Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Asleep Easy with Chamomile

Chamomile is used to help with many health problems, including sleep disorders. Chamomile actually comes from its own daisy-like plant that is best known for its ability to be made into a tea which is commonly served with either honey or lemon. Chrysin, a specific flavonoid found in chamomile, has been shown to be anxiolytic and is believed to be at least partially responsible for chamomile's reputation to help those with insomnia fall asleep easy, as it is known to reduce stress.

The MedlinePlus file maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lists over 100 separate ailments and conditions which chamomile has been traditionally used, for which it lists only a few as having undergone scientific study on animals and/or humans. Chamomile has been used as a treatment for such conditions as cardiovascular conditions, common cold, diarrhea in children, eczema, gastrointestinal conditions, hemorrhagic cystitis, hemorrhoids, infantile colic, mucositis from cancer treatment, quality of life in cancer patients, open penile sores, skin inflammation, sleep aid, vaginitis, and wound healing.

Chamomile is a well known name when it comes to herbal remedies having rich anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and sedative properties. Chamomile processed tea is very commonly used for causing drowsiness and relieving stress. Unlike some herbal sleep remedies, chamomile does not have to be taken on a regular basis to be effective as it provides quick relief when taken right before bedtime.

You can buy chamomile as dried flowers, liquid extracts, capsules, tablets, and ointments/creams applied to the skin. MedlinePlus says chamomile has been used as a douche, mouth rinse, tincture, and bath additive. Some natural medicines recommend a paste, plaster, or ointment with 3% to 10% chamomile flower heads. The dried herb is made into potpourri and herb pillows, and is burned for aromatherapy. The flowers are edible and quite tasty in salads or made into a refreshing cold or warm beverage.

According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternatie medicine the side effects include an allergic reaction, skin rash, drowsiness or sedation (ah, isn’t this the reason we are taking it?) and uterine stimulation which may lead to miscarriage. Not recommended for those that are pregnant or breastfeeding. Use chamomile with caution when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Chamomile is part of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes ragweed and chrysanthemum, so people with allergies may react when they use chamomile either internally or topically. Call your doctor if you experience vomiting, skin irritation, allergic reactions (chest tightness, wheezing, hives, rash, itching) after chamomile use. In large doses chamomile can cause vomiting.

Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. It should not be combined with warfarin or other medications or supplements that have the same effect or used by people with bleeding disorders. The dose might need changing, and an increase in blood pressure is possible. You should stop taking chamomile two weeks before or after surgery to reduce excess bleeding and bruising.

The NCCAM warns that some people have eaten or come into contact with chamomile and then had anaphylaxis as a result. This is an uncommon but life-threatening allergic reaction. According to, caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease.

Before taking chamomile or any supplement it is advised to check with your doctor if you are taking any other herbs, prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter medications that might interact with chamomile, or any health problems that chamomile might worsen.

According to MedlinePlus, “chamomile interactions are not well studied scientifically.” The website says chamomile might interact with:

• alcohol

• antibiotics

• anticoagulants or anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin

• antidepressants

• antifungals

• antihistamines

• non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen

• barbiturates such as phenobarbital

• benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or diazepam (Valium)

• drugs that affect blood pressure or blood sugar

• calcium channel blockers

• cardiac depressants

• cardiac glycosides

• central nervous system depressants

• diuretics

• drugs for diarrhea

• drugs for gastrointestinal problems

• drugs for high cholesterol

• drugs for ulcers

• drugs using the liver’s “cytochrome P450″ enzyme system

• narcotics such as codeine

• respiratory depressants

• SERM drugs like raloxifene (a prescription drug used for osteoporosis)

• tamoxifen (a prescription drug used for cancer)

The UMMC advises that chamomile might interact with:

• anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproic acid (Depakote)

• birth control pills

• Fexofenadine (Seldane)

• drugs to treat insomnia

Chamomile Recipes:

Luscious Chamomile Apple Salad – One Serving

Flowers of this medicinal plant are edible. Wash it thoroughly in the running water and make sure it is absolutely clean.


1 Apple cubed

1 Boiled potato cubed

½ Cucumber sliced

½ Can cooked corn

1 Large carrot chopped

Chamomile flowers - 2-3 tablespoon

Finely cut coriander leaves - 2-3 tablespoon


Lemon Juice 1 Tablespoon

Olive Oil - 2 Tablespoon

Salt to taste


In a big bowl put all the ingredients. Toss it well together. Combine dressing ingredients separately in a bottle, shake well and pour it on the salad. Retoss and enjoy.

