Sleep Well for Brain Health
Updated: Feb 1
By Oran Aviv
Who would have believed that hearing several women talk about having difficulty sleeping would lead to a month of blogs on the subject of sleep!
I couldn’t write about sleep without mentioning the importance of sleep for preventing dementia as well as keeping us healthy, so that will be the subject of this the 4th and last blog about sleep this month.
It you aren’t sleeping well and want to improve your sleep, we have already shared 20 sleep tips in our first two sleep blogs:
Sleep Well Part 1 – Before You Go to Sleep
Sleep Well Part 2 – How to Fall Asleep
Plus a method to help you sleep:
In today’s blog we will share a few more sleep tips to help everyone to sleep much better.
The Importance of Sleep
When a client comes to me with numerous health complaints that include poor sleep, we will always try to deal with the sleep issue first. Many times, once a client has improved sleep, that alone may reduce many of the other health complaints.
We spend a third of our lives sleeping! There must be a good reason for this and there is. It is at night, when we sleep, that our brain jumps into action to heal and repair damaged cells. If we don’t sleep well, we don’t allow our immune system to do its job.
I like to explain to my clients that our brain takes out the menu for the night and sees what it must work on to repair our body. For example, after doing body work on a client to release some tight muscles, the brain’s menu for the night will include to relax those muscles that were worked on. Therefore it is super important that you sleep well after any body work session so you can continue to heal.
It is not true that we need less sleep as we age. We still should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. What is true, is that many of us have more sleep issues as we get older. Please don’t accept poor sleep as part of normal aging and find ways to get a good night’s sleep.
Recent research shows that under 6 hours of sleep at night increases the risk of dementia.
“Higher dementia risk associated with a sleep duration of six hours or less at age 50 and 60, compared with a normal (7 h) sleep duration”
Snoring? Tired? Get Checked
A few months ago I received this call:
Hi, I called to thank you. You don’t know why, but you may have saved me.
I have written about Sleep Apnea in previous blogs, and after this phone call I am writing about it once again.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing can stop and start. This can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain while asleep.
If you snore and find you are not sleeping well every night or may be sleeping but find you are tired during the day, check with your doctor and get tested for sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea is easy to test for and treat. However, if left untreated, it can be very dangerous and can even lead to dementia!
I know someone who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s type dementia. As I learned more about the person’s health history, I discovered that it was sleep apnea that had caused mini strokes that lead to dementia. I was stunned.
I realized that this person, who could no longer function on their own, suffered from memory loss and confusion, could have continued with their normal life if they had only been checked and treated for sleep apnea.
The more severe the sleep apnea, the greater the risk of stroke
The same person who called to thank me, said that she had started snoring lately. After reading one of my previous blogs about the dangers of sleep apnea, she decided to get tested. She discovered that she indeed had sleep apnea.
In her phone conversation she said to please tell everyone:
The take-home test to check for sleep apnea is easy to use and the apparatus she now uses to prevent sleep apnea is simple to get used to. She urges everyone who snores to get checked for sleep apnea.
Please get checked if you are tired and especially if you snore. The test is a simple take-home device. Please don't wait. Make an appointment to see your doctor today.
Sleep Tip #21 - Happy Place
In our on-line Centering Workup last month, Nancy explained the way she likes to Center before validating a client. Nancy thinks about a place that she loves. This exercise of finding a place that makes us feel happy and calm, can also be used to help us fall asleep.
Can you remember a place or moment where you felt calm and content?
For some this place may be at the beach. Have you ever noticed which photos are chosen to illustrate paradise? You can do a Google image search for “paradise.” You will see photos of tropical beaches.
In his book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, David Linden explains why we tend to think of tropical beaches as paradise:
“The reason is the weather: Paradise is a place where our bodies don’t have to work very hard to maintain our core temperature of approximately 99° F.” (37° C)
Personally the place I love is in the Mountains and when I have difficulty sleeping since returning, I try to remember the thrill and happiness I recently felt when the skies cleared, and we saw the entire Himalayan range while on a trek.
One of the lovely participants in our Centering workshop explained that the place she remembers and loves, was when she was cuddled up as a child on her grandmother's lap.
