Seeking the Sweet Spot of Sleep

In my previous blog about distractions, the statistics of the thousands of times most of us touch our phones a day is staggering. Here is another sobering one by the same market researcher- Dscout. 50% of consumers check their phones in the middle of the night.

This makes sense given we are a sleep deprived culture. I see it in my client practice daily. Sleep falls securely under the category of life coaching because it is essential to optimum health, well being (both emotional and physical) and for proper productivity. And, I am about to make a strong case for why we need to address this deficit.

Repairing a sleep issue is not a quick fix and requires a multi pronged approach. Patience and diligence is key. Like any skill, it can be built. There is mounting evidence that 7-8 hours of slumber a night is correlated with slowing the progression of Alzheimers disease. It appears that improper sleep time promotes the development of dementia. A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of public health linked poorer sleep levels in people over 70 with higher levels of beta amyloid- a brain plaque that indicates Alzheimers.

Toxins build up in our brains during waking hours. And amazing cells in the brain called glia clean these toxins when we get a 7-8 hour block of sleep. So, think of those cells as the custodians of our brains that need a full shift to get the job done right. It explains why Alzheimers is sometimes referred to as a dirty brain disease. If sleep can clean the brain, I want a clean brain. I bet you do, too!

Things that disrupt a good night’s sleep include caffeine, worry, anxiety, lack of exercise and electronic use too close to bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronics suppresses melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, more than any other artificial light. This according to Harvard Medical school.

It is extreme to suggest that we stop using devices that emit blue light altogether. A gentler approach is to stop exposure 30-60 minutes before bedtime. We can do other things to help with what is called sleep hygiene. Creating a calming nightly ritual can become a safe haven of as we wind down. One of my clients uses soothing essential oils and my experience has mirrored her results. Some people swear by reading for near instant shuteye. In my cold Chicagoland winters, a microwaveable heating pack draped across the neck and shoulders starts to put my body in relax mode.

Be creative. Discover what can work for you and your current lifestyle. The success rate is high when my clients are motivated to repair their sleep.

Back to Dscout marketing. 40% of consumers touch their devices within 5 minutes of waking up. I am 100% on board with this practice because the blue light has an awakening effect.

Blue Light at night. Sleep is a fright.

Blue when you rise. Bright, restful eyes.

Coffee, Tea, Energy, and Anxiety: How Caffeine Affects Your Well-Being

Caffeine is the world’s most popular psychoactive drug, and nothing else comes close. Billions of people enjoy caffeine’s uplifting, energizing effects, many of them habitually.

Some even take pills containing nothing more than pure, powdered caffeine and an inert binder. Far more common, though, is to consume caffeine by sipping one of two brewed beverages, each with a long history.

Coffee and tea both have many passionate fans, and each is commonly thought to encourage a distinctive type of caffeine-induced experience. Although caffeine use is generally considered safe for most, it can have both benefits and drawbacks. Being familiar with the latest research into caffeine, coffee, and tea consumption will make it easier to achieve a balance that promotes well-being.

Caffeine is a Gentle but Effective Stimulant

Caffeine’s most notable and widely recognized effects are achieved through direct stimulation of the central nervous system (CNS). The longer a well-rested person stays awake, the more a substance called “adenosine” accumulates within and around the neurons of the CNS.

Adenosine-specific receptors throughout the CNS contribute to increasing sensations of drowsiness the more they get triggered. These feelings build up over time, ensuring that a person whose body and mind need rest will feel sleepier and sleepier.

Introducing caffeine into the CNS will temporarily hit the “pause” button on this important process. Caffeine effectively takes adenosine receptors offline, reducing the feeling of drowsiness even while large quantities of that chemical are still present.

Drinking a cup of caffeine-rich coffee or strong tea early in the morning will buy a person some time until the body’s natural means of adenosine elimination get into gear. That pushes away early-morning drowsiness long enough for genuine, natural alertness and energy to return.

Enjoying a mug of tea or a cup of coffee later on in the day can be just as effective at perking a person up. With adenosine having accumulated within the CNS to any degree, a modest dose of caffeine delivered courtesy of coffee or tea will help mitigate its drowsiness-inducing effects.

The Effects of Caffeine Vary With Dosage

Take too much caffeine at once, though, and unpleasant feelings like anxiety can follow. A Penn State Health report from 2019 described how even a second “grande” cup of Starbucks coffee can cause anxiety-inducing over-stimulation in certain people.

On the other side of the coin, many have also experienced how a cup of caffeinated tea can actually leave someone feeling excessively mellowed out instead of energized. Tea tends to have quite a bit less caffeine than coffee in general, and certain varieties are even lighter on it than others. Couple this with the fact that many types of tea contain natural relaxants, and the boost a small amount of caffeine provides might get lost in the mix.

  • Tea may help with anxiety and still assist with alertness.
  • Try different types of tea and see what works for your palate and situation.
  • Too much coffee may have an opposite affect from what you want.

It can therefore take some experimentation and analysis to figure out how best to use coffee or tea to promote personal well-being. The mechanism by which caffeine works is well understood, but variations among individuals and factors like dosage complicate the equation. Fortunately, tea and coffee are both considered safe–or even beneficial–for most to consume in moderation.

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