Better Sleep, A Better You!

Happy New Year!

Winter weather makes it hard to get out of bed, doesn’t it? The warm comfort that holds us willingly inside the soft folds of our blankets makes it hard to move on to our ever growing to-do lists and responsibilities we are beholden to. It can also be hard to move out of our cozy nest if we have not had a restful night’s sleep. Many people struggle with sleep problems on a regular basis and most of us have had trouble dealing with it from time to time. Sleep can harness our mental abilities like nothing else. We are more productive, alert, and research is now showing, even happier and calmer, when we have had a good night’s sleep.

In an article by Laurie Meyers in the American Counseling Association’s magazine, Counseling Today, May 2014, there is new research connecting the chronic insomnia to mood disorders due to sleep playing a significant role in emotional regulation and processing. I decided to share some of the articles’ suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep with you, in my hopes that this new year brings about the positive changes you are all working towards!

1.) Plan you meals. Don’t eat a big meal before you turn in. Digestion can interrupt sleep.

2.) Alcohol also interrupts sleep patterns. We think that it might help us sleep, but the digestion of sugars contained in alcohol can cause us to wake and interrupt deep sleep.

3.) Exercise in the morning or late afternoon can help us go to sleep more soundly.

4.) Getting just 10-15 minutes of sunshine can help us reset our sleep-wake cycle. Our bodies have an internal rhythm that takes cues from sunshine and darkness.

5.) Turning of the TV, tablet, or cell phone an hour before we sleep can also cue in these internal signals to sleep.

6.) Having a regular schedule and routine before bed can encourage sleep. Our bodies become very sensitive to routine.

7.) Relaxing activities like reading before bed can promote restful sleep.

8.) Certain teas or supplements like Chamomile can help ease the body and mind into restful slumber. There are other essential oils, like lavendar, that can be rubbed on the feet or behind the ears to help the body relax for bedtime.

9.) Meditation in the morning or afternoon can allow the body time to relax so that when bedtime rolls around, your mind is at ease. Many people report worry and anxiety prevent them from falling asleep at night, but these are states of being that we may be experiencing throughout the day. By managing it at various points throughout the day we can be more relaxed as we approach bedtime.

10.) Caffeine intake can keep us awake, but many people drink it throughout the day. By taking caffeine out of your diet after 12 noon, you may help your body relax towards the end of the day. Caffeine can stay in your system much longer than you think and it varies depending on the individual.

My wish for you is a restful, peaceful, and happy New Year!

 

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How is the Teenage Brain Different?

It appears that brain development takes a lot longer that once believed. At one time the consensus was that our brains were developed at around the age of 6 and didn’t do much growing after that. Now, after the NIH project that studied over a hundred teens in the late ‘90s we know that teenage brains go through a reorganization of growing and pruning during adolescence and until the early 20’s.

Brain development moves from the back of the head, where very basic actions and reflexes emerge toward the front, the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex that is involved in complicated though processes. This important and area is responsible for problem solving, abstract thinking, risk assessment and planning, and impulse control.

Researchers have found that dendrites or receptor sites in the brains of teens are more sensitive to neurotransmitters like dopamine (pleasure seeking) and oxytocin (social rewards). These receptor sites have their antennae up or are alert for possible rewards or sensation seeking events. What Temple U found in a study using a video game to assess teen’s ability to make judgments based on risk, was that teens made very similar judgements as to those of adults, but only when they were playing the game alone. When another teen was in the room the results were different. Teens took more risks when they knew another teen was watching. It appears that the social perk of beating the game was more important than taking their time to come out ahead. Teens are wired to seek the social rewards.

Researchers concluded that risk taking, is not just a part of adolescence, but maybe the critical element that pushes kids to start something new, to move out of the house they grew up in, to meet more people and make new friends. It appears that risk taking is central in the development of who we are and who we want to be.

Brain activity hinges on Axons sending messages to Dendrites and as we get older the Myelin Sheath, a milky white substance helps those connections grow stronger. It works like muscle memory. The more we do something and repeat the action, the less we have to think about it. For instance, when we first learn to drive a car we have to think about everything from the ignition, to the mirrors. But after driving for years we can drive the whole way to work and not really remember how we got there! But when forming new connections the brain needs a little bravado to move and create new links. This is the growing and the pruning process of brain development in adolescence. It is awkward and mistakes happen. That is part of the growing and pruning. Those are the growing pains.

Youth is more willing to take risks because the brain is designed to encourage that for growth, adaptation and learning.

How is the Teenage Brain Different?

How is the Teenage Brain Different?

It appears that brain development takes a lot longer that once believed. At one time the consensus was that our brains were developed at around the age of 6 and didn’t do much growing after that. Now, after the NIH project that studied over a hundred teens in the late ‘90s, we know that teenage brains go through a reorganization of growing and pruning during adolescence and until the early 20’s.

Brain development moves from the back of the head, where very basic actions and reflexes emerge toward the front, where the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex are involved in complicated thought processes. This important and area is responsible for problem solving, abstract thinking, risk assessment and planning, and impulse control.

