stash, take a lap around the block instead: Research in the PLOS One showed that a brisk 15 minute walk can reduce your urge to grab a sugary snack. Why? Moving around can blunt emotional triggers that prompt mindless snacking.

Don’t forget that a massage can help heal those exercise aches and pains you may get from increasing your physical activity! Call me at (518) 744-2315 to book an appointment.

More Posts:

Mind Over Matter

mind over matter massage

Once, we believed that the body was a machine, and the secret to optimal performance came from the muscles, the lungs, the heart. Then, we were told that it’s all in our head, and we just need to use the old adage of “mind over matter” to push through the pain. The truth is that “the brain and the body are fundamentally intertwined,” writes Alex Hutchinson, a fitness journalist (with a doctorate in physics) who competed for the Canadian national team as a runner. To understand the limits of the human body, you have to consider the mind and the body together.

Hutchinson is the author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, out this month from HarperCollins. In the eight years he worked on the book, he traveled to labs all over the world and spoke to hundreds of athletes and scientists about how the mind and body influence each other and the role that each plays in the “mystery of endurance.”

This concept is intrinsic to my practice of massage therapy. Believe it or not, after 15 years in the business, it almost seems to me that the brain’s interpretation of the body signals may, in fact, be more important than the body signals themselves.

I once took a continuing education class where the teacher (a research biologist from Dartmouth) described the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic pain. Intrinsic pain is the kind you can’t ignore because it means you need to see a doctor (if you don’t know why you’re having the pain– think heart attack- in general your body won’t let you ignore or reduce this type of pain with your mind because it’s too important). The other type of pain is kind of a choice as to how much we feel it. We can use mind over matter to distract ourselves from it, or we can choose to amplify it with our minds.

Cool, huh? The article I’m borrowing from is super interesting, but related to sports, so check out the whole thing.

Related Posts:

In a Slump? Here’s 3 Ways to Restart!

refresh restart

We all talk about wanting to refresh, restart, reset. Here’s 3 different ways from an article I read in Real Simple magazine:

1. When You Haven’t Exercised in Forever

Coming back to a workout routine after you’ve been away for awhile is always the hardest part. People often focus on what they can’t do. (guilty!) Take one day at a time. Think about your lifestyle and what you’re afraid of. Most people think they’re in worse shape than they actually are. Restart by taking your big goal and breaking it down into smaller manageable steps.

2. When You Crave a New Career

Our impassive culture promotes living your truth as quickly as possible. But before you jump into a new career, take a practice jump. For instance, if you’re an accountant who has always wanted to start a bakery, you can do a lot before you quit your day job: take a pastry class in the evening, help out a local baker on the weekend. You’ll get a sense of the highs and lows and learn the nitty gritty. If they new lifestyle feels good, then you’ll know you’re ready to take the next step.

3. When You’re Just Having a Bad Day

Take two minutes to write a very brief, positive email to someone you know: a thank you, a compliment. It works, for one, because your mind simply can’t be in two places at once. You can’t be unhappy and stressed if you’r thinking about how grateful you are. Then, when you have to go back to your bad day, your brain has one more positive piece of information about your life, and you won’t feel the same slump.

Don’t forget that positive energy has a huge benefit on your mental and well being. When you’re feeling down, don’t get down on yourself! Check out some of these other posts for more ways to tackle a bad day.

If you still have the blahs and need a pick-me-up, why not treat yourself to a massage? 🙂

Healthy or Hyped? The Truth About Fad Foods

fad food

When health benefits are touted for a specific food, check who’s making the claims. The food industry finances a lot of research, some of it biased.

Here’s some information from an article from Prevention magazine:

Let’s take our friendly avocado. Avocado is having a moment. Once avoided by health conscious eaters because of its high fat content, the creamy super fruit is now being whipped into smoothies, spread on toast, an churned into ice cream. Fueling the trend are studies that highlight avocados’ high levels of beneficial fats and potassium, as well as links to improvements in heart health, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even-despite the high calorie count- weight loss. The source of funding for much of this research? The Hass Avocado Board, a California based collective of importers and growers who’s mission it is to promote the fruit.

For decades food industry organizations have supplied substantial amounts of cash to fund research. For instance, juice maker Pom Wonderful has reportedly spent $35 million on pomegranate research, sparking countless news articles and advertisements hailing the fruit’s high antioxidant content and other health benefits. (in 2010, the Federal Trade Commission issued a formal complaint against the company, saying many of its health claims were overblown.) Last year, Ocean Spray said it would commit $10 million to exploring cranberries’ antimicrobial properties.

The food industry’s deep pockets can be helpful for getting research conducted that otherwise wouldn’t be done– as long as the scientists carrying out the studies operate responsibly. If the researcher themselves can stay unbiased, there’s always a benefit to having more information.

But beware of bias. Upon a review of 168 industry funded nutrition studies, it was discovered that 156 of them drew conclusions favorable to their sponsors. There may be a rare case where a company is motivated by improving the public’s health, but overall, the purpose of this research is marketing.

Consumers can do their part in weeding out the good science from the potentially bad. If a nutrition study comes out with an incredible and implausible result, the first question should be “who paid for it?” If the answer is a company with a vested interest in the outcome of the study, be skeptical.

There’s a lot of small things you can change in your life to be healthier, both in mind and body. Check out some of these other posts for a good health boost:

5 Quick & Easy Ways to Improve Your Mood

improve mood

The easiest, quickest pick-me-ups for those of us with only a minute to spare!

1. Step into a cold blast.

Hehheh. Crank the shower to cold for a few seconds if you dare, or at the very least splash your face with cold water. Even just a brief exposure to the cold is invigorating many experts say.

