Dream of Finer Sleep?

How’d you sleep last night? Reasons for sleeplessness may differ yet strategies for successful sleep often bear remarkable similarities. Before you hire a sleep specialist though, why not try tactics that calm the brain and come without side effects of medicine.

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You’ll likely sleep better and enhance REM if you:

  1. Remain upbeat and use sleepless spaces to relax and listen to classical music which slows racing brainwaves.
  2. Retire about the same time nightly when possible.
  3. Create a comfortable setting to sleep, without distractions such as TV or computers.
  4. Set aside problems from work or relationships and list solution possibilities long before sleeping – with a more relaxed mind.
  5. Stop eating heavy foods several hours before lights go out for the night.
  6. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol before bed.
  7. Exercise earlier in the day, then avoid rigorous work outs near bedtime.
  8. Lower blinds and draw curtains to maintain darkness in sleep area. Dark areas increase your melatonin levels, the brain chemical that causes and sustains sleep.

What do you do to ensure you sleep well enough to put you in a good mood at work the next day?

Sleep comes from slower waves:

Sleep requires slower brainwaves than peak performances compels. It’s the flip side of your mind energized by fast moving brain waves – called beta waves. Start to daydream during a lecture, or a boring meeting, for instance, and your brain waves shift down a gear to alpha brain waves.

You’re likely still awake when speakers drone on, yet your waves would register lower on an EEG, which is a reading that measures brain waves by hooking electrodes to several points on your head. How so?
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Move down one level lower to theta waves and your body relaxes, heart rate and respiration lower slightly, and your mind tends to move back and forth between creative energy and deep relaxation. Eventually, the lowest brain waves, called delta, kick in, and for awhile the brain moves back and forth between delta and theta movement.

In the first stage of sleep, EEGs show the brain waves slowing down progressively through a thirty minute period. Your brain at that point shifts into REM or rapid eye movement sleep.

Nathaniel Kleitman, discovered in the 1950s, that is REM sleep a person’s eyes flutter rapidly in all directions. In REM stages of sleep people dream, and when woken in that stage you may feel like a Mack truck hit you – but you will likely remember your dreams. Interestingly brain waves at the deepest sleep speed up again – even though the brain remains dormant to conscious thought.

The key is to sustain brain waves suitable for the moment, based on what you hope to accomplish. Easier said than done for a person prone to stress. For example, alpha waves are generated by the relaxed brain, so that you have vivid memories, aha moments, and you feel at peace with the world.

Chemical and electrical activity alters sleep waves:

Serotonin chemicals are released which is characterized by high performance and researchers tell us that when some people begin to move from alpha waves into theta movement, sleep soon follows.

In contrast, the stress hormone cortisol is released in dangerous doses in people who sustain stress in the lives. This can be caused by poor diet, lack of priorities, too little sleep, habits such as meta messages which generate poor relationships, and lack of reflection that helps you grow and progress in daily doses.

Whether sleep is poor through stress, or quiet and relaxed in calm, you’ll enjoy three terrific books, to sustain brainwaves for sleep at night and higher performance in day.

Check out Dr. Daniel Amen’s book, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN CHANGE YOUR LIFE, which suggests wonderful ways to tackle anxiety, diminish anger and break obsessions. Then read, Dr. Anna Wise in, THE HIGH PERFORMANCE MIND, to find practical helps for improved creativity, spirituality, and relationships. The third recommended book, A SYMPHONY IN THE BRAIN,  by  journalist, Jim Robbins, explains the science behind activating brain frequencies you may not normally use.

Additional Sleep Related Posts:

1. Repaid Sleep Debts?

2. Brain Waves to Sleep

3. Examples of brain entrainment also here

8 Comments

  1. I save the eye masks that airlines gave me when I took an overseas flight. If I encounter sleep problems by awaking too early in the morning when the sun shines, I use these since the summer sun it so bright that it penetrates light colored shades.

    Taking melatonin in natural form, might be helpful as well. I do not think this is considered a chemical.

    Another way to sleep well is to make sure you get a couple of hours outside when it is sunny. That would be a great time to garden or take a brisk hike.

  2. eweber says:

    Great ideas here Robyn, and since I pulled up buckets of ivy in my yard today, I sense sleep will come easy tonight:-) Thanks for the cool additions.

  3. Brad Shorr says:

    Hi Ellen, Good tips, and timely ones for me. I’ve got most of your bases covered, but now – if I could only learn how to set problems aside.

  4. eweber says:

    Brad Hi, and it’s good to see you. You represent many people who carry many difficult issues to sleep. In fact you have just given me a grand topic for a blog on that process – with the brain in mind:-) Thanks Brad, and do check back soon:-)

  5. […] Dream of finer sleep? Read on… […]

  6. Wally Bock says:

    What a fine overview post, Ellen. Let me add a couple of items.

    Just choosing classical music won’t get the entrainment affect that slows brain waves. You need to pick the right tempo. For calming, that’s probably Adagio (slow and stately – 66-78 beats per minute). Baroque style is best because the beat remains constant. With today’s technology, it’s easy to put together an MP3 playlist of Adagio movements. Playing them through headphones increases the entrainment affect.

    Robyn – melatonin can be a problem. For a significant number of people, the wrong does of melatonin actually increases wakefulness.

    Another tip, one that might help Brad, is that counting slow, diaphragmatic breaths is an excellent way to calm down and works well when you’re trying to go to sleep. The counting helps keep the worries at bay and it and the breathing help you calm enough to sleep.

  7. eweber says:

    Wally, what you say is spot on, but is true of most everything related to mental well being. We are not all the same, we come with unique genetic mental pools and then wire these daily dependant on what we do.

    Each person will want to adjust and retweak regularly for best effects. Some things that work now – will work less when done frequently for instance:-) Thanks for the reminder that change impacts how to find our best place in the world. You model it well, Wally, yet it’s fun to have reminders! Thanks!

  8. […] Sleep problems increase for those who fail to recognize stress or run from it as you’d dash away from any serial killer. It often starts with an inability to remain  calm under pressure. Reasons for sleeplessness differ, yet stressed people report remarkable similarities to sleepless nights. […]

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