Sunday, November 28, 2010

GABA for Sleep

Doctor Oz talked about alternative supplements for sleep problems; GABA for sleep is the most common brain neurotransmitter that allows us to relax. Gamma Amino Butyric Acid or GABA is an amino acid produced in the brain. It is a natural tranquilizer that increases the level of Human Growth Hormones (HGH) which is vital for all human beings. If sleeplessness last for a considerable period of time it should not be ignored and GABA can treat insomnia because it induces good quality and quantity of sleep. Free from unusual side effects, GABA prevents after effects like drowsiness and lethargy. There are many factors why we cannot fall asleep easy at night including anxiety, stress, illness and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Lack of sleep affects our body’s ability to reenergize and repair itself which will cause harm to our health and take a toll on our work and family life. We will lose focus and concentration, become restless and slows our reflexes, which will make it dangerous for us to drive or operate heavy machinery.

In 2003, new research suggested that both sleep and mood problems may result from a lack of the same brain chemical…GABA. GABA helps stop brain activity and allows both your brain and body to get the rest it needs. A GABA deficiency causes both sleep problems by interfering with deep sleep and anxiety disorders that are associated with racing thoughts. The longer GABA caused sleep problems continue the greater risk to your emotional and physical health. Those with bipolar disorder are known to have GABA problems experience lows (depressed) when sleep deprived and highs (mania) when they wake up in the morning. Today there are new GABA stimulating drugs being developed with the hope of treating both problems. Doctors also recommend changing lifestyle habits to incorporate improved sleep hygiene that will help which means keeping a sleep routine, avoid late naps, limit caffeine after lunch, no large late night meals, exercise in the morning and not using alcohol as a sleep aid.

HGH naturally reduces production after the age of 40 and is thought to be a reason why older adult wake up during the night or wake up early in the morning. HGH levels can be increased by GABA administration which improves the effect on sleep cycles, controls body temperature and pituitary gland action while promoting a restful night’s sleep. GABA is also known to settle tremors and trembling from an epilepsy episode and Huntington’s disease sufferers. There are several clinical studies on GABA neurotransmitters for elevating HGH levels which effect sleep cycles. Naturally HGH is released within 90 minutes of falling asleep, so a GABA supplement should be taken immediately before bedtime to promote sleep.

According to some researchers they feel they don’t have enough data on GABA supplements or the products purity since they are not regulated by the FDA. Low levels of GABA have been found in people with disorders such as multiple sclerosis or other movement disorders. People with panic attacks, depression, alcoholism and bipolar disorders also have shown to have low GABA levels. Unhealthy lifestyles, stress and genetics have revealed GABA deficiencies. GABA side effects include a mild tingling around face and neck, a brief change in heart rate or breathing patterns that will quickly dissipate and not harmful. Due to lack of scientific data, GABA is not recommended for those that are pregnant and nursing. People that take prescription medications for anxiety which target GABA receptors in the brain should not use GABA supplements without the advice of a medical professional. An overdose of GABA can exacerbate the very symptoms of anxiety and insomnia that it is supposed to alleviate, emphasizing the need to use it within recommended amounts.

How much GABA to take to fall asleep easy? The appropriate dose of GABA depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other factors. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for GABA sleep. Be sure to follow pertinent directions on product labels and consult your physician before using. GABA is available in tablets, capsules and in powdered form, and can be purchased online, at your local health food store, pharmacy or grocery store. Capsules can be opened and mixed with liquid to make them easier to ingest. Sublingual tablets of GABA (tablets that are placed under the tongue to dissolve) are also available.

If you don't like taking supplements that are not controlled by the FDA, here is a list of foods which are high in glutamic acid/glutamate. “The more GABA-producing foods you eat, the more you will be able to create.”

  • 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.

The content provided in GABA for Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Magnesium Rich Foods

You need magnesium to continue good health as it performs various functions to maintain normal blood pressure, metabolism and heart rate, keep bones strong, regulate blood sugar levels, helps you fall asleep easy, produce protein and keeps bones strong. Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency are insomnia, high blood pressure, muscle cramps that cause restless leg syndrome (RLS), osteoporosis, hyperactivity and panic attacks. The average adult needs about 300-400mgs of magnesium daily. One way to compensate for this deficiency is to include magnesium rich foods in your diet. Magnesium rich foods are in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits, fish, desserts, dairy products and certain drinks like coffee and cocoa.

[caption id="attachment_615" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Magnesium Rich Foods"][/caption]

Green Leafy vegetables include spinach, broccoli and lettuce. Changing your white flour to barley, bran, cornmeal, whole wheat breads and rice is a great way to get magnesium in your diet. Nuts such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts and pine nuts are a great source of magnesium. Black beans, white beans, soy beans and lima beans are an inexpensive way to get your magnesium. Fruits like bananas, avocados, apricots, raisins and fish especially halibut which has other nutrients like proteins and vitamins. Desserts that include chocolate are a good source as well as all dairy products. Did you know that magnesium is in tap water? Unless you have soft water which has only trace amounts of this important mineral.

Magnesium helps with muscle control and relaxation, assists DNA, distributes energy and is essential for calcium to work properly in the body. There are different symptoms that determine the severity of a magnesium deficiency from anorexia to rapid heart rate including numbness and hallucinations. Magnesium is known to treat asthma by normalizing the pattern of breathing. Help those that suffer from backaches because it relieves muscular tension. Prevents gall stones, treats migraines, relieves insomnia symptoms by reducing panic attacks and stress and helps the body process calcium for bone development. If you suffer from leg cramps or RLS, you should consume foods rich in magnesium on a daily basis. Also a deficiency can trigger a heart attack, therefore, it is recommended to have adequate amounts of magnesium rich foods. People with high blood pressure often need magnesium to bring their blood pressure to normal levels. Magnesium can also assist in the adsorption of other vital minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, potassium and calcium.  More Information on Magnesium and  Sleep See:  Magnesium and Sleep Part 2- Foods Rich in Magnesium

You may think that taking a magnesium supplement should be all you need if you have a deficiency. But research has shown that oral magnesium supplements don’t raise your magnesium levels where it counts, in your cells. Though not totally proven, they have plenty of evidence that suggests that much of the supplement is simply passed out through the urine and not absorbed. Don’t think by taking more than the recommended dose would give you enough magnesium. Taking too many magnesium supplements will only cause diarrhea. Also the results of taking magnesium will take up to a year to raise your cell magnesium levels where they should be.

Herbal internists may suggest that you take supplements early in the morning or before a meal because the greatest absorption is on an empty stomach, but you will still only get 40%! If you have to stick to certain time frame to take the supplement why not just stick to a diet with magnesium rich foods? In the long run this will ensure that your cells are adequately getting healthy magnesium levels. There is another way to get you magnesium levels up to par beside foods and that is through transdermal magnesium therapy (TMT). It is effective because it skips the digestive track and enters your system through your skin. Remember your stomach and digestive system has enzymes that reduce the efficacy of anything taken orally. People have been absorbing minerals through the skin for a long time as the Japanese used hot springs and have the world’s longest life spans. A 30 minute soak in the ocean is a great way to get the magnesium you need, depending where you live as different bodies of water contain different levels of magnesium. The Dead Sea is known to have one of the highest concentrations of magnesium. Transdermal magnesium extract (oil) can be put in your bath to get the same concentrations as the Dead Sea.

