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Steps to a Happy Winter – Use Your Gradual Chime Alarm Clock

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Warm winter sun

Warm winter sun

“Imagine yourself outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, just in the flow, enjoying life. Suddenly the sun disappears behind a cloud that you didn’t know was there. It’s dark now, and you feel off kilter, sad.”

That’s how LeNeva Spires, who works as an executive assistant at a university in Portland, Oregon, describes the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that affects her every autumn.

Though classified as a type of depression, “it feels more like something is missing, like things are not quite right,” says Spires.

It’s precisely brightness (or rather, the lack of it) that triggers this mood disorder, one of few health problems tied to a season. SAD primarily affects people who live in northern latitudes (above San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), and more women than men. It often begins in September or October, as the days shorten, and lingers until spring.

SAD tends to respond readily to the very thing we’re missing in the winter months: light. Learn how to get more of it as well as discover the best foods, exercise, supplements, and herbs to create your action plan for a brighter, happier winter.

1. Let There Be Light
For seasonal depression and the winter blahs, “the treatment of choice is light,” says psychiatrist Alfred Lewy. How do you get that light? You could move closer to the equator, where the sun rises and sets at a more consistent time all year long. Or, if your family and work life allow it, you could change your sleep schedule during the winter so you wake up a half-hour after sunrise (check your local paper to find out when the sun rises), and then go immediately outside.

But for most of us, the easiest option is to purchase a light box outfitted with special bulbs that mimic the brightness of the morning sun. Light therapy works by getting our sleep-wake cycle to synchronize with an electric-powered “sun,” thereby resetting our circadian clock. We tend to feel our best when we wake with the dawn, and the light box essentially helps you make your own dawn.

Light-Box Lowdown
Available online and at specialty stores (starting at about $160), light boxes are safe to use at home, whether or not you have an official diagnosis of SAD. Lewy recommends placing the light box at a 45-degree angle to you, from either the side or above, and starting with a morning dose of light: about 30 minutes, taken between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Some people may need more time — 45 minutes, or even up to two hours — but once they feel an improvement in their mood, they can reduce the sessions to 30 minutes.

The light receptors that help rest our circadian clocks reside in our eyes, so keep your eyes open during light treatment. In fact, Lewy suggests glancing sideways at the lightbulbs once or twice every minute (something you should never do with the real sun).

A small number of SAD sufferers respond best to early-evening light treatments. After a week or two of morning treatment, if you notice no improvement even with two-hour doses, try the evening sessions instead, suggests Lewy. People usually begin to feel better within a few days but should keep up the treatments daily, ideally from the onset of symptoms (usually in September or October) through at least March.

bring on the night

bring on the night

2. Bring On the Night
You need a good night’s sleep in order to mitigate winter depression — and by “good,” Emmons means sleeping for eight or nine hours a night — but not more. Keep bedtime and wake-up time consistent, too; Emmons suggests going to bed between 10 and 11 p.m. and rising between 6 and 7 a.m.

Melatonin Matters
While light-box therapy remains the primary remedy for synchronizing your sleep patterns, supplementing with melatonin (the “darkness” neurotransmitter) may help, too. The brain’s melatonin levels rise to their highest level at night, and people normally start secreting the hormone a few hours before bedtime, to prime the body for sleep.

Like light therapy in the morning, taking melatonin supplements in the afternoon can help shift the circadian clock. In fact, Lewy often prescribes both morning light and 0.3 mg to 0.5 mg of melatonin in the afternoon for best results in resyncing the circadian processes. Since melatonin can make some people sleepy, avoid driving as you figure out the best dosage. You’ll find melatonin tablets at natural-foods stores.

eat well

eat well

3. Eat to Feel Good
What we eat can affect our brain chemistry and our mood. To combat SAD, Emmons recommends focusing on foods that increase and stabilize levels of serotonin, a mood-improving hormone that tends to decrease in the winter. These foods include choices rich in tryptophan, a building block of serotonin.

We often crave high-carbohydrate comfort foods in winter, but it’s wise to resist the urge, he says. As he explains it, indulging in refined carbs, such as white bread and white rice, may indeed offer an initial feel-good spike in serotonin levels. But, as with a sugar rush, refined carbs end up depleting our serotonin levels soon after.

Instead, eat a variety of complex carbohydrates, such as barley, brown rice, oats, and other whole grains, and include a small amount of lean protein, ideally a high-tryptophan protein (turkey, cheese, eggs) at each meal or snack. Also include leafy green vegetables, such as kale and bok choy, which provide mood-supporting B vitamins and minerals that help convert tryptophan into serotonin.

4. Move and Stretch
“Exercise helps [all types of depression] for many reasons,” says Emmons. It boosts serotonin levels in the brain; it improves circulation, which gets more blood and nutrients to the brain; it increases energy and metabolism, even at the cellular level; and it improves glucose regulation, which also affects energy levels.

For those taking antidepressant medication, exercise helps improve the effectiveness of the drug, likely by improving circulation. More of the medicine gets to the brain, where it’s needed, and the body metabolizes the drug more easily, which reduces side effects.

The best news about SAD and exercise, says Emmons, is that you don’t have to take your workout to the extreme. Mild aerobic exercise for 30 minutes can usually lighten your mood. If it’s not too cold, walking outdoors is a great option. At the gym, try the stationary bike or treadmill for a half-hour every day.

5. Supplement Smartly
Several dietary supplements can help fill in any nutritional gaps and in turn may lift your mood. Emmons says his clients have had success with the following four:

Vitamin D
Deficiency in this vitamin is extremely common and may contribute to both ordinary and seasonal depression (along with other illnesses). While light boxes substitute for the sun in certain ways, they don’t provide this critical nutrient (which is more of a hormone than a vitamin). In the winter, a vitamin D supplement can help regulate your mood.
Dosage: 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily

Multivitamin
A good one includes plenty of B vitamins, as well as key minerals such as selenium (which helps support mood) and magnesium (which reduces anxiety and muscle tension).
Dosage: 1 daily

B-Vitamin Complex
These assist the brain in producing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dosage: One B-50 supplement daily (along with the multivitamin)

Omega-3-Rich Fish Oil
Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent and ease depression and other mood disorders. Flax makes a good substitute for strict vegetarians.
Dosage: 1,000 mg of fish oil in capsule form twice daily, or 1 tablespoon of flax oil twice a day

6. Take It Outside

go outside to cheer up

go outside to cheer up

Spending time outdoors helps us reconnect with nature, says Emmons, thus healing a rift that seems to lie at the heart of seasonal depression. If you combine a serotonin-boosting exercise with your outdoor time — like a brisk walk at a local park or an afternoon of cross-country skiing — you’re combating the winter blues on two fronts.

During the summer, take advantage of the sunlight by spending 15 to 20 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen (unless you’re at risk of skin cancer). This will help build your vitamin D levels for next year.

7. Try Healing Herbs
Certain medicinal plants ease the winter blues, says Margi Flint, who runs the Earthson Herbals school in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Uplifting Tea
For a mild, mood-boosting infusion, simmer 1 ounce oatstraw in 1 quart of water for 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons of dried chamomile and 2 tablespoons of dried lemon balm; cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink several cups daily.

Aromatherapy
Since the smell of any citrus uplifts the spirit, add a total of 10 drops of any combination of lemon, lime, and orange essential oils to each ounce of lotion or massage oil. Use daily, or use these oils in a diffuser.

Daily Tonic
Holy basil, ashwaganda, and gotu dola — from India’s traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda — help ease depression. Flint suggests using the powdered form; add a 1/4 teaspoon of each to oatmeal or applesauce.

8. Don’t Go It Alone
As with any form of depression, working with a mental-health professional for SAD can be beneficial. If you experience suicidal thoughts or other serious symptoms, seek help immediately.

One of the ultimate Zen like experiences is waking-up from a great slumber refreshed and energized. Your mind and body are harmoniously one, both alert and focused. Having a refreshed mind and body are two keys to a natural and Zen lifestyle. Waking up in the morning should not be a loud and abrupt awakening, but rather it should be a peaceful positive experience.  The right natural alarm clock can transition your deep and tranquil sleep into a serene start to consciousness. Imagine a long-resonating Tibetan bell-like chime waking you up to a beautiful morning experience.

The right alarm clock can be the most beneficial investment for you. With our Now & Zen natural alarm clock you are awakened more gradually and thus more naturally. Now & Zen is focused on creating a naturalistic lifestyle, and our clocks are an example of our philosophy.

adapted from Body + Soul, January/February 2009

Bamboo Alarm Clocks & Meditation Timers

Bamboo Alarm Clocks & Meditation Timers

Now & Zen – Gradual Chime Alarm Clock Store
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO  80302
(800) 779-6383

Posted in Goodness, Insomnia, Sleep Habits, Well-being, Zen Timers, intention, sleep


Sweet Serenity: 5 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster – Choose the Natural Chime Alarm Clock

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Five tips to fall asleep faster

Five tips to fall asleep faster

Having trouble falling asleep? Try these tried and true methods to help you fall asleep faster.

Take a walk. In Chinese medicine, insomnia caused by your brain’s inability to shut off the day’s stress is called “disturbed shen qi,” or a disturbed mental spirit. Releasing daytime stress before bedtime by taking a brisk walk or a warm bath is often more effective than taking a sedative.

Turn down the heat. Most people sleep more soundly in a cool room. A 2004 University of South Australia study found that the body needs to drop its core temperature for sleep to initiate normally.

Pump up the serotonin. Serotonin is a natural hormone associated with inducing sleep. Deficiencies in tryptophan, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium or other nutrients can inhibit the hormone’s functioning. The best way to maintain proper nutrient levels is to eat a balanced diet. A daily multivitamin may help supplement dietary gaps. If you suspect a severe serotonin deficiency, consult your medical health professional.

Take charge with the 20-minute rule: If you lie sleepless for more than 20 minutes, get up and do a task. Get your mind out of the circular problem of being kept awake by the inability to fall asleep. Read, iron that pile of clothes or write in your journal.

Balance your blood sugar: If you’re not sleeping well, ask your doctor about testing your blood sugar levels. People suffering from hypoglycemia can experience blood sugar fluctuations at night. A drop in blood sugar signals the body to produce hormones and neurotransmitters that stimulate sugar release, which may wake you up. If you are hypoglycemic, ask your health care provider whether nutritional measures are appropriate for you.

One of the ultimate Zen like experiences is waking-up from a great slumber refreshed and energized. Your mind and body are harmoniously one, both alert and focused. Having a refreshed mind and body are two keys to a natural and Zen lifestyle. Waking up in the morning should not be a loud and abrupt awakening, but rather it should be a peaceful positive experience.  The right natural alarm clock can transition your deep and tranquil sleep into a serene start to consciousness. Imagine a long-resonating Tibetan bell-like chime waking you up to a beautiful morning experience.

The right alarm clock can be the most beneficial investment for you. With our Now & Zen natural alarm clock you are awakened more gradually and thus more naturally. Now & Zen is focused on creating a naturalistic lifestyle, and our clocks are an example of our philosophy.

adapted from Natural Home, November/December 2010

Gentle Wake Up Alarm Clocks with Chimes

Gentle Wake Up Alarm Clocks with Chimes

Now & Zen – The Natural Chime Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Insomnia, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Sleep Habits, Well-being, sleep, wake up alarm clock


Yoga to Help You Fall Asleep, Use Your Yoga Timer & Chime Alarm Clock

Monday, July 16th, 2012
can yoga help you fall asleep?

can yoga help you fall asleep?

If you’re one of the millions of sleep-starved Americans with a dwindling supply of fence-jumping sheep, try introducing a few Downward Dogs to your bedtime menagerie. A recent clinical study at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital confirmed that bedtime yoga can help chronic insomniacs significantly reduce their tossing-and-turning time.

The results are most likely linked to yoga’s soothing effect on the central nervous system, says lead study author Sat Bir Khalsa, Ph.D., assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. In insomniacs, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are elevated,” he explains. Yoga can reduce cortisol levels, which is why you have that feeling of calm after practicing it.” And while the study’s poses were selected for their sleep-promoting effects (see below for instructions), Khalsa says most types of yoga, practiced regularly at any time of day, should bring on more nighttime ZZZs. Sleep-promoting yogic breathing exercises

yoga exercises for insomnia

yoga exercises for insomnia

Exercise 1
Sit with a straight spine, with your head erect and chin lightly tucked in. Extend both arms up to form a 60-degree angle (almost vertical), with wrists straight and palms and fingers extended flat and facing up. Keep elbows straight. Begin slow deep breathing through the nose. As you inhale, let your abdomen extend out as though it were being filled with air. As the inhale continues, let your chest expand. At the end of the inhale, pause briefly with your breath suspended; do not to lock your throat to hold the breath, but rather suspend the breath by lifting and suspending the motion of the chest. As you start to exhale, let the chest contract first. As the exhale continues, pull in your abdomen slightly as though it were being emptied of air. Pause briefly at the end of the exhale before beginning the next inhale. The breath rate should be four breaths per minute or slower (15 seconds or longer for each complete inhale/exhale). It is important that this breath, as with all of the breathing in these exercises, is done through the nose. Keep your eyes closed during this exercise, and focus your mental attention on the flow of the breath. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes using your zen timer in repeat mode. At the end, inhale deeply and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale, and let your breath relax as you keep your mental focus on the flow of the breath for about 1 minute with eyes closed.

Yoga Timer & Chime Alarm Clock by Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

Yoga Timer & Chime Alarm Clock by Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

Exercise 2
Sit with a straight spine, with your head erect and chin lightly tucked in. Extend the arms out to the sides parallel to the ground. Bend the wrists with the fingers pointing straight up. (Your hands look like you’re pressing out toward two walls.) Begin slow deep breathing as described in Exercise 1. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes. At the end, inhale deeply and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale, and let your breath relax as you keep your mental focus on the flow of the breath for about 1 minute with eyes closed.

The Digital Zen Clock serves as a countdown and interval timer for yoga, meditation, bodywork, etc.; and it can also be set to chime on the hour as a tool for “mindfulness.”

yoga for better sleep

yoga for better sleep

Exercise 3
Sit with a straight spine, with the head erect and the chin lightly tucked in. Press the palms together in front of the chest. The fingers of the right hand fingers go over the side of the left index finger and onto the back of the left hand. It is a “cross-lock” with the fingers crossing each other at 90 degrees. Squeeze the hands toward each other with continuous pressure. Begin slow deep breathing as described in Exercise 1. Continue for 2-3 minutes. At the end, inhale deeply and hold with a final push together of the hands for 10 seconds. Exhale, and let your breath relax as you keep your mental focus on the flow of the breath for about 1 minute with eyes closed.

Exercise 4
Sit with a straight spine, with your head erect and chin lightly tucked in. Place your hands in your lap, palms facing up, right hand over the left. The thumb tips touch and point forward. Keep the eyelids half closed. Look downward past the tip of your nose. Inhale in four equal segments through the nose. Mentally recite the sound scale, “Sah Tah Nah Mah”, with one syllable for each stroke of the breath. Then hold the breath by lifting and suspending the motion of the chest. As you hold the breath, mentally repeat the scale four times, for a total of 16 beats. Then exhale in two equal and powerful strokes out the nose. Mentally recite “Wah-Hay” on the first segment out, and “Goo-Roo” on the second stroke out. Continue for 5 to 31 minutes. At the end, inhale deeply and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale, and let your breath relax as you keep your mental focus on the flow of the breath for a few minutes. If you wake up in the night and have trouble falling back asleep, do this exercise for 5 to 11 minutes.

adapted from Body + Soul, April/May 2007

Bamboo Zen Clocks, progressive chime clock and timer for yoga

Bamboo Zen Clocks, progressive chime clock and timer for yoga

Now & Zen’s Yoga Time & Chime Alarm Clock Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Insomnia, Meditation Timers, Sleep Habits, Well-being, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, intention, mindfulness practice, sleep, yoga


Change Your Awareness, Change Your Life, Use a Meditation Timer

Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Awareness

Awareness

As a sustainable communities professor at Dominican University of California, I love to give my students strange assignments and then watch them grow. In turn, they’ve taught me much about coming into the right relationship with life.

Modern living involves high levels of sensory input—much of it meaningless or even nasty. So we shut down. Our magnificent equipment—which allowed our ancestors to feel a shift in the breeze, smell ripening fruit, hear every footfall and see subtle color changes—goes into standby mode. But we need our senses to tell us what we crave (birdsong, sunshine, a gurgling stream, ripe fruit) and what we reject (leaf blowers, smog, clutter). Our senses bring us to life.

So at the beginning of class, I ask students to pause. “Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. What do you smell? What do you hear—near, far, steady, intermittent? How does the air feel on your skin—dry, moist, moving, still, cold, warm? Now slowly open your eyes, and notice shapes, colors, light, dark, near, far. What appeals to your senses, and what is a turnoff? What are you aware of now that you weren’t before?”

Suddenly, the students are aware of both the unpleasant and the delicious. They dislike the sounds of traffic, ticking clocks, and mechanical heating and cooling systems. And if there is even one green growing thing, one ray of sunshine or one bird singing, they fall in love with it. In fact, if the weather is decent, they ask, “Can we have class outside?”

Where are you?

At the end of class, I send students home with an expanded assignment: At least once a day, stop and notice how the air feels, where the sun is, the wind’s direction, the terrain, vegetation, critters; then write it all down. This exercise has changed a few lives.

Matt, an urban apartment dweller, realized that he’d been tolerating noise levels that caused tension by day and insomnia by night; he moved, and now he feels like a different person.

Cheryl lives in a suburb and takes the bus to work. She recently began walking to a neighborhood bus stop rather than driving to a central stop, partly so she could spend more time outdoors. She became more aware of trees, birds and weather conditions and more familiar with her neighbors. She noticed that birds were more active and vocal when the sky was clear; she noticed when the geese started flying south and missed them when they were gone. Observing the trees, she noticed the wind’s direction. “The peaceful window of time to myself first thing in the morning helps me start my day with more clarity and calmness,” she says. “And walking home at night, I enjoy gazing at the beautiful night sky and the changing moon.”

Josh lives near the ocean. Sensory tune-ins made him more aware of the breeze, and he wanted to play with it. He put up a wind sock and soon noticed that the wind usually came from the northwest. But why? He explored regional wind patterns, and I encouraged him to study storm fronts and cyclonic wind patterns. Then he bought a little weather station to keep track of wind, air temperature and barometric pressure. After I suggested that he also note his physical and emotional feelings, he had an epiphany: His moods were often directly related to weather conditions.

Cheryl and Josh are beginning to grasp that nature is everywhere and that everything affects everything else. This also has a practical application: They are gaining observation skills that will make them good ecological designers, able to create habitations that are powered by natural elements and friendly to the biosphere.

balancing rocks

balancing rocks

In a culture that treats our bodies as isolated machines, it’s world-changing to notice our craving for harmony with other natural phenomena—and starting to learn how to satisfy it. Getting outdoors, listening to our bodies, watching birds, tracking breezes and cycling with the sun are enjoyable in themselves, but they lead us to something much larger: an understanding of how the world works. And once we get it, there’s no going back. The insights keep multiplying, and we’re motivated to greater and deeper actions by feeling truly, deeply alive.

As my student Brian says, “When I stop everything and sit as part of it all, I feel the connection rather than intellectualizing interconnectedness.” Because everything is interconnected, we can start our journey anywhere, with deceptively simple steps: stop, look, listen, feel.

Singing Bowl Meditation Timer from Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

Singing Bowl Meditation Timer from Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

The Zen Timepiece (with Tibetan- Singing Bowl)  serves as a countdown and interval timer for yoga, meditation, bodywork, etc.; and it can also be set to chime on the hour as a tool for “mindfulness.”

adapted from Natural Home Magazine, September/November 2009 by CarolVenolia

Carol Venolia is an eco-architect and co-author of Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House (Lark Books, 2006). She teaches in the Sustainable Communities program at Dominican University of California.

Chime Meditation Timers and Clocks with Chime in Bamboo, Walnut, Maple, and Black Lacquer

Chime Meditation Timers and Clocks with Chime in Bamboo, Walnut, Maple, and Black Lacquer

Now & Zen’s Meditation Timer & Alarm Clock Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Insomnia, Natural Awakening, Well-being, mindfulness practice, nature


Tire and Hungry? Sleep Habits May be to Blame – Wake Up Slowly and Naturally Instead

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Wake Up Slowly and Naturally with Zen Clocks - Kitagawa Utamaro

Wake Up Slowly and Naturally with Zen Clocks - Kitagawa Utamaro

A new poll on sleep habits suggests that millions of Americans are in a bad mood, short-tempered and prone to overeat because they are tired.

The National Sleep Foundation Poll, released today, finds that people say they’re much or somewhat more likely to make mistakes, get impatient or aggravated when waiting, or get upset with their children or others when they haven’t gotten enough sleep.

One fourth said they were more likely to eat more than usual on days when they didn’t get enough sleep, with slightly more women than men reporting this was common.

The poll establishes a link between how Americans sleep and “their overall behavior, mood and performance,” said Richard Gelula, the foundation’s executive director. “It shows ‘you are how you sleep.’ And it indicates that some of the problems that we face as a society, from road rage to obesity, may be linked to lack of sleep or poor sleep.”

The foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization researches sleep problems. It has conducted a poll on sleep habits each year since 1998, part of a springtime sleep-awareness campaign tied to the return of daylight- savings time, which begins Sunday.

The poll of 1,010 adults, taken between October and early December, found that nearly a quarter felt they weren’t getting the minimum amount of sleep they need to be alert the next day. Thirty-seven percent said they are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with their activities a few days each month; 16 percent said they experience this level of fatigue at least a few days a week.

Overall, sleep habits have remained fairly steady since the poll began, but the number of people reporting they sleep less than six hours a night both on weekdays and weekends rose slightly last fall, to 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively. On average, people say they are sleeping an average of 6.9 hours on weeknights and 7.5 hours on weekends.

Adults living in the West were more likely to get eight hours or more sleep on a workday than those living in the Midwest, South and Northeast.

Once you experience the Zen Timepiece's progressive awakening, you'll never want to wake up any other way.

Once you experience the Zen Timepiece's progressive awakening, you'll never want to wake up any other way.

Those who got fewer than six hours of sleep on weekdays were twice as likely to describe themselves as stressed or sad.

And people who reported often being sleepy during the day were considerably more likely than those who were never or rarely sleepy to describe themselves as dissatisfied with life (21 percent versus 7 percent) or angry (12 percent versus 4 percent).

More than half of those surveyed said they experience symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more; 37 percent said they snore frequently and 1 in 10 experiences pauses in breathing while sleeping.

The luxurious awakening provided by the Zen Alarm Clock is part of the growing preference for things natural—natural foods, natural fibers, and now, natural acoustic sounds.  Like organic tomatoes in your salad, the organic sounds of the Zen Alarm Clock’s sweet acoustic chimes are truly a gourmet experience.