For others it might be a family event, perhaps a wedding or birth or maybe a memory of a place in your childhood where you felt happy and safe.
Think about a place that you love as you close your eyes to go to sleep. Imagine the place and think about how you felt when you were there. This may help you forget about all that happened during the day and allow you to go to sleep feeling calm and content.
Sleep Tip #22 - Map your House
When my kids were young, we used to play a game on long car trips that we called “Where is the teddy bear?” One of us would think of a place in our house where we could hide the teddy bear and then we would ask yes or no questions to figure out where the bear was.
For example – I would imagine that the teddy bear was in the washing machine and the kids would have to ask questions to find him. Is he in the living room? Is he in the washroom? Is he on the shelf? The game made all of us explore the house with our minds to try to find where the teddy bear was hidden.
I adapted exploration of the house as a way of falling asleep. I don’t look for the teddy bear, but I slowly go around a room, trying to remember everything that is in that room.
You can begin in your own bedroom. What is on the nightstand, what picture is on the wall, what clothes are on the chair, what is on the drawers. Go from wall to wall and think about each detail. When you finish mapping one room, you can go on to the next room. I tried this exercise again last night and I didn’t get past the second wall of my bedroom before falling asleep.
I have also used this exercise to remember and explore homes I used to live in. I tried to imagine the house where I was born. We moved from my first house just as I turned 4.
After several nights of falling asleep exploring my old house, I was able to draw a map of the house and showed it to my older sister. She said I remembered where almost every room was and where some furniture was too (including my crib!)
I find this sleep exercise a good mental workout. It tires my brain and I fall asleep.
Sleep Tip #23 - Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies are dilutions of flower material developed by Dr. Edward Bach. I shared how to use one prepared remedy, Rescue in a recent sleep blog, but there are many other remedies that can help with sleep. Sat-Sung Kalman Hassid, who is a Bach Flower practitioner, was kind enough to share how these remedies can help us sleep better.
Sat-Sung stresses that these are general suggestions only. The Bach Flower remedy may vary according to the reason for a sleep issue, however the tinctures suggested below often help with a wide range of sleep problems.
Impatiens: This Bach Flower essence helps you relax your pace, both physically and mentally. When you slow down, you can fall asleep easier.
Vervain: Are you the type of person who is very principled or gets worked up about special causes? If so, the Bach Flower essence Vervain may help you sleep better. Vervain is a useful remedy for those whose enthusiasm, especially their enthusiasm for special causes, keeps them up at night.
Olive: The Bach Flower Olive helps your body recover when you need extra sleep. Perhaps you returned from a holiday, went through an intense period at work, recovered from an illness or have sleep deprivation (i.e due to a newborn or caring for a loved one.) Olive helps your body reclaim the missing sleep so you will feel rested and healthier.
Star of Bethlehem: If past shocks or trauma are the reason for your sleep issues, consider Star of Bethlehem, which helps traumas seep gently from your body, rather than remain trapped inside and cause health problems. Sat-Sung mentions that when she takes this remedy, she feels as though she’s being given a huge cosmic hug.
Rock Rose: Often connected with Star of Bethlehem, this Bach Flower essence is invaluable when you have night fears or terrors, such as upon waking from a nightmare. Rock Rose helps calm you so you can return to sleep.
Stress Formula: Stress Formula is a combination of different Bach Flower remedies and is intended to help you relax and calm during stressful situations. When taken before sleep (or upon awaking in the middle of the night) it can help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.
To learn more, Sat-Sung suggests contacting your Bach Flower practitioner or you can contact Sat-Sung who gives consultations to clients (and about their pets) both in-person and by Zoom.
You can reach her at email@example.com or visit her website: https://www.presence-flow.com/contact Many thanks to Sat-Sung for sharing her knowledge and experience with us. I truly hope these blogs have helped you find a way to sleep better. Please do let me know by commenting below or by commenting on one of our social media pages. I am working on a sleep webinar to explain better the methods I have been using to fall asleep and fall back to sleep. Please sign up for our monthly newsletter or follow us so you will know about this and other events.
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