Could an Early Night Do More For You Than You Think? Food for Thought

When we’ve had sufficient sleep, we’re able to function at our best versions of ourselves, we can deliver performance at the peak of our ability.  When we’re sleep deprived, though, we feel a bit ‘rough’. Yet it’s become commonplace to not quite get the full night’s sleep.  We may believe that a full night’s sleep is just an unattainable ideal.  However here are just 3 things to watch out for if you don’t take care of this essential need.

1. We cannot evaluate our own appetite properly and our brains actually want to select high carbohydrate and junk type food and we may become obese.

In a just published study, there was a decrease in activity in the frontal cortex and insular cortex, which are responsible for complex decisions and appetite. Interestingly, following sleep deprivation, there was also a corresponding and equally significant increase in the part of the brain showing desire for high-calorie foods

2. Sleep Deprivation in our Teenagers adversely affects the teenagers’ dietary choices.

We want the best for our children and a long term study of 13,284 teenagers who’d reported sleeping for less than seven hours per night, found that 18 % of respondents  were more likely to consume fast food two or more times per week, and they were also less likely to make healthier choices of fruits and vegetables.  Children and teenagers develop habits at home before they get to college. So since we are a role model for them, maybe as parents, we need to take care of ourselves in order to show our kids how to take care of their essential needs.

3. Sleep Deprivation can make you Reckless

Researchers at Berkley UC and Harvard Medical School, found that the brains of participants who’d been sleep deprived, showed heightened activity in the mesolimbic pathway, which is a driven by dopamine, the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for regulating positive feelings, such as motivation, sex drive, addiction, cravings and decision making.  In other words, the pleasure circuitry got a big dopamine hit after a missed night’s sleep. So  the brain stimulates feelings of euphoria and reward after a sleepless night.

This indicated to the researchers that the sleep deprivation was causing the subjects to behave recklessly and the study made the point that this may be useful to know eg if you’re operating machinery or if you are a driver.  Also if you were being operated on by a tired doctor, potentially not able to properly assess risk.

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What is a healthy relationship and can you make it happen?

A Healthy relationship is not easy to achieve.  I see a lot of couples, sometimes I am called a marriage counselor or other times a couples counsellor.   I am sometimes asked the question what is a good relationship? And what is a troubled relationship

Perhaps you know when you are in a bad relationship but you don’t necessarily know when you are in a good relationship and perhaps there’s a sense of those Joni Mitchell lyrics – ‘Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, they’ve paved Paradise, put up a parking lot..’

If we thought this way, we’d search for the good feelings, the golden nuggets.  Even saying our relationship is ‘crap’, in the interest of noticing the Paradise before they put up a parking lot, there’d be a wondering, asking the question, is there gold underneath?  if this relationship were to end, what might I look back on in this relationship? and would it be with a sense of nostalgia or deep sadness for the loss?

If you could score your relationship out of ten and perhaps you have done so and can easily do this now, perhaps you think you’ll give it a pretty low score,  but this time, just don’t stop there. Instead this time, continue the exercise by asking yourself what it would take to bring it up just a single notch.  What would your relationship look like if it was better now by just one notch?  Really see that as specifically as you can now.  What would you be doing? Perhaps smiling a bit more; would you make eye contact in that moment? Would you perhaps feel a little lighter inside?  Who would notice? What would they notice? What would they say?  What would that mean to those people who notice, perhaps your children,  or your friends.  What would it mean to you?

Notice how solution searching like this creates a certain kind of feeling?  Isn’t this a different feeling to the glum feeling generated from negative focussed or problem focussed thinking, or ruminating.  Noticing that?

Ruminating is the art of creating depression.  It is a sort of negative focus in the hope that it will create a solution or at least protect you from false optimism and disappointment, the sort of belief is that when ‘it all goes pear shape’ you will be prepared.  Now that it’s laid out like that, do you notice any flaw in this thinking? Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophesising?

