Saturday, August 28, 2010

Catnip Supplement for Sleep

Catnip is a member of the mint family which is grayish-white in color and native to Europe and Asia. The heart-shaped leaves and white or pale lavender tubular flower tops are used to make the catnip supplement for a sleep as well as other medical uses. Catnip is also called catnep, catmint, cat’s play, catrup, carwort, nip, nep and field balm, It contains volatile oils, sterols, acids and tannins including monoterpene and nepetalactone which are similar to the valepotriates found in Valerian a popular herbal sedative. Catnip has the opposite effect on people as it does on cats.  You may feel cool, calm and collected while your cat is rolling around uncontrollably and experiencing  dilated pupils and a rapid heart beat.  Nepetalactone can also be used as a repellant for insects such as; cockroaches, termites, mosquitoes and can help your cat repel fleas.  Catnip also contains thymol an antiseptic used on the skin and in nasal passages.

[caption id="attachment_310" align="alignright" width="193" caption="Catnip Supplement for Sleep"][/caption]

Catnip has treated babies and children to relieve restlessness caused by colic and induce sleep. Adults have benefited from catnip to alleviate insomnia, stress, menstrual cramps and relax tension headaches. A cup of hot catnip tea right before bedtime or a pillow stuffed with dried catnip leaves will help insure one ability to fall asleep easy. It also helps prevent nightmares as its sedative action on the nerves adds to its relaxing properties.

Other medical uses for catnip, besides a sleep remedy, are for colds, flu, fever, indigestion, nervous disorders, toothaches and have been applied externally to help heal cuts, scrapes and stop bleeding. It has a diaphoretic effect that increases perspiration without raising the body’s temperature and has an anti-fever effect that leads to its treatment for colds and flu.

Catnip comes as a tea, tonic, poultice, powder, capsule, tablet and flakes depending on what it will be used for. A tea is recommended for treating child’s restlessness, help a baby suffering from colic or adult with occasional insomnia or those experiencing respiratory ailments such as chest congestion, bronchitis or asthma. Tonic for those with indigestion, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or menstrual cramps. People have also made use of this plant to bring about menses in delayed menstruation and increase tone in the uterus. Therefore it is not recommended for pregnant women as it may induce contractions and cause a miscarriage.

[caption id="attachment_311" align="alignright" width="236" caption="Catnip Supplement for Sleep"][/caption]

Poultice of the leaves and flowers can be applied to reduce swelling from rheumatism, soft-tissue injuries and other inflammatory conditions such as a toothache. You can also use catnip powder on a cotton ball and press it just below the inflamed tooth. In tablet or capsule form to relieve headaches (tension and migraine) and combat sleeping disorders. An oil is used as an insect repellant and also works to treat animals and household items (furniture and carpet) of fleas. Flakes as this herb can be enjoyed as a seasoning or meat tenderizer. In combination with other herbs such as GABA or hops to aid in relaxing and relieving anxiety to induce sleep. Or combined with saffron, it has shown promise to treat scarlet fever and small pox.

How to enjoy catnip tea; 10 teaspoons of catnip per quart of water, steep tea for ten to fifteen minutes. Put you feet up, relax and enjoy. There are no known side effects with recommended dosages of catnip preparations. As stated before it is not recommended for those that are pregnant as it may act to promote uterine contractions. Catnip has diuretic properties; this may increase the frequency and the amount of urination. If you are taking other prescribed diuretics or any other medications it is advisable to discuss with your physician before you take a catnip supplement for sleep or any other herbal supplements. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Potassium Can Help You Fall Asleep Easy

Potassium can help you fall asleep easy as it is very important for proper function in all cells, tissues and organs and plays a key role in muscular and cellular functions, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, nerve transmission and even converts glucose into glycogen. Potassium is an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body along with other minerals and is found in all meats, some fish (salmon, cod and flounder), many fruits, vegetables and legumes as well as dairy products. Also called a natural diuretic, potassium is easily absorbed and due to its alkaline property it helps our body maintain its pH balance and water levels. Potassium also keeps our blood pressure under control, fights fatigue and reduces our chances of acne, allergies and kidney stones.

