Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is one of the most important physical things you can do to stay healthy.  Are you getting enough?  How can you feel more refreshed in the morning and make sure you are getting enough sleep during the night?

 

Image from:
Pixabay

–Exercise.
Meditate an hour before bed.
–Make sure you have proper bedding.
–Consistency.
–Use a smart alarm clock.

 

 

 

Exercise has been shown to improve your sleep patterns when done consistently,  In fact, some studies have even shown that exercise can reduce the possibilities of getting sleep apnea.  The more you maintain a regular schedule of walking, aerobic activity, running or biking, the better you will sleep at night.  I understand that for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere it can sometimes be a challenge walk, bike, hike during the dead of winter.  However, you have to weigh the benefits of sleep vs the hindrances of dealing with the colder weather.  Dress warm and use the concept of layers.  Instead of ONE winter coat, use several layers, a shirt, a long sleeve cotton shirt, a sweatshirt, THEN your coat.  Make sure you wear a scarf to protect your neck from wind and cold getting into your body and ear muffs if like me, you don’t like wearing a hat.  If you’re consistent with the amount of activity you pursue, you will see a positive change in your sleep patterns.

 

Meditation is one activity where you won’t have to wait to see results.  If you turn off all electronic screens at LEAST one hour before going to bed and sit in darkness with soft instrumental music playing in the background and simply let your mind drift away, by the time you crawl into your bed, all the work of relaxing will be complete and you’ll find yourself falling asleep much quicker than before.  This practice takes adherence, and again here comes that word:
Consistency.

 

You can’t expect to meditate once a week and think that you’ll sleep well every night.  This must become part of who you are.  Meditate every night for a week and you’ll see a direct positive result.  You’ll fall asleep faster and you will wake feeling more refreshed.  Once you see the results, I believe you will continue to do this every night.

 

Speaking of Proper Bedding.  It is important that you have a bedding that fits your sleep patterns.  By bedding I mean not just your mattress but your pillow as well.  In December 2012, I wrote a column here about selecting the proper pillow for the way you sleep.  It is definitely worth a read through again.  As I wrote in that column:
I used a soft down pillow for YEARS. It wasn’t until I experienced neck pain that I realized I used the wrong pillow.  Read the column linked above to discover why.  The other important factor to consider in the proper bedding category is this:
Your bedroom should be used for ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY:
Sleep.

 

You should NOT be reading in your bedroom.
You should NOT have a television in your bedroom.

 

All these things become a distraction and they take away the reason FOR YOUR bedroom.  You use your bedroom for what it is named for:
Your bed.  

 

By having other experiences in your bedroom, your mind will think that room is used for reading, for watching television, for doing anything other than sleep.

 

Consistency once again.  This time the word is used to say, it is important to maintain a regular time to go to bed.  If you go to bed at different times during the week, your body won’t understand the inconsistency and you will find that you won’t fall asleep until the latest time that you go to bed.  My bed time is typically by 930 and I do my best to maintain that schedule.  It is so important to make a schedule for your bedtime and stay within that time period as best you can.

 

Finally the other tool I’ve begun using is a smart alarm clock.  If you have a smartphone which many people now do, you can find a smart alarm clock app.  What this does is that it listens to you as you sleep and it will wake you within a time period that you choose in which you are in your lightest sleep.  Instead of blasting an alarm it will wake you to any number of sounds that are available.  I use Sleep Cycle, because I found that it is the ONLY app that you don’t have to keep in bed with you.  I keep the phone on my nightstand.  Sleep Cycle also keeps track of how well you sleep while it monitors your sleep.

 

If you follow these simple steps, I believe that over the course of a few months you will find your sleep patterns improving.  As I said earlier and often, you MUST remain consistent.  Otherwise nothing will change.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

Breathing and Yoga

There is nothing about your physical awareness that connects you more to the Non-Physical aspect of your Being than that of your breathing.

Many assume that the process of breathing is only about your physical nature, but that is not the case. The process of breathing is much more than an essential function of your physical body. Indeed, it is the flowing of Spirit to you, and through you. That is the reason that when the focusing of Spirit through your physical body ceases, your breathing ceases, also.

Our meditation experience will induce a convergence of beneficial aspects for you, for as you relax into the natural rhythm of perfect breathing while hearing these spoken words, the Vibration of your physical being will gently surrender to the Vibrational frequency of your Source, and you will become one with your Source, inside the Vortex.

Through the hearing of our words in your relaxed state of allowing, you will allow the gentle tuning of your Vibrational frequency to match the frequency of your Source.

This will not be an exercise of effort or trying, but instead an exercise of releasing and allowing…gently allowing yourself to be who-you-really-are.

