From the Editor….

Sleep historically has not been difficult for me. My mum said as a baby I slept well right from the beginning. And it wasn’t until a few years ago that I had trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep (anyone else in the 2am club?) Even my kids were good sleepers. My eldest son could be relied on to sleep about 12 hours from an early age. In fact, if you had somewhere to be the next day say at 7, put him to bed at 7 the night before and he would be ready!

Sleep now is a hot topic. A program was just featured on NOVA devoted to sleep, or the lack of it, and what problems that can cause on your health. They understand now that sleep can heal your brain as well as other parts of your body, but they don’t understand how. It also plays an important role in day to day memory. Some theories are saying as we sleep less with age that, for whatever reason, is what leads to memory problems like CRS (can’t remember s@#$). In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid can build up in your brain because you are unfortunate enough to have the genetic mutation that causes you to make too much of it. It’s possible that sleep helps clear this insoluble protein out of your brain. So sleep might protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease!

Sleep can affect young people too. Doctors are seeing sleep disorders in those who have Autism, whether it’s directly related or the autism symptoms just make the problem worse. Things like unwillingness to go to bed, difficulty falling or staying asleep, getting too little sleep are followed by behavior issues during the day – you can see the vicious circle it can cause. So far solutions include checking if medications are interfering with sleep, establishing consistent sleep routines, not using computers or other screens for an hour before bed, etc. Besides behavioral issues, lack of sleep reduces memory recall – this is particularly bad if your kid has been up late the night before studying.

So as a link to Alzheimers and to autism issues, missing that middleman of sleep sounds depressing, but there is a sunny side. Sleep is something we can improve!

Things like daily exercise, spending time outdoors, lowering the bedroom temperature, weighted blankets, cutting back on caffeine
in the afternoon and trying a soothing drink at bedtime, listening to relaxing sounds, using aromatherapy with lavender and damask rose scents are all something you can try. Even wrapping up in a blanket and stepping outside in the fresh air for 5 minutes to look at the moon, can jump start the circadian rhythms to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. There are many apps on your phone for calming stories, music or nature sounds – even hypnotism, that can help with sleep. Just be sure to set your phone where you are not looking at the screen.

Remember the old adage “You sleep away a third of your life – quit wasting it”? We need to rethink sleep in our culture, it’s not a luxury or a waste of time. It is imperative to our health. So I will embrace my history of being able to sleep anytime, anywhere. And in the future I will take sleep seriously and do what I can to get the most out of it. Sweet dreams!

If you have something for the newsletter email it to dac@dacnw.org