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JJ the Gardener

04 - Sleep and its meaning to energy and life.

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Sleep like breathing is often something we typically take for granted.  However, as in breathing, we often do it wrong and form habits that are detrimental to our daily energies and to our health in ways that we seldom appreciate.

Typically this process happens when we are kids.  For example, look at young children today and see how wide awake and full of energy they have when they awake, this is in part due to healthy sleep.  As children they tend to have bed times on a regular schedule and thus they do not suffer from sleep deprivation or a short sleep. 

At the same time it is often the desire of the child to stay up late and they will tend to find ways to be able to stay up late at every opportunity.  It is in this that we typically begin the process that later will develop into sleep deprivation as we learn to get by with less sleep.  Almost as a right of age is that we can stay up as late as we want and for most, the effect of this is dramatic on our energy and our health.  The centers for disease control has listed insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic.



The following are just an example of the lures that can keep people from sleeping correctly.

  • Watching late movies,
  • Going out or to parties into early morning hours,
  • Playing video games into late to early morning hours,
  • Working late hours,
  • Economic stresses,
  • Parental aspects, baby and small child,
  • Social aspects,
  • Emotional or physical distress.

Finding solutions to address these issues will help eliminate those sleep deprivation aspects and in a short period of time you can begin to enjoy the life you want to enjoy with energy and give yourself the capability to be healthy.  We will talk more on that in a bit but first lets discuss the process of sleep.



The Sleep Process

Understanding our sleep cycle is not just to educate on the issue but to understand what is happening when we sleep.  This is important when it comes to addressing negative sleep issues and potentially in our sleep management.




The stages of sleep:

  1. Stage 1 is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows.
    • During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.
  2. Stage 2, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves.
    • The body begins to prepare for deep sleep, as the body temperature begins to drop and the heart rates slows.
    • Adults spend nearly half of sleep time in stage 2,
  3. Stage 3, (Deep Sleep) extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves. This is deep sleep.
    • It is during this stage that a person may experience sleepwalking, night terrors, talking during one’s sleep, and bedwetting.
    • These behaviors are known as parasomnias, and tend to occur during the transitions between non-REM and REM sleep.
  4. Stage 4, (Deep sleep continues) as the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively.
    • People roused from this state feel disoriented for a few minutes.
    • In both deep sleep stages of 3 and 4
      • A reduction in sleep drive, and provides the most restorative sleep of all the sleep stages.
        • This is why if you take a short nap (power nap) during the day, you’re still able to fall asleep at night.
        • However if you take a nap long enough to fall into deep sleep, you have more difficulty falling asleep at night because you reduced your need for sleep.
      • Human growth hormone is released and restores your body and muscles from the stresses of the day.
      • Your immune system restores itself.
      • It may be during this stage that the brain also refreshes itself for new learning the following day.
  5. In stage 5, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, brain waves mimic activity during the waking state. The eyes remain closed but move rapidly from side-to-side, perhaps related to the intense dream and brain activity that occurs during this stage.
    • Dreams occur at this stage of sleep.
    • Infants spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep.
    • Adults spend about 20% in REM
    • Older adults spend progressively less time in REM sleep.
    • REM occurs during the second half of sleep.  REM sleep typically begins about 90 minutes after you first fall asleep, with the first REM cycle lasting about 10 minutes.  Each successive REM cycle last longer, with the final REM stage lasting up to 1 hour.
      • Most people experience three to five intervals of REM sleep each night.
    • Waking may occur after REM.  If the waking period is long enough, the person may remember it the next morning.
      • Short awakenings may disappear with amnesia.
    • In the REM period, breathing becomes more rapid, irregular and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed.
      • Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when a person is awake.
    • Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males can develop erections and the body loses some of the ability to regulate its temperature.
      • Younger men often wake up with erections or sometimes referred to as morning wood.


The Sleep Cycle

The sleep cycle is the period of time it takes a person to progress through the sleep stages however a person does not simply progress from stage 1 to stage 5.  There is a gearing up and gearing down sort of like a stick shift in a vehicle.

The sleep cycle progress through the stages of non-REM sleep from light to deep sleep, then reverse back from deep sleep to light sleep, ending with time in REM sleep before starting over in light sleep again.  This cycle typically repeats 4 to 5 times a night.  

