Is Relaxation Training Hocus-Pocus?

I am frequently asked about the evidence for relaxation training. The concept of relaxation training has been around for many years and much research is available in the scientific and medical literature to support and recommend its use, not only for insomnia, anxiety, stress and depression but also for chronic painful conditions.

According to Wikipedia:

relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of anxietystress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.[1]

Read the whole article here:

Read the article from Helpguide, a non-profit resource:

See what people at the Mayo Clinic have to say about relaxation techniques:

Watch the Mayo Clinic video: Mayo Clinic Video on Yoga for Relaxation

Peer reviewed medical and scientific literature is cited here for those who are skeptical and think of relaxation training as hocus-pocus:

J Psychiatr Pract. 2008 Nov;14(6):403-7.

Sleeping without a pill: nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia.

Source

UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine/Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA. lkierlin@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

Insomnia is a complaint of patients seen in many medical settings, but it is particularly prevalent in patients who present to mental health practitioners. When choosing an intervention for insomnia, physicians often turn to pharmacological management options as their primary strategy, with other modalities only considered secondarily, if at all. Medications for insomnia, which include benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, and antihistamines, have been found to have both varying degrees of efficacy as well as side-effect profiles that may limit their use. In recent years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has studied nonpharmacologic interventions for insomnia and found evidence to support their use in achieving sustained improvements in sleep parameters over time. Methods such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, stimulus-control therapy, relaxation, paradoxical intention, and sleep restriction are efficacious treatments that mental health practitioners can consider in the treatment of insomnia. Researchers are only beginning to review evidence concerning complementary and alternative medicine therapies (CAM); however, given the preponderance of patients who may be employing these techniques for insomnia, it is important that clinicians be familiar with these approaches, which merit further study. This article reviews nonpharmacologic treatments for insomnia that are available to mental health practitioners as well as primary care providers, either via direct application of the techniques or by referral. The evidence for each of these modalities is presented in an effort to expand the treating physician's armamentarium beyond sole use of the medications traditionally used to treat insomnia.

J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Nov;46(11):1456-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.08.007. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Comparison of relaxation training with a cognitive-behavioural intervention for indicated prevention of depression in university students: A randomized controlled trial.

Source

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Vida, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Electronic address: fernandolino.vazquez@usc.es.

Abstract

Although cognitive-behavioural programmes for preventing depression have produced promising findings, their administration requires extensive training. Relaxation techniques are more straightforward psychological strategies, but they have not been investigated in the prevention of depression. This trial aimed to compare the results of relaxation training (RT) with that of a cognitive-behavioural programme (CBT) for prevention of depression in university students with elevated depressive symptoms. The 133 participants (mean age 23.3 years, 82% women) were randomly assigned to CBT or RT. Both programmes were administered to groups of 5 or 6 participants in eight weekly 90-min sessions. Participants were evaluated by independent raters before, immediately after, and 3 and 6 months after taking part in the programmes. By itself, intervention type had no significant effect on either depression or anxiety scores. The scores were lower at the follow-up time points with respect to pre-intervention scores. Effect size was greatest between pre- and immediately post-intervention scores for CBT, d = 1.32, 95% CI [1.00, 1.64], and between pre- and 6-month post-intervention scores for RT, d = 0.75, 95% CI [0.47, 1.03]. Anxiety symptoms were significantly improved by both interventions at 3-month follow-up, and by CBT at 6-month follow-up also. In the medium term (3-6 months), relaxation training produced similar reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms as a more complex cognitive-behavioural programme.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:

 22939979

[PubMed - in process]

 Am J Health Promot. 2012 Jul-Aug;26(6):e149-58. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.110516-QUAL-199.

Psychological and physiological response of students to different types of stress management programs.

Source

Cátedra de Química Analítica Instrumental, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. siglesia@ffyb.uba.ar

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To design, implement, and examine the psychoneuroendocrine responses of three different types of stress management programs.

DESIGN:

Randomly assigned. A pre/post experimental design comparing variables between three different programs and a control group. The first program included training in deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques (RRGI). The second program included training in cognitive behavioral techniques (CB). The third program included both RRGI and CB (RRGICB).

