Are You Getting Twinkie Sleep?

Are You Getting ‘Twinkie’ Sleep?

Gasp…..yes!

Have you ever woken up after what you feel was an adequate number of hours of sleep, but didn’t feel rested?

My husband and I have had discussions about this over recent months, and it’s a question well worth diving into.

Sleep is so important – for energy, learning, focus, efficiency, growth, healing, efficient fat burning, muscle retention, cancer prevention, and so much more.  Shawn Stevenson, author of “Sleep Smarter”, in an interview as part of the Focus Productivity Summit, stated that he believes sleep is more important for your overall health than nutrition and exercise combined.  I believe it.  He stated three facts about sleep that are worth noting:

  1.  Our brains will lose information if we do not get enough sleep,.

  2. Lack of sleep makes it easier for us to lose focus.

  3. A good night of sleep will make us noticeably more efficient.

So many of us simply don’t get enough.  Or, we do get enough, but it’s, as Stevenson termed it, ‘twinkie’ sleep.  That term just stuck with me.  What does he mean by ‘twinkie?’.   When it comes to eating, we have learned over time that it’s not simply about the balance between the number of calories in and calories out.  We have to consider the quality of the calories or our health will suffer tremendously.  Same goes for sleep.  It is not simply about the number of hours of sleep we get each night.  It’s also importantly about the quality of the sleep we get.  8 hours of poor quality sleep is like eating a certain number of calories of a toxic twinkie – both have a negative impact on our health.

I’m realizing that, though I get enough sleep when I count up the hours, it is most definitely twinkie sleep, and here is a major reason why:

The big ‘no no’ that my husband told me I was guilty of is looking at a blue light screen before bed.  The artificial blue light emitted by screens actually tricks our bodies into thinking it’s daytime and not only does this trigger an increase in daytime hormones like cortisol but it suppresses melatonin.  Stevenson, in his book, “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success,” cites a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that found that the use of light-emitting electronic devices in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness and the circadian clock that synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep.  In the study, iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night, secreted less melatonin and had shorter REM sleep compared to test subjects who were assigned to read regular printed books.  AND, the iPad readers were more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full 8 hours of sleep.  No wonder I was feeling so tired some days after getting ‘enough’ sleep!

Obviously sleep is a huge topic and I’ve only addressed a small but relevant portion of it as it has impacted my life and my health.  I know I’m not alone in the ‘blue light’ struggle.  All I need to do is look around me to know that it is an issue in many homes.   In light of this information, what are some good next steps? Shawn Stevenson says that the best decision is to turn off all screens at least 90 minutes before bedtime in order to allow melatonin and cortisol levels to normalize.  I’m working on that, for both myself and my kids.  My next best step after I learned all of this was to adjust the settings on my iphone and my ipad so that the blue light is turned off at a designated time.  I was discouraged to find that my phone, an apple 5C, doesn’t have this capability.  So I made the decision to keep it away from my bedside at night.  Then it broke, and my new phone is set to turn the blue light off at 8 PM every night.  Love it!  http://www.imore.com/night-shift If you have a Mac, there is a free application called f.lux that automatically eliminates the problematic blue light from your computer screen at a certain time each day.  You can get similar things for your smartphone and other devices too.  I encourage you to think more about your sleep and your screen habits before bed.  And if you have kids, set the night shift on their devices immediately.  If you can’t figure it out, as your 5 year old and he/she will probably be able to show you 🙂 It will only take a minute and will reap huge health benefits immediately!!

If you are interested in learning more about sleep, here are some helpful links:

  1.  Sleep in the Bible by Dr. Page http://www.allaboutgod.com/sleep-in-the-bible.htm#
  2. An article by Dr. Daniel Amen on the importance of getting good sleep.  http://www.amenclinics.com/blog/importance-getting-good-sleep/?utm_campaign=YBAIB&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30371105&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9Dm1vT2zfPNFedCCd-I9g-zefhrcZ9C2kHwcTxkatS9q4YHZKRkL_usaSk8DDFwkiXZjY35D7NlrlxYSH_-q_c5sYPAA&_hsmi=30371105

And finally, here’s a great article written by Greg Laurie that I pray will minister to anyone whose worries keep them up at night.  It’s called, “God Works the Night Shift”. https://www.harvest.org/devotions-and-blogs/daily-devotions/2011-08-27

 

 

 

Worry Through the Eyes of my Child

Haven and Darren Mulligan from the band, We Are Messengers.

A few weeks ago my 11 year old daughter, Haven, and I were talking about this blog and she asked if I could post something that she wrote.  When I asked her if she had anything in mind, she told me that she wanted to share what she has written about worry.  So, here it is, a post from my beautiful, real, courageous daughter, on a topic that is close to the hearts of so many children and adults.

