March, 2008

Sleeping in is good for your health

There is nothing better than a lie in, a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep, though for many of us we begin to feel guilty. We think that we should be doing something else, we lead busy a life and have a lot to get done, and ‘do we really have the time for a lie-in?’

Well, finally we may be able to give the perfect excuse to our partners. Recent research from Duke University in America has shown that women are more susceptible to heart disease if they suffer from a lack of sleep than men.

Behavioural science experts measured the levels of blood chemicals in participants of the study. They found that women whose sleep was disturbed were more prone to chemical markers that indicated higher risks of heart disease.

They found the 33 percent of women who suffered from disturbed sleep had protein levels that were associated with a higher risk heart disease.

Additionally, poor sleep was also associated with higher levels of depression, anger and psychological distress.

In the study, 210 male and female participants were used to test the affects of sleep disturbance. The study shows that the men were less affected by poor sleep than women, and that it was the time it took a person to fall asleep that appeared to have the most dramatic affect on a persons health.

So when you can, have that extra half hour in bed, have a lie-in, and if anyone asks, just tell them it’s for the good of your health.

Eating when we are hungry

Scientists in America at the Northwestern University in Chicago have found that our brain lights up when we see sugary treats.

Studies carried out recently have reported that when hungry people were presented with a picture of a Krispy Kreme doughnut or a screwdriver, two distinct parts of the brain became active.

Volunteers were shown the pictures whilst functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans were carried out to identify the parts of the brain that became active.

The volunteers were first fed a substantial amount of food so they weren’t hungry, a picture of a doughnut and screwdriver were shown to them but neither image caused a reaction.

The volunteers were then asked to fast for eight hours, and the same experiment was carried out. This time however the reaction was different.

First the limbic system (responsible for fleeing, fighting, feeding and sexual behaviour), became significantly active and detected that food was available and that the body was hungry.

The second part of the brain to become more alert was the brain’s spatial attention network, this detected that the food was more important than the screwdriver. Its role is to detect what is important in our environment to help us to function.

This research helps us to further understand the parts of the brain and how they all interconnect and have different roles to play in maintaining our survival.

One of the researchers of the study Dr Aprajita Mohanty, said: "There's a very complex system in the brain that helps to direct our attention to items in the environment that are relevant to our needs, for example, food when we are hungry but not when we are full."

Weekend Stress part 3

The most aspect of dealing with weekend stress is thinking about your approach to your weekend. If you go into a weekend expecting that you should enjoy yourself and feel good at the end of it then it is more than likely that you will not.

If you go into a weekend thinking you should relax but also want to get a lot done it is easy to end up feeling annoyed rather than just enjoying the time off.

It is our state of mind that needs to alter – changing our approach wil increase our chances of enjoying the weekend.

Unless we set realistic expectations then what we expect to get out of the weekend and what we are likely to get out of the weekend will remain two different things.

So it is about compromise – accept you can’t do it all so some things will have to give. Go back to thinking about who you are and what you want or what makes you feel happy. Change the way that you approach these things before you even begin the weekend.

Lets take the example that you want to relax at the weekend. Spending a couple of hours just reading the paper, watching TV or walking the dog means you are relaxing, you wouldn’t do that during the week so remind yourself that you are relaxing.

Then if part of what you want from the weekend is to ‘do’ so you feel you have accomplished something, then remembering that you set your own agenda - you don’t have to do loads – even just grabbing an hour or two in the weekend is more than you would get during the week

It’s about setting up your state of mind and measuring your expectations so that you are happy and remind yourself that you did get to do the things you planned or wanted. If you can achieve the most important things you can look at how to spend the rest of the time. Just remember that it is you who chooses – you are in charge.

Weekend stress part 2

Weekends for many people mean many different things as I identified in my previous post. A lot of people will try to cram as many things into their weekend as they possible can, the time is short and precious and people often find themselves darting from one thing to the next. When Sunday night arrives they feel they need another weekend just to catch up.

Is it possible to end your weekend feeling satisfied? How can we do this when we have so many things to do?

The seven personality types above are there to help guide you to understand more about the type of person you are. You may not fit into one category alone but into several, and these maybe interchangeable at different times depending upon how you are feeling or what is happening in your life. You may also feel there are other personality types that I have not included. The idea of the these descriptions is to help you form a list so that you can better understand the type of person you are what ever personality types it contains.

From this list you can begin to prioritise the different personality types to help you more clearly define what is important to you. The next step is to work out how many hours there are in your weekend and then how many hours you feel you would want to spend on these different parts of your personality.

For example you may wish to spend: 1hour on (the lie in), 6 hours on (the doer), 5 hours on (the family) etc.

None of this is meant to be set in stone (unless you want it to), it should help you to organise yourself and your weekend much more, but you can be as flexible as you wish with it.

Next time I will explain a further point that I believe will help you to get more out of your weekend

Weekend Stress

Another weekend gone, each faster than the last, where do they go? No sooner have you taken your jacket off on Friday night as you walk in the house you are putting it back on Monday morning (and it still feels warm).

How many of us feel like this? We get to the weekend with great plans of what we are going to do and never seem to get it done. When we have had a really busy week at work we just want to sit down and relax for the weekend, but find ourselves even busier at the weekend.

There are different types of people all whom approach and see the weekend in different ways we may be just one of them or we maybe different types of people at different times or do a bit of everything. Read below to see if you can identify how you approach the weekend.

THE RELAXER
Work has been one endless task after another, you are trying to get to the end of it but never do, you long for the weekend to sit and do nothing. All you want to do is sit in your favourite chair and watch TV whether it is sport, films or catching up on the soaps. This is your time for yourself, you don’t want to be disturbed. You feel you deserve this time off and want to squeeze everything out of it you can.

THE LIE IN
After a long week at work getting up early for the last 5/6 days all you want to do is catch up on your sleep. You want to lie in for as long as you can, sleep or read the paper in bed.

THE DOER
So much to do so little time, now is the time to catch up on all those household chores that pile up during the week, you have the shopping, DIY around the house, and the garden to do.

THE SHOPPER
You have earned it and it’s yours to spend. The weekend is the time you get to spend it. Treat yourself to something new, maybe you have wanted this for quite a while or you just buy something for the sake of getting something. At the very least you can browse the shops feeling your time is your own.

THE PARTY GOER
A real chance to let your hair down, forget that week you have had, the harder you party the more you can relax. You want to get drunk or at the very least be out as late as you can, as now you are in charge and can let of steam.

THE SOCIALISER
This is the time to catch up with friends, you may meet up for a coffee or a few drinks in a bar. You have not seen your friends all week and you want to catch up share some gossip or just sit there and watch the football. You aren’t interested in ‘Partying’ you just want to have a laugh and catch up.

THE FAMILY PERSON
You have worked till late most evenings in the week and now is the time to catch up with your family. Spend some time together whether it be with your children, partner, parents or siblings, you look forward to spending this time together.

In the next article I will help you work out how to get more out of your weekends so you can begin Monday morning feeling more satisfied that you have accomplished something, what ever you choose to do.