Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Greatest Mothers Day Gift of All SLEEP

According to reports 64% of moms don’t get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation released a survey indicating many moms suffer from insomnia meaning they can’t fall asleep easy nor stay asleep throughout the night. Not getting enough sleep can cause problems at work and in their marriage. Many moms don’t know they have insomnia because they just think their sleeplessness is a part of their life. The greatest mother’s day gift of all….sleep and here are a few ways you can let mom catch up on some much needed rest.

The day of:

Breakfast in Bed or Made. Plan a menu in advance and get everything ready the night before to eliminate making noise in the morning.

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Keep the Kids Quiet and Dressed. Remind the children that this is mom’s special day and she gets to sleep in. Find quiet toys to play until mom wakes up. Lay out the children’s clothes the night before so they can get ready without commotion.

Get the Kids Involved. Have each child prepare something for mom. For younger children have them make a homemade mother’s day card. The older children can help prepare her breakfast or pick up the house. Mom will appreciate anything done that is on her daily to-do-list.

The night before:

The greatest way for mom to have a good night sleep is to ensure that she can fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. If you are getting her a gift, new comfortable, non-restrictive pajamas or a lavender scented candle are a couple of related sleep gifts. Draw her bath and add essential oils of Geranium and Roman chamomile that will help her to unwind before sleep. Chamomile calms nerves and stomach while it induces sleep. The aromas of these plants have effects, which make her feel sleepy. Note: if mom has sensitive skin some oils can cause dermatitis. To use essential oils during bath, prepare a tub full of warm water. Then, pour about 8 drops of the essential oil into the water to create a steaming effect. Avoid exceeding the recommended dosage of essential oil to use so you won't irritate your skin in the process.

Can't afford a day at the spa? I am sure she wouldn't say no to a nice back massage right before bedtime to help her relax especially if you use sleep-inducing oils. If you want more ideas on which types of essential oils are recommended to use in aromatherapy, for bath or even massage that will help mom get a better night’s sleep, here are a few:

• Lavender Oil
• Valerian Oil
• Passion Flower Oil
• Linden Blossom Oil
• Violet Leaf Oil
• California Poppy Oil
• Mandarin Oil
• Catnip oil
• Amyris Oil

Also Dr. Oz’s solution for those moms that have trouble falling asleep can be through natural sleep inducing foods. Make sure mom eliminates refined sugar and hot/spicy foods for dinner as many can cause indigestion or trigger insulin surges that interfere with hormones that affect sleep. It is also important that she eats at least 3 hours before bedtime to make sure her body and brain are not focused on digestion and on sleeping instead. If you want to make a basket of goodies for mom or prepare a snack the night before, here are some foods that will help her sleep:

Bananas are full of potassium and magnesium which help you to relax your muscles for a peaceful night’s sleep. Bananas also help to lower your blood pressure. See more on Magnesium and Sleep.

Popcorn with Parmesan Cheese provides a delicious combination of carbohydrates and dairy. Dairy products are known for their tryptophan content, an amino acid that causes people to become sleepy. The carbohydrates help you to absorb the tryptophan better. Dr. Oz has the following light, homemade popcorn recipe:


Makes 4 servings; 61 calories per serving, 10 percent from fat
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Flavored cooking spray (butter, olive oil or garlic)
Garlic salt or cinnamon


Place popcorn in a 2 and 1/2-quart microwave-safe container; cover and cook at high power 4 to 5 minutes, or until popcorn is popped but not scorched. If the microwave oven does not have a rotating turntable, use oven mitts to grasp and shake the covered container after 3 minutes of cooking. Immediately pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. To further flavor the popcorn, immediately sprinkle on your favorite seasoning blend such as garlic salt or cinnamon.

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A salad topped with chia seeds; they also contain tryptophan. In fact they have twice the tryptophan as turkey and you only need 2 ounces of chia seeds to help you to fall asleep. You can actually eat chia seeds of chia pet fame!

Wheat germ on yogurt or cereal will provide a boost of vitamin B6 which is known to alleviate stress and anxiety. Just one teaspoon of wheat germ for a restful night’s sleep

Valerian tea with honey before bedtime has been a practice for centuries. The natural compounds in valerian have been used as a sedative to help reduce the time you need to all asleep. Honey has glucose which helps relax the neurotransmitter, orexin which is linked to alertness. See more about how honey works as a natural sleep aid: Need Sleep, Got Milk.

Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin, a hormone that regulates and resets your sleep/wake cycle. Drink an 8 ounce glass in the morning and another one two hours before bed time. To get the full benefit of this juice it is advised to drink it at the same time every day. More about Tart Cherry Juice is Heart Smart and Sleep Savvy

A turkey burger with spinach on a whole wheat bun is the perfect meal for restful sleep. You can thank the tryptophan in turkey for that. Tryptophan not only affects melatonin, but it also creates serotonin, which helps to stabilize sleep. The iron in spinach is also known to help relieve the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome.

Cheese and 100% whole grain crackers are your best bedtime-snack bet. The whole grains help produce serotonin. Cheese, like other dairy products, contains tryptophan. Together, they make for a winning combination.

The content provided in The Greatest Mothers Day Gift of All 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, April 24, 2011

Sleep Better with a Memory Foam Mattress Pad

When trying to sleep better with memory foam mattress pad some people may find that it is too soft. Before making a decision to purchase, here are some facts about what makes visco memory foam mattress pads appear soft, therefore questioning the quality of the product.

Most people believe that a visco elastic memory foam mattress pad is heat-sensitive as a result softens at body temperature. Visco elastic foam does respond to temperature because they are viscous (harder) when cooler and elastic (softer) when hotter. But the temperature ranges, in which the memory foam reacts, is much more extensive than what the body can give off.