SETTING:

The study was conducted at Buenos Aires University.

SUBJECTS:

Participants (N  = 52) were undergraduate students.

MEASURES:

Anxiety, anger, hopelessness, neuroticism, respiration rate, and salivary cortisol levels were assessed.

ANALYSIS:

Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to investigate differences in pre and post variables.

RESULTS:

Subjects in the RRGI group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .011), anger (p < .012), neuroticism (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .002), hopelessness (p < .01), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the CB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .018), anger (p < .037), and neuroticism (p < .03) after the treatment. Subjects in the RRGICB group showed significantly lower levels of anxiety (p < .001), anger (p < .001), neuroticism (p < .008), hopelessness (p < .01), respiratory rate (p < .001), and salivary cortisol (p < .002) after the treatment. Subjects in the control group showed only one variable modification, a significant increase in cortisol levels (p < .004).

CONCLUSIONS:

The combination of deep breathing, relaxation response, meditation, and guided imagery techniques with CB seems to be effective at helping people to deal with stress.

PMID:

 22747323

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

SEHATU SLEEP VIDEO

What is Deep Relaxation Training? View the video and find out. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends relaxation training and cognitive behavior therapy as effective and better treatments for insomnia than sleeping pills. Why then is it not offered by healthcare institutions?
It is now available at Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, in person and via Skype to anyone anywhere at a very affordable cost, and in the USA, reimbursable from health insurance companies if recommended by your physician. It is a tax deductible health care expense, and FSA and HSA eligible with a physician's recommendation. Come to Sehatu Sleep!

What's the Big Deal About Deep Relaxation Training?

SEHATU SLEEP VIDEO http://youtu.be/nXyGySylMIg

View the video to find out more about relaxation training at Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the largest and authoritative body in sleep medicine recommends relaxation training and cognitive behavior therapy as effective treatments for chronic insomnia.

According to Clinical Guidelines for the Treatment of Insomnia, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine:

"Psychological and behavioral interventions are effective and recommended in the treatment of chronic primary and comorbid (secondary) insomnia.

• These treatments are effective for adults of all ages, including older adults, and chronic hypnotic users.

• These treatments should be utilized as an initial intervention when appropriate and when conditions permit.

Initial approaches to treatment should include at least one behavioral intervention such as stimulus control therapy or relaxation therapy, or the combination of cognitive therapy, stimulus control therapy, sleep restriction therapy with or without relaxation therapy—otherwise known as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)."

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

Is technology making us fat?

There was a time when TV was blamed for the obesity epidemic. Then focus switched to sugar containing foods. Now that we have reduced the amount of TV watching and are more aware of the effects of high sugar foods, we as a nation continue to struggle with weight gain.

In reality, its not just about being a couch potato or making poor food choices. We have badly neglected another major change in how we spend our lives and how it affects us: We are exposed every day to multiple artificial sources of light close to our faces. There is in addition an excitement and "buzz" generated by the interactive nature of social media that draws us in and keeps us glued to these sources of light.

Let me explain:

The human body has two timing devices built in. One is a timer that counts the duration of wakefulness. The longer you have been awake the sleepier you will get. The other is a 25 hour clock that needs to be adjusted every day in order to stay on time. It allows for adjustments with shortening and lengthening of days.

The clock's proper adjustment relies on various signals, the most important of which is the presence or absence of light. The presence of light as it passes through the eyes, via a nerve circuit to the brain tells the mind to be awake and alert. The absence of light leads to the production of melatonin in the brain which reminds the body and mind that it is time to rest.

With all the light sources that we expose ourselves to, we hardly give our brains the opportunity to perceive the absence of light. It is like living in Alsaka or Norway in the summer, for all of us. This leads to a shortening of the sleep cycle and development of the effects of chronic lack of sufficient sleep.

Choose the best answer:

Chronic lack of sleep is a major cause of:

1. Food cravings.

2. Slowing of the metabolism.

3. Increased need to consume calories to stay awake and alert during the day.

4. Feeling exhausted, leading to decreased level of activity.

5. None of the above.

6. All of the above.

Yes you guessed it right. All of the above.

