Can you really sleep your way to a better memory? Sound too good to be true? Believe, believe!
Wait a second though. Isn’t our blog focused on active aging? How active can sleep be? (Not referring to sleep walking if you wondered.) Since we define “active aging” as making good choices about wellness, exercise, movement, and health habits, then sleep habits definitely come into play.
If you’ve been reading our posts for a bit, you know my sister and I have a particular interest in the connection between the brain and body.Newly researched pink noise is a real memory booster #Babyboomers #Activeaging Click To Tweet
Guess what? Do you use background sounds to help you sleep? While “white noise” such as a static, steady background hum nicely lulls us to sleep, newly researched “pink” noise is a real memory booster. Pink noise offers rhythmic variation with a mix of high and low frequencies. Examples might include falling rain, waves lapping at a shore, or an oscillating fan. White noise is steady and eventually gets ignored by the brain; pink noise has an intermittent quality that keeps your neurons firing, positively affecting memory storage during deep sleep stages.
Getting enough quality sleep becomes more problematic with age. As we get older, we sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show we still need as much sleep as when we were younger. The exciting aspect about pink noise is that the study (from Northwestern University) focused on older adults, who performed better on memory tests after just one night listening while snoozing.
Already well established is that:
A 2010 Harvard study discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on various test problems.
If you really want a better memory, easier learning and enriched creativity, add pink noise to your nightly 7-9 sleep hours.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
We Feel So Spa-ritual!
Alexandra and I just returned from presenting at the second Tenaya Spa Wellness Retreat. We also presented at their first event, which we summarized in this post. We may not die with a lot of stuff, but we sure are rich in experiences! For one, who would have thought the gateway to Yosemite would be hiking-sandal weather and nearly snowless in mid-January? For another, who knew that smoked sturgeon tasted delicious when braised in tea?
Anyway, we drove up through sun, drought, and beautiful pine trees to offer two workouts: Drums Alive and ABC: Abs, Butt, Core and two workshops: Most Common Exercises Done Right and Wrong and 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Brain Today. As presenters, we had the privilege to take part in the entire retreat. That included hearing American Spa magazine editor, publisher, and keynote speaker, Julie Keller Callaghan speak on Top Trends in the spa world.
Job Seekers Apply Here
One of the key points Julie made is that the spa industry is growing. No, make that Exploding. Faster than a hot flash in the middle of a public presentation. As in, if you know people needing career direction, steer them to a resort. It’s not solely baby boomers driving the growth. Just as many people (mostly women, no shocker there) ages 30-50 are going to spas as those 50-70.
Special Can Mean Affordable
I was actually surprised, because, seriously — who has the money to head to spas so often? How can a luxury industry be taking over the wellness world? Turns out one of the trends is what Julie calls “Specialty Solutions,” which are affordable, specific indulgences. If you want just your lashes, hair, or skin treated, you can now find “beauty bars” and express services at mainstream rates, for example. As well, bigger, more expensive spas are branching into shortened and price conscious versions of their traditional offerings. You can now find 3 day or weekend deals at resorts that once were weekly only.
Luxury to Mainstream
Another trend is that the industry is shifting from being considered a luxury to a necessity. More and more of us are heading to the mountains, beaches, jungles, and forests to de-stress, rejuvenate, and catch up on rest. Just as having a personal trainer shifted in the late 90s from the domain of the rich and famous to mainstream middle class clients, so too is the concept of heading to the spa. Because I neeeeeed it!
You Are Feeling Sleepy
A trend Julie coined “Deep Sleep” highlights a solution spa professionals are creating for the 70 million chronically sleep deprived Americans. From having sleep experts on staff to meals devised to enhance relaxation to dream inducing treatments, spas are addressing sleep needs to keep us well and healthy. Budget minded sleepyheads can now nap in special “cabins” that have customizable aromatherapy and sound settings. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzone out for 20-40 minutes for $1 a minute you catnappers!
Get Real, Be Authentic
While American Spa’s editor, Julie covered 10 key trends, I will share just one more big one here: “Keeping It Real.” Spa goers seek authenticity. They — you?– crave experiences unique to a given location. Spas attract guests with ingredients and services indigenous to the region. The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is right on top of that trend with its treatments. Many of the soaps, skin care products, oils, and scents they use come from local sources.
I did professional research on their authenticity by booking their “Half Dome (half hour) Hiker’s Delight lower leg massage. It was real all right. So real I went for a brief hike afterward just to test out the full foot effect. Worth it for sure! My feet felt so good I could have gone up Half Dome. (Ok, my knees did not work in harmony with this idea). So back I went to the Ascent Spa for my “thank you for presenting gift” of their Signature Firefall Body Treatment, which pays homage to the Yosemite historic firefall when parkgoers used to throw fires over the waterfall. A little dangerous, but I am on board to be a trendsetter for that spa treatment!
And we hope such delight lies in your future and budget. If you have been to spas lately, what trends are you spotting? Which trends do you HOPE kick in so you can take advantage of this booming industry? As for my sister and me, we hope our trend of presenting and teaching at such glorious places continues into the future. I want to be Spa-tacus. Yes, I’m Spa-tacus!
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Alexandra: Thanks for the compliments, Lily. I shall be sure to lord it over my sister. Kickboxing and back pain are sadly a combo about as common as college life and parties (but you graduated, so wouldn’t know anything about that)! Way back in 2000 (wow, did they have kickboxing and pain that long ago?) I wrote an article entitled “Injury Prevention in Kickboxing Classes” for IDEA Fitness Source (now IDEA Fitness Journal) that showed that injury rates to the back from kicks was as high as 23%. Can you believe it? Me neither. I was so young then and am surprised I knew how to do research. Guess I was precocious.
Kymberly: Forget talking about kickboxing, Ms Precocious Thang. I think Lily’s real question has to do with sleeping position and reducing back pain. Lily: I do like the part where you pretend to have liked my sister. She is actually a rather nice person deep down. Deep deep down. Any-who…. my suggestion is to lie on your side with your knees slightly bent. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips and therefore spine aligned. Read this article on reducing back pain while sleeping, keeping in mind that one goal of the article is to sell the nifty pillow. If you buy it, get me one too, will you?
A: Here’s my point: In addition to sleeping in a better position, you want to avoid hurting yourself in kickboxing again, I assume. Even though you won’t be in my classes anymore, I can still repeat my nags: use your core, chamber your moves, no leg flinging, and keep your kicks low. If you do everything I say (like that’s ever happened anywhere, anytime), you might avoid pulling your back muscles next time.
K: Let’s also chat a moment about any repeat back tweaks, especially if you want to get back into your kickboxing program and are a little hesitant. If you hurt your back again, take an easy walk or get on cardio equipment for a low resistance, low intensity ten minute walk the days immediately following the tweak. You can see more on how to minimize muscles soreness in our posts, “My Calves Got a Big Stiffy,” and “Running, Be Sore No More” (I am assuming “tweak” means “sore muscles,” not something else involving vertebrae or ligaments or suchlike.) By raising your core temperature and heating your muscles with the cardio activity, you may reduce the nighttime soreness. Unless you work out just before bedtime, in which case you will have insomnia and not be able to sleep anyway, so you won’t have to worry about being woken up by back pain. Problem solved! Feel free to send us your next question about timing exercise so you can get to sleep!
A: I’ll just point out that you wouldn’t have gotten hurt in MY class, Miss Lily!
Readers: Have you ever kicked too high or with bad form and ended up with back pain that prevented you from sleeping properly?
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