You can also purchase magnesium as a spray to massage on your body or squirt into your mouth. Squirting it into your mouth can also help to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay which can help your entire body’s health. If you are not getting enough magnesium or suffering from a magnesium deficiency try magnesium rich foods or transdermal magnesium therapy. Symptoms from a magnesium deficiency may also be caused by other health diseases and disorders. It is always advised to consult with your doctor about your symptoms to make sure you’re being treated for your particular medical condition. The doctor will also recommend the proper amount of magnesium you need depending the severity of the deficiency. The content provided in Magnesium Rich Foods is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lack of Sleep

With the holidays approaching, everyone has a lot more to do than there is time in the day and many of us find that we suffer from lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is common in today’s world and some believe that they can live on less sleep than they need. You need sleep to regenerate your body and brain in order to function normally during the time you are awake. Research has shown that sleep deprived subjects are less likely to pass verbal learning tests due the brain’s unregenerated neurons. Also they show signs of slurred speech, stuttering, speaking in a monotone voice and/or speak in a much slower pace than they do when fully rested. Lack of sleep impairs one’s ability to focus, reduces the speed to perform and lessens efficiency. One symptom of prolonged lack of sleep is hallucinations, when the brain is unable to perform optimally it creates images dissimilar from reality possibly resulting in temporary insanity.

[caption id="attachment_607" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lack of Sleep Symptoms"][/caption]

One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is death. Usually this is the result of the fact that the immune system is weakened without sleep. The body also decreases the amount of human growth hormone needed and is unable to metabolize sugar, turning sugar into fat. One study stated that people who sleep less than four hours per night are three times more likely to die within the next six years. Sleep deprivation studies help us examine the relationship between the brain and the person’s behavior as the brain shuts down. For example, a person cannot jog continuously day after day; the brain cannot function without rest. Different areas of the brain are regenerated during different sleep cycles so shortening sleep cycles will cause the brain to deteriorate. In fact, if the brain does not get to rest it will begin to shut down for periods of micro-sleep which happens before performance failure occurs.

Anyone is at risk when it comes to lack of sleep and if you have any of the following conditions, you are far more likely to suffer from sleeping disorders; depression, no physical activity, drug use, poor diet and overly stressed. The severity from lack of sleep can range from mild restlessness during the day to falling asleep during the day, irritability, blurred vision and even memory loss. The truth is lack of sleep can be dangerous as it can put a toll on your body’s ability to eliminate bacteria and viruses by lowering your immune system. You will get sick more often than if you were well rested. These symptoms can be completely avoided when you take the necessary steps to get more restful sleep.

There are various behavioral techniques that treat lack of sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy and reconditioning. Here is a brief overview of these three techniques.

Relaxation Therapy consists of specific techniques that can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension, which will allow you to fall asleep easy and stay asleep during the night. The mind is able to stop “racing,” the muscles can relax, and restful sleep can occur. See: Mind-Your-P's-and-Q's-Easy-Sleep-Techniques-Meditation-and-Self-Hypnosis.

Sleep Restriction means restricting the hours of sleep per night. Some people suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep. Once they get used to the sleep restriction program, gradually the time is increased until a more normal night’s sleep is achieved.

[caption id="attachment_608" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lack of Sleep - Sleep Reconditioning"][/caption]

Sleep Reconditioning means reprogramming people to associate their bed and bedtime with sleep. This is a great treatment because for most people, this means not using their beds for any activities other than sleep and intimacy. As part of the reconditioning process, one is usually advised to establish a sleep routine. If the person cannot fall asleep, they are advised to get up for a period of time and then return to bed. There are many things you can do to help your body and brain prepare for sleep such as a bath, read a boring book or write in a journal. If you have chronic sleep deprivation or insomnia, it might be a good idea to keep a sleep journal. The sleep journal will you’re your doctor determine the severity of your sleep deprivation and treat your condition accordingly . Others suggestions are; to avoid naps and wake up and go to bed the same time every day, even on weekends.

The content provided in Lack of Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seizure Disorder and Lack of Sleep

A seizure disorder is when there is a miscommunication in the brain’s nerve cells that causes a loss of consciousness and makes the body jerk and twitch. Although many may only have one seizure in their lifetime, some have seizures over and over again which is known as the condition called epilepsy. There is no known single cause for epilepsy but there are many factors that may contribute to the cause such as a head injury, trauma or high fever, baby shaking syndrome, toxic chemicals, large doses of certain drugs, stroke, tumors or other disease that alter the balance of the brain’s chemical structure. When the condition can be determined by any factor that may cause seizures it  is known as Symptomatic Epilepsy, if not it is called Idiopathic Epilepsy.

[caption id="attachment_601" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Seizure Disorder and Lack of Sleep - Head Injury"][/caption]

Other diseases or disorders include that may cause a seizures are; AIDS, malaria, rabies, tetanus, and viral encephalitis; hypothyroidism; high levels of sugar or sodium in the blood; low levels of sugar, calcium, magnesium, or sodium in the blood; kidney or liver failure or lupus. Seizure disorder is generally not inherited, but may run in families suggesting there is a faulty genetic code. It may be the result of a virus or infection such as meningitis or in rare circumstances mumps or measles, but it is not contagious.

Seizures can be triggered by an interruption in someone’s sleep/wake cycle, flashing lights, loud noises, monotonous sounds or even certain musical notes. Girls age 6-12 are known to have seizures caused by flashing lights or Photosensitive Epilepsy, but it can occur at any age or gender. People with a seizure disorder should have their meals at the same time each day (see Kinetic Diet below) and be aware of drug interactions with other medicines.

Seizure disorder and lack of sleep due to interrupted sleep/wake cycles can trigger a seizure. In fact, those with epilepsy are at risk for sleep disorders due to a delayed effect on REM and can trigger a seizure while sleeping. Sleep disorders on nights with a seizure the individual may have less sleep than required, reduced REM sleep, difficulty in falling asleep easy and increased stage-2 NREM sleep time (deep sleep). Even on nights without a seizure these people may have more sleep disruptions than those without epilepsy, including periodic wakefulness, the different duration in sleep cycles and the number of sleep cycles.

Seizures can be caused by low blood sugar levels as a result of diet or drugs like insulin. This type of seizure is not epilepsy since it is not recurring due to abnormal brain activity. In 1984, The Centre of Disease Control in Atlanta did a report stating that Aspartame can lower the seizure threshold and increase seizure activity. Another study by Queen’s University looked at the brain-wave pattern of children and the effects of artificial sweeteners. They found a 40% increase in abnormal brain-wave activity associated with absence seizures were found in the study. Research is continuing.

How do you know if you are going to have a seizure? Many people experience a sensation before having a seizure. These sensations can be an abnormal smell or taste and/or visual disturbances. Most seizures last between two to five minutes and leave the person feeling tired and confused without any recall of the experience except for a headache and sore muscles. If a person experiences reoccurring seizures and left untreated the seizures can eventually last longer. This type of seizure is called grand mal or tonic-clonic seizers. Seizure disorders are diagnosed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) along with blood tests to check sugar levels, calcium and sodium levels, liver and kidney function, white blood count also a MRI or computer tomography (CT) to measure heart rhythm and look for signs of cancer, brain tumors or damage to brain tissue. A spinal tap may be performed to test for brain infection.