Chamomile Tea Recipe - One serving


1 cup of water

1 tsp. dried chamomile flowers

lemon juice



First, bring the water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the dried chamomile flowers to the water (either directly or using a tea infuser) and boil for thirty to forty-five seconds with the lid on. Remove tea from the heat and let the flowers steep for another minute. The loose flowers can then be removed from the tea using a strainer. Served with honey and a little lemon juice, this tea is a tasty way to unwind after a busy day and its calming properties usually begin to take effect within a half hour of drinking a cup. For added sedative effect, substitute a few leaves of Lemon Balm for the lemon juice.

Bath Sleep Aide

For Bath: Use ½ to 1 cup fresh or dried herb tied in linen bag. Place in tub with hot water let soak for 10 min. then add cold water to a desired temperature. Remember not to take too hot of a bath before bedtime as this will increase your body temperature and this will take longer for you to go to sleep. Do not add soap to bath, as it will coat your skin and not allow the chamomile to penetrate.

Enjoy the salad, tea or bath two hours or less before going to bed and get a good night's sleep. Avoid alcohol and caffeine prior to going to bed to achieve the greatest benefit from chamomile and to fall asleep easy. The content in Fall Asleep Easy with Chamomile is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Acupuncture Fall Asleep Easy

At asleep easy we know that being able to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night is difficult for many people. When insomnia becomes a health problem many seek medical advice and are prescribed sleeping pills such as Ambien. While sleeping medication can be effective, they also have undesirable side effects and addictive properties. Did you know that chronic insomnia can be treated with acupuncture? Acupuncture has no side effects, is non-dependent and a natural cure to fall asleep easy. Studies also report that patients who receive acupuncture or transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) and acupressure experience improvement with their insomnia symptoms, including fatigue, sleep quality and depression.

TEAS is when acupuncture needles are replaced by electrodes that were used to send small electrical pulses to specific acupuncture points on the skin. Besides TEAS there are other forms of acupuncture that have been developed, including electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture, acupressure and auricular therapy. Electroacupuncture is when acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electrical impulses, generating a small electric current that flows between pairs of needles. Laser acupuncture uses a laser beam to stimulate acupoints instead of fine needles. Acupressure is a technique that involves firm manual pressure on the acupoints. Auricular therapy employs acupuncture needles, seeds or magnetic peals to stimulate acupoints.

Oriental scientist correlate insomnia to the heart with both heart disease and heart failure, other organ symptoms and syndromes may be involved, with herbal supplements and acupuncture the body is brought back into balance. Each person’s medical or mental cause for insomnia is different and your health care professional needs to diagnosis and treat you according, but if you are experiencing stress related insomnia that causes a nerve induced problem such as restless leg syndrome, acupuncture may be recommended. Stress weakens the liver functions which in turn affects the health of your nerves. Acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system by clearing obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels allowing the flow of oxygen enriched energy to relax the system. Benefits of acupuncture include deeper breathing, improved digestion, better sleep, decreased pain and a general sense of well being. A insomnia remedy may consist of ten initial treatments followed-up by two to three treatments per week. After a review of its effectiveness, treatments may be reduced to once per week.

In order to successfully resolve your insomnia you need to address all contributing factors. Acupuncture and herbal supplements do this by treating the entire body while focusing on bringing it into balance. Other techniques such as yoga, meditation, biofeedback and progressive relaxation can be included in your relaxation regimen as well as establishing a regular bedtime routine. Acupuncture has also proven successful for treating pain associated with arthritis and other physical conditions.

Your physician may propose a diet that is tailored to improve liver and kidney function. Excess amounts of protein, caffeine and quick energy foods weigh on the liver, kidneys and intestines. Foods good for your mind-body energy reserves are whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Oriental medical practitioners recommend herbal medications along with a healthy diet, herbs for insomnia include; longan fruit, golden thread, sour jujube seed, fossil bone or mimosa bark.

Dried Longan is a sweet, succulent Chinese fruit, not dissimilar to a raisin. People with deficiency of the blood, causing symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations, forgetfulness and dizziness can eat it as a fruit. It strengthens the blood and calms the mind. It can also be added to soups and desserts.