For example, A typical sleep cycle order looks something like this:

  • Stage 1 (light sleep) – Stage 2 (light sleep) – Stage 3 (deep sleep) – Stage 2 (light sleep) – Stage 1 (light sleep) – REM Sleep

After REM sleep, the individual returns to stage 1 of light sleep and begins a new cycle. As the night progresses, individuals spend increasingly more time in REM sleep and correspondingly less time in deep sleep. 

  • The first sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. After that, they average between 100 to 120 minutes spending more time in REM sleep as the cycles progress.




Effects of lack of sleep


We all are familiar with being sleepy and needing some restful sleep as we have all experienced this need for sleep but outside of being sleepy and perhaps a bit cranky to confused do you really understand what is going on when we miss correct sleep? 


Sleep and Performance

In a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Sleep Research, 66 In a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Sleep Research, They were tested regularly on a psychomotor vigilance task.    

66 normal volunteers spent either 3, 5, 7 or nine hours daily time in bed for one week.   This was followed by three days of recovery with eight hours daily time in bed for recovery.

  1. When people were held to sleep deprivation of either 7 or 5 hours per night performance decreased but then stabilized.
    • This stabilization remained even after 3 days or normal/recovery sleep.
  2. The people only getting 3 hours of sleep per night declined in performance over the seven days.
    • Even after three days of recovery in regular sleep, they were still under-performing compared to everyone else.
  3. The people getting 9 hours of sleep performed better than everyone else across the week of the experiment.
    • They also continued to perform better even after the sleep-deprived participants got more sleep in a recovery phase

The authors of the study concluded that the brain does adapt to chronic sleep restriction, but we adapt at a reduced level of performance.  This illustrates that our bodies will adjust to our sleep patterns but with a decrease in performance and it is unlikely that in our day to day functions that we realize this decrease in performance with 5 to 7 hours sleep. 

  • It also shows that catching up on sleep does not effectively restore our performance levels.


How to Reset your sleep schedule.  This will help you restore healthy sleep patterns.

  • Adjust sleep in 15 minute small increments, adjusting no more than 15 minutes earlier every two to three days.
  • This will help your body to adjust to the new schedule.
  • It can take 2 to 3 weeks to properly adjust to your new schedule.



Sleep Deprivation Effects

Sleep deprivation reduces your ability to make good decisions about sleep.  People who consistently get six hours of sleep a night report that they have adapted to function on less sleep.

  • However, actual investigations of their mental alertness and mental performance show that they are suffering the effects of sleep deprivation


In terms of efficiency getting sufficient sleep is one of the best health-promoting decisions you can make. 

  • Consider the common cold.
    • Adults who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are almost three times more likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus than adults who sleep eight or more hours a night.
    • Prioritizing eight hours of sleep per night can save you days of productivity lost to sickness


Sleep is part of the process that regulates our body’s natural DNA repair. When you don’t sleep, you disrupt the body’s natural healing process, which can make you more susceptible to chronic diseases such as cancer.   

  • Sleep deprivation can affect postmenopausal women with breast cancer who routinely sleep less than six hours per night.
  • They may be twice as likely to have more aggressive breast cancers as those who sleep more.

Lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to mental health disorders. In fact, after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, healthy people exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia, including reduced inhibition, attention deficits, a sensitivity to light color and brightness, an altered sense of smell and time.

  • Lack of sleep can literally create psychological and psychiatric dysfunction.


Sleep-deprived people have impaired judgment.  One Swedish studies asked people to go shopping twice with a fixed amount of money.  When the same people went shopping while sleep deprived.

  • They bought more food overall, and more fatty and unhealthy food options in particular


Sleep is also involved in how we learn and remember. In one study, preschoolers worked on a memory game, and then either stayed awake or took a nap that was about an hour and 15 minutes long. Then they played the memory game again.

  • When they stayed awake, they forgot 15 percent of what they learned.
  • When they napped, they remembered everything


Sleep also matters for preserving long-term memory.  Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say that interventions to improve sleep quality may help to prevent or slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.


how Sleep helps.

Sleep helps promote health is through growth hormone which is primarily secreted at night, while you are sleeping

  • In kids, growth hormone is a primary factor in growth.
  • In adults, growth hormone is critical to maintaining and repairing tissues and organs.


Sleep also keeps you safe. Consider that a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is considered legally drunk.

