Chicago Sleep Coach

A new sleep supplement by Chicago inventors

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I had a chance to talk with Chuck Hamman, one of the 2 Chicago-area inventors of sleepyhead, a supplement  designed to help you sleep.

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Sleepyhead Owners Chuck Hamman and Eli Galayda


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Sleep Habits: Do they matter?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I came across this great blog entry today from the NY Times titled "When good sleep habits just aren't enough"

In this blog- the person who writes in says that the common recommendations for sleeplessness were not helpful for many people with chronic insomnia.

This is a common statement I hear in the clinic from people with insomnia just about every day- "I gave up caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes and I still can't sleep"

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Should you sleep with your pet?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

There's no doubt that people love their animals! It's estimated that 63 million households contain pets! 

One survey from a few years ago estimated that Americans 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 18 million small animals and 11 million reptiles.

There isn't a scientific survey about this to my knowledge but several surveys published on the web report that between 30 and 60% of Americans prefer to sleep with their pet (I'm assuming these are not the fish or reptile owners).

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Photo courtesy of flickr user TheGiantVermin's



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Is Insomnia Really Bad For Your Health?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

This topic is frequently in the news. A recent scientific article in the Journal Sleep looked at how many hours of sleep people got as well as if their sleep was disturbed during times of stress in over 10,000 workers in the civil service departments in London, England. 
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Iphone App Review: Sleep Blaster

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I'm away at the sleep conference but wanted to send out a note about this new app.

In the relm of Iphone alarm clocks, here's a new idea that hit the market: the "Sleep Blaster". The alarm app has 2 interesting functions. 1. You can shut if off by yelling at it, and 2. Most importantly, you can set a geographical alarm and use the GPS function to wake you at a certain location.

I don't generally fall asleep on public transportation, but I have a lot of patients who do! I think this could be a good way to not miss their stop!

On the other hand, I agree that the "yelling" function may be problematic for those who turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. Isn't the point of an alarm clock that it annoys you until  you get up?


In any case, here's the review published a little while ago by Gizmodo, The app is $2 at itunes.

Blogging from the sleep conference: Hope for Sleep Apnea Beyond CPAP

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Hi There! I know I haven't blogged in a while but there's good reason. I have been working my tail off getting ready for the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. I'm here right now.

I hope to have a few exciting tidbits hot off the presses in the next few days.
My first day I attended a course about the multidisciplinary treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). One thing that was exciting was the multitude of options for patients with OSA beyond continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, aka that machine with the mask).

For those with mild disease, in the past year one of the first randomized studies used a weight loss intervention to show that it improves sleep apnea. In addition, the course also talked about the increasing data on using oral appliances, and even throat exercises as alternative treatments.

We know that CPAP improves blood pressure, reduces risk for car accidents, and probably reduces risk for heart disease and improves blood sugar in diabetes.

What hasn't been shown for these treatment is if they also reduce risk for these health endpoints, as well as just make people stop snoring and breathe better at night. There is a little data about oral appliances at this point, but nothing on the long term health benefits of throat exercises for example.

Just the other day, the NY times published a review on the data about throat exercises. Here is the column. Well Blog: 5/24/10. Sounds promising!

In any case, more to come!

Coping with Jet Lag

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Jet lag is caused by a mismatch between your bodyís clock and the time where you are. The more time zones crossed, the worse the jet lag.

Symptoms of jet lag- sleepiness when you want to be awake, insomnia when you are trying to sleep, dizziness, upset stomach.

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ipad and Insomnia?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I saw this reported  on the tech blog Gizmodo and also the LA times recently-
Sleep experts are saying that reading using the ipad at bedtime could cause insomnia.

www.apple.com/ipad



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Daily routine = better sleep

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Here's a recent study published in the April 2010 edition of the Journal Sleep with some neat findings that show how daytime activities relate to sleep quality in older adults

A study conducted in Israel interviewed 96 older adults living in a retirement community about their sleep, daily activities (frequency and duration), and their social rhythm (i.e. the timing and regularity of their daily routine).

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St. Patty's Day and Your Sleep: Effects of Green Beer

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Planning to go out for St. Patty's day?

Here's what your green beer and Irish whiskey will do to your sleep.