What exactly is acupuncture? It is the Oriental treatment where needles are inserted into meridians on the body. The principle behind acupuncture is to adjust the flow of the Qi, or energy, in these meridians which can control aspects of your body’s functions. Sleep requires proper transition of Yang and Yin energy as it changes from day to night and the proper function of your blood to house your Spirit. Yang energy circulates through the Yang areas of your body during the day to keep you active and at night the Yang energy turns to the Yin areas deep in your lower parts of your body. If Yang energy stays in the Yang areas of your brain and eyes these areas will continue to be energized and prevent you from falling asleep. Your blood is a residence of the Spirit, or Shen and if blood cannot support the Shen at night it wonders upward into your mind causing insomnia. Blood is produced by the spleen and stored in the liver and if any of these organs are imbalanced the quality of the blood will become weak and unable to house the Shen.

There are five types of insomnia that is treated by acupuncture. Knowing what type of insomnia you are experiencing can help the Acupuncturist to provide the best possible treatment. The five types are; difficulty falling asleep, waking often during the night, excessive dreaming or nightmares, wake up too early and can’t sleep at all. This is how each type is associated to Oriental theory:

I have difficultly falling asleep: The Yang Qi cannot enter the Yin areas of the body leading to insomnia.

I wake up often during the night: Internal heat is stuck in the body causing insomnia.

I wake up early and can’t go back to sleep: Poor lifestyle may have damaged your Kidney Yin energy. Heat from Kidney Deficiency is rising up causing insomnia.

I have excessive dreaming during sleep: The brain doesn’t quiet down and it is difficult to relax due to Liver deficiency Heat or Heart Fire causing insomnia.

I can’t sleep at all: Not enough Blood due to either Spleen or Liver deficiency causing insomnia.

After you receive an acupuncture treatment your nervous system begins to calm down. The acupuncture needles are doing deep work by unraveling your subconscious stresses, balancing your Qi, and releasing the causes of your insomnia. Many people even fall asleep on the treatment table. Remember you may feel great after the first night of rest, however later you insomnia symptoms may occur which indicates that you need further treatments. You also need to adjust your lifestyle to learn how to fall asleep really fast by quieting the mind, exercise in the morning or soaking your feet in water at night which will bring your Yang down to the Yin areas.

To sleep easier and find balance within yourself is a reason to seek acupuncture. Patients also come to an acupuncturist because they are disconnected from other emotional issues such as anxiety or mild depression. As stresses take their toll, our minds can no longer relax and our sleep becomes disturbed causing insomnia.

Insomnia should not dictate when or for how long you sleep. Acupuncture can lead you back to a place of balance and calm, giving you the power to lay insomnia to rest. If you are experiencing insomnia, don’t face another sleepless night. Talk to your doctor about how acupuncture can help you. The content in Acupuncture Fall Asleep Easy is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Magnesium and Sleep Part 2 Foods Rich in Magnesium

In order to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, support our immune system and regulate our heart rhythms we need magnesium. In fact, our body uses magnesium in more than 300 metabolic reactions including enhancing our metabolism and regulating our blood sugar levels as well as our blood pressure. A magnesium deficiency can cause many health problems including sleep disorders. Eating foods rich in magnesium or taking a magnesium supplement will ensure our body is getting what it needs to fall asleep easy. Magnesium also aids the adsorption other vital minerals; sodium, phosphorus and calcium that are essential to maintain our health.

Magnesium is unique for sleep due to its calming effect on the nervous system as it is known as the anti-stress mineral, a natural tranquilizer. Seniors take a magnesium supplement to decrease the release of cortisol which can disrupt sleep. Cortisol is released when people are stressed, stress depletes magnesium, and taking magnesium reduces stress. Read more about how cortisol affects your sleep:

When your magnesium levels are low it could result in muscle cramps. When we sleep our muscles are preparing for the next day’s activities by contracting and relaxing. Without enough magnesium the muscles cannot fully relax causing muscle cramps. Magnesium eases anxiety and relaxes muscles to improve overall sleep.

Magnesium supplements are available in capsules, tablets or powder and studies suggest that a dose of 250 milligrams can induce sleep. Foods rich in magnesium are green leafy vegetables such as spinach because magnesium is in the center of the chlorophyll molecule. Note: processed food such as white flour, the magnesium rich germ and bran are removed. In fact, in many modern diets include highly processed foods and these processes deplete magnesium. Did you know that tap water contains magnesium? Hard water contains more minerals including magnesium than soft water.

Other green leafy vegetables and spices such as broccoli, lettuce, paprika, basil, parsley and lemongrass contain high amounts of magnesium. Whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, fruit and tomato paste are also good sources. Some foods that may not be on your diet like chocolate pudding, milk chocolate and dairy products, but they are a way to include magnesium. Pumpkin and pumpkins seeds are not only a rich source of magnesium they also contain tryptophan which will make you drowsy. Cocoa and coffee are important sources of magnesium but don’t drink caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime as they may keep you awake.