  • By 18 hours awake, your alertness level is comparable to someone with a 0.05 alcohol level while not necessarily legally drunk, but certainly tipsy.
  • By 24 hours awake, your alertness level and reflexes are comparable to a .01  alcohol level, which is drunk past the legal limit.


Signs of aging, research from University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland shows that people who slept less had more visible signs of aging.

  • Getting enough sleep may make you feel better about what you see in the mirror and that’s going to give you more energy.






A moment on sleepy driving, a very deadly and life impacting problem.



Long term effects

We often know in a sense that reduced sleep is not good for us but often when the price is to be paid for this behavior it may be a bit on the side of too little too late in terms of correcting the developed issues, at least in a quick turn.  Please appreciate that this damage may stay with us in part for the remainder of our lives depending on the severity.  However, it is never too late to return to healthy sleep patterns and begin the process of renewal and healing.


From the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

As chronic diseases have assumed an increasingly common role in premature death and illness, interest in the role of sleep health in the development and management of chronic diseases has grown. Notably, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.

  1. Diabetes:
    • Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Specifically, sleep duration and quality have emerged as predictors of levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control. Recent research suggests that optimizing sleep duration and quality may be important means of improving blood sugar control in persons with Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Cardiovascular Disease:
    • Persons with sleep apnea have been found to be at increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases. Notably, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias) have been found to be more common among those with disordered sleep than their peers without sleep abnormalities. Likewise, sleep apnea and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) appear to share some common physiological characteristics, further suggesting that sleep apnea may be an important predictor of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Obesity:
    • Laboratory research has found that short sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. Epidemiologic studies conducted in the community have also revealed an association between short sleep duration and excess body weight. This association has been reported in all age groups—but has been particularly pronounced in children. It is believed that sleep in childhood and adolescence is particularly important for brain development and that insufficient sleep in youngsters may adversely affect the function of a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and the expenditure of energy.3
  4. Depression:
    • The relationship between sleep and depression is complex. While sleep disturbance has long been held to be an important symptom of depression, recent research has indicated that depressive symptoms may decrease once sleep apnea has been effectively treated and sufficient sleep restored. The inter-relatedness of sleep and depression suggests it is important that the sleep sufficiency of persons with depression be assessed and that symptoms of depression be monitored among persons with a sleep disorder.


Common Sleep Disorders

  1. Insomnia: 
    • Insomnia is characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It may also take the form of early morning awakening in which the individual awakens several hours early and is unable to resume sleeping. Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep may often manifest itself as excessive daytime sleepiness, which characteristically results in functional impairment throughout the day.
    • Before arriving at a diagnosis of primary insomnia, the healthcare provider will rule out other potential causes, such as other sleep disorders, side effects of medications, substance abuse, depression, or other previously undetected illness. 
    • Chronic psycho-physiological insomnia (or “learned” or “conditioned” insomnia) may result from a stressor combined with fear of being unable to sleep.
    • Individuals with this condition may sleep better when not in their own beds. Health care providers may treat chronic insomnia with a combination of use of sedative-hypnotic or sedating antidepressant medications, along with behavioral techniques to promote regular sleep.
  2. Narcolepsy:
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness (including episodes of irresistible sleepiness) combined with sudden muscle weakness are the hallmark signs of narcolepsy.
    • The sudden muscle weakness seen in narcolepsy may be elicited by strong emotion or surprise.
    • Episodes of narcolepsy have been described as “sleep attacks” and may occur in unusual circumstances, such as walking and other forms of physical activity.
    • The healthcare provider may treat narcolepsy with stimulant medications combined with behavioral interventions, such as regularly scheduled naps, to minimize the potential disruptiveness of narcolepsy on the individual’s life.
  3. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS):
    • RLS is characterized by an unpleasant “creeping” sensation, often feeling like it is originating in the lower legs, but often associated with aches and pains throughout the legs.
    • This often causes difficulty initiating sleep and is relieved by movement of the leg, such as walking or kicking.
    • Abnormalities in the neurotransmitter dopamine have often been associated with RLS. Healthcare providers often combine a medication to help correct the underlying dopamine abnormality along with a medicine to promote sleep continuity in the treatment of RLS.
  4. Sleep Apnea:
    • Snoring may be more than just an annoying habit – it may be a sign of sleep apnea.
    • Persons with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or “snorting” noises, during which their sleep is momentarily interrupted.
    • Those with sleep apnea may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness, as their sleep is commonly interrupted and may not feel restorative.
    • Treatment of sleep apnea is dependent on its cause.
    • Gentle air pressure administered during sleep (typically in the form of a nasal continuous positive airway pressure device) may also be effective in the treatment of sleep apnea. As interruption of regular breathing or obstruction of the airway during sleep can pose serious health complications, symptoms of sleep apnea should be taken seriously.
    • Treatment should be sought from a health care provider.
      • If other medical problems are present, such as congestive heart failure or nasal obstruction, sleep apnea may resolve with treatment of these conditions.


