Self-Care: Sleep

Do you get enough sleep? 

I think many of us would answer NO to that question. Getting enough sleep is an important part of self-care. Studies show that adults should get 7-9 hours a night. Thriveworks.com says that getting an adequate amount of sleep can help to…

  • Ensure safety behind the wheel. Have you ever driven sleepy? Considering 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, you probably have. “Drowsy driving not only puts you at risk, but others on the road,” says Fish. “Nearly 20% of auto accidents take place because of a drowsy driver. Simply put, a full night of sleep saves lives.”
  • Promote mental wellness. And finally, getting a good night’s rest helps to cultivate mental wellness. “Being sleep deprived doesn’t give your brain the necessary time to reset for the next day. This causes not only moodiness, but making sound decisions,” Fish explains. Furthermore, poor sleep habits can lead to negative thinking, irritability, and even mental illness like depression and anxiety.

For more tips, read the full article HERE

More benefits of more sleep..

  1. Sleep can boost your immune system
  2. Sleep can strengthen your heart
  3. Sleep can improve your mood

And more HERE

Tips for getting more sleep:

  1. Increase bright light exposure during the day
  2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
  3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day

And more tips HERE

To help me see how much sleep I’m actually getting in a night (or during a nap), and the quality of that sleep, I track it on my Fitbit app. I still have an older Fitbit tracker (a Blaze with a hand-me-down band from my Bonus Dad) but it still does the job! So I can see how many times I wake up in the night, how long I’m awake, and how much time I am in Deep, Light, and REM sleep. I’m a big Deep and REM sleeper. With the Fitbit app, you can also set sleep alarms to tell you when it’s time to wind down and get to bed. And the best part of it is that as long as I keep my tracker charged, it tracks my sleep automatically so no need to input bedtimes or wake times. It has helped me to see patterns in sleep issues, such as when my resting pulse rate rises I have more trouble sleeping, and can then problem solve why that might be happening. 

I know there are other sleep trackers out there. Do you use one? 

My mom has difficulty staying asleep at night, so she’s spent a lot of time trying different things to help go back to sleep. Something that works very well for her is sound. She tried many different sounds: 

  • TV programs/movies playing all night (she found this good for falling asleep because it caused her to focus only on the story of a movie she’d seen a billion times)
  • those sleep videos on YouTube that have different frequencies, such as THIS ONE
  • random YouTube music videos (not good if the video is short, you have your YouTube set to AUTO, and it selects techno club music at 3am)
  • Sound machine (this worked for quite a while, and is still used occasionally)
  • She sleeps best to the sounds of rain and thunderstorms. Not a gentle rain, but a torrential downpour with booms of thunder. Like THIS ONE

When my kid was very little, I ran a home daycare out of our apartment on Ramstein Air Base in Germany. For naptime, I played a CD with light instrumentals and bird sounds. It worked very well, so well that, years later when my kid was a teen, I put that same CD in to listen to and was asked to “please turn that off, it makes me very sleepy”. 

Have you ever tried sound to help relax and sleep? If so, what sounds do you prefer? 

Weight Loss and Bodywork

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There are many benefits one can gain from adding massage therapy into their weight loss plans. One of the effects briefly mentioned in the article I have linked below, is the mental or emotional benefits of having someone, your massage therapist, as a safe and trusted supporter who accepts your body without judgment.

I have found massage to be more than just a vehicle for acceptance from another, but THE road to self acceptance. For me, my extreme weight gain was a way to hide from the world and most importantly from my self. Fat was an excellent place to hide. The more years and the more weight, the more I detached from my body. For longer than I can now remember, I only looked at myself in a mirror from a point just above my breasts to the top of my head. I had absolutely no idea of the condition or size of my body.  I am sure this sounds unbelievable, especially if you’ve never been in that place of disliking yourself and your life choices to the extent that I did.

When I began my studies in Massage Therapy, I had absolutely no idea of how life changing the process would be. Giving and receiving massage every week for two years, was some of the hardest and most amazing experiences of my life. I was determined to do the work, even though the level of body awareness required of me seemed impossible at times. I was forced to get to know my own body, to better know the bodies of others. In the reconnecting with my body, I reconnected to my self.

In the 6 years since I began my studies in clinical massage therapy, I have lost around 75 lbs. I did not use any diet or weight loss program, nor did I begin any new exercise regimen. For me personally, massage brought me back into my self and made me aware of my body on a level I have possibly never known. Through massage, I learned to accept my body and before I knew it, that acceptance turned to love.  My exercise and eating changes came about slowly, through this rediscovered love for my body and my desire to live and love life.

Take a look at this article from the 2010 issue of Body Sense from MassageTherapy.com : Weight Loss and Bodywork || Massage Therapy Articles.

