The paradox of bamboo flexibility for a human being

Blog Post: 16th November 2019

By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Title: The Bamboo Paradox: Flexible body, resilient mind, and wisdom in action

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Hello and welcome to this little blog post about human resilience.

Dr Jim, Oct 2019I am planning to write a newsletter in the next few days, but I thought it might be interesting to share my latest interest with you.  This is my interest in the extent to which a human can model itself upon a flexible bamboo.

This is how I introduce my thinking in the Preface of my new book, which will be published very soon:

At the age of thirty-four years, I woke up.  Woke up for the first time.  Became conscious of the fact that I was living a life that did not really work for me – which had never really worked in a fully satisfactory way.  At that point, I began to seek wisdom – to examine my life – and to explore better ways of living a fuller, more satisfying life.

In this book, I want to share some of the fruits of my journey towards wisdom, happiness and health.

This is a book about how to take care of yourself in a difficult world; so you can be happy and healthy, successful and wealthy. Your physical height, weight, muscle bulk and so on, are not the most important determinants of your ability to be strong in the face of life’s difficult challenges.

In many ways, your ephemeral mind – supported by a well-rested and nourished body – is the best measure of your potential for resilient coping with stressful challenges.  For example, the humble bamboo is often the thinnest plant in the forest or jungle when a tropical storm hits; but it is often the only plant left standing when the storm is over.

A, Front coverIf you develop some bamboo-like flexibility, you can become as strong and resilient as you need to be, even if you are thin and light and less tall than the average person.

This is how the qualities of bamboo are conceptualized by one business-person:

“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance.  It suggests resilience, meaning that even in the most difficult times… your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances.  Take putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly”. (Ping Fu: ‘Bend, Not Break: A life in two worlds’).

Like a bamboo, you can learn to bend in strong winds of change or challenge; and to sway in the frequent breezes of trial and tribulation. You can develop a solid foundation, but one which allows you to stay flexible, and to respond to the forces that assail you with a judo-like yielding and returning. Bend in harmony with the forces around you, without resisting rigidly, and thus avoid being broken.  Go with the flow, when the flow is irresistible; but swim against the tide if you need to, when the tide is not too powerful. Eventually, the forces around you may grow tired, and you will be fresh and ready to move forward, when resistance is at its lowest.

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo … survives by bending with the wind”. (Bruce Lee).

To be like the bamboo, you must not just be well informed about how to use your mind – like an ancient philosopher – but also you must be well fed, well rested, happily related to at least one significant other person; and rooted in some kind of family, social group and/or community.  You need to be involved and rooted in your home community, but free to take whatever individual action you need to take, so long as it is moral and legal.

A, Front cover“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo”- according to Jodi Picoult, an American author of fiction – “far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance”.

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Of course there are flaws in each of those quotes above – limitations and exaggerations – which eventually lead us into paradox, or self-contradicting beliefs and actions, which I will explore later. But the point is to celebrate the near perfect combination of strength and flexibility to be found in bamboo, and to try to emulate that strength and flexibility in our own difficult lives – when appropriate – as individual human beings.

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The first major limitation of comparing ourselves with bamboo is this: In western science, the world is divided into three major classes: animal, vegetable and mineral. Clearly, bamboo belongs to one of those classes (vegetable) while humans belong to another (the animal).

Bamboo is rooted to the spot, while humans, and other animals, move around the world.

To build a bridge from the vegetable world of bamboo, to the animal world of human individuals, let me introduce a transitional entity – a little duck in an endless sea.

Donald C. Babcock has written about a little duck – “something pretty special” – which is out on the ocean; cuddling down in the swells; and riding the waves.  Out beyond the surf by one hundred feet[i]. …

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***For more on this, please click the following link: Preface to Dr Jim’s new book on Bamboo Resilience.***

cropped-abc-coaching-counselling-charles-2019.jpg~~~

That’s all for now.  Newsletter coming soon!

Best wishes,

Jim

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[i] Babcock, D.C (2003) ‘The little duck’. Quoted in Josh Baran (ed) 365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living every moment in enlightenment. London: Element. Page 157.

Power naps for health and happiness

If it’s good enough for John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill, then it’s good enough for me:

The little-used booster of resilience, energy, concentration and memory:

Having a daily power nap

By Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coach/Counsellor

29th October 2019

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Introduction

Peaceful girl and sleeperKennedy and Churchill were famous for taking a nap every afternoon, which helped them to cope with their stressful roles in life.

One Japanese company executive, whose company has nap rooms for staff, stated that: “Napping can do as much to improve someone’s efficiency as a balanced diet and exercising.”

