How is your sleeping? The importance of sleep
By Greg Allen, Ph.D., LMFT, Special to the News | Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 4:05 pm
Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep, and many suffer from lack of sleep. For example, surveys conducted by the NSF reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month — with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more. Furthermore, 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.
Amount of sleep needed
Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced, according to a 2000 study by Van Dongen and Dinges.
Teenagers, sleep problems and drugs
According to a long-term study published in the 2004 April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, young teenagers whose preschool sleep habits were poor were more than twice as likely to use drugs, tobacco or alcohol. This finding was made by the University of Michigan Health System as part of a family health study that followed boys and their parents for 10 years. The study found a significant connection between sleep problems in children and later drug use, even when other issues such as depression, aggression, attention problems and parental alcoholism were taken into account.
How does alcohol affect sleep quality?
At all dosages, alcohol:
1. Makes you fall asleep quicker
2. Causes deeper sleep in the first half of the night
3. Causes more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night
4. Increases the amount of slow wave sleep achieved during the first half of the night. During slow wave sleep, the body repairs tissue, strengthens the immune system and builds bone and muscle.
5. Causes deeper sleep in the first part of the night, which can increase problems with sleep apnea and sleepwalking, among people susceptible to these problems
6. Cause a reduction in total REM sleep, which leads to a non-restful night’s rest as well as memory and motor problems and impaired concentration abilities
How to get a good night’s sleep
According to sleep researchers, a night’s sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages, defined by types of brain waves that reflect either lighter or deeper sleep. Toward morning, there is an increase in rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, when the muscles are relaxed and dreaming occurs, and recent memories may be consolidated in the brain. The experts say that hitting a snooze alarm over and over again to wake up is not the best way to feel rested. This on and off again effect of dozing and waking causes shifts in the brain-wave patterns. Sleep-deprived snooze-button addicts are likely to shorten their quota of REM sleep, impairing their mental functioning during the day, according to a 2004 New York Times article.
According to leading sleep researchers, here are techniques to combat common sleep problems:
1. Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.
2. Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use.
3. Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night.
4. Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep.
5. Get regular exercise.
6. Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep.
7. Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night.
8. Try and wake up without an alarm clock.
9. Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep.
I hope you sleep well.
Are you stressed?
By Dr. Greg Allen, Special to the News
Are you able to recognize your daily stress level? Are you able to identify stressors in your life? How do you cope with stress? It’s become an accepted fact of daily life that we live with stress, in stress and are stressed.
Consider these stress warning signs and symptoms from healthguide.org to see how they apply to your life:
Cognitive symptoms: memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, seeing only the negative, anxious or racing thoughts, constant worrying
Emotional symptoms: moodiness, irritability or short temper, agitation, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness and isolation, depression or general unhappiness
Physical symptoms: aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, frequent colds
Behavioral symptoms: eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself from others, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities, using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax, nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Common external causes of stress: major life changers, work, relationship difficulties, financial problems, being too busy, children and family
Common internal causes of stress:
Not all stress is caused by external factors; stress can also be self-generated: inability to accept uncertainty, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism, lack of assertiveness
Things that influence your stress tolerance level:
Your support network — A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. The more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
Your sense of control — If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
Your attitude and outlook — Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
Your ability to deal with your emotions — You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
Your knowledge and preparation — The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
There is another dynamic of unhealthy relationships that can lead to stress; I call it “not being able to say no.” There are many internal reasons for this unhealthy behavioral pattern including: wanting to get along, not wanting to experience a conflict, feeling that you won’t be liked if you disagree, feeling like you need to rescue or save others, feeling a need to be needed by others, feeling like you don’t have a right to disagree or have an opinion.
These behavioral motivations may be mild or moderate. These individuals live with a lack of assertiveness or personal empowerment. In turn, these feelings will contribute to internal and relational stress.
These unhealthy behavioral patterns are usually formed in the primary relationships of childhood. Children form opinions of themselves and their world from the experience of their family life. Whether we like it or not, parents are role models. Children learn from what their parents do. It is important that parents learn to manage their own stress, maintain healthy communication and seek to have healthy balanced adult lifestyle.
Stress is a reality in our life. Pay attention to your body, mind, emotions and relationships. Integrate the healthy things that influence your stress tolerance level so that you can live a life that also has peace and joy. Lastly, don’t forget it’s OK to chill out.