If you or someone you know has a seizure, loosen clothing, remove sharp objects and get to a safe place to lie down to prevent any harm until the episode passes. Usually only those that have reoccurring seizures are on anti-seizure medications as these medications need to be controlled by a doctor to insure the dose is monitored to avoid or reduce side effects. Side effects include sluggishness, dizziness, hyperactivity, uncontrolled eye movements, speech or vision problems, nausea or vomiting or sleeping problems. Under dire circumstances is surgery recommended to remove the part of the brain that is affected.

You can help prevent seizures by following a healthy diet and try to keep your stress levels to a minimum. While a good night’s sleep plays a key role in the overall well-being and health of all people, it is even more vital for people with a seizure disorder. One reason why lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep can increase the frequency of seizures, why is unclear. However, we do know that the sleep/wake cycle is associated with the changes in the brain’s activities, so seizures and the sleep/wake cycles are often clearly associated. Also, there are hormonal changes during sleep that could possibly be related to seizures. Finally, the side effects of anti-seizure medications and the quality and quantity of sleep can make the situation more complicated.

Other ways research has shown that a diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates called the Ketogenic Diet may reduce the number of seizers or has prevented seizures in one of three that have tried it. This diet is not something you could consider as a simple change in lifestyle but a committed form of treatment like other therapies can have side effects. It must be carefully monitored by a physician or dietitian as it is a more strict diet that measures the amounts of calories, fluid and proteins a person can eat daily. Ketogenic means that it is produced in the body and the use of fats it uses as a source of energy. Since the body uses carbohydrates for fuel it has to adjust to fats as its primary fuel instead. More likely doctors recommend this diet for children other than adults and studies are underway to modify the Atkins diet for this population that has seizures.

Foods in the Ketogenic Diet consist basically of butter, heavy whipping cream, mayonnaise and oils. The amounts of carbohydrates and proteins in the diet are restricted and it is very important that everything taken internally is monitored as toothpaste (bubblegum) has sugar in it. Side effects include feeling sluggish when first starting diet, kidney stones, high cholesterol levels, dehydration, constipation, weak bones and weight gain. This diet does not provide all the minerals and vitamins a person needs to supplements are recommended especially calcium, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and folic acid. If the seizures have been controlled for a period of two years the diet can be eliminated slowly, but anti-seizure medication is usually continued.

[caption id="attachment_602" align="alignright" width="209" caption="Seizure Disorder and Lack of Sleep - Courtney & Family"][/caption]

Since anti-seizure medication can affect the quality of sleep at night it may be beneficial to take it in the early morning. Don’t take any sedating antihistamines as they may worsen sleep quality and epilepsy. Generally a safe alternative to help aide sleep is melatonin which is available over the counter at your local health food store, pharmacy or grocery store. Melatonin keeps our circadian cycle in tune as it communicates with the body’s cells. Not only does this time keeper work to maintain cell health, it appears to regulate a system of self-repair and regeneration. When this hard-working hormone is diminished, our biological functions are impaired. Many people use melatonin to help improve sleep. Studies have found that melatonin increases the speed of falling asleep and adds to the quality of sleep in about 60% of people who use it.

With any supplement and especially for those with a medical condition, it is advised to consult with your doctor before taking. Treating a sleep disorder greatly improves the life of those with a seizure disorder. The content provided in Seizure Disorder and Lack of Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Courtney, due to a head injury at the age of 20, she now suffers from seizures. I love you.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Gotu Kola for Sleep

Gotu Kola is known as one of the most vital rejuvenating herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine. Ayurvedic medicine, in the United States, is an "alternative" medical practice that claims it is based on the traditional medicine of India. Practiced for over 5000 years, these herbal and dietary practices are thought to be necessary for good health because they are believed to have the power to restore harmony and balance in mind, body, and spirit. Gotu Kola is considered a rejuvenative nervine recommended for nervous disorders, epilepsy, senility and premature aging. Gotu Kola allows you to sleep easy by combating stress and depression along with congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections and high blood pressure which can be caused by chronic sleep deprivation.

[caption id="attachment_590" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Gotu Kola for Sleep - Ayurvedic Medicine"][/caption]

Gotu Kola also has a positive effect on the circulatory system by improving the flow of blood and strengthening the veins and capillaries, which has been successful in treating leg cramps and abnormal tingling in the extremities. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a common condition caused by inadequate blood flow through the veins, usually in the lower limbs. It can result in considerable discomfort with symptoms such as pain, itchiness and tiredness in the legs. Studies have indicated that there appears to be a connection between restless leg syndrome (RLS) and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Gotu Kola can partially restore the vein wall and lining and reduce leg aching and heaviness. Along with proper diet and exercise, Gotu Kola could be a natural remedy for RLS.

How much Gotu Kola is recommended? Depending on the condition being treated your physician can determine the right dose for you. Gotu Kola doses vary depending on the preparation as it comes in a dried herb, powdered herb, tincture and extract for internal use.

[caption id="attachment_592" align="alignright" width="229" caption="Gotu Kola for Sleep - Dried for Tea"][/caption]

As a dried herb you can make a tea by steeping one teaspoon of the dried leaves in a cup of boiling water and sweeten with honey, if desired. Having a cup of Gotu Kola tea before bedtime will help induce sleep. It also is useful in relieving headaches and indigestion. Standard dose as a dried herb is a cup of tea three times a day.

1,000 – 4,000 mg of powdered herb which is available in capsules can be taken three times a day. 30 – 60 drops of tincture or 50 – 250 mg of extract can be taken two to three times daily depending on the condition. Gotu Kola is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18, those with liver disease, pregnant or nursing and anyone with skin cancers or melanoma. Side effects include skin allergies and burning sensations if used externally (Gotu Kola comes in a cream and has been used to prevent or reduce stretch marks when pregnant), headache, stomach ache, nausea, dizziness and extreme drowsiness. These side effects are rare and generally occur with higher then prescribed doses.

Gotu Kola may interact with other medications. In animal studies Gotu Kola has been shown to increase cholesterol levels, although no studies on humans have been done. Therefore, it is not recommended to take Gotu Kola if you are taking a cholesterol-lowering drug including any statins. Gotu Kola may increase blood sugar levels therefore if you have diabetes talk to your doctor before taking this herbal supplement. Gotu Kola has a diuretic effect on the body by eliminated excess fluid. If you are taking a diuretic medication you could lose too much fluid and upset the balance of your electrolytes. Since Gotu Kola has a sedative effect it may increase the effect of other medications taken for insomnia. It may also increase drowsiness if taken with other sleep aides such as valerian. Because of the possibility of photosensitivity, fair-skinned people and those who have reacted badly to sunlight while taking other medications should avoid sunshine, tanning lamps, and other sources of ultraviolet light while taking Gotu Kola.

According to a Sinhalese proverb: “Two leaves a day will keep old age away.” As Gotu Kola is reputed to bring long life to the user. In Sri Lanka their elephants are known for their longevity and believe it is due to eating the leaves of the Gotu Kola plant. Some people in Sri Lanka eat Gotu Kola leaves in their salads and in Vietnam they consider it to be an edible weed as it has been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for a long time.