So, take a power nap every day, and watch your life improve.  It will change your mental and emotional functioning radically, and improve your physical health

In this article I want to explain the full value of having a short nap each day, including why it’s so good for your body, brain/mind and personal and professional performance. I will outline the research which proves the value of naps. And I’ll describe the measures recently taken by companies in the US, Japan and elsewhere, to increase productivity in their staff, based on the research findings about napping.

Ignorance about sleep science

Silly-replacementMost of us have never been fully educated about our daily sleep patterns when we were younger, (at school or by our parents), simply because the research findings about sleep weren’t available to the general public: the knowledge stayed with the experts, in the Universities.

William Dement, who was a pioneer of sleep research, in America, said this in 2000:

“For nearly half a century, a huge reservoir of knowledge about sleep, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, has been building up behind a dam of pervasive lack of awareness and unresponsive bureaucracies”.

In addition, you may not be aware of our real, unchangeable biological nature as human beings. Our culture and society is dominated by very powerful commercial forces which don’t want you to realise it either – they want you to consume, consume, consume: new mobiles, new cars, new clothes, holidays, TV programmes late into the night, computer games, new gambling games, etc. The last thing they want is for people to realise that they have very real physical and psychological needs – like the need for sleep, rest, and family contact-time – which subtracts from ‘consuming/buying/surfing time’! Where’s the profit for sellers in this ‘down time’?

One executive director of an internet company is reputed to have said: “Our major enemy is sleep”.  That is to say, people who want to seel to you, also want to keep you awake! Even if that proves to be bad for your health and happiness!

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Our need for sleep

Here’s the bottom line about sleep: We have an inbuilt, unchanging, fundamentally biological pattern of sleep and rest, which is ‘bi-phasic’: meaning that there are two times every day when we human beings are genetically hard-wired to feel the need for sleep.

The first sleep phase begins in the late evening, and lasts throughout the night until after dawn has arrived.

The second phase occurs in the mid-afternoon, after a lunch-time meal. This reduction in energy after a meal at lunchtime is called a ‘post-prandial’ slump (because ‘prandial’ is the Latin for ‘meal’).

We experience this afternoon drop in energy and alertness regardless of the culture that we were brought up in, or the part of the world that we live in. If this daily pattern of energy reduction is accepted and integrated into our working lives then there are massive benefits for everybody. (In an industrial or commercial context, that means employers and employees).

Keri quoteWhat your school teachers and parents were unable to tell you in detail was that sleep is very, very important for your proper functioning as a human being. (William Dement considered that there were three essential factors for health: healthy sleep, good nutrition and physical fitness). But your parents and teachers were unable to tell you more fully about sleep. This was because the information wasn’t available to the general public for many years after all the scientific reports gained from researchers (using special electrical equipment to measure sleep in human beings), had been collected and analysed.

Now we have the benefit of a lot of information finally being available to the general public, and we can therefore reap the benefits of the work done by generations of sleep researchers.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

But how can people take time out for naps?

Apparently, before the Industrial Revolution, most people took naps; and the reason they did that was because of the way the human body evolved. And before the invention of electric or gas-fuelled lighting, people slept at night and during the daytime.

Here is one valuable opportunity for a nap: The great benefit of travelling by public transport means that after a hard day’s work, or at other times, you can simply get on the bus, or train, find a seat and start to relax and recover from the day’s hassles, as the driver does all the hard work of dealing with the traffic, or the track signals.

With practice, slowly relaxing your body will mean that you can fall into a light and refreshing sleep which will recharge your batteries. Even a six minute nap can enhance your ability to figure out problems and improve your memory (Edlund 2011)[1].

What a nap does is helps your body to relax, and switches on your ‘built-in tranquiliser’ (Jacobson 1976)[2] When you relax, your inbuilt ‘parasympathetic nervous system’, (also called your ‘rest and digest’ mechanism), helps you to recover from the stresses of the day. Healing also takes place; and the nap gives your brain time to process all the information you’ve been bombarded with during the day.

For those of you who drive, you would need to carve out the time after you get home from work, unless you are able to find a convenient time during the day.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Here is what the sleep researchers found out about the effectiveness of napping:

Napping and work efficiency and effectiveness:

In 1995, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration organisation, in the US, which conducts research into spaceflight, started investigating napping. The reason for this research was described by Plenke (2015)[3] as follows:

If you screw up a task in space, not only can it be costly for life but it costs you millions of dollars.”

NASA was deeply interested in whether there would be any benefits for their astronauts from adopting naps during their working days.

What they found was that if you had a nap that lasted approximately twenty-six minutes, then the effect of this nap would improve your work productivity by 38%.

