My new sleep tracker – the one ring to rule them all? (fitness trackers, that is!)

 

It’s finally here – my Oura ring! I first heard about it through Chris Kresser, and since I’ve had severe sleep problems for the last ten years, I immediately thought this would be something for me.

The Oura ring is not a fitness tracker – it’s a sleep tracker. The difference is, although it tracks your fitness and how much you move – it also tracks your sleep in detail. (This is not a sponsored post by the way, although I wouldn’t mind being sponsored regarding this! Sleep is just that important, and this is a product I believe in).

Above all, it tracks your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) which most gadgets don’t track. Your HRV is an indicator for how much you recuperate after something like illnesses, eating certain foods, exercise etc. It also tracks your sleep stages and then takes all the variables into account and gives you suggestions for your day.

The tracker needs about two weeks tracking to be completely accurate, but already after 5 nights of sleep, I can see that my deep sleep is just rubbish! My resting heart rate is too high on nights when I’ve been stressed out during the day, and my HRV is also not that great. I have the mind of a much older person, in other words, and I need to do something about it. But one stress factor – how much I should move about during the day, and if all the wakings I have during the night make me ineffective – has completely disappeared! Now I have clear data that shows that although on some nights I don’t sleep as much, it doesn’t matter if the quality of the sleep was better.

My ring still doesn’t know me, so it tells me to get moving every day, as if I need to push myself! But in reality I’ve had to cut back on the amount of exercise I get. If my ring tells me I need to walk 7k, I usually get that just by being at home. We have a upper floor, and I move around a lot, all the time placing things in their order, fetching things or sometimes doing yoga.

At most my ring has told me to walk 10 km, and that is just the ordinary amount of walking I do! I haven’t so far had any day being completely optimal, especially since my deep sleep is so bad (about 20 minutes a night – you need at least 1,5 hours) and because I tend to walk too much, but now I at least have something to track progress with.

And it feels so good!

You can find the Oura ring here – I waited more than 9 months for mine. My dad got his a month earlier, so he’s had more time to track his sleep and his activity and his ring is definitely giving him results he can use. Since we preordered we got a nice sum off the final prize, but you can still get discount codes all over the internet if you are eager to have a sleep tracker too.

Here’s an interview with the Oura CEO with one of the persons in the Functional Medicine community:

Harpreet Rai on Bulletproof Radio:

(and fun fact: Prince Harry also has one! He got his after my dad got his, so my dad was ahead of Prince Harry and the trend!)

Some sleep tips I’ve picked up recently:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey before sleep can really help you sleep better, especially if you’re female (it has to be raw honey, and you can’t put it in hot water)
  • I want a weighted blanket for adults
  • True Dark glasses are now on my wish list
  • I tend to forget to take my magnesium – but it also affects sleep
  • you can’t fall asleep with cold feet or hands. You just can’t. Socks are a must if you have cold feet like I tend to have when I go to sleep.

 

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Where I find my peace

 

”Carpe Diem” said my dad’s sleep app today, and when you really want to carpe the diem – this is the place to do it!

There is something so soothing in nature. Peace and quiet seeps into you whether you want it or not – you can’t just not relax when surrounded by so much beauty.

I go on my walks and enjoy seeing the way nature changes during the year.

Right now there is so much yellow everywhere, but in just a few days time that will change to brown.

I found an abandoned swan egg the other day – a pair of swans have their nest nearby, so this is probably one of theirs that didn’t make it.

It was just so beautiful though. I love seeing little things like this, seeing squirrels chase each other or swans nesting or even bird carcasses – there are traces of the life cycle everywhere.

We are so fortunate to live so near nature. Spending time in the garden is great – spending time in the woods is even greater.

The tranquility seeps in, and I need that so much.

I’m also looking forward to using my new Oura-ring that I finally, finally got today! (after 9 months!) It’s a sleep tracker that hopefully will help me get better sleep, and I look forward to seeing what my daily walks are doing to my all around health.

 

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Jag gillar krokiga träd!

När man tänker på träd tänker man ofta på raka, höga saker, men ute i skogen där träden får växa som de vill växer de i helt andra banor ibland.

