Chronic sleep problems such as insomnia do not go away without appropriate treatment1. Once people start to sleep poorly, they tend to develop ways of thinking and behaviours around sleep that worsen their problems over the long run2. Fortunately, cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) can improve your sleep, as it directly targets these unhelpful thoughts […]Which Strategies Does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia Have? — Damon Ashworth Psychology
The Importance of Sleep for Good Mental Health — Damon Ashworth Psychology
Having difficulty sleeping? It’s not uncommon.
Once you cannot sleep well Worse still, Insomnia does not tend to go away on its own without appropriate treatment. This is because once people start to sleep poorly, they tend to develop ways of thinking and behaving around sleep that make their problems worse over the long run.
Psychologists often use a method called CBTI. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I or CBTI) is a short, structured, and evidence-based approach to combating the frustrating symptoms of insomnia.
Research shows that CBT-I consistently reduces the time taken to get to sleep, decreases the amount of time spent awake during the night, and improves sleep quality and efficiency, with improvements persisting after treatment finishes. This is unlike sleeping pills, which typically lead to sleep difficulties coming back once people with insomnia stop taking them.
Damon Ashworth describes this in more detail in his blog.
Learning about positive sleep habits is a core part of CBT-I. Tailoring recommendations is best done with the help of a doctor or CBT-I provider. In the meantime, here are some basic tenets of sleep hygiene that anyone coping with sleep issues may find helpful.
- Maintain a sleep schedule: Having a regular, predictable sleep schedule can help your body maintain a rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep. This includes weekends too, which are a common time to forget about the importance of sleep.
- Don’t lie awake in bed: If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and find something relaxing to do until you feel tired again.
- Create a nightly routine: Give yourself enough time to get ready for bed. Turn off your electronics early and find some relaxing activities that help you wind down before sleep.
- Consider daytime activities: What you do during the day really counts. Even a small amount of exercise can help you sleep better. Also try to avoid eating, alcohol, and caffeine too close to bedtime.
Wanderings – down memory lane
I used to work at Martins Bank – a private one in the City of London. Its logo contained a grasshopper. Tradition has it that Thomas Gresham founded the bank in 1563. His family crest included the grasshopper. The Martin family was one of the early London Goldsmiths. The bank was bought by Barclays Bank in 1969.
Curiously the Grasshopper could be seen on the top of the Royal Exchange. This building was originally founded in the 16th century by Thomas Gresham, a Tudor financier. The building was destroyed in 1666 by The Great Fire of London, rebuilt in 1669, repaired in 1821 and was again destroyed by fire in 1838.
The golden Gresham Grasshopper weathervane was rescued from the 1838 fire and is 11 feet (3.4 m) long. It stands 177 feet (54 m) above street level on a clock tower. The clock by Edward John Dent has a bell chime which is also a carillon that can play the national anthem and others.
The current building opened in 1844, and adheres to the original layout – consisting of a four-sided structure surrounding a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen could do business.
Why a grasshopper? Legend has it that Thomas’s ancestor Roger de Gresham was abandoned as an infant in the marshlands of Norfolk. The rejected orphan was finally discovered after a woman was attracted by the sound of a chirruping grasshopper.
This grasshopper also appears in Change Alley marking the spot of Garraway’s Coffee House. It also marks a former goldsmith’s place later taken on by Martins Bank.
Thomas Gresham was a very influential figure in 16th century London, founding the first Royal Exchange and then a bequest in his will to setup Gresham College in 1597 to to bring ‘new learning’ to Londoners in English and not Latin which was the current language for most of the European universities.
The college was set in Gresham’s mansion on Bishopsgate until being redeveloped on the corner of Gresham and Basinghall Streets and then finally to Barnards’s Inn Hall in 1991. Today it still holds free public lectures.
No not the quote from Hamlet “To sleep, perchance to dream” but how lack of sleep can impact on your health; sleep cycle explained and how sleep patterns have changed.
The Mayo clinic linked a lack of sleep to an increase in abdominal fat. An unhealthy find. During this study participants had free access to food, which coupled with the lack of sleep contributed to their increase in abdominal fat.