 

My Worry by Haven

I struggle with worry.  When you worry a lot it’s hard to look at yourself and say, “You’re worth it, you’re loved and your beautiful.”  It’s easier to say, You’re stupid, you are dumb, you are ugly.”  Sometimes I feel as if I need to give up on myself.

I’ve worried ever since I was six or seven.  It’s hard to manage all the negative thoughts in your head.  My mom and dad have been the parents to have through this situation.  My mom has always given me sayings and verses to memorize.  This is an example of a verse: I prayed to the Lord and he answered me he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).  An example of a saying is: faith not fear, hope not worry. My dad also supports me in all of this because when I’m sad he makes me laugh or tickle me.  Both my parents comfort me in the night when I wake up in the middle of the night scared or with a big headache.  The reason I wake up with a big headache is because I get scared in the night and it overwhelms me with bad thoughts.   I’m always afraid of everything.  I can make something that is not dangerous, dangerous in my head.

I still have trouble with anxiety but my mom told me something to remember. She told me fear is…

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

When my mom told me that it helped me a lot.

I went to a concert on November 14th, 2016.  It was awesome.  At the end me and my mom were going around to all the singers for autographs. Once we got Darren from We Are Messengers we asked him to sign a CD for a friend.  Right as we asked him he turned to me and said, “Let go of your worries and fears because you are God’s daughter and He made you beautiful.” We hadn’t told him that I struggle with worry.  It was just God sending a message to me through him. This helped me a lot because I feel as if God sent that message through him and that I am BEAUTIFUL!

I still struggle with worry but know I know God is with me and I am loved!!!!!!


A long time ago I was listening to David Jeremiah preach on the topic of fear.  He asked what the opposite of fear is.  Immediately I thought of the word trust.  His response was not trust but LOVE.  I’m going to have to paraphrase here the notes I wrote in my Bible that day because they had such an impact on my soul:  “Just as a child with a nightmare will run to someone that loves him/her, God wants us to throw ourselves into his arms because He is our father.  When we understand how much God loves us, when we grab hold of that truth, we will not be afraid.”  David Jeremiah spoke this truth to me.  Darren spoke this truth to Haven and she received it and responded to it in such a beautiful way.

My prayer for my daughter, and for anyone reading this that struggles with worry or anxiety, is this:  Lord, you tell us in your Word that there is no fear in love and that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).  Thank you for loving us with your perfect love.  Help us to not just have a head knowledge of that love, but to understand exactly what that means as we get to know you more and more.  Transform our hearts and her minds with your love.  Teach us to answer with prayer whenever worries come knocking on the door of our hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

LIVE LIKE YOU’RE LOVED!  HIS LOVE HAS MADE YOU MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP4WFN-i9BM

 

Hope For Less Stress This Christmas

Christmas is one of the most anticipated times of the year, a season in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior, take time to bless others, enjoy Christmas traditions, spend time with friends and loved ones, and so much more.

Let’s be real, though.  Often the peace, the joy, and all that we long for as we anticipate Christ’s birth get lost in the shuffle of, well, the shuffle. Christmas joy can easily be replaced with Christmas stress as we try to pack into our already busy lives decorating, shopping, baking, caroling, wrapping, cookie making, card writing, traveling, fighting traffic, church services, work parties, family parties, school parties, etc.  Add to that other stressors such as the financial stress that comes with gift giving, relationship stress within families, and sickness that doesn’t get put on hold for the holidays and suddenly the joy of Christmas is replaced with STRESS.  And this stress can have a long-lasting impact on our bodies, our souls, our spirits and our relationships.

It probably won’t surprise you that…

  1. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season, have a harder time relaxing during the holidays, are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.
  2. During the holidays people in the United States are much more likely to say they behave in sedentary ways, like watching TV, sleeping, eating and drinking to manage their stress.  Many individuals engage in comfort eating and other unhealthy behaviors to cope with their stress levels.

On a positive note, the APA survey also found that for most people in our country the New Year offers hope and a reminder that there is always opportunity for change and self-improvement.  In the New Year, most individuals would like to improve their health or lose weight, get their finances in order, or improve their relationships with family or a significant other.  I believe with all of my heart that our hope is not in the New Year.  How long do our resolutions really last anyway?  Our hope is in Christ, who loves us and desires us to be well- soul, spirit and body- right now in the midst of it all.  The easiest thing to do over the holidays is to ignore our health, telling ourselves, “ It’s the holiday season.  I’ll start over in January.”  Believe me, I’ve been there one too many times.