Ok, I don't know anything about the green food coloring, but I do know about the effects of alcohol.  Alcohol is actually the most commonly used substance for sleep, even though it leads to poorer sleep in the long run. 

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Get ready to spring forward

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Happy Sleep Awareness Week!!

March 7-13 2010 is National Sleep Awareness Week, an annual event from the National Sleep Foundation promote education and awareness about sleep.

This event coincides with daylight saving time- when we lose an hour of sleep.

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courtesy of flickr user alancleaver




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Ask the Sleep Coach: Why does my baby wake every 2 hours?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Dear Chicago Sleep Coach:
What do you do when your baby wakes every 2 hours?

We have a 5 month old. He was sleeping through the night until just a few weeks ago. He falls asleep just fine for the first 5 hours then starts waking up. What happened?

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Baby Dominic- so cute!!!




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Sleep deprivation changes affects the accuracy of rating others emotions

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

A recent article from this month's edition of the Journal Sleep found some interesting things about how sleep deprivation impacts our ability to recognize emotional cues

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Apolo and Yawning- Is he sleepy?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I noticed this while watching the Olympics- Apolo Ohno, the most decorated winter Olympian, is always yawning. What's the deal with this? Is he sleep deprived?

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One benefit to severe sleep apnea- fewer nightmares

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

I came across a recent study that had an interesting and somewhat suprising finding- patients with more severe sleep apnea are less likely to recall having nightmares!

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine by authors Pagel and Kwiatkowski, they evaluated the nightmare recall of nearly 400 patients who had overnight sleep studies to test for sleep apnea.


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No morning light= teens up at night

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

A recent study is the first of it's kind to show in real world conditions how lack of blue light can contribute to sleep problems in teenagers.
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute



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Valentine's Day and Sleep: Six Facts about Sleeping with your Sweetie

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

With Valentine's Day o the way, I thought I'd share a few facts about sleep and relationships (and vice versa).
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iPhone app review: Sleep Cycle Alarm

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Using your cell phone as an alarm is not a new idea, but this a new concept-- a phone that wakes you at the "right time"

The claim: this app wakes you in a more natural way so you feel better in the day. The sleep cycle alarm uses accelerometer in your phone to pick up movements, making inferences about your sleep stages and the best time to wake up.

Sleep Cycle Alarm  is $0.99 at the itunes store.


Here was my experience using it:

Night 1:
You are instructed to leave the phone plugged in and place it under the fitted sheet (but not heavy blankets or pillows). In setting this up, the app instructs you to test it out by putting it in place in testing mode. In this mode, when you move, it emits a sound, letting you know that it picks up your movement.
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This is going to sound crazy, but here's what happened when I tried it. I'm pretty sure this was just a freak occurrence, but my cat hopped on the bed with me as I was testing it. Turns out, he was really freaked out by the noise and turned around and shredded my arm when I tried to turn it off. This goes without saying but you may want to keep animals away when you are setting this up.

I kicked the cat out of the room, dressed my wounds and set it up for the night. Here is my sleep chart.
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According to the chart, just after 12:30, the chart says I was in "deep sleep." I know for a fact, I was laying in bed trying to sleep, then got up to put on a pair of socks because my feet were cold.

I set the alarm for 7:00 am. First, I woke up around 6:15 and had to go to the bathroom. I laid in bed trying to ignore it and get a little more sleep.  The accelerometer woke me up at 6:30. This was a full 30 min before I wanted to get up! I must have been moving a little. I turned on my usual alarm clock and went back to sleep for 30 min.

The app is set to wake you up in a 30 min window. The alarm that you set in the app is suppose to be the outer limit of when you absolutely have to get up.

Night 2:
I found it annoying to place the phone under my fitted sheet, so I just left it on top, on the edge of the bed to see what happened. This didn't work out too well. You can see from my sleep chart, it didn't pick up as much movement from the prior night. I woke up on my own and rolled over around 6:50. The phone sensed that motion and told me to wake up.
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Night 3:
Tried it again, placed properly this time. There is a lot more movement. I wonder if it was because I wasn't alone this night (it's not what you're thinking). My husband was back from his business trip. I'm not certain, but I think this is picking up his movement as well as mine. The website says that you laying by the phone should block the other person's movement. But you can judge for yourself.
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The pros:
  • This is a very interesting app. It was fun and easy to use (except for the cat)
  • At the very least, it is useful to look at your sleep patterns.
  • Some people may enjoy the alarm clock waking you up when you are already awake
  • I did find the choices for alarm sounds to be pleasant
  • You can email it to yourself, your doctor, or post it to your facebook wall :)