The content provided in Gotu Kola for Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Causes Sleep Eating?

In order to understand what causes sleep eating we need to look at what causes us to sleep walk. Sleep-related eating disorders are abnormal eating patterns during the night and can occur during sleepwalking. Sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, fever, stress, magnesium deficiency, and alcohol intoxication can trigger sleepwalking. You can walk into the kitchen, prepare food (or non-food) and eat without recollection the next day. People usually eat high caloric foods and don’t understand why they are gaining weight or even developing type 2 diabetes. Another closely related disorder is night eating, when one cannot fall asleep easy unless they eat. Symptoms of sleep eating are; little or no appetite the next morning, eating late at night, eating most of your calories after dinner and waking up during the night which requires eating to fall back to sleep. More on magnesium deficiency: Magnesium Sleep

[caption id="attachment_586" align="alignright" width="300" caption="What causes sleep eating? "][/caption]

Both men and women are susceptible to sleep eating, but it is more common among women. Many of these individuals diet during the day, which may leave them hungry and vulnerable to binge eating at night when their control is weakened by sleep. In some cases, people with sleep-related eating disorders have histories of alcoholism, drug abuse, and other sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome.

Treatment of sleep eating begins with an initial consultation with your physician and may include an overnight stay at a sleep clinic where you will be monitored through the night. Alternative supplements may be recommended to combat symptoms like magnesium, melatonin and GABA. Other treatment may include stress management, counseling and limiting caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Small study suggests that topiramate (Topamax), a drug to treat epilepsy has helped with sleep eating disorders although there are side effects like clouded thinking and tingling in the hands and feet. If your restless leg syndrome is causing you to sleep eat, drugs that boost dopamine levels may help both conditions.  A magnesium supplement can also help with restless leg syndrome.

What do you do if you are sleep eating? See your doctor to make sure you are suffering from this sleep eating disorder and determine the cause. Tell her/him all the medications and supplements you are taking, include recreational drugs and alcohol. Also provide your eating habits and dieting regimens. If you are on a diet…stop, as dieting only exacerbates the problem. Eating a limited amount of calories during the day may trigger your body’s need for more calories during the night. If you are stressed about a relationship, money matters or work, see a therapist to help you work through these issues. Finally get everything out of your home that would be harmful if you ate it. This means kitchen/bathroom cleaners, paint, paint thinners, etc. You may want to  child proof cabinets or kitchen drawers that contain knives, scissors or anything sharp.  Take your medication to the office so you won’t take it while you are sleep eating.

More on sleep eating see: Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation. The content provided in What Causes Sleep Eating? is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Sleep Easy

There has been a lot of publicity lately regarding bed bugs. If you remember a news story on 11/04/2010 where Christine and David Drabicki from Plymouth, MI filed suit against New York's Waldorf-Astoria, saying she and her husband became infected with bedbugs during a stay at the well-known hotel. New York has been hard hit by bedbugs. The United Nations, the Harlem office of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, several retail stores and a movie theater have suffered outbreaks of the infestation. But it is not just New York City; the U.S. is facing a national infestation. A matter of fact bed bug infestation has risen 500% in the last few years and as you can see it is not just hotels; offices, retail stores, movie theaters and flea markets have been invaded too by these tiny, blood sucking pests. How to get rid of bed bugs and sleep easy?

These critters need blood to survive. They are nocturnal and wait until its dark before they strike. Only the size of a pinhead when born, they can grow as big as the size of a penny when they have matured, especially after a hefty nightly meal. Since they have to ingest all they can in a short time span they can bite their victim many times during the night. In fact, someone with a serious infestation could be bitten as many 500 times per night! Not only can you wake up with a very itchy red rash, the saliva from the bed bugs can cause an allergic reaction just like what happened to one of Drabicki’s daughters. While some people will have no reaction others can develop asthma as with some instances of dust mites or in rare situations life threatening anaphylactic shock.

[caption id="attachment_581" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Sleep Easy "][/caption]

Bed bugs hide in places where they can’t be seen and if you look for them you may see other tale telling signs than live bugs. Molted skin, eggs, black specks and blood stains are good indicators that you have a bed bug infestation. Wood bed frames, mattress seams, under dressers, behind wall hangings are some places you can inspect in your home. At the movie theater do not keep any belongings on the floor. At a retail store remember you are not the first person to try on a piece of clothing. You may even be trying on something another person had returned. Check all seams before trying it on.

If you find evidence of bed bugs it is best to call a professional bed bug exterminator. Don’t move your mattress as this will just spread the infestation to other areas of the house. Bug bombs don’t work and it will cause the bugs to hide in places that will be harder to kill, like baseboards, under light switch plates and inside walls. To prepare for the exterminator you can vacuum the carpets and the furniture. If you have a Kirby Vacuum System you can even use it on your mattress as this will suck up not only bed bugs but dust mites too. Remember to change the bag and filter outside as they can get out through stitch holes.

Wash or dry clean clothing, bedspreads and throw rugs in the hottest water possible, only a temperature over 113 degrees will kill bed bugs. The exterminator may also ask you to remove light switch plates and chalk any cracks in your walls. Unfortunately you may have to pitch your mattress if it is heavily infested. If so, invest in a memory foam mattress as bed bugs cannot nestle in this mattress and make a home. If you can save your mattress you may want to get a memory foam mattress pad or a mattress encasement as this will work just as good to keep bed bugs out of your bed. The exterminator will use chemicals to flush out bed bugs in hard to reach areas and use hot, dry steam to kill them.

[caption id="attachment_578" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Sleep Easy - Hiding Places"][/caption]

To avoid an infestation or a recurring one, bed bug interceptors are small plastic dishes that go under bed legs. The bed bugs can climb up, but then they slide down and become trapped and easy to spot. When you come home from a high risk area like a flea market, movie theater or mall, you can take off your clothes and put them in the dryer right away on high heat for 30 minutes. Remember your shoes, you can put them into a pillowcase and throw them into the dryer as well. If you have ever been infested with bed bugs you know how hard it is to get rid of them. It is never a good idea to rent furniture or buy used furniture from a flea market, auction house or yard/garage sale. In fact, the less clutter there will be fewer places the little critters will have to hide. Less is definitely more when it comes to bed bugs.

If you have been to a high risk area or a hotel and think you may have brought home bed bugs, dump out all your belongings on a tile floor or garage. Check all seams, unzip all compartments, vacuum out and dispose of the vacuum’s bag and filter in a plastic bag before pitching. Wash all clothing in hot water and dry on high heat. You can also treat luggage with an insecticide or a portable heating unit designed to destroy bed bugs and their eggs.

When travelling you can inspect your hotel room before bringing in your luggage and bear in mind to keep your luggage on racks off the floor and far from the furniture. Remember when you are selecting a hotel you can check to see if it has or had a bed bug infestation.

