The official site of the sleep-deprived

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Color Purple

Is there a connection between sleep, dreams, and the color purple? Deep purple, the color of the evening sky, embodies a sense of mystery and magic. Holistic healers associate purple with the crown charka, the energy center that links us with the spiritual realm. In chromotherapy, the art of healing with color, indigo (blue-violet) and purple light are used to alleviate nervous tension and remedy sleep disorders.

The purple gemstone amethyst has long been prized for its balancing and soothing qualities. Its tranquil vibrations encourage relaxation and promote a sense of inner peace. A favorite sleep aid since ancient times, amethyst calms fears, restlessness, and tension; it can also induce vivid dreams and improve dream recall. Early healers recommended rubbing the gem on your temples to encourage sleep. In her book The Encyclopedia of Crystals, Judy Hall calls it “a natural tranquilizer” and says “Sleeping with Amethyst facilitates out-of-body experiences.” Place an amethyst under your pillow or on your nightstand to enhance sleep and dreams. Hold an amethyst in your hand to relieve stress or deepen meditation.

The fragrant lavender plant is widely utilized as an herbal nerve tonic and sleep aid. When inhaled, the scent of lavender dispels tension, eases anxiety, and benefits insomnia. Put a little lavender essential oil in water and mist your pillow with it. Or, as I suggest in my forthcoming Aromatherapy Card Deck, “At the end of a stressful day, add a few drops of lavender oil to a tub of hot water. Soak in the bath, relax, and let your cares float away.”

What’s your experience with the color purple? Do certain colors resonate with you or inspire particular reactions? Have you ever worked with color in sleep- or dream-related areas? For healing purposes? We invite you to share your ideas and insights.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Is Lack of Sleep Making You Fat?

Is lack of sleep wrecking your diet and keeping you from losing weight? Here's what Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., noted sleep expert and Medical Director of the Firbromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, Inc., has to say.

How much sleep is optimal for staying skinny? 7-9 hours is best. Less than 7 hours increases the risk of obesity about 30% and adds an extra 5 pounds on average.

According to Jean-Philippe Chaput, MSc, from Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and colleagues, "Current treatments for obesity have been largely unsuccessful in maintaining long-term weight loss, suggesting the need for new insight into the mechanisms that result in altered metabolism and behavior and may lead to obesity."

The increase in body weight in the US population has been paralleled by a reduction in sleep times. For the past 4 decades, daily sleep duration has decreased by 1.5 to 2 hours, and the proportion of young adults sleeping less than 7 hours per night has more than doubled, from 15.6% in 1960 to 37.1% from 2001 to 2002.

Studies in adults and children have repeatedly shown that reduced sleep is associated with increased weight.

To determine the relationship between sleep duration and weight, researchers followed up 276 adults aged 21 to 64 years who were enrolled in the Quebec Family Study, a 6-year longitudinal study in a community setting. The investigators compared weight gain relative to sleep duration: short (5-6 hours), average (7-8 hours), and long (9-10 hours).

Compared with average-duration sleepers, short-duration sleepers gained 4.4 pounds more in a 6-year period. At 6 years, short-duration and long-duration sleepers were 35% and 25% more likely to experience a 12-pound weight gain, respectively, compared to those who slept 7-8 hours a night.

Compared with average-duration sleepers, short-duration sleepers had a 27% increased risk for the development of obesity, and long-duration sleepers had a 21% increase in risk. Adjustment for caloric intake and physical activity did not affect these connections.

(Reprinted with permission from Dr. Teitelbaum.)

Visit Dr. T’s website for more information––and look for his forthcoming book Beat Sugar Addiction Now!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dreams,Art, and Divination

A couple years ago I took a workshop offered by the very talented Santa Fe artist and dreamworker Victoria Rabinowe (see the link for her Dreaming Arts Studio). Along with several friends, I spent a lovely afternoon creating a series of “dream divination cards” using the medium of collage art. The cards we designed drew upon the images and themes presented by our dreams, and we translated them into a series of visuals that functioned on many levels simultaneously.