Referring to this 1995 study from NASA, which he co-authored, National Transportation Safety Board member and fatigue expert, Mark Rosekind (1995), also wrote that your 26 minute nap would increase your level of attentiveness and vigilance by 54%![4]

Research on naps in the American aviation industry

David Dinges and Dr Mark Roskind researched the importance of naps when they were working with the American aviation industry. They wanted to find out how pilots, who fly long journeys across the world, could be helped by the napping process.

The crucial area they wanted to solve was the problem of how flight crews could deal with the sleep debt which accumulated after they had been flying for three or four days on a four-stage transpacific route: The pilots had been having moments of total unconsciousness (called micro sleeps) throughout the final minutes of each of the flights and especially significant, in the final ten minutes, as the plane was being manoeuvred for landing, before reaching the runway!

The end of a sustained period of flying, such as an overnight transatlantic flight, is the most dangerous time during the plane’s entire journey. Apparently 68% of plane crashes take place as pilots land a plane, because of sleep deprivation caused by the long journey, plus mental deterioration, and micro sleeps (or moments of complete unconsciousness). But it was known that micro sleeps occurred frequently during night flights.

What the NASA research team did was to measure the effects on flight crews of having naps in the cockpit, whilst another pilot was flying the plane.

They created two research groups out of the flight crews they were investigating:

– 1. In the ‘Naps’ condition: the flight crews were given a scheduled forty minute rest interval, with the time it took them to fall asleep being measured (called ‘sleep latency’). This averaged 5.6 minutes, and the average amount of sleep was 25.8 minutes. There were no other rest periods given during the other three stages of this four-stage plane journey.

– 2. In the “No Naps” research condition:  when the flight crews were in the final ninety minutes of the flights, they had a total of one hundred and twenty micro sleeps, and they had twenty two during the last thirty minutes of the flight. (Remember, micro sleeps are moments of total unconsciousness, when the individual has no awareness of what they should be attending to!)

When the results of the two groups of flight crew’s performances were compared, what was observable was the very marked difference in the work functioning, and the concentration levels, of the flight crews:

– In the ‘Nap’ condition, there was a reduction of 34% in the times that the crew members lost their concentration, and their response times improved by 16%.

– And in terms of micro sleeps, in the final ninety minutes of the flight, the ‘Nap’ condition crews had thirty four micro sleeps recorded, but there were no micro sleeps in the final thirty minutes of the flight!

This was clear evidence of the value of a rest period during the flight:

It was apparent that if the pilot had a nap near the first section of the journey, then they would be able to minimise the number of micro sleeps as they neared the end of the flight, much later on in the journey. (The evidence used in this research study was gained from the researchers having attached electroencephalographic electrodes to the pilots’ heads.)

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If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps can counteract sleep deprivation, to some extent

Men sleeping on undergroundAnother team of researchers, (David Dinges, Mike Bonnet and their colleagues) have investigated the benefits of naps, and have used the term “prophylactic” (or ‘preventative measure’) to describe the benefit of taking (early) naps in preventing (later) problems.

If you know that you are going to be (unavoidably) deprived of sleep for a considerable length of time, then a nap (or two) can really help. Dingle and Bonnet discovered that a single nap of thirty minutes, before having to be awake all night, as an example, can improve the energy and concentration for a person through the night. And if a twenty four hour period of sleep loss is anticipated, then resting from sixty to one hundred and twenty minutes can be a performance-enhancement strategy.  (But this kind of extended wakefulness will still have negative effects, in terms of accruing a sleep debt; and micro sleeps are likely along the way, which could be very dangerous, for the sleeper and others.  And if this kind of sleeplessness happens often enough, then physical disease and mental deterioration are inevitable!)

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps don’t make everybody feel better

An aspect of having a nap which researchers have discovered, and which needs to be accepted by anyone who wants to use naps, is that – even though naps improve work performance, energy level and the ability to focus, for many people, on average – some people don’t feel refreshed and rejuvenated after a nap.

Why is it that some people don’t feel the benefit? Dement (2000) has the answer:

“Naps improve objective performance more than subjective performance. Just as we are not very good at perceiving how badly we are affected by sleep deprivation, we don’t seem to be very good at perceiving the benefits of a nap.” (Page 375).

Dement quote 1He thinks that the reason for this is the phenomenon of ‘sleep inertia’, which is the state of drowsiness and lack of focus we can experience after we wake up from a nap. It lasts for a short while and then wears off. William Dement (2000) states that his strategy for overcoming this is to have a coffee straight after a nap so that he can recover quickly.  (But please remember the negative effects of caffeine on your nightly sleep!)

When the US Federal Aviation Authority was advised of the research findings, in the mid-1990’s, they decided that the term ‘power nap’ would be the best term to use to describe this health and safety intervention near the beginning of long-distance flights.