What if a whole nation of 300 million people sleeps on average an hour less than it did 20 years ago and 2 hours less than at the turn of the 20th century?

Sleep well. Sleep enough. Be rested and perform at your best!

 

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

 

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

On Sleep Cycle Problems Wrongly Termed Insomnia: What Can You Do?

Continuing from our previous discussion on how problems with the sleep cycle are wrongly termed insomnia, let's talk about what you can do to help yourself:

1. Recognize the problem:

Of course, you have to realize the nature of the sleep problem. "Delayed Sleep Phase" is the commonest disorder of sleep cycle. It commonly runs in families, and is very prevalent among teens, young adults, creative people and those with "active minds". Anxiety is often associated with delayed sleep phase, as well as a tendency to want to stay up at night, to accomplish tasks that are difficult to complete during the day. A frequent statement is that "my mind seems to wake up when it is time to sleep."

2. Do you really want to make it better?

Sounds like a silly question. But the point is that it is very difficult to make this problem better unless the person suffering from it is motivated to make it better. The good news is it can be completely better, without prescription medicines if you are willing to learn about how the body's sleep mechanisms work, how they get disturbed and how to return them to their natural function. Some people decide however that their tendency to be awake at night and asleep during the day works for them; musicians, performers and writers being some of them.

3. "Just tell me what to do?"

I will expand on the following next time but here are some of the things to do:

- Bright light exposure of 5,000 lux or more starting 30 minutes before your "natural" wake up time. (Usual indoor lighting is 100-200 lux).

- Do not take a daytime nap of over 30 minutes, and none in the last six hours before bedtime.

- Turn down the lighting one hour before intended sleep time. Turn off all sources of lighted electronic screens.

- Take melatonin 1.5 mg or less from a large reputable manufacturer, one hour before intended sleep time, BUT no earlier than ten hours of "natural" wake up time. No added ingredients are necessary.

- Eat a filling starchy snack 30 minutes before bed time; not fatty, not sugary food.

- Avoid all sugary or caffeinated drinks in the last six hours before intended bedtime.

Relax. You will reach your goal and you can do it. No one has invented any magic pill stronger than human will power.

More next time. Adios.

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CA

 

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

 

 

 

I Know You Can't Sleep But Its Not Insomnia!

The word "insomnia" has become so ingrained in language and culture that even medical professionals have a difficult time telling the difference between what truly is insomnia and what is not. I have known many patients who came in to see me for insomnia that they have apparently had for many years, and treated often with multiple medications, but a short discussion later, they reveal the real problem.

The inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early leading to the effects of insufficient sleep is defined as insomnia, and for it to be a medical diagnosis as a health disorder it is usually required to be of sufficient duration of at least a month. An individual with insomnia is unable to get sufficient sleep no matter what. Of course the word sufficient means the amount of sleep required by a person's body in order to feel fully rested. That number can also considerably vary by individual ranging from five to ten hours per day for an adult.

Herein lies the issue: First, how much sleep do you think you need, and are you really unable to sleep that much? Second, really, given the opportunity, can you really not get the amount of sleep you truly need? The differentiation is vital because it leads to the type of treatment that is most likely to help.

Many people have been stuck in a bad sleep routine for so long they have no idea how much sleep they need in a day. Young parents and middle age workers being a prime example of busy lives and responsibilities, find a short amount of time late in the evening to be by themselves to unwind from the day. They end up going to sleep late, wake up tired the next day and struggle through the day. They don't have insomnia. Send them on a vacation and they do just fine. In the busyness of life they often lose sight of how much sleep is necessary for them to feel charged up and function at their best, leading to excessive caffeine use.

Young adults and teens often report they can not fall asleep at a reasonable time, but given the chance they will sleep in, sometimes all day, to obtain the full amount of restful sleep they need. They stay up late and have to wake up early, struggling to make it to classes, then sleep till very late on weekends. They don't have insomnia. Given the opprtunity they sleep well and enough.

