Healing & Emotional Health: Best Reads This Week- Sleep metrics, memory hacks, and gut-muscle connections.

There’s an irony of writing about health when you are hit by acute poor health while also managing chronic health issues. And that’s unfortunately been the theme for the last two weekends. Stomach flu, sick toddler, myself coming down with cold. And then a family health crises with an overseas member that’s taking some project management.

This is a good time to share a link to the importance of radical acceptance in dealing with the curveballs that life throws.

Sometimes happiness isn’t the absence of things going wrong. Sometimes it’s being able to hold onto the moments of comfort or peace or beauty in between things going wrong.

This Week’s Articles

  1. The most important metric for sleep (sorry, new moms).
  2. How accurate is your wearable at sleep tracking?
  3. Gut biome helps muscles grow larger
  4. Neuroscience how to retain info for much longer
  5. The secret to avoid burnout: have you tried caring less?
  6. Quiet carriages on LDR trains
  7. How to find a decent therapist
  8. Apps & sites making my life calmer

1. The most important metric of sleep (sorry, new moms). 

Bad news, new moms. The amount of time you spend awake after falling asleep and before finally “wakening up”, is the main predictor of sleep quality. I broke up with my fitbit when it insulted me by recording my time awake feeding the baby as “asleep” (how rude!), and recently a friend has been concerned over how little REM she appears to get some nights for no reason, which made me wonder ..

2. How accurate is your wearable at sleep tracking?

“Compared to polysomnography tests – which experts use to diagnose sleep disorders – sleep trackers are only accurate 78% of the time when identifying sleep versus wakefulness. This accuracy drops to around 38% when estimating how long it took participants to fall asleep.”

Are sleep trackers accurate? – The conversation

When interpreting sleep stage metrics such as deep and REM sleep you should focus more on the trend rather than the number, says span.health

3. Gut biome helps muscles grow larger

If you down a post workout protein smoothie to get your muscles pumped, you should also invest in a probiotic. The latest research on gut biome shows that an “unhealthy” biome (one lacking bacterial diversity) inhibits muscle growth.

The articles suggests that simply increasing your fibre intake will diversify your gut biome, which is definitely simpler than trying to add the Zoe recommended “30 plants a week” target.

So now you know why that guy on the scots porridge oats package looks so buff ?

4. Neuroscience shows how to retain info much longer

One of my girlfriends swears that B.Js are the way to get men to remember to do stuff. I hate that this kind of proves her right – but only kind of!

Basically, you need a positive reward or positive experience after something – and a good nights sleep. Our brains are wired to remember things that either positively or negatively impact us. So, order some cake after spanish class to learn better.

Sleep depravation may have an upside: you need to enter REM in order to store upsetting or negative events as memories. You do need quality sleep for things like immune function and blood pressure- so this isn’t a hack.

5. The secret to avoid burnout: have you tried caring less?

Where the wall street journal essentially urges us to be more german, and not hang our self worth and identity on our job, take the weekend off, take holidays, and not respond to emails outside of work, unless it’s an actual emergency. The article is a little frustrating since it’s written from the vantage point of people who are managers and able to make changes in how their team works – most people don’t have that kind of power in their work culture.

6. “Chill out” carriages on London’s DRL trains

When I used to commute to work by train I would dream of chill out carriages and workout carriages for people to either decompress from the stress of the day, or save time going to the gym – finally one has happened! Other than removing advertising (itself positive), replacing them with green scenery images, and providing a free meditation app with tracks specialised to people undergoing commuting , these are essentially quiet carriages. See photos of the carriages. I like the idea of a calm commute as opposed to the myth of the productive commute.

7. How to find a culturally competent therapist

Unfortunately, intersectionality isn’t as rife in therapy as we would like. Self recommends asking friends for recommendations then gives a lovely list of culturally specific databases for (USA based, unfortunately) therapists.

Here are the databases:

Edited – 21st April 2023. I’m adding these additional resources, offered by Gary from recoverylocal:

Apps & Sites making my life calmer

When BLM marches were kicking off last year and all the companies sent out their “we’re listening” emails, something hit me about meditation apps – they assumed their users were white.

This week I’m trying out two apps that are created specifically for women of color (Exhale) and black people (Liberate)

On a different track, I’m also trying

  • P2. P2 is the business side of WordPress. It’s intended for private team communication and project management, with extra abilities for embedding slideshows, to-do tasks and design embedding and discussions. Since I deleted basecamp earlier this year, i’ve been looking for something that has that combination of thoughtful discussion, file management/file sharing and tasks without being overly complicated.

I’ve been using it to summarise whatsapp chat meeting and include relevant files, links and next actions for a personal project.

  • Rainbowplantlife blog I got an instant pot when my stove top pressure cooker lost it’s little plastic pressure regulation thing and everything in the pot dried and burned last week. I was in the middle of recovering from a stomach flue, and it was the last straw. This blog is just what I need for delicious plant based recipe ideas timed for instant pot. It’s been nice making lunch without worrying about waking the baby.

Traditional stove top pressure cookers are great for plant based food, but noisy when you need to use baby nap times to start food, and you do need to run back and turn down the heat to avoid pressure built up which means leaving my climbing and jumping Tasmanian devil unattended for a moment – all unnecessary time pressure.

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