Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tips for Easy Sleep

Many of us have an occasional night when we can’t fall asleep due to the economy, family issues or work related problems. Here are 10 tips for easy sleep that will require you to change some of your sleeping habits, but will enable you to fall asleep easy in the long run.

1. Your Bedroom: No light or sound should disturb your slumber. If you need to block out light purchase some black out curtains or blinds. If you are traveling a good sleep mask will be beneficial. Sound can either be drown out by alternative relaxing sounds such as; sleep music, white noise or even a fan. You can also buy some ear plugs. The temperature of your room should hover around 65 degrees and if you suffer from congestion during the night a humidifier will come in handy.

2. Nighttime Routine: Going to bed and getting up at the same time allows us to get the required hour of sleep and wake refreshed. If you like to read, take a bath or do yoga, allow an extra hour as this will prepare your body and mind that bedtime is fast approaching.

3. Your Nightly Activities: It is best to do work, read, watch television, play video games or surf the web anywhere but your bed. Associating your bed to sleep and intimacy only will help your mind to relax when you hit your pillow.

4. Eating: Try not to eat too close to your bedtime as this may cause indigestion or acid reflux and either keep you awake or wake you up during the night. If you like to have a snack, stick with foods that will help you to fall asleep like; turkey, nuts, seeds, cereal or eggs. These foods are full of tryptophan a chemical that causes you to become drowsy.

5. Drinking: Curb your caffeine and consumption right before bedtime. Over 50? It will take you longer to metabolize caffeine; some say up to 10 hours. What to drink? Try decaffeinated beverages and beverages that help you sleep for example; warm milk or chamomile decaf tea.

6. Exercise: Exercise is great and will make you physically tired, but it will also increase your heart rate and make your body too warm to fall asleep. You need at least three hours to cool down. If you like to do a stretch routine before bed try yoga it is not only good for the body, the breathing exercises will relax you. Oh…and if you do exercise try to get outside and soak up some vitamin D as it may energize you and reinforce your bodies circadian rhythms.

7. Bath: Taking a warm bath as part of your nightly routine is a great way to relax, but don’t make the water too warm. Your body will need to cool down (just like when you exercise) as a too warm bath will stimulate you and increase your heart rate and body temperature.

8. Natural Supplements: Many supplements will act as a sleep aide. Chamomile, valerian, kava kava, passionflower extract, catnip or hops can be taken as a pill, tincture, tea or even as pillow stuffing. Lavender is also a great herb that will relax you. Try a supplement that has a combination of herbs for better results. Note: valerian is not recommended with alcohol. If you are on any other medication or have a health issue it is advisable to consult with your physician before taking any supplements.

9. Can’t Sleep? If you have been lying in bed for more than 20 minutes because you just can’t shut down your brain….get up. Write down what is bothering you and get it out of your head! Keeping a journal or ledger is a great way to unload your brain and will allow you to get back to job at hand…SLEEP!

10. Your Bed: If your bed is too hard or soft you will wake with a back ache or stiff joints. If your mattress is over 20 years old and you feel the lumps and bumps as you roll to the middle it may be time for a new one. Can’t afford a new mattress right now, then try a memory foam mattress pad topper as it will alleviate your pressure points and make your old mattress feel like new again.
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Easy to Get to Sleep

Sometimes it is not easy to get to sleep and the affects of many nights of sleep deprivation can cause you to become over-stressed and even over-weight. Here are a few tips and techniques that will help you to get the rest you deserve.

Tip 1: If you go to bed on a full stomach this can cause you to have poor quality sleep for a few reasons; one being that it takes time to digest the food and can give you indigestion while excess food can create a breathing problem if the stomach juices enter into your esophagus which is known as acid reflux. Acid reflux can exacerbate sleep apnea and can cause heart burn. Many people that suffer from acid reflux take medication and sleep with their heads propped up. If you are experiencing occasional acid reflux try to stop eating 3-4 hours before bedtime. This will allow your food to properly digest and minimize the stomach acids (such as; bile, digestive enzymes and bacteria) from coming up into your throat.

Note: If you feel you have chronic acid reflux or GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease a doctor’s visit should be in order to get the prescribed medication required to eliminate or reduce your symptoms before you have other health concerns. GERD is not a matter one should take lightly as it can cause Barrett’s esophagus which is a precancerous condition. Your doctor may suggest an exam of your esophagus to see if it is brown which is a symptom of GERD. Barrett’s esophagus can only be diagnosed using an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy to obtain biopsies of the esophagus. In an upper GI endoscopy, after the patient is sedated, the doctor inserts a flexible tube called an endoscope, which has a light and a miniature camera, into the esophagus. If the tissue appears suspicious, the doctor removes several small pieces using a pincher-like device that is passed through the endoscope. A pathologist examines the tissue with a microscope to determine the diagnosis. Improvement in GERD symptoms may lower the risk of developing Barrett’s Esophagus. A surgical procedure may be recommended if medications are not effective in treating GERD.

Tip 2: Research has also found that short or ‘power’ naps taken regularly can reduce heart disease and dying. If you love to nap, try not to sleep longer than 30 minutes as this should give you enough time to feel energized upon waking. Longer naps usually interfere with our sleep as we tend to go to bed after our normal night time because we don’t feel ready to sleep. Taking a power nap before 4pm should allow you to keep to your nightly routine.

If you have OSA or obstructive sleep apnea taking shorter naps will limit your symptoms due to the fact that it takes 90-120 minutes to reach REM sleep as this is the time when your muscles relax the most and you will experience obstructive actions.

Tip 3: Invest in some deep breathing CDs or other sleep aides. People that take yoga, tai chi and/or any other discipline classes that teach deep breathing techniques experience a significant calming to their nervous system and feel much more relaxed.

If you don’t have the extra money to buy a CD…when you go to bed try taking 4 – 5 slow deep breaths and exhale with a decreasing count of 8 8,7, …2, 1. This not only helps you to relax it also will reduce your heart rate. Concentrating on something other than your daily stress will help you to get to sleep easier. Other methods may be listening to sleep music such as instrumental, classical, easy listening or even a rain storm or waves on a beach. White noise not only helps you to relax it eliminates external noises. A fan is also a simple solution to eliminating outside noises.

Tip 4: Not only do we lay in bed thinking about our to-do-list we also are processing all our experiences we encountered during the day. Otherwise our mind is racing as it tries to process all that information. Outside sources such as TV, video games or searching the web right before bedtime can lead to information overload. It is a good idea to give yourself an hour before you retire to prepare your mind and body that it is time to go to sleep. Turn off outside influences and take a bath, read a book, write in a journal and/or have some decaffeinated herbal tea. The world and all its electronic gadgets will still be there in the morning.

Tip 5: Your body has its own sleep/wake cycle that is controlled by hormones. Early morning sunlight is the best time to expose yourself to the light and it helps strengthen your internal sleep clock. Also exposing yourself to natural sunlight will only maximize the benefits of vitamin D and calcium supplements. If you exercise, this is the best time as exercising late at night will only keep you awake longer because your increased heart rate and body temperature. If you do like to exercise after dinner, give yourself enough time (usually 2-3 hours) to cool down before retiring.

I hope these 5 tips help you to find it easy to get to sleep. As always if you are experiencing other health issues because you can’t sleep at night contact your physician as he may prescribe medication or an alternative route such as a sleep clinic to help you sleep easy.

GERD resource;
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Getting to Sleep Easy

One of the most important things you can do to help improve your sleep is to make your bedtime part of your daily schedule. As long as bedtime is disorganized you’ll have a problem getting to sleep easy. Don’t make your bedtime just whenever you happen to get tired, because you will probably go to bed later than you should. To reenergize your brain and body you need at least seven hours of sleep. You can get by with the occasional poor night sleep, but can’t endure chronic sleep deprivation without eventually showing signs of some health side effects. You can try to make-up lost sleep by taking naps or sleeping in on the weekends, but overtime if you consistently fail to get adequate sleep it will end up costing you your physical health and mental outlook.

If you want to get enough sleep every night you have to make your bedtime a habit, just like eating right or saving money. Everyone has an individual body rhythm in which they feel alert at different times during the day. You may be a person that loves the morning and will wake up when the sun rises, but can’t stay awake past 9pm at night. Or a night owl that loves to stay up all hours only to sleep right through their 7am alarm. But most of us have 8am to 5pm jobs and no matter when we feel most alert, we may have to compromise our nighttime schedule in order to get enough sleep for our daily activities whether it is school or work.

Knowing if we prefer to get up in the morning or sleep in we can select when to schedule classes, make appointments or even our career choice. If you are a night owl you may not prefer a job in construction, farming or surgery, but love a career in the entertainment industry or hotel and restaurant. On the other hand if you are a morning person you may prefer to do surgery as you would fall asleep during an onstage performance. For most of us these career choices are a luxury and not reality, so we truly need to figure out how much sleep we need to be productive during waking hours.

Many people go to bed at 11pm and wake at 6am if they have an 8am to 5pm job. This allows them time to get ready and have a breakfast before leaving the house. The best way to determine the time you should go to bed is to work backwards from the time you have to get up in the morning. After you establish your ideal bedtime, the next trick is to actually go to bed at that time every night. You also should have an hour before your bedtime to actually prepare your mind and body that it is time to go to bed. Making a bedtime routine can consist of taking a warm bath that is not too hot because this will raise your body temperature and increase your heart rate, having a snack, cup of herbal tea or a glass of warm milk, getting your pajamas on, brushing your teeth, reading a book, getting that report done or writing in a journal.

Concentrate on keeping your bedtime and make it a priority. Reward yourself after a week for sticking to your schedule like buying a new pair of shoes or going out to your favorite restaurant. It will take your mind and body a few weeks to adjust to the new schedule, but you will feel more alert and energetic in the long run. Eventually you may even wake up before your alarm clock in the morning!

From time to time we all feel too much stress in our daily lives to fall asleep and we lie there thinking of all the things we have to do (like getting that report done) or the problems we have to face. If you find yourself just laying there get up for about 20 minutes before you attempt to fall asleep again. Write down what is bothering you and give yourself some ideas to resolve the issue. Sometimes just getting it down on paper will get it out of your head long enough for you to relax and fall asleep. Another way to stop thinking about your problems is to listen to something else. Try sleep music, white noise or relaxation tapes.

Remember these are only suggestions only you will know what works for you. If falling asleep is causing you to have other health concerns it may be necessary for you to see your doctor as he may recommend medication or seeing a sleep specialist. If you want other tips and techniques on how to go asleep using natural remedies read my other articles. They may offer some more ideas on getting to sleep easy.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sleep Easy

7 (seven) tips and techniques to sleep easy:

1. Your bedroom is for sleep and intimacy only. Turn off the TV, video games and computer. Turning off everything that creates light is important for your body to produce melatonin. Melatonin regulates the body’s wake/sleep cycle or circadian rhythms. Make sure your windows are either covered by heavy drapes or blinds to keep the outside streetlights from streaming in your room. If you can’t control external noises drown them out with a fan, sleep music or white noise. Keep your room temperature at around 65 degrees, as this will keep you from getting to warm during the night. If your room is too dry it will cause you to become congested and it’s recommended to have a humidifier as this will moisturize the air as well as your airway passages.

2. Start a nighttime routine as this will prepare your mind and body every night that you are about to retire. Take a warm bath (too hot as this will increase your heart rate), read a book, get your comfy pajamas on, have a cup of Sleepytime decaffeinated tea or warm glass of milk and go to bed at a designated hour every night. That means weekends too.

3. Don’t eat a lot or drinking alcohol right before bedtime. Eating a lot may cause indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux. If you like to have a late night snack stick to foods that are rich of tryptophan such as milk, cereal, turkey, seeds or nuts. Tryptophan is known to cause drowsiness. That’s why we get lethargic after a holiday meal. Alcohol may put you to sleep, but also may wake you up during the night. According to

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and acts as a sedative. It may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, say no thanks to the after-dinner drinks.

A large meal and alcohol should be consumed at least 2-3 hours before retiring.

4. I love a good cup of coffee, but the caffeine causes some people to stay awake if they drink it too close to bedtime. If you like coffee after your dinner limit yourself to a cup or drink decaffeinated coffee. All drinks (yes, even pop folks) that contain caffeine should be avoided at least 6 hours before bed. If you are still having difficulty falling asleep, limit your caffeine intake to the morning, early afternoon hours or stop altogether.

5. If you like to exercise after you get off work make sure you give yourself enough time to cool down. Going to bed with an accelerated heart rate and warm body temperature will only hinder falling asleep. Try working out in the morning or at least 3 hours before you retire. This will give you enough time to relax and start your nighttime routine before you go to bed. One note: Stanford Un iversity did a study with a group of 50-76 year olds who had sleep problems and started them on a moderate exercise program for a half an hour four times a week. They found on average the participants slept an additional hour each night, took less time to fall asleep and were more energetic during the day (didn’t require a nap). Another point, it is better to exercise outdoors if possible and expose yourself to sunlight. Vitamin D from the sun reinforces your circadian rhythms and is all-round beneficial for your health.

6. Supplements that are considered sleep aides are; valerian, hops, chamomile, passionflower extract, skullcap and catnip. Supplements can be taken by tincture, capsule or as a tea. Please read the label for the recommended dosage and warnings. It may be recommended to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are on any other medication or have heath issues. Supplements are available at your local health food store or pharmacy.

7. Your bed can be the reason you can’t fall asleep causing you to toss and turn to avoid coils, sore shoulders, back pain or a cramp in your neck. If you sink to the middle of the bed it may be time to replace your mattress. A mattress’s life is 10-20 years depending on the brand. If you can’t afford a new mattress, try a memory foam mattress pad topper, they come in various sizes, firmness and prices. It will add life to your mattress without a dent in your savings. We all would like a good night sleep without worrying about money. Worrying about our to-do-lists and the stress in our daily lives can keep us awake at night. If you are lying there and can’t turn off these thoughts, get up for a bit before trying to fall asleep again. Listen to sleep music as this sleep aide might help you to fall sleep faster as it compels the mind to listen to the music instead of thinking of your problems or all the things you have to do. Types of sleep music; easy listening, instrumental, jazz, classical or as simple as a rainstorm. Whatever floats your boat or what music works best for you, listen to it and sleep easy tonight!
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