Nap rooms and productivity

Eric Markowitz, senior reporter at Inc.com, in a blog post entitled, ‘Should Your Employees Take Naps, (2011)[5], gave examples of businesses in the US which have taken on board the research findings about the value of naps. He described how, in 1995, Craig Yarde, who founded Yarde Metals in Bristol, Connecticut, discovered that some of his employees, fatigued by the shifts they were working, had fallen asleep at work. (They were working very long shifts).

As a consequence of this discovery, when Yarde designed the new office space for his company, he included a nap room, with couches for his employees. Yarde stated that when he started this innovative system for his staff, not only did people think that he was insane to do such a thing, but some of his employees felt the same way as well.

“People thought we were just completely nuts”, he said.

But in 2011, fifteen years after the experiment started, the annual turnover of his company had increased to $500 million, and the staff has grown to 700, with branches along the east coast of America. Each of their new premises has its allocated sleep room!

Yarde is convinced that naps increase productivity and is quoted as saying: “It’s funny how these things go. It went from being totally ridiculous to being cutting edge right now”.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

Nike and Google

Nike and Google have adopted a realistic approach to fatigue and sleepiness in an employee, (which can temporarily affect their productivity). They have taken on board the research findings from NASA, by having designated relaxation rooms where there are ‘nap pods’. The pods are elongated, padded seats for an individual worker. The pods have a protective metal hood over the head and shoulders of the sleeper, so they are safe from disturbance when they sleep.

Eric Markowitz (2001) in his blog also described the views of James Maas, a sleep expert and Cornell University social psychologist, who also acts as a consultant on the relationship between sleeping and productivity for Goldman Sachs, IBM, Blackrock and Harvard. He thinks that if employees are exhausted and lethargic in the workplace, then this can strongly affect their ability to concentrate; to remember information over the long term; and that their reaction times are negatively affected.

Overall, the advantage of taking naps is massive, especially if you work in an occupation where you have to work long shifts, or you know in advance that you are going to be short of sleep because of taking a long journey, or have a very full working day ahead of you.

What you get from a napping period is the chance to catch up on lost sleep; boost your mental energy reserves; and recharge your batteries for dealing with people and unexpected challenges – constructively and skilfully. And with the regular use of naps, there are also physical health benefits.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Naps in Japanese companies

Walker sleep deprivation quoteBecause of the increase in ‘karoshi’ – (a Japanese word meaning ‘death from overwork’) – the Japanese government and major companies have started to take action to stop this rise.

The Guardian journalist, Justin Mc’Curry (2019), describes how it’s estimated that £108 billion pounds (GBP), each year, is lost to the Japanese economy because of the effects of sleep deprivation. He describes, as an example, what a Japanese IT Service Company called ‘Nextbeat,’ has done to improve the health and well-being of their staff: In 2018 they  established two “strategic sleeping rooms”, one for females and one for males, at their company headquarters in Tokyo[6].

In these sleeping rooms there are relaxing scents in the air and outside noises are blocked, so nothing can spoil the peace in the rooms.  And no phones, tablets or laptops are allowed in. The staff are encouraged to relax and unwind on settees.

Emiko Sumikawa, one of the executives of the company board, has stated:

“Napping can do as much to improve someone’s efficiency as a balanced diet and exercising.”

Also the employees are encouraged to follow a 9.00pm (!) finishing time, and large amounts of overtime aren’t allowed.  (They clearly have a long way to go to achieve a 35 hour week, which would be ideal for human health, mental and physical!)

The Health Ministry of Japan now recommends that all working age people take a nap of up to thirty minutes every afternoon.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

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Research on naps in Greece

Further evidence of the value of taking naps, or siestas, has been found by Manolis Kallistratos, who is a cardiologist at Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, which is a southern suburb of Athens.

He carried out the study which consisted of monitoring the effects of a regular afternoon nap on 212 people (with an average age of 62), who had been treated for high blood pressure.[7]

What became apparent was that this regular afternoon period dropped patients’ blood pressure by 4%, when compared with those patients who did not have an afternoon nap.

Kallistratos considered that the benefits to those patients who participated in the napping experience were as valuable for the reduction in blood pressure as those patients who had minimised their salt consumption or alcohol intake. And because of this alteration in their lifestyle, he considered that this could restrict the likelihood of a heart attack by roughly 10%.

The results of his research, when compared with the outcome of the use of drugs prescribed to reduce blood pressure, showed that these chemical solutions achieved results “only slightly better”. His study was scheduled to be presented at the American College of Cardiology, Scientific Session, in New Orleans, USA, late in 2019.