Retirees most often end up sleeping in fragments. My own mother for example, an eighty year old, has forever complained of not being able to sleep well at night. She falls asleep around ten, to wake up at two, then sleeps from four till about six. She will wake up, eat breakfast, then nap for an hour, spend a few hours sitting around then nap again for a couple of hours. The fragmentation of sleep, which is common biologically in the elderly anyway, gives the impression as if they have insomnia but in fact they are getting the amount of sleep they need, but only in fragments.

By any means, my implication is not that these are not real problems of real people. My point is that to solve these problems the answer is not in a prescription of Ambien or trazodone. And the argument here is not that these are bad medicines, but that it is the wrong answer simply because it does not address the real problem.

We shall continue this discussion.

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

Case Studies In The "I Don't Have A Sleep Problem But I Am Always Tired Syndrome"

" I had my eyes open but it seems I was just dazed while driving. When I hit the curb it startled me. I really don't want to have a bad accident like this. What's happening to me? I searched on the internet. Could I be having seizures?

" I get dizzy sometimes when I stand up suddenly. I also get a lot of headaches. Could I have a brain tumor? I crave food all day long but I don't like eating breakfast except for a can of Coke, and then I have a Rockstar at lunch. I have a mean teacher in school. The class is so boring I keep falling asleep. My grades are dropping but that's because of my teacher."

" I doze off at work and can't help it. My supervisor is mad at me. I have no idea why that happens. I try my best to stay alert at work. Please help me. I don't want to lose my job."

" I operate heavy machinery. I drink energy drinks every hour to stay alert. When I go home I have lots of chores to do. By that time I feel I am completely spent. It seems that my body is just falling apart. I used to have so much energy.

" I don't need much sleep. I wake up on my own at 3 am. My mind is ready to go. I do my problem solving at that time. But my mind stops working later in the day. I don't know what's wrong with me. My blood sugar levels keep fluctuating and my blood pressure has been high. It never used to be like this. Whats happening to me?"

" I nurse my baby twice at night, and in between I sleep really soundly. But I am really tired with no energy all day. I have not even gone back to work yet but I get so tired just doing the small chores at home with my baby during the day. I try to nap when she is sleeping but it is so hard to turn off the mind just any time.  Could I be depressed?"

" I have no time for fun in a day. I go to school, then sports, then I do home work. I am so tired. Life is a drag. All I can do to socialize is be on facebook and text my friends when I am in bed. They are all up till 2 am. They don't have any problems, and it takes me a long time to fall asleep any way. Why am I having problems?"

" I drink half a pot of coffee in the morning and a couple of cans of soda in the afternoon. I like the taste of these drinks. I have put on 20 pounds in the last year. I think I need to exercise more. I sleep just fine. I need to have the TV on all night to sleep well and I wake up to go to the bathroom a couple times. No big deal, right?"

" I just crave chocolate. I love desserts. I have put on a lot of weight and I feel tired all the time. I sleep just fine but I am not a morning person. Everyone in my family is that way. Our minds work best at night."

" My whole family is feeling a lack of energy. We are all a tired, sickly bunch. Could it be something toxic in our house, like black mold? My wife snores so loudly she keeps waking me up. She says I snore even louder. My son snores too. Its so funny our house sounds like a train station at night. It's hilarious. "

" I am under a lot of stress. I am having trouble at my job because I can't finish my projects in time ever. My girlfriend is not happy with me because I have completely lost interest in sex. I am so tired all the time. I sleep fine. It just takes me a couple hours to fall asleep so I watch TV in bed. Is that a problem?"

" My husband is the one with the sleep problem not me. He works on his computer all night. I have started sleeping in a separate room because I have to go to work the next morning. I let my cat crawl into bed with me. I don't like to be alone in bed. What I don't get is why I feel I have no energy? I can't enjoy anything any more. My regular doctor prescribed an antidepressant but it has not helped so far. Could I have some bad disease?"

Sleep is the glue that holds the body and mind together. They did not realize it until they saw a sleep doctor who could put two and two together for them.

Its time to wake up from the slumber! Pun intended.

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CASehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

 

Is Retirement A Ticket to Freedom From The Rules of Life?

