Author Archives: admin

Snoozle 101 – Better sleep improves learning

1Remember when nap time was part of school, and sleeping better sleep got you a gold star? Conversely, remember when high school and university came along, and better sleep became an afterthought? Well… The kindergarteners had it right – it’s been shown in multiple studies that sleep has a major impact on our ability to learn and retain information.

With regard to students, one study showed that earlier school start times, while economically justified, might have a negative academic impact. By delaying early classes by as little 1 hour (from 7:30 to 8:30), math scores on standardized tests increased by 1%. Reading? 2%.

5It’s true for adults too. Non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep prepares the brain for learning. A lack of REM sleep can reduce the brain’s ability to learn and retain new information by up to 40%. Less sleep, interrupted sleep, or shallower sleep all contribute to this loss in ability.

Interestingly, in another study where volunteers were tested on their ability to retain information when they’d had better sleep, as opposed to when they’d been sleep deprived, there was no immediate impact. But, FMRI imaging showed that, in the absence of sleep, the parietal lobes had to “step in” to support the frontal lobes which were limited in their abilities due to sleep deprivation. Whether this is maintainable is highly questionable (and undoubtedly the focus of another study).

6The net result of these studies and many more, dating back decades? Sleep is important to learning. It’s fundamental to memory. And it’s required for strong cognitive function. Better sleep = better learning. And you can bet your nap on that.

 

 

Better Sleep = Better Sex

1Welcome to Dark Therapy’s first “NSFW” post (not really, but the subject matter is a little risqué) where better sleep takes an amorous turn, and leads to better sex. Puritans, please deploy Nite Hood’s now – you don’t want to read this.

In 2012, a study by the Better Sleep Institute found that Americans craved sleep more than sex (though to be fair, it also found that someone had fallen asleep in a tank – the war machine, not the fish-holding kind – so we’re curious about their sampling). As it turns out, there’s a reason for this, as revealed in a pilot study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine – better sleep makes sex better (at least for females). The desire to snooze is putting the horse before the cart.

3The study used a sampling of 171 young women of college-age, and free of anti-depressants. These ladies initially completed validated questionnaires about sexual distress, depression and anxiety. Then, they completed additional questionnaires every morning for two weeks about the last 24 hours’ sexual function and sleep quality, including how long it took to fall asleep and how long they slept.

The findings? Some surprising, some not:

  • Longer sleep is related to stronger sexual desire on the following day (suddenly “I’m too tired” seems like a much more believable, and acceptable, bedroom rebuff).
  • For every extra hour of sleep, sexual desire increased by 14% among participants.
  • Interestingly, sleeping longer than normal did not increase genital arousal in these women (lubrication), but it did when average sleep time was longer (so you can’t “cram” for better sleep by adding a few hours of shut eye ladies).

5The scientists conducting the study did have some cautionary notes however, primarily that this was a pilot, and that there are many, many factors that impact sexual behaviors, not just sleep or better. So no, we can’t say that rushing out and buying the lady in your life a Nite Hood™ is going to guarantee a better sex life. But then again…it can’t hurt to try. And it’s certainly more attractive than an undignified, unwieldy sleep mask.

 

Sleep Stories

2f88e984a46ea6e4cce1703df559e51eNow that we are facing fall and winter, getting our night time reading list might be a priority. Here are the perfect bedtime stories – sleep-related news and bits of whimsy we found on the web this week.

This week, a laughing somnambulist, sleeping with one brain hemisphere open, “sleep circuits in our brain and special day we can settle into.

Sleep neurons

Scientists may have found “sleep circuits” in the neurons basal forebrain. Warning: don’t read this if you love mice, hate lasers, and fear big words.

cb52a7f17460f55d699055187a981e3bSleeping Human, Crouching Dragon

If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t sleep well in a new place, this study may have your answer – basically, your brain is on alert for danger, even though your eyes are closed.

12How did we miss this?

Dream come true: There’s a World Sleep Day

Nightmare: It was on March 18th

Excuse: Um…we slept through it?

And to end things off… A jovial sleeper

We don’t know this gentleman or his wife, but we’re always happy to see someone happily drifting along in dreaminess.

The better summer sleeper

(because sleep masks are the high heels of sleepwear)

07c5bd9fc642cbb241ef276144ee6bd7Tis the season of warm air, flowers, hay fever and sun that, while beautiful, rises a little bit too early for some of us, and sets a bit too late. If you’re like us, you love falling asleep to the sounds of summer, but find that the light we love is a bit too strong for your eyelids, a sleep mask or a brick wall to block out.

It’s no secret that that’s why we created the Nite Hood™. We tried everything from sleep masks to cut up t-shirts in an attempt to get our summer snooze on, but elastic bands get tangled, and cotton or satin can be suffocating. Plus, neither play nicely with hammock strings at a cottage, on a sunny summer day.

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to remind you why the Nite Hood™ is a better sleep solution than any sleep mask (or ruined t-shirt) will ever be, and why it’s simply perfect for summer:

  • Hot air, cool proprietary bamboo blended fabric – we spent a lot of time finding the perfect material for the Nite Hood. It had to be light enough and breathable enough that it’s comfortable to wear on warm muggy nights.
  • Consistent light blockage – the Nite Hood™ isn’t like a sleep mask. It’s not strapped to your face with only one workable location. It becomes part of you. If you shift it – it will slip right back into place to keep working it’s dark magic.
  • It’s portable – Going to the cottage? Flying out west? Or simply migrating from the bed to the couch? The NiteHood is weightless, fits easily in a pocket, and resumes its original shape after lying flat for just minutes.

5301a8395f1c8dc3cef45e2f9ae0358a

So skip the sleep mask, and love the season of sun, with better, more restful sleep and a cool comforting embrace that puts your head to hammock.

 

August is relax time!
20%OFF

Insert August20 in the promo code box when ordering.
Offer good until August 31, 2017.

 

Dark Therapy – better sleep, safer roads

d41b4206ef38a30c8ade860cac1ea957What if you could prevent 40,000 accidents (in the US alone). What if it cost you nothing. What if doing so was actual kind of pleasant? Sound like a dream come true? Well that makes sense – because you (and we…and everyone else) can – through better sleep.

It’s estimated that there are over 40,000 accidents every year on American roadways that are the result of tiredness and insufficient sleep. That makes sense – from the trucker trying to make his delivery, to the dad picking kids up from karate class after a long day of work, to hours upon hours stuck commenting each week, we’re all very frequently tired behind the wheel.

But how does being tired ACTUALLY impact our driving ability. Reaction time, vision and overall judgment are all effected. It is considered to be as dangerous as driving drunk.

3d252dbbdb44095238f2ee772c7c9258There are a couple thing you can do. First get better sleep. Stop and have a nap if you feel yourself slipping. Do a yoga  breathing exercise called Kapalabhati pranayama: Kapalabhati is is great for waking up your head. To begin, start with a deep inhale and forcefully exhale — drawing all the air out of your belly. After your next full inhale, begin to exhale forcefully out through your nose 15 to 30 times quickly without taking an inhale; actively draw your belly in with each percussive exhale(don’t do this if you have a cold). After you’ve completed a full cycle of 15 to 30 quick exhales, passively inhale and exhale for a few breaths and enjoy before another round. I will do three or four rounds of kapalabhati to make sure my brain and eyes are ready and awake! You can just rest your eyes for 5 minutes. Stop the car throw on your Nite Hood and give your eyes break.

If you are using coffee, remember that it is a diuretic and will leave you dehydrated if you are not careful. Dehydration will leave you drowsy and coffee cannot be relied on in this case. Be well rested, hydrated and breath deeply to keep your brain oxygenated.

 

 

Pillow Presses: Sleep better for bulging biceps

869a1703f2616e260f8fc6830ccf2204Snooze your way to gorgeous glutes. Recline into rippling abs. If someone asks you if it’s leg day, say “no, it’s nap day”, because better sleep is fundamental to better muscle development.

To be honest, researching this article gave us one heck of a workout. There are more sites out there with “muscle”, “fit” and “HUUUGE” in the URL than we’d ever imagined. We were also relatively surprised by the interest shown amongst these sites to the idea that sleep impacts muscle growth. But it’s true – better sleep, better muscles.

