More Sleep Doesn’t Always Mean Better Sleep

More Sleep Doesn’t Always Mean Better Sleep

better sleep

Most of us spend close to a third of each 24-hour day sleeping, so it’s natural that sleep is a frequent subject of scientific study.

Sleep and how it relates to cognition—our mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses—which includes our moods, has been a focus of research for quite some time. Over the years, researchers have debated whether quantity or quality is more important to achieving better sleep.

Studying Sleep

Recently researchers at John Hopkins University compared two groups of individuals. One group had its typical sleep time reduced, while researchers interrupted the sleep of the other group. The results, published in the journal Sleep in November 2015, demonstrated that those with induced sleep interruptions showed an increase in negative emotions—including emotions often described by people experiencing clinical depression—as compared to those whose sleep was reduced in length, but uninterrupted.

 

3 Steps to Better Sleep

The importance of these studies is that when you evaluate your own sleep patterns, including what you consider insomnia, think about the following three steps:

Step 1: The first step in assessing insomnia, defined as any difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep, is to rule out a primary sleep disorder. There might be many reasons people experience fragmented, interrupted sleep patterns in their daily lives.

One of the most common sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea, which is associated with a history of loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. According to a 2009 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that surveyed close to 75,000 individuals, 48 percent of respondents reported snoring. Another condition related to disrupted sleep patterns is restless leg syndrome, which causes the body to make jerking movements throughout the night.

 

Step 2: The second step in assessing insomnia is to determine whether anxiety or depression is its root cause. According to a 2008 study in Dialogues of Clinical Neuroscience, depression and anxiety can contribute to difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep and early morning awakenings. Might you be depressed because you have a sleep disorder that is interrupting sleep, or are you having trouble sleeping due to depression or anxiety? It is crucial to determine this with the help of a sleep specialist or primary care physician experienced in sleep disorders.

 

Step 3: Once a primary sleep disorder, depression or anxiety are ruled out, the third step is seeking help to determine other causes of your interrupted sleep patterns. These could be related to medical conditions, environmental factors, or lifestyle and dietary habits, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the American Sleep Association, the CDC and the Mayo Clinic, which all maintain online guides to improving sleep hygiene.

 

Medical conditions that can cause sleep disturbances:

  • Chronic pain, such as that related to arthritis, neck or back pain
  • Neurologic conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Medications, including beta blockers, antihistamines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

 

Lifestyle and dietary habits that diminish sleep quality:

  • Alcohol close to bedtime, which can cause sleep disruption in general, but specifically during the restorative second half of the nightly sleep cycle
  • Eating heavy meals close to bedtime, which can lead to increased gastroesophageal reflux during sleep
  • External sources of disruption, such as pets moving around in the bed
  • Noise
  • Light, especially from electronic devices such as TVs, computer and mobile phones

 

Promote Healthy Sleep Patterns

In addition to modifying any conditions listed above, try these tips for improving your sleep quality:

  • Eat a high-glycemic-index carbohydrate snack at night; in a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, such snacks were found to increase tryptophan, an amino acid that enhances sleep onset.
  • Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Turn off your smartphone, and avoid using electronic devices close to bedtime.
  • Try to wake at the same time every morning to help reinforce your circadian rhythm. Exposure to early morning light upon waking can also help.

The importance of healthy sleep patterns is essential to optimizing health. Inadequate sleep contributes to a multitude of health issues, including diminished immune response, depression, and decreased happiness and overall well-being. Getting a good night’s rest, combined with healthy eating and daily physical activity, is the foundation of good health.

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Tension Headaches & Massage

 

Did you know that E2W has services available that are just for headaches?! They are stand alone services, but they can also be added on to any massage.

The Power of Touch for Tension Headaches

Many Americans suffer from tension headaches for many different reasons. In some cases, the cause may be hereditary, while others are the result of lifestyle or environment, such as poor posture, bad eating habits, a new child or a combination of any stress-inducing factors.

Massage therapy can help you deal with the pain while you figure out how to mitigate the factors that might be causing your headaches.

What the research says

The American Journal of Manipulative Physiological and Therapeutics reports that a 30-minute massage on cervical trigger points may improve autonomic nervous system regulation in chronic tension headache patients. Patients also exhibit a better psychological state and reduce the stress and anxiety associated with this disorder. Patients reported relief of symptoms within 24 hours after the massage.