Findings from a randomized controlled crossover study led by Naima Covassin, Ph.D., a cardiovascular medicine researcher at Mayo Clinic, show that lack of sufficient sleep led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to control sleep. Visceral fat is deposited deep inside the abdomen around internal organs and is strongly linked to cardiac and metabolic diseases.Journal of the American College of Cardiology,
We all know how tired and grumpy we can become after a night or several nights poor sleep. Science has shown how poor sleep can effect your health from weight gain to a weakened immune system or with chronic deprivation it can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke, obesity, depression, reduced immune system function and lower sex drive.
Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new thought connections and helps memory retention. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. During sleep your immune system produces infection fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines that combat bacteria and viruses.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Hence the aged appearance from lack of sleep.
The types of sleep
In addition to the number of hours slept it is important to get the right kind of sleep. During the night the total sleep is made up of several rounds of the sleep cycle. Not all sleep cycles are the same length, but on average they last about 90 minutes each and vary from person to person.
There are four sleep stages, one for rapid eye movement (REM) and the others for non-REM sleep. Stage 1 is essentially a “dozing off” stage. The body hasn’t fully relaxed, and there are light changes in brain activities. It is easy to awake during this stage.
In Stage 2, the body temperature drops, the muscles relax and there is a slowed breathing and heart rate. Eye movement stops and the brain activity slows but shows short bursts of activity. This sleep can last for 10-25 minutes at first and increase during the night. Collectively this makes up more than half the sleep time.
Stage 3 is known as deep sleep. It is harder to wake a person. The muscle tone, pulse and breathing rate decrease as the body relaxes. However the brain activity shows an identifiable pattern known as delta waves, which helps the brain create and store new memories and improves its ability to collect and recall information. Deep sleep usually occurs during the first half of the night, initially lasting for 20-40 minutes. These stages become shorter the longer you sleep and more time is spent in REM sleep.
Wearable devices or under the pillow devices rely on sensors to detect physical signs like heart rate and body movement as opposed to lab based sleep tests that use sensors to measure brain activity. The sleep trackers upload the data to a device that analyse and display the results. Although not as accurate as a lab based sleep test, these devices and apps can help to raise awareness of your sleep patterns.
How many hours sleep?
It is generally thought that an adult body needs 7-8 hours sleep a night but there is a lot of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. Historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a book “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past” found more than 500 references to segmented sleeping patterns in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.
He describes that a first sleep began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep. During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps. And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.
A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”. Anyone care to confirm this?
Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society. By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness. He attributes the initial shift to improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses.
So if you lie awake in the middle of the night, read on to discover the forgotten medieval habit of ‘two sleeps’.
The ice breaking find in 2022
Wow, the remains of Shackleton’s ship “Endurance” located in the Weddell Sea in March 2022, was a fantastic find after being ‘lost’ for more than a century.
This successful attempt in 2022 found the wreck, located 6km from the position recorded by Worsley, and at a depth of 3,008 metres. The three-masted sailing ship was lost in November 1915 when it was crushed by Antarctic ice and sank to the ocean floor during Shackleton’s failed attempt to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. Submersible video, shot by Endurance22 using advanced underwater vehicles called Sabertooths showed the ship to be in remarkably good condition, with timbers very well preserved, due to the lack of wood consuming microbes. Even more remarkable is that the expedition was a few days away from having to be abandoned, as the ice was closing in and the blizzards and storms had started.
The video of this remarkable discovery can be viewed on Youtube, courtesy and copyright of the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust .
Shackleton and his crew remained with the ship for ten months until it was eventually crushed by the ice. Shackleton and his 27 men undertook a perilous lifeboat journey to the uninhabited Elephant Island, with Shackleton and a smaller crew then making an open-boat journey of 800 miles to reach a whaling station in South Georgia, mounting a rescue mission back to Elephant Island from there. This harrowing account of the British explorer can be read in this book “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing. It is a remarkable story.
In 2019 Maritime archaeologist and shipwreck expert Mensun Bound, after 2 years of planning and with a budget of $250m sailed south, onboard the Aqulhas II equipped with high tech exploration tools – Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. He was determined to find the ship’s resting place, but was defeated by the icy conditions. Just like Endurance before, Agulhas II became trapped in sea ice. Whereas Shackleton had his men race from one gunwale to the other to try and shake the ship loose, the captain of the Agulhas II achieved the same effect by swinging a 40-ton fuel pod on a crane from one side to the other, gradually shifting the ship out of the ice’s grasp. Technology!