Dr. Greg Allen, LMFT, is a therapist practicing in Palos Verdes Estates and Hermosa Beach. He is also the founder and director of Freedom4U (freedomcommunity.com). He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freedom4U jazz festival in Rancho Palos Verdes spotlights teenage musicians
By Stephanie Cary
Molly Miller, a USC studio jazz guitar graduate student, works with students in Rolling Hills Estates on July 10, 2012 as they prepare for Freedom4U’s 4th annual jazz festival, “Jazz Through the Generations.” (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)
Freedom4U is putting its mentoring program on display once again at this year’s “Jazz Through the Generations” concert.
The fourth annual jazz festival, Sunday at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, will not only feature professional musicians such as Barbara Morrison, Paul Smith and David Benoit, but also many young musicians, including the Freedom4U youth band.
The nonprofit organization was created in 2002 to provide youth programs focused around the arts to offer teens a safe place to hang out. Not only does the program help develop their artistic talents, but it teaches them life skills, leadership and service.
“It was started as a way to kind of keep teenagers focused in healthy directions so they wouldn’t get off
Drummer Ben Young, foreground, practices with Noah Pacifici, left, Matthew Jamele, Aris Kare and Caleb Collins in Rolling Hills Estates on July 10, 2012 for Freedom4U’s fourth annual Jazz festival titled “Jazz Through the Generations.” (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)
on unhealthy directions,” says Freedom4U’s founder and director Greg Allen.
“So we started looking at music as a thing to gather teenagers around to have safe supervised activities versus everybody getting drunk or doing drugs on the weekends. So it’s like an alternative kind of hangout. And what we do is get teens to plan the activities and lead the activities.”
The jazz festival was created at the suggestion of some of the teens involved in the program. A large component of the event is a jazz camp prior to the festival where junior high and high school youths are mentored by college students.
In addition, Allen says, the group selects professionals to be in the show who also prioritize mentoring, such as Benoit and his Asia America Youth Orchestra and Smith, who has a grandson in his band.
“We have college music majors from USC who are some of the most gifted kids in the country. So we have them teaching junior high kids music improvisation,” Allen says. “A lot of kids take music lessons, and they learn how to play the piano or an instrument and they play exactly as the music piece is, but they never play with someone, or improvise and play off someone. So they kind of teach them skills like improvisation in the jazz world.”
One of those college students is Freedom4U bandleader Molly Miller, who will be playing at the festival in the backup band as well as with the Freedom4U youth band.
Miller has been involved with the program since junior high, playing at events and helping to organize them. When she entered college she began mentoring with the jazz program.
“We talk about jazz and blues, the history of the music, the techniques, the style, what it means and what inspires us with this music, so not just the playing aspect but the performance aspect too and the history of it,” Miller says.
“The idea is this whole mentoring aspect, like older generation and younger generation working together to bridge that gap, because the music is history. So the idea is to not isolate each generation, because you kind of need each other to make this whole language and the whole art form exist and last.”
And if Max Lesser is any indication of how successful the program is at doing that, then Freedom4U is definitely doing its job.
The 15-year-old saxophone player credits the program for changing the direction of his life.
“It’s really — this might sound a little bit dramatic — but it’s really changed what I want to do with my life,” Lesser says. “I’ve kind of realized how little programs like this can just dramatically change your interests and ambitions. You know, now I want to be a professional jazz musician. It’s a lofty goal but I’m going to a school now where I get to study (music).”
Miller introduced him to his first saxophone teacher. And her brother, whom Lesser also met through the program, helped him get into the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
Lesser says the relationships he’s made through the program continue to grow and he credits programs such as this for helping introduce youths to jazz, helping to keep the genre alive.
“It’s really great to have kids get into jazz because it’s doing better now. But for a while it was really not doing well, especially in the ’70s, and then it started to get better around the ’90s and now it’s really amazing,” Lesser says. “I think the reason it’s doing so well now, and there’s so many great musicians now, is because of programs like this.”
Some of those great musicians will be performing at the festival.
“The quality of music is unbelievable. Like David Benoit has been nominated for five Grammys. When he plays the piano it’s incredible,” Allen says.
“Paul Smith plays the piano — when he plays it’s like you’re floating up in the clouds. It’s just unbelievable when he plays. Hundreds of people will come just to hear him, he’s like a legend. And the singers are all really great. Barbara tells great stories. So it’s really a good energy-feeling thing.”
Changes Life Skills Discussion Groups
Every Thursday 5:30-7pm
Separate Groups for Teen & Parents
South Bay High School Photography Contest Reception
Fri., May 24th - 5:30pm - Teen Annex
Dad-Kid Day Workshop
Sat., June 15 - 10-1:30pm
Jazz Through The Generations Festival
Aug., 25th - 2pm
For more Event Information , visit the News & Events