What makes this gentle awakening experience so exquisite is the sound of the natural acoustic chime, which has been tuned to produce the same tones as the tuning forks used by musical therapists. According to the product’s inventor, Steve McIntosh, “once you experience this way of being gradually awakened with beautiful acoustic tones, no other alarm clock will ever do.”

adapted from sfgate.com by Lee Bowman, Scripps Howard News Service

Why be Startled Awake -- Choose the Gentle Chime Alarm Clock for a Progressive Awakening

Why be Startled Awake -- Choose the Gentle Chime Alarm Clock for a Progressive Awakening

Now & Zen – The Gentle Chime Alarm Clock Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Orders@now-zen.com

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Insomnia, Sleep Habits, sleep


Dreams May Help Our Memory – Choose an Alarm Clock that will Gradually Awaken You in the Morning

Saturday, April 14th, 2012
Dreams May Improve Our Memory - Toyokuni Utagawa, Flower Arrangement

Dreams May Improve Our Memory - Toyokuni Utagawa, Flower Arrangement

Getting a good night’s sleep after trying to master a tough new task might just reinforce what you have learned.

European researchers say dreaming might be the brain’s way of replaying experiences and lessons so that they are fixed in the memory for use later on.

The scientists used advanced imaging technology and found that the same regions of the brain that are buzzing while we learn a new task are also active while we dream. This heightened activity was observed during the brief but active stage known as rapid-eye movement, or REM, sleep.

The study was published in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience and was led by Pierre Maquet of the University of Liege in Belgium.

Animal studies had shown similar results. Rats that ran new routes through mazes showed increased activity in the same portions of their brains when they slept afterward. But the human brain is more complex.

“It is wonderful to see such results demonstrated in humans for the first time,” said David Silbersweig, co-director of the functional neuroimaging research laboratory at the New York-Cornell Medical Center.

Why Sleep? Humans spend one-third of their lives asleep, but sleep’s purpose is poorly understood. Among other things, scientists believe dreaming may help sort out emotions, impressions and other ideas.

In the study, 18 volunteers ages 18 to 25 spent several hours learning how to quickly recognize symbols as they flashed on a computer screen and press the same symbol on a keyboard.

During the test, the activity in several regions of their brains was monitored by PET scans, which reveal how the brain is functioning by watching its use of glucose and oxygen, the fuels of brain cells.

Can Dreams Help Improve Our Memory?

Can Dreams Help Improve Our Memory?

Groups of volunteers were tested in several ways. Those who took the computer test for several hours, slept and retook the test when they woke up scored the highest, with even faster reaction times after they slept.

PET scans showed that during REM sleep their brain activity and blood flow were similar to when they were taking the test.

Researchers said the volunteers might have been practicing the test in a REM dream and storing what they learned.

However, Maquet’s team could not identify the precise cellular mechanisms involved. Nor are all memories consolidated only during REM sleep, the researchers said.

Boulder, Colorado—an innovative company has taken one of life’s most unpleasant experiences (being startled awake by your alarm clock early Monday morning), and transformed it into something to actually look forward to. “The Zen Alarm Clock,” uses soothing acoustic chimes that awaken users gently and gradually, making waking up a real pleasure.

Rather than an artificial recorded sound played through a speaker, the Zen Clock features an alloy chime bar similar to a wind chime.  When the clock’s alarm is triggered, its chime produces a long-resonating, beautiful acoustic tone reminiscent of a temple gong.  Then, as the ring tone gradually fades away, the clock remains silent until it automatically strikes again three minutes later.  The frequency of the chime strikes gradually increase over ten-minutes, eventually striking every five seconds, so they are guaranteed to wake up even the heaviest sleeper.  This gentle, ten-minute “progressive awakening” leaves users feeling less groggy, and even helps with dream recall.

adapted from abcnews.go.com by Joseph B. Verrengia

The Zen Alarm Clock transforms mornings, awakening you gradually with a series of gentle acoustic chimes Once you use a Zen Clock nothing else will do

The Zen Alarm Clock transforms mornings, awakening you gradually with a series of gentle acoustic chimes Once you use a Zen Clock nothing else will do

Now & Zen – The Zen Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

orders@now-zen.com

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Insomnia, Sleep Habits, sleep


Sleep Better Naturally with Relaxation Exercises

Friday, April 13th, 2012
sleep better naturally

sleep better naturally

Making a few changes in your sleep regimen may ease your insomnia more effectively than popping a pill, according to a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Of the study’s 46 insomniac participants, those who learned new sleep-inducing strategies (relaxation exercises; creating a more sleep-friendly bedroom) spent 52 percent less time tossing and turning after six weeks. Those who took the sleeping pill Imovane cut back on their wake time by only 4 percent. To shake off chronic insomnia, author Borge Sivertsen, Psy.D., suggests following a two-week sleep restriction plan: Wake up around 6 a.m. every day, avoid daytime naps, and wait as long as you can before hitting the sack each night.

Body+Soul, November/December 2006

sleep better naturally, wake up with a calming zen alarm clock

sleep better naturally, wake up with a calming zen alarm clock

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl St.