Here is a list of foods rich in magnesium:



Brazil nuts

Cashew nuts

Coconut, dried

Hazelnuts, filberts


Pine nuts

Sesame seeds



Barley, Whole grain

Oat bran

Rice, brown

Wheat flour, whole

Whole wheat bread




Oatmeal, cooked

Rye flour

Wheat bran

Wheat germ

Shredded wheat

Chocolate Candy Bar



Avocado, California

Avocado, Florida

Beans, black

Beans, kidney

Beans, Lima

Beans, navy

Beans, pinto

Beans, refried

Beans, white

Beet greens

Broccoli, frozen

Broccoli, raw

Chick peas, garbonzos

Cowpeas, black eyed

Kale, boiled


Okra, cooked


Peas, frozen

Pumpkin, canned

Pumpkin seeds

Seaweed, kelp

Seaweed, Spirulina


Spinach, canned

Spinach, cooked

Squash, summer

Sweet potatoes, canned

Swiss chard


Tomato paste

Turnip greens



Figs, dried




Soy milk

Cow's milk, 2%

Chocolate milk


Halibut, broiled


Rock fish


Tuna, broiled


Beef, ground

Beef, tenderloin

Chicken breast

Chicken, dark meat


Turkey breast * has tryptophan

Beans, black 1 cup 120

Broccoli, raw 1 cup 22

Halibut 1/2 fillet 170

Nuts, peanuts 1 oz 64

Okra, frozen 1 cup 94

Oysters 3 oz 49

Plantain, raw 1 medium 66

Rockfish 1 fillet 51

Scallop 6 large 55

Seeds, pumpkin and squash 1 oz (142 seeds) 151

Soy milk 1 cup 47

Spinach, cooked 1 cup 157

Tofu 1/4 block 37

Whole grain cereal, ready-to-eat3/4 cup 24

Whole grain cereal, cooked 1 cup 56

Whole wheat bread 1 slice 24

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard References, Release 15 for Magnesium, Mg (mg)

It is often recommended when taking calcium supplement that you take a magnesium supplement to avoid bone spurs and headaches. In fact taking magnesium you can improve your absorption of calcium to avoid osteoporosis as well as promote easy sleep. Magnesium sleep supplements are generally inexpensive. Sleep Minerals II contains six types of calcium and three forms of magnesium and is a safe, natural herbal supplement. Contact your doctor before taking any supplements to avoid an interaction with other medication or health issues. The content in Magnesium and Sleep Part 2 – Foods Rich in Magnesium is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Insomnia Symptoms

Chronic insomnia symptoms are usually a result of another medical or mental condition. Some people complain they can’t fall asleep easy or find themselves waking up during the night causing them to suffer from poor concentration, loss of memory, impaired motor coordination, irritability and restlessness during their day. To counteract these conditions many attempt to use self-treatment methods such as alcohol or antihistamines which may only compound their sleep deprivation. Insomnia is a sleep disorder which can be intermittent or chronic caused by a medical condition or not. If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early and/or feeling tired upon waking you may be showing signs of insomnia.

There are two types of insomnia; primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is caused by conditions not associated with health issues while secondary insomnia means a person has a medical condition such as asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn or even side effect from prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications that can interfere with sleep. (medications with caffeine. like aspirin)

Short-term or acute insomnia is caused by stress, illness, emotional or physical discomfort, environmental factors, medications or abnormal sleep patterns such as those associated with jet lag or working the late night shift. Long-term or chronic insomnia includes depression, chronic stress or physical pain. Insomnia can also be caused by another sleep disorder like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS) or night terrors.

If you think you have insomnia it is recommended that you discuss your symptoms with your physician. It is sometimes helpful for the doctor to determine the cause if you keep a sleep journal and review it during your initial consultation. Your sleep partner may also provide beneficial information in regards to the quality and quantity of sleep you are getting. Your doctor may suggest further clinical testing in order to diagnosis the cause of your insomnia. You may be referred to a sleep center where they can monitor you while you sleep.

Acute insomnia usually does not require any medical treatment but only lifestyle changes such as establishing a sleep routine, avoiding caffeine, not eating late in the day, getting some exercise (preferably in the morning) and making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cozy and pet free. Some doctors may suggest taking an herbal supplement such as Gaba, Valerian or Melatonin to help you relieve stress and promote drowsiness. Try to avoid prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications as they have side effects and have addictive properties.