According to a study by the National Headache Foundation, stress is the most frequent headache trigger, with 88 percent of patients from rural and urban areas reporting stress as the cause for ensuing headaches and exacerbating headache symptoms.

Managing stress is a good way to keep headaches at bay

It’s true that stress is a part of most everyone’s life. Finding ways to manage stress, such as making massage therapy a regular part of your health regimen, can help you relieve the pain of tension headaches.

Day 12 Wellness Challenge

Get a massage!!

The Benefits Of Massage
What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
  • Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improvingcirculation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

A Powerful Ally
There’s no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.

Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Furthermore, clients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.

Profound Effects
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat postsurgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.

Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits
Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

Review the clinical research studies examining the benefits of massage.

Review massage information from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Day 11 Wellness Challenge

Laughter can be the best medicine…

A little laughter can go a long way, a new study reveals.

We all know the mood-boosting benefits of a good laugh, but researchers at California’s Loma Linda University set out to find out if humor can deliver more than just comic relief. The study looked at 20 healthy older adults in their 60s and 70s, measuring their stress levels and short-term memory. One group was asked to sit silently, not talking, reading, or using their cellphones, while the other group watched funny videos.

After 20 minutes, the participants gave saliva samples and took a short memory test. While both groups performed better after the break than before, the “humor group” performed significantly better when it came to memory recall. Participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6 percent, compared with 20.3 percent in the non-humor group.

Moreover, the humor group showed considerably lower levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” after watching the videos. The non-humor group’s stress levels decreased just slightly.

Other studies have also shown the wide-ranging health benefits of laughter. A Vanderbilt University study estimated that just 10-15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 40 calories. Meanwhile, a University of Maryland study found that a sense of humor can protect against heart disease.

Lower cortisol? Lower stress? Sounds pretty good. But researchers insist the benefits are even greater.

“There are several benefits to humor and laughter,” explained Gurinder S. Bains, a Ph.D. candidate at Loma Linda University, who co-authored the study. “Older adults need to have a better quality of life. Incorporating time to laugh, through social interaction with friends, enjoying exercise in a group setting, or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV daily, can enhance your learning ability and delayed recall.”

So what can be done?

“Find what makes you laugh and include it in your daily routine,” Bains said. “As an older adult, you will face age associated memory deficits, but humor and laughter can be integrated into a whole person wellness plan that can translate into improvements in your quality of life: mind, body, and spirit.”

(h/t ABC News)

Day 10 Wellness Challenge

Learn Something New

Most of us have one or two areas of knowledge that we strive to know very well — things related to our jobs, of course, and maybe a hobby or two. But while it’s important to develop a deep understanding of the things that matter most to us, it is just as important to develop a broad understanding of the world in general.

A lot of unfortunate people think that learning for the sake of learning is something for schoolchildren, and maybe college students. All the things there are to learn and know that don’t impact directly on their immediate lives they dismiss as “trivia”. Out in the “real world”, they think, there’s no time for such frivolities — there’s serious work to get done!

There are a lot of good, practical reasons to make learning something new a part of your daily routine, but the best reason has nothing to do with practicality — we are learning creatures, and the lifelong practice of learning is what makes us humans and our lives worthwhile. If that idealistic musing’s not enough, here’s some more down-to-earth benefits:

  • Learning across a wide range of subjects gives us a range of perspectives to call on in our own narrow day-to-day areas of specialization.
  • Learning helps us more easily and readily adapt to new situations.
  • A broad knowledge of unfamiliar situations feeds innovation by inspiring us to think creatively and providing examples to follow.
  • Learning deepens our character and makes us more inspiring to those around us.
  • Learning makes us more confident.
  • Learning instills an understanding of the historical, social, and natural processes that impact and limit our lives.
  • And, like I said, there’s the whole “making like worth living” thing.

There is, after all, a reason the term “well-read” is a compliment.

Day 9 Wellness Challenge

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Just for today try and eat at least one serving of fruit and veggies during the work day. Smoothies are great to help increase the amount you are eating. Comment with a picture on our Facebook page of how you are increasing your fruit and veggie intake!

