Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Can't Sleep

My sister Rose suffers from insomnia and can’t sleep. She has tried many sleep remedies such as counting sheep, reading, warm milk, sleep music, self-hypnosis tapes and even over-the-counter sleep medication, but to no avail she lies in bed tossing and turning as her husband is snoring logs. She’ll call me late at night crying “I can’t sleep and I don’t know what to do.”

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that is caused by a number of reasons; stress, pain and/or illness and can show up at any age. You learn your sleep habits when you are young and these habits might have to be changed in order for you to overcome your insomnia. If a lack of sleep is causing you to have additional health problems, it is best to seek counseling from a reputable sleep specialist. You may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder that is the source of your insomnia. Testing for sleep apnea is done at a sleep clinic where they monitor your sleeping habits over night. Here are a few alternative natural approaches to overcome insomnia.

The recommend 15 minutes of sunlight is not only a good way to soak up some Vitamin D, but it also can restore your body’s natural sleep cycle also known as the circadian rhythm.

Avoid naps, if possible. If you must nap, take a power nap of only 15-20 minutes. This should refresh you enough to get through the rest of the day and still allow you to sleep easy at night.

My sister loves a heavy blanket it makes her feel like she is in a cocoon, just like how a baby is swaddled when sleeping. This is probably an old sleeping habit, but if you like a heavy blanket make sure you don’t let your body over heat. If you over heat during the night, this will only wake you up. It is advisable to keep the temperature in your room cool, 65 degrees for adults and 70 degrees or less for children. Menopausal women that have night sweats especially need a cooler room with no constrictive clothing and fewer blankets.

Your bedroom should be a place where you sleep and have intimate relations only. Watching television, playing video games, eating, using your computer or talking on the phone are activities that should be done when you are in a wakeful mode. To prepare yourself to fall asleep you should do things that will relax you like read a boring book, write in your journal or listen to soft music, this will get your mind off of your to-do-list or wondering how you’re going to kill the bad guy in the video game.

If your parents were smart they would of established a night time routine for you when you were an infant. Adults need a bedtime routine too. If you need 7-8 hours of sleep and have to get up at 7am to get ready for work you should be asleep at 11:00pm. You need to make time or at least an hour to prepare for sleep; take a warm bath, read, snack, have a cup of Decaf Sleepytime tea, etc. Don’t exercise right before bedtime this will only increase your heart rate and cause your body to over heat. If you exercise after work try to do it 3 hours prior to your bedtime.

Do you suffer from acid reflux during the night? Caffeinated beverage and spicy foods can cause indigestion and heartburn. If you want a snack prior to going to bed eat foods that are high in carbohydrates or foods rich with Tryptophan. Tryptophan is a biochemical that causes drowsiness. Tryptophan is in turkey, eggs, nuts, beans, cereal and milk. Hence the old wives tale drinking warm milk to fall asleep. Caffeinated beverages, cigarettes and even vitamins and herbal supplements are stimulants. If you take supplements before retiring read the labels, all stimulants should be taken 2-3 hours before bedtime. Also liquids should be cut back at least 2 hours before bed to stop or at least limit the number of times you might have to get up during the night to go to the bathroom.

Sleep music and self-hypnotic tapes work for some people, but if they don’t work for you like my sister, try listening to ‘white noise’. White noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all of the imaginable tones that a human can hear and combined them together, you would have white noise. White noise is good to drown out other noises, such as Rose’s husbands snoring. You can buy white noise on a tape or CD, but a fan is also a good alternative.

Your room should also be as dark as possible to avoid stimulating your circadian cycle. Melatonin is secreted from your pineal gland when day turns to night, thus controlling your sleep cycle. Light prevents melatonin from producing; therefore you will have a hard time falling asleep. As we age our body produces less melatonin, so you might need a melatonin supplement. As with any supplement, contact your doctor before taking it due to an interaction with other drugs or medical problems. If the doctor has prescribed you with sleep medication, remember that you run the risk of becoming addicted. Some sleep and pain medication can cause a sleep problem, because they make you too weak to breathe properly; therefore you will wake up during the night.
The above are suggestions to help you find a natural way to fall asleep without taking over-the-counter sleep medications or prescription drugs that have side effects and additive properties. If you feel your insomnia needs special attention because you are having additional medical problems, please contact your doctor as he may recommend a specialist. As I mentioned above you may need to have a sleep study done at a sleep clinic where they will evaluate your sleeping habits to determine if you have sleep apnea. The results may indicate that you need a CPAP machine to control your sleep apnea. Sleep apnea means you stop breathing during the night due to an obstruction in your airway. A CPAP machine will push air into your airway with enough pressure to overcome the obstruction. Snoring may also be a sign of sleep apnea. Snoring may be the reason Rose can’t sleep. I know ‘I cant sleep’ with a snorer. May be Rose should get her husband to a sleep clinic????

In any case, ask your sleep partner for his opinion about your sleep habits. Try the suggestions above and keep a sleep journal. In the sleep journal keep track of the sleep remedies and how they did or did not help you get to sleep. Once you have tried all the possibilities, you will be better informed about your insomnia and the information will be beneficial for your doctor.

The content in I Can't Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
GLG America Logo

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 Welcomes You with Sleep Remedies

I am Kat and I want to welcome you to A Sleep Easy…we know at A Sleep Easy you may not be getting enough sleep at night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that an adult, 18 years and older, should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep at night. While on the average, a person only gets six hours and 40 minutes. Why? Mostly a lack of sleep is due to working schedules and stress in your normal everyday lives. Before you dash off to your local drug store and buy an over-the-counter medication, try a natural sleep remedy instead. Many over-the-counter medications have side effects and the possible risk of becoming addictive. Natural sleeping remedies help you relax, fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.

Magnesium and calcium when taken together act as added sleeping remedy, plus magnesium helps with heart problems that might rise when taking calcium alone. Wild lettuce, a herbal remedy for sleep, calms your nerves and reduces stress along with soothing joint or muscle pain and relieving headaches. Hops, an ingredient in beer, has been used for centuries as a home sleep remedy for those that suffer with insomnia.

Spritz lavender on your pillow or buy a lavender-filled pillow as a homeopathic sleep remedy. Melatonin a supplement that is produced naturally in your pineal gland controls your sleep cycle. Yoga stretches or meditation prior to bedtime will relax you and get you in the mood to sleep. Remember not to over exert yourself as too much exercise will increase your heart rate and cause you to become over heated. This in turn will affect your ability to relax. Concentrate on your breathing which will lower your heart rate instead.

L-theanine an amino acid that is in green tea will improve your REM cycles during sleep causing you to sleep deeper during the night. If you are worried that drinking prior to bedtime will make you wake up during the night to go to the bathroom, try the supplement Suntheanine which is pure L-theanine.

Valerian a common sleep aide supplement which improves your deep sleep helps you fall asleep faster and generally enhances the overall quality of your sleep. Valerian has valium like properties without the prescriptions addictive risks.

Chamomile a herbal sleep remedy that has been used for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Chamomile is taken in a tea or as a tincture depending on where the herb was grown. Kava Kava relieves stress and anxiety, but be careful there have been reports of liver failure due to liver toxicity associated with Kava Kava use.

Tryptophan is a precursor in the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. That means it's a biochemical substance that is necessary for the formation of the more stable serotonin. Serotonin plays a role in sleep induction. Tryptophan is in milk and warm milk helps people feel drowsy. It is best when taken naturally through food than a natural supplement. Some people that took the supplement developed a disease known as scleroderma. Scleroderma causes skin tightening, pain in the joints and muscles and overall weakness. These people also developed depression and learning difficulties. Some deaths were associated with the result of taking Tryptophan. You can easily include Tryptophan in your diet by eating turkey, cheese, nuts, beans, eggs, milk or by eating foods rich in carbohydrates.

5-HTP is a by-product of the amino acid tryptophan. It is used to increase serotonin in the body. 5-HTP is also the precursor of melatonin, which regulates sleep cycles. 5-HTP eases symptoms of depression, anxiety and used as a sleep disorder remedy by many doctors. A few studies have reported that 5-HTP is also useful in controlling pain and one’s appetite. An added bonus.

Catnip might invigorate your cat, but with people it calms them and works as a sedative similar to the supplement valerian. Although catnip isn’t as strong as valerian when combined with other sleeping remedies it’s an added sleep aid enhancement. Passionflower extract also acts as a sedative and is used for insomnia and tummy aches.

Like any sleep aide product, sleep disorder remedies can have side effects and risks. Natural sleep remedies do not require FDA approval as do over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs. It is wise to contact your physician before taking any natural sleep aide supplements. There may be an interaction with other medications, not advisable if you are pregnant or nursing and you need to know the appropriate dosage. Getting more or less of the supplement could be dangerous, especially when treating children or the elderly with a natural remedy for sleep.

If you have any questions, please email me at Please leave a comment if you know of any other sleep remedies. Thanks, I am the Kat’s Pajamas wishing all a good night’s sleep. The content provided in A Sleep Easy Welcomes You with Sleep Remedies is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
GLG America Logo