[caption id="attachment_1133" align="alignright" width="255" caption="Sleep Better with a Memory Foam Mattress Pad - Contours to Body"][/caption]

There are two types of viscofoam; viscoelastic memory foam that reacts to temperatures at a much higher or lower range of temperature and viscoelastic memory foam that responds to body temperature. Both types contour to your body’s shape but the temperature-sensitive foam softens and can follow your body contour more accurately as a result distributes your weight by reducing pressure points. The heat-response visco memory foam mattress pad does all that plus feels more unique and soft to the touch.

Memory foam mattress pads that are sensitive to body temperature are more expensive, because how they are manufactured. Tempur-Pedic is one of the most expensive memory foam mattress pad on the market and is also the standard in which all other products are compared to. One of those products is the Isotonic Ultimate Memory Foam Mattress Topper with Velour Cover

The isotonic memory foam mattress topper/pad is cost effective and is extremely comfortable from its 2" 4 lb visco elastic memory foam. The twin memory foam mattress pad is roughly $120 and the queen memory foam mattress pad is about $160. Even thou the feeling of the memory foam topper is great, the mattress pad has quite a poor looking dark yellow cover. If you don’t mind that your bed looks a bit yellowish this is a great topper at an inexpensive price. One thing about the cover is its breathability which will help decrease your body temperature so you can fall asleep easy. Other covers such as those that are waterproof are not breathable making it a bit sticky. I only recommend waterproof covers for memory foam mattress pads with animals, toddlers and the elderly due to the fact that the memory foam mattress pad topper is hard to wash and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You can purchase an isotonic memory foam mattress pad 2 inch. or a memory foam mattress pad 4 inch, these are the standard options. I only recommend the 2 inch if you have a firm mattress. The isotonic memory foam mattress pad manufacturer offers a 30 or 60 day money back guarantee.

Tempur-Pedic mattresses are not made entirely out of memory foam, because visco elastic foam is too soft to make an entire bed out of it. They are a leading brand because they react to body temperature and soften only at the top while others are softer throughout due to being responsive to room temperature. Warning: if the room temperature is high a less temperature-sensitive bed can become even softer and lose cushioning therefore become uncomfortable where as Temper-Pedic beds retain their firmness.

For memory foam mattress pad to be visco-elastic it has to be temperature sensitive with the ability to rebound quickly and return to its normal shape. A memory foam mattress pad review by its viscoelastic makeup and its durability by breaking it down into the following grading system:

1. Weight (Density in pounds per square foot):

- The weight of foam is determined by the amount of chemicals used in the composition of the polyurethane foam. The more chemicals, the higher the density and the more visco-elastic it will become. This density will not determine the hardness of the material; this is done through utilizing the ILD rating structure. Many memory foam mattresses use a 4 and 5lb. density, but some use as low as 2 and 3lb. densities.

2. ILD Rating (Indentation Load Deflection):

- The ILD rating is going to tell you how hard or soft a material is. The 25% ILD rating is the number of pounds required to achieve a 25% compression of a 4? thick foam using a 50 square inch indentation. An Example of this is as follows: 20lb. ILD foam indicates that this material took 20 lbs. of pressure to indent this foam 25%. Keep in mind that the higher the ILD, the firmer the foam.

3. Resilience:

- This measures the foam’s springiness by determining the percent rebound of a steel ball dropped from a height of 36. The term “H.R” foam refers to a highly resilient foam that will give a very high “ball rebound” reading. In general, the higher the resiliency, the better the more durable the foam will be with compression forces.

4. Tensile:

- This indicates the extent to which foam can be stretched, measured in pounds per square inch, and how much elongation in terms of percent of stretch before rupture. This value has little relevance to memory foam mattresses because they are not usually stretched, and will become compressed only when slept on.

- It is important to remember that these ratings can vary from each foam batch that is poured and that no mattress company can predict an exact rating on their mattress each time they produce the final product. As an example, a 10 ILD rated foam could vary from 8 - 12 ILD each time the foam is poured. Especially check the ILD with each product and if purchasing from non merchants such as eBay. A lower ILD might be the reason for the memory foam mattress pad sale comparing it to other products size is not enough.

The manufacture also has a warning label on the memory foam mattress pad, it states:

[caption id="attachment_1134" align="alignright" width="242" caption="Sleep Better with a Memory Foam Mattress Pad"][/caption]

WARNING: URETHANE FOAM IS FLAMMABLE. The urethane foam mattress pad label clearly states do not expose urethane foam to open flames or any other direct or indirect high temperature ignition sources such as burning operations, welding, burning cigarettes, space heaters or naked lights. Once ignited, urethane foam will burn rapidly, releasing great heat and consuming oxygen at a high rate. In an enclosed space, the resulting deficiency of oxygen will present a danger of suffocation to occupants. Hazardous gases released by the burning foam can be incapacitating or fatal to human beings if inhaled in sufficient quantities. This may be a good reason to not use a memory foam mattress pad for an infant or anyone that is incapacitated. A memory foam infant warning : it is not recommended for a baby that cannot lift their head, due to the the memory foam being heat-sensitive there is a chance they can smother.

The content provided in Sleep Better with a Memory Foam Mattress Pad 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, April 23, 2011

The Truth about Sleep Myths

Do you need eight hours of sleep every night? Do you need a sleep aid to fall asleep easy? Do women suffer from insomnia more than men? Here is the truth about sleep myths.

Everyone needs at least eight hours of sleep. Studies have shown that those who sleep seven hours may live longer than those that sleep eight or more. Too much sleep is associated with chronic conditions including diabetes and obesity. Also you could be suffering from depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. On the other hand, sleeping six hours or less can also cause health concerns. Many people like Martha Stewart and former President Bill Clinton can sleep on only four hours, but many of us accumulate a sleep debt that causes lack of mental focus and delayed physical response. When sleeping less becomes a habit people are just not aware of how sleepy they are. Sleeping too little or too long increases the risk for heart conditions and even death. How do you know how much sleep you need? Try varying your sleep schedule. Add or reduce the time you sleep until you wake up in the morning feeling fully refreshed, don’t require an alarm clock to get out of bed and don’t get sleepy during the day.

