Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
August, 2015


SleepBot is a free app that helps you track your sleep and identify barriers, such as sounds and movements (think barking dog or car alarm). It can help you to reduce or eliminate these barriers, and improve sleep quality.

The app also includes a "smart" alarm, which wakes you during your lightest phase of sleep. SleepBot monitors sounds and movements and predicts when you are in REM (deep) vs. non-REM (light) sleep. Simply set the time that you wish to wake, and SmartBot will wake you during your lightest phase of sleep within a 30 minute range of your set time.

SleepBot is available for free in the app store for iPhone and Android.


Sleep Corner

Sleep and Injury Recovery

Without the proper amount of sleep, the body is not only more prone to being injured, but it is also less equipped to recover after an injury. This is because during sleep the body is able to recover and repair damaged muscles and bones.

When we sleep, our body undergoes protein synthesis, which plays a crucial role in muscle recovery and growth. Conversely, when we are sleep deprived, protein synthesis is slowed, and degradation pathways are activated, both of which are associated with muscle atrophy.

Take home point: sleep is crucial for injury recovery.


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Myth Buster: Your brain rests when you sleep

We spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping, but do we really understand exactly what happens while we're catching some zzz's? In spite of the fact that you may feel like you're not doing much while sleeping, your brain would beg to differ. During sleep, the body cycles through 5 different stages of sleep. During each phase, the body and brain work together to complete many complex processes such as stress relief, tissue growth and repair, and memory storage, to name a few.

In fact, during certain stages of sleep, neurons in the brain fire at about the same rate as they do when we are awake. This is because the brain is going to work. During sleep, the brain can finally devote time to do some "house cleaning". This type of "house cleaning" can only be done while we sleep, when all available energy can be devoted to this task.

      

Toxic Waste Removal
During sleep, the brain works very hard to "clean out" toxic protein waste that builds up during the day. Many neuroscientists refer to this as the brain doing "housekeeping", or they liken the process to a "dishwasher". This is because during the day waste from proteins starts to build-up, but removing this waste is very energy consuming and requires brain cells to actually shrink so that cerebrospinal fluid can circulate through the brain, removing the toxic build-up on its way out. When we are sleeping we do not need energy to walk, speak, eat, or complete any other tasks which might use energy. Our brain takes advantage of this precious "free time" and gets to work.

Why We Sleep
Scientists hypothesize that this intricate process is the most likely reason why animals and humans need to sleep. It also helps explain why poor sleep is linked with Alzheimer's and memory loss, which are also linked with a build-up of beta-amyloid (a protein).

As neuroscientist Russell Foster explains in a 2013 Ted Talk, "What's turned out to be really exciting is that our ability to come up with novel solutions to complex problems is hugely enhanced by a night of sleep. In fact, it's been estimated to give us a threefold advantage. Sleeping at night enhances our creativity. And what seems to be going on is that, in the brain, those neural connections that are important, those synaptic connections that are important, are linked and strengthened, while those that are less important tend to fade away and be less important."

Make Sleep a Priority
We still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding exactly how these mechanisms work. However, the fundamental understanding that the brain needs sleep to "clean house" adds to the long list of reasons why it is important to prioritize a good night's sleep. For more on the importance of sleep and tips on how to sleep better, check out our blog.





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Ask An Expert

Q.
Is it normal to feel tired all the time?

A.
The short answer is no. Although excessive sleepiness can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue such as depression or a sleep disorder, oftentimes the solution may be more simple.

You're not exercising    

It is a misconception that exercise will make it harder to sleep. In fact, exercising in the morning can actually help regulate your sleep cycle so that you feel awake and alert during the day, and sleepy at night. The key is to exercise in the morning, or as early in the evening as possible.

You go to bed too late

This one may seem like a no brainer, but many people struggle with going to bed at an early enough time. One tip is to set a pre-bedtime and stick to it. That is, set a time when you stop doing other things and focus on relaxing and preparing for bed.

You're consuming too much caffeine

Health experts recommend keeping caffeine consumption less than 400 mg per day. That equates to about 2 8 ounce cups of coffee. Also, avoid caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bedtime. This includes coffe, energy drinks, chocolate, and tea.

Mindful Moment

Be mindful of your activities before bed. Practice relaxation techniques and mindful meditation prior to going to bed. This will put you in a better more "quiet" state of mind, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.


Bottom Line

Sleep is an essential part of mental and physical health. When we sleep, our brain utilizes this time to complete many important processes that are required to both survive and thrive in life

We learned that sleep is also crucial when recoverving from an injury. Without enough sleep, our body is not able to synethize the protein it needs to repair and grow muslces.

Also, it is not normal to feel sleepy all the time. If you feel sleepy almost every day, take the steps needed to ensure that you are getting enough sleep.



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Featured Recipe: One Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus


This salmon dish is full of heart healthy, unsaturated fats, and protein. It may also help you sleep better due to its vitamin B6 content. Fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin.

  • 1 1/2 lbs. salmon, skin on
  • 2 1/2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 t lemon zest
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • 3/4 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t each of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 C parmesan)

  • Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment paper. Place salmon in center of pan. Whisk together 1 1/2 T olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic, dijon, onion powder. Brush evenly over top of salmon then sprinkle with 1/2 t salt and pepper. Top with lemon slices.

    Toss asparagus with remaining 1 T olive oil, remaining 2 cloves garlic and season with salt, then place around salmon. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Remove from oven, toss asparagus then sprinkle asparagus with parmesan. Return to oven and bake until salmon has cooked through, about 5 - 10 minutes longer. Cut salmon into portions. Serve warm.

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 4      Calories: 426      Carbs: 13g      Fiber: 4g      Sugar: 3g             
                           Fat: 23g             Protein: 43g    Sodium: 363mg     


    Featured Exercise: Agility Shuttle


    Mark two parallel lines about 30 feet apart. Starting from squatting position behind one line and sprint as fast as you can to the other line. Touch the line and without stopping, turn and run back to the first line.

    Exposure to natural sunlight, especially in the morning, can help the body regulate its natural circadian cycle. Exposure to sunlight inhibits the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body that plays a crucial role in the body's ability to regulate sleep, and feel sleepy. Therefore, exposure to sunlight in the morning is recommended to create the ideal sleep-wake cycle.

    Sources:
    Featured Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy.