Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Arsenal
November, 2014

White Noise Lite, is a free app that helps you sleep by blocking distracting noises. The app offers multiple sleep sounds including nature sounds, oscillating fan, and white noise. The portability of this noise blocker makes it an ideal choice for sleeping babies, noisy neighbors, long airplane rides and any other occasion in which you may need a sound buffer.

The White Noise App is available at these links for iPhone and Android, or these other platforms.

Sleep Corner

Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 2 at 2:00 AM. Although many people may find it easier to ‘fall back’ and “gain” an hour than ‘spring forward’ and “lose” an hour, it can still be difficult to adjust to the changing days.

Here are 4 tips to help make sure that you don’t miss a wink:

  • Go to bed and get up at the    same time.

  • Exercise. Working out helps    regulate the sleep hormone    serotonin.

  • Avoid naps, alcohol, caffeine,    or anything that can    interfere with your sleep    cycle.

  • Go for a morning walk. Light,    especially sunlight, impacts    your circadian rhythm.    Exposure to more light in the    morning and less light at    night will help your body to    better adjust to the time    change.

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    Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and the Army Performance Triad. Signs of sleep deficiency such as lack of energy and concentration are usually pretty apparent. However, research has demonstrated the negative effects of sleep loss extend much further than feeling a little tired. Sleep plays a crucial role in both mental and physical performance. Without the proper amount of sleep, the body is prone to injury, fatigue, stress, muscle weakness, and poor focus. In fact, the body declines in physical performance by 25% every 24 hours that it is deprived of sleep. Conversely, a fully rested body can think more clearly, make better decisions, and perform at a physically optimal level.

    Sleep and Mental Performance

    During sleep, the brain consolidates long-term memory into storage, removing the short-term memory stores to allow for the absorption of more information. Being well-rested also improves working memory.

    A lack of sleep can increase irritability and mood swings. A general absence of emotion can also result from not getting enough sleep. During sleep, the body releases hormones. Premature waking can disrupt the delivery of these hormones, causing moodiness.

    Focus and Concentration
    Having a full night of rest increases the brain’s ability to concentrate. Sleep also improves alertness and reaction times.

    During sleep, the brain prioritizes information. Sleep is also important in the formation of new ideas and the ability to multitask.

    Logical Reasoning
    Without sleep, it is harder for the brain to perform higher level cognitive functions, such as mathematical concepts. A well-rested brain is able to reason and think more clearly.

    Sleep and Physical Performance

    Energy and endurance
    Sleep increases energy stores in the body used to fuel physical activity and exercise. Without enough sleep, insulin resistance and a decrease in glucose tolerance occurs. This means the body cannot readily utilize fuel for physical activity as efficiently as when it gets a full night’s sleep.

    Muscle recovery
    During sleep, the body is able to recover and repair damaged muscles and bones.

    Sleep reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Without enough sleep, cortisol levels increase, which can lead to slowed healing, increased risk of injury, and poor memory.

    Accuracy and reaction time
    Sleep can also improve brain function, which helps improve accuracy and reaction time related to focus and athletic performance.

    Bottom Line
    Sleep loss impairs both mental and physical performance. After 24 hours without sleep, mental and motor skills are impaired at the same level as someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10-legally drunk in all 50 states.

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    Ask An Expert

    Q. What are some things that I can do to improve my overall sleep health?

    A. There are many factors that can negatively impact sleep. Here are a few general rules to follow when trying to maintain a healthy sleep cycle:

    TIP 1—Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool.

    TIP 2—Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual (such as a hot bath).

    TIP 3—Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.

    TIP 4—Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening.

    TIP 5—Wind down. Spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading.

    Mindful Moment

    A mindful approach to releasing daily worries and concern will help prevent these thoughts from taking over and allow sleep to come on faster and easier.

    Bottom Line

    Sleep loss negatively impacts both mental and physical performance. In addition to improving health and job performance, prioritizing sleep is also essential for safety-as we know that without sleep, mental and motor skills are impaired to the same effect as someone who is legally drunk.

    Overcoming obstacles that interfere with sleep is the first step in creating your ideal sleep haven. Monitoring caffeine and alcohol intake and practicing a relaxing bed time ritual, such as a hot bath, are both a great place to start when trying to improve sleep habits.

    As the time change approaches (this Sunday), be mindful of keeping a regular sleep/wake cycle. Your body will best acclimate to the time change if you reserve intense exercise for the morning and save relaxing, calming routines (such as yoga) for the evening.

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    Featured Recipe:
    Sweet Dreams Smoothie

    The ingredients for the Sweet Dream Smoothie are based off foods that have shown some effectiveness in improving sleep health. Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, a chemical that helps you control your internal clock and regulate levels of sleepiness. Spinach and bananas are rich in magnesium which can function as a natural muscle relaxant. Also, one symptom of magnesium deficiency is chronic insomnia. Lastly, soy milk is a good source of tryptophan which can induce feelings of sleepiness. *Note* Tart cherry juice can be found at most drug stores (Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens) and health food stores (Whole Foods, etc.)

  • 1 cup tart cherry juice
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 5 ice cubes
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 1      Calories: 229      Carbs: 50g      Fiber: 2g      Sugar: 11g           Fat: 2g            Protein: 7g         Sodium: 71mg     

    Featured Exercise:
    9 Yoga Poses for Sleep

    Before bed, perform each of the nine poses. Maintain a calming, slow breath and observe your body as it begins to relax. Stay in each pose for one to five minutes, as comfort allows.

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