Sleep management

Naps can be a good way to boost your energy. Different naps have different purposes, and you should choose a nap based on what you need.

  • A 90-minute nap clears the brain’s short-term memory storage and helps make room for you to learn new information.
  • A 20-minute power nap primarily helps to boost alertness.
  • A German study has found that a micro-nap as short as six minutes may help boost your memory


Making up for lost sleep?  Some people try to make up for limited sleep during the week by sleeping in on the weekends. That strategy has downsides.

  • One research study found that the greater your average daily variation in wake-up time, the higher your body-fat percentage.
  • People who have less than 30 minutes variation in their wake-up time have, on average, 6 percent less body fat than people who have 2 hours or more difference in their wake-up time.


If you just try to clear your schedule and go to bed early one night, that can also backfire.  Some sleep researchers state that it is easier to stay up an hour past your bedtime than it is to go to bed 15 minutes before your normal bedtime.

  • If you are trying to get more sleep, you may need to move your bedtime up.
  • Move your bedtime gradually, in 15-minute increments. That gives your body time to adjust and build a habit of rest


Banking sleep.  While you can’t really catch up on missed sleep, you might be able to bank it occasionally. If you have a work project coming up or a social outing that will require you to skimp on shut-eye, stock your sleep bank in advance by getting more sleep than normal. 

  • This will allow you to perform at a higher level even on limited sleep.
  • Use this approach as a sleep emergency fund.
  • It shouldn’t be your regular approach to sleep, but it’s good to know you can save up rest and have enough energy when you need it.


Resetting sleep schedules.

  • Adjust sleep in 15 minute small increments, adjusting no more than 15 minutes earlier every two to three days.
  • This will help your body to adjust to the new schedule.
  • It can take 2 to 3 weeks to properly adjust to your new schedule.



Overcoming Sleep Barriers


  • Another common sleep barrier is social interests and entertainment.
  • The world is plugged in 24/7, and it’s hard to unplug when there are so many things to see and do and watch.  This stimulation can keep you awake.


Health and life Stresses:

  • Health and life struggles with emotional or physical challenges that interrupt sleep can be a significant sleep barrier.  
  • These are challenges that will affect both your rest and your sleep, and you will have to identify personal adaptations to make rest possible.
  • Professional help may be required.


Mattress and Pillow.  The physical condition of your sleep space matters:    

  • Evaluate how you sleep, where you experience pain, and your preferred sleep position to find the preferred mattress for you. 
  • Your pillow matters too. The type of pillow is going to depend on the position you prefer for sleeping.
  • A good chiropractor or physical therapist can likely make recommendations about a pillow.
  •  :sleeping-in-hammock:Click for a video, not a mattress endorsement but a good video.(any good mattress that fits your sleep style is great) 


Routine is key.  The lack of a consistent sleep routine can also disrupt sleep:

  • The simplest way to improve your sleep quality is to build a consistent routine, both for life in general and for sleep in particular.
  • It works for kids, and research shows that it works for adults.


The light affect.  In terms of your schedule, be aware of the effect of light of your sleep:

  • Light in the day is good for your sleep.
  • Light at bedtime and during the night is bad for your sleep.
  • Blue light helps awaken and alert the brain.
  • A study in the journal of Sleep Medicine reported that nighttime light exposure led to shallower sleep and more mini-arousal's.


Waking up during sleep.  Another common barrier to sleep is stress about sleep itself. For instance, you may have anxiety about waking up during the night:

  • It can help to learn that waking up at night is completely normal.  In fact, bimodal and segmented sleep is not unusual.
  • A normal night’s sleep includes many mini-arousals that last only a few seconds; there can be as many as 3 to 15 per hour.
  • Sometimes, especially as we get older and under stress, these mini-arousals may be full-on wake-ups, which can lead to sleep stress.
    • Working on our anxiety about sleep itself can go a long way to helping us sleep better in spite of the mini-arousals.
    • A study from Northwestern University found that when insomniacs practiced yoga for 15 to 20 minutes per day, twice per day for two months, they spent less time awake at night.