 

 

Abraham-Hicks

 

 

For Christmas this year, I received a one month free trial to Bikram Yoga in Madison, Connecticut.

 

Image from:
Pixabay
Yoga

One of the things the teacher says is to breath through your nose and NOT to use your mouth.  This is a challenge for me to learn and I continue to catch myself breathing through my mouth, or the instructor happens to look up directly at me at the EXACT time that I AM breathing through my mouth.  Dammit!  LoL!

 

I understand that with practice and  time I will improve.  I know having been practicing yoga on my own for sometime now what an important ingredient breathing is to the art.

 

Breathing centers you.
Breathing lets you know that you’re alive.

 

Yoga and Spirit are one in the same; as is meditation and yoga.  Yoga is simply another form of meditation.  So it only makes sense that consciously breathing during yoga is bringing spirit into your very being, into your soul.

 

Were it NOT for my home practice of yoga, I surely wouldn’t be upright.  And now that I have the added discipline of going to class it will only help me get better.  I haven’t been aware that I should be breathing through my nose when practicing yoga.  Now when I do my yoga at home I will make a concerted effort to nose breath and close my mouth.  One lesson learned.  I have people worried about my doing Bikram Yoga and to be honest I let that worry deter me from going for awhile.

 

After attending three classes however, I now realize the benefits far outweigh the concern.  I’m sleeping so much more soundly.  My body, though, still feeling the strain is becoming more flexible and I’m able to maintain the poses the instructor puts us in for longer periods of time.  Yes.  There are some poses I still can’t perform but as the teacher says:
It is more important to do what you CAN do and let the other poses come when they come.

 

I can’t let fear and concern for my well being prevent me from doing something that may very well help my health.

 

We shouldn’t be afraid to move forward.
We should all occasionally do something that’s outside of our comfort zone.
We shouldn’t let someone tell us we can’t do something.

 

Here’s what’s funny about this:
Typically if you tell me no.  You can’t do that.  I’ll find a way to get it done.

 

I have to remember that in the future.  Bikram Yoga has been a Godsend and once my free month is up I WILL find a way to continue.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

 

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

 

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

 

 

Sleep Better by Runtastic

Last Thursday, November 6, I discovered a phone app I’ve been using since I downloaded it on Thursday afternoon:
Runtastic Sleep Better

Image from:
Wikipedia
SleepingMan

Sleep Better gives you stats on your sleep patterns in a clear and concise interface.  The app provides you with an alarm that wakes you when you’re in the lightest sleep pattern within a half hour range.  In other words if you want to wake at 7 then set the alarm for 7 and Sleep Better will wake within the half hour range from 630 to 7.  The presiding data now available in sleep theory suggests that if you wake during your lightest sleep pattern, or even better if you wake naturally you’ll be more refreshed throughout the day.  I haven’t tested that yet as I’ve been on vacation this week and I haven’t had to get up a specific time.  However that seems to make sense.  I like that the alarm has different sounds to wake you.  I can tell you without reservation that I REALLY find it distressing when I wake to my shrill alarm on my bedside clock.  Another feature about the alarm on Sleep Better that I like is the sound you choose begins at a low sound and gently increases until you turn it off.  So that also impresses me.

Not waking all at once to a shrill alarm.
And waking during my lightest sleep pattern.

 

Those features alone make owning this app a homerun.

 

One of the things I found completely fascinating is that because I work one night a week until 9pm I’ve been under the impression that I sleep poorly on these nights, typically Tuesday nights.  Last week I worked Thursday night and I used Sleep Better for the first time on Thursday.  My sleep stats for that night impressed me:
I slept for 7 hours and 33 minutes.

Light Sleep:
1 hour and 57 minutes
26%

Deep Sleep:
4 hours and 14 minutes
56%

 

According to the New York Times, a night of normal sleep should consist of about 25 percent slow-wave sleep.  Even though last Thursday, I only experienced slightly over 4 hours of deep sleep It was still over double the average I need according to The New York Times.  This is another useful feature in this app; the fact that Sleep Better will track the amount of deep sleep one gets a night.  Here’s a caveat to this feature however.  I paid for the FULL version.  At $1.99, that price certainly didn’t break my bank.  I’m not sure if the free version will track your deep sleep.  I recommend paying for the full version.  No ads will appear and you get more features, and as I said above the price won’t put you in the poor house.

 

After a few nights of using Sleep Better I discovered that it also works in airplane mode on the iPhone.  I read SOMEWHERE online that putting your phone in airplane mode, may reduce the amount of radiation.  The article I read said something like:
If you are worried about radiation by having the phone that close to you, you can place the phone in airplane mode and the app will continue to work.

 

Since last Sunday night I do so.  I also turn off all sound and vibrations so I won’t be disturbed when I receive notifications.  The alarm still operates even though the “sound notifications are muted.”

 

Understanding how well we sleep is important to our well being, both our physical and our emotional well being.  This sleep app does an amazing job as far as I can see after using it for a week and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending using the paid version.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

 

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

 

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

Routines

We all have routines. When one is broken how do you react?

Image from:
KidPages.com
DailyRoutines

I spoke with Lisa R, a reader of Wisdom and Life last week about this subject. I have a Sunday routine that is so sacred to me that when it is disrupted, when I can’t perform that scheduled routine I find it difficult to get through the rest of the day. There have been times when something interferes and I’m not the same after.

 

I’ve recently had another friend who has been asking me to join him at a 10am meeting on Sundays.  Unfortunately, the past two times he has asked me, I’ve had the client meeting.  Otherwise I would certainly have gone.  I want to spend the bulk of my Sunday mornings with my friends, and Pete is definitely someone I connect with on more than just friendship level.  We share so much more in common than simply friendship.  Our belief systems match up so closely that we can talk for hours and time stands still.

 

I hoping to get to his meeting at some point, however I’ll soon be working on Sundays again too.  That will throw another wrench into my routine as well  We will see.

 

Typically, Sunday mornings start this way for me:
I’m up by 8am and out the door by 9.  Usually every other Sunday, I have a 930 or 10 am meeting with photographers or social media clients.  Then I meet with several friends at Starbucks in Madison, Connecticut.  That was my schedule yesterday and it brings my so much joy to discuss with clients the things I do to bring abundance to my life.  After my 45 minute meeting, I took a little walk then met my friends at Starbucks.

 

That’s the way I typically spend my Sunday mornings.  When that schedule does not happen I find it challenging the rest of the day.

 

Lisa R said the same thing that she has to find a way to manage her schedule so she can maintain her rituals.  I’m in complete agreement with her because I know how it feels if my Sunday morning is disrupted.

 

My Sunday morning routine is sacred to me and if I don’t have the opportunity to spend the morning the way I want to then the rest of my day is disrupted as well.

 

What are some of yours?
What happens to you if you can’t perform your rituals?
Let me know in the comments below.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

 

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

 

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

 

Health and Motivation

 

Tiny Buddha

is one resource I use to discover motivation for Wisdom and Life.  It’s one of the reasons I’m seldom at a loss for topics to discuss at my blog.  There is a plethora of resources available in the Spiritual realm to write about.  One of my oldest “spiritual” friends in the blogger community, Carla Goddard, Msc.D.  at Shaman Medicine Woman recently shared  How Do You Motivate Yourself: With Love or Fear?  Tiny Buddha is on Google+  as well.

This is a fascinating column as I recently thought about how much my own diet has changed in the past few years.  I considered writing a column about this change recently and here I found inspiration for this very topic.  So I want to thank Carla for bringing this to my attention.

Like Laura-Erdman-Luntz, I’ve always been quite disciplined.  I’ve generally found it easy to break habits and continue on new paths.  I like what Laura has to say about  whether someone is practicing out of love or out of fear.  I never gave that any thought until reading this column.  Now I wonder whether my own practice is out of fear or out of love.
I understand that I can no longer eat what I used to eat:
Sweets
Red Meat
Chips
Soda

on a consistent basis, otherwise I feel sick. I can no longer digest that type of food.  I actually haven’t had a drop of soda in over ten years.  And it’s all because I find it easy to break habits and make new positive changes.
I WANT to feel healthy.

Perhaps that is what motivates me:
Wanting to feel healthy
Wanting to be good.

Maybe on SOME level I am disciplined out of fear because I know how I feel when I slip and I certainly don’t like the feeling.  Maybe using fear to motivate isn’t such a negative thing; as long as you keep your eye on the prize, as long as you understand that you ARE INDEED using that to motivate yourself.

What do you think?

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Diet and Wellbeing

I know what you’re thinking after reading the title of this latest column:
What does diet have to with Wisdom and Life?

 

This column is not without precedence here as I’ve written about Health and Fitness here in the past.  Diet can have a profound impact on your wellbeing and wellbeing can also impact your spiritual health.  Last month a new G+ friend, Kris Ten posted content about what we eat and it set my mind running.  I left a comment at the post.

 

I’ve changed my diet a few times in the past few years. And when I attempt to eat in the old way:
Burgers
Fried food
Sweets like chocolate, cookies, ice cream
Chips, Doritos
All soda

 

I find it extremely challenging to digest.  Typically, these foods wreck havoc with my stomach, causing nothing but aggravation, pain and more.  Because I’m human and sometimes still think:
Oh one time won’t cause TOO much trouble so I succumb to temptation.