More women suffer from insomnia than men. According to the statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women are twice more likely to have insomnia than men. Menstrual cycles, menopause, hormones, age, stress, work, health, mood, parenthood and even being single can disturb a woman’s sleep. While woman who are married sleep better than single woman, new mothers lose a lot of sleep.

[caption id="attachment_1125" align="alignright" width="251" caption="The Truth about Sleep Myths - Alcohol Makes Thor Snore"][/caption]

Alcohol will help you get a good night’s sleep. The calming, drowsy effects of alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it increases your chances that you will wake up during the night. If you snore or suffer from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), alcohol will only exacerbate these sleep disorders. Never combine alcohol with another sleep aid as this can lead to erratic behavior, memory loss and even blackouts.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aides can lead to an addiction. Doctors do prescribe sleeping pills for those who are sleep deprived due to short-term situations like a divorce or job loss to break the insomnia cycle. The key word is “short-term” situation meaning “short-term” use. Not only can you become physically dependent you can also be psychologically dependent on them. They also have other side effects including daytime drowsiness, memory loss and can impair driving. Usually chronic insomnia is caused by an underlying physical or mental condition and when treated the insomnia is cured. Trying healthy lifestyle changes, incorporating cognitive behavior therapy and creating a sleep schedule can help you to sleep better while your underlying condition is being resolved.

To nap or not to nap, is it healthy or are you just lazy? I find that I need a nap after a meal and this includes lunch. According to an article that was published by the Harvard Medical School a 45 minute nap can improve your mood and memory, especially if you had little sleep the night before. Remember if you take a nap after 4pm you may find it hard to fall asleep at night. Also if you take a long nap you may experience temporary grogginess or confusion upon waking, also known as sleep inertia.

Some well-known people like John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill made taking a nap a lifetime habit. Research has shown that a biphasic sleep pattern (sleep at night and nap in the afternoon) not only boosts ones energy it also restores brain power…making you smarter! Sleep is needed to clear the short-term memory storage and make room for new information. A memory-refreshing process occurs during a specific stage of sleep, stage 2 NREM. So taking a siesta in the afternoon may be a cost effective solution. Some European and American companies are proving nap rooms to allow their employees to sleep on the job! See: Taxes to Royal Wedding a US National Sleep Debt.

Surfing the internet or reading in bed will make you sleepy. There is a place for watching television, playing video games and surfing the net and it is not in the bedroom. You need your day behind you and give yourself some time to power down your brain so you can relax enough to fall asleep. Your bedroom should be a haven for sleep and intimacy only. Keep it cool, dark, quiet and cozy. If you find that you can’t stop your mind from racing about all the things you have to do or a problem you have to solve, GET UP and write them down. It is better to get it out of your head and onto paper than to lay there tossing and turning. Note: answers to problems come more easily when you're more refreshed and can concentrate better in the morning,

You can make-up your sleep debt on the weekend. Let’s do some math (I know this will put some people to sleep)…if you get 6 hours of sleep during the week and you need 8 that equals a sleep debt of 10 hours of sleep. Sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday can’t make up for all that lost sleep. If your insomnia was created due to anxiety over not being able to fall asleep that sets up a cycle of continued sleep debt and disrupts your natural sleep/wake cycle. Try adding an extra hour each night until you correct your deficit and not sleep binge on the weekend. You need to reset your sleep/wake cycle and the best way to do this is being consistent with your sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends. See ways to reset your sleep/wake cycle: Easier Sleep

[caption id="attachment_1126" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Truth about Sleep Myths - Swallow Spiders while Alseep - Who can answer that one? YUCK"][/caption]

Need to lose weight, than sleep. Do you crave food late at night? When we are tired scientists suspect we have lower levels of appetite-controlling hormones. Many times we are so busy with work and family schedules we end up eating late at night. If you find that you are eating late or crave that midnight snack, stick to light meals and foods that are loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid that causes drowsiness. Heavy spicy meals can cause acid reflux, indigestion and heart burn which will only wake you up during the night. Stay awake from caffeine in soda and chocolate. Have a cup of decaffeinated SleepyTime tea or a warm glass of milk with a turkey sandwich made with whole grain bread. Milk, turkey, whole grains, pumpkin and nuts are a few of the foods that have tryptophan. Although tryptophan converts into the sleep inducing hormones melatonin and serotonin, you may not get enough to bring about sleep. It is the psychological association and a “good” sleep habit that creates a calming effect allowing our mind and body to know it is time to fall asleep.

The content provided in The Truth about Sleep Myths 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, April 21, 2011

Taxes to a Royal Wedding the US National Sleep Debt

In 2007 the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine stated that people overestimate the amount of sleep they get as the US on average only acquires six hours each night. People are genuinely unaware they are getting too little sleep. Our society sleeps less which is insufficient for mental and physical health. Over time we accumulate a sleep debt that affects daily functions and eventually increases the risk for heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic conditions and depression. Lifestyle changes to maximize the quality and quantity of sleep require refraining from heavy/spicy meals, avoiding activity that will increase body temperature, limiting the amount of caffeine and shutting down electronics too close to retiring. Mentally stress and or excitement can cause people to not fall asleep easy as they lay in bed tossing and turning about the upcoming events.