Dreams, of course, have long served as oracles, offering wisdom and sometimes glimpses of the future to the dreamer. Victoria suggested that our personally created dream cards might provide even better guidance than tarot cards or oracles (such as the I Ching and runes) that had been designed by other people.

So that afternoon, after my friends and I had produced six dream cards apiece, we put them to the test. Each of us shuffled our cards while contemplating a question or matter about which we sought advice. Then we laid out the cards in a prescribed pattern to reveal answers.

The results amazed us all. Just as Victoria had promised, the cards responded eloquently to our queries, providing a wealth of insights and information. Being a long-time student of the tarot––as well as an artist––I was thrilled. I was so excited that I set about creating a whole deck of dream divination cards.

I now have more than 50 cards in my deck and keep making more art cards as my dreams inspire me. I continue consulting these cards on a regular basis, whenever I need help from a “higher source.”

How do your dreams guide you? What insights do you get from them? Do your dreams reveal glimpses of the future to you? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

If you’d like more information, please contact Victoria Rabinowe or us here at the 3:15 Club.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Welcome to Billy Bob's

It's one of those things you don't notice until you're ready to make a buying decision. Signs that say "Mattress Sale - Today Only!" You think "Hey, that's great!" "'What a stroke of luck!" "Am I a saavy consumer, or what?" As you get closer, you see the sign's edges are yellow and curled up, with hundreds of dead flies stuck tight behind the glass.

Rule #1 - mattresses, like used cars, are always on sale.

The concept of "moderation" is not well understood in Texas, and I find myself at the entrance to Billy Bob's Big-Ass Bed Emporium staring into an airplane hanger filled floor to ceiling with nothing but mattresses. No, no, no, no no! This is NOT how I had visualized it at all. I am stunned by the decisions that must be made before progressing to Level 2 - the actual test drive.

Queen or King? Or maybe California King - like sleeping on opposite sides of the continent!
Innerspring or memory foam?
Coil count is critical! Heavy or light gauge?
Hourglass shaped, continuous coil or individually pocketed?
How about half innerspring and half memory foam?
Are either of you a light sleeper? (ok, now that's funny)
Do you prefer firm or soft?
Are you a side sleeper?
Are you a side sleeper who likes soft and your partner a back sleeper who prefers firm?
Do your arms tend to go numb?
How about a mattress with a water bladder?
Do one or both of you get up alot during the night? (I'm not clear whether those last two questions are somehow related.)
Then there's the matter of pillowtop. Plush, Euro-style, quilted, silk, cashmere, cotton or wool?

If you think you might want to try memory foam - great! Same material the astronauts use (you know, I had never thought to put mattress material and "G" force sustainability into the same sentence before).
Memory foam is a little more firm but conforms to your body! (There's no mention that it also creepily resembles packing material.)
How about a solid core latex mattress then? It's all natural you know. And, you'll sleep cooler than on synthetic foam (a rubber bed - this is joke, right?)

Trying to be accommodating, the salesman assures me there's a bed for every budget - $500-$4500 - which narrows the decision considerably.

And then, to drive in the last nail of his sales arsenal he reminds me, "But, of course, you can't put a price on a good night's sleep now can you? After all, heh, heh, you'll be logging 30,000 hours on this baby! What's that worth to you?"

I realize I probably look like a cobra staring at a snake charmer. I'm even swaying back and forth with my mouth hanging open. I put my tongue back in and refrain from screaming at the baby-faced salesman with his 29-item ala carte mattress menu.

"Don't you understand? I just want to buy a damn bed that will allow me to sleep through the night, which will put me back into the game, so I can become absurdly happy, fabulously rich, over-the-top good-looking, the epitome of health & fitness, with a higher IQ and maybe a new wardrobe! There is absolutely NO WAY I can make this decision without a decade or more of research. No, no, no, no, no." I am not happy. I want to run out of the store. I need more time. I need someone to make this decision for me. I need fresh air. No, I take that back; what I really need is wine.