 

It NEVER works out.  I ALWAYS regret eating like that.  I THINK it is because I’m used to eating healthier now that my digestive system says:
Oh you’re putting THAT into me.  Well I’ll show you.  LoL!  I CERTAINLY hope I FINALLY heard the message.

 

Kinda odd; this coming from someone who up until two years ago was in love with Five Guys Burgers.  Would travel there at LEAST twice a month to get my fill.  Can’t do that anymore though.

 

My diet now consists of:
–More fruits and vegetables
–Salads
–Nuts and grains
–Yogurt

 

Not so much vegan but certainly I’m leaning more in the vegetarian group.

 

Maybe it has something to do with my getting older as well and as I age I have to treat my body as the temple it is.  I certainly can’t eat the way I did when I was twenty, twenty five, or even thirty.  In actuality, I probably shouldn’t have been eating the foods I did then.

 

With age comes wisdom, correct?  Hence why I’m writing about diet at WISDOM and Life.  The entire point behind this blog is to help us move forward, correct?  And as I’ve said multiple times here in the past, if I can help just ONE person with what I write, then I’ve done my job.

 

Well, here I am putting forth my suggestion to those of you who are eating unhealthy.  I no longer drink ANY soda.

 

Soda is simply a diuretic.  For me, soda reacts much the same way as all sweets do.  It causes digestive issues.  Water is my drink of choice now.

 

My new diet can sometimes cause another kind of aggravation however:
With family.  When we eat together as family I have to be very conscious of what is being served.  If there is anything that can cause issues I have to choose NOT to eat.

 

My friends understand as I spend more time with them.  I have an amusing story to share here regarding my friends and my new diet:
Over the Fourth of July weekend, I was invited to an annual picnic.  All of my close friends would be there.  I brought my own veggie burgers because I knew there wouldn’t be any there.  That’s what I have to do now when I’m invited to cookouts, as I can longer eat beef.  As it turned out, other friends were thankful that I brought enough for many people because several others had also stopped eating beef.

 

Of course I can’t show up with friends without taking some good natured ribbing about my change in diet.  My friend, Jeff B introduced me to Five Guys Burgers and when he saw my veggie burgers he laughed out loud and called me a girl.

 

That’s alright.  At least I’ll feel better after eating healthier.
Have you done something to change your health recently?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Accountability

Did you know that the #1 thing that stops people from accomplishing their goals is their lack of accountability?

Brian Tracy

Before reading the above statement, it never really occurred to me that we accomplish our goals by being accountable to someone else.  Oh; sure on an esoteric level I understood that.  On a conscious level?  Maybe not.  If I stopped and considered it I’d probably have reached the appropriate conclusion.

So who are you accountable too?
Who motivates you?

My walking partner uses the word accountability all the time, in that I’m the motivation.  My friend I walk with was surprised to hear me say that they motivate me.  It’s true however.  It would be so much easier to turn off my alarm at 5AM when it blasts and roll over and go back to sleep.  But I’d be doing both of us a disservice if I did that.  You’d think hearing that word over and over would sink in, would flash a light, would help me realize that:
Oh yeah.  Accountability equals Motivation.

So who motivates me?
When it comes to exercise, my walking partner does
When it comes to writing.
You do.  My readers.  I understand now that I’m expected to have Wisdom and Life publish three days a week and Scranton Page Turner Publish three times a month.  My readers expect something from me.  I’m held accountable to you.

I’m held accountable to my friends.  When I say I’m going to do something 99.9 percent of the time I follow through.  There have been times in the past where I’ve had to let people go who didn’t follow through.  One of the most important attributes I look for in any relationship I have is trust and accountability.  I want someone in my life who does what they say and says what they do.

So I ask you again.  Who are you accountable too?
And who holds you accountable?

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Neti Pot

Welcome to the second Health and Fitness Monday.  Today I will be discussing the Neti Pot.
Image from:
Wikipedia
NetiPot
The link above is the neti pot that I own.  Purchase directly from the Amazon link here and I will benefit.  I researched them before I purchased one.  A friend of mine had recommended I use one and it has really helped me.  My nose was broken long ago in a sledding accident, and I believe that has led to the fact that I’m very nasal.  I always thought that I’d have to live with this.  Fortunately, my friend noticed my congestion and told me about the neti pot.

I’ve been using one for two years now and I can honestly say it is the only thing that has helped clear my congestion.  I’ve used every allergy medicine I could get my hands on and nothing seemed to do the job.