The content provided in How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Sleep Easy is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation

Many people who have the eating disorder anorexia nervosa also may suffer from a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (NS-RED) in which they binge eat night after night. Individuals with NS-RED usually have trouble falling asleep easy and/or staying asleep during the night that can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. What is anorexia nervosa? Anorexia nervosa is commonly referred as anorexia, a psychological eating disorder. A person with anorexia often starts by dieting to lose weight, and then over time they become obsessed with becoming thinner. This obsessive compulsive behavior leads to an endless cycle of restrictive eating, exercising, using diet pills, diuretics, laxatives and/or enemas to reduce weight often to a point of starvation in order to feel a sense of control over their body. This cycle is similar to any type of addiction.

[caption id="attachment_572" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation"][/caption]

95% of those affected with anorexia are female, but males can also develop this disorder. Anorexia on average starts during adolescence; it can also affect young children and adults. It has been reported that one in 100 adolescent girls have this disorder and middle to upper socioeconomic Caucasians are more susceptible than other racial backgrounds or lower social classes. The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that .5%-3.7% of women will be diagnosed with anorexia at some point in their life time. Many experts believe those that are required to be thin for their profession such as athletes, models, dancers and actors are more at risk for eating disorders.

Medical and psychological professionals have not yet determined a definite cause of anorexia, however they continue to research possible causes. Studies suggest that there may be an inherited gene that may determine a person susceptibility to eating disorders. Other reports have identified a dysfunction in the brain’s hypothalamus or an imbalance in the brain’s chemicals that may contribute to the development of anorexia. If an individual has a history of under-eating, is a perfectionist, obsessive compulsive or has a negative body image may develop anorexia. Some believe an eating disorder may be a way or acting out or obtaining some control of their body if they have been a victim of child abuse. Child abuse can be contributed by what the parents believe someone’s body image should be by restricting the child’s food and putting emotional demands on the child to stay thin.

Night Eating Syndrome (NES) is a newly recognized eating disorder in which a person consumes more than half of their daily calories at night. Normally those with NES skip meals during the day and restrict calories due to guilt of over eating during the night. NES is different from binge eating because those with NES only over eat at night while binge eaters will eat large amounts of foods at different times of day. NES sufferers wake up during the night and desire high carbohydrates or high calorie foods in order to go back to sleep. Why carbohydrates and high calorie foods like sugar? These foods promote feeling of well-being and calms anxiety that helps them fall asleep.

One reason people have NES is that they are hiding this disorder just like anorexia from others due to shame or guilt. Over time NES can lead to chronic sleep deprivation that will decrease productivity during the day, impair memory, slow reflexes and eventually cause other medical or emotional issues like heart decease or depression. Abnormal hormone levels have been linked to NES like melatonin, leptin and cortisol. Melatonin is a hormone that helps people fall asleep easy and stay asleep as it controls the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, lowers at night for those with NES. Since NES is associated with emotional distress, cortisol, a stress hormone is known to be elevated at night for those affected with this disorder.

[caption id="attachment_573" align="alignright" width="197" caption="Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation"][/caption]

What is the difference between a person suffering from a night eating syndrome and those that have anorexia and a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (NS-RED)? NS-RED is not an eating problem per se; it is a sleep disorder associated with sleep walking that allows the person to eat while still asleep. The person is not conscious during NS-RED episodes and cannot recall eating the next day. The food consumed is most likely high caloric which is usually not eaten by those with anorexia. Since the person is unaware of what they are eating they may try odd combinations like raw bacon and mayo or even non-foods like soap. People with anorexia go to bed hungry at night and this is a way their body can take control of the calories it consumes in order to function. Is this possible? Research has shown that the brain can be awake and asleep at the same time.

There is treatment but it is necessary to correct the cause or anorexia before the NS-RED can be cured. An initial consultation and a night or two at a sleep center will determine if you are diagnosed with NS-RED. Sleeping pills should be avoided especially if they are dealing with a person that might become dependent, which over time and/or over use can also lead to insomnia. See: Sleeping Pill Addiction and Insomnia. An Ambien side effect  is sleep eating, sleep walking and sleep driving.  Alternative supplements may be introduced to help alleviate this condition like; melatonin or tryptophan to help a person sleep and GABA to reduce anxiety or stress.

An anorexic with NS-RED suffers from a vicious cycle of uncontrollable over eating during the night and starvation during the day, as they don’t know why they can’t lose the weight they desire. Other health issues associated with anorexia are disorders of the heart and circulatory systems, endocrine system, kidney function, electrolyte imbalance and anemia. Heart disease and an electrolyte imbalance can be fatal. Anorexia has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition. Psychiatric counseling is the best choice for treatment of anorexia and early diagnosis and on-going therapy can cure about half of those affected. The ultimate goal in treatment is for the individual to lead a physically and emotionally healthy life through the development of self-acceptance.

It is important to be aware that throughout life, during positive and negative stress periods, people may experience eating and/or sleep disorders. If either or both of these conditions persist or interfere with daily life, then it is important to identify the underlying cause(s) of the problem. Problems with Eating and Sleeping are defined as usually over/under eating or too much or too little sleep. During the past decade, we have become aware of the detrimental effects of anorexia and compulsive overeating and while these problems may warrant medical attention, the underlying causes need to be identified and appropriate coping skills developed. The content provided in Anorexia Nervosa Causes Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder and Sleep Deprivation is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sleeping Pill Addiction and Insomnia

Prescription sleeping pills are generally used for a short duration to treat insomnia. The definition of a sleeping pill addiction is an addiction or dependency that is present in an individual who shows three or more of the following symptoms; preoccupation with the drug, using more of the drug than prescribed, developing a tolerance to the drug, suffers from withdrawal symptoms if not taken, can’t stop taking the drug, development of other emotional or physical problems related to the drug use and seeks alternative drugs to seek the same effects.

[caption id="attachment_564" align="alignright" width="218" caption="Sleeping Pill Addiction and Insomnia"][/caption]

Prescribed sleeping aides come in various forms; one that help you fall asleep, ones that helps you stay asleep and ones that are sedating antidepressants. The following are popular brands; Lunesta, Ambien, Sonata and Zonalon. Sleeping pill warnings include; drowsiness, dizziness, headache, blurred vision and that they shouldn’t be taken for an extended period of time, otherwise you may become addicted.

When you are addicted to sleeping pills you have an uncontrollable desire to use sleeping pills and frequent use leads to an increase in tolerance, so the more you take…the more you need to get to sleep easy. Other symptoms of addition include; loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, headache, hallucinations, red eyes, forgetfulness, sensitivity to sounds, rapid speech, anxiety, financial problems, poor performance, neglected personal hygiene and personality changes.

Treatment for sleeping pill addiction includes cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, addiction treatment programs, which include detox and withdrawal symptom management and counseling. Exercise, diet, personal hygiene and getting enough sleep are lifestyle changes that are also included with the addiction treatment program.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a general term for a classification of different types of therapies including rational emotive behavior therapy, rational behavior therapy, rational living therapy, cognitive therapy and dialectic behavior therapy. The benefit of these therapies is that we can change the way we think to feel/act better even if the situation does not change. CBT usually is much briefer (12 to 16 weeks) compared to years with psychoanalysis as the patient has homework (reading assignments and practice techniques learned) along with therapy to achieve certain goals. The therapist instills positive behaviors and in turn provides constructive reinforcement to implement healthy lifestyle habits which help the patient attain their goals. When people understand how and why they are doing well, they continue to do well.

CBT for those with a drug addiction teaches the person through functional analysis and skill training to recognize situation where they are most likely to use the drugs to avoid other circumstances and/or cope with problems. Functional analysis tries to identify the thoughts, feeling and circumstances of the patient before they use the drugs. Skill training is to get the person to relearn better coping skills. Prescription drug addictions work best when CBT is combined with other recovery efforts such as group therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has emerged as a treatment for sleep problems that's an effective alternative to sleeping pills, even for people with severe or chronic insomnia caused by depression, panic attacks, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse (other than sleeping pills). In a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, CBT can improve the quality and quantity of sleep that can be sustained over a long period of time. CBT can also help people who have taken sleep aides for years, people with physical problems included restless leg syndrome (RLS) and for those with chronic insomnia. In addition, CBT hasn’t shown any adverse side effects and the benefit from the therapy help those sleep better than they did before.

According to, CBT teaches you to recognize and change fictitious beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. For instance, you may believe that you must get eight hours of sleep every night to perform adequately during the day. In truth, seven hours of sleep may be enough sleep for you. Insomniacs often sleep more than they realize. CBT helps reprogram the part of the brain that controls the sleep/wake cycle and targets behaviors called sleep hygiene that negatively causes you to have insomnia. Some sleep hygiene behaviors may include; not exercising or drinking caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime. Therapy helps you to control or eliminate negative thoughts, anxiety or stress that keeps you awake at night. Enforce strict stimulus control by making the bedroom for sleep and sex only and by eliminating all external noise and/or light and keep the temperature cool enough so you don’t wake during the night because you are too hot. Outside stimuli may include keeping your pets out of your bedroom too. Keep a sleep routine by going to bed and waking at the same time every day, even on weekends. Use relaxation techniques like meditation or self-hypnosis CDs, white noise, soothing music or other sounds like ocean waves or a thunderstorm.

The most effective treatment approach may combine a few of these methods. Realize that unlike sleep medications, CBT requires steady practice and that some approaches may cause you to lose sleep at first. Mind your p’s and q’s for sleep easy techniques and eventually you should see results.

Because insomnia can be associated with other emotional or physical disorders, such as depression, substance abuse or another sleep disorder, a thorough sleep evaluation is key in determining the appropriate treatment. In these cases, the root cause should be addressed simultaneously.

Note: A sleeping pill overdose occurs when a person has taken too many pills or sedatives that cause a toxic effect on the body. Symptoms of an overdose include difficulty breathing, slurred speech, fainting and shock. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms you need to go to a medical facility immediately. Your stomach may need to be pumped to remove the drugs from your system or charcoal could be administered to neutralize the effects.

The content provided in Sleeping Pill Addiction and Insomnia is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deep Sleep Easily Strengthens Memories

A study that was published November 2, 2010 in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests if we want to learn a new word to sleep easy on it. Deep sleep easily strengthens memories of new words by a process that integrates the word into our vocabulary, changes the memory representation by making the word recognizable and easier to recall in the future. The study also implies that reading or studying for a test later in the day is more effective because our brains use the “downtime” of sleep to integrate what has been learned.

[caption id="attachment_560" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Deep Sleep Easily Strengthens Memories - Sleep Cycle"][/caption]

Since research has found a link between sleep and memory a short nap can actually improve our creativity and our learning capabilities. A power nap of 15 to 20 minute can refresh and reenergize the body but sleep is just as important to our mind. The duration of a sleeping period and the quality of the sleep, or sleep intensity helps the brain to process memories. A study of English speaking college students were shown a list of Chinese words, then half of the students took a nap in which some were allowed to go into deep sleep but not REM or dream sleep. When they woke up they took a test of Chinese words and the students who napped for 90 minutes did much better on the test than the other students who slept less or the non-nappers.

Other research compiled by the University of California reported in the November issue of Behavioral Brain Research, suggests that napping after a lesson is better for you than loading up on caffeine. Caffeine may enhance alertness and concentration, but it can actually impair motor learning and verbal memory and daytime naps benefit both alertness and memory. A test was done on 61 participants that trained during the morning on memory, motor and perceptual learning skills. After lunch one group napped (60-90 minutes) while the other two groups both listened to a book on tape and received a pill with caffeine or a placebo. Later in the afternoon, all three groups were tested to see how well they had learned their tasks. The group that napped performed better on motor task and recalling words, than the caffeine group. The nap group also did much better than the other groups on perceptual learning skills. The placebo group did better than the caffeine group on all three tasks. Just thinking about the pill they took might contain caffeine (the placebo effect) helped as much as taking a nap on the motor task.

The evidence proposed that caffeine interferes with skills that require processing like recalling words verses remembering how to ride a bike. So what does this mean? Such an impairment of execution is the opposite of what society’s assumption that caffeine benefits cognitive performance and that no medicinal alternative is as beneficial as a good night’s rest or a nap in the afternoon.

Taking a nap during the work day has shown to increase alertness and productivity. Despite what research has shown employers have been reluctant to allow employees to take a nap on the job. China, India, Italy, Greece, North Africa and Latin America have been napping in the afternoon for ages and found that a quick 30 – 40 minute nap after lunch was necessary to refresh and reenergize their employees. Many foods contain tryptophan an amino acid that causes drowsiness and now scientific research has proven that a short nap will improve alertness and mood.

[caption id="attachment_559" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Deep Sleep Easily Strengthens Memories - Nap at Work!"][/caption]

In fact, big corporation like Nike and Google not only have employee perks like gyms and child care they also have quiet rooms and napping pods for employees to nap or meditate. Other smaller companies are kicking the coffee break and now allowing their employees to grab some shuteye. Napping on the job sounds strange but with all the emphasis on health and wellbeing it makes sense. Do you think it makes sense or should everyone just follow a stricter bedtime routine?

Note: A power nap is designed to prevent the napper from sleeping so long that they enter a normal sleep cycle. Entering a normal sleep cycle (30 minutes more or less) but failing to complete it can result in sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is where one feels groggy, disoriented and even sleepier than before napping. If you want to take a power nap to reenergize it is critical that you limit your time to 20 minutes. When you lay down to sleep your first sleep cycle runs about 120 minutes. The above research suggests if you want to recall a word or improve memory functions you must enter into the deep sleep cycle or slow wave sleep and you should complete your deep sleep cycle to avoid sleep inertia which is napping or even sleeping at night in 90 minute intervals.

Whether at work or at home the best time to take a nap is in the middle of the afternoon usually between 1pm and 4pm.. This is when the body is usually fighting sleep and a nap at this time has the most benefit on the body’s natural clock, so it is less likely to disrupt your night’s sleep. The content provided in Deep Sleep Easily Strengthens Memories is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mind Your P's and Q's Easy Sleep Techniques Meditation and Self Hypnosis

In my last post Yoga Positions to Sleep Easy I talked a little about how meditation can relax a restless mind. Meditation or even self-hypnosis takes patients and practice to achieve the maximum benefit and allow you to get the quality and quantity of easy sleep you need. Not only does meditation/self-hypnosis help with sleep problems it can also keep your stress levels under control during the day. Mind you p’s and q’s easy sleep techniques for meditation/self-hypnosis are: patients, practice, quality and quantity. We will show how each is equally important if you are going to be successful using meditation/self-hypnosis to improve your sleep.