En del träd faller ner på andra och böjer ner dem. Andra viks av stormar och vindar. En del blir för stora för sluttningen de växer på och böjer sig därför.

Ibland roar jag mej med att se hur många olika slags former av träd jag kan hitta på mina skogspromenader, och det är många det!

Döda träd är också vackra att se på. Och innehåller en stor mängd skogsliv!

Skogens livscykel finns överallt – övervuxet, nyvuxet, dött och livslevande i en enda salig blandning, och allting i höstskrud just nu. Gult och vackert så det ser nästan overkligt vackert ut!

 

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…och nu över till något helt annat, kristallkronor!

Av nån anledning har en hel del kristallkronor hamnat hemma hos oss (kan ha att göra med att vi gillar glittriga saker!), och det enda tråkiga med dom är att dom måste putsas ibland.

Den här kristallkronan var ett loppisfynd som såg rätt sunkig ut redan innan jag började pilla av prismorna.

Det tog sin lilla tid att få bort alla prismor. Jag lade dem i vatten blandat med diskmedel. Mycket diskmedel.

Efter en omgång diskmedel

Jag måste putsa dem flera gånger för att få bort allt flott och smuts som samlats under många år.

Två gånger diskat till vänster – till höger otvättade prismor.

Men oj, vad fina och glittriga prismorna blev!

Sån här sorts städning gillar jag bäst – när man ser resultat genast!

…mer glitter åt folket!

(och man behöver inte alltid pilla bort alla prismor för att rengöra – det går bra att putsa dem med en mikrofiberduk om man gör det tillräckligt ofta. Men om kristallkronan har stått i många år får man ibland inte bort smutsen med bara en duk)

 

 

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FAQ : living with constant pain in a certain part of your body

Here’s the thing – I have a condition that I seldom talk about. I don’t complain about it most of the time, not even to my self, not at home, and then at most to Niklas. I maybe cry about it once a year or every two years or so on a bad day, but other than that, I try not to think about it.

It is debilitating, and it is the reason why I could never have a proper 9-5 job, but getting disability status would mean first going through years of not having treatment (which in this case means Niklas massaging me every day and me taking muscle relaxants plus sometimes pain medication) to show the doctors in how much pain I would be without it. I am simply not willing to do that, especially since I can function almost normally as it is now.

The fact is however, that I am in constant pain, not as much as I used to, but it is always there in the background. I tend to ignore bodily aches and pains (benefits and drawbacks of being an ENTJ), and I always try to look positively on things. Things could be so much worse. I am privileged. I have a husband, and a home and a possibility to at least write for a living some day, so I am not in such a bad state as for example many young women and girls in parts of Africa who have much worse injuries than I do, and still have to work and take care of families sometimes even without the help of pain medication.

So what are you rambling about? Why won’t you just come out and say what it is that ails you?

Because the part of my body that is damaged is the one part of the female anatomy that it’s not proper to talk about. My vagina. I have scarring on the side of my vagina and it won’t ever go away.

Are you sure? Have you done everything you can to look into it?

If by everything you mean consult with Denmark’s leading surgeon on the area, Denmark’s leading physical therapist on the area, one of Finland’s best gynecologists, then yes – I have consulted with them and plus other people. I have been through three surgeries, and consensus is that there is no point in further surgery, because my body would just create new scarring in the new cut.

There is a slight possibility that a specialized surgeon in the US could do something about it, but that would be extremely expensive and require resources that we simply don’t have.

How can one little scar affect so much that you say you are almost debilitated?

That one little scar is located in a place that is rich in nerve endings and seems to affect the muscles of the area, and when they get tense, all the rest of the muscles get tense, which builds up. After giving birth, before we knew what was wrong with me, I was in constant pain from my feet to my upper back, until my muscles were in such a bad state that I could not walk without some form of support. I was on constant pain medication, and always waiting for the four hours to go by so I could get my next pill.

Since visiting Birthe Bonde, an amazing physical therapist in Copenhagen, I got some massage help and she showed Niklas how to massage me to give my muscles relief. Since then it has been much better, which is why I don’t talk about it most of the time. I can live with this. Many people have it much worse.

Can’t you just tell people?

Yes, of course I can. These are my options, for example at a party:

I have aches, and don’t want to get up to fetch something, so I for example ask Niklas to fetch it for me.

  1. I say nothing, and people assume I am lazy or that Niklas is hen-pecked and they think (and sometimes say) ”Poor Niklas”
  2. I claim to have something else that ails me, like backache or something, which is sometimes also the truth, because the pains are spreading through my body. This is the most socially acceptable alternative, but sometimes people then look at me strangely when they see me do motions that they did not think I could do, because my explanation was a bit faulty. I.e. I come out sounding like a liar or a hypochondriac
  3. To say my vagina hurts. And, if people didn’t like me already – this is one sure to make them dislike me, and mean not getting invited to any more parties (not that we get that many invites as it is! Most women don’t really like me – statistically most women are ESFJ or ISFJ, which I personally don’t have any problem with seeing as I was raised by a bunch of them, but they already see from my appearance that I’m not conforming to social norms and that raises red flags to them even before I’ve opened my mouth).

No matter what I tell, it is something that either feels like a lie to me, or that is uncomfortable to people or both.

Most of the time I say nothing and let people think what they will. If they are so shallow that they judge me because Niklas fetches me things, then they’re not people I want to be around anyway.

Have you tried yoga or meditation?

Yes, thank you, it’s been 15 years now since this whole thing started – by now I’ve tried almost everything there is, but if you have an idea that doesn’t involve medication/massage/exercise/yoga – I’m all for it. Otherwise – just presume I’ve tried everything there is, except for really obscure things, so if you sit on an obscure treatment for scarring on the inside of the body, I’m happy to hear about it, but no homeopathy or new age-stuff, thank you. I prefer researched methods that work.

Oh, poor Niklas who has to cater to you all the time AND massage you, and then you write about this embarrassing thing on your blog!

As I recall, it takes both a sperm and an egg cell to produce a child and since he volunteered to mix his DNA with mine, we think of this as something we are both in together. Why should I feel bad that he massages me every night and has to fetch things for me? If it was the other way around, I would be the one doing the catering, and nobody would raise an eyebrow.

He usually reads my blog posts before I publish them, and he has approved this message.

In addition, there are plenty of more embarrassing things that people don’t talk about.

But why even say anything about it? This is such an uncomfortable subject?

Because I am certain I am not the only one who has these kinds of problems. Billions of women go through childbirth. It is most certain that some experience similar things that I did, that they get scarring, that they remain with pain.

I have no idea if I know some of them. I haven’t spoken about it. It is taboo – and all things taboo remain unspoken of, until someone breaks that taboo.

People/women don’t talk (or didn’t used to talk) openly about their periods, and about having pain.

People don’t talk about problems with their rectum (even though that can be really debilitating when you’re out and about).

People/women don’t talk about when their vagina hurts from all kinds of reasons.

Certain parts of the anatomy are taboo to talk about. It is perfectly fine at a party to say you have a headache, but it’s not fine to say you have menstrual cramps. It is perfectly fine to say you go to physical therapy because of hurting your knee, but it’s not fine to say you do it because you got an injury in a certain female part while giving birth.

Or you can just talk openly about it and watch people get uncomfortable and not get invited to any more gatherings.  I guess I’m the latter category now, because by now, I’m just so sick and tired about having to come up with excuses all the time for something that will never ever go away. That will be with me for the rest of my life.

…but then again, I’m ENTJ, so the probability of me discussing anything that bothers me physically and that I need help with is closer to zero! 99% of the time, I pretend everything is fine. Today just happens to be an anomaly, a day when I was just so fed up with explaining things that I needed to get it out of my system.

 

 

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World Mental Health Day – and I kind of don’t feel like talking about it

There are so many words inside me that sometimes want to come out, sometimes just want to hide from everyone including myself. Like the fact that I am in constant pain. One of the perks/drawbacks of being an ENTJ is that you most often just ignore your own feelings, which is what I do regarding many aspects of my health.

Suffice it to say, I think it’s great that there is focus on mental health, or health in general. But I can feel with myself that I’m not ready to describe to people exactly what I am going through (mainly stuff left from giving birth and the following surgeries and complications).

Instead I’ll leave you with more fall pictures today. This is where I charge my batteries:

 

 

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Måndagshöstbilder

Idag är jag så trött, men jag ville ändå skicka iväg ett inlägg så här kommer lite höstbilder från mina promenader.

Ibland känns det som att jag ser fler saker om jag har kameran med. Kanske både för att jag rent fysiskt gör det 🙂 Har dålig syn nämligen, men också för att när jag har kameran med så letar jag efter guldkorn. Och om man är fokuserad på att hitta guldkorn är sannolikheten större att man gör det, än om man går omkring i sina tankar och inte lägger märke till någonting.

Ha en skön måndag!

 

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Vi skördar!

Finns det något godare på salladsbordet än nyplockad grönkål? Vi plockar de sista bladen och njuter av dem för fullt. Och kaninerna blir bortskämda med blad lite nu och då!

Sista chilina skördade. Plantorna är nedklippta och står i källaren i väntan på vintern. Av chilina gör vi mojosås – godaste chilisåsen som vi äter året om till nästan vad som helst. Receptet hittar du i det här inlägget.

 

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I skogen – vårt Unesco-arv

I år är det 10 år sen vi flyttade från Köpenhamn, och det fanns många anledningar att flytta därifrån (och många att bli kvar! Saknar fortfarande storstadslivet och våra kompisar där!) – en av dem är allemansrätten och skogarna här i Finland.

Det känns lyxigt att bo en kort promenad från skogarna.

Att kunna gå omkring ensam i ett naturskyddsområde och bara njuta av naturen.

Jag går omkring och ser på hur naturen ändras under årets gång, träffar på ekorrar och hjortar och allehanda fåglar.

Dessutom är det ju nuförtiden trendigt med forestbathing som det heter på trendspråk!

Jag går kors och tvärs i skogen, och lyssnar på fåglarna och på mina podcaster och ljudböcker, och njuter av att komma bort från civilisationen en stund.

Den här ensamheten och stillheten fanns liksom aldrig i de skogar vi besökte i Danmark. Eller så kallade skogar som vi tänkte på dem – det kändes mer som parker som besöktes av mängder av människor.

Det här är fördelen att bo i ett glest befolkat land som ännu har en massa orörd natur kvar.

Men vem vet hur det blir i framtiden?

Allemansrätten är något unikt för Norden (minus Danmark) – vi har alla lika stor rätt att gå ute i naturen och njuta av den, och har altlid haft den rätten. Den behöver vi behålla tycker jag, och ett sätt att befästa den är om den tas upp på Unescos lista över immateriellt kulturarv.

För det är ju ett kulturarv det här, att få gå ute i naturen och ströva precis var du vill.

Följa djurstigarna och se på allt det fina som finns gömt där långt borta från alla hus och bebyggelser.

Jag registrerar mina skogsturer i kampanjen ”Vi drar till skogs”, och hoppas det bidrar lite grann till att lyfta fram det här som jag ser som det bästa i landet Finland – naturen.

Här trivs jag, här skogsbadar jag, här mediterar jag och här går jag med mina barn och bara kopplar av. På stigar som trampas av både människor och djur, som vi alla delar på.

 

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MBTI in my family

When we started a family, we knew a lot about attachment and the way our own attachment would affect the process of having children. What we didn’t know was how hard it would be to work through all of our own attachment issues at the same time as trying to raise reasonably well attached kids who all had to deal with some form of trauma.

What I wish I had known then, is that I already had one tool that could help us – I had learned about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and its way of looking at how people think. The thing was, I had no idea it was actually applicable to relationships and to parenting, but now looking back I wish it was a part of training adoptive parents or new parents in general, because it has given us so many.

The MBTI is not a perfect instrument, far from it, but it has some validity and above all the functions that Jung and Isabelle Myers posited seem to have validity and now there is even brain scans to back them up. And learning about the functions has been just the key that we needed to grow as a family! Now that we understand that two of us are feelers and the rest are thinkers, so many things fall into place. We also realized we have one introvert in the family. As an ISFJ he is the most extroverted of introvert, but the introversion definitely shows up as being inclined to conserve energy unlike the rest of us who are extroverts.

I’ve spent the last decade wishing I could understand how this particular kid thinks, and now I think I’ve got it. Turns out, he is sort of a introverted version of my mother and most of my relatives on that side, and that already gave me lots of clues to how to treat him. We give him much more responsibility now, let him decide this and that concerning relationships and traditions, and try to take in consideration that he is an introvert. Which is not easy! I really have no idea how much to let an introvert stay introverted for themselves, and how not to, especially as this kid has extroverted feeling so high in his stack that he needs to be around people most of the time, which the rest of us extroverts actually don’t that much. Both us ENTJ:s in the family (myself and our oldest son) are happy reading books for hours or doing things in quietude, but not our little ISFJ. He needs people around him in quite another way, which takes an effort from me to understand.

MBTI has also been helpful in understanding how the PTSD in our family works. I realized all of a sudden half a year ago that I had been telling myself the wrong probabilities. When I corrected that, most of my PTSD symptoms disappeared. I still have fears, but most of them have gone away. Being an ENTJ I couldn’t help seeing danger everywhere, the potential of catastrophe, but being an ENTJ I rely heavily on probabilities, so when I could change how I thought about potential catastrophes, I could change my response to those unlikely events. I’ve tried to apply this thinking to our younger ENTJ also, but so far it hasn’t really taken a hold. He is much more cautious than I was as a child, because of his Introverted intuition (Ni) pared with extrovert thinking (Te) that makes him see possibilities everywhere.

Our ENFP also has her own way of dealing with trauma, and now that we know her personality type we can also deal with her emotions much better. She needs almost constant stimulation and is easily distracted when she is spiraling into negative emotion, and usually I can do that without engaging any of my own emotions (a perk/disadvantage of being ENTJ). It is harder for Niklas, our resident ESTP, who has the same EP-being in the moment not wanting routine-issues as his daughter. Usually when one of them blows up, one of us ENTJ:s step in and try to calm down the situation.

There is a lot of overlap between the personalities of our family, but the biggest gap is between us E:s and our ISFJ. All the rest of us are okay with plans changing in the last minute (our EP:s even crave that, and us ENTJ:s have Extrovert Sensing (Se) as a tertiary function and can function really well in sudden changes), but he really wants routine and everything to go just as planned. I sometimes feel bad for our tradition loving, relationship loving little extraverted feeler, who has been dropped into this Thinker family! 🙂

But then I think back to my own childhood, growing up surrounded by Extraverted Feelers (Fe)  who had no understanding for my way of thinking. It was a struggle sometimes, especially since I could feel their wishes for me to conform (something I’m very ill suited to do – my personality is more of a trail blazer), but now looking back I can see that I learned a lot from that. I’ve learned systems for handling feelers of all kinds, and try to sort of pass for a normal woman for at least a few minutes (my idiosyncratic way of thinking tends to pop out sooner or later, I’ve got the brain of a dude…!), and right now I am so grateful for that because without it, I have no idea how I could ever understand my youngest child.

There are perks to growing up with people with your sort of personality. You can have an ease of understanding  that you can’t with others. But you can also enhance each other’s weak spots, because we all have weak spots and they tend to follow certain patterns. Extroverts tend to skip their introverted functions and vice versa, and if you grow up with a parent of your own personality who does that, the chances are high that you too do that. And that is not helpful for anyone.

It is rough growing up surrounded by personalities that are far removed from your own, but it can also be a boon. I hope that our little ISFJ will grow up to be a person who isn’t that afraid of change or of changing traditions, and of objective impersonal arguments that often aren’t the sort of arguments that an extroverted feeler is attuned to. And I hope our TJ son will grow up understanding feelers as well as I did, or even better, because he is growing up with two different kinds of them. At the very least, I am grateful for having this opportunity for growth, which has been greatly enhanced by typing our family and understanding what we have in common and accepting our differences.

 

P.S. It can take a lot to type yourself and your family! I have the advantage of being a psychologist and have read up extensively on the subject, which is why I can say with certainty what types we all are. Otherwise psychologists tend to use the MBTI in addition to interviews and/or live observations. The instrument itself is usually not enough to give a definite analysis of a person’s thought patterns.

 

 

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