Getting Healthy

Music and Sleep

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Listening to about 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed can help you relax and fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning.

Listening to the “right” kind of music can slow down your heart rate to the 60-beats-per-minute range needed to enter the “sleep zone,” help you breathe easier, and lower your blood pressure.

 

The “right” kind of music can masks background noise,

The “right” kind of music can shorten stage two sleep cycles and help you reach restful REM sleep, the restorative part of our sleep, more quickly.

The “right” kind of music can blocking both disruptive external sounds, such as traffic, and internal sounds, such as tinnitus.

The “right” kind of music can fill in uncomfortable silences.

And the “right” kind of music can provide a sense of companionship and security.

 

So what is the “right” kind of music to listen to if I want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

Music is a always a matter of personal preference…(just ask any Southern Baptist about their preference between singing hymns or 7-11, seven words sung eleven times, songs in big church)…

But there are certain things to keep in mind when choosing the music that you do listen to at night, such as…

  • Beats Per Minute…Choose something that has a rhythm of about sixty to eighty beats per minute.
  • Familiarity…Choose something that you actually are familiar with and like.
  • Neutrality…Choose music that does not evoke strong emotions.
  • Pitch Perfect…Choose music with lower pitches, nobody wants or needs to hear anyone scream and squeal right before they go to sleep and tranquil melodies.
  • Rhythm…Choose music a regular rhythm, not too much syncopation.
  • Words…Choose music without words…it’s more likely to make you sleepy. Our good friends Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not to mention Frederic Chopin, have written enough music to fill our playlists from here to eternity.

So what IS the “right” kind of music to listen to if you want to have a good night’s sleep for a change…and what makes it “right”…

The “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change may not be, and probably will not be the “right” kind of music for any other person on this planet Earth.

So the “right” kind of music for you personally to listen to in order to have a good night’s sleep for a change should be music that you choose, based on what you like and what you need from the music at the time.

But to get an idea of the type of music and playlists that have worked for other people, take a look at these top  “sleep” playlists from Spotify and these options available from Bedtime Beats.


Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Oils—“Aromatic” Use

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

In order to enjoy the aromatic benefits of an essential oil, you could obviously take a few drops from the bottle into the palm of your hands, cup your hands around your mouth and nose, and inhale deeply for as long as needed…

…or simply hold the bottle of essential oil a few inches from your nose and breathe in the aroma…

or…add a drop or two of the essential oil to your pillowcase or pajama shirt, I guess…

 

 

But a much easier and smarter method would be through diffusion.

Diffusion is one of the simplest and most effective methods for using essential oils aromatically.

Simply putting two to eight drops of an essential oil that has been found especially beneficial for sleeping, (see next post), along with whatever water quantity is specified in the instructions for your particular diffuser, may be the perfect answer for your questionable sleep.

…and if you find using only one essential oil to become quite boring, you can also combine several essential oils in your diffuser. There are many such “sleep blend recipes” to be found on the internet or in books about essential oils. For example, try combining three drops of lavender, three drops of cedarwood, and two drops of frankincense.

 

So how does a diffuser work?  All diffusers work by breaking the essential oil(s) down into tiny molecules and dispersing them throughout the air, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of the oil as it circulates in the air for several hours while you sleep.

 

 

What should I look for when shopping for a diffuser?

Factors to consider when purchasing an essential oil diffuser include…

  • availability
  • ease of use
  • estimated operating time
  • material that the diffuser is made from (cheap plastic or polypropylene?)
  • noise level
  • price
  • product review
  • size of the actual diffuser
  • size of the room you want your diffuser to effectively cover
  • “special” features, such as a timer and ambient lighting
  • water capacity

 

 

Some of the most popular diffusers on the market today include…

 

1.  DoTerra AromaLite Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time…up to eight hours
  • Noise level…silent
  • Price…$102
  • Product review
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…up to 1000 feet
  • “Special” features…optional night light
  • Type of diffuser…cool mist humidifier
  • Water capacity…3/4C

 

2.  Noor Litemist Aromatherapy Diffuser

  • Availability...Walmart, Overstock.com
  • Estimated operating time...four hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…plastic
  • Noise level…silent
  • Price…$30
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…5.9″x5″
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…300 square feet
  • “Special” features…multicolor LED lights, automatic shut-off
  • Water capacity…1/4C

 

3.  Lagute Apple Shaped Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time…five hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…wood-grain BPA-free plastic
  • Noise…less than 36dB
  • Price…$25
  • Product review
  • Type diffuser...ultrasonic
  • Water capacity…100ml

 

4.  Plant Therapy AromaFuse Diffuser

  • Availability...Walmart
  • Estimated operating time…up to ten hours
  • Material diffuser is made from…BPA-free plastic
  • Noise level…very quiet
  • Price…$50
  • Product review
  • Size of the actual diffuser…8″x8″x5.2″
  • Size of area diffuser can effectively cover…at least 500 square feet
  • “Special” features...five different timer settings,  LED light
  • Type of diffuser…ultrasonic
  • Water capacity…300 ml ( a little over 1 ½ cups)