The Hunt for Shackleton’s ice ship in 2019 is available on Youtube from Cambridge University and also describes why this search is important. The website Endurance22.org contains several articles of interest in this discovery.
The Weddell sea named after James Weddell, a Scottish explorer and seal hunter, was once difficult to access because of its abundant pack ice and harsh weather conditions. However modern icebreaker ships have begun to explore this area. The Weddell Sea is a site of special importance to the global climate and the circulation of the ocean waters. It is in the densest waters in the Atlantic. The Weddell Gyre, delimited by a clockwise-rotating ocean flow in the Southern Ocean, covers an area more than half the size of the USA. Its characteristics control the physical and chemical properties of large parts of the global deep ocean, and it has the capability of influencing global climate on multiple timescales. Studying this Gyre is challenging, as sea ice covers the ocean surface year around, restricting access by research ships and sensing of ocean surface from satellites. New technology is now available to avoid past limitations, autonomous underwater vehicles, instruments flown by planes, and floats instrumented with sea-ice detection. More information on its importance can be read in this article.
Interested in finding out more about the Arctic and Antartica? The ABC Australia have a television program on the two poles and can be seen on Iview.
Fancy visiting the Wendell sea? One cruise states “with 5 full days in Antarctica, experience the towering tabular icebergs and Adelie penguin rookeries of the remote Weddell Sea, alongside some of the Peninsula’s most popular landing sites further south. Departs once a year, at the height of the summer, aboard a 90-passenger expedition ship”. Another emphasises the Emperor penguins. Just do a search for ‘ cruise Antartica Wendell”
Tainted Harvest by E. Denise Billups.
Her teaser : ”She escaped servitude for a worse fate. Now she wants everyone to know what happened. Travel writer Simone Doucet is searching for a meaningful life, but she hasn’t found a purpose yet. But after she accepts an assignment that takes her to Magnolia Sunrise – a historical bed-and-breakfast on the bluffs of Natchez, Mississippi – strange events begin to take place.”
I settled down for a comfortable read of this book and mystery but after the first few pages I was wide awake, sitting up, intriqued and living Simone’s nightmare. The author had a way of writing such that you were immersed in the horrors and emotions of the characters. I couldn’t put this down until the last few ‘happy’ pages.
This was a heart breaking story well written. It described some of the cruelties, hardships and conditions of the slaves at the end of the Civil War. Full credit to the author that the slavery appeared to be a sub plot, but in fact was the main one.
This story left me curious to find out more. Was there any truth behind the story? I discovered that The Devil’s Punchbowl is remembered as post American atrocity in Black history which took place in Natchez, (Adams County) Mississippi. In the book “Natchez” dedicated to Louise and Mary by Nola Nance Oliver describes the derivation of the name and describes the area. Although the inroads of the river have washed away the streets, and only a few buildings remain, one very interesting home, “Magnolia Vale”, has been preserved and is presented in her book.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile recreational road and scenic drive through three states. It roughly follows the “Old Natchez Trace” a historic travel corridor used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” European settlers, slave traders, soldiers, and future presidents.
The Devil’s Punchbowl is remembered as post American atrocity in Black history which took place in Natchez, (Adams County) Mississippi.
After the American Civil War, a massive exodus of former slaves from Southern plantations trekked northwards to freedom. The town of Natchez quickly went from a population of 10,000 to near 100,000 people. In order to deal with the population influx of recent freedmen (formerly enslaved persons who have been released from slavery), a concentration camp was established by Union soldiers to essentially eradicate the slaves. Don Estes, former director of the Natchez City Cemetery, said. “So, they decided to build an encampment for ’em at Devil’s Punchbowl which they walled off and wouldn’t let ’em out,”
The camp was called the Devil’s Punchbowl because of the way the area is shaped. The camp was located at the bottom of a cavernous pit with trees located on the bluffs above. The women and children were locked behind the concrete walls of the camp and left to die from starvation. Many also died from the smallpox disease. In total, over 20,000 freed slaves were killed in one year, inside of this American concentration camp. However this number is contested.
Researcher Paula Westbrook adds that “The union army did not allow them to remove the bodies from the camp. They just gave ’em shovels and said bury ’em where they drop.” Today the bluffs are known for the wild peach grooves, but the locals will not eat any of the fruit because some are aware of what has fertilized the trees. Also reported as “An American Concentration Camp so horrific it was erased from history.