If you have a potassium deficiency or hypokalemia you can suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness, acne, skin problems, heart deterioration, hypertension, restless leg syndrome, depression, tinnitus and constipation. A person can have a potassium deficiency if they are not getting enough potassium in their daily diet, if they are taking medications that lower potassium levels, over exercising or are diabetic. Bartter syndrome or Gitelman syndrome can also lead to a potassium deficiency. Hypokalemia can be life threatening, because of the need for potassium to control muscle action, hypokalemia can cause the heart to stop beating. Diarrhea due to laxative or enema abuse is an occasional cause of hypokalemia in teen and adults. Laxative and enema abuse is often part of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. If you feel you are potassium deficient for any reason see your doctor to get your levels checked to determine your treatment and care.

Depending on the findings in your consultation with the doctor, he will determine which test is best to get a proper diagnosis. Testing for low levels of potassium can be made with a sample of blood, an electrocardiogram (for those experiencing abnormalities in heart behavior) or urine. The urinary potassium test is useful in cases where the patient is denying the practice of laxative or enema abuse.

[caption id="attachment_304" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Potassium levels for easy sleep"][/caption]

A potassium deficiency is treated through diet or medication depending on the cause or severity of the deficiency. A diet rich in potassium is sometimes all that is needed. Foods with a high content of potassium are; oranges, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, beans, some type of cereals, dried fruits such as peaches, dates, apricots, raisins etc., meat, grapes, milk, egg-yogurt, and spinach, to name a few. Keeping the right amount of potassium in the body depends on the amount of sodium and magnesium in the blood. Too much salt in your system can cause diarrhea, vomiting, excess sweating, malnutrition, Crohn’s disease which can cause a deficiency along with heart medicines called loop diuretics.

Low potassium levels contribute to sleep disorders such a restless leg syndrome (RLS). Potassium regulates smooth muscle contractions and lower levels have been associated with RLS and leg cramps or "charley-horses" that afflict pregnant and older adults during the night. Increasing your potassium levels can eliminate muscle spasms and reduce RLS and/or leg cramps that contribute to restlessness and discomfort by allowing you to fall asleep easy and stay asleep through the night. Low levels also contribute to feelings of general fatigue because potassium synthesizes proteins that metabolize glucose and glycogen a prime energy source for the body. Improving one’s diet or taking a potassium supplement can help your body make more use of its nutrients and improve general health and vitality. Like magnesium, lower potassium levels can exacerbate anxiety and irritability and increasing potassium has been known to improve your mood and even lessen depression. Before taking any supplements it is advised to talk to your physician to avoid drug interaction or interference with treatment for other health issues.

Besides helping with sleep related issues low levels of potassium have also been linked to bone loss, high blood pressure, stroke and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A person with IBD or Crohn’s disease often has trouble absorbing minerals which results in lower levels of potassium.

Many foods are rich in potassium but potassium is also available as a supplement in a tablet, capsule, powder and liquid form and can be purchased at your local health food store or pharmacy. Potassium is also found in multivitamins and in supplements with herbal mineral combinations like Sleep Minerals 11. Make sure you are taking potassium supplements under a doctor’s supervision and never give child potassium unless their pediatrician tells you to due to the side effects. Side effects include; diarrhea, indigestion and nausea. If you take too much potassium you risk muscle weakness, slowed heart rate and abnormal heart rhythm. If you have any of these symptoms while taking potassium, contact your doctor.