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Insomnia, Natural Awakening


Unusual Alarm Clock With Soothing Acoustic Sounds

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Unusual Soothing Alarm Clocks by Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

Unusual Soothing Alarm Clocks by Now & Zen, Inc. - Boulder, CO

Waking Up in the Morning as a Form of Spiritual Practice

Waking up in the morning is a metaphor for life — a kind of daily microcosmic reenactment of our overall purpose for being in the world.  That is, just about every religious tradition emphasizes spiritual growth.  And the connection between “awakening” and spiritual growth can be found in practically all forms of spiritual teaching.

So if waking up in the morning really is a metaphor for our larger spiritual lives, this perspective might help us treat our morning ritual of getting out of bed as a kind of spiritual practice.  Indeed, when approached in this way, how we wake up in the morning can make a larger difference in our lives overall.
Perhaps this is stretching the matter, but there are many people who do recognize that something as simple as waking up in the morning can be an authentic form of spiritual practice.  For those who don’t have to go to work or get the kids to school, waking up naturally, whenever their body feels like it, can be a wonderful version of this practice.  Waking up without an alarm, whenever your body has had enough rest, is probably the healthiest option, and the one that will leave us feeling most refreshed and ready to start the day. However, there are few of us that have this luxury, especially during the week.

Sleep Sounder - Choose an Unusual Soothing Clock with Acoustic Chime

Sleep Sounder - Choose an Unusual Soothing Clock with Acoustic Chime

Fortunately, for those who want to wake up right, without being startled awake by an annoying alarm or some radio DJ, there is The Zen Alarm Clock.  This clock was designed to make waking up a kind of spiritual practice.  The Zen Clock wakes users with a built-in 10 minute gradual progression of acoustic chimes.  And this gradual form of “progressive awakening” has been thoughtfully designed to include esoteric features that are fitting for a form of spiritual practice.  For example, not only is the hardwood Zen Alarm Clock beautiful to see and hear, the clock’s chime is tuned to produce the same frequencies as the tuning forks used by musical therapists in their healing work.  Moreover, the Zen Clock’s pre-programmed 10 minute chime progression sequence advances according to the “golden ratio,” which reflects both the natural proportions of our own bodies and the patterns of growth used in the overall evolution of the universe.
Even those who care little about such esoteric details nevertheless report that they love waking up with the gentle chimes of a Zen Alarm Clock.  And as the makers of the Zen Alarm Clock hope, we may eventually come to see many of the simple details of our lives as forms of authentic spiritual practice.
Waking up in the morning should be as pleasant as falling asleep at night. The Zen Alarm Clock's gradual, gentle awakening is transformative.

Waking up in the morning should be as pleasant as falling asleep at night. The Zen Alarm Clock's gradual, gentle awakening is transformative.

Now & Zen – The Most Unusual Alarm Clock Headquarter Store

Soothing Acoustic Chime Alarm Clocks & Timers

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Insomnia, Sleep Habits, sleep


A Soothing Alarm Clock Can Make a Difference – Americans Get Less Sleep Than They Think

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Choose a Soothing Alarm Clock - Kitagawa Utamaro, Komuraski of the Tamaya, House After a Bath, 1795

Choose a Soothing Alarm Clock - Kitagawa Utamaro, Komuraski of the Tamaya, House After a Bath, 1795

Getting enough sleep? Probably not.

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine finds that people tend to overestimate — not underestimate — the amount of sleep that they get.

The finding could add weight to the idea that Americans already skimp too much on sleep. And since many of us may be sleeping even less than we think, our lack of shut-eye may go largely unnoticed.

“People are losing sleep,” says lead author Graciela Silva, assistant professor, college of nursing and health care innovation, at Arizona State University. “Although seven and a half to eight hours are recommended, people sleep, on average, six hours each night,” she said.

But the surprise lay in the fact that most of the time, people were unaware that they were getting so little sleep.

“What is innovative and unexpected is that the older adults overestimated their sleep, rather than underestimated it,” said Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the sleep disorders center at Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill.

“As for the issue of sleep in our society, it looks like we are sleeping even less than we thought — which is often insufficient for mental and physical health to begin with,” said James Olcese, associate professor of the department of biomedical sciences at Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Fla.

The findings of the study are further driven home by its sheer magnitude. A total of 2,113 participants, aged 40 years or older, participated in the study. Rather than taking a sample from a patient population known to have sleep problems or illnesses, this study examined a population largely representative of the general population.

American don't get enough sleep -- a soothing alarm clock with gentle chimes can make all the difference

American don't get enough sleep -- a soothing alarm clock with gentle chimes can make all the difference

And participants did not even have to leave their own bed. Unlike previous studies that required participants to be present in the sleep lab to undergo tests, in this study, researchers, instead, followed subjects into their own homes.