Menopause has already rendered my usually rational, linear, quick-to-make-a-decision-with-no-looking-back brain into the equivalent of mental Bisquick; this was to have been a simple lie down, this feels good, how much, I'll take it kind of day. Deliver it tomorrow and by Tuesday I will be A BETTER PERSON.

Obviously, this wasn't going to be the quick fix I had envisioned. It was to have been The Thing that changes EVERYTHING. And The Thing did not include the equivalent of a multiple choice mattress SAT.

So forget about the bed. Besides, I've just learned of something even better. This is the Real Deal. This is The Thing. I'm told they will stop the aging process, give me Linda Hamilton's biceps, repair snapped synapses, allow me to sleep throught the night, and give me the flexibility to finally do Pilates:

Bio-Identical Hormones

to be continued ....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Are Your Dreams Trying to Tell You?

Although we don’t know exactly where dreams come from, many researchers and psychoanalysts believe our dreams are trying to tell us something. Freud and Jung proposed that all dreams contain information that can help us in our waking lives. Deciphering this information, however, can be tricky because messages are usually encoded in symbols. Here are some common symbols that show up in most people’s dreams and mean pretty much the same thing for everyone.

A house usually represents you and the various facets of your existence. The basement signifies your unconscious, instinctual side; the ground floor describes your everyday living situation and ego; upper floors indicate spiritual awareness or mental activity. Individual rooms have meanings similar to their functions in waking life––a kitchen suggests nourishment, a bathroom cleansing, and so on. Finding an unknown room in the house means discovering a hidden ability. The condition of the house is important, too. A dilapidated building suggests your life needs fixing up; a crumbling foundation indicates your support system is weak or deteriorating. Conversely, a large, elegant house depicts a rich, full, healthy life––or that you are moving in this direction.

A car generally signifies how you travel through life’s journey and/or your physical body. Look at who is driving the car. If it’s not you, who is it? Then ask yourself why you’re letting someone else pilot your life––is it time to take back the wheel? A friend of mine often dreams he can’t see out the windshield when he’s driving. This person doesn’t have much direction in his life and hasn’t established clear goals for himself. The dream describes his situation accurately: he can’t see where he’s going. I once dreamed I was driving dangerously fast and wrecked my car. My dream was warning me that if I didn’t stop pushing myself so hard I could damage my health.

Water usually symbolizes emotions. If you find yourself swimming or immersed in water it could mean your emotions play a large part in your life. Look at the state of the water. Rough water suggests turbulent emotions. Muddy water indicates murky feelings; clear, sparkling water corresponds to a happy, balanced emotional state. Deep water or a large body of water describes powerful feelings.

Sex dreams usually mean the masculine and feminine sides of yourself are united and working creatively together. Or, these dreams may urge you to dissolve barriers between yin and yang. Look at your partner in the dream––what does this person represent to you? Your dream shows you are successfully merging with the qualities symbolized by your dream partner.

Dying in a dream rarely means physical death. Instead, it points to a transition and shows that part of you or something in your life is dying to make room for something new. If you dream someone else has died, ask yourself what characteristics you associate with that person––these show what’s passing out of your life.

Giving birth in a dream generally means something new is entering your life or that you’re beginning a new phase. This dream can also signify creativity, fruitfulness, or the birth of an idea or opportunity.

Dream images may also have meanings that are unique to the dreamer. For example, a dream about redecorating a house usually means you’re reorganizing your life, but if you’re an interior designer, your creativity may just be working overtime. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a record of your dreams and list the major symbols that appear in them, especially the ones that crop up again and again.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Do We Dream?

Since the beginning of time, dreams have fascinated and perplexed us. Why do they happen? Where do they come from? What do they mean? Are dreams merely the result of chemical changes in the brain, as some studies indicate, or vehicles for divine communication?

