Sleep Timing and Time Tangles


Thoughts about TIME,
Attention Management and Focus

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

TangledPyramid

TANGLES . . .

Piecing together all of the elements impacting our ability to live a life on purpose is a complex puzzle that is often little more than a mass of tangles.

Something as seemingly simple as SLEEP, for example, seems especially tangled when we are looking at the impact of chronorhythms (brain/body-timing, relative to earth timing cues).

Understanding is further complicated when we lack familiarity with certain words – especially scientific terminology.

We have to call objects and concepts something, of course — and each piece of the what-we-call-things puzzle has a mitigating effect on every other.

Unfortunately, new vocabulary often delays the aha! response, perhaps obfuscating recognition of relationships entirely – in other words, those times when we can’t see the forest for the leaves, never mind the trees!

The need to become familiar with the new lingo is also what I call one of those tiered tasks. It pushes short-term memory to its limit until the new terms become familiar. That, in turn, creates complexities from a myriad of “in-order-to” objectives inherent in the interrelationships of what is, after all, a distributed process.

See also: The Importance of Closing Open Loops:
Open Loops, Distractions and Attentional Dysregulation

Connections

There is something slippery in this sleep-timing interweaving I can’t quite put my finger on; something that no one else is looking at – at least no one published anyplace I have been able to find!!

Melatonin + corticosteroid release + light cues + core body temperature + gene expression + protein synthesis (and more!) combine to produce individual chronorhythms.

Individual chronorhythms influence not only sleep timing, but ALSO one’s internal “sense of time” — each of which further influences the effectiveness of other domains.

They do not operate in isolation — even though we usually focus on them in isolation, hoping to fully understand their individual contributions.

Here’s the kicker: prior associations

Whether we like it or not, the underlying, less conscious interpretations we associate with whatever words we use “ride along” with the denotative (dictionary) meaning of every single word.

In addition, the moment the terms become integrated into our understanding of the topic, they boundary the conversation — in other words, tethering it to old territory rather than opening new vistas. (See the linguistic portion of What’s in a Name?  for a bit about how and why).

Where we begin biases our understanding of new concepts we move on to study, which skews the inter-relationship.  Not only that, the relationship between the extent of our understanding of each piece unbalances our understanding of the whole.  Or so it seems to me.

Ask Any Mechanic

mechanicUnderHood

Setting automobile spark-plug firing efficiently affects engine performance which, in turn, affects a number of other things — gas mileage and tire wear among them.

I doubt that anyone has ever studied it “scientifically,” but every good mechanic has observed the effect in a number of arenas.  What we can “prove” is that the engine runs raggedly before spark-plug gapping and smoothly afterwards.

I doubt the entire inter-relationship has been quantified to metrics, so The Skeptics may still scoff at our definition of proof, even while the car-obsessed among them will take their engines to be “buffed.”

It makes me crazy!

To my mind, the overfocus on quantification has become its own problem.  Yes, co-occurance does not prove causation, but I prefer a more observational approach day to day.  At least, I do not discount it.

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this/don’t do that! is ignoring deeper problems, no doubt, but at least it avoids a prescription for pain medication that may well create a problem somewhere else.

But back to sleep timing and inner time sense — problematic for most of us here in Alphabet City.

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Naps help Memory


 Our Brains are not Designed
to Learn Non-Stop
Sleep is essential for memory & learning

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Sleep and Memory Series
All Rights Reserved

National Sleep Awareness Week PostMarch 2 – 9

Sleep is more important than you think

Some preschools are still considering the elimination of naptime to fit in more teaching.

According to new studies,
that is probably a lousy idea.

Researchers have already shown that, following a good night’s sleep, facts learned one day are retained better the next, in learners both young and old.

It is looking like midday naps, discovered to be essential for brain development in infants, perform the same memory-enhancing function for toddlers and young children as a good night’s sleep for teen and adult learners.

Naps appear to help memory and learning

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that a little snooze in the middle of the day may help kids retain information they learned earlier the very same day.

[Laura Kurdziel et al., Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children]

To repeat what I disclosed in an earlier article, Emotional Mastery to help us move forward:

Sleep has been proven to play a critical role in both physical and mental well being. Sleep deficiency is not only associated with physical disease, but also with a range of emotional disturbances from subtle to dramatic.

A great many important functions take place while our brains sleep — such as the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, as well as the brain’s housekeeping chores, when memories are consolidated and debris is swept away with the help of glial cells.

Other related neurodiversity posts:
You Don’t Want to Pay the Interest Charges on Sleep Debt
Sleeping with the Enemy: Mom’s N-24

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Up all Nite? Sleep away the Day?


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
ABOUT Chronorhythm Sleep Disorders – Part I

lazyMaryVictorianLazy Mary Will You Get Up?

You’ve probably heard that old nursery rhyme where the first sing-song verse admonishes Mary for being “lazy” because she is still abed, then sing-song Mary responds that, “No, no Mother she won’t get up. She won’t get up today.”

Um, just A BIT black and white perhaps?

As reflected in that early childhood ditty, from the point of view of a great many of the world’s larks, once they themselves are up-and-at-em, not only do they consider those of us still asleep lazy, their assumption seems to be that we intend to remain slug-a-beds FOR THE ENTIRE DAY!

At least that seems to the [lack-of] thinking behind the many ways in which they state their expectations to those of us who “refuse” to toe their normative expectation lines, demonstrated by bounding out of bed with the first rays of the sun, bright-eyed and ready-for-bear.

A little empathy and understanding, please

I’m wondering if their tune might change – even a little bit – if they understood that going to sleep and waking up at an hour the “majority-rules” universe considers decent isn’t as simple as it sounds for those of us with sleep TIMING disorders.

For many of us, adjusting our sleep timing to fit
majority-rules norms is a CAN’T, not a won’t.

Flip things around for a moment

Regardless of how many of you out-vote us on the “decent hours” referendum, we have as much difficulty adjusting to your sleep schedule as many of you seem to have adjusting to ours.

  • Many of you say you get too sleepy to remain awake at hours where many of us are highly alert, getting things done, or finally getting into the flow.

Unless it’s New Year’s Eve when you insist on keeping to your truncate-tonight to rise-early-tomorrow schedule, we do our best not to call you names and judge your party-pooper sleep preferences.

I promise it’s no fun, night after night, to be the only person you know who is wide awake once the rest of what seems to be the entire world anywhere near your timezone has toddled off to bed. Life get’s lonely.

And mean. The expectation that we will be awake and alert once YOU have had sufficient sleep is annoyingly inconsiderate, actually.

It’s worse at the other end of the day as you tut-tut-tut yourselves off to bed when we are finally wide-awake and fully alert.

  • The rest of you put yourselves to bed “early” with the realistic expectation that you will be able to fall asleep once you get there.

You seem to believe in your heart-of-hearts that little trick would work for us too, with seemingly no awareness of the reality that most of us have failed at our attempts at it many, many, MANY times.

Our brains and bodies are telling us that it is simply the wrong time to sleep!

  • What if we insisted that you go to bed in the early afternoon,
    hours before you feel the call to sleep?

A time or two to resolve your sleep-debt might be nice, but beyond that, I’ll bet you wouldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep or get restorative sleep either.

And I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t respond positively to our insistence that you stop in the middle of whatever you are doing to go lie down in a dark room with your eyes closed.

I suppose we could force you to lie there quietly for a solid eight hours —  but you still wouldn’t get a solid eight hours of restorative SLEEP.

Your brains and bodies would insist that it was the wrong time for it!

THEN how would you feel?

How would you feel about life and about us when you opened your eyes in the wee hours of the next day to our scowling faces?  What could you have done wrong in your SLEEP, right?

Would your groggy mind understand this logic? We are angry with you simply because you are not eager to bound happily out of bed when our clock insists that it is time for you to get up!

Would it make you feel any better, about life and about us, if we were to remind you forcefully that you WOULD have had enough sleep if you’d simply shut your eyes and counted sheep or something when we put you to BED!?

If you really tried to imagine yourselves into the scenario above, you’d have to admit that we’re a lot nicer to you about the sleep-timing mismatch than you’d be to us if the shoe were on the other foot!

The sleep-timing mismatch truth to tell, we’re a lot nicer to you than you are to us as it stands NOW – any chance we could improve on that sorry state of affairs?

Maybe if we take a closer look at what’s going on here . . .

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Life, Death, Mental Health & Sleep


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
Another Article in the Sleep Series – Video below

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90

I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .

That’s how I began Sleep and Cognition,
an earlier article in the Sleep Series.

I went on to say:

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interruption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic.

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

WHY we need sleep

Yes, sleep deprivation makes us drowsy and unable to concentrate.  It feels lousy when we struggle to keep our eyes open. But that’s not the half of it!

A LOT happens during that prone period where it seems to us that nothing at all is going on. We need adequate, high-quality sleep for our nervous systems to work properly.

As science conducts increasingly more sleep studies, it has become clear that sleep deprivation leads to impairment of our memory processes, physical performance, and intellectual prowess (leading, for example, to a proven reduction in the ability to carry out mathematical calculations).

Extreme sleep deprivation leads to hallucinations and an impaired ability to regulate mood.

But that’s not ALL

Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary to remain physically healthy and, in some cases, to remain alive.

  • A rat’s average life span is 2 to 3 years; rats deprived of sleep live for only about 3 weeks.
  • They also develop abnormally low body temperatures, along with sores on paws and tails, most likely developed as a result of impairment of the rats’ immune systems.