Treatment for chronic insomnia first requires determining the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend behavioral therapy with relaxation techniques by way of breathing exercises and/or progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique of tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups of the body in an orderly way. Once a cause is identified, it is important to manage and control the underlying problem, as this alone may eliminate the insomnia. Treating the symptoms of insomnia without addressing the main cause is rarely successful.

During the initial consultation your doctor will evaluate your medical history, review all medications and supplements you may be taking and determine if you have a psychiatric disorder or abuse drugs or alcohol. He will also ask you questions on your sleep habits such as snoring or RLS and use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale which is a questionnaire that will assess daytime sleepiness. If you have gained weight this may contribute to obstructive sleep apnea which will require further testing at a sleep center to determine the severity of the condition by monitoring your sleep patterns.

Actigraphy is another technique to assess sleep-wake patterns over time. Actigraphs are small, wrist-worn devices (about the size of a wristwatch) that measure movement. They contain a microprocessor and on-board memory and can provide objective data on daytime activity. For older adults, such as older nursing home residents, actigraphy is indicated to characterize sleep and circadian patterns and to document treatment responses when traditional sleep monitoring system poses challenges.

You should contact your doctor if your insomnia lasts longer than three or four week and interferes with your daily activities or is caused by a physical or mental aliment. If you experience worsening pain or have difficulty breathing seek emergency medical care. Adhere to your doctor’s recommendations for any medical and psychological condition and make sure you go to your follow-up visits so your doctor can document treatment responses. Since everyone’s insomnia symptoms are unique, you may have to modify your treatment methods before finding one that works for you. The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep disorders and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

How to Make Baby Sleep Easy

How to make baby sleep easy isn’t an exact science as newborns need to sleep 16 or more hours a day with stretches of just one to two hours at a time. This type of sleep known as a polyphasic sleep pattern may seem erratic at first as the parents will need to adjust their monophasic sleeping habits. One the child can distinguish the difference between night and day and their nervous system matures they will sleep longer between feedings. By age 3 months they will sleep five hours at a time and by 6 months of age hopefully they will sleep nine to twelve hours during the night.

There is no easy sleeping methods for baby as each baby is different, but there are a lot of guides for parents to consider on what to do and what not to do. New parents can make very common mistakes that may create bad sleeping habits for a child as he ages.

[caption id="attachment_335" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Baby Sleep Positioner - How to Make Baby Sleep Easy"][/caption]

Trying to convert your child to sleep as you do and not the other way around, you may overlook some basic safety rules. As you know Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is connected with side and stomach sleeping positions. If your baby has trouble sleeping on its back you may want to try a sleep positioner. If your babies are premature and have any breathing issues, or sleep apnea you may want to consider a positioner that is angled. Many doctors also recommend the use of angled sleep positioners for babies who have issues with colic symptoms such as gas and reflux. It is recommended that by having your baby sleep with his head on somewhat of an angle can prevent the backing up of painful reflux. A sleep positioner is also great for traveling as some places (hotel, bed and breakfast or a guest in someone’s house) may not have an ideal place for your baby to sleep and you can feel rest assured that they will be sleeping safe and secure.

It is also never a very good idea to leave a sleeping child where they fall asleep. It may be tempting to leave them on the couch, but it is possible they may roll off. They will also be unprotected from other children or household pets. It is also very appealing to sleep with a newborn but think very carefully about the risks as they may get tangled in the bedding, trapped between you and the bed or fall off the bed head first.

When a baby is sleeping with the parents they may also become overheated due to heavy blankets or too cold (adults sleep best at 65 degrees) which can be dangerous. Their bedroom should be kept at a temperature between 74 and 78 degrees and all they need is a light, non-restrictive sleeper and a blanket or sleeping sack. Make sure their clothes and bedding are soft, preferably 100 percent cotton and flame retardant. For newborns, resist putting toys in their crib which may cause problems with comfort and safety. (they can’t really play with them anyway) Their mattress should be firm, but not too hard. Avoid a memory foam mattress until they can lift their heads above their shoulders as memory foam conforms to their body and may cause them to suffocate or SIDS.