I’ve recently become very cognizant of what I put in my body, from the types of food I eat to what i take to get better.  As far as meds go I avoid using anything that will mask pain.  I’d rather be healthy and being healthy means looking for alternative means, looking for the underlying cause of my illness and treating it naturally.  Thus the neti pot.  Thus yoga to treat my lower back pain.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Yoga

I hope everyone is taking something away from my new Health and Fitness Monday.  Today I want to discuss the health benefits of yoga.  Both spiritual as well as physical.  I began yoga to benefit me physically as I have chronic low back pain.  I’ve been to doctors several times over the years and the suggestion has always been medication.  I don’t want something that’s going to mask the pain.  I want a natural fix that will prevent the pain from returning.  It’;s one of the reasons I tend to not visit my doctor unless I’m going in for my annual check up.

Doctors today (at least in my opinion) are too eager to push a pill on someone.  I want to feel better without the help of medication.  I’m very conscious of what I put into my body.  Food wise and drug wise.  I’d rather take care of myself naturally, if at all possible.  Yoga has definitely helped me physically as I am much more flexible and I no longer have low back pain when I practice my yoga regularly.

My sister in law, who is a physical therapist introduced me to the practice in 2010 and when she saw how flexible I was even then, she was surprised.  The first position she had me do was the pigeon pose:

When she saw how far I could stretch my back leg, she was absolutely shocked.  I guess I was more flexible than even I realized.

This pose does amazing things for my low back.  Anyone experiencing low back pain can expect relief if you make this part of your yoga regiment.  The next pose that helps even more is cat cow:
In this pose I can really feel my low back stretching immensely.  More than pigeon pose even.  The next pose I use after cat cow is cobra:

This pose is very easy to move to after cat cow as it is just two moves of my body.  I can tell you beyond doubt that yoga has been a major boon for my physical well being as it has prevented my lower back pain from continuing to be a chronic challenge.

As far as the spiritual aspect of yoga goes, the practice has also helped in that respect, as I generally practice in quiet or with soft instrumental music playing in the background.  This typically puts me in a very contemplative place, almost a meditative state.  Yoga is something you have to fully concentrate on, shutting out all outside distractions, thus staying in the present moment, which is exactly one of the qualities of meditation; being in the present moment.

Taking these things into consideration, you can certainly see why I’ve decided to write on the topic today.  I highly recommend practicing yoga to anyone who needs to rid themselves of chronic pain as it is a natural way of doing so.  It can also help quiet your body and mind.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Sleeping and the Correct Pillow

Welcome to Health and Fitness Monday, my new Theme Monday

A few years ago, I experienced such severe neck pain and lower back pain that I wound up going to Physical therapy.  The lower back pain was so horrendous that I found it challenging to walk.  The neck pain was at the point where I couldn’t turn my head.  I discussed the challenges I faced in a post called Dynamism in Walking.  While going through PT I was asked how I slept.  Because it was my neck that was giving me challenges at that point more than my lower back was, the questions were directed at my sleep patterns.

How did I sleep?
On my back?  On my side?
What type of pillow was I using?

At the time I was using a soft down pillow.
Red flag!

That’s what my Physical Therapist said.  Waking with neck pain is very likely if you don’t have a firm pillow; just as waking with back pain will be the case if you don’t have a firm mattress.  I did understand the correlation between back pain and soft mattresses, so I suppose I should have also seen the correlation between neck pain and a soft pillow.

My Physical Therapist recommended I use a Tempur-Pedic Side Pillow.  As is my case, when confronted with some new topic I dug into pillows and their effect on the body.  I came across a Youtube video called The Best Sleep Positions at the website Sleep-Apnea Guide for side pillows.  I highly recommend watching the video straight through.

Seeing as I AM a side sleeper, after researching a for a few days, I decided to get the Tempur-Pedic side pillow.  Many of the sites I visited said it could take some time to become comfortable with the new pillow, especially if this was the first time you moved away from a typical down pillow.  By the third morning waking up after using the side pillow for two nights I saw an improvement.  I continued using my new pillow exclusively for two more weeks.  On a whim, after my second week I decided to try my old pillow for a few nights.  I woke up frequently and during one of my frequent disturbances, I finally decided to toss the down pillow out and I returned to the Tempur-Pedic Side Pillow.

I can tell you beyond doubt that I sleep much sounder using the side pillow.
I no longer wake up as frequently.
I no longer have neck pain when I wake in the morning.

Making the decision to take care of my sleep has resulted in my being physically healthier, more alert and the best part is that I no longer suffer from neck pain.

What can you do to become healthy?

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris