Healthy Living: The science of sleep, part 2
In the second part of the four-part series "The Science of Sleep," most top sleep professionals say a change of habits can make one's slumber more refreshing. Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Not everyone can find the time to nap in the middle of the day, but that is exactly what spa client Tiffany Hott tries to do.
"Being a CEO and being a busy executive, especially in this economy, I'm very stressed," said Hott. "Before, I wasn't able to get a full night of sleep. I was constantly waking up in the middle of the night, feeling restless, lethargic, listless."
The relaxation techniques Hott picks up at her twice-monthly visits to Yelo Spa in Manhattan help her get through the night. The facility tries to put the "power" back in "power nap" by using special chairs that put the sleeper in a zero-gravity position.
"[With the chair,] your blood flow gets concentrated toward your chest, and as a result of that, your heart does not need to work as hard to irrigate your brain," said Nicolas Ronco, Yelo's founder and chief executive officer.
The Yelo Spa also treats the moment of awakening very seriously as well. Instead of using jarring alarms, the facility uses special lighting that simulates the sunrise, to try and reset the sleeper's body clock.
In addition to more serious cognitive behaviorial therapy, which typically consists of one-on-one sessions between doctor and patient, soothing activities like yoga also make the prescription list.
Yoga teacher Karishma Kadian recommends the so-called "Child" pose, the "Legs Up The Wall" pose and breathing exercises to help calm the nervous system.
"If you consistently make it part of your life, you'll find you get tired at night and you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed," said Kadian.
Changing one's sleep environment and the use of special gadgets might also do the trick. Dr. James Maas, a Cornell University social psychologist, has devoted more than 40 years of research to sleep study. He is so serious about sleeping comfortably that he has even designed his own pillow for proper alignment.
"Most people fail the pillow test. If you take a pillow and fold it in half and it snaps open very quickly, that's good. But if it sits there and has no action to it, you have a dead pillow," said Maas.
Whether a mattress is soft, medium or firm, it should have a solid foundation and not sink.
Maas also recommends the Zeo, a $250 sleep coach with a headband that help users improve sleeping patterns. Tinted glasses also can help sleepers slip into a better bedtime routine, by cutting down on nighttime stimulation like overhead lights, televisions and computer screens.
Yet despite all the talk about changing habits, the number-one way sleep-deprived people get rest is through sleep medications. Part Three of "The Science Of Sleep" will go over the pros and cons of the latest sleep meds.