The recommended daily intakes of dietary potassium are listed below:


• Infants birth - 6 months: 500 mg or 13 mEq
• Infants 7 months - 12 months: 700 mg or 18 mEq
• Children 1 year: 1,000 mg or 26 mEq
• Children 2 - 5 years: 1,400 mg or 36 mEq
• Children 6 - 9 years: 1,600 mg or 41 mEq
• Children over 10 years: 2,000 mg or 51 mEq


• 2,000 mg or 51 Meq, including for pregnant and nursing women

People suffering from kidney disease should not take potassium supplements nor should those taking an ACE inhibitor, potassium sparing diuretics or antibiotics such as trimethoprim or sulfamethoxazole. Other medications that can increase potassium are; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heparin, cyclosporine and beta-blockers that treat high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines. Medications that can lower potassium levels are; thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics (lasix), corticosteroids, amphotericin B, antacids, insulin, fluconazole, theophylline and laxatives. Low blood levels of potassium increase the likelihood of toxic effects from digoxin, a medication used to treat abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.

If you are taking any of these medications, it is important for your doctor to test your potassium levels to see whether or not you need a supplement. Do not start taking a supplement on your own. Potassium can help you to fall asleep easy, but it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking any supplement. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

How Much GABA to Take to Fall Asleep Easy

How much GABA to take to fall asleep easy? Let’s first look at what GABA is and what it does for you. GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid is produced naturally in the brain and acts as a neurotransmitter to reduce stress-related impulses. On average we supply enough GABA on our own, but many people suffer from a deficiency of GABA that causes anxiety, irritability, insomnia and even depression. Many deficiencies are cause by environmental and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and toxins in the air. Doctors recommend GABA as a gentle non-sedating tranquilizer which is available in pill or powder form at your local health food store or pharmacy.

[caption id="attachment_298" align="alignright" width="242" caption="Take GABA to fall asleep easy"][/caption]

GABA while promoting relaxation, without addictive properties as with prescription medication; can also help reduce chronic pain and prevent seizures. Testing for other health issues like weight loss, exercise tolerance and high blood pressure have shown mixed results. It has also been reported, although untested, to improve those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and promote prostate health.

A GABA supplement does not cause drowsiness but reduces anxiety associated with insomnia to make you fall asleep easy. Some research has shown combining a GABA sleep aid with another herb that promotes drowsiness such as valerian or melatonin will help those with insomnia fall asleep faster. For those suffering from depression or chronic pain, GABA can lessen pain related nerve impulses and has shown to enhance mood-elevating properties. Doctors find that epilepsy causes vary from individual to individual and GABA has been linked to lower seizures in some cases by inhibiting the nerve cells that set off the attacks. Drugs that help those with epilepsy such as benzodiazepines and Phenobarbitals enhance GABA levels in the brain. Studies are mixed as GABA has shown no benefit for those whose seizures are set off by flashes of light, but have shown to help those that don’t respond to conventional treatment if taken for a period of time. More testing to establish more conclusive results is necessary as GABA should never be substituted for conventional epilepsy medication, but could possibly be an additional aide to compensate for GABA deficiencies that contribute to seizures by allowing for reduced doses of standard medications. However, never reduce your medication without your physician approval and supervised care.

[caption id="attachment_297" align="alignright" width="119" caption="Night Cap - GABA formula for easy sleep"][/caption]

For those that do not like to take or have trouble swallowing pills, GABA is available in powder form that can be added to water or juice. Sublingual tablets that when placed under your tongue dissolve are also offered. If you suffer from insomnia take 500 to 1,000 mg an hour before bedtime and if you also experience anxiety take valerian or melatonin. For stress, chronic pain or epilepsy it is recommended to take 250 – 500 mg three times a day. For PMS symptoms try GABA for a week to 10 days prior and during your period. It is best to take GABA between meals for the best absorption.

Night Cap is a GABA weight loss juice that helps the brain to release more of its stored up Human Growth Hormone to promote better sleep, fat burning, muscle building, and more energy. Night Cap contains 2 full grams of ABU 48(I) GABA in a fast acting, super absorbable liquid base. Its NEW FORMULATION is free from artificial colors or flavors and is naturally sweetened by a leaf called stevia. Enjoy a restful, rejuvenating night's sleep with Night Cap taken 10-15 minutes before bedtime. Night Cap is now available in convenient 2 oz. travel size packages called "Zz Shots".

