Sleep, Glorious Sleep

“Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth


Thoughts race. Sleep eludes. Again. 


Even in normal times, approximately 30% to 35% of the population experiences acute, or short-term, insomnia. Even before the pandemic, the National Health Institution found that sleep deficiency was a common public health problem. While sleep deprivation means that you did not get enough sleep, sleep deficiency means you have experienced one or more:


  • Did not get enough sleep
  • Sleep at the wrong time of day (out of sync with your body’s clock)
  • Don’t sleep well or get all of the different types of sleep that you need: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages)
  • Have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia
Trying to sleep

Sleep is essential for survival. Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Social distancing and isolation, school closures, quarantines, working-from-home with the family at home, conflicting media reports, job losses and other challenges created by the pandemic are causing sleep deficiency for people who previously had no sleeping problems. 

Sleep deprivation is known to negatively impact blood pressure, heart rate, cognition, and more. In fact, research has found that the shorter the sleep one has, the shorter one’s life will be. Sleep offers wide-ranging benefits for physical and mental health.

Why Consistent Quality Sleep Is Important During a Pandemic

Cellular Repair

Sleep strengthens your immune system.

Sleep is one of your body’s defenses against infectious disease. During sleep, your body produces proteins that fight inflammation and infection.

Researchers have found that, while a lack of sleep can increase the odds of getting sick, consistent sleep helps your body to fight off disease and supports your overall health. Between seven to nine hours of sleep every night is recommended for optimal health.



Lack of sleep impairs your cognitive ability.


Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to poorer short-term memory, attention, and processing speed. During a time when complex information needs to be understood, mental acuity is imperative. Mental agility is required to address the challenges of working and attending school remotely. Good sleep helps to keep us mentally sharp.


Brain Power
Exhausted Man

Sleep improves your mood and mental health

Daily quality of sleep directly impacts your mood. Someone who is sleep deprived is more likely to be sad, irritable, frustrated, stressed out, fatigued, and/or similar emotions. Research at the University of California Berkeley found that without adequate sleep, parts of the brain that are related to anxiety tend to become more agitated.



Improving Sleep Through Sleep Hygiene

What is sleep hygiene? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. While there is not a single, best practice sleep hygiene for everyone, there are a number of daily habits that have proven to help most. Experiment with the following to find what helps you drift off each night. 

Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, even during vacations or on weekends.

Get out in the daylight: Daylight affects your circadian rhythm.Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.

Be active during the day: Exercise can help reduce stress which can improve your odds of having a good night’s rest. Avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime. Stretching, yoga or an evening walk around the neighborhood are good activities to do closer to bedtime. 

Avoid caffeine, too much food, and alcohol near bedtime: While alcohol can help you fall asleep, it can disturb your sleep cycles.

Take a nap: A short nap in the middle of the afternoon can improve your mood and cognition. Avoid napping in the evening so as to not interfere with your night’s sleep.

Create an evening routine: Design a ritual which works for you. It could include turning off devices an hour before bed, a warm bath, mediation, journaling, yoga, even washing your face and brushing your teeth. A routine creates an association in your mind that now is the time for sleep. 

Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven: Address the issues of light, sound, temperature, even your mattress, which could be disturbing your sleep. A small change such as blackout curtains or a white sound machine could make a marked improvement.

Find ways to still your mind and relax. Find what helps you to still your mind and relax such as soothing music, mediation, and deep breathing.

In addition to sleep hygiene, there are supplements which can help your body copy with the additional stress you are experiencing, possible adrenal fatigue, or which can help you relax naturally. Call our office at Calmglow to schedule an appointment to discuss what could help you now.

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

Sleep Hygiene
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Stress Relief Methods That Work

Stress is ever-present. In today’s new norm, anxiety and stress are reaching epic proportions for much of our population. While we cannot get rid of troubling news, we can employ techniques which are proven to reduce stress.


1. Meditation

Meditation has been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, in India, there is wall art from approximately 5,000 BCE showing individuals meditating and written evidence from around 1500 BCE. The practice of meditation stills one’s racing thoughts, brings mental clarify and reduces stress.

How To Meditate

There are many different meditation practices: Hindu, Buddist, Chinese, Christian, Guided, and more. There are podcasts and Youtube channels with guided and other mediations. Once the shelter in place recommendation is lifted, there are in-person retreats and meditation centers. While seeking the practice which best suits you can be useful, getting started with a basic daily habit now to start reducing your stress. Here are beginner meditation steps:


  1. Set aside time in your day, even a few minutes a day of consistently practicing meditation will reap a huge reward.
  2. Find a quiet place and time (maybe in bed right before you go to sleep or just as you wake up).
  3. Sit in a comfortable position (or lay down).
  4. Close your eyes.
  5. Focus on your breath.
  6. As your mind wanders, refocus on your breath.
  7. To end your meditation, open your eyes and hold the feeling of calm for a moment.
  8. Tip: you can sprinkle moments of meditation throughout your day to calm your mind, reduce your stress and gain more mental clarity.


2. Yoga

According to the History of Yoga, while the practice of yoga can be traced back 5,000 years, some believe that yoga maybe thousands of years older. As with meditation, there are many types of yoga: Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram (or hot), Yin, Restorative, Anusara, and Jivamukti yoga. As with meditation, it is useful to find the yoga practice or practices which you best enjoy. 