"I am retired. I earned it. I have no worries. I can do what I want, right?"

If you are fortunate enough to be financially, physically and emotionally secure in retirement, does it truly mean freedom?

I have had a number of patients lately, retired, relatively healthy individuals, complaining of being tired all the time, with no energy to participate in activities by themselves or with their partners in life. They feel sick, unhealthy, as if their bodies are all of a sudden falling apart. Their relationships are badly affected. All other factors being equal, the common characteristic among them has been the sense of being free from the rules the body was designed to follow.

Of course, my area of interest being sleep, that is the issue I am concerned with here. Once retired, these individuals having undergone a dramatic shift in their daily routine and lose track of what they need to do to stay healthy, energized and functioning.

They have variable bed times, wake up when they want, go to sleep when they want, take naps during the day when they want or even uncontrollably fall asleep for being sleep deprived. Caffeine, alcohol, Benadryl, antidepressants and sleeping pills are frequently being used. They often have planned well financially to live in retirement but in the process of making enough money to retire, they failed to plan for activites that would give them the motivation to keep on living a healthy life. They have either no hobbies and no planned activites, or have interests that are sedentary.

In contrast, I mistakenly believed for a long time that the only major age group susceptible to this problem was young adults and adolescents. In fact retirees seem to be suffering even more. Aging bodies, even if otherwise healthy, require better upkeep, maintenance and care. Younger bodies can take a lot of beating and still keep ticking.

If you are retired or close to retirement, know that if you retire in your 60's, you may have another forty or more years to live if you take care of yourself. You want those years to be healthy, happy and functional. To achieve that goal, you need a daily routine of activities. Scheduled exercise, yoga, meditation and participation in social activities are all included.

If you are young and retirement seems like a distant future, plan ahead; not only financially for those forty years after retirement, but to stay alive, healthy, happy and able to care for yourself. Cultivate some active interests. Learn some skills and develop hobbies and interests that are unrelated to your area of work. Keeping active and on a daily routine during retirement keeps you young. You owe it to yourself.

(Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio provides Gentle, Restorative and Yin Yoga classes, as well as Meditation classes for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life with any skill level.

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles in mind, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed.)  

 

The Human Condition: Is The Light Bulb Killing Us?

Just in the lifespans of our grandparents and great grandparents, life has changed completely. Its not just televisions, internet, cell phones and other electronics. The arrival of electric power had a dramatic effect on human life. We extended our waking day. For some of us it enables us to stay awake as late at night as we want. And many of us do want to stay up at night. It would not have been practical to stay awake at night without lights. Now, of  course lighted gadgets make it even easier. In those dark days without artificial light, insomniacs would still be counting stars, singing and telling each other stories, if it were not for the light bulb.

As we have made progress, and seemingly made great strides in improving the human condition, we have also come across a great hurdle. Our bodies are not designed the way we are trying to use them. Try using a truck as a sports car or vice versa. You get the idea.

The human body, by design, functions on a day/night cycle. The presence of light during the day and the absence of it at night is designed to set up a series of chemical reactions that depend on these signals. It is called the circadian rhythm. How is it supposed to cope with a never ending presence of light then?

The system by its design allows the body to maintain its functions during the night by synchronizing it with the onset of sleep. Sleep allows us to rest, recharge, manage the immune system, maintain metabolism including body weight, appetite, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, process our thoughts, consolidate and process memories and performs countless other functions.

When, by extending our daylight hours through the use of technology, we constantly tellour bodies that days are consistently long, we interfere with the ability of the body to allow us sufficient sleep. Short sleep equals disruption in all those functions listed above and more.

So now, with us trying to do more, more, more, with our bodies and minds, with less sleep, less consolidated memory, abnormal blood sugar and blood pressure controls, weaker immune systems that are poorly modulated, increased appetite, and feeling tired, is it fair to complain that we have a generation of overweight people; that diabetes, hypertension and heart disease occur earlier in life; that we have more allergies and immune system problems; that the businesses of energy drinks and coffee are booming; that we use billions of dollars worth of sleeping pills, antidepressants and anxiety medicines?