And in 2007 the results of a 6 year study of Greek adults discovered that those who took naps for a minimum of 3 times every week, reduced their heart attack rate by 37%. (And the biggest gain was among middle aged men).

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

 

Final comments

In my own career of thirty years plus, as a college tutor, where I taught night classes as well as daytime classes, I found that my napping habit sustained me throughout this often stressful time.

Having the great good fortune of not driving a car, I could simply get on the bus home after a day’s work and immediately relax! If I’d just been teaching a night class, I was able to nap on the bus journey home and wake up just as the bus pulled into Hebden Bridge, where I live. (And amazingly, I always managed to wake up at the right time.) Then I would feel refreshed after my long day’s work!

Matthew Walker makes a recommendation that you may find very useful: He considers that if you have a nap after 3.00pm, then you run the risk of making it more difficult to sleep when you go to bed. Before that time, however, it can be a valuable way of catching up on missed sleep. (Walker, 2017).

To sum up: Naps can counteract sleep deprivation, to some extent.  They reduce the sleep debt. And according to George Dvorsky, a senior staff reporter at Gizmodo:

“Power naps can … boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning. They help us with maths, logical reasoning, our reaction times, and symbol recognition. Naps improve our mood and feelings of sleepiness and fatigue. Not only that, napping is good for our heart, blood pressure, stress levels, and surprisingly, even weight management.”

And a final quote from Matthew Edlund, MD, (2011) who is an award winning expert on rest, body clocks and sleep:

“Lots of patients tell me they can deal with others much more happily if they have had a nap. It can have a big impact on the effectiveness of an organisation over time”.

If you find this information useful, there’s lots more insights from sleep experts, research findings into the sleep process, and techniques that you can use to increase  your energy every day, in my recent book: ‘Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap The Rewards: Better health, happiness and resilience’.

If you try out the sleep enhancement strategies you’ll enjoy your sleep more, and improve the quality of your sleep, your memory and your stamina! And the benefits are free!

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Renata Taylor-Byrne, Lifestyle Coaching/Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

Telephone: (44) 1422 843 629

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[1] Edlund, M. (2011) The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone is Not Enough: A 30 Day plan to reset your body.  New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

[2] Jacobson, E. (1976) You Must Relax. London: Unwin Paperbacks.

[3] Plenke, M. (2015) ‘The Science behind why we should all be taking naps at work.” https://mic.com/articles/126102/naps-at-work-increase-productivity#. Dvh0yEdjZ.  (Date accessed: 17/09/2018).

[4] Rosekind, M. R., Smith, R.M., Miller, D.L., et al (1995) Alertness management: Strategic naps in operational settings. Journal of Sleep Research, Volume 4(S2), Dec 4th, 1995: Pages 62-66

[5] Markowitz, E. (2011) ‘Should your employees take naps.’ Online article: https://www.inc.com/articles/201108/sleeping-on-the-job-should-your-employees-take-naps.html. (Date accessed 20/09/2018)

[6] Mc’Curry, J. (2019) Japanese firms encourage daytime naps to counter epidemic of sleeplessness. The Guardian Newspaper. Page 20, 8th January 2019.

[7] Smyth, C. (2019) ’Give it a rest: Doctors say siesta brings down blood pressure’, The Times Newspaper, March 8th, 2019.

[8] Walker, M. (2017) Why We Sleep? The new science of sleep and dreams. London: Penguin/Allen Lane.

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Sleep links to health and happiness

Blog Post No.61

Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards

By Renata Taylor-Byrne

12th June 2019

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Introduction

Callout-1This blog post could just as easily have been called “Sleep better, feel better; act better; live longer; be healthier” – because all of those outcomes, and more, are a direct result of having an adequate amount of sleep of good quality, every night of your life.

But what is an ‘adequate’ amount of sleep?  We live in an era in which sleep is under attack from a number of quarters, including:

– Sleep distractors, like late night TV; internet attractions; mobile phones; tablets and laptops in the bedroom; the 24 hour city; and so on. Plus:

– Sleep disruptors, like financial stress; work strain; long commutes to and from work; ‘presenteeism’ (or staying later at work), because of the fear of redundancy; rampant, unrealistic ambition; widespread alcohol availability; excessive use of caffeine; sugary diets; and so on.

Warren Buffet on sleep

This blog includes a description of what I cover in my book, and the value it can have for everyone if they want to improve their sleep, and their happiness, and their health.

Here’s an example of the sort of information that’s in my book, which shows how sleep has a massive impact on our lives. I’m going to describe a short research study which shows the importance of naps, and why I researched sleep for over two years to get this information across to the public.

Chinese research with adolescents

Class-sleepingI read some fascinating research results in an article in The Times newspaper last Saturday which shows very clearly why, if we all get more sleep, it really benefits us.