2. Opt for orange.

The bright color is stimulating. Why? We associate orange with energy, and our body (and mood) responds in kind. Throw on a vibrant orange sweater, pour a glass of orange juice, or use an orange accent rug.

3. Open your heart.

Yoga. I’m talking yoga. There are many “heart opening” postures in a yoga practice, and they’re designed in part, to bring up our energy.

4. Turn on the tunes.

Research shows that music you like will deliver a dose of positivity. Genre doesn’t matter as long as the music jazzes you up.

5. Get a whiff of citrus.

Try an essential oil pick me up! Citrus (Orange!) or even rosemary are naturally uplifting.

Still have a case of the blahs? Try some of my other easy pick-me-ups! Or give me a call at (518) 744-2315 to discuss other ways I can help you improve your mood, sleep better and more!

More Posts:

 

Make Over Your Morning Routine

morning routine

Even for a morning person like myself sometimes morning can be rough. Here’s a few pointers. How many of these things do you do?

1. When the alarm goes off… WAKE UP. Tempting as it is, absolutely do NOT use the snooze. You may steal a few extra minutes in bed, but being jolted awake repeatedly delvers fragmented sleep which makes you feel groggy and fatigued. To get more ACTUAL sleep, figure out the latest time you need to be up, then set your alarm for then. Feeling zonked out in the mornings probably means you need more sleep, so go to bed earlier little by little – eventually you won’t need an alarm at all.

2. When you open your eyes…practice a pep talk. Your thoughts significantly impact your energy levels for the day, so if your brain is telling you in its whiny voice “Its too early” or in its sarcastic voice ” Another day living the dream”, flip the script to something more positive: “I love mornings”- no sarcastic voice allowed. If you need a reminder, stick a note to your night stand- it’s that important.

3.When you get up…open the shades. Natural light flips your brain’s switch from sleep to awake, and there’s nothing better than sunlight to do the job. What’s more, a study published in the journal Sleep Health found that morning light exposure can help you snooze more soundly later that night, so you’ll likely feel better the next morning. If the sun’s rays are not an option because it’s still dark out, second best is turning on the lights to get as much bright light in the room as possible.

4. Before you leave the bedroom…stretch. Do 5-10 deep breaths and a few stretches. This gets your big muscles moving and increases blood flow to the other parts of your body…which will wake you up!

5. When you get ready to brew your coffee….WAIT!. It pays to delay because levels of stress hormones are highest when you first wake up. Caffeine is more effective later in the morning when those levels start to decrease, so have your first cup then.

6. When you open your fridge…Grab water. You’re most likely dehydrated from the long night, and being parched is an energy sapper says a study in the Journal of Nutrition.

7. After you get dressed…tidy your space. The mere act of making your bed can bring a sense of calm and take you out of sleep mode. Calm, but awake! The perfect combo!

How’d your mental check list go? I do about 5 out of these 7, and they really work! If you’re still struggling, don’t forget that better sleep and reduced stress are two of the amazing benefits of massage. Contact me to set up an appointment!

Related Posts:

How to Fight Back Against Energy Sappers!

The day has hardly started and you already feel defeated. Don’t let these things sap your energy and drag you down.

Stressful emails

Even a five minute phone check can suck you in, draining your mental energy. Technology is constantly trying to pull you off course. If you start your day on your device, you’re starting it out in a reactive way. Emails can set off your internal alarms. Claim your morning as yours, and keep your device off for the first hour you’re awake.

Nothing to Wear

That pair of pants no longer fits. The dress you want is stuck at the dry cleaner. Nothing ever looks right with that one sweater. We’ve all been there! Planning out what you’ll wear the night before can save several minutes of grief, but a bigger step is to set aside time one weekend for cleaning out your closet and throwing away or donating the items that just don’t work anymore.

Losing Everything

Keys? Purse? Lunch? We don’t usually have the luxury of time or energy in the morning, so rushing around trying to find what you needs can become overwhelming. Take 5 minutes at night to gather your things. Keys next to purse, pack your lunch and place them in their “ready to go” spot!

Just a few helpful pointers from my latest Real Simple magazine. How many of these things are helpful to you?

Looking for more ways to improve your health and energy? As you local stress management expert, I’m here to help! Contact me today at (518) 744-2315, or check out some of my other posts:

6 Plants to Help Cultivate Better Sleep

plants sleep

I’ve been really longing for spring! Here’s a way to get started early (from an article I stumbled upon from AARP magazine) Insomnia? Allergies? Stress? Let’s clear the air. Some houseplants not only remove toxins in our environment but also promote drowsiness, several studies confirm.

Give these plants a try in your bedroom to help cultivate better sleep:

JASMINE

Jasmine fragrance, working in ways similar to barbiturates, eases anxiety and encourages sleep. German researchers tested the scent on mice an watched them curl up an sleep.

ENGLISH IVY

English Ivy plants help clear the air of mold spores, says a former NASA scientist who has researched how to keep space station air clean.

LAVENDER

Lavender bouquets and essential oils are popular as sleep inducers, but try a houseplant too.

ALOE VERA

A hardy succulent, it vacuums up unhealthy indoor chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while you catch your zzz’s, another NASA study showed.

BOSTON FERN

Back in the day, upscale hangouts were called fern bars because of this ubiquitous decoration. Turns out that Boston ferns remove formaldehyde from the air.

SNAKE PLANT

No green thumb? Snake plants, an air cleaner, is about the simplest to care for.

Did you know that one of many benefits of massage is improved sleep? Contact me today at (518) 744-2315 to experience it for yourself!

Learn More:

1 2 3 14