 

5.  PlantTherapy Advanced Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser

  • Noise level…output volume control
  • Price…$130
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…3.5″x5.5″x4.2″
  • Size area diffuser effectively covers…up to 700 square feet
  • “Special” features…two quick-change atomizer attachments
  • Type of diffuser…nebulizer
  • Water capacity…15ml

 

6.  Whisper Premium Silent Misting Diffuser

  • Estimated operating time
  • Material diffuser is made from
  • Noise level…completely silent
  • Price…$20
  • Product review
  • Size of actual diffuser…8″x3.5″x3.5″
  • Size area diffuser can effectively cover…up to 1,000 square feet
  • “Special” features…automatic shut-off
  • Type diffuser…ultrasonic
  • Water capacity...100ml
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Healthy Sleep

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

This audiobook is a guide written for insomniacs, and other people who have trouble sleeping quite often, to show the life-changing health benefits that optimum sleep provides….and more importantly how to have this optimum sleep experience.

This book sparked my interest because as I get older, the more I’ve started to realize that how well and how much I sleep impacts your entire life…(yeah, Mom, I shoulda listened to you all those nights when I was little and you told me to turn the lights off and go to bed.)

The title of the audiobook, Healthy Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book explains how a healthy sleep cycle can improve your immune system, mood, sense of well-being—and even your weight.

This theme is carried out throughout the book as evident by the exercises and strategies that the book provides to help manage both stress and anxiety as well as common sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

The authors of the audiobook are alternative medicine “guru” Andrew Weil, MD…and sleep expert Rubin R. Naiman, PhD.

—–Andrew Weil, MD, is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing-oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. He is founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, and director of Integrative Health & Healing at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Tucson. Dr. Weil s bestselling books include Spontaneous Happiness, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Spontaneous Healing, and his popular audio programs with Sounds True include The Healthy Heart Kit and Breathing: The Master Key to Self-Healing.

—–Rubin Naiman, PhD, is an internationally recognized leader in integrative sleep and dream medicine. He is director of Circadian Health Associates, an organization that provides information, goods and services in support of sleep health. Dr. Naiman is the sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona s Center for Integrative Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weil. He also serves as Director of the Sleep and Dream Advisory Board for Sleep Studio. For more than a decade, Dr. Naiman served as the sleep and dream specialist at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, where he founded the first formal sleep center at a spa. Subsequently, he served as director of sleep programs for Miraval Resort. Dr. Naiman is the author of a number of groundbreaking works on sleep, including Healing Night, Healthy Sleep (with Andrew Weil), The Yoga of Sleep, and To Sleep ToNight, as well as a number of professional book chapters and articles. He also blogs about sleep and dreams for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

This audiobook consists of two discs. The first disc is a discussion on why sleep is so important and why you may not be sleeping as you should. The second disc contains guided exercises, including three sessions to help you fall asleep.

Topics covered in the book include sleep stages, sleeping disorders, breathing techniques, good “sleep hygiene,” and safe supplements to overcome insomnia. The book uses a combination of creative visualization, self-compassion, and pranayama to explain insomnia and then lull you gently to sleep…

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who has trouble sleeping…makes an excellent read about 2am when you should be sleeping instead of reading.

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The 4-7-8 Breath

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

 

One of the most popular breathing techniques or exercises is the relaxation breathing exercise known as the 4-7-8 breath. This technique is shockingly simple, takes hardly any time, and can be done anywhere in five steps.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned physician, holistic health author and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is the mastermind behind this 4-7-8 breathing technique and claims that his technique will help even the worst insomniac go to sleep in sixty seconds. He describes the technique as “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.”

This technique is rooted in yoga and based on pranayama, an ancient Indian practice that means “regulation of breath.”

Supposedly this technique can work wonders before bedtime, or any other time you’re feeling stressed. People who have tried this technique claim that it helps calm their anxious minds, reduces tension throughout the body, and eases them into a state of calmness and relaxation so that they can enjoy better sleep.

It works by slowing down your heart rate and encouraging the fast removal of carbon dioxide from your passageways.

How do I do it?

1. Sit up in your bed with your back straight.

2.  Press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth.and keep it there through the entire exercise.

3.  Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

4. Hold that breath for a count of seven. According to Weil, this is the most important part of his technique because holding the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and thPen circulate throughout the body, produces a relaxing effect throughout the body.

5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

6. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths

It will probably require your practicing this technique twice a day over two months to perfect the technique, but once you’ve mastered it, it will become a more and more effective tool for helping you deal with anxiety and stress in your life.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Just Breathe

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla
Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla is a member of the Aster Family, Asteraceae or Compositae, the dried flowewrs of which are one of the most well-known herbal teas of commerece, valued for flavor, mild anti-inflammatory activity, and a calming effect.

Learning the simple act of breathing correctly is one of the most important steps to combat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. How well you are breathing has a strong influence on your physiology, thought processes, and mood.

And in today’s fast-paced, highly stressed society, many of us have lost this ability to simply breathe in and out well enough to shut down stress and get a good night’s sleep.