[caption id="attachment_337" align="alignright" width="238" caption="How to Make Baby Sleep Easy"][/caption]

Creating a sleep routine for your child is the best thing you can do for them and yourself when it comes to your child’s sleeping habits. When the child knows what to expect in their life they won’t become anxious about going to bed. A simple routine could consist of feeding, bath, dressing and reading before you put them to bed every night. When your baby gets older you may have to adjust the routine as older children don’t require a lot of liquids or food before they retire. If your child used to fall asleep easy and stay asleep during the night but now doesn’t check to see if something is causing their discomfort such as teething or acid reflux. If it continues you may consider talking to your pediatrician to find if there are any other health issues. Sometimes the child has a problem distinguishing between night and day. If they are older, try to keep them up longer during the day so they will sleep more at night. Older children will also find a way to crawl out of their crib as my granddaughter did and I always worried she’d harm herself. Now might be a good time to switch them into a toddler bed. Make sure you baby proof the room and put gates up to block them from unsafe areas.

When it comes to safety and comfort ensure that everything is in order to avoid making a mistake and remember that you know your baby best and can create a schedule that works for them and you. If you're concerned about your baby's sleeping habits, consult your baby's doctor for suggestions. Remember, how to make baby sleep easy through the night isn't a measure of your parental skills. It's simply a goal you're working toward. The result will be a good night's sleep for everyone.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to Sleep Easy with Dreams

Did you know when we dream it helps us to retain what we have learned? In a recent issue of Current Biology researchers have reported that dreams are the brains way of processing, assimilating and understanding new information. If you are trying to learn a new task try taking a nap or go to bed earlier that way when we dream it will help us learn and solve problems. How can we fall asleep easy in our bedroom? Attempt to eliminate any noise as this may negatively influence the length and quality of your dreams. Turn off the television, shut down your computer and stop playing video games. If you can’t control external noises like barking dogs or noisy neighbors use a fan, ear plugs or the Sheep of Your Dreams Sleep Aide Kit to drown out these night time sleeping interruptions.

The Sheep of Your Dreams sleep kit is a new sleeping aid from AcousticSheep, LLC which offers a drug-free solution to help encourage a good night’s sleep without any risk of side effects. A pair of SleepPhones, a soft and cuddly SleepPhones Sheep, the Dreams CD, and a lavender sachet are all included in this sleeping aid system. All of these components work together to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and guide you into a restful sleep. Created by a physician, the SleepPhones are nestled inside a fleece headband and will block out external noises while playing soothing music from the accompanied Dreams CD. You can also plug your MP3 player into the SleepPhones and tuck the MP3 player into the back pocket. The lavender sachet helps with sleeping problems such as insomnia, anxiety and nightmares.

We have many dreams throughout the night, in fact, we dream about every 90 minutes with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the last. Have you every woken up to a dream and wish you could remember it? You can by staying very still and remain in a semi-dreamlike state. Once you move your body you disconnect yourself from the dream. Many people can even control their dream which is known as lucid dreaming. Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher reports that this technique is useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares. When you learn to be aware that you are dreaming you can change the outcome by avoiding or standing up to what is haunting you. Lucid dreams enhance your ability to learn and help you to fall asleep faster. When you lay down at night remember your last lucid dream and you will quickly fall asleep.

Keeping a dream journal is a good way to record your dreams and it is fun to try to understand their meaning. For instance, a dream about losing your teeth might mean you need to pay attention to the way you communicate with others. Dreams are report cards from the psyche, clues to how our consciousness and unconsciousness is handling the events of our waking life. Understanding their nightly messages helps us more successfully navigate our daily activities.

A lack of restful sleep each night can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out their daily responsibilities. Drowsiness, difficulty focusing, and low energy levels are among the negative effects that can result from poor sleep patterns.

When trouble sleeping becomes a constant problem, some people choose to turn to prescription drugs or over-the-counter sleeping aids. While sleep aid medications used to treat insomnia and chronic sleeping problems may be helpful under certain circumstances and a doctor’s care, they are associated with potential risks, including dependence and tolerance when used over a period of time. For this reason, natural sleep aids alternatives, such as the Sheep as You Dream sleep kit is a great way to encourage a good night’s sleep without any risk of side effects which may interfere with your ability to dream. Some medications can dampen our REM activity, dull our dreams, and interfere with dream recall. Others stimulate vivid dream activity and can impede your lucid dreaming efforts. It's amazing how strongly even the smallest dosage of a medication can influence your dreams or interfere with lucidity. If you're a dream enthusiast or if you are learning how to become lucid in your dreams, be sure to ask your doctor what effect any medication might have on how to sleep easy with dreams.  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, September 5, 2010

Polyphasic Sleep/A Sleep bLog

What is polyphasic sleep? Polyphasic sleep involves taking several shorter sleep periods throughout the day instead of monophasic sleep which is getting your 7-8 hours of sleep in one block of time. A type of polyphasic sleep is the Uberman Sleep Schedule; it suggests that you sleep 20-30 minutes, six times a day, with equally spaced naps every 4 hours. What this means is, you only will get a total of 2-3 hours per day. Under this schedule your sleep times could be 2am, 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm and 10pm. The best thing is the times are the same in the AM or PM and repeated day to day so you can keep a regular daily schedule even though it is a very different.