[caption id="attachment_1120" align="alignright" width="198" caption="Taxes to a Royal Wedding the US National Sleep Debt - Too Excited to Sleep"][/caption]

I am sure in this past week some adults stressed about paying their federal/state annual taxes, the rising cost of gasoline and what the heck the government will do about the national debt. This weekend will surely keep some children from falling asleep wondering what the Easter Bunny will bring. Not to mention Kate’s and William’s upcoming royal wedding that will air at 3am April 29th live, will have many Americans celebrating and not sleeping, trying to work on Friday, thinking they will sleep in or take a nap on the weekend to make up for the lost zzzzs.

Hopefully many of them are not air traffic controllers! The FAA has announced that they plan on giving the controllers an hour rest between shifts in attempt to keep them alert during work hours after another controller was caught sleeping on the job in Miami. Although this may sound good to the general public and we are grateful that they are concerned for our safety, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reported many employers will not pay for controllers to take naps. It is clear that politics remains more important than public safety. Why can’t air traffic controller, especially those working the midnight shifts, get the same rest periods as fire fighters and trauma physicians do? According to the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital at University of Pennsylvania, people who sleep less than eight hours suffer a lapse in concentration and decline in cognitive ability.

People need to recognize that adequate sleep is just as important for health as diet and exercise are. How can you make up for lack of sleep? The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides)Health, Mind & Body Books), Dr. Epstein advises:

Settle short-term debt. If you missed 10 hours of sleep over the course of a week, add three to four extra sleep hours on the weekend and an extra hour or two per night the following week until you have repaid the debt fully.

Address a long-term debt. If you’ve shorted yourself on sleep for decades, you won’t be required to put in a Rip Van Winkle–like effort to repay the hours of missed slumber. Nonetheless, it could take a few weeks to recoup your losses. Plan a vacation with a light schedule and few obligations — not a whirlwind tour of the museums of Europe or a daughter’s wedding. Then, turn off the alarm clock and just sleep every night until you awake naturally. At the beginning, you may be sleeping 12 hours or more a night; by the end, you’ll be getting about the amount you regularly need to awake refreshed.

Avoid backsliding into a new debt cycle. Once you’ve determined how much sleep you really need, factor it into your daily schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day — at the very least, on weekdays. If need be, use weekends to make up for lost sleep. And don’t forget to follow the lifestyle changes mentioned above along with the following tips for good sleep habits:

1. Create a sleep sanctuary. Reserve it for sleep, intimacy, and other restful activities, like pleasure reading and meditation. Keep it on the cool side, dark and quiet.

2. Nap only if necessary. Night owls and shift workers are at the greatest risk for sleep debt. Napping an hour or two at the peak of sleepiness in the afternoon can help to supplement hours missed at night. But naps can also interfere with your ability to sleep at night and throw your sleep schedule into disarray. It is best to sleep before 4pm and for 90 minutes only.

3. If you’re able to get enough sleep but don’t feel refreshed in the morning, discuss the problem with your physician. Many common medical conditions, from depression to sleep apnea (the condition in which breathing pauses during sleep), could be responsible. If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to get enough sleep but don’t have an underlying medical problem, talk to your doctor as he/she may recommend a sleep specialist.

If you are one of the royal crazed Americans that will get up in the wee hours of the morning to watch Katherine and William walk down the aisle, remember these ways to relieve your sleep debt, cause the US is not taking that Friday off as a national holiday like the UK. I know many Americans, like me, will sleep as usual and watch the wedding later Friday evening. It is not like I am going to Disney or anything! The content provided in Taxes to a Royal Wedding the US National Sleep Debt 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, April 17, 2011

18 Tips and Techniques How to Wake Up a Sleepy Head

One of the main reasons someone over sleeps is that they didn’t sleep very well during the night. The cause could be they are experiencing sleep apnea and don’t know it, but snore or they do have this sleep disorder and are using a CPAP machine or sleep aid that doesn’t allow them to sleep easy. If someone has a soft palate in the back of their throat it will block the airway passage and cause the person to stop breathing for periods throughout the night. Using a CPCP machine or mouth guard can allow this individual to get more air and sleep without disruption. Sometimes it just a matter of getting used to the sleep aid, sometimes it’s another reason altogether. Here are 18 tips and techniques how to wake up a sleepy head.

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1. Put alarm clock across the room. This will make them get up and stay up or hit the snooze either way they started making serotonin the hormone that wakes you up.

2. Get a job that they enjoy. Nothing wakes me up on time then knowing I am going to do something I love. This could also be taking a vacation or enjoying a hobby or sport.

3. If they can’t get used to using a CPAP or mouth guard consider another method, Pillar Implants. See below for more information about Pillar Implants.

4. Have a couple kids, they always seem to get up early in the morning. (don’t rely on teens)

5. Cold shower

6. Exercise

7. Allow a time to wind down before going to bed. That means turning off your electronics will help turn off an over active mind, so you can fall asleep easy.

8. Personally I can’t sleep when my room is too hot. If they can control the heat with a timer set it for a higher temperature in the morning (anything above 70 wakes me)

9. Healthy diet and reduced caffeine consumption

10. Make a to-do-list for the next day. Sometimes getting things out of your head and onto paper will stop you from tossing and turning because you are trying to remember all the things you have to do tomorrow.

11. Read non-fiction or a text book.

12. Go to bed earlier

13. Insurance won’t pay for your CPAP machine. Go to the dentist he may have an alternative option.

14. Sleep apnea and fatigue are symptoms of other problems, like metabolic syndrome. Try a low carb diet. Dr Mike Eades a metabolic medicine specialist recommends less than 40g/day for intervention. Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low-Carbohydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health--in Just Weeks!

15. Meditate 10-20 minutes before bedtime.

16. See if they need to remove their tonsils and adenoids. They could be enlarged and causing the obstruction in their airway passage.