Dreams figure prominently in the literature, practices, and mythology of all cultures. Muslims believe that a spiritual source gave the Koran to Mohammed in a dream. Buddhist priests use information gleaned from dreams to help them locate each new incarnation of the Dalai Lama. In ancient Greece, people with illnesses spent the night in temples built to Aesclepius, the god of healing. There they received guidance in their dreams from the god, and the cures were written on the temple walls. The early texts of the Egyptians and Hindus, the Old Testament of the Bible, the writings of such diverse authors as Shakespeare, Socrates, Omar Khayyam, and Descartes all provide evidence that for millennia people around the world have looked to dreams for guidance, prophecy, wisdom, and inspiration.

American Indian, Australian Aranda, and Celtic shamanic teachings suggest that the dream realm is a parallel universe, a place we journey to when we sleep. Though nonphysical, it is every bit as real as the world we inhabit when we’re awake. Author Carlos Castenada described these alternate realities in The Art of Dreaming and other books.

Although we don’t always remember our dreams, we dream every night. In fact, most adults spend about 1.5 hours dreaming and have three to five dreams per night, each lasting from a few minutes to half an hour or more. Most, but not all, dreams occur during periods known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, when the brain stem sends out signals that stimulate the brain’s sensory channels to produce images.

Neuro-physiological explanations of the process, however, don’t tell us anything about the purpose of dreams. Perhaps, as David Fontana proposes in his book Dreamlife, “We sleep partly in order to dream. Sleep…may be the servant of the dream.”



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many different ailments, but I have never heard of one who suffered from insomnia." – Joseph Wood Krutch

I love this picture––perfect repose! Unfortunately, I don't know who the artist is (I cut it out of a magazine long ago). Can anyone enlighten me so can credit him/her and ask permission to keep these kitties on my blog?

The Gates of Delirium

So, at 3:27 this morning I did the math and figured I’d just spent the past 5 hours kicking, flailing, yanking, flopping onto my back, my side, my other side, flinging sweaty, wadded up sheets onto the floor, up, down, swearing, moaning, sighing, grunting, and even occasionally falling into exhausted sleep. A few minutes later I’d wake up and start again.

On a better night, it might sound like the starring role in an amateur video. But tonight’s performance is straight out of Dante’s Seventh Level of Hell - also known as Melatonin Deprivation.

I groped around on the nightstand for a half of a sleeping pill and knocked my water bottle and the clock radio onto the floor. NPR’s late night at the opera blasted my husband out of bed and straight into Level 4, Martians Have Landed, Red Alert. Now he’s a great guy – patient, kind, attentive, understanding, cool under pressure, a terrific listener, loves cats …. But it seems he’d been awakened once too often during the night and was NOT his usual laid back, empathetic self. Once he realized what had happened he stood there scowling at me – his beloved – like he was contemplating a career move to serial ax murderer.

And then – it was at that exact moment that I had this flash of satori – sudden enlightenment. And because you and I are walking this seventh level highway to hell together, I’m going to share what I learned. Are you ready?

There is a fundamental solution that will solve every one of your middle-aged life challenges. It will make you absurdly happy, fabulously rich, over-the-top good-looking, smart, creative, the epitome of perfect health & fitness, with a brand new wardrobe to boot. You see, grasshopper, it’s not that complicated. All you need is:


That’s it! Like most epiphanies, the remedy was staggeringly simple. During that brief moment of satori I was convinced there was nothing in life that a good night’s sleep couldn’t fix – and a king-sized, top-of-the-line, cost-be-damned mattress was just the ticket.

With all that sleep, we’d be so on it and tuned into our manifesting selves we might even win the lottery. Within 60 seconds of this revelation we were giving notice and moving into our new 45-foot RV (with our new wardrobes, work out equipment and 6 cats). Woohoo!

And with that resolved, I promptly fell asleep – right as the alarm went off.