Many prescription medications that are for anxiety target GABA receptors in the brain such as Xanax and Valium. Using GABA in combination with these drugs can produce dangerous side effects. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements for possible drug interactions and with other health issues as GABA can produce excessive drowsiness when taken with codeine, narcotic pain relievers, antidepressants, sedatives and muscle relaxants. GABA side effects may include mild stomach indigestion and nausea. High doses of GABA have shown to cause anxiety, insomnia and numbness around the mouth and extremities. It is never recommended to operate heavy machinery while taking GABA. Not recommended for those that are pregnant or breast feeding or people with kidney disease.

How much GABA to take to fall asleep easy? If you suffer from any of these ailments follow the proper dosage below:

Epilepsy 250-500 mg 3 times a day

Fibromyalgia 250-500 mg 3 times a day, as needed

Insomnia 500-1,000 mg at bedtime

Stress 250 mg 3 times a day or 750 mg once a day

Tobacco Dependence 250 mg 3 times a day, or 750 mg at bedtime.

The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to Fall Asleep with Jet Lag

What is jet lag or desynchronosis? It is a temporary condition people experience due to crossing several time zones or the earth’s meridians in a short period of time causing the traveler’s sleep/wake cycle to become out of sync creating an almost bipolar condition. The earth’s meridians distinguish geographic position in relation to the earth’s poles defining time zones. Jet lag is a sleep disorder not caused by abnormal sleep problems, but due to your body subjected to external stimuli and local timetables while trying to establish a new sleep/wake pattern in its new location. This adjustment involves the circadian rhythms associated within the body and its ability to learn how to fall asleep with jet lag. Circadian rhythms relate to changes in body function that occur during a 24 hour period. Circadian rhythms not only affect your sleep/wake cycle they also regulate your body temperature, operate gland and hormone, airway and kidney functions.

[caption id="attachment_290" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Fall Asleep with Jet Lag "][/caption]

As well as feelings of a "tired-wired” or bipolar like symptoms that causes the traveler to experience highs (too excited, can't sleep) and lows (fatigued, sleep problems), other symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, headaches and irritability also occur with jet lag. Not everyone is affected by jet lag while some may experience the symptoms for a week or more and others can return to their normal sleep pattern after a day or two. The degree of disruption varies greatly among people; some may not be bothered at all. Some symptoms of jet lag are caused by the dry air in the plane, the pressurization, vibrations and even the cramped space one has to stay in for a period of time. These external conditions can cause dry eyes, irritated sinuses, headaches, earaches, muscle cramps and occasionally swollen feet and ankles.

If a change in your body temperature and dry air causes you to have constricted airway passages that occur during your flight your circadian rhythms will be influenced by these environmental conflicts causing you to not be able to function properly during the day let alone regulate your sleep/wake cycle at night. People naturally synchronize their internal clock with day-night cycles that allow them to stay awake during the day and fall asleep easy at night. The body regulates its sleep/wake cycle with daylight as light stimulates the nerves in the eyes that will pass it along to the nerves in the brain that houses the hypothalamus which in turn controls the body’s circadian rhythms thus regulating its 24-hour cycle with the earth’s 24 hour cycle. Sounds like the children’s nursery rhyme The Little House that Jack Built… we go on our natural reoccurring path until we decide to fly across the big pond with its new day and night cycle then our circadian rhythms cannot adjust right away or “lag” in time and that is why it is called jet lag.

Our body organizes its wake time with all the body functions that are best administered during the day and are slow to adapt to external changes like new time zones. One’s ability to readjust their biological clock may take hours to days depending on how many time zones were traveled. There is no specific treatment just many weary travelers that try to adjust to the new time zone as soon as possible. Many travel only during the day if they are heading eastbound as they may arrive at their destination in the middle of the day or early evening and go to bed at a normal time in the new time zone. Westbound travel is easier to adapt to because it is easier to extend one’s day by staying up longer then by shortening one’s day by going to sleep earlier.

The researchers also suggested that around 70 million cases of jet lag occurred in 2007, based on the number of international airplane passengers and those with reported medical cases.  According to some simple behavioral adjustments before, during and after arrival at your destination can help minimize some of the side effects of jet lag.