[caption id="attachment_545" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Mind your P's and Q's Easy Sleep Techniques - Clear Your Mind"][/caption]

There are ways to change your lifestyle that will help to promote better sleep. Learning to relax your body and calm your mind takes time, so be patient. Using these three tips along with meditation can help you achieve a deeper relaxation. The nature of meditation is practicing concentration and letting go, in order to let go you need to (1) slow down before going to bed. Not only your body should slow down, but you should start to clear your mind or in other words power down. Shut off all external stimulation such as; TV, computer, video games, etc. Spend at least an hour unwinding by taking a bath, some light reading or writing in your journal. Writing in a journal can get your daily activities out of your head. You can also achieve this by writing a to-do-list for yourself for tomorrow’s activities.

(2) Make sure you have eaten your last meal at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. You do not want your body to still be digesting when you are trying to concentrate on meditation or self-hypnosis. Also you may experience heart burn, indigestion or acid reflux during the night which will only wake you up. If you need to snack before bedtime stick to easily digested foods and foods that are fully of tryptophan.

(3) Did you know that our nostrils are associated with two different energies? Our right nostril energizes and stimulates, while your left nostril relaxes and calms. Our breath naturally changes dominant nostrils every 2 – 21/2 hours. After we eat our breathing changes naturally to the left nostril to provide the energy we need to digest food. This is one reason why we feel sleepy after a meal, especially a Thanksgiving meal when most of the food is full of tryptophan. Before lying down sit quietly on your bed and block off the right nostril. To encourage sleep, breathe long and deeply trying to slow down your breathing to 4 or less breathes per minute. If you are still digesting food when you lay down lay on your left side as this side will keep your right nostril open. If not, lay down on your right side to keep your left nostril open to promote calmness.

Being patient by taking the time to change some of your lifestyle habits will allow your meditation or self-hypnotic suggestions fade away all distractions as your mind becomes focused and you achieve deep relaxation.


Practicing “Good and Plenty” meditation/self-hypnosis techniques you will be able to work better, live better and love better. What this means, you not only have to practice plenty of times, you also need to do it well (good). Common meditation/self-hypnosis techniques are; deep breathing, visualization, auto-suggestions, progressive relaxation and a visual exercise.

Visual Exercise

Close your eyes about 9/10th and focus on the tip of your nose. Bring your index finger to the front of your face and look at it and keep looking at your finger as you slowly bring it to the tip of your nose. Focusing the eyes at the tip of the nose causes your optic nerve to be stimulated thus stimulating the pineal and pituitary glands. Your pineal produces more melatonin a hormone that is associated with controlling your sleep/wake cycle. More on melatonin see: Melatonin Can Cause Easy Sleeping

Deep Breathing

While lying in bed get into a comfortable position with your hands at either side or on your belly. Breathe in slowing through your nose and complete fill your diaphragm; hold it for a count of eight. Exhale slowly out of your mouth counting backwards 8 to 1. Repeat at least three times before continuing to another method. Try to lower your heart rate and breathes per minute. Concentrating on your breathing will distract you from thinking about other thoughts and alleviate your stress.


On the self-hypnotic tape I use you are instructed to imagine yourself in a peace place. Common places are floating in the clouds, swinging on a hammock, lying on the beach or sitting on a mountain. You can focus on something general or specific as long as it is a place where you feel safe.


During your deep breathing and visualization incorporate the word “relax” after each exercise this will help your mind fall asleep deeper and your body to slow down its heart rate. You can also repeat a word over and over again slower than the time before as you move your eyes left to right each time you say the word. This exercise not only keeps you focus away from your active thoughts it also helps reduce your heart rate. Controlling your breathing while giving yourself an auto-suggestion will strengthen the nervous system and regenerate your nerves. After a few months of practicing this method your rhythm of your breathing will come naturally and eventually you will fall asleep faster. This technique is good to recover from fatigue caused by normal stress and jet lag.

Progressive Relaxation

After you have visualized a peaceful place you can start your progressive relaxation. Lay your arms at your side and start to work the muscles beginning at your toes. Flex, hold and release concentrating on each muscle group (calves, thighs, buttock, arms, torso and head), all the while inhaling as you flex and exhaling as you release, you can also tell yourself to relax after each release. You should be completely relaxed; if not asleep by the time you reach your head. Make sure there are no external distractions in your bedroom such as light or noise. You can use a meditation/self-hypnotic CD or MP3 that will instruct you or you can listen to other soothing music or sounds like ocean waves or rainfall, if outside noises cannot be eliminated.


[caption id="attachment_546" align="alignright" width="257" caption="Mind your P's and Q's Easy Sleep Techniques - Sleep Quality and Quantity"][/caption]

“Good and Plenty” sleep is the quality and quantity of sleep you should get in order to function normally every day without wanting to take a nap. Insomnia symptoms include not only the inability to fall asleep but the inability to stay asleep during the night. This lack of good sleep leaves people unable to feel energized and refreshed upon waking up. Many insomniacs know they will be tired if they only get a couple of hours each night (adults require 7-8 hours of sleep), but they also know they will function poorly if their sleep was interrupted during the night or if they do not fall into a deep sleep.

Doctors are known to prescribe sleep-aid drugs to treat insomnia, but these drugs only help the quantity of sleep and not the quality. Prescription sleep aides often promote light sleep rather than deep sleep that cause a hangover effect the following day. These medications are also known to have bad side effects, are addictive and interfere with other medications.

Yet these drugs are often used for short-term treatment of insomnia to prevent an occasional case of insomnia from developing into chronic insomnia. Without deep sleep your body cannot restore itself, rejuvenate your cells, recharge your immune system, clear your mind and make your body stronger or healthier. The quality of sleep is just as important to your health as the quantity.

Making lifestyle changes and clearing the mind with meditation or self-hypnosis may offer drug-free alternatives to traditional insomnia treatments. The content provided in Mind Your P’s and Q’s Easy Sleep Techniques – Meditation/Self-Hypnosis is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yoga Positions to Sleep Easy

Yogic Sleep or Yoga Nidra is a state of deep sleep consciousness. Attaining Yogic Sleep requires lots of patience and practice. When you first try Yoga Nidra there is a good chance you will not experience true Yoga Nidra although practicing may be very relaxing as this meditation method uses breathing exercises, visualization techniques and body relaxation auto-suggestions. The practice of yoga relaxation has been found to reduce tension and anxiety and helps with headaches, chest pain, rapid heart rate, sweating and stomach aches. There is nothing more effective than achieving a natural quieting, relaxing and stabilizing peace of mind and emotions than trying meditation and simple yoga positions to sleep easy.

[caption id="attachment_537" align="alignright" width="277" caption="Yoga Positions for Easy Sleep "][/caption]

Not being able to fall asleep has to do with a state of restless mind syndrome, because your mind is always thinking you need to do something physical to allow the central nervous system to calm down which in turn quiets the mind, releases your stress and allows you to fall asleep. While exercising regularly may help you to sleep better, power yoga also known as Ashtanga done at least three times a week is a better choice when it is done at early in the day. Three-part breath is helpful for clearing the mind before going to bed and using a few yoga stretches, like Happy baby will make it easier for you to relax. The Goddess post is also a great relaxation pose, as these poses you can do while lying in bed.