The title of the article was: “Students should have a nap between classes.”

It seems British school children are stressed and over-tired, with a knock on effect on the quality of their lives and their academic achievements.

By contrast, Chinese scientists have been exploring the value of naps in school!  They conducted research with adolescents – 3,000 children who took part in the study that I saw. They were all 12 years old. They were allowed to have a snooze of between 30 and 60 minutes in length, at midday, and, according to the article, this is quite routine behaviour in China.

The researcher collected information by asking adolescent children questions about their level of contentment, and how often they napped and also their teachers’ assessment of the students’ academic ability and their general social behaviour in school.

These findings, from the journal, Sleep, show clearly the value of naps:

– There was a 7.6% improvement in academic performance in the children who napped 3 or more times a week, and:

– when their behaviour and IQ was measured by the researchers, it was found that they had:

  1. a) fewer problems in their behaviour,
  2. b) a higher IQ, and
  3. c) a higher level of grit and self-control.

To summarise the findings, Rhys Blakely stated: “12 year olds, who slept at midday, were found to be happier and cleverer.” The Times, June 8th, 2019, page 20. (Blakely is the science correspondent for The Times newspaper).

In a nutshell, the key finding was that students benefit from having naps between classes; just as NASA in the US in 1995, (wanting to know if their astronauts would benefit from having naps), discovered that naps increased your attentiveness and alertness by 54%).

Sean-Stevenson-quote

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What have I included in my book?

What kind of information have I got in my book? Here is a breakdown:

I present key research findings about the nature of sleep; the importance of sleep; the promoters and spoilers of sleep; and the supporting evidence from various studies, which are important to know about, if you care about the health and wellbeing of yourself and your family.

I included a lot of techniques for improving sleep quality; and these are clearly and simply explained.

Also, you need strategies for safeguarding your sleep in social pressure situations and these are described with clear examples.

Huffington-sleep-quote.JPGThe impact of lack of sleep on body weight is outlined – inadequate sleep leads to weight gain! – with the relevant research results; and also there is an outline of how lack of sleep reduces emotional intelligence, with examples from the workplace and home situations.

A simple yet powerful model for changing habits is described, so that you can start to work on changing your sleep behaviour.

And I describe how important it is to be well-rested before receiving new information that you have to learn off by heart. Memorising information depends on sufficient sleep, and the links are made clear.

The inescapable power which nature’s patterns of light and darkness have over human behaviour is explained.

I also describe the kinds of foods and drinks which sabotage sleep, as well as those which help to enhance sleep.

There are several different ‘chronotypes’ – (or individual patterns of wakefulness and alertness [larks, owls, etc.) – found among humans, through scientific research; and these are described; as are the implications for the ideal type of work schedule for you, based on your chronotype.

This book is easy to read; written in straightforward language; with a glossary of essential technical terms at the back.

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The value of this book

Sleep-book-image
Link to book description

What would you gain from reading my book on sleep?

This book explains very clearly the tried and tested techniques you can start using immediately to improve your sleep. These sleep enhancement strategies will have a positive impact on your happiness; your sense of autonomy; and develop closer, more emotionally intelligent relationships with others.

Also, if you are a student, or need to learn a lot of information for your work, extra sleep will have a very beneficial effect on your memory.

My book shows the ways to block the sleep thieves that are operating all around you – (dietary, mental, social and environmental) – so you feel better, happier and more in control of your life.

It gives you essential information to show you how healthy and nutritious sleep can be restored without financial costs.

childre-reading-at-nightYou will know how to make your bedroom a sanctuary where you can recover fully from the day’s stresses; and understand why siestas and naps are so beneficial that the Japanese Health Ministry now recommends that people make sure they get one every day!

Your relationships at work and at home will be transformed by the extra energy, patience, and emotional intelligence that you will find from having sufficient, high quality sleep.

This book will show you the effects of lack of sleep on the ability to read other people accurately, its effect on empathy and how morale and motivation at work is negatively affected by sleep-deprived managers.

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The myth that you need less sleep as you get older is examined, and the reality of teenagers needing more sleep is explained. And the positive research results from American schools, which have experimented with later starting times, is described.

If you want to improve your happiness and health, and your are skimping on your sleep at the moment, then this book could be a great boon to you!

For more information about this subject, please see my page of information about my book: Safeguard Your Sleep and Reap the Rewards.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Renata

Lifestyle Coach-Counsellor

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

ABC Bookstore Online

Email: renata@abc-counselling.org

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couple relationships and abusive behaviour

Blog Post

8th December 2018

Dr Jim’s Blog: Couple relationships and the problem of abuse…

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In this blog post, I want to present the core of a case study from my recent book on How to Build a Successful Relationship,  It involves a emotional abuse in a couple relationship.