• Select a flight that allows early evening arrival and stay up until 10 p.m. local time. (If you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours. Set an alarm to be sure not to over sleep.)

• Anticipate the time change for trips by getting up and going to bed earlier several days prior to an eastward trip and later for a westward trip.

• Upon boarding the plane, change your watch to the destination time zone.

• Avoid alcohol or caffeine at least three to four hours before bedtime. Both act as "stimulants" and prevent sleep.

• Upon arrival at a destination, avoid heavy meals (a snack—not chocolate—is okay).

• Avoid any heavy exercise close to bedtime. (Light exercise earlier in the day is fine.)

• Bring earplugs and blindfolds to help dampen noise and block out unwanted light while sleeping.

• Try to get outside in the sunlight whenever possible. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. (Staying indoors worsens jet lag.)

• Contrary to popular belief, the types of foods we eat have no effect on minimizing jet lag.

Stress is another problem that can lead to sleeplessness. Two common travel related stress conditions are the "First Night Effect" and the "On-Call Effect." The first condition occurs when trying to sleep in a new or unfamiliar environment. The second is caused by the nagging worry that something just might wake you up, such as the possibility of a phone ringing, hallway noise or another disruption.

Try these tips on you next trip to help avoid travel-related stress and subsequent sleeplessness.

• Bring elements or objects from home like a picture of the family, favorite pillow, blanket or even a coffee mug) to ease the feeling of being in a new environment.

• Check with the hotel to see if voice mail services are available to guests. Then, whenever possible, have your calls handled by the service.

• Check your room for potential sleep disturbances that may be avoided; e.g., light shining through the drapes, unwanted in-room noise, etc.

• Request two wake-up calls in case you miss the first one.

[caption id="attachment_291" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Fall Asleep with Jet Lag "][/caption]

There are a number of external conditions you can control and not control when trying to sleep in a new unfamiliar environment. The most common environmental factors that affect our sleep are noise, the bed, temperature or climate, and altitude. Your age and gender also play a part in how we are influenced by these factors. One study found that women are more easily awakened, although deeper sleeper than men, by sonic booms and aircraft noise, while men may be more noise sensitive as they are lighter sleepers. See more information on how men and women sleep on my article on How We Can Sleep Easy.

Even at home we hear the dogs barking, the neighbor’s music and the toilet running as we are trying to fall asleep, however have you experienced the absence of a familiar noise that also kept you awake? Many city dwellers find it hard to fall asleep in the country and vice-versa as our mind is aware of familiar sounds that have gradually been incorporated into our sleep routine even though we are not aware of them until we sleep outside our natural surroundings. Studies show that you can get used to traffic in one weeks time but noises like fire alarms, cat fights, sirens, loud thunder or hearing your name called will wake us up right away every time. Easy listening music, classical music, a fan, air conditioner can often block out the crying baby in the next room or kids jumping on the bed above your head (irks me!) and allows you to fall asleep really fast. Or you can make use of those earplugs you wore on the flight.

Ah the bed….my advice is to always have enough room to turn over whether you are travelling with your partner or not and the bigger the bed the better. As for the bedding you have limited control as I always bring my pillow with me unless I am travelling to a very, very nice hotel or resort as you never know where that pillow has been. If your skin is sensitive to certain detergents or industrial bleach it may be advised to at least take a pillow case with you.

If you can control the temperature in your room it is best to keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees unless you are experiencing night sweats then the lower the better for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Heading to altitudes of 13,200 feet or more? Diminished oxygen levels and changes in your respiration will take two to three weeks on average for your body to adjust to as these altitudes cause the greatest sleep disruptions.

Sleep aides such as over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and supplements like melatonin can help alleviate sleep disruptions, but do not resolve the biological imbalance caused by jet lag. They may manage short-term insomnia, but are not recommended for long-term use as prescription drugs and some OTC medications can be addictive and melatonin is not regulated by the FDA. With any sleep aid it is advisable to consult with your primary caretaker before taking it because there may be an interaction with other medication or health issues.