17. Have a sleep study done.

18. Have a soft palate reinforcement done instead of using a sleep aid.

The Pillar Procedure targets the most common cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the soft palate. During the procedure they will have three tiny woven implants placed in the soft palate. Over time the implants with the body’s natural fibrotic response will add support and stiffen the soft palate. The support and stiffening reduces tissue vibration and causing snoring and palatal tissue collapse that cause the obstruction in the upper airway or OSA. Pillar Implants are made of a material that has been used in implantable medical devices for more than 50 years, so there should be not rejection for the body’s natural defenses. Patients can not feel the implant nor do they interfere with swallowing or speech. Patients may resume their normal activities including eating the same day of the procedure.

Surgical treatment options to address the soft palate component of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have traditionally involved the scarring or removal of tissue which may include the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, adenoids and pharynx called the Uvulopalato-pharyngoplasty (UPPP) which is very invasive and painful. A minimally invasive option to treat the soft palate is the Pillar Procedure. This procedure just uses a local anesthetic then the doctor places the implants in the soft palate with a special designed tool. This procedure takes one visit to the doctor’s office

Some insurers cover the Pillar procedure as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Contact your health insurance provider to see what your coverage may be. Many people suffer from chronic snoring but don’t have sleep apnea. The treatment of snoring is considered to be cosmetic, and typically is not covered by health insurance or Medicare. The content provided in 18 Tips and Techniques How to Wake Up a Sleepy Head 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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Friday, April 15, 2011

Tart Cherry Juice is Heart Smart and Sleep Savvy

The experts are saying that tart cherry juice is heart smart and sleep savvy…ok, maybe not in those exact words, but they have found that tart cherries have a unique combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits that help reduce the risk of heart disease let alone a natural alternative to a sleeping pill. According to research presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in Washington DC, freeze-dried tart cherries have an ORAC or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity over 10,000 and contain a diverse range of phytochemicals. Correlation between the high antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables, and the positive impact of diets high in fruits and vegetables, is believed to play a role in the free-radical theory of aging. Eight ounces of tart cherry juice for 4 weeks can lower inflammation in overweight adults and show a lowering of triglyceride levels as well. Animals that consume tart cherry powder reduced levels of C-reactive protein and cholesterol with a 65% reduction in early death.

[caption id="attachment_1101" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Tart Cherry Juice is Heart Smart and Sleep Savvy"][/caption]

Researchers have reported the tasty, non-addictive tart cherry juice could be a natural cure for insomnia which is a major health problem affecting people that reduces their quality of life and leads to depression and hypertension. In order to evaluate the benefits scientists analyzed the sleep patterns of 15 elderly adults that couldn’t fall asleep easy, stay asleep during the night and that woke up to early, all signs of chronic insomnia. The pilot study conducted by a team of University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and VA Center of Canandaigua researchers gave adults 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and evening for 2 weeks and compared it with another group drinking a juice drink that contained no tart cherries. There was a significant reduction in insomnia with the group that drank the tart cherry juice verses the group that did not. All participants were asked to keep a sleep journal to record their sleep patterns. The researchers used the journal entries to assess sleep continuity, sleep onset, wake after sleep onset, total sleep time and sleep efficiency with the aid of the Insomnia Severity Index.

The Insomnia Severity Index has seven questions. The seven answers are added up to get a total score. When you have your total score, look at the 'Guidelines for Scoring/Interpretation'.

Rate each question 0 through 4

1. Difficulty falling asleep: None, Mild, Moderate, Severe and Very Severe
2. Difficulty staying asleep: None, Mild, Moderate, Severe and Very Severe
3. Problem waking up too early: None, Mild Moderate, Severe and Very Severe
4. How satisfied/dissatisfied are you with your current sleep pattern: Very Satisfied, Satisfied, Moderately Satisfied, Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied
5. How noticeable to others do you think your sleep problem is in terms of impairing the quality of your life: Not Noticeable, A Little, Somewhat, Much, Very Much
6. How worried/distressed are you about your current sleep problem: Not Worried, A Little, Somewhat, Much and Very Much
7. To what extent do you consider your sleep problem to interfere with your daily functioning (e.g. daytime fatigue, mood, ability to function at work/daily chores, concentration, memory, mood, etc.) currently: Not at All, A Little, Somewhat, Much or Very Much

Guidelines for Scoring/Interpretation:

Add the scores for all seven items (questions 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 +6 + 7) = _______ your total score

Total score categories:

0–7 = No clinically significant insomnia
8–14 = Sub-threshold insomnia
15–21 = Clinical insomnia (moderate severity)
22–28 = Clinical insomnia (severe)

It was noted that after they drank tart cherry juice the participants slept better, experienced less sleeplessness and enjoyed around 17 more minutes of sleep time. Experts theorize that the benefits in better sleep may be due to the tart cherries juice high content of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. Not only is melatonin linked to sleep, but reports suggest that melatonin can be a powerful antioxidant that reduces age-related inflammation and fights free radicals in the body. Tart cherries are full of powerful anthocyanins the compounds responsible for their bright red color that aid muscle recovery and reduce risk factors that cause heart related conditions.

Besides heart health and insomnia tart cherry juice is a good remedy for relieving pain associated with arthritis, back pain, gout and muscle aches. The anthocyanins offer ten times the pain-relieving equivalent of an aspirin. These same anthocyanins are also found in blueberries and other purplish-red fruits and vegetables and they may also offer some protection from colon cancer and stroke. A recent study suggests that drinking 8-12 ounces of tart cherry juice taken before strenuous exercise and immediately afterward can alleviate muscle pain.

Gout is caused by increased levels of uric acid in the blood and tart cherry juice works by lowering these levels. A study at the University of California Davis showed that one serving of cherries daily significantly lowered blood uric acid levels by as much as 15 percent in women. The study used fresh tart cherries but tart cherry that are concentrated or dried would also have this affect.