The Jackson Free Press profiled Paula Westbrook. It said that she coordinates the Southern Paranormal and Anomaly Research Society, a society for ghost hunters. She supports herself through her Ghost Hunting Academy and her work at K-Mart.
The book quotes a poem with a line “For whose story was never told” by William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. He was an American sociologist, historian and a Pan-Africanist civil rights activist. He became the first African American to earn a doctorate and was one of the founders of the (NAACO) National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.
St Pancras Station features micro-opera
Women’s international Day will be celebrated at St Pancras Station, London with a series of brand-new, train-themed micro-operas created by teams of female composers and librettists.
Travelers at the Eurostar terminal will hear “Everything you carry” by Georgia Barnes and Olivia Bell and “It’s The Little Things” by Rose Hall and Katie Colombus. These operas explore the monotony of everyday commuting and in turn the point of view of someone waiting an arrival gate.
The series, called Lost and Found, also includes Victoria Bernath and Teresa Howard’s Mini Break, a comic opera about the panic of lost passports and the inevitable bickering that follows, as well as Anna Braithwaite and Priests’ The Hardest Journey, about hidden disabilities.
The event is part of the Europalia Arts Festival, which involves European railway stations including Antwerp, Brussels and Rotterdam central stations.
Dogs in Books
My family lived in one of those houses that was divided into two flats. We lived in the upstairs and had the front garden. My mother would wheel me out in my pram to get some fresh air and leave our Scottie Simba, at the bottom of the pram to ward off stranger danger. It worked a treat, but my Mum was forever being told the dog was dangerous and when she asked why, was told they couldn’t get near to touch the baby. Need I say more? Simba was a faithful and loving member of our family for 15 years.
I am not a lover of cats though. Probably since the one my great grandparents had would always scratch me. To me they are self centred and fickle unlike dogs.
Most people have pets, treating them as members of the family, giving and receiving unconditional love. A few I’ve known keep dogs for security, well cared for but not treated as family pets.
Dogs are wonderful companions, faithful and cheerful. Did you know that at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, two golden retrievers helped deliver beers to customers, lifting spirits while helping out the brewery owners?
Apart from the well known classic story of White Fang by Jack London, Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight, and the Australian story of Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres there continue to be countless stories about man’s best friend.
Richard Glover recently published his book “Love, Clancy”. It Is a collection of letters written by a young dog to his parents about the oddities of human behaviour. If you have had or known a family dog this is a book for anyone who has tried to imagine what their dog was thinking.
A very short read by Rosie Chapel is a true story based on her great grandparents. Both gain a guardian in the form of a dog, that is identical in colour, size and breed. More will be revealed when the trilogy is released.
“The dog who came to stay” by Hal Borland is about a scruffy rib-thin, black-and-white rabbit hound that turned up at his farm one Christmas night in the middle of a nasty winter storm. Pat, as the dog came to be known, and his raffish travelling companion, a young pup, “were even more unwelcome than the weather,” but after a few preliminaries both settled in as members of the Borland household. The book continues with descriptions of the land and their hunting.
Sustainability and Lithium batteries
In the late 1970s, a team of global scientists began developing what would become the lithium-ion battery, a type of rechargeable battery that would eventually power everything from portable electronics to electric vehicles and mobile phones. a history of the lithium battery makes a short interesting read.
Today they power many different devices, from smart phones, laptops, electric-cars, solar panels to power grids. Their life span is about 10 years. Surging demands for electric vehicles have pushed up the price and demand. It is estimated that in 2040 there will be 7 million tonnes per year of used Li batteries.
Unlike their predecessors – lead batteries, they cannot be easily recycled. Li batteries are made up of lots of different parts that could explode if not disassembled carefully. Mining the required minerals has a huge environmental cost.
Iceland and Paraguay stand out from the rest of the world by being almost 100% reliant on renewable energy. The two major forms of renewable energy – solar and wind power – considered intermittent resources, as the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing.
Lithium is currently produced from hard rock or brine mines. Australia is the world’s biggest supplier, with production from hard rock mines. Argentina, Chile and China is mainly producing it from salt lakes. Mining the various metals required requires vast natural resources and has been linked to declining vegetation.
Most of the components of Li-ion batteries are valuable, and it’s quite feasible, technically and economically, to recycle them. Several auto OEMs, research institutes and other industry players around the world are developing systems to do just that.