We saw studies dating back to the mid-80’s. Some are still being referenced, some are discredited, and all are making a lot of HUUUGE claims (sleep will eat your muscles, nocturnal eating will reduce catabolic muscle loss, etc). But here’s what we’ve been able to determine as scientifically proven fact:

  • Your body circulates growth hormone during sleep, particularly REM sleep. In men, it’s as much as 60-80% of the total daily circulation volume. As the name suggestion, human growth hormone is key to… Human growth. Especially muscles. Better sleep, ideally around 8 hours, is key to optimizing this circulation and it’s muscle building benefits.
  • No matter how much” catabolic” sounds like “internal cannibalism”, you don’t need to worry about it unless you’re a bodybuilder trying to add a millimeter to those guns (and then…probably not). Yes, your body eats a bit of itself while you sleep. No, it isn’t a lot. Most of it happens in your gastrointestinal system, and you aren’t going to hear “hey, check out that lower intestine” any time soon.
  • It seems obvious, but we’re at rest during sleep, and that means we use less energy. Using less energy allows our body to restore, and reduces muscle loss. So not only does better sleep facilitate processes required to build muscle, it also prevents your body from reducing muscles.

lift2And what does that all add up to? HUUUGE muscle benefits of better sleep.

A Nite Hood™ helps with the heavy lifting of sleep-build development – part of your daily workout!

Gamblers Choose the Nite Hood™ Sleep Mask

cf2375c82c942b0cfda2526a25236ff4If you’re about to put everything on red (or perhaps remortgage your house to buy penny stocks), stop and think. Not just about the decision you’re making, but whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep before hand. We all know that decision making can be impaired by a lack of good shut eye, but researchers at Duke University have shown that sleep deprivation makes you overly optimistic… Which might normally be a good thing… Until your finances are on the line.

The researchers took 29 healthy adult volunteers with an average age of 22 years, and asked them to perform some financial tasks twice, once at 8 am after a night of normal sleep, and once a bit earlier, at 6 am after a night of sleep deprivation. They were asked to watch as gambling results were sorted into positive or negative outcomes while in an MRI, and to perform other tests (outside the MRI) in the morning, and hourly during the sleep deprivation (because you know, being kept awake is much better when you’re asked to make financial calculations too).

96e56cd7ab1462b515f8c579369e5e33When sleep deprived, the MRI testing showed that the participants had elevated activity in parts of the brain that perceive positive outcomes, and lowered activity in the parts of the brain that processed negative outcomes – sleep deprivation made them more optimistic, even when there wasn’t a reason to be.

The study also showed that, when sleep deprived, we tend to make decisions that focus on making money, not decisions focused on reducing loss or mitigating risk – we become gamblers.

f592cead25c73ef9ed7ed161f4ccb312And on the subject of gambling…ever wonder why there aren’t clocks in casinos? Why the atmosphere is designed to keep you alert and awake? Why there are rarely Windows, and why these fine establishments are open all night? Well now you know. And you know to get better sleep before you bet the farm on one spin of the wheel, no matter how optimistic you are about your luck. So cut out the bright lights and glitter-tone of Vegas with your Nite Hood sleep mask and profit from good cautious play.

 

 

Does poor sleep cause depression? Does depression cause poor sleep?

Dark therapy – Mood Series.

This is the first in a series of posts that examine the correlation between poor sleep and emotional/psychological issues, from depression to anxiety to general grumpiness and irritability. Poor sleep can be contributing factors to these conditions, but also result from it. Consult with your doctor if you have the blues, and we’re sure better sleep will be an important part of the treatment.

 

Nite-Hood-Sleep-Mask_2There’s an inextricable link between poor sleep and depression, and it’s sometimes very difficult to determine which came first.

Generally speaking, researchers and scientists agree that clinical depression causes sleep disorders (from sleeping too much, to sleeping too little to interrupted sleep). And many also agree that while poor sleep does not necessarily CAUSE clinical depression, it can be a contributing factor, or a symptom of contributing factors.

It’s a complex web, and it’s possible that we may never understand the incredibly complex links between poor sleep and depression.

Having said that, there are a few things that we do know:

  • Not being able to sleep is a key sign of clinical depression.
  • At the same time, sleeping too much? Also a sign of clinical depression.
  • Lack of sleep, whether caused by issues in your life, or a medical illness can worsen depression.
  • One study indicated that people with depression are 10x more likely to have insomnia, which is a “double whammy” of sorts – you have insomnia due to depression, but the impact of that insomnia exacerbates the depression you’re suffering from.
  • Another study found that those most likely to develop some form of clinical depression are those with two different type of insomnia: “sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) and sleep maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep).
  • Another study found that people with depression are 5 times more likely to develop sleep related breathing disorders (like sleep apnea).