Case study: Debby and Tom in conflict:

Unhappy coupleDebby D came to see me, in my office, on a cold, wet November morning. She looked undernourished, pale and sad.  She told me that her partner, Tom, had refused to come with her.

Indeed, he objected so much to the idea of couple’s therapy, and verbally abused her to such a degree, that she had promised not to proceed.

But she had come to see me anyway, because she was desperate.  She and Tom had been together for ten years, and there had been trouble from the start.  He treated her horribly; criticizing her approach to housekeeping, and her makeup.  He frightened her so much that she had started biting her nails.  Then she developed an obsessive-compulsive urge to scrub her hands until they bled.

I explored her history of relationships, working backwards from Tom, via two other serious relationships; and back to her relationship with her mother and father; and her parents’ relationship with each other.  Every single one of them had been abusive!

Debby wanted me to show her how to make Tom be more reasonable.  It took a few sessions for me to get to the point of using the ‘Best Friend Question’ with her:

Best Friend callout“Debby”, I said.  “Suppose your best friend had exactly the same problem.  She came from a disturbed family background; she had three difficult relationships, in which her partner was verbally abusive with her; what would you advise your best friend to do?”

“Kick him out!” said Debby, without a moment’s pause.

I then asked her: “If that seems to be the right solution for your best friend, is it also perhaps the solution for you and Tom?”

At this suggestion she shuddered: “But then I might lose him completely!” she protested.

“But what would be wrong with losing a partner who is abusive with you?” I asked.

“I don’t want to lose him”, protested Debby.  “I love him.  I just want him to change!”

I then tried to teach her the concept of ‘logical consequences’.

“Suppose I decided to steal food items from shops”, I began.  “What do you think would be the logical consequence?”

“You’d most likely get caught, eventually”, said Debby.

“And what is the logical consequence of getting caught?” I asked her.

“You would get a criminal record”, she suggested.

“And what if I got a criminal record, but I persisted in stealing food from shops.  What then would be the most likely logical consequence?” I asked her.

“You would most likely end up in prison”, she told me.

“Okay”, I said.  “I agree with your understanding of logical consequences in this case.  Now let us take another case”.

“Okay”, she agreed.

“Suppose a man got married to a woman, and then he began to be very critical of her housekeeping and her makeup.  What do you think the logical consequence would be?” I asked her.

“He would destroy the relationship!” she responded.

“And suppose he destroys the relationship, and his wife sticks around, and he keeps on being verbally abusive with her. What then would be the most likely logical consequence?”

“She would have to leave him”, suggested Debby.

“Okay”, I said. “If that is the logical consequence in a generic case of ‘a man and his wife’, surely that must also be the logical consequence in the case of Debby and Tom?” I asked her.

She looked defeated. She looked down at her hands.  “But I want to keep him!” she insisted.

Small 3D image of covers“Well, let me sum up the situation then”, I said.  “You and Tom are in an abusive relationship, at least on his side.  The logical consequence (or karmic debt) that Tom should earn is for you to leave him.  But you protect him from this karmic debt, by sticking around and internalizing his abuse; and transforming his karmic penalty into your own obsessive-compulsive suffering. And not just obsessive-compulsive suffering, but also sadness and depression, and a sense of despair, and self-hatred”.

Debby and I revisited this conversation several times, over a period of weeks…

…End of extract.

For more of this case study, please take a look at the information page about this book: Top Secrets for Building a Successful Relationship.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: (44) 01422 843 629

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ABC Newsletter December 2018

The ABC Newsletter, 6th December 2018

Top Secrets for Building a Successful Relationship

By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

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Hello,

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Dr Jim Byrne

It’s been some time since I sent out a newsletter about our writing and publishing activities at ABC Coaching and Counselling Services.  Renata is at an advanced stage in the writing of her book on Sleep Science and the benefits of adequate sleep.

And I have just published my new book on How to Build a Successful Relationship.  Here is a flavour of the content of that book.

What is love?

Happy-couple3
Happy couple

According to one popular view, to create love, you have to exert yourself in pursuit of the happiness of another person.  We show our love through appropriate actions.  And inappropriate actions tend to destroy love.

When we have worked successfully to create a loving relationship, we know intimately that love is sweeter than honey; warmer than the warmest blanket; and more sustaining than the most enjoyable food.  For more, please go to this web page: https://abc-counselling.org/happy-marriage-or-couple-relationships/

The need for love

1, Kindle Cover, SuccesSful, RelationshipKINDLE30.11 (2)Love is actually an essential requirement for a fulfilling life.  It is not an optional extra.  Love is food for the soul, from the soul! Without it, we wither and die inside.  A loveless life is a curse; a strain; a barren journey through a valueless vacuum.