How can this sleep schedule work? A normal sleep cycle is 90 minutes and REM sleep occurs in the latter part of this cycle. REM is where we experience dreams and when we don’t get enough REM it can cause negative side effects. Polyphasic sleep conditions our body to enter REM sleep immediately verses later in your sleep cycle. It may take a week of adjustment and initially you may experience sleep deprivation, but it has been noted that after the adaptation phase you will feel fine, maybe better than before. It appears that polyphasic sleep encounters the exact problems as seen in jet lag or shift-work. The body’s clock is not adapted to sleeping in patterns other than monophasic or biphasic sleep. In other words, the only known healthy alternatives are: (1) a single 7-8 hours sleep block in the night, or (2) a night sleep of 5-7 hours combined with a 15-90 minute nap. Those numbers differ substantially with each individual as there is no single recommended dose of sleep for everyone. You’ll need a flexible work schedule and commitment to fully transition into this cycle as it is very important to get your sleep at the required times and not misses your daily naps.

Some people who have tried this sleep cycle have kept a Polyphasic Sleep bLog (a sleep log on their blog). They have reported more energy, more vivid or lucid dreams and naturally how they have more free time. They also reported their failures, how they weren’t strict about their nap schedules and over slept from time to time. Since you have additional waking hours it appears that you need to eat more since you are burning more calories. You might want to adjust your diet as some recommend eating less animal products due to how their hormones negatively affect sleep patterns.

The disadvantage to this sleep schedule is that it can be inflexible. You can delay naps by an hour if needed, but missing a nap can cause you to undergo a period of restlessness and irritability that takes a while to recover from. This means you have less hours of waking time between sleeping periods, but you gain many extra hours per day, every day.

One blogger wrote in his Polyphasic Sleep bLog that he had a flexible enough work schedule to try polyphasic sleep as he fell asleep easy and often would have a dream during a 15-20 minute nap. Since he researched the effects of transitioning to this new sleep schedule he was aware that his energy levels would be depleted during the first week so he arranged his work schedule accordingly. He set his sleep times and allowed a time period to see if he could adjust (30 days) and after that time period he would decide if he wanted to continue. After 30 days he was convinced that a polyphasic sleep schedule works wonderfully. The first week was the hardest for him physically and the second and third weeks involved a mental adjustment, but in the end he absolutely loved it. What would you do with an extra 30-40 hours of free time per week?

Note: Many believe that a healthy human could not entrain polyphasic sleep without a degree of sleep deprivation and maintain one’s ability to maximize creativity, alertness and health in the long run. The body’s internal clock has a period of 24 hours. During a single 24 hours, 6-10 hours we are drowsy and during the remaining 14-18 hours we are awake but only a portion of this time is suitable for intellectual effort. The maximum period of alertness is as little as 2-6 hours. In order to achieve the maximum productivity we need to sleep when our body requires sleep and work when creativity falls into our hours of maximum alertness. It is difficult and unhealthy to force your body and your body’s clock to adjust to a different sleep/wake cycle as it is far too easy to adjust your life to your body’s natural clock.
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Asleep Easy to Lose Weight

How can you fall asleep easy to lose weight? Sleep isn’t the first thing you consider when losing weight, but getting enough quality sleep should be a part of your weight loss plan. When your body is functioning well it will fight against fat by suppressing cortisol. When you don’t get enough sleep due to high stress levels a chemical reaction occurs. High stress levels trigger a “survival mode” thus producing cortisol which tells our body to save up fat for difficult times ahead. This survival mode has been inbreed due to times when food was scarce. Today there are other causes for stress; the economy, your bills, responsibilities and/or family obligations.

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The media also causes us stress due to its self imposed representations on how we are supposed to look and how we eat. Dieting can trigger the survival mode because we are eliminating calories too fast. The stress to create the perfect body image and dieting/fasting results in higher belly fat producing cortisol. Stress also stimulates cravings for sweet, calorie dense foods and salty, high carbohydrate snacks. If you want to lose weight especially belly fat, slow down and enforce a healthy diet plan. Over time you will lose your weight. This also allows your body to release feel good chemicals or endorphins that contribute to your feeling more positive about your body image.