Focusing your attention on taking these slow, deep breaths helps quiet the mind and helps reduce both your heart rate and blood pressure.

 

Breathing correctly is also one of the best tools for beginning the process of relaxing tense muscles and shutting your mind down for the evening, not to mention that breathing is free.

Always do these sleep exercises at bedtime, after you are already in bed. If you do these exercises anywhere other than actually in bed and then have to get up in order to get in bed, you will negate anything that these breathing exercises may have accomplished.

So first go lie down in bed…as we always tell the kids at camp, “in the sack, flat on your back.”

Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.

Use the diaphragm, abdominals and lungs to take in the deepest breath that you can. Hold that breath for a moment. Then gradually let that breath go.

Focus your attention on the full breath, from start to finish. If your mind is wandering, just notice that it has wandered and gently eedirect it back to your breath.

Focus on where you feel each breath move within the body. As you inhale, you should feel your rib cage expand and your lungs fill completely. As you exhale, you should feel these both falling back into their natural position.

Concentrate on this rise and fall that take place as you breathe, refusing to let any negative or stressful thoughts and emotions interfere or seem more important at the time than the simple act of breathing.

This alone can do wonders for helping you relax at night, even if you do nothing else such as special breathing exercises designed to also calm the central nervous system and quiet the mind.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?!

My initial goal when starting this blog was to take you on my journey to establishing a bed and breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi…but this dream has taken a sudden backseat as we now find ourselves raising our grandson…becoming a “new mother” at the age of fifty.

So my goal now is to take each aspect of my daily life and learn how to make it better…even if I never attract a single new follower or earn a single dollar.

I welcome you to join this journey with me…

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Previously, I talked about my decision to switch to a cruelty free lifestyle, starting with taking a shower. In the near future, I plan on talking about starting a raw foods diet, eating more “superfoods,” and anything else that I might do during the course of day. Join me for the journey.

Since taking a shower is the last thing I do every night before going to bed, then the next topic that I am going to “research” is one of my favorite things to do—SLEEP…

But so many nights, like many other Americans, some nights sleep just doesn’t happen…

So I have been learning to incorporate new habits and techniques into my nightly routine that will hopefully help me sleep better each night, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.

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Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. How well you sleep each night can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Lack of sleep can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

 

1.  Energy Level and Mood…Lack of sleep can make you have less energy to tackle the day ahead. You will find yourself getting sleepy during the day and feeling lethargic. Lack of sleep can cause many different mood disturbances, including depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

 

2.  Health…Lack of sleep can increase both your risk and the severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Lack of sleep can do this because it causes your immune system to function poorly.

You may also find yourself having countless headaches and can even blame this sleeplessness on how much you weigh, because people with poor sleep habits are more likely to be obese.

 

3. School/Work Performance…Lack of sleep can affect your performance on the job or at school in many ways including…

 

Lack of Decision-Making Ability...Lack of sleep can slow the ability of the nervous system to process information and translate visual cues into conscious thought. This slowed reaction times can make such activities, especially driving, dangerous for both ourselves and people around us. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 20 percent of non-alcohol related car crash injuries are caused by driver sleepiness.

 

—Lack of Focus…Lack of sleep hinders your ability to stay focused for long periods of time and makes getting started on even the easiest work or school assignments even harder than normal.

Often your thoughts seem to rush off in a million different directions and start thinking about something completely different without even realizing when you stray from your intended train of thought. Often after not being able to sleep, you find it harder to finish whatever you may start.

 

4.  Overall Quality of Life...Lack of sleep gives you a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically….and even worse can damage relationships.

Irritability…One major impact that our lack of sleep can have on relationships is the increased irritability of the person who has had trouble sleeping…lack of sleep always makes us grumpy, (lmost like being hungry, right?!)

While we are sleeping, our brains produce the chemical serotonin, a chemical that helps us to feel calm. So when we are unable to sleep adequately, this serotonin does not get produced, causing us to become more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient during the day.

 

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Most of us have times when we have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once we do finally go to sleep, but does that mean that we actually suffer from full-blown insomnia and need to go get a sleep study done?

Actually for sleeplessness to be actually diagnosed as chronic insomnia, the disrupted sleep must occur at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. It must also negatively impact the patient’s wellbeing, either through the causing distress or disturbing mood or performance..

About 10 percent of people suffer from such chronic insomnia.

Anyone who experiences sleeplessness for longer than four weeks or finds that your lack of sleep extremely interferes with daily activities and ability to function, should seriously consider speaking with a doctor.

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My goal in these next few posts is to give tips on creating a relaxing ritual that you do each and every night that will help you fall asleep faster and more consistently.

I will be focusing on healthy bedtime habits—such as meditation, soothing music, essential oils—that will help program your mind to get ready for bed..

I will be talking about several different options, so pick the ones that make you personally feel sleepy, comfortable, and relaxed.

I have personally found that having such a “nightly routine” of soothing transitional activity between my being awake and actually falling asleep helps your sleep quality and overall wellness….just like it probably did when my kids were little, and does for my “resident four year old.”