Love warms the coldest night, and brightens the dullest day.  It warms the heart, and drives the blues away.  Love makes us glad to be alive, and to be connected to the one we love. For more, please go to this web page: https://abc-counselling.org/happy-marriage-or-couple-relationships/

Learning how to love

Loving-couple3But if you come from a family background in which love was in short supply, how do you then learn to love?  How can you succeed in becoming a loving partner in a loving relationship? The answer is to read this book, by Dr Jim Byrne, based on his experience of:

– Being a couple’s therapist for more than twenty years;

– Completing his own marriage guidance in 1984, and co-creating a thirty-four-year relationship of great happiness, love and joy with his wife, Renata; And:

– Studying love and relationship and communication skills for about thirty-five years.

For more, please go to this web page: https://abc-counselling.org/happy-marriage-or-couple-relationships/

The content of this book

In this book, you will learn:

Small 3D image of covers– Some guidelines for building a successful relationship;

– Some insights into how to manage your emotions for more effective regulation of your side of a sex-love relationship;

– How to love, actively and sensitively; Plus:

– How to communicate about anything that comes up in your relationship.  Also:

– How to avoid getting into the wrong kind of relationship, or for the wrong reasons; And/or:

– How to avoid holding unrealistic expectations of a sex-love relationship. Plus:

– Insights into your conflict-management style, and how to improve it;

– Strategies for changing any of your unhelpful relationship habits.

You will also get:

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Jim and Renata

– A very interesting introduction to the theory that our marriage partnership is shaped, for better or worse, in our family of origin; and how to reshape your ‘route map’ for finding a suitable partner; Or:

–  How to change the way you relate to your current partner; Plus:

– Insights into how to manage boundaries in relationships; And:

– Some illuminating case studies of couple relationships that have gone wrong; and what you can learn from those mistakes.

For more, please go to this web page: https://abc-counselling.org/happy-marriage-or-couple-relationships/

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What you can gain from studying this book:

This book is packed with useful information, presented in a ‘training manual’ form. If you follow this study program, you will gain:

1, Kindle Cover, SuccesSful, RelationshipKINDLE30.11 (2)– A greater capacity to love;

– Skills to help you to communicate more effectively with your partner;

– Insights into your conflict management style, and how to change it;

– Helpful strategies for changing your relationship habits; And, ultimately:

– Greater happiness in love and relationship, resulting from the fact that the love you create will be returned by your partner; and you will have lots more peace and harmony in your family life.

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This book is available in paperback and eBook formats, via Amazon. For more on how to get it, please go to this web page: https://abc-counselling.org/happy-marriage-or-couple-relationships/

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BlueLogo13CI hope you found this newsletter interesting.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, Hebden Bridge

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: 44 01422 843 629

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Transformational writing for success and happiness

Blog Post No. 175

By Dr Jim Byrne

15th September 2018

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Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2018

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Dr Jim’s Blog: Transformational Writing: How I wrote a new life for myself – and how much better I feel as a result…

Writing Theapy book coverI’ve been using ‘expressive’ or ‘therapeutic’ writing for many years: resulting in priceless personal and professional insights.  Most recently, I’ve been writing on a daily basis for many weeks now.  Before that time, I wrote in my journal perhaps 3 or 4 times per week, for many months.  And before that time, I wrote intermittently – sometimes being regular and frequent, and sometimes being more hit and miss.

But overall, I’ve had some significant degree of therapeutic writing in my life for many years now.

The benefits over the years have sometimes been obvious – as when a new creative idea comes out of my Morning Pages – gets developed in subsequent pages, over a period of days or weeks – perhaps writing for 30 minutes each day.  This process has resulted in many blog posts; web pages; articles; academic papers; books; as well as answers to difficult questions; and creative problem-solving solutions.

Most recently, I’ve had a breakthrough in getting an insight into a fundamental problem with my personality-structure:

My *DRIVERS* – (‘Be Perfect’; and ‘Hurry Up’!) –

resulting in  a new degree of *mastery* over those stressful drivers of my feelings and behaviours;

and a growing sense that, the more I slow down, and the less perfectionistic I am, the more productive, creative and happy I become!

To get to this point, all I had to do was to utilize a couple of the (more than 20) techniques that I wrote about in my book, *How to Write a New Life for Yourself*.

To read some more, please take a look at the information page, by clicking the following link: *How to Write a New Life for Yourself.***

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PS: If you want to see the kind of range of ideas that I write about, please go to Books about Emotive-Cognitive Therapy (E-CENT).***

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

 

BlueLogo13CDr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone: 44 1422 843 629

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