If you attend a yoga class you are aware that every class ends with the Corpse pose. While lying in bed focus on each part of your body and concentrate on relaxing it before moving to another body part. Begin with your toes, and then move to your legs and arms, to your torso, neck then face and head. While concentrating on each part breathe deeply and exhale as you relax each area. Concentrating on your breathing creates a break from you active mind and lets you relax.

The Savasana pose is not a stretching exercise at all. With this yoga position you just lie down on the floor with a blanket folded under your head and neck and another blanket rolled under your knees. Cover your eyes with a soft cloth and yet another blanket to cover your body. Stay in this pose for 15 to 20 minute while using a breathing technique. Slowly inhale and then hold your breath for a count of 8. As you exhale with another 8 count this will help stimulate your nervous system to take over and prompt your body to go into a rest and repair mode.

[caption id="attachment_534" align="alignright" width="249" caption="Yoga Positions for Easy Sleep - Legs-Up-Against-The-Wall"][/caption]

Halasana also known as the Plough pose is especially helpful if you can’t fall asleep. Lie down on the floor and rest your thighs on a padded chair, so you shins are parallel to the floor. If you find you have trouble waking up during the night, try the Side-Lying Savasana. Lie on your left side and put a pillow under your right knee, right arm, stomach and head so you feel fully supported and emotionally comfortable.

The legs-up-the-wall-pose or Sanskrit is one of my favorites and especially helpful for creating a restful sleep. It also helps relieve tired or cramped legs and feet while stretching the back of your legs and neck. Take a rolled up blanket or bolster to create support and prop your hips and lower back while sweeping you legs up against the wall. Cover your eyes with a soft cloth and focus on your breathing. Stay there at least 20 minutes.

The content provided in Yoga Positions to Sleep Easy is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awarenesss of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Melatonin Can Cause Easy Sleeping

I have talked generally about how melatonin can cause easy sleeping, but now I’d like to be more specific on what melatonin actually is and how it may benefit those that can’t sleep. Melatonin is a hormone secreted naturally in the pineal gland of our brain and it helps to regulate other hormones and the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our internal 24 hour clock that plays a critical role with our sleep/wake cycle. During the day our melatonin production decreases and at night we produce more melatonin. Its highest production level is between 2am and 4am. Our body has the amazing ability to adjust hormones by how much or how little light we receive. When we receive too much light at night is disrupts our sleep/wake cycle because we are not producing enough melatonin. Shift work, night work and jet lag can cause you to produce less melatonin. You also produce less melatonin naturally as you age and that may be the reason older adults sleep less or develop chronic insomnia.

[caption id="attachment_527" align="alignright" width="237" caption="Melatonin Can Cause Easy Sleeping - Light Affects Melatonin Production"][/caption]

How to go to sleep easy? Research has shown that a melatonin supplement can help people with low melatonin levels to sleep better. Not only is it good for people that are working the night shift or jet lag, it also helps those that are suffering from schizophrenia, ADHD and symptoms from insomnia such as falling a sleep easy and sleeping through the night. Human studies measured the effects of melatonin and sleep on a number of healthy subjects and they found that melatonin works best for people that are 55 or older.

Other benefits of melatonin are an antioxidant, cancer protective agent, skin protective agent and helps treat SAD/seasonal affective depression. Women especially can benefit from taking a melatonin supplement if breast cancer runs in their family. Women with breast cancer have lower levels of melatonin compared to cancer free individuals. Melatonin can inhibit the growth of certain kinds of breast cancer cells. In another small study of women who were taking tamoxifen for breast cancer but seeing no improvement, adding melatonin caused tumors to modestly shrink in more 28% of the women. Melatonin can also help alleviate symptoms associated with menopause.

The same works for men who have prostate cancer in their family and studies have shown when men take high doses of melatonin with anti-cancer drugs it enhances their survival rate with men with metastatic prostate cancer. Note: men that take high doses of melatonin can find decrease sperm mobility and sex drive.

Melatonin is a natural sunscreen as it helps protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet light when combined with vitamins C and E. Getting enough sunlight is two-fold; we not only have to protect our skin from its cancer causing rays we still need the sun to keep our sleep/wake cycle in check by producing enough sleep/wake hormones. When we don’t get enough sun such as during the winter months we can experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), because of low levels of melatonin. We need melatonin to produce serotonin levels which help reduce symptoms of depression caused by SAD.

Some evidence suggests that melatonin can help children with ADHD fall asleep faster, although it doesn’t improve the behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD. Children also afflicted with epilepsy may benefit from taking melatonin as some reports propose a reduction of frequency and duration of seizures. Other reports say that melatonin may increase episodes. Please talk to your child’s neurologist or pediatrician before taking melatonin for epilepsy as it may interfere with other medications and/or cause additional medical problems. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that the product may be useful for teenagers who experience delayed-sleep-phase syndrome, an inability to fall asleep during the early nighttime hours that causes problems in awakening the next morning

Is irritable bowel syndrome keeping you awake at night? Preliminary studies have reported that patients taking melatonin have reduced symptoms, such as abdominal pain, but may not help bloating or frequency of bowel movements.

Melatonin is available as tablets, capsules, cream, and lozenges that dissolve under the tongue. It is available at your local health food store, pharmacy or online. Doses vary per individual depending on age and medical issues. Low doses may work better for people under the age of 55 who occasionally cannot fall asleep. If you take too high of a dose you may experience anxiety, irritability and vivid nightmares/dreams. If you wake up drowsy try lowering your dose. Other side effects include; stomach ache, dizziness, headache, decreased libido and decreased sperm count in men. Men should also be aware that is may cause breast enlargement or what is known as gynecomastia. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid melatonin. Your doctor can help you or your family members determine the dose you need for your/their situation.

The Bad and the Good when taking a melatonin supplement with other drugs or medications:


Melatonin supplements may interfere with certain drugs like Prozac or SSRI’s (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) by reducing their effects. It also reduces the effects of some blood pressure drugs like Vasoxyl and Catopres. Medications known as calcium channel blockers may lower melatonin levels, some include; Procardia, Norvasc, Sular and Vascor. Beta-Blocker such as Cartrol and Setral also reduce melatonin levels. Melatonin may increase the risk of bleeding from certain anticoagulant medications. It is not recommended to take a melatonin supplement if you are taking an immunosuppressant medication. Melatonin production levels can also be lower by some over-the-counter medication like Advil or Motrin, and even caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.


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On the other hand melatonin and Halcion can help those improve their quality of sleep when they are going through the withdrawal of benzodiazepines. If you are taking an antipsychotic medication you may be experiencing the condition known as tardive dyskinesia, which causes involuntary movements. A study has shown that those who took melatonin had fewer symptoms verses those you did not take the supplement. Taking melatonin in combination with interleukin-2 led to more tumor regression and better survival rates that treatment with interleukin-2 alone. Preliminary reports suggest that melatonin and tamoxifen taken together can help those with breast and other cancers.

If you have an immune system disorder, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, stroke or depression you should first consult with your doctor before taking melatonin. Limit use with heavy machinery. Even though melatonin has been available for years without a prescription, it has not yet been confirmed to be safe by the FDA. The content provided in Melatonin Can Cause Easy Sleeping is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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