Researchers have found that dendrites or receptor sites in the brains of teens are more sensitive to neurotransmitters like dopamine (pleasure seeking) and oxytocin (social rewards). These receptor sites have their antennae up or are alert for possible rewards or sensation seeking events. What Temple U found in a study using a video game to assess teen’s ability to make judgments based on risk, was that teens made very similar judgements as to those of adults, but only when they were playing the game alone. When another teen was in the room the results were different. Teens took more risks when they knew another teen was watching. It appears that the social perk of beating the game was more important than taking their time to come out ahead. Teens are wired to seek the social rewards.

Researchers concluded that risk taking, is not just a part of adolescence, but maybe the critical element that pushes kids to start something new, to move out of the house they grew up in, to meet more people and make new friends. It appears that risk taking is central in the development of who we are and who we want to be.

Brain activity hinges on Axons sending messages to Dendrites and as we get older the Myelin Sheath, a milky white substance helps those connections grow stronger. It works like muscle memory. The more we do something and repeat the action, the less we have to think about it. For instance, when we first learn to drive a car we have to think about everything from the ignition, to the mirrors. But after driving for years we can drive the whole way to work and not really remember how we got there! But when forming new connections the brain needs a little bravado to move and create new links. This is the growing and the pruning process of brain development in adolescence. It is awkward and mistakes happen. That is part of the growing and pruning. Those are the growing pains.

Youth is more willing to take risks because the brain is designed to encourage that for growth, adaptation and learning. That is not so say that it is not painful, for you or your child. Being aware of how the brain works helps us understand our kids better. And that leads to better relationships.

 

Issues for Teens

http://www.clotheslineproject.org/teendatingviolencefacts.pdf Teen Dating Violence Stats

The American Bar Assn. conducted a National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Initiative in 2006 and compiled current stats among teens.

http://www.safehorizon.org/images/uploads/misc/1297797123_10%20signs%20that%20you%20may%20be%20experiencing%20relationship%20abuse.pdf Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Look at the warning signs and suggestions on how to seek help if you think you may be in an abusive or destructive relationship.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vpLwg3YqoyJAGfIi36i8WYZYUM7bFCSPbE12oKo6iFM/edit?pli=1#slide=id.p Healthy and Abusive Relationships for Teens

Tips for how to tell if you are in a healthy supportive realationship, as well as, signs that you may be in an abusive relatioship. Tips for getting outside help are included.

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/cutting.html Concerns around Cutting

Cutting and other Self-Injurious behaviors can be a sign that your teen is overwhelmed with emotions that they are not able to cope with. This article has information for teens and parents.

http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/index.html Self-Injury Information for Teens and Parents

Excellent website with information for schools, counselors, parents, and teens. Handouts and other material from experts at Cornell.

Information on Teen Drug Use

 

http://www.inspirationsyouth.com/teen-drug-abuse.asp?gclid=CP6rlamO6q0CFYXd4AodwUUe5A Help for Teen Drug Use

Helpful information on teen drug use and addictions.

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/teen-abuse-cough-medicine-9/default.htm Teen Addicted to Cough Medicine

A powerful video depicts the ease and danger of using cough medicine to get high. A warning for parents and teens.

http://www.morningsiderecovery.com/educational-resources/teaching-kids-about-drug-abuse/ www.morningsiderecovery.com/educational-resources/teaching-kids-about-drug-abuse/
http://www.morningsiderecovery.com/educational-resources/teaching-kids-about-drug-abuse/ Talking to your kids about drug abuse

This site offers information for parents and teens on drug abuse, how to talk about it with your kids, and information on how drugs effect the body and relationships. There are several links with helpful information.

Understanding the Teenage Brain

 

http://www.linkedin.com/news?viewArticle=&articleID=874436165&gid=121084&type=member&item=77705090&articleURL=http%3A%2F%2Fngm%2Enationalgeographic%2Ecom%2F2011%2F10%2Fteenage-brains%2Fdobbs-text&urlhash=POce&goback=%2Egde_121084_member_77705090 National Geographic:The Teenage Brain

The science behind teenage behavior as we learn and understand how the teenage brain develops and works.

http://www.radicalparenting.com/2011/01/10/the-teenage-brain-what-parents-need-to-know/ Research on the links between teen behavior and brain and body changes

Short synopses of scientific articles that trace teen behavior and moods back to brain development and hormones.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/view/ Frontline: Understanding the Teenage Brain

Brain research illuminates information about teen behavior, risk-taking, mood changes, and their ability to read social cues.

http://www.copingskills4kids.net/Home_Page.html BrainWorks Project

Activities and information for parents and pre-teens on understanding how the brain works and coping strategies for managing stress, and more…

http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire What is Your Learning Style?

This questionnaire will tell you how you best learn. Once you have this figured out, you can tailor your studying to support how you best remember and filter information.

http://frank.mtsu.edu/~studskl/hd/learn.html Right Brained or Left Brained?

This Hemispheric Dominance test will let you know what side of the brain you tend to make decisions from. These types of tests help you better understand yourself.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/health-matters/201006/the-teenagers-brain The Teenage Brain

A fascinating article in Psychology Today by Dr. Hedaya detailing just exactly what is going on in their beautiful little heads!

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Zfm635Nx0Y7DDTHill591o4slyscYrFek0eyCPU_vvI/edit#slide=id.p Slideshow: The Organized Brain

Details the specific issues related to Executive Functioning Disorder, assessment, and suggestions for managing it and improving brain function.