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#WHOOPEd Weekly Digest, Vol. 2

By Thea Lee

#WHOOPEd Weekly Digest, Vol. 2

The second installment of #WHOOPEd features an article with tips for what to do when you can’t fall asleep, and another on getting intelligent cognitive rest.

Monday, May 15

8 Sleep Experts on What to Do When You Can’t Turn Off Your Thoughts at Night

  1. Distract yourself with meaningless mental lists. The prerequisite for sleep is a quiet mind. Think of something with a story to it that’s interesting to you but not important.
  2. Try to stay awake instead. If you train your mind on staying awake, the performance anxiety and frustration associated with trying to sleep have nowhere to go and arousal levels drop.
  3. Get out of bed. Go to another dimly lit room and write down the thoughts that are keeping you awake then try going back to bed, focusing on breathing.
  4. Write down what’s inducing anxiety. Spend 20 minutes journaling; this process of reflection will identify real vs. hypothetical problems. For the real problems, write down some action items to make a plan.
  5. Try deep breathing. Deep breathing acts as a distraction technique. Breathe out for longer than you breathe in, and pause in between.
  6. Don’t try so hard. Observe and accept the struggle associated with falling asleep, using mindfulness strategies.
  7. Get some sun in the morning. Sun exposure in the midmorning can help readjust the brain’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep.

Tuesday, May 16

Static Stretching Does Not Enhance Recovery in Elite Youth Soccer Players

  • Background: Static Stretching (SS) is an intervention recommended as a recovery method following exercise to prevent or reduce muscle soreness.
  • Motivation: Limited research has been conducted on the effects of SS as a recovery intervention following competitive soccer matches for elite youth players.
  • Methods: 10 elite male soccers players from the English Premier League Academy, aged 15–17, were divided in to two groups: Static Stretching or Passive Recovery as cool down. Muscle damage was assessed before, immediately after, and 48 hours after competitive match play.
  • First finding: competitive soccer matches of elite youth players significantly induced muscle damage, with muscle damage evident for at least 48 hours post-match.
  • Second finding: there was significant reduction in perceived soreness between immediately post-match and 48 hours, suggesting misalignment with perception and measured muscle damage.
  • Third finding: there was no significant difference between the passive recovery and static stretching groups, suggesting no benefit to SS as a post-match intervention.
  • Researchers postulate that coaches try reducing training load in the 48 hours post-exercise in light of these findings.

Wednesday, May 17

Secrets to Brain Success: Intelligent Cognitive Rest

There is a focus network in your brain and an “unfocus” network. Both need to be exercised to improve and grow.

The default node network (DMN) is the unfocus network. When you turn your focus brain off, this network will retrieve memories, link ideas, and help you feel more self-connected. This part of the brain helps you read other people and allows you to predict more accurately.

Here are some tips for activating the DMN to continue to develop it’s functionality:

  1. Napping: for a quick pick-me-up for sharper thinking, all you might need is a 10-min nap. For a major creative project, you’ll need at least 90-min of napping.
  2. Positive Constructive Daydreaming (PCD): Best achieved when you are doing a low-key activity, not when you are fading. You need to engage your mind with a playful and wishful image. This will engage your unfocus brain and unlock the creativity therein.
  3. Physical exercise and free-walking: thinking supports movement, and movement supports thinking. Exercise increases connectivity in the brain. To get a creative boost from walking, you need to be on a flexible route, not fixed to a course. Free-walking, when studied against mental tests, improved fluency, flexibility, and originality of thinking.

Your brain is wired for focus and unfocus to work together, so build unfocus time in to your day to take advantage of both types of intelligence.

Thursday, May 18

How To Sleep Better And Other Things Learned From BBC Documentary “The Truth About Sleep”

Test yourself for sleep deprivation:

  1. Go to bed in the middle of the afternoon
  2. Check the time and place a metal tray by the side of your bed
  3. Lie down while holding a spoon in your hand by the side of the bed and above the tray
  4. As you fall asleep your grip will loosen and the spoon will eventually fall and wake you up
  5. If you fell asleep after 15 minutes, you’re good. If you fell asleep in under 10 minutes, you’re sleep deprived.
  • Professor Simon Archer described how genetic markers can influence how we sleep, where some are more inclined to be morning people and others are night owls.
  • Alcohol might help you fall asleep but, an alcoholic beverage before bed will cause interrupted sleep and any sleep you do get will be poor in quality.
  • Sleeping pills are addictive and you do build up a tolerance, so you end up needing to use more of them in order to get the same amount of sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation alters hormones that are involved in our perception of appetite and hunger. So sleep loss will result in people feeling hungry and has been linked to the development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Try mindfulness, focusing on the breath and being present in the moment, to help you fall asleep. Scientists also suggest the benefit of eating kiwi after your dinner meal.

Friday, May 19

Mindfulness Techniques Can Be More Than Quiet Contemplation

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the here and now. This can be achieved in meditation, but can also be practiced informally, by simply being present in the moment during everyday activities.

Try practicing “single-tasking”: Do one thing at a time and give it your full attention. Even something as small as flossing you teeth: slow down the process and be present to all the senses it involves.

Basic mindfulness meditation:

  1. Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return focus to your breath.
  2. Notice body sensations and let them pass. Notice each part of your body from head to toe.
  3. Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Perceive without judgement and let them go.
  4. Allow emotions to be present. You can do a steady and relaxed naming of them (ie. “joy”, “frustration”).
  5. When you feel a craving or urge acknowledge it and understand that it will pass.