Affluenza—the Newest Sleep Disorder?

By Charles W. Page, MD –

“The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.”
(Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV)

A new sleep disorder has appeared on the horizon—affluenza. It is described as “the painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste, resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” (Jon de Graaf—Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic. 2001)

Affluenza may become the most common malady affecting sleep. Our society is by far the most affluent in history. When compared to other nations, we have an abundance of almost everything—money, apps, cell phones, computers, opportunities, education, food. Remember Michael Jackson?

One would think that our abundance would be sufficient enough to supply a good night’s rest—that we would be content and thankful for what we have. But Solomon reminds us of the illusion that the very things we think will make us secure and comfortable actually work in the reverse—“but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.” Our consumer mindset leaves us with too many options, too many deadlines, and too many regrets to deal with as we lay our heads on our pillows.

In contrast to the abundance of things this world offers, Jesus promised an abundance of life (John 10:10). He modeled the balance of a busy purposeful life that flowed out of a position of rest. On one occasion, in the bow of a sinking ship, the Savior slept calmly, unaffected by a raging storm. Exhausted from a productive day of ministry, Jesus rested peacefully. He is the perfect example of productive, purposeful work and peaceful rest. What was the Savior’s secret?

Solomon gives us two principles to help us follow in our Master’s footsteps. “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much.” First, we need to learn to work intentionally—not just busywork to fill up our days. Whatever we do, our labor must be in and for the Lord. Purposefully laboring according to God’s purpose for our lives sets us up for good rest.

The second truth that helps us rest is to understand a laborer leaves the decisions of the day to the boss. A day worker has the advantage of lying down to rest with an unburdened mind—no decisions, no deadlines, no dilemmas to face at the end of the day. Getting our daily instructions from God, prioritizing our lives accordingly, and leaving the results up to Him nurture a lifestyle that sets us up for sleep. In short, instead of the “dogged pursuit of the Jones,” when we live in the dogged pursuit of Jesus, we prepare our nights for sweet refreshing sleep.

If Jesus slept with a calm heart during the storms of life—so can you. The abundance of life in Christ can be yours—you can rest assured in that promise.

 

Weight Loss & Exercise

April 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

My youngest son is 25 and wants to lose weight. Last summer he flew out to Colorado and joined me for some rafting on the Arkansas River (yes, there’s an Arkansas River in Colorado for some reason), and climbing on one of our 54 peaks that rise above 14,000’. Now, he’s picking up another favorite activity: mountain biking.

As spring arrives and a mediocre winter passes, most of us look forward to the summer and the numerous activities we can do when it warms up.

A full third of all Americans suffer from obesity. The lure of foods, snacks, sweets that are bad for us beckons from billboards, flashing neon signs, and even while standing in line at the grocery store. We can’t seem to escape the temptation. The one-two punch of combining revised eating habits with increasing your activity level is the best way to drop weight. If this is on your to-do list before the summer, here are some principles to keep in mind.

Be Active! When you run, you burn about 125 calories per mile. If you walk, it’s less. To find out how many calories you are burning for the activity of your choice, check your burn rate at www.livestrong.com. While any activity that gets the heart rate up is good, the more intensity you can withstand, the more effective the results. For example, if you typically walk at 3 mph, increase this to 4 mph (15 minutes/mile). I am a huge proponent of mixing it up so boredom doesn’t creep in. When you mix your activities, anything you can do (including a walk-run combination or climbing hills) will make a difference.

Watch What You Eat! The second component is your food intake. The worst foods for diets are fried foods, sweetened drinks, red or processed meats. The best foods are nuts, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, or yogurt. I believe in moderation but I also enjoy my sweets as well. Don’t eliminate completely those food items that are less-than-helpful to your diet. Instead, limit the caloric intake from these foods. These “reward calories” can come in the form of cookies or other sweets but should be limited to half of what you used to consume.

Make Goals! As summer draws near, write down a few activity goals you’d like to accomplish before next winter. These can be anything from running in a local race, hiking a trail or looking good for a wedding or class reunion. For my son, knowing that losing weight will enable him to peddle or hike up steep trails provides plenty of motivation.

God has made us for activity. And much like a car manufacturer, when we put the wrong kind of fuel in our gas tank, we’ll see poor results or no results at all.

What’s Your Sleep Cycle?

By Charles W. Page, MD –

The 24-hour circadian rhythm of homo sapiens has baffled biologists for years. Sleep is one of those pieces of human behavior that doesn’t seem to fit their evolutionary puzzle. Human beings tend to display monophasic patterns of rest—sleeping for one large continuous time period. This seems to contradict most modern theories of evolution.

When followed to its logical conclusion, evolution appears to suggest that sleep is a bad idea. According to the principles of natural selection, “those that snooze—lose!” If animals are not constantly aware of the potential threats around them, their survival is threatened. And those that do not survive fail to transmit their genes to the next generation.

Several creative theories have been promoted to help explain away this basic dilemma of sleep cycles in “evolved” humans. One maintains that humankind has only been conditioned to rest for a continuous period of the circadian cycle. It contends that man is still intrinsically geared to sleep like their more primordial ancestors and can still be reconditioned back into taking multiple small “cat naps” through the circadian cycle.

One of the champions of the polyphasic theory, Dr. Claudio Stampi, recommends taking multiple intermittent naps during the day instead of sleeping continuously for eight hours at night. His theory claims this pattern allows individuals to maximize their productivity and potential during a 24-hour period. In other words—sleep less and do more. Polyphasic sleeping is an alternative sleep pattern being researched as an option for those who need to function amidst sleep deprivation (i.e., NASA astronauts, long distance sailboat racers and soldiers).

For those of you whose eyelids are still open after absorbing these superfluous and slumberous ideas, let me suggest to you a simpler approach to rest. (One way or another—I did promise to help you sleep!) Instead becoming a polyphasic sleeper to maximize your productivity, why not surrender control to the One who created you? Sleep was God’s idea. God created you to release control of your frustrations, worries, fears and schedules and to fall asleep in His arms. Someone once said that “sleep is God’s contrivance to give to man what he cannot do for himself while he is awake.” By faith, learn to put your trust in a God who protects and provides for you as you rest.

God could have fashioned your circadian rhythms similar to other animals on this planet. For example, God did not create you with the sleeping habits of giraffes or elephants, which slumber for less than four hours per day. You were not created to always be on the alert for potential threats to your security. On the other hand, God did not create you like a bear that hibernates for several months out of the year. Your sleep cycles could have been shaped similar to a dolphin. Dolphins sleep with one-half of their brain “on” and the other side turned “off.” Unlike dolphins, your brain was not created to multitask while you rest.

God uniquely made you to “turn off” when you turn in. God wonderfully made you to surrender your life into His hands. Trust Him. He’s got your back!

Cues

By Cami Checketts –

I use cues throughout my day. Sometimes these cues are helpful; sometimes not. For example, first thing in the morning I make my bed, and that is my cue to drop to my knees and say my morning prayers.

At ten-thirty a.m., my five-year old and I know it’s time to practice his words, read stories, and play sports. These two cues are a positive part of my day.

But sometimes I use cues as excuses. When my boys come home from school, we sit and chat about their day and eat a treat. The chat is wonderful; the treat could be eliminated.
Do you use cues to help you establish patterns? How can we implement the good cues and rule out those that aren’t improving our lives?

If we consistently make a poor choice at a certain time of day, whether it’s eating too much unhealthy food or missing opportunities to serve because we’re busy watching TV, we could evaluate what cues prompt us to start the activity that needs to be changed. As I already know that my boys coming home will make me want to pull out the tubs of ice cream, maybe I could be prepared with cut-up fruit or veggies or move the afternoon chat out to the basketball hoop and get some movement in while we talk.

It takes twenty-one days to establish a habit, good or bad. Twenty-one days isn’t very long. If we’re trying to establish the habit of reading our scriptures faithfully maybe we could start with a reminder on our phone that chimes at eight p.m. and reminds us that it’s scripture study time. If we want to start exercising, we could set all of our workout clothes in a pile that we are going to trip over as we get out of bed each morning.

Little cues can be the extra push we need to start developing habits, but we also need the motivation to keep making the choices that will enrich our lives. If you lack drive or motivation, there are a few things you can do:

1. Evaluate what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it really something you want? For example: you might want to run a marathon, but if you’ve tried running for months and are in misery the entire run, maybe running isn’t for you. Of course, you shouldn’t stop all exercise, but find an activity that you enjoy.

2. Have a good attitude. If the activity is something you absolutely need to accomplish (like studying the scriptures or providing for your family) you can’t get out of it so your attitude is the key. You can make any activity into a great experience or a miserable one, depending on your attitude. For example, I have no choice but to scrub the toilets so I try to do it with a smile (and force my boys to help whenever possible!).

3. Ask for help. It is also true that when something seems too hard or overwhelming, you should get help. First of all, you need to ask your Father in Heaven for help and then ask your family, friends or neighbors.

Once our motivation is in place, we can formulate cues to help us to keep accomplishing the things we want to do. Most worthwhile activities are hard work, but with the Lord on our side, if we are determined to succeed, we will make it!

How Do You Respond to Criticism?

March 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris –

There are three ways to respond to criticism—but only one leads to healthy living. We can respond as…

1. Victims—When Victims are criticized they say things like, “Poor me!” “I can’t help it!” and “I’m worthless!”
2. Vindictive—Vindictive people say, “It’s his fault!” “She’s a jerk!” and “I’ll get even!”
3. Victors—Victors say, “Is there truth to this criticism?” “I’ll learn from my mistakes!” and “I refuse to criticize them for criticizing me!”

Victims often hide from challenges; Vindictive people bully their way through them and Victors grow from them.

Victims are complainers (“Why me?”). Vindictive people are competitors (“I’m better than you!”) and Victors are cooperative (“What can I learn?”)

Victims are often passive or passive aggressive when challenged. (They either don’t respond or respond by gossiping.) Vindictive people are often aggressive when challenged. (They attack, insult or take revenge.) Victors are usually assertive. (They tell the truth in love and don’t respond to criticism out of fear. They have the courage to confront and the wisdom to do it diplomatically.)

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV), Paul lets us in on how we, as Christians, can be Victors, no matter how hurtful people are to us.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;” We must remember that we  won’t be crushed by criticism if we look to the Lord for our identity.
“perplexed, but not in despair;” We may be perplexed and confused, but we don’t have to be in despair because we know that God loves us and will help us to learn from our mistakes.
“persecuted, but not abandoned;” We may be persecuted unfairly, but we can forgive our enemies, no matter what they have done because God tells us to—and He never tells us to do something that He doesn’t empower us to do.
“struck down, but not destroyed.” We may be temporarily struck down, but no matter how hurt we feel, we can get back up and try again because God is always there to help us.

In which of these three ways do you usually respond to criticism? Take this little test to see. Place a check next to each way you respond to criticism. Then look below to see which type has the most answers—Victim, Vindictive or Victor.

When criticized, I…

1. Tell the person off.
2. Complain about the person to someone else.
3. Tell his boss, spouse or friends about his bad qualities.
4. Feel ashamed.
5. Get mad, but don’t tell anyone.
6. Ask the person to discuss their complaints with me.
7. Deny any wrongdoing.
8. Blame someone else.
9. Try to ignore what the person said.
10. Apologize even if it’s not my fault.

Answers:

1. Vindictive
2. Victim
3. Vindictive or Victim
4. Victim
5. Victim
6. Victor
7. Victim or Vindictive
8. Vindictive
9. Victim
10. Victim

Let’s learn how to respond to criticism as Victors in Christ—learning from our mistakes, forgiving those who criticize us, rejoicing that the Lord loves us just the way we are and will help us to become the people we want to be.

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