There, the technicians hooked participants up to a polysonogram, a sleep test that measures brain waves to determine the amount of sleep they are actually getting.

The Morning After

The next morning, participants were asked to report how much sleep they felt they routinely enjoyed, as well as how many hours of sleep they believed they had the previous night.

What researchers found was that participants consistently overestimated the amount of sleep they actually got. They estimated that they typically slept seven hours, but the polysonogram recorded a modest six.

Olcese said the results suggest that researchers may be better off conducting objective tests like polysonograms, rather than patient questionnaires, when it comes to figuring out exactly how much sleep a person is getting.

“Simply put, this study reminds us that what people say that they are doing is not always exactly correct,” he said. “Personal subjectivity usually biases the results of questionnaires somewhat, so don’t believe everything you hear, unless there is objective confirmation.

“These findings draw attention to the need for objective measures of sleep parameters, rather than using subjective evaluations.”

However, the findings were not shocking to everyone.

“This really does not surprise me,” said Dr. Nancy Collop, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, in Baltimore. In her sleep studies, she has found that patients routinely misperceive how much they sleep, often stating “I didn’t sleep at all.”

Not getting enough sleep may be so pervasive within our society that many may not view it as a big problem.

However, missing out on sleep is more detrimental than many may realize.

“As we have progressed, people are losing sleep time,” explained Silva, who is concerned that a sleep deficiency may affect daily functioning. This, she said, underscores the implications of her research for the thousands of physicians who routinely ask patients about their sleep habits.

“Physicians should take into account that people overestimate their sleep time,” Silva said.

Zee agrees, and added that doctors often rely on subjective reports. “So, doctors need to be cognizant that older adults may be overestimating, and if they are actually getting less sleep, [it] may be associated with increased risk for cardiovascular, metabolic conditions that have been associated with short sleep duration.”

The Alternative Soothing Alarm Clock - Choose from Chime Clocks or Gong Alarm Clocks - Boulder, CO

The Alternative Soothing Alarm Clock - Choose from Chime Clocks or Gong Alarm Clocks - Boulder, CO

More ZZZZs, Anyone?

Fortunately, there are steps that those wishing to maximize their sleep, or improve its quality, may take. These include refraining from heavy meals, hot baths, or vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

Caffeine lovers should avoid caffeinated beverages late in the day, and technology connoisseurs should relocate all of their noise-making gadgets — including computers and televisions — out of the bedroom.

If all else fails, and you are not rested after sleeping, Collop suggests actively trying to get more sleep.

Wake up refreshed, love your alarm clock, transform your mornings with The Zen Alarm Clock’s progressive awakening with gentle chimes.

Our Zen Timepiece’s acoustic 6-inch brass bowl-gong clock is the world’s ultimate soothing alarm clock.

Singing Bowl Alarm Clock - The Soothing Alarm Clock for a Peaceful Morning

Singing Bowl Alarm Clock - The Soothing Alarm Clock for a Peaceful Morning

It fills your environment with beautifully complex tones whenever it strikes. In the morning, its exquisite sounds summon your consciousness into awakening with a series of subtle gongs that provide an elegant beginning to your day. Once you experience the Zen Timepiece’s progressive awakening, you’ll never want to wake up any other way. It also serves as the perfect meditation timer. Available in 5 wood styles, including bamboo (shown).

adapted from abcnews.go.com by By STEPHANIE TODD, M.D.

Now & Zen – The Zen Alarm Clock Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

orders@now-zen.com

The best soothing alarm clock -- alternative clocks with gongs and chimes

The best soothing alarm clock -- alternative clocks with gongs and chimes

Posted in Insomnia, Natural Awakening, Sleep Habits, sleep, wake up alarm clock


The Sleep and Pain Connection

Saturday, January 8th, 2011
the sleep and pain connection

the sleep and pain connection

Waking up in the idle of the night can be a pain — literally. New research from John’s Hopkins University shows that prolonged sleep disturbances may contribute to chronic pain, most likely by hindering the body’s natural pain-control functions. The study followed 32 healthy women for a week: For three nights, one group of participants was woken up every hour for eight hours, while the rest slept undisturbed. On the following days, women in the disrupted-sleep group experienced an increase in spontaneous pain.

If you do wake up during the night, help yourself swiftly return to dreamland by breathing deeply and counting each breath. “And don’t try to recover by consuming a lot of caffeine the next day,” urges sleep specialist and neurologist Dr. Sarah Zallek. “That’s just going to make you more likely to have another bad night of sleep.”

adapted from Body + Soul 2007

Bamboo Digital Wake Up Clock

Bamboo Digital Wake Up Clock

Now & Zen’s Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Insomnia, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Well-being, sleep, wake up alarm clock


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