The cons:
  • The science doesn't add up
  • It was annoying to be to be woken up 30 min before I had to get up. For most of us sleep deprived people, 30 minutes can really make a difference in how you feel. Probably more than waking at "the right time"

The Science:
The app maps out "light sleep" and "dreaming" but based on the technology used, it's highly unlikely that it can discriminate these sleep stages.

In the sleep lab, we use activity monitors using an accelerometer based wristwatch like device to measure rest-activity cycles but these sort of devices infer that if you are sleeping, you are not moving. These sort of devices cannot determine how deep your sleep is. For that, we need to use scalp electrodes to measure EEG (brain waves).

I've emailed the company to find out more about their algorithm. I will let you know if I find out anything interesting about it!

The science behind the alarm:
So, I've already established that it most likely can't accurately discriminate sleep states. But it can wake you up when you are already awake and moving. For those lovers of the snooze button, this may be annoying. I certainly did not appreciate being woke 30 minutes before my alarm clock!

Furthermore, there's actually not much evidence suggesting that waking from a particular stage of sleep makes you feel better.

It is known that waking from very deep sleep (slow wave sleep) can lead to grogginess and a few minutes of confusion or muddled thinking. Have you ever been woken up an hour after falling sleep by the phone, and felt so disoriented you don't even remember how to answer the phone?

Waking out of slow wave sleep is less of an issue in the morning, because you get most of the slow wave sleep in the first half of the night and very little slow wave sleep at the end of the night. So, there's not of lot of science to support this claim.


The verdict- Is this measuring sleep? Definitely not.
A cool iphone app idea? Definitely.


Feeling like dark winter days are a drag?

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

When I moved to Chicago a few years ago, I heard it was like an abusive relationship. You know, the fantastic summers make you forget momentarily about the long, cold winters.

I thought that was a reference to the harsh physical abuse of the cold and snow.

What I've found more of a drag is never ending dark and cloudy days. You could compare it to how some abuse survivors talk about feeling more damaged from emotional abuse!

Tom Skilling wrote about this (the weather, not the abuse) in late January on his weather blog. At the end of last month, we just had the longest spell of cloudy days in January since 1999- 7 days days without the sun.

You may ask- what does this do to your sleep?

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Sleep less, weigh more

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

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24 hours availability of high calorie food doesn't help!

Photo courtesy of flickr user Wellington Grey

A study published in the February 2010 Journal Sleep shows yet another link between not getting enough sleep and weight gain.

In a study of Japanese workers by Watanabe and colleagues, they followed workers for a year to determine how sleep affected weight gain. Over the year, 5.8% of the workers went from normal or overweight to obese.

They found that men who slept less than 5 hours were nearly twice as likely to become obese and men who slept 6-7 hours were 1.5 times more likely to become obese over the year.

The same effect was not found for women, but this may be due to having few women in the study.

This study adds to a growing mountain of over 100 studies showing that not sleeping enough, in particular under 5 hours per night, leads to weight gain.   



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Sleep is the new sex

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Kelly Baron, PhD

I have a PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology. My current position is faculty at Northwestern University and associate director of the Comprehensive Insomnia Clinic at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation

Thanks for checking out my first blog!

It's been said that "Sleep is the new sex".

I believe that!  The news if full of claims that not getting enough sleep can make you sick, obese, and stupid. There is some truth to that but there's so much more to it than just the headlines.

One of the things I hope to do in this blog is to separate fact from fiction about sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep deprivation.

The fields of sleep and circadian rhythms are so fast moving with new discoveries every week. This blog will cover:

·         New scientific findings- particularly those coming out of Chicago (which has tons of fabulous sleep research going on right now!)

·         Sleep gadgets and applications that hit the market

·         Natural and behavioral sleep remedies

·         Tips to improve your sleep

·         and of course, answer reader questions about sleep

If you have a question about sleep, send it to me via info@chicagosleepcoach.com.

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Isn't sleep great? Photo courtesy of flicker user peasap




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