Beyond reducing stress and anxiety, the practice of yoga can improve heart health, reduce chronic pain, promote better sleep, and increase flexibility and balance. A YouTube search reveals many different types of yoga videos. Try a few different ones to find the teacher and type of yoga you enjoy.


Yoga Pose
Woman napping


3. Take A Nap


As discussed in our blog on naps, even a quick 10 minutes nap reduces stress. Sleep allows the brain to clear toxins and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Schedule a 10 to 20 minute power nap to help reduce your stress.

4. Stress Relief Techniques

  • Deep breathing. Stress causes short, rapid breathing (preparing you to outrace a tiger). Take a few deep, slow breathes from your diaphragm and reduce your stress.
  • Visualization. Picture a peaceful place. Use as many of your senses in creating your peaceful place. When tension strikes, close your eyes for a moment are visualize your peaceful place.
  • Progressive relaxation. Start from your toes and slowly work up to your head, relaxing each muscle as you move up your body.



5. Turn Stress On Its Head


Feeling out of control can spike anxiety and stress. Sheltering in place and working from home for the first time can be very stressful. Once the technical side of working from home has been resolved, step back and see if you can turn the negative around. Have there been projects you have not had the time to tackle? (Think of the feeling of accomplishment once that project is done!)  Are there skills you have been wanting to learn or pick back up any neglected passions? (Do something fun!) Have a desire to be creative? (Being creative lower stress.) 

While none of us can change the events happening in the world, we do have control over our perceptions. For those of us fortunate enough to not be fighting for our lives, let’s take a moment to be grateful for our health. An attitude of gratitude not only lowers stress;  it also improves our lives by reminding us of all that do have.


What else are you grateful for today?


To your health.

Dianne Hinton, NP IFM-C


Fun activities: reading, scrapbooking, baking bread, cleaning a closet
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Midday rolls around and fatigue starts to stalk you. Is grabbing a cup of coffee or soda or candy bar the best way to counter the after-lunch energy drip? How do many athletes, NASA astronauts, commercial airline pilots, and Google employees cure the midday energy low and return to peak performance? By taking a nap! 

Impact of Sleep Deprivation


Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep for optimal health and yet many adults report sleeping less than seven hours. The cost of sleep deprivation is high: increased risk of 10 chronic health conditions (such as cancer, stroke, and diabetes), increased accidents and impaired mental acuity. Researchers have found that lack of sleep affects our mitochondria, the cellular source of energy production. In addition to a decreased ability to focus and concentrate, weakened immune system, weight gain, reduced sex drive, and poor balance being linked to insufficient sleep, Fortune magazine reported that lack of sleep costs the United States approximately $411 billion in lost productivity. 

Sleep Deprivation Causing tired drivers


Sleep is important to the health of our minds, bodies, and economy!

Circadian Rhythm and The Midday Low

Then is the answer to avoiding the midday energy drop to make sure you sleep at least 7 hours?

Regularly sleeping 7 hours will reduce the impact of the midday energy dip, it won’t eliminate it. Your circadian rhythm also causes a midday dip.


What is a circadian rhythm?

Circadian Rhythm Image


According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm. For most adults, the biggest dip in energy caused by our circadian rhythm happens in the middle of the night (somewhere between 2:00 am and 4:00 am when they’re usually fast asleep) and just after lunchtime (around 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, when they tend to crave a post-lunch nap). Studies have found that naps benefit those who have had a full night sleep and those who are sleep deprived. 

Optimal Nap Amount 


Blake Stilwell reported that NASA’s research found that pilots who slept in the cockpit for 26 minutes while the co-pilot manned the plane showed cognitive improvements of up to 54% and job-performance improvements by 34%, compared to pilots who didn’t nap. 


Does a nap that is short or longer than 26 minutes have any benefits?



Sleep Mask



Naps of 10 – 20 minutes reduce sleepiness, improve cognitive performance, increase alertness, attention, and energy levels; improves mood; improves motor performance; reduces stress levels.


Naps of 20 – 30 minutes enhance creativity and sharpen memory.


Naps of 30 – 60 minutes sharpen decision-making skills, including memorization and recall, and improve memory preservation.


Naps of 60 – 90 minutes are rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for problem-solving, helps make new connections in the brain, enhances creativity, reduces negative reactivity, and promotes happiness.

Power Nap at Work

No one thinks twice of someone having a power lunch, taking a bathroom break, grabbing a cup of coffee at work. But would a company support the idea of employees taking a power nap at lunch? 


The following forward-thinking companies provide EnergyPods so that their employees can take power naps: Google, Huffington Post, NASA, the law firm White & Case, and Mercedes-Benz Financial Service.


Energy Pods


Even if your employer does not provide EnergyPods, schedule time in your calendar to recharge your batteries by putting your feet up and closing your eyes or resting in your car (weather permitting). If sleep is elusive during your scheduled power nap, stilling your mind and having a meditative blank mind can give you a mental break. 


Creating a napping habit will improve your health in many ways.


To your health.


Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

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After over a year of traditional doctors misdiagnosing and mistreating my illness, Diane immediately got it right. She identified the root cause of my illness, and I went from being chronically ill to healed and healthy in less than a year. Diane listens to and cares for her patients like no one I’ve ever known. I highly recommend her for diagnosing the true health issues, rather than just treating your symptoms.

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