The majority of people seem to benefit from consuming two tablespoons per day of tart cherry juice concentrate or one serving of dried or fresh cherries. Since all people respond differently to foods, experiment to see where you notice significant benefit. Results vary. Some people notice improvement in as little as a few days while others continue cherry juice for several weeks before they achieve the results they want.

Consumed as a food or concentrate, cherries have no known adverse effects taken in small doses. They do contain sorbitol, which may aggravate some symptoms for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, maximum safety dosage studies haven’t been done so those who are pregnant or nursing should consult their physician.

Tart cherry juice can be found at health food stores and online in Tart Is Smart Tart Cherry Concentrate, 32-Ounce Bottle and capsules. Add a little tart cherry juice to your morning smoothie and keep it on hand for those times when you overdo your workout or extra yard work. The content provided in Tart Cherry Juice is Heart Smart and Sleep Savvy 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.

[caption id="attachment_1102" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Tart Cherry Crisp with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream"][/caption]







6 cups tart cherries
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 1/2 tablespoons tapioca, tapioca flour or corn starch
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups oats
1 1/2-2 cups flour
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grab a square Pyrex or round deep dish glass pie plate. Grab a bowl. Into the bowl add the cherries, white sugar, extracts, lemon juice, tapioca or whatever you are using for thickening, and 1/2 a teaspoon cinnamon. Stir very, very well, so all of the cherries get coated. Take your time. This step is key to perfectly thickened fruit filling. Pour into the glass baking dish. Rinse the bowl and wipe dry with a paper towel. Add the cut up butter, flour, oats, brown sugarm remaining cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Mix with your hands until crumbly. If you need more flour then add some. If you think this mix is too dry add a little bit more butter. No biggie. When the crumbles are clumping, spread over the top of the cherry mixture. Do not press down. Just let it be. This is what makes the crisp a crisp. Otherwise it will be a cobbler. Not what we are going for.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the middle is bubbling. You can use a thermometer to read the temperature in the middle of the pan. You should let it get to 180 degrees. The middle has to boil so the fruit thickens. When it is boiling and bubbling, take it out and let stand for a few minutes. Scoop some into a bowl, scoop up some ice cream and have at it!

Serves 6-8 fruit lovers.
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Sleep Easy with Stress Free Parenting – 50 Tips for Healthy Kids

As with anything you want to do it well and parenting requires way to do the job effectively without stress. Here are some ways to sleep easy with stress free parenting:

[caption id="attachment_1094" align="alignright" width="228" caption="Sleep Easy with Stress Free Parenting - 50 Tips for Healthy Kids"][/caption]

Visualization: Take some deep breaths and imagine a place that made you happy or where you feel at peace. This could be at a beach with the warm sun and a gentle breeze, lying in a hammock or floating in a cloud. Simply give yourself a minute or two to remove yourself from the situation. A mental vacation can just be all you need to face the stress with a new perspective.

Parent Time-out: If possible, take a walk or go to another room for a few minutes. If you discipline your children with a time out, take the time to sit down and relax too. Maybe if Mommy said she had to have a time-out they would also give you that time to do so, but make sure they understand the reason for their time-out.

Be Consistent: Many times parents warn their children when they are about to be disciplined but don’t follow through. This gives the child mixed signals and they will not understand when you are serious and when you are not or what behavior constitutes the need for discipline. Sometimes children misbehave to get the parents attention and feel this is the only way to get it. Giving a child some one-on-one time each day may be all you need to do to stop the bad behavior.

Anticipate Problems: If a child is touching something they shouldn’t and it bothers you instead of warning them not to touch it…remove it. Depending on their age, if a toddler, simply replace the object with one of their toys. Create a special area just where they can play will prevent troubles that drive you crazy.

Stress Relieving List: Make a list of things you like to do. Take up a hobby, play a sport or reading a series of books, like the True Blood Sookie Stackhouse tales of vampires or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels about a bail bonds woman is a wonderful way to relieve stress.

Stay Healthy: Keeping yourself strong by eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise by relying on other members of your family for childcare is very important to keep up with the challenge of parenting.

Keep your Kids Healthy: Did you know that kids can behave badly because they are tired, hungry, sad or sick? Here are 50 tips for healthy kids:

Avoid Illness:

1. Have kids wash hands with soap and water before eating.
2. Keep kids away from other sick kids
3. Teach them to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough
4. Plan regular doctor visits
5. Listen to what the doctor tells you
6. Keep written records of your child’s health history
7. If your child gets a lot of colds, ask your pediatrician if your child has allergies


8. Immunizations can protect your child from serious illnesses, like polio
9. Make sure your child gets all their immunizations from child birth through adolescence.
10. Get information about immunizations from your pediatrician, clinic or local health department


11. Most children under the age of six need ten hours of sleep to be energized and fight off infection
12. Keeping to a regular sleep schedule will help your child fall asleep easy and stay asleep throughout the night.
13. If your child gets drowsy, grumpy during the day encourage them to take a nap.