Avoid large meals:

  • Avoid large meals 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Eating a snack before is ok.
    • Easily digestible foods such as fruit is recommended.
  • It forces your organs such as liver and pancreas to work at a time they should rest.
  • In addition, if the caloric intake of a meal exceeds the amount you need for energy you will store this energy as you are unable to work or exercise this energy off.
  • Eating at bed can also cause heartburn and this can lead to other health issues besides problematic sleeping.


Exercising near bedtime can wake you up:

  • Exercise can stimulate us and keep us awake.
  • Exercise 2 hours before bed.


Sleep Disorder struggles:

  • If you consistently struggle with sleep quality and insomnia, a sleep-improvement program can be valuable.
  • Your doctor can likely refer you to a sleep specialist.
  • Some mental health providers specialize in behavioral sleep training.
  • There are also online tools that can help.
    • Such as an online sleep training program, which combines cognitive behavioral strategies with practical tools like sleep logs and progress charts.



Sleep is as most things one of the aspects of life that we tend to take for granted.  We tend to believe we manage sleep with our life schedule but the reality is that sleep manages us and enables us to be at a level that is linked by our hours of restful sleep.  We typically diminish our capabilities in this way without even knowing it.  This aspect is rarely appreciated.  This affect us physically, mentally and emotionally and can be a significant factor in all problematic areas.  Without a charged and healthy battery, we do not function well nor efficient.

Often we believe sacrificing sleep is a necessary aspect of life when we have responsibilities but we often fail to see the big picture and suffer the long term cost of our health.  We may suffer for our families and responsibilities now but by not giving ourselves healthy restful sleep we will deny our families and fail at our responsibilities later in life as the repercussions of long term sleep deprivation affects begin.

We owe it to not just ourselves but those we love and care about, to our responsibilities and we need to not just teach these lessons and aspects of life to our children but mold them in a way that they have this understanding and appreciation instilled in them that it becomes a core value and perhaps happier and healthier families will result.

Sleep well my friends, sleep well!  










~A Cultural Healing and Life Compilation

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I have been trying to concentrate on nose breathing while sleeping at night . I normally start sleeping in the recovery position but usually one nostril blocks this way , so I find it better to start by lying on my back first . It's easier to nose breath this way as both nostrils stay clear then . After a minute or two when my breathing settles I then turn over onto my side as my nose breathing  is much slower and relaxed by then . I haven't needed to use the micropore tape as I just use the suction grip of my tounge on the roof of my mouth to hold my mouth closed . I place my tounge in position at the roof of my mouth and then suck / swallow / remove all the excess saliva and air out . This does the trick nicely and locks everything in place . Add some belly breathin into the mix and I am usually out like a light before I even get a chance to turn around on to my side : ) 

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Thank you for sharing.  I hope to hear about more about the improvements good sleep and breathing has done for you.  As well as anything you can add from your experience to helpful hints.  It all goes to help others who will follow later.

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Don't laugh but when I was younger if I had problems sleeping I would try the old idea of counting sheep jumping over a fence . This was not very effective as it kept my brain far too active , thinking what the sheep might look like , the type of fence and how high it was . I did find that simply counting my out breaths was far better . The counting helps stop the stressful thoughts of the day from creeping back and I had no distracting picture in my brain . This allowed me too drift off to sleep a lot easier and quicker . Don't concentrate that much on keepin track of the score , it's just the simple motion of counting your out breaths that is the soothing and  effective part , oneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ............. twwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwo ......... etc . If you forget what number your on , or you score starts too get too high ( thinking too hard ) say reaching 20 or 30 , no biggie , just start at happy go lucky one again )

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I have sleep apnea, but also extremely claustrophobic, so I can't wear a mask. Instead I elevate my head, and that works well. I'm not sure if it mentioned red light, but that is suppose to help us to sleep, avoiding the light from the phone, TV, pute, hours before bed time. I see it mentioned light, blue and is it white? That keeps our brains active. I have to keep reading, this is fascinating, have to share with a few patients who have issues. Amazing that we can not actually recover that lost sleep.

I've read where cannabis can keep you from falling into REM sleep? I sleep so well under the oil but I don't know if I ever actually have REM sleep, I am always fatigued no matter how much I sleep.

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