Nite-Hood-Sleep-Mask_1The good news is that doctors have long been aware of this link, and that addressing poor sleep is a fundamental part of depression treatment, whether through pharmacology or therapy or a combination of the two. Also interesting, according to the National Sleep Foundation, in some cases, doctors have found that the effective treatment of sleep problems gives a person the “boost” that they need to effectively combat depression on their own.

Depression is a serious condition, and poor sleep is only one of its many serious side-effects. It can be a warning sign, a contributing factor or a symptom. So please, if you’re suffering from ongoing sleep issues, consult your doctor. It may just a sign that there’s something you should be losing sleep over, and trying to address.

Nite-Hood-Sleep-Mask_6B

 

 

The Nite Hood Sleep Mask can help to a certain degree. Blocking out light is key to melatonin production. Even a LED clock can disrupt this function. Melatonin is a cure-all for most of our body’s needs as it helps us repair and detox. Before drugs and other therapies make sure you are doing it right to begin with.

Make sure to balance your Dark Therapy with direct sunlight in your day time hours. 10 – 15 minutes will stimulate serotonin production as well as vitamin D production. Both are important for mood balance and a healthy immune system.

Sleep Better – Be Happier

happy-sleepOne of the most interesting facts that we’ve uncovered in our bedtime reading is that better sleep leads to greater happiness. More “zzzz” = more smiles, if you will. It’s interesting because it has such a pervasive impact – a positive mood, or at least an ability to see the positive side of things, impacts everything from our work to our relationships to our ability to enjoy the many minutes of each day. The fact that our unconscious hours impacts this is, well, fascinating.

happy-sleep-3In 2015, a Gallup Poll of 7,000 adults in the U.S. revealed that those who got 8 hours of sleep had an overall well-being score that (happiness, satisfaction, etc) was more than 8% higher than those who got 6 hours. Now, you may be saying “that’s just a poll – what does the science say?” Good question.

In a 2007 study designed to measure the impact of sleep deprivation on people, a focus group was split in two, with one half being deprived of recommended sleep amounts, and the other being allowed to sleep for 8 blissful hours . The next day, both groups were shown 100 images while their brains were measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The images started off emotionally neutral, but became progressively more negative (from a picture of an apple, to that of a shark).

happy-sleep-2Anyone who’s had a sleepless night knows that you can get a little cranky, but the difference staggered the scientists. Subjects who had been deprived of sleep had a 60% stronger reaction to negative stimuli – essentially, when we’re sleep deprived, we are much less likely to be happy, and we’re much more likely to react negatively.

happy-sleep-5The obvious solution? Get enough sleep. Start with a Nite Hood™ sleep mask to shut out the light and embrace the night. But also consider the impact of EMFs and regular patterns – head down at the same time. Eyes open at the same time. No alcohol or big meals before bed, and for other ideas… keep reading Dark Therapy!

 

You need to get your beauty sleep, darling!

vivDark Therapy!

It turns out that beauty sleep is an actual thing, and that better sleep means better skin. So go ahead and throw out those smoothing creams, face masks, scrubs and certainly sleep masks (having an elastic around your head? Not a great way to exfoliate) and learn how just sleeping can shave up to 10 years off your skin’s look (we have no idea how they came up with that number, but it was said in The Guardian, so it MUST be true).

It turns out that the the tooth fairy isn’t the only benevolent being that gives you gifts while your eyelids are closed – your body itself is doing a lot of work to make you look summer time fresh when you wake up, assuming you got a good nights sleep.

jane-copyTo start with, your body boosts the production of growth hormone while you sleep, which helps skin cells replenish, giving you that nice, refreshed glow. The fact that your brains removes 60% more toxins from your body when you get a good night’s sleep also helps, as does the fact that better sleep impacts your body’s pH balance – too little sleep reduces that balance, reducing your skins ability to moisturizer itself, leading to a dull look as opposed to your radiant self. In fact, this can lead to a host of skin problems, redness, breakouts, itchiness and even skin conditions. So it’s about more than beauty – better sleep is a preventative measure, helping you live better.

And finally, there’s the ultimate indication that a person isn’t sleeping well – those bags under the eyes. Where do they come from? They’re actually dilated blood vessels that pool under your eyes. The skin here is thin, so it’s easier to see the darker colour, and the pooling vessels don’t flow on their merry way because poor sleep also affects your circulation.

All this is to say, that you can spend ridiculous amounts of money on beauty products, but the fountain of youth is actually free (and quite pleasant) – get better sleep to get the better skin you want.