Challenge yourself!

  • two servings after the work day
  • pick two colors of the rainbow and eat them with each meal
  • eat all colors of the rainbow in a day

Day 7 Wellness Challenge

Arts & Crafts


Many of us have heard about the benefits of meditation, but sometimes find it hard to do. Fewer of us know about the profound benefits of artistic expression. Creating art, however, is another way to access a meditative state of mind and the profound healing it brings.

“Art is a guarantee to sanity,” said Louise Bourgeois, a French-American artist who died in 2010 at the age of 98. She even went on to add, “…This is the most important thing I have said.” For Bourgeois, art — making art — was a tool for coping with overwhelming emotion. She says she remembers making small sculptures out of bread crumbs at the dinner table when she was a little girl – as a way of dealing with her dominating father. Art was more than an escape – it kept her sane.

Art therapy has a healing effect for a variety of ailments, including depression, trauma and illness. and is effective across age, gender or ethnicity. In a recent study of cancer patients, an art therapy intervention — in conjunction with conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation — not only diminished symptoms typically associated with cancer such as pain, fatigue and anxiety, but also enhanced life expectancy. The study, its authors said, was based on the belief that “the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. It is used to help patients, or their families, increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms, and adapt to stressful and traumatic experiences.” 

Art is not only healing for individuals suffering from severe illness.

Research has shown the power of meditation and the science behind it. One of the reasons it is so powerful is that it fosters acceptance. Creating art is a type of meditation, an  active training of the mind that increase awareness and emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind.

Art, like meditation, allows us to create space between our often negative, anxious thoughts and connect with our true selves – as opposed to with the fleeting or false sense of identity we sometimes have when we are caught up in our thoughts and emotions.

The staff at Elements to Wellness will be hosting creative art workshops in the near future. Are you interested? Be sure to like our Facebook page to be the first one to know when our events are happening.

Do you want to have a workshop scheduled for you and your friends? Just let us know!

Fulfillment Daily: Daily Science-Backed News for a Happier Life, founded by Stanford University psychologist Emma Seppala, who is also Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford’s School of Medicine.

Day 6 Wellness Challenge

Eat a Balanced Lunch

We all have busy lives and are over scheduled. Preparation is the key to eating a balanced meal- especially at work. To get use to preparing a healthy lunch ahead of time try some of these tips:

  • Spend about 15 minutes one or two nights a week preparing fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Make a double portion of a healthy dinner and before it is served, place a lunch portion in a container in the fridge ready to go.
  • Make sure to have some bananas on hand. No prep needed.
  • Avocados are great in salads or on their own!

 

Day 5 Wellness Challenge

Pay It Forward

With the holidays quickly approaching, I had been finding it hard to reflect on buying meaningful gifts for people that I feel obligated to buy for. I see an overwhelming, ever growing list in front of me. The obligations are just that-obligations.
When I am writing my to do list and I see buying a gift for someone next to wash towels and pick up dinner, I see it as a chore and it has lost its charm. Don’t get me wrong- I love the moments when I see my loved ones open a present from me for any occasion. Buy the knowledge that brightening someones day with a true surprise is a wonderful feeling.
When I was 15 years old, I bought the book Catcher in the Rye. There was a handwritten note in the book that said “What ever it is that ails you, you can get through it.” I don’t know if it was that note or the actual book that made the story resonate for me ( To this day it is still one my favorite books). It was that simple, kind note that made me pay a bit more attention to the meaning of the book, as well as made me wonder what this person may have been going through to share that bit of wisdom and encouragement.
For Day 5 I recommend that you pay it forward. It is amazing how good you can feel when you do something to brighten someones day without expecting anything in return.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • buy the person behind you in the drive thru a coffee
  • let someone in front of you in line that has less items
  • give someone a hug
  • be kind
  • buy a gift and donate it
  • write encouraging words in a book and give it away
  • buy a homeless person a meal
  • pay a bill for someone in need
  • if you see people taking a selfie- stop and ask if they would like you to take their picture
  • buy a gift certificate for a massage for someone for no reason
  • compliment someone
  • send a positive text message to someone
  • leave unused coupons in the grocery store
  • smile and make eye contact with 5 people you do not know