At breakfast my husband enthusiastically embraced the idea, and even expounded a bit.

“Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone on the planet had a new mattress? If the entire world was well rested and feeling the love – there would be no more fighting, no more wars! People would naturally make the choice to get along and have meaningful dialogue with each other.” What can I say? He’s an Aquarian.

So – that was it. Our life had turned a corner; things would never be the same. Thanks to our soon-to-be new mattress, we saw a future filled with freedom, money, time, spontaneity, travel, and Mensa membership. Life was good. We did happy dances and couldn’t wait to go shopping. But as it turned out, satori would take us only so far.

Right to the doorstep of Billy Bob’s Beds to be exact.

to be continued …..

Saturday, August 1, 2009

In the Still of the Night

Once upon a time, on an island in the deep blue sea, a woman woke up at 3:15 in the morning, for no apparent reason. She tossed and turned, got up and went to the bathroom, thought about all the things she had to do once the sun rose, pondered the mysteries of life, read for a while, and finally dozed off not long before her alarm clock jangled her awake again. She sleepwalked through the day, fell into bed exhausted that night…and again awoke at 3:15.

Pretty soon she discovered that many of her friends were keeping the same early-morning vigil. In fact, a lot of people she knew were wide awake at 3:15, while the rest of the world slumbered. They established a network of sorts, so that when they awoke in those darkest hours before dawn they wouldn’t be alone––they could connect with kindred spirits.

Because on their small island everyone lived close to everyone else, they agreed that when they woke up in the wee hours of the morning they’d shine flashlights out their bedroom windows to signal fellow insomniacs. If you saw a circle of light shining faintly in a dark house on a dark street, you knew you could call, or come over, and chat with a friend instead of lying there by yourself, bullied by your closet monsters.

An informal “after hours club” evolved. A secret society of sorts, where shadow worlds unfolded, where dreams and nightmares could be shared, and where ideas too elusive or wild or disturbing for daytime discussions emerged.

At the time, the group of friends knew nothing about the so-called “devil’s hour,” a Christian theory that suggests sinister forces lurk at 3:00 AM to “dis” the righteous, because Jesus supposedly died at the clock’s opposite hour: 3:00 PM. Nor were they aware of what Pagans called the “witching hour” (from midnight to 3:00 AM, on the night of the full moon), when the barrier between the spirit worlds and planet earth ostensibly dissolves, allowing ghosts and other eerie entities access to the human realm. They hadn’t read The Amityville Horror, the story of a Long Island family haunted by the spirits of victims murdered at 3:15 in the morning, or seen The Exorcism of Emily Rose, in which strange events occurred at 3:00 AM. They had no idea that more deaths occur in the early morning hours, when the body is particularly vulnerable, than at any other time.

What they realized, however, was that their imaginations blossomed in the still of the night, unhampered by the distractions of the mundane world. Sometimes they discovered answers to daytime problems. Other times their deepest fears showed up to be reckoned with. In the silvery moonlight they often saw more clearly than in the bright white light of day.

A lot of inspired thinking took place then. It still does. We believe the Divine Feminine dances in the dark, sings in the shadows. The unconscious reveals itself once the lights go down, and wisdom whispers across the Void if we’re willing to listen. Our sensitivity to things beyond our normal sphere of understanding expands, allowing us to see and feel subtle energies we miss during the daytime.

The 3:15 Club is an extension of that early circle. It’s a place to share thoughts, dreams, insights, questions, experiences, fantasies, fears, secrets, and more. We welcome creative thinking, humor, practical advice, and lunatic ravings.

What wakes you up? What keeps you awake? What do you do when you’re awake while the rest of the world sleeps? What do you contemplate alone in the dark? What were you dreaming about before you woke up? How do you handle insomnia? What nightmares terrorize you? What worlds do you visit when you’re asleep?

When sleep eludes you, don’t just lie awake alone in the dark, share your thoughts with a circle of friends.