In truth every thought creates a feeling and has consequences for our relationships.  Act for today as if all your thoughts would be written up in huge letters for all to read for today.  Then only allow those thoughts that you would be proud of and could defend if necessary.  Really our thoughts kind of are writ up large like that. Not literally, obviously, but others do kind of know.  When you come to think about it, don’t you kind of know what others think of you?  Who loves you, who just doesn’t really get you.

What do you think you may be not getting about someone else?

So let’s leave it at that for now.  Notice what you will miss from this relationship if you ended as a couple.  Notice now what you would need to feel better, even just a small bit better, enough to up the score out of 10 by one point.  What would it mean to you?  Who would see it happening and what would they see and hear?  Finally, when you have a list of answers to those questions, ask yourself how many did you have of those moments this last week?  And how do you feel when you think of those moments?

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Relationship Enhancement and Parenting Skills Workshop – Free Intro Evenings in North London 20th and 29th March 2012

Are you a parent of young children? 

Do you find life so busy and tiring you struggle sometimes to find time for each other and feel you could do with some fresh ideas or communication skills? 

I am hosting a Free Workshop Evening on Parenting Skills and Relationship Enhancement.  As a Relate-qualified Couples Counsellor, I’ve teamed up with Bebe Jacobs, a Parenting Coach, and we’ll be co-presenting at introductory evenings on Tuesday 20th March, 2012 and on Thursday 29th March 2012 at 7.15pm for a prompt start at 7.30pm. 

There’ll be a full 6 week course at a later date, which will enable participants to find some new and effective ways of communicating with their children and with their partners to enhance relationships in the family. 

These introductory evenings will give a taster experience of the course.  It’ll be a chance to learn some new tips and get fresh new ideas for ways of doing things at home.  It’s going to be fun as well as give people something of value to take away with them, which they’ll be able to put into practice at home straight away. 

The introductory evenings will be held in Muswell Hill, N10.  It’s particularly aimed at couples with young children, although anyone can come along and get something useful out of it. 

Who do you know who might enjoy this? Tell them about this free evening and ask them to get in touch with me to reserve their place at either one of the two introductory evenings. They will thank you for it! 

Carole Nyman

Couples Counselling North London

http://www.couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

carole@couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

07941 914 689

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Relationship Enhancement and Parenting Skills Workshop – Free Intro Evenings in North London 20th and 29th March 2012

Are you a parent of young children? 

Do you find life so busy and tiring you struggle sometimes to find time for each other and feel you could do with some fresh ideas or communication skills? 

I am hosting a Free Workshop Evening on Parenting Skills and Relationship Enhancement.  As a Relate-qualified Couples Counsellor, I’ve teamed up with Bebe Jacobs, a Parenting Coach, and we’ll be co-presenting at introductory evenings on Tuesday 20th March, 2012 and on Thursday 29th March 2012 at 7.15pm for a prompt start at 7.30pm. 

There’ll be a full 6 week course at a later date, which will enable participants to find some new and effective ways of communicating with their children and with their partners to enhance relationships in the family. 

These introductory evenings will give a taster experience of the course.  It’ll be a chance to learn some new tips and get fresh new ideas for ways of doing things at home.  It’s going to be fun as well as give people something of value to take away with them, which they’ll be able to put into practice at home straight away. 

The introductory evenings will be held in Muswell Hill, N10.  It’s particularly aimed at couples with young children, although anyone can come along and get something useful out of it. 

Who do you know who might enjoy this? Tell them about this free evening and ask them to get in touch with me to reserve their place at either one of the two introductory evenings. They will thank you for it! 

Carole Nyman

Couples Counselling North London

http://www.couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

carole@couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

07941 914 689

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Are you a paren…

Are you a parent of young children? 

Do you find life so busy and tiring you struggle sometimes to find time for each other and feel you could do with some fresh ideas or communication skills? 

I am hosting a Free Workshop Evening on Parenting Skills and Relationship Enhancement.  As a Relate-qualified Couples Counsellor, I’ve teamed up with Bebe Jacobs, a Parenting Coach, and we’ll be co-presenting at introductory evenings on Tuesday 20th March, 2012 and on Thursday 29th March 2012 at 7.15pm for a prompt start at 7.30pm. 