By not understanding how our bodies are designed to function, and not following the rhythms of nature, are we not killing ourselves?

Later Addition:

On September 10, 2012, the New York Times published a blog article about light exposure and sleep. A link to the article is copied here:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/really-using-a-computer-before-bed-can-disrupt-sleep/?smid=pl-share

Really? Using a Computer Before Bed Can Disrupt Sleep
A recent study showed that exposure to light from tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which plays a role in the sleep cycle.

Happy Couples Sleeping In Different Beds and Different Rooms: Is That Normal?

Many happily married couples, young and old, sleep in separate beds or even separate bedrooms. Somehow, this real life situation has for long escaped public knowledge, but has been practiced forever. The image presented in contrast is that a couple that does not share the bed is somehow not happy to be together.

There are many reasons that couples choose to sleep separately. Some of them are issues that are health related but remain taboo for open discussion simply becasue the couple feels their relationship will come under scrutiny. That attitude can only change if the practice is openly discussed.

The commonest reason I hear is: "he/she snores so loudly it wakes me up".

Snoring is an "alarm". It is telling you the person snoring is not able to breathe well in sleep, which represents sleep apnea, a major health problem. If you can not "hear" the alarm generated by your loved one's body, you really should doubt how much you care for them. Unfortunately, we all are guilty of this crime of ignoring alarms, because they are going off all around us, and are so common they become a subject of jokes, rather than being addressed as a health problem.

The next common one is: "I need to go to work in the morning, and he/she stays awake at night disrupting my sleep." This statement could be applied to mothers nursing babies at night, "night owls", creative people playing music or writing at night, or simply insomniacs.

Sleep is the keystone of health. Its the glue that holds the body together. If an individual has a sleep problem it is the responsibility of their friends, well wishers, loved ones, spouse and partner to get help for them and remind them of how it may be affecting their life. Unless of course, the sleep issue is situational and temporary, related to a known reason, such as a work project, school tests, or a temporary medical condition, for example painful problems, asthma, etc.

Those of us who are lucky to have someone sharing our life, should also be lucky enough that these people watch out for us when we are unable to, such as often occurs with sleep problems. Sleeping in a separate bed or separate room is just a practical solution and there is nothing really wrong with it, except that it most often represents not just a major mismatch in the partner's lifestyle, it often results from ignoring a real health problem that requires attention. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For "Always Tired, Stressed Out, Over Worked, Can't Sleep" People: If There is a Will There is "Deep Relaxation Training"!

 

Many of us were born wired for anxiety. Many of us trained ourselves for it through our childhood and adult life. Work, work, work. Work harder. Worry more. Do more. Nothing is enough more. Many of us have realized that worrying does not get us anywhere but keeps our minds from being focussed enough to solve our problems. But now we can't stop our minds. They keep buzzing, day and night. 

Some have anxiety, depression, insomnia or plain simple exhaustion. You find yourself unable to get creative or sometimes even unable to finish your everyday tasks. Work and chores keep piling up and our complaints about the 24 hour day being too short keep getting louder.

Many find they can not fall asleep or stay asleep. Some find themselves waking up too early in the morning. When it is time to get out of bed and get ready for the day you feel exhausted and unrested. You find yourself reaching for that dose of caffeine here and there to keep going, be it coffee, tea, "Coke", "5 Hour Energy", "Red Bull" or "Mountain Dew".

For all such people out there, the question is this: When will we take charge of our lives? When will be stop asking our doctors and healers for the magic pill or the magic potion, that, just like the fountain of eternal youth, does not exist.

Sometimes it is that feeling of "I can't go on like this any more" to do the Google search for a natural healing system for what ails us. And sometimes it takes a little coaxing from friends, family members and sincere well wishers to take the first step.

Now, don't take me wrong. I am not advocating that we stop pursuing medical treatments for our problems. This is a different sort of discussion here. About people who feel tired, burned out, stressed, at the end of their ropes, feeling helpless, unable to make their busy minds feel relaxed, unable to let go, who need to pay attention to new ways of treating their problems. Treating in addition to or in lieu of other treatments, depending on each situation.

