Introduction to the Power Nap
As I write this, I am brimming with mental energy. I don’t have this sort of mental energy all day long, so I have to take advantage of it when I do. As long as I got a good sleep and am healthy, I have this kind of energy about an hour after I wake up (and after a coffee…). Then, there’s another time of day where I have this kind of energy again. It’s right after my power nap. I’ve been power napping for over ten years. Not every day, but whenever I can make it happen or really need it. It’s almost always in the early to mid afternoon, and takes at most twenty minutes, and usually more like fifteen. I simply let go, nod off, and I’m back, refreshed.
It’s a skill I’m quite proud of. Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 8: The Power Nap
Our focus on cortisol started with Sleep Series Part 4 which laid out the science of what cortisol is, its cycle, and how it affects sleep. In the following post, we looked at a few reasons why evening cortisol might be high. The last post presented methods for lowering evening cortisol levels such as finding ways to laugh, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to or playing music, getting a massage, and easy exercise outdoors. With lower evening cortisol levels, high-quality sleep is easier to come by. So if your sleep is suffering and you feel as though stress might be to blame, you could try these practices and see if your situation improves.
Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 7: 7 Nutritional Strategies for Better Sleep
The last post in the Sleep Series focused on several common reasons why cortisol, which should be low in the evening before sleep, can be high and decrease the quality of your sleep. Well, now we know that a sleep deficit, ruminating negative thoughts, a noisy environment, prolonged intense exercise in the evening, caffeine, and chronic undereating can all lead to elevated evening cortisol.
These causes of elevated evening cortisol are not always avoidable, but we still want to sleep well, so what can we do? Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 6: 6 Ways to Relax and Reduce Evening Cortisol
Time for another installment in the Sleep Series! We already learned about high-quality sleep and why days are supposed to be bright, while nights should be dark. The last post introduced the stress hormone cortisol, and its effect on sleep. In an ideal situation, cortisol is naturally high in the morning and tapers off throughout the day to low levels in the evening resulting in high-quality sleep.
In modernity, stressors don’t stop just because it’s night time (though I suppose we don’t worry about nocturnal predators anymore). Evening cortisol levels can be elevated for a number of reasons. I don’t want anyone stressing about stress, so let’s have a good look at some sources of stress to become aware of some common causes of elevated evening cortisol levels.
Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 5: 6 Factors that Increase Evening Cortisol Levels
The last post in this series discussed how light influences your circadian rhythm, and the health effects of blue-light exposure during the day and its negative effects at night (which was discussed in Sleep Series Part 2). This post will look at the effect of the hormone cortisol and how it gives us energy and focus through the day, and then drops off and allows us to relax and sleep properly at night. Let’s take a look at cortisol! Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 4: Cortisol and Sleep
Introduction – Your Circadian Rhythm:
My previous post explained what sleep scientists have measured during sleep using EEG, and scientists’
current state of interpretations. Included in that post was my definition of objective sleep quality: going through the proper sequence of sleep cycles during the night with sufficient amounts of both stage 3 sleep (slow-wave sleep) and REM sleep. This post will focus on what drives you to be awake during the day, and makes you sleep at night: your circadian rhythm. The term circadian rhythm comes from the latin words “circa” which means “around”, and “dia”, which means day. So, a circadian rhythm is any biological process that cycles around the Earth day, which is 24 hours.
Continue reading Sleep Series – Part 3: Serotonin, Melatonin, and your Circadian Rhythm