This year let’s choose a better way by choosing not to give up on our health.  Instead, let’s make it one of our holiday priorities.   God wants us to be whole, and He will show us the way, step by step.  When we are well, we are better able to love, care for and serve those we love.  Now that’s a gift worth giving.  http://www.faithandhealthconnection.org/the_connection/spirit-soul-and-body/wholeness-biblical-and-christian-perspective/

Making Our Desire a Reality

The thought of adding wellness to the list of holiday ‘to dos’ can feel so overwhelming, unrealistic and impossible, so much so that the temptation might be to give up before even starting.  But what if we decide to focus on a just a few decisions that we can make, or even just one, that will move us in the direction of the wellness we so desire.  Like a snowball effect,  our many small decisions over time will, over time, build upon themselves, leading to big changes in our lives.

Listed below are some ideas, some places to start, that I hope you will find helpful. Each begins with the letter P, for peace, which is the opposite of the stress that we don’t need or desire.  I will be reminding myself of these Ps each day, and inviting God to direct my steps in the midst of my Christmas busyness.

Ps for peace, not stress this Christmas season

PRIORITIZE

Focus on what really matters.  Make Christ your first priority. To help organize your other priorities, take time to identify six areas of your life that demand your attention during the holidays.  Then, list them in order of priority.   Keep a visual image of your priorities in an area you will see often as a reminder for you as you think, pray and plan.

PRAY

Invite the Lord into your days.

My prayer: Lord, we desire to have a joyful Christmas and we want to stay well through the hustle and bustle of this season.   Help us to identify the things that threaten to steal our joy this Christmas and do what needs to be done to prevent this from happening.  Remind us of what’s truly important when we begin to feel caught up in the materialism and the pressure to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas.  Help us to slow down enough to think and to plan now, before the whirlwind begins.  We know that a little planning goes a long way and will help us to keep stress levels down.  Help us each day to seek you first, trusting that you will give us everything we need.  Infuse us with your love and grace, Lord, and show us who we can bless this season with a touch of Christmas love. Amen.

PLAN

A little preparation goes a long way.  A great place to start is by making a holiday dump list.  Simply take a piece of paper and spend a good chunk of time dumping all of your Christmas thoughts – your to dos, to gets, to gos, to gives, etc. onto it. Getting it all out can actually help to bring focus to your cluttered mind.  Once you’ve done this, you can use this big picture as a starting point as you prioritize and plan each item into your days and weeks.  Keep your list of priorities in mind as you plan, and remember Matthew 6:33, which reminds you to seek first the Kingdom of God above all else trusting that He will give you everything you need.

PRESS PAUSE

Press the pause button each day by taking the time for short breathers.  They are so important.  Also, it’s extremely important to decide from the start not to burn the candle from both ends by getting up earlier and staying up later in the name of getting it all done.  Choosing not to sleep will backfire on you! Studies have shown that lack of sleep negatively impacts your mood and state of mind, leads to decreased focus and motivation, makes you less inclined to exercise, more inclined to eat more and drink more, and makes you less focused and efficient during the day.  Who wants all that??!!!

 

 

PLAY OUT THE TAPE

Before making decisions, play out the tape in your mind and ask yourself, if I do this/eat this/say yes to this then ____________.  If I don’t do this/eat this/say yes to this then _____________.  Challenge yourself to say yes to healthy decisions and no to unhealthy ones, not perfectly, but more often than not.

PRAISE

Psalm 92:1-2 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. 

It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.

 

I love what Ann Voskamp says about thanks:

“If gratitude is an antidote for anxiety…

and giving thanks is a real cure for stress —

why relegate thanksgiving to a holiday when giving thanks can revolutionize our whole lives?”

I encourage you to read her entire blog post on the topic of thanksgiving in the midst of stress, called, “Because Thanksgiving is more than a holiday.”

Because Thanksgiving is More than a Holiday

As for praising through song, simply let Christmas music fill your home and your mind.  Think about what the lyrics of each song mean.  Find a Christmas playlist on YouTube and listen to it while you do your daily tasks.  I’ve linked a few Christmas songs throughout this post for you to enjoy.

PLAY

Have fun, laugh, and enjoy family.  This one’s admittedly the hardest one for me to do in the midst of my daily to dos, and it’s high on my list of priorities this month.  You can be praying for me in this area 🙂

In the spirit of fun, here’s a fun version of Joy to the World by Pentatonix.

PAY IT FORWARD

What a gift we celebrate this Christmas- the gift of Christ.  For God so loved us all that he gave us his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16).  God loves us so much and this season, may you receive that love and, in turn, share the love and light of Christ with others.  Little things mean so much.  A letter.  A phone call.  A kind gesture.  Reaching out to someone that God puts on your heart.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and blessed Christmas season.

Lauren