14. Keep your child away from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can increase your child’s chances for ear infections, asthma and other illnesses.
15. If you smoke try to quit
16. If you do, at least smoke outside or in an area of the house they don’t play in.
17. Ask others to not smoke around your child.
18. Don’t smoke in the car


19. Encourage your child to exercise; an active lifestyle starts in childhood.
20. Take walks and play games together.
21. Limit video games, TV and computer games
22. Find activities the whole family will enjoy
23. Set a good example by exercising yourself

Outdoor Precautions:

24. Make sure your child is protected from the sun by using SPF of 15 or more. Getting sunburn during childhood can lead to skin cancer later in life.
25. Long sleeve shirt, a hat and sunglasses can also protect them from over exposure to the sun
26. In cold weather, make sure they wear appropriate clothing like; hats, boots and other winter clothing
27. Avoid insect sprays that contain DEET, a chemical that can harm children


28. Give your child a variety of healthy foods each day. Children need a healthy diet to help them grow
29. Serve fruits and vegetables as a snack instead of fried, processed or sugary foods.
30. Limit junk food
31. Offer milk, juice or water instead of soda

Dental Health:

32. Teach your child good dental hygiene as baby teeth can last up to 10 years
33. Have them brush their teeth twice a day to avoid cavities
34. Don’t let your child swallow the toothpaste
35. Avoid snacks and drinks with a lot of sugar
36. Visit the dentist at least twice a year

A Healthy Home:

[caption id="attachment_1092" align="alignright" width="296" caption="Sleep Easy with Stress Free Parenting - 50 Tips for Healthy Kids"][/caption]

37. Keep all poisons, including prescription drug, over-the-counter medications, makeup and house plants, out of reach
38. Lock up all toxic chemicals, including cleaning supplies and garden products
39. Avoid lead poisoning by not letting your child get a hold of paint chips or windowsills. Lead poisoning is common in older homes
40. Make sure paint, crayons and other art supplies are nontoxic
41. Keep ipecac syrup on hand in case of an emergency
42. Post emergency numbers near your phone

Emotional Support:

43. Let child play with other children their age
44. Discipline without yelling or hitting
45. Take a time-out when stressed or angry
46. Set aside time with child
47. Hug, kiss or hold your child
48. Say “I love you”
49. Give positive reinforcement
50. Sing, play, laugh and get silly with your child

Remember above everything else to be flexible enough to admit that you are not perfect and life is not a bed of roses.  All people fall behind schedule, get stressed and want to pull their hair out with demanding children.  Life has its ups and downs that just life and you need to go with the could be worse, right?  Because in a few minutes your children are going to tell you they love you or fall asleep in your protective arms and life just couldn't be more perfect.

The content provided in Sleep Easy with Stress Free Parenting – 50 Tips for Healthy Kids 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, April 10, 2011

I Am Woman Hear Me Snore

I am woman, hear me snore? Not me! Women in general are too embarrassed to admit that they snore. But anyone can snore, even a woman. Studies show that 30% of women snore regularly. What is snoring? While we sleep airflow causes tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate and form sound waves. There is no definitive body type that causes snoring, but those that are heavier are more incline to snore due to the extra weight narrowing the airway passage on their neck. Different people have different reasons for the narrowing. It can be caused by certain medication, drinking alcohol, a viral illness or a physical irregularity. The narrowing can be in the nose, mouth or throat.

[caption id="attachment_1087" align="alignright" width="300" caption="I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore - Woman Snoring"][/caption]

Ideally breathing out of your nose is the best way to sleep easy. The nose acts as a humidifier, heater and filter for incoming air. When our nasal cavity becomes obstructed due to a deviated nasal septum, allergies, sinus infections, swelling or large adenoids we breathe through our mouth. People who breathe through their mouths habitually while they sleep are sometimes called “mouth breathers” and many snore because the flow of air through their mouth causes greater vibration of tissues.

Physical irregularity such as a soft palate can cause snoring because it is too long or droops. The soft palate is the muscular extension of the bony roof of the mouth or hard palate that separates the back of the mouth from the nasal passages. The soft palate is important when breathing and swallowing. During breathing the palate moves forward for air to pass into the lungs. When swallowing the palate moves backwards to direct food and liquid to move down the esophagus instead of into the back of the nose. The uvula is the small extension in the back of the soft palate that assists the functions of the soft palate and produce guttural fricative sounds used in some languages (English words do not use guttural fricative sounds). The uvula may be abnormally long or thick which contributes to snoring.

The soft palate and the uvula are often the reasons for snoring, therefore, doctors may recommend surgical treatments to stop vibrations. If you speak a language that uses guttural fricative sounds, a surgical treatment for snoring may not be proposed for you.

The tonsils and adenoids are infection fighting tissues that swell when battling bacteria and viruses. The tonsils are the two masses of tissue on either side of the back of the throat. The adenoids are located high in the throat behind the nose and soft palate and unlike the tonsils, are not easily visible through the mouth. The most common problems occurring with the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent or chronic infections and significant enlargement (hypertrophy). Often they remain enlarged after the infection is gone and can narrow the airway causing snoring and disturbed sleep patterns that may lead to sleep pauses or sleep apnea. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are warranted in situations where there is enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids to such an extent that it causes severe sleep problems, snoring, sleep apnea, dental abnormalities and difficulty swallowing. Adenoid enlargement alone, or in combination with tonsil enlargement, can cause nasal obstruction, recurrent ear infections or sinusitis. If these conditions are resistant to medical therapy, surgery is often recommended.

The base of the tongue is the part of the tongue that is farthest back of the mouth and if it is too large it can slip backwards narrowing the airway passage which can lead to snoring. An enlarged tongue may be due to an under-active thyroid gland or other medical condition. Once the underlying cause is treated snoring usually subsides.

Some birth defects and genetic syndromes can cause snoring. Disorders such as Apert's Syndrome can cause midface hypoplasia. This condition is often associated with a sunken bridge of the nose that causes the nasal passages to be partly or completely blocked, and with an elongated soft palate. Other congenital conditions associated with snoring are:

Retrognathia, a condition in which the lower jaw is located farther back than the upper jaw
Laryngomalacia, or the collapse of the larynx's soft cartilage during inhalation
Choanal atresia, the blockage of the back of the nasal passage by abnormal tissue
• Specific Genetic Syndromes:
o Apert's Syndrome, associated with abnormalities of the skull, face, and palate
o Pierre Robin Sequence, associated with a very small lower jaw, cleft palate, and the tendency for the tongue to fall back and downwards in the airway
o Treacher Collins Syndrome, a genetic abnormality involving severe underdevelopment of the lower jaw, facial hypoplasia, and facial cleft
o Goldenhar Syndrome, a set of one-sided craniofacial defects that can result in the migration of the soft palate to the unaffected side of the face

These syndromes are very rare, and it is unlikely that they would go unnoticed as a hidden cause of snoring. They are mentioned only because those with any of these conditions may have problems with snoring, and relatives or caregivers may not associate the chronic snoring with the condition itself.

