Sleep Stats

Sleep is so important for maintaining good physical and emotional health. In the book The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal, the authors share some interesting information on sleep. 

“The clearest ninety-minute rhythm is the ‘sleepability’ cycle. About every ninety minutes, you enter a short period during which you are vulnerable to fatigue and sleepiness. …

“These rhythmic periods of sleepability are shorter during the morning hours than in the afternoon. That’s why it’s usually more difficult to take a nap in the morning than later in the day. Some of the time, you can fight off this fatigue—particularly if what you are doing is interesting or different. However, most of the time you would do best to give in to the rhythm and take a short break from your work—especially around the lunch hour, when you are already battling the early afternoon let down.” 

“Scientists have found that when we are bored, under stress, or short of sleep, our ninety-minute cycles tend to shorten to roughly sixty minutes. That may explain why we eat and smoke more under stressful or boring circumstances.” 

What deep sleep does for you:

  • Restores body and brain
  • Stimulates growth
  • Maintains mental health

What dream sleep does for you:

  • Consolidates and sorts memory
  • Enables learning
  • Ensures our physical safety

Things that can disrupt your sleep rhythms:

  • Dieting (loss of weight can cause more frequent awakenings during the night)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Low-sodium diet (elderly people only)
  • Cigarettes
  • Sleeping pills
  • Exercising vigorously if you’re not accustomed to it
  • A sleeping partner who snores or thrashers about in the night
  • Pets moving about in your bedroom
  • Sporadic, unpredictable noises
  • A room that is too warm (more than 75° F) or too cool (less than 60° F)
  • Hunger
  • Stress

Things that can enhance your sleep rhythms:

  • Regular aerobic exercising (at least twenty continuous minutes) particularly in the late afternoon
  • Sex right before bedtime
  • Following a bedtime ritual
  • Relaxation exercises right before bed
  • A bedtime snack high in carbohydrates
  • A dark and quiet bedroom
  • A “white noise” 

“Many scientists now believe that we were meant to sleep twice a day, once during the afternoon and again at night. … In one study, college students who regularly napped showed improved scores on skill and memory tests taken just after a nap.” 

“Scientists have also discovered that short naps (twenty minutes or less) are just as revitalizing as long ones—and less disruptive to regular sleep rhythms. In addition, regular nappers wake up more refreshed than those who take only an occasional nap. When naps are part of the regular daily rhythm, they are less disruptive.” 

You can check out my full book review of The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal by clicking here. Some other quotes and statistics I shared from this book can be found here. 

Another great book is Sleep: It Does A Family Good. That book review is here. 

20 Facts & Tips About Your Body Clock

I really enjoyed reading The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal (you can read my full book review by clicking here). From this book, I’ve begun implementing a few of the tips I discovered. Here are a few of the facts and tips that I found interesting. 

  1. “Most of us reach our peak of alertness around noon. … We are least alert during the early morning hours—specifically, between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.” 
  2. “Your immediate, or short-term, memory is best during the morning hours. … Your long-term memory is a different matter, however. Afternoon is the best time for learning material that you want to recall days, weeks, or even months later. … How well you remember things depends on when you learn them, not when you recall them.” 
  3. “On average, we tend to do best on cognitive tests—things that require the greatest mental effort—during the morning hours, particularly the late morning hours.” 
  4. “All of your senses—taste, sight, hearing, touch, and smell—are their keenest during the twilight hours of late afternoon and early evening.” 
  5. Tips for keeping your daily rhythms on beat: (1) get out in the sun for at least fifteen minutes each day, and (2) try to follow a regular daily routine.
  6. “Fortunately, there is another way to avoid the Monday morning blahs. Stay up as late as you like, but make sure you get up at your regular wake up time. In other words, don’t sleep in. And don’t take naps during the day. Then, when night rolls around again, you’ll find yourself able to fall asleep at or before your regular bedtime, and you’ll avoid pushing your cycle ahead.” 
  7. “Scientists have also discovered that short naps (twenty minutes or less) are just as revitalizing as long ones—and less disruptive to regular sleep rhythms. In addition, regular nappers wake up more refreshed than those who take only an occasional nap. When naps are part of the regular daily rhythm, they are less disruptive.” 
  8. “Generally, our moods peek around four hours after we awaken.” 
  9. “A regular exercise program can go along way toward easing the physical effects of stress. … The exercise program must be regular, however; sporadic physical activity, such as an occasional game of tennis or softball, or an activity that is not appropriate to your physical condition, can be a harmful stressor.” 
  10. “Melatonin’s daily rhythm is similar to that of legendary vampires: it appears at the onset of darkness and begins to disappear at the break of dawn. In other words, darkness triggers the chemical’s release; sunlight suppresses it. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that melatonin reaches its seasonal peak in the body during the dark winter months.” 
  11. “Beards tend to grow the most on Sunday and the least on Wednesday.” 
  12. “If you wake up in the morning with a temperature of 99° F, you are very likely coming down with a cold, the flu, or some other kind of illness. But if you have that same reading around dinner time, you may be in perfect health. The reason, of course, is that your temperature rises during the day. A high reading early in the day is a greater indication of illness than the same reading late in the day.” 
  13. “Take a commonplace drug like aspirin, for example. When swallowed at 7:00 a.m., aspirin stays in the body for up to twenty-two hours. When the same dose is taken at 7:00 p.m., it is completely out of the body within seventeen hours.” 
  14. “When you know your rhythms are out of sync, be aware that you are particularly vulnerable to illness. It is the time to be extra careful about keeping your distance from people with the flu or other viruses.” 
  15. “The best thing you can do for a tension headache is to learn how to relax. As soon as the headache begins, lie down, if possible, so you can take the strain off your neck, since this is the location of most of the muscles that tense up and cause a tension headache. Close your eyes and breathe deeply to return oxygen to your strained muscles. Better yet, ask a sympathetic friend or loved one to gently massage your neck and shoulders.”
  16. “Eat your biggest meal at breakfast, your next biggest at lunch, and your smallest at dinner.” 
  17. “About every ninety minutes, most people experience an urge to put something into their mouths. … Generally, it will pass in about fifteen minutes.” 
  18. “According to recent studies conducted at Northwestern University, both morning and night people perform simple mental tasks better during the morning hours after consuming the caffeine equivalent of one to three cups of coffee. But when the tasks become more complex, only night people do better under the influence of caffeine. For morning people, the higher dose of caffeine, the more mistakes they make.” 
  19. “Carbohydrates help calm and focus your mind.” 
  20. “Protein foods increase your alertness and help you feel more energetic. … Protein can be eaten either alone or with a carbohydrate food to energize the mind. For carbohydrates to have their calming effect, they must be eaten alone.” 

I’ll be sharing some of the research that Susan Perry and Jim Dawson uncovered about the importance of sleep soon, so stay tuned! 

7 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

Psalm 4.8It’s no secret that being tired can lead to a lot of not-so-nice consequences. Everything from automobile crashes, to poor work performance, to foot-in-mouth statements, to giving in to temptations, to health issues are all traced back to not getting enough peaceful sleep.

But did you know that sweet sleep is something God wants to give you?

Psalm 127 says, “God grants sleep to those He loves.” Guess what? God loves you, and wants you to have a peaceful night’s sleep!

Here are some benefits to getting solid sack time:

  1. Muscles are repaired—the body “turns off” muscles during sleep so they can repair themselves.
  2. The hormone leptin, that regulates your appetite, is adjusted.
  3. Your blood pressure is lowered.
  4. Your heart rate is lowered.
  5. The energy-producing cells we all need are restocked.
  6. Your immune system is re-energized.
  7. Memories are consolidated from short-term memory banks to long-term memories.
  8. The hormones that allow you to concentrate are replenished.
  9. Your “database” of decision-making options is re-calibrated.
  10. Bottom line—you get healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

All of this God wants to give to those He loves. “God loves me, so I’m going to sleep peacefully tonight!”

The problem is we often sabotage God’s blessing of sweet sleep by our own poor decisions during the day. So here are seven things you can do to cooperate with God’s blessing of sleep:

  1. Reduce stress. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which prepares your body for fight-or-flight. This means when you’re trying to quiet down for the night, your body is still screaming, “Go, go go!” Stress is mainly triggered by worrying over things outside of our control, so check out what Jesus said to us about not worrying—Matthew 6:25-34.
  2. Reduce late-day caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so if you are pouring it into your body late in the date, you might fall into bed exhausted but the caffeine is keeping your brain buzzing. As a result, you don’t have the normal deep sleep patterns.
  3. Eliminate emotional caffeine. Arguments with other people release cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream. If these disagreements are happening later in the day, your body is fighting against God’s plan for your tranquil sleep. So take care of any disagreements quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. Exercise. Getting some movement into your daily routine flushes cortisol and adrenaline from your bloodstream.
  5. Go to bed and get up at the same time. There’s a reason God made the sun to rise and set at predictable times. Your body also functions best on a predictable schedule.
  6. Reduce “blue lights” close to bed time. The blue light waves of dawn tell our bodies to stop releasing melatonin, the sleepy hormone. The red light waves of dusk tell our bodies to increase melatonin so we can go to sleep. But when we’re staring into the blue light of our phones and tablets, our body is being sent a conflicting signal.
  7. Pray. Two great passages you can pray before bedtime are Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. Claim those promises of sweet sleep!

God loves you. He wants to give you the blessing of peaceful sleep. If you’re going to sleep peacefully tonight, make sure you are not sabotaging what God wants to give you.

Thursdays With Oswald—God’s Plan For Building Spiritual Muscles

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

God’s Plan For Building Spiritual Muscles

     If a man has used his arm only for writing, and then becomes a blacksmith, he will groan for days with the tremendous pain in the deltoid muscle until by practice the time comes when there is no more pain because the muscle has become rightly adjusted to its new work. 

     The same thing happens spiritually, God begins to teach us how to walk and over and over again we begin to howl and complain. May God save us from the continual whine of spiritual babes—“Teach us the same things over and over again, don’t give us the revelations of God which are painful, give us the ‘simple gospel,’ what we have always believed, don’t tell us of things we have never thought about before, because that causes pain” (Hebrews 5:12). Of course it does. 

     Thank God there is a pain attached to being saved, the pain of growing until we come to maturity where we can do the work of a son or daughter of God. … 

     Look back over your life in grace, whether long or short, and ask yourself which are the days that have furthered you most in the knowledge of God—the days of sunshine and peace and prosperity? Never! The days of adversity, the days of strain, the days of sudden surprises, the days when the earthly house of this tabernacle was strained to its last limit, those are the days when you learned the meaning of this passion of “Go.” 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

The only way to build physical muscles is to push them beyond their comfort level.

The only way to build physical stamina is to run farther than you have run before.

The only way God can build our spiritual muscles—and our spiritual stamina—is to push us beyond our comfort zone, to challenge us to go deeper and farther than we’ve gone before. Don’t push Him away. God loves you too much to leave you where you are!

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Your Anti-Porn Plan

The Porn CircuitPerhaps a New Year’s resolution you made was to stop viewing pornography. That’s a great first step! I like these tips from CovenantEyes for helping you stick with your no-porn goal.

  1. Develop a game plan. Instead of retreating to porn, have a book to read or another activity planned.
  2. Get outside of yourself. When you focus on your circumstances, the temptation to escape comes calling. Serving others is the best antidote to a self-induced pity party. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army, visit a nursing home or work in a soup kitchen.
  3. Burn off steam and calories. Go for walks. Get some exercise in. Hit the gym with a friend.
  4. Reach out. Call a friend. Be open and honest about your feelings and temptations. (Keeping secrets breeds failure.)
  5. Avoid Facebook and social media. Comparing your life to the façade on Facebook only leads to more stress and loneliness.
  6. Don’t throw in the towel. If you have a setback, get back up and start over!

And I’ll add one more of my own:

7. Learn your triggers. Do you usually feel the urge to look at porn at night? when you’re tired? when you’re lonely? Know when your temptation is at its strongest, and be ready with one of the above strategies before the temptation flares up.

CovenantEyes has some great ebooks and other resources you can check out here. You also might want to add their accountability software to your devices.

YOU CAN DO THIS—YOU CAN BEAT YOUR PORN ADDICTION!

5 Quotes On Problem Solving From “Brain-Savvy Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersCharles Stone’s book Brain-Savvy Leaders is chockfull of helpful information! When you understand more how your brain works, you can leverage its power more efficiently. Here are some quotes he shared about problem solving.

“Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” —Pope Paul VI 

“As a part of the C-system, the prefrontal cortex processes bits of information one after the other (serial) instead of several at the same time (parallel). … When we try to process too much information at once, the prefrontal cortex’s serial processing nature can result in mental processing bottlenecks that in turn can lead to unfinished thoughts and tasks. … When we attempt many mental tasks at once, our thinking degrades, accuracy drops, we focus on the urgent instead of the important, we forget things, and the quality of future decisions gets muddied.”

Coffee, caffeinated drinks (but not too many), exercise, and novelty can increase the amount of these neurotransmitters and get us into a more productive and focused state.”

“Charlan Nemeth, a psychology professor at the University of California-Berkeley, performed a creativity study in 2003. She divided 265 female students into groups of five and asked them to generate as many ideas as possible on how to decrease traffic congestion in the San Francisco Bay area. Each team received one of three conditions and was given twenty minutes to complete the task. Either they used the traditional ‘no criticism’ brainstorming technique, or they generated as many ideas as possible but could debate and criticize each one, or they received no instructions. The ‘debate and criticize’ teams generated 20 percent more ideas than the other two groups. … Debate…adds the element of surprise that engages the brain.”

“When trying to solve problems, encourage your team to imagine themselves a year from now instead of imagining themselves tomorrow. Studies show that this time perspective fosters more creativity.”

You can read my book review of Brain-Savvy Leaders by clicking here.

I have also shared other quotes from this book on learning, brain health, and emotional health.

7 Quotes On Brain Health From “Brain-Savvy Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersCharles Stone gave us a very practical book in Brain-Savvy Leaders (you can read my full review by clicking here). Obviously out brain works best when we’re healthy, so check out some quotes from this book on brain health.

“Gratefulness is actually good for brain and body health.”

“At the end of our chromosomes lie protective caps called telomeres that are linked to longevity. Apparently, the longer your telomeres, all else being equal, the longer you live. Long-term stress shortens them, and mindfulness apparently helps lengthen them. For a Christian, mindfulness practices, such as meditation on Scripture and reflective prayer, which we often do in our devotional time, may possibly help us live longer.”

“The hypothalamus acts as a controller to the master hormone gland, the pituitary gland. … Chronic stress can damage our body and even kill neurons in the hippocampus. However, since the hippocampus is one of the few structures that can grow neurons, called neurogenesis, when stress decreases and cortisol levels out, the brain can regrow neurons here.”

“When we feel bored we don’t get as much oxygen and blood flow. When the brain lacks engagement over long periods of time (we are bored), dendrites can atrophy. When that happens, we can lose brain real estate.”

“Neuroscientists have found that stuffing, denying, or a ignoring our emotions reinforces them, affects short-term memory, increases blood pressure, and robs our brain’s prefrontal cortex of the mental energy it needs.”

“Chronic anxiety and stress cause what scientists call allostatic load…. When our body secretes too much cortisol over long periods of time, these problems can affect us: impaired immunity, weight gain, greater emotional reactivity, heart problems, decreased memory, and diminished brain functioning.”

“Exercise increases a key protein necessary for a healthy brain.”

I shared some quotes about how we learn from Brain-Savvy Leaders earlier, and you can read them here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“‘Amen’ is an exclamation point of hope after a prayer for help.” —John Piper

“You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself.” —C.S. Lewis

A good read for Moms―Moms Need Theology Too.

And something for young men―5 Pieces Of Advice For Young Men.

Some United States Senators are more interested in making sure we can kill babies than they are in rescuing human trafficking victims.

Remember when your parents said, “Go outside and get some fresh air”? That advice may save your eyesight.

George Whitefield learned that God’s Word trumps our insights.

Helpers

HelpersI was at the University of Michigan with a friend who is on the list waiting for a liver transplant. We spent a half-day listening to doctors, nurses, dietitians and others tell us what to expect through this process.

One social worker really emphasized the care of the patient’s body prior to the transplant as a way to help with recovery from the surgery. He said, Pre-habilitation helps rehabilitation.” 

I like that!

It’s sort of a variation on Benjamin Franklin’s maxims, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and “A stitch in time saves nine.” Even wise King Solomon wrote, “A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered” (Proverbs 22:3, The Message).

To help things go better later, we need to start working sooner. Later things go better with helpers that begin sooner. 

Here are a few helpers I thought of:

Pre-habilitation helps rehabilitation. 

Preparing helps repairing. 

Exercise helps recovery. 

Proaction helps better reaction. 

Accepting responsibility helps apologizing. 

Praying helps working. 

Daily study helps studying the night before a test. 

What other helpers would you add to the list? (Add them in the comments below….)

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