There is another drug to help people cope with jet lag, but has yet to be approved by the FDA and is only available through clinical trials. Tasimelteon has shown significant improvements in all major sleep disturbances for those experiencing transient insomnia or “first-night effect”. Tasimelteon improved sleep efficiency, total sleep time, wake time after sleep onset, latency to sleep onset, and latency to persistent sleep compared with a placebo.

Melatonin itself does not make a practical drug for treating circadian rhythm-associated insomnias because of its pharmacokinetic properties. The pharmacokinetics of tasimelteon deserved closer scrutiny, because of the relatively high doses needed to reduce insomnia. Studies were unable to evaluate daytime side effects such as restlessness and impaired performance often seen with other sleep aides. It will be an added benefit if tasimelteon proves to improve sleep without side effects. Despite the encouraging results, tasimelteon faces an uncertain future and is still facing additional clinic trails on how to fall asleep with jet lag before it is approved by the FDA.

The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How We Can Sleep Easy

Getting to sleep easy with your partner could be bad for your relationship and your health according to reports by the BBC. One study found that doubling up in the same bed can lead to approximately 50% of sleep problems. Unfortunately we all need sleep and if we don’t get enough of it, we quickly become moody, irritable and curt especially toward those we live and work with. How can we sleep easy and get uninterrupted deep sleep that is so important for our health and well-being? Why can some of us sleep in any situation while others find it hard to fall sleep?

[caption id="attachment_280" align="alignright" width="402" caption="How Can We Sleep Easy"][/caption]

A recent study released this week in the Current Biology found the answer may be tucked in sleep spindles or bursts of brain activity that occur only during sleep. The more spindles that are produced in the brain’s thalamus the more likely a person will stay asleep during the night despite outside influences. The thalamus is the part of the brain that conveys senses and the spindle is responsible for blocking sounds, even your partners snoring and sounds created by tossing and turning.

Women tend to sleep more deeply and are less likely to be disturbed by sharing a bed while men sleep lighter and are more vulnerable to their partner’s movements. This might be due to a woman feeling safer with her partner by her side and the husband always on the alert…or sleeping with “one eye open”, as he is expected to be the protector in case of any emergency situation. Over time men show increased stress hormone levels and reduced mental abilities. If you share a bed with your partner here are some common sleep disturbances and ways to minimize interrupting your partners sleep.

Do you or does your partner steal the covers? Taking the covers from your partner causes them to have a change in body temperature which will wake them up. No need to sleep in separate beds, just replace your double, queen or king blanket with two single ones and that way each will have their own without disturbing the others sleep. Usually cover stealing is a result of tossing and turning. Unfortunately most mattresses cause the entire bed to move because they are single spring reinforced and as the mattress ages each partner’s weight will distort their side of the bed and eventually causing a downward slope right to the middle. Some mattresses come with an anti-roll technology which separates the springs on each side of the bed. Other suggestions would be to buy two single bed mattresses for a king size bed or even better (and cheaper) a memory foam mattress pad topper to reduce or even eliminate movement from one side of the bed to the other.

Do you or does your partner snore? Some people snore every night while some only snore occasionally due to congestion from dry air or an illness. Snoring can be disastrous for your partner and has caused many couples to sleep in separate bedrooms. Suggestions; don’t sleep on your back, use anti-snore nasal strips or nasal spray, try a humidifier or cold remedy like Nyquil if feeling ill. For those with a chronic snoring problem it may be recommended to see your physician as snoring can be caused by sleep apnea, a condition that triggers a person to stop breathing periodically during the night due to an obstruction in their air passage way.

Eventually scientists will create a drug or device that will help the brain to produce sleep spindles naturally so for those that sleep lightly, either at home or away, can sleep without interruption despite external noises/movements that can be controlled or not. There are 40 million Americans that suffer from sleep disorders including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia and many more don’t get enough sleep just because they are stress about work and the economy. They take their work home and stay up too late then they toss and turn because they haven’t prepared their mind and body to fall asleep easy. Establishing a nightly routine like taking a warm bath, reading a book or snacking on foods full of tryptophan will help make you drowsy and relaxed.