As we age we naturally produce more cortisol while we reduce our levels of DHEA, testosterone and estrogen which accelerates our cartilage, bone and muscle loss. At midlife, we first feel our aging bodies start to ache as DHEA production falls, cortisol rises, and suddenly, we no longer have the same energy or endurance we once took for granted.

If you exercise it is also important for you to get enough sleep as this is the time when your muscle can repair themselves. Weight training causes tiny tears in your muscle tissue and sleep is when your muscles can rebuild and gain strength. The rebuilt muscles make up the lean muscle mass in your body and the greater the muscle mass the faster you will burn calories even when you are sleeping. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. So if you want to fall asleep easy to lose weight and fight cortisol be sure you are getting enough sleep.

You can you make sure you are getting enough sleep by reviewing the amount of sleep you get on a regular basis. Try to avoid stimuli at least an hour before retiring that causes you to stay awake such as; video games, caffeine, TV, alcohol, spicy or too much food, computer time or homework. The hour before bed should be relaxing try taking a bath, reading a book, light yoga stretches, journaling and/or having a cup of decaffeinated sleepy time tea. If you have difficulty falling asleep there are many herbal supplements on the market such as GABA for stress and Valerian for drowsiness. It is better to try a supplement verses a prescription due to many sleeping aides are addictive and have other side effects. Some doctors recommend a Melatonin supplement for those with low melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythms or our sleep/wake cycle. It is best to discuss your sleeping problem with your doctor as some supplements can interfere with other medication or medical issues.

Your bedroom should also be a place that helps you to fall asleep. It should be dark, quiet, cool, cozy and preferably pet free. If you are a light sleeper and the next door neighbor’s dog is keeping you awake buy some ear plug or white noise to drown out the barking. A fan or mellow music can work just as well. Heavy black out curtains or an eye mask can keep the light out especially in the morning. Cortisol production is naturally at its highest in the early morning because one of its beneficial functions is to help you wake up. People that are stressed overproduce cortisol during the day so their cortisol is low in the morning instead of high. Caffeine can artificially trigger a spike in cortisol levels. Hugh cortisol surges cause you to over eat. When you over eat you have higher body fat, lower muscle mass and reduced metabolism to burn fewer calories. Higher cortisol levels at night will keep you from entering Stage 4 sleep, the deep sleep that is required to rebuild and repair your body.

Studies have shown there is a huge difference between getting 7-8 hours of sleep verses 6 or less when it comes to cortisol production. Researchers have found that people with 6 hours or less have 50% more cortisol in their bloodstream than those that slept 7-8 hours. You can fall asleep easy without stressing about your weight by getting the proper amount of sleep and living a healthy lifestyle.

Besides getting enough sleep there are nutritional ways to reduce your cortisol levels.

Whole Grains

Unprocessed whole-grains are an excellent method for leveling food intake and curbing the release of cortisol in the body. Whole grains contain fiber and nutrients that help keep the body's blood sugar levels steady; they should be considered a mainstay of any healthy diet. Processed and refined flours are not only less nutritious compared to richer whole grains, they are empty carbohydrates that decrease blood sugar and cause cortisol to spike.

Protein and Fats

Along with whole grains, an equal portion of protein is required to balance the system and keep cortisol production at normal levels. Eating moderate doses of protein, such eggs, meat, poultry and fish slows down carbohydrate absorption, reduces sugar levels and balances cortisol in the blood. Unsaturated fats from olive oil or nuts also slow carbohydrate digestion aid the body in feeling full and work with the proteins to cut cortisol production.


Eggs are a low-glycemic index food that lowers Cortisol. They are also high in omega fatty acids, which can have stress-relieving properties.

Oily Fish

Oily fish, such as snapper and salmon, lower cortisol levels and are also high in protein and omega fatty acids.

A diet rich in organic vegetables and fruits:

Many vegetables, especially the green leafy variety, balance blood sugar levels and regulate metabolic rates. Since cortisol is released at stress-filled moments when blood sugar is high or the metabolism is sent into overdrive through adrenaline release, the benefits of vegetables in the diet to curb cortisol is clear.

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Berries have high levels of vitamin C, which fights against cortisol buildup in the body.

Oranges are also high in vitamin C and eliminate cortisol, making them a great stress-relieving snack.

Healthy snacks such as granola, raisins, almonds or dried cranberries are good for avoiding cravings for sweets and lowering cortisol.

NOTE: Even drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day can elevate cortisol levels. Avoid caffeine drinks to reduce cortisol levels! Avoid alcoholic drinks other than a glass of wine in the evening.

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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