In humans, it has been demonstrated that the metabolic activity of the brain decreases significantly after 24 hours without sleep. Sleep deprivation results in:

  • a decrease in body temperature and an increase in heart rate variability
  • a decrease in white blood cell count, which correlates to a decrease in immune system function
  • a decrease in the release of growth hormone which, in children and young adults, takes place during deep sleep — and, among other problems,
  • a disturbance in the production and breakdown of proteins (in most bodily cells) – normally carried out during the deep sleep phase.

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This is your Brain on Sleep – Stages of Sleep


Cycling through the Sleep Stages
Part of the Sleep Series

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

“Sleep is not a luxury or an indulgence but a
fundamental biological need, enhancing 
creativity,
productivity, mood, and the ability to interact with others.”

~ Russell G. Foster, a leading expert on chronobiology

zzzzz_in bed_blue 298x232Gettin’ those Zzzz’s

Until the mid-twentieth century, most scientists believed that we were asleep for approximately a third of our lives — experienced, primarily, in a uniform block of time that was the opposite of wakefulness.

THAT was pretty much it.

Their assumption was that sleep was a homogeneous state.  It’s most salient feature was considered to be the fact that you were NOT AWAKE.  Duh!

The main side-effect of sleep deprivation, so it was believed at the time, was that you got sleepyOh my.

  • It was assumed that we needed some sort of down-time to recharge our batteries somehow.
  • There was so little curiosity about sleep, very few scientists felt that it was worthy of the time or money for research.

In the 1950s, the breaking news from one of the few sleep labs was that sleep actually consisted of two distinct states:

  1. Rapid eye movement sleep [REM], which distinguished dreaming sleep, according to what they knew at the time
  2. AND . . . the rest of it!
    (imaginatively referred to as “non-rapid eye movement sleep” [NREM])

You probably already know that REM sleep was so named because it was noticed that the eyes moved quickly back and forth under closed eyelids – rather like they might if the sleeper were speed-reading a teeny-tiny English-language book.

BRAINonSleepLooking More Closely

In rapid succession, with the advances of electro-physiological studies, new findings were announced.

These findings came about thanks to the use of technology known as an electroencephalogram [EEG].

An EEG measures the brain’s electrical activity and translates these measurements into a pictographic representation of what we now refer to as brainwaves.

With the help of measuring technology, NREM sleep revealed itself to be composed of a series of distinct stages of what was then presumed to be un-consciousness: NREM1, NREM2, NREM3 and NREM4.
(No prizes for nomenclature creativity were awarded!)

This four stage division became the standard in 1968, what is called the Rechtschaffen and Kales (R&K) standardization.

And then there were three

Almost forty years later, in 2007, non-REM sleep was reduced to three stages by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine [AASM], combining stages 3 and 4. You will still see both classification systems in internet articles and older books.

My personal belief is that R&K Stage-4 sleep, distinct from R&K Stage-3 and more specific than the AASM Stage-3, will prove to be important in research on sleep disorders — so I prefer to pay attention to non-REM sleep in the original four categories rather than the relatively recently collapsed three.

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Health, Success and Successful Sleeping


Like Driving on Empty

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .
That’s how I began Sleep and Cognition, the article before this one. I went on to say:

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interuption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic. 

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

The graphic below, illustrating the effects of sleep deprevation,
takes a closer look at what I meant by that assertion.

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Sleep and Cognition


Learning, Attention
& Sleep Struggles

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC
From the Sleep Series

liftarn_A_person_sleeping_90x90I’ll Sleep when I’m Dead . . .

That’s how I used to think about sleeping when I was a young adult: a huge waste of time in my busy, interesting, already too little time to fit it all in LIFE.

To tell the truth, that’s how I sometimes still think about eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, in fact all of the “maintenance” activities of living.

In my hurry-up-there’s-so-much-more-to-DO experience of living, almost everything auxiliary to my current attempt to focus frequently seems like a necessary but unwelcomed interuption to what I liked to think of as “life” — as annoying as ants at a picnic.

But I know better now where SLEEP is concerned!

Sleep is a very ACTIVE state

While it seems logical to consider sleep some kind of “down time” recovery break — a time-out from our daily activities — research has shown that adequate, high-quality sleep is vital not only to optimize our daily functioning, but also to make sense of our daily activities.

Neural-housekeeping can’t be done until our brains slip into the sleep state.

  • That’s when memory consolidation takes place
  • That’s when our brains form the links to the information we need to be able to access on demand — to effectively carry out our waking tasks and determine appropriate emotional reactions to the events of our lives.

I like to think of it as the time when our brain’s sleep technicians repair shorts in our “wiring” so that we are ABLE to process effectively in our waking hours.

In an article from the National Science Foundation, neuroscientist Ken Paller says, “I think it’s fair to say that the person you are when you’re awake is partly a function of what your brain does when you’re asleep.”

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