Sehatu Sleep's Deep Relaxation Training system was created for these people, who want their energy and color back in their life. No chemicals, no supplements, no drugs or prescription medicines involved here.

It involves a supportive program of classes, attended in person, or in some situations via live video conferencing. Each class involves a regimen of stretching and breathing exercises, guided meditation and imagery, and a discussion about life, stress, sleep and what ails us.

To all those courageous suffering people who wish to make their lives better, we say, welcome!

Bring it on, Life, But Only If I am Rested and Relaxed!

I have had some interesting experiences this summer. It has been a busy, exciting, disturbing, hectic, troubling and inspiring summer. I went skydiving (for the third time) with my wife and son. Exciting. Our son was in a car accident, totaling the long time family vehicle. Scary. Our long time dearly loved family dog of ten years died abruptly. Disturbing. You probably get an idea of the wide variety of these experiences. You may identify with some of them too.

Rather than going into the minor details, my goal is to point out how experiences shape our lives. What life throws our way is not in our control. How hot the weather will be today or how bad the traffic will be on the way home from work are things beyond our individual control.

How we deal with what is thrown our way is critical. It also depends on what frame of mind we are in. Well rested, emotionally secure people will be able to deal with a lot of stressful events and deal with them differently than others. Suffering already from over work and stress, leading to lack of good quality sleep, many of us are left with little emotional capacity to take any more trouble and deal with it adequately.

There are people in this world who have to walk long distances for drinking water and wonder each morning if they will find the one meal for that day. There are people who have been through genocides, massacres, famines, floods, epidemics and all kinds of mass miseries inflicted on them by other people and by nature. Are they all emotionally exhausted, mentally paralyzed, unable to function, survive, move forward and build their lives? May be some, but not all.

On the other hand, there are people with every imaginable luxury of life, who would give anything to be able to take a nap, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston who gave their lives trying to obtain a few moments of forced, chemically induced rest for their minds.

What is the difference? The difference is in genetics, brain wiring, cultures, environment and upbringing. Given all else being equal, those of us who find themselves unable to feel emotionally secure, able to let go, calm their minds, rest and recharge to face the inflictions of everyday life, need to learn these skills. If it does not come naturally, it has to be learnt. Like a child learns to walk naturally, but has to be taught how to ride a bicycle.

It is the job of those who are in the position of helping others, to assist them in this journey. It is also the job of those who are looking for help, grasping for straws, to seek out this help. It is available. It is here. We do it every day at Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio.

Go, get it, wherever you can. It will make life better, easier and more fun for all.

 

 

Traveling Well and Grateful

It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Buddha

So, growing a business, any business, is hard. And, it is easier if you truly believe and have a passion for the work. If the work you do is in your essence. I know the above quote I have left at the end of the mat in classes this week can apply to anything and mostly to the big something: LIFE. It also struck me this morning... as I was going about my yard watering and playing with my dogs before the heat...it applies to growing Sehatu Sleep and Yoga, as well.

We are traveling well, Sehatu. Meeting new students, sharing our passion for Yoga and Relaxation Training, well. There is not an arrival, an outcome, beyond sharing practices and methods that have worked for us. What could be better, more authentic, than to be given the opportunity to share? Thank you.

We had a bit of a “staff meeting” a few nights ago. The time just whizzed by as we all sat around on chairs, bolsters, mats or the floor and shared like little kids our stories around Yoga and sleep. Sharing our travels that have brought us to Sehatu. Several of us commented about the energy of the space and the evening and how that sweet enthusiasm of like-minded, committed individuals, coming together was apparent. The energy you feel in your body when you know you are fully there and in your essence. I have learned to listen to that felt sense. It has helped me to travel well and to appreciate where I am today on and off the mat. Again, thank you Friendly Universe and all fellow travelers. Travel well.

Here is the Poem I have read to classes all week and a few of you asked for. “Walk Slowly”, by Danna Faulds, from Go In and In, Poems from the Heart of Yoga.