There’ll be a full 6 week course at a later date, which will enable participants to find some new and effective ways of communicating with their children and with their partners to enhance relationships in the family. 

These introductory evenings will give a taster experience of the course.  It’ll be a chance to learn some new tips and get fresh new ideas for ways of doing things at home.  It’s going to be fun as well as give people something of value to take away with them, which they’ll be able to put into practice at home straight away. 

The introductory evenings will be held in Muswell Hill, N10.  It’s particularly aimed at couples with young children, although anyone can come along and get something useful out of it. 

Who do you know who might enjoy this? Tell them about this free evening and ask them to get in touch with me to reserve their place at either one of the two introductory evenings. They will thank you for it! 

Carole Nyman

Couples Counselling North London

http://www.couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

carole@couplescounsellingnorthlondon.co.uk

07941 914 689

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Relaxation – 7/11 Breathing and Meditation

Although our image of mediators may be of gurus sitting crossed legged, in fact all you need to do to begin is just to sit comfortably.

What all relaxation techniques have in common is that they enable us to experience very deep relaxation in a way that we can’t get from any other activity, leaving us feeling much more rested than from sleep alone.  We feel a unique sense of calm and wellbeing.

There’s a wealth of research into the benefits of Transcendental Meditation and now Mindfulness Meditation too.   Using the breath as in a technique such as 7/11 breathing can have similar benefits and it is very easy to learn with a Human Givens Therapist.  (See http://www.hgi.org.uk for a list of registered practitioners.)

Benefits include

  • Self soothing when emotionally stirred up
  • Less anxiety
  • More joy and happiness
  • Sleep is improved

Generally in life, we tend to believe that our thoughts are random and we have no control over them. Through the regular practice of meditation though, we can become accustomed to experiencing quieter levels of awareness which can help us to feel more calm and peaceful even during times when we’re not meditating but just going about our normal day.

We can’t feel empathy for others when we’re highly stressed.  We’re not all that nice when we’re stressed, because the stress is so all consuming.

It’s a paradox that we feel angry with the actions of others around us when in reality, we ourselves are at our most selfish when we’re most stressed.

Only once we learn to get the mind to become less jittery, we can start to notice other things besides those stressful thoughts and naturally start developing skills of empathy, even without trying.

Try it; as the nervous system becomes used to dipping into that sense of calmness, you can find that you can soothe your self even in the presence of others.  Your buttons don’t get pushed into an automatic response in the same way as they did before you learned to relax or meditate.

Our perspective on situations that are potentially stressful changes because we know we can step back and see a bigger picture with more options.  Enjoyment of life is enhanced as relationships are improved.

Interestingly, brain imaging scans back up what we have subjectively known from our own practice of meditation and relaxation; that our brains are far more plastic than had previously been believed and our brains physically change in response to our thoughts, actions, and to our environment too.

 

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When what your partner heard wasn’t what you said

We all hear through filters.

For instance, we can’t hear if we’re feeling blamed, or attacked because we’re too upset.

When our emotional brain gets flooded with emotion,  the thinking brain gets put on hold.  Then our partner wouldn’t be able to hear because the part of the brain that processes information is locked on hold.

This happens so quickly (it only takes a hundredth of a second for the emotional part of our brain to become flooded), it’s virtually instantaneous.  The emotional brain hears an attack which the thinking brain would never agree is happening but there’s not time for the thinking brain to think, the reaction has happened.

When we understand this, we realise that we don’t want to be attacking our partner because then they simply won’t be able to understand us.

We simply need to first hear the other person. That may be counter intuitive but it’s soothing to the emotional brain to feel heard and it keeps the foolish misinterpretations away.

It’s just the way our brains work and we have to get our own heads around this before we can move forward and start to have conversations in which we hear our partner and get to feel heard too.

Unfortunately it really does need to take place in that order.

 

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