Why I Bought a Home HIV Test

http://livluna.com/why-i-bought-a-home-hiv-test/

As I sit here on the couch, with the test on my lap, I wonder what you will think of me when you know that I am taking a home HIV test. Will you think that I have lied about my sexual history? Will you look at me differently than you did yesterday? The twenty minutes wait for the test results is a long time for a worrier to think about all of the consequences of every action she has ever taken, including the purchase of this test. Maybe I should tell you a little about myself, while we wait for the results.

I am a single (divorced people should be able to call themselves single after 15 years, right?) 41-year-old woman and mother of a fabulous daughter. Most people who know me would describe me as dependable, reliable, honest…blah, blah…all those words that describe a woman with a rather boring and vanilla sex life. As much as I would like to tell you that they are wrong, that my sexual history is full of wild, crazy and even risky encounters, I must admit that they are right. My sexual history will never be made into an erotic novel. I’ve had a handful of long term relationships where I was monogamous and that is it. Nothing risky. As far as IV drug use? Please refer back to the beginning of this paragraph and just substitute the sex for drugs. So, no risk factors in my personal behavior for potential HIV exposure. Why would I buy and take a test for HIV? The short answer is, why not? What makes me so special that I am immune from possibly contracting HIV?

 

Yvonne Cruz holds an OraQuick Advance HIV test at a World AIDS Day event in Chicago.Wait, I know where your mind is going. You are thinking back to my being a worrier, maybe a little crazy, worrying about contracting strange diseases that I could never have. Yes, I realize that is exactly what I thought a year ago, but this past year has changed me. In this time, I went from a being someone who had nothing but a basic and fairly outdated knowledge of HIV and AIDS to pacing the halls outside of health clinics with a friend, crying and devastated over a positive test result and then elated over subsequent negative results; meeting people living full, happy and mostly healthy lives with HIV and watching others with untreated HIV infections go from bad to worse. In my growing desire to help those living with HIV through my massage therapy profession, I have educated myself by reading article after article on both the current state of HIV in the United States, and how bodywork can help those living with HIV.Contrary to popular belief, this disease has not gone away and is actually on the rise again. It is frightening and unless you know people affected by HIV, you just have no idea.

 

This still doesn’t quite explain to you why I am sitting here on this couch, waiting and actually worried about the results of my test. Well, it suddenly hit me a few weeks ago, that for all of my personal and professional experiences this past year, I was still viewing HIV as something outside of myself and my possibilities. I was still seeing this with a sort of ‘me’ and ‘them’ viewpoint. I wanted to help ‘them’, but I never saw myself or ‘women like me’ as potentially ever being one of ‘them’. What a huge realization this was for me and quite honestly, a bit shameful. I mean, where do I get off thinking I am better or somehow safer than anyone else?

Here is where we get to the reality of the matter. I am not any safer from HIV than you or anyone else. There are no guarantees no matter what your sexual partners have ever told you, and their previous partners have told them, and on and on. You cannot be sure of your HIV status and exposure unless you have been tested or have never had any sexual encounters whatsoever, consensual or otherwise. For me, that worrier with trust issues, the idea that I have spent my adult life trusting the word of not only my previous partners but their partners before (and possibly during) our relationship…well, I will just say that is quite a reality check.  As a woman, I suddenly felt like I had unconsciously lived this societal programming to just go along, behave, believe and stay ignorant. That is not the woman I strive to be.


So, with the support of a trusted friend, I ventured alone to the pharmacy this morning and bought this home HIV test. Today, I am taking back both control and responsibility for my life, my health, and my sexuality. My twenty minutes are up and it is time to check my results. Thankfully, it shows that I am HIV negative. Now I know and there is power in the knowing.

 

 

Picture 2About Dawn Welburn:

Dawn Welburn is a Licensed Massage Therapist on a journey of reawakening, reconnecting and rediscovering her Self and her World. She hopes that in sharing this journey through her hands, her words and ReAwaken bodywork, others may find their own Path to ReAwaken.

Connect with Dawn:

ReAwaken Through Touch

DAWN by Dawn Welburn

Twitter: @DawnWelburn

A single massage can boost the immune system

A single Swedish massage can boost the immune system. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles…)

Devotees of massage therapy know it’s relaxing and feels good. But massage may also be an effective tool for maintaining good health. Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reported this week that a single massage produced measurable changes in the immune system and endocrine system of healthy adults.

The researchers, led by Dr. Mark Rapaport, studied 29 healthy adults who received a 45-minute Swedish massage and 24 healthy adults who had a 45-minute session of light touch massage, a much milder exercise that served as a comparison to the more vigorous Swedish massage. Blood samples were taken before the massage began and at regular intervals up to one hour after the massage was completed.

The study found several changes in the blood tests of the Swedish massage group that indicated a benefit to the immune system. For example, Swedish massage caused sizeable decreases in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to aggressive behavior, and small decreases in the stress hormone cortisol. The Swedish massage participants also had an increase in lymphocytes, cells that help the immune system defend the body from harmful substances.

“This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” Rapaport said in a news release. “People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn’t been much physiological proof of the body’s heightened immune response following massage until now.”

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

— Shari Roan / Los Angeles Times