Friday, March 28, 2014

A Little Something About Sleep!

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?”


Sleep is such an interesting activity.  Some people can sleep nearly anywhere; generally I'm a pretty good sleeper, however I've had my challenges as well.  My Mother used to joke that the family took a vacation every year so that I would sleep.  I’d curl up on the floor behind my Dad’s (the constant and only driver) seat in the car and sleep.  Clearly this was before governmentally mandated seatbelts and other safety concerns.  As a child I experienced sleep terrors in the form of recurrent (super scary!) nightmares in which I had no voice and couldn’t scream for help.  As a new Mom (why is it no one tells expectant parents they may never again sleep through the night?) I was most often, but not always the parent who was awake to deal with children who weren’t asleep.  At one point, my ex and I put my side of the bed against the wall in order to prevent the toddlers from easy access to me during the night (trust me, that didn’t last too long). And every time some one leaves my home (an adult child leaving home or the ending of a relationship that might have included "sleep-overs") I go through an adjustment phase of being alone at night.  And then there was menopause and hot flashes. 

With some regularity, I can chase curiosity down the proverbial rabbit hole and thus my recent interest in sleep.  Read on to learn where this rabbit hole came from and led to…

I live in Seattle, the hometown of any number of large corporations. I am a “gold card member” of one of them, Starbucks (love me a Grande hazelnut latte).  One of the benefits of this membership is weekly “free apps”, often music that I would never have discovered, and games which entertain me on my occasional bus rides, and most recently…SleepCycle (http://www.sleepcycle.com/).  Isn’t that interesting, Starbucks (the king of caffeine) and an app that “measures” sleep quality.  I LOVE this app and my daily latte!  I love learning and am intrigued by technology.  That opened the door to this app that ostensibly quantifies my sleep quality through my movement during the night.  Sleep researchers suggest that isn’t really what it does (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201310/sleep-cycle-app-precise-or-placebo).  But I don’t care…it works for me.

But never mind about that… actual science has little or nothing to do with this post.  I find it fascinating.  Last night, my sleep quality was 100%.  I can’t find anything wrong with that.  My worst quality sleep…about 54%.  It’s fun…I don’t know that it is accurate.  I’m on day 10, four of those 10 nights my sleep quality has been 80% or higher.  You can monitor your mood, your activities before going to sleep (alcohol, exercise, stress, even caffeine!) to see what the impact is on your sleep.  Sleep quality seems to be important.  http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/women-and-sleep

 
All of this led me to looking at other articles on sleep.  So for most of my life…many decades… I’ve had the experience of falling and jerking as part of falling asleep.  Not really the icebreaker I use when networking or starting a conversation at a cocktail party, but turns out that the “hypnic jerk” is among the most common of shared experiences.  Who knew? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia)

Here’s another fact for you, did you know that Americans suffer from more than 70 sleep disorders?  Really?  http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx.

Here are a couple of disclosures…no one but me asked me to talk about Starbucks or SleepCycle! 

And with that…good night!




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