[caption id="attachment_279" align="alignright" width="381" caption="How We Can Sleep Easy"][/caption]

Today couples sleep together.... tomorrow evidence may suggest that sleeping apart will be the norm regardless of what people might say about their “love life”. Sleeping apart can make the time spent together more meaningful and both partners are less likely to be grumpy or irritable with each other. It is funny or not, but the well-to-do couples from the Victorian era had a bedroom just for intimacy and then they retired to their own bedroom for the night. During the industrial revolution many middle to lower class families had to live in smaller spaces causing people to share beds. So it was really for monetary reason we started to share a bed than it was a romantic one. Some of us are lucky we can sleep together without being disturbed during the night while others of us have to make do with alternative solutions until science or public opinion provides answers to how we can sleep easy. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stop Smoking Can't Sleep

Some people can’t sleep because they are trying to stop smoking. When your body craves nicotine due to a dependency, it may cause you to wake up periodically during the night with an increased heart rate, especially if you are trying to quit. If you decide to get up and have a cigarette you may find it hard to go back to sleep because nicotine is considered a stimulant even though many people feel the need to smoke as a way to calm themselves down and relax. The fact is smoking stimulates the mind and body that can initiate sleep problems and if you can’t sleep over a period of time it may result in sleep deprivation, in which you will find it more difficult to function normally during the day and eventually it may cause serious health issues; like heart disease and obesity.

Not only does sleep deprivation cause health issues smoking raises the heart rate and blood pressure while dilating the arteries which contributes to arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease and stroke. Nicotine raises the level of glucose in the blood and lowers the immune system. Other health related issues are lung cancer, gum disease and tooth loss, premature aging and premature babies for women that smoke during their pregnancy.

[caption id="attachment_271" align="alignright" width="392" caption="Stop Smoking Can't Sleep"][/caption]

Heavy smokers often get a “smoker’s cough” and other breathing disorders that affect their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, as well as interrupting their partners sleep.

If you smoke in your house make sure you have a house fan or open windows to air out the room as smoke will cause you to become congested during night. (I cant sleep when the bedroom smells like stale smoke) One of the best things you can start to do for yourself and your family is to smoke outside or in the garage. Eliminating smoking in the house will delay smoking and help you cut down on cigarettes gradually.

Changing your bedtime routine by making time for other activities may lessen your cravings. Other ways to help you quit smoking are; acupressure, doing activities with family or friends where smoking is not allowed, use nicotine patches, nicotine gum or hypnotherapy. Many times your doctor can prescribe and anti-anxiety medications like Wellbutrin that will help with the cravings. Anxiety is the number one cause of insomnia. Some homeopathic remedies can help with insomnia and anxiety such as Valerian, hops, passionflower and GABA supplements.

Yoga and other breathing techniques can help the body during the withdrawal period while improving sleep and relaxation. Learning deep breathing not only exercises the lungs but also reduces stress, supports withdrawal and restores sleep. If you are overweight and snore you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Extra weight on the neck can cause pressure on the airway passage. Sleep apnea is the result of not being able to breathe freely which causes periodic interruptions of sleep during the night. Many smokers claim that they have put on weight after they quit smoking, mainly because they substitute cigarettes for high calorie foods. Losing weight with an exercise program like yoga and a healthy high fiber diet will help your body recover faster from the ravages of smoking and help you to sleep easy.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sleep Easy with Menopause

If you are trying to sleep easy with menopause you might find it difficult if you are experiencing night sweats which is one of the main side effects women have when their estrogen levels begin to decline. There are a number of other factors that may cause you to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Not only are you facing hormonal changes causing nights sweats and/or hot flashes which throw off your sleep/wake cycle, you could also have other health issues such as thyroid problems, incontinence, sleep apnea, stress, depression, anxiety, side effects from medication and weight gain. What can you do to help eliminate or lessen these symptoms?  Try these natural lifestyle changes before considering prescription drugs.

[caption id="attachment_260" align="alignright" width="369" caption="Sleep Easy with Menopause"]menopausal dwarfs[/caption]

Hot flashes and night sweats are cause by decrease estrogen levels that affect the hypothalamus, a gland that regulates your body’s temperature. 75% of women have these symptoms according to the American Congress of OB/GYNs. Natural alternatives such as meditation, yoga, hypnosis, acupuncture and breathing exercises may relieve your symptoms. Try black cohosh or soy products. Remifemin a black cohosh supplement has been reported to work the best and has been recommended by OB/GYNs.

Why use Remifemin? Remifemin not only reduces 70% of night sweats, hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and anxiety its formula included Valerian, lemon balm and hops all well known sleep aides to help you fall asleep and stay asleep easy all night along. It’s also non-habit forming and gentle on your body without side effects.

Stop all caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, chocolate or aspirin. Check you medications as they are also known to contain caffeine.

It is always recommended to keep your bedroom at 65 degrees to get a good night sleep, but if you are suffering from night sweats you might want to keep your bedroom temperature a few degrees lower so you can keep your body temperature cool all night without being uncomfortable. Also wear light weight pajamas that aren’t restrictive.

Incontinence isn’t caused by menopause, but it can surely make it worse. As you get older your pelvic muscles weaken and with lower estrogen levels the problem is acerbated by a thinning urethra lining. If you are overweight it is a good idea to lose some weight to reduce the pressure on your bladder. Avoid spicy foods and citrus fruits as well as limiting the amount of caffeine, because caffeine is a diuretic and can exacerbate your incontinence. Drink plenty of water during the day to flush out any bacteria in your bladder and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Don’t drink a lot of liquids before bedtime and remember to empty your bladder before retiring. Try Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Menopause anxiety occurs in women that are usually premenopausal as they are trying to deal with a changing body that takes place when there estrogen levels start to fall. Some women experience the change with no symptoms at all, some with symptoms as their periods are decreasing and into 2-3 years after they have stopped completely and then there are those women who suffer from all the side effects of menopause for years. Depending on the severity of their symptoms they may also feel fatigued, get headaches, and suffer from insomnia which creates anxiety causing shortness of breath, heart irregularity, dizziness and trembling. In order to take control of their anxiety many women will exercise, get a massage, go to therapy or find an interest to focus on something other than their menopause symptoms. Learn some relaxation techniques to lower your heart rate which will calm yourself down and allow you to fall sleep. Progressive relaxation, deep breathing, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-hypnosis, white noise and biofeedback are some techniques and alternative ways to keep your mind off your stress and anxiety to fall asleep at night.

GABA is a supplement that is used to help reduce anxiety. GABA not only lessens feelings of anxiety it also induces relaxation and increases alertness. You can also increase your body’s natural production of GABA by eating GABA enriched foods such as;

• Almonds, tree nuts
• Bananas
• Beef Liver
• Broccoli
• Brown Rice
• Halibut
• Lentils
• Oats, whole grain
• Oranges, citrus fruits
• Rice bran
• Spinach
• Walnuts
• Whole wheat, whole grains.

Other lifestyle changes you can consider to sleep easy with menopause are making sure you establish a sleep routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Start your routine at least an hour before you go to bed as this will allow your body and mind to prepare for sleep. Make sure your room is dark as any light will keep your mind awake. Don’t watch TV, play video games or work on your computer in bed. Your bed should only be used for sex and sleep only. Exercise and eat large meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. If you like a snack before bed, eat foods that are full of tryptophan, as tryptophan is known to make people drowsy. If you exercise the best time is outside in the morning sun between 6-8:30am, you not only get your recommended amount of vitamin D, you will also keep your sleep/wake cycle in check.

Most importantly get help if you feel you need it, whether a doctor, counselor, personal trainer, acupuncturist, massage therapist, or naturopath – either alone or in combination – as they may have alternative treatments that will help you sleep easy with menopause. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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