 

Walk Slowly

It only takes a reminder to breathe,

a moment to be still, and just like that,

something in me settles, softens, makes

space for imperfection. The harsh voice

of judgment drops to a whisper and I

remember again that life isn’t a relay

race; that we will all cross the finish

line; that waking up to life is what we

were born for. As many times as I

forget, catch myself charging forward

without even knowing where I’m going,

that many times I can make the choice

to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk

slowly into the mystery.

 

On Life, Death, Health and Sleep

I have had a few enlightening encounters with my patients in the last few weeks. Recently, one of my patient's wife made an intense comment: "He gasps and chokes in sleep. I can't let him die like this! Two of my family members passed away in the last few years and I could not save them. I can't let it happen again!!" This led to a discussion. Another young patient in his 70's said to me today he probably has five to ten more years to live considering how sickly he is. This led to another discussion. A third patient said: "I know I have neglected myself and my family for the last several years. I have been spending all my time at work. I now want to switch my life around."

I just want to share a few of my thoughts from these encounters.

We all know we did not choose whether, when, and where to arrive in this world and won't choose the time of our death either. This fact however gets lost on us while we struggle in our lives to go to school, learn, have jobs and families, in the process developing a false sense of control over ours and our loved ones' lives.

Its not about how long we live. Its how we live. A healthy, useful, long life. A productive, loving life. The duration does count, but the quality does lots more.

While death is certain for every living organism, a realization of this absolute fact makes the job of making the best of every second, minute, hour and day of life even more significant.

Given good health care and a balanced lifestyle, people should be able to live happily way past 100 years. To have a fatalistic attitude towards life as one gets older prevents the person from enjoying every day of life that they still do have.

Its not about choosing between work and family. Its about finding a balance.

We can not hang on to those we love. We have to let go of them in order to love them.

The need to control.... a quality shared by many smart, intellectually gifted people is most often a major factor in them feeling unable to relax, let go, fall and stay asleep. This is a sign of loss of that delicate balance in life that is necessary for health, wellness and happiness.

This is exactly why we need to work hard towards restoring that balance, learning to control and let go, learning to live and die, by retraining our minds.

We need to learn to Relax, Sleep better and Perform at our best, for a healthy, longer, happier, more fulfilling life.

 

 

 

No "Shoulds" Allowed!

 

“Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.” Brene' Brown, The Gift of Imperfection

 
I love this quote. I know it can apply to a multitude of moments in my life. I find it resonates for me on my Yoga mat doing Yoga asana, as well. (Yoga asana is the poses, the physical practice of Yoga)
I shared this quote with those attending our Sunday Yin class at Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio. I shared it from that authentic place of knowing, once again, the vulnerability of a physical practice in a Yoga class.  It takes time to put it into context, to get out of our heads. It took me some time to realize that nobody else is looking at me, no one else is evaluating or assessing my practice. They are in their own practice. Wow! Really?
 
Actually there is someone who is evaluating me...my practice...deciding I should be or look a certain way...ME!
 
Over the years, I heard my teachers talk of suffering and how when we venture into the “shoulds” we suffer, we become anxious, we become wound up, we leave our body and we are fully in the grip of our thoughts, our images, our perceptions. We are no longer connected to what is and wishing instead it all be different. We suffer when we want reality to be different. When we think reality should be different. Thank you, teachers. Keep sharing and reminding me. I am my own worst “shoulder”...until I observe it and stop, breath and accept. Embrace.
 
Imagine for a moment how different it might be to fully embrace a moment rather than wish the moment was different, wish we were different in the moment. Ahhh … Freedom. I feel immediate freedom to be in this moment whatever it is when I let go of all the thoughts it should be different, all the thoughts I should be different.
After our class we informally discussed how this can be a wonderful freedom experienced in a Yoga class, practiced in a Yoga class. When we let go of the way we think a shape/pose/posture should look we give ourselves the opportunity to enjoy, to embrace, the way the shape/pose/posture actually feels in our body. We can tune into the reality of sensations and let our thinking mind rest for a bit. It is then that we are in our practice of Yoga. It is then that we are out of our head and in the moment: present, free.
 
I also love the title of this book: The Gift of Imperfection. Smiling!