Snoring can occur during all or some stages of sleep but most prevalent during REM sleep because of the loss of muscle tone characteristic of this stage. During REM sleep, the brain signals all the body’s muscles to relax except the breathing muscles. Unfortunately, some of the muscles that do relax are the tongue, palate and throat. When we lie on our back gravity can pull the palate, tonsils and tongue backward narrowing the airway enough to cause snoring. That’s why when you turn on your side these tissues are no longer pulled back and snoring stops or lessens.

If you are a woman you many not only be embarrassed or concerned that your snoring is affecting your sleep partners rest, you may also be worried about how it is affecting your health. If you are one of the 33% that snore regularly you are more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can diagnosis the cause of your snoring and recommend treatments and lifestyle changes. If your snoring is due to your weight, losing 10% of your body fat can reduce the obstruction to your airway passage on your neck. If you take certain medications like relaxants or painkillers or drink alcohol right before bedtime these can relax the muscles in the back of your throat causing you to snore. People who smoke are more prone to snore.

[caption id="attachment_1085" align="alignright" width="203" caption="I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore - Snore Sleep Inspector"][/caption]

Many women don’t know they snore because they do not have a partner to tell them. So how can you find out if you snore? An iPhone application called Snore Sleep Inspector can analyze the sounds that are made by an individual during sleep. As soon as the calibration feature detects a sound exceeding the threshold, your iPhone will vibrate as long as it is turned on or it will record the sounds during sleep and enable you to listen once you wake up. The advantage of the vibration feature is that it not only will let the person know that they snore it also causes the snorer to change their sleeping position so they can stop snoring without waking up. It is also possible to check a report presented with graph of the recordings during your sleep.

You can also have a sleep study done at a sleep clinic center where they can monitor you while asleep to determine if you snore. See: Overnight sleep study at a sleep center clinic. The content provided in I Am Woman Hear Me Snore 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, April 7, 2011

Good Friday is a Good Nights Sleep

Do you lose sleep at night because you dread going to work the next day? A study of 3,500 adults surveyed admitted calling in sick on Monday because Sunday night is the worst night to sleep easy. As many as 80% found that they slept the best on Friday night because they weren’t stressed about their bitchy boss or trying to finish that dreadful project. Sleep deprivation during the week can be blamed for lack of focus, increase frustration and falling asleep on the job. Not only are 60% of the people surveyed not sleeping well on Sunday night, they are trying to make up for lost sleep on Friday and Saturday night. This not only disrupts your sleep/wake cycle, but a sleep marathon will not make up for your sleep debt. What a body needs is a consistent sleep pattern of 7-9 hours every night, even on the weekends. Let’s look at an example to see if Good Friday is a good nights sleep.

[caption id="attachment_1079" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Good Friday is a Good Night's Sleep - Sunday Worst Night Sleep"][/caption]

Let’s say you lost two hours of sleep Sunday through Thursday and on Friday and Saturday night you got an extra two hours. Come Monday morning you may feel refreshed, but you are still missing six hours of sleep. 10 hours lost – 4 hours gained = 6 hours of sleep debt. Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you are getting less the amount you actually get. Short-term sleep deprivation can lead to confusion, difficulty remembering and reduces physical response. Long-term effects can cause health concerns like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation on average and adult loses one hour of sleep each night which ends up being more than two weeks of sleep every year!

How can you make up for your sleep debt? Sleeping an extra one or two hours of sleep each night for a few months can get you back into a natural sleep pattern. Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up with no alarm clock in the morning will begin to correct your sleep/wake cycle. You might sleep up to ten hours at first, but as the days pass the amount of time you sleep will gradually lessen. To recover, the quality and quantity of sleep is equally important. See: Mind Your P’s and Q’s Easy Sleep Techniques Meditation and Self Hypnosis Your most refreshing and restoring sleep is during deep sleep.

Deep sleep helps in the following areas:

Memories - sleep helps to recover lost memories as well as organize current memories.

Learning - sleep helps your brain to retain the knowledge you gain each day.

Moods and social behaviors - REM sleep allows the parts of the brain that control your emotions, social interactions, and decision-making to slow down and recuperate from each day. This allows you to face each new day in a good mood rather than being cranky and easily frustrated as when you don't get enough rest and begin the day tired.

Immune System - Not getting enough sleep can cause your immune system to weaken which makes you more vulnerable to diseases and infections.

Nervous System - Some experts believe that neurons used during your waking hours repair themselves as your sleep. Not getting enough sleep causes these neurons to perform ineffectively and your nervous system becomes impaired.

Growth and Development - While you sleep, your body releases growth hormones that are vital to your physical and mental development.

[caption id="attachment_1081" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Good Friday is a Good Night's Sleep - Enough Sleep You Can Answer Important Questions"][/caption]

As you reestablish your natural sleep/wake cycle you will find how much sleep you actually need. While some of require only 6 hours others need 9-10 hours a night. Don’t think you can make ‘less sleep’ a habit that you can live with; you are only fooling yourself, but not what is happening to you mentally or physically in the long run. The Sleep journal reported the more tired we get, the less tired we feel. If you’ve made a habit of skimping on sleep, you might not even remember what it feels like to be fully rested and wide-awake. This is often misinterpreted as your body ‘adjusting to cope with less sleep’, but that’s simply not the case.

Experts believe when you earn back your lost