Scientists are working on ways to reduce this impact and make their recycling safer and an easier process. Developing robotic disassembly; making more sustainable batteries, or reducing the materials needed to build them and thereby reduce the energy expenditure. Developments into zinc-manganese oxide batteries are being considered for large scale energy storage such as electricity grids. Lithion recycling claim a 95% recycling of battery components to make new LI batteries.
The Girl in the Barrel
This is a novel by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts featuring the fictitious Evangeline Murray as she challenges the majestic Niagara Falls in 1923. The romantic thriller is entwined with facts of the majestic Niagara Falls, the residents, the jumpers and perhaps answers why people wanted to brave the fall.
The year is 1923 and the Jazz Age is in full swing. Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, is recruited by the Women’s Freedom Movement to represent the spirit of modern womanhood by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Evangeline eagerly embraces her opportunity to achieve fame and fortune, until she sees the power of the river and begins to understand the risk she is taking. Joshua McClaren, an enigmatic battle-scarred veteran of World War I, and the best boatman of the Canadian shore of the Niagara, reluctantly agrees to launch the headstrong Evangeline. Before the barrel can be launched each of them will have to face their own demons, painful secrets will be revealed and the Niagara River will claim two more lives.
Eileen wrote in her promotion: ” “From the very first time I saw the Falls and visited the Daredevil Museums, I have wondered why anyone would take such risks. However, I have to admit that the rushing water has a powerful pull as it cascades smoothly and endlessly over the edge and down into the churning rapids. I have visited the Falls many times in all seasons of the year and I have seen tourists from all over the world turn to each and ask the same question. “Why would anyone do that?” The Girl in the Barrel is my answer to that question.”
Some historical facts
History records that the first person to plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive was Annie Edson Taylor, an enigmatic school teacher from Michigan who turned up at Niagara Falls on October 24, 1901 with a barrel that she had constructed herself. She was forty-six years old.
She certainly does not endear herself to the animal lovers among us when it is revealed that she first tested the barrel on a stray cat that she named Iagara. It was only after the cat had survived the fall that she decided to take the risk herself.
She dressed for her adventure in a long skirt and a flowery hat and rested her head on a heart shaped pillow. She took the 200 foot plunge at 4:30 p.m. and fifteen minutes later she was retrieved at the base of the Falls. When she was released from the barrel she was heard to say that “no one ought ever do that again”. It is not recorded what the cat said, but it may have been something similar.
Annie Taylor survived the plunge in a barrel, but is it possible to survive without a barrel? It has happened although many would call it a miracle.
On July 9th 1960, seven year old Roger Woodward and his 17 year old sister Deanne, set out on a boat ride through the upper Niagara with family friend James Honeycutt. About a mile before the brink of Horseshoe Falls the motor malfunctioned and ceased running. Unable to restart the engine, Honeycutt began to frantically row in the direction of the shore but the strong current was carrying the boat swiftly towards the Falls. Honeycutt ordered the Woodward children to put on their life-preservers, although he was too busy rowing to put his on.
The boat capsized in the rapids above the Falls separating Deanne from both Roger and Honeycutt. Deanne held onto the side of the boat until a wave forced her under. When she surfaced she was spotted by John Hayes and John Quattrochi who were standing on the shore. Hayes grabbed Deanne by her fingers and called for help from Quattrochi. Together they pulled her from the water.
Roger Woodward was in Honeycutt’s arms until the raging water pulled them apart as they rode over the crest of the Falls. Roger was forced into the deep water at the base of the Falls but quickly floated to the surface, due to his life-preserver. The crew of the Maid of the Mist spotted his orange life-jacket and, after eight minutes and three approaches, they finally rescued him by using a life ring. He sustained only minor cuts and bruises and his sister was treated for shock. James Honeycutt did not survive.
Roger describes the moment he went over the brink. “I fell into a cloud,” he says. “There was no sensation like vertigo, no sensation in my stomach. There was a dense cloud of mist and I could not see anything and only hear the roar.”
The Canadian Horseshoe Falls has a brink of 792 metres and a height of almost 51 metre with 2,271 litres falling every second.
Since 1850, more than 5,000 people have gone over Niagara Falls, either intentionally (as stunts or suicide attempts) or accidentally. After a death in 1951 it is now illegal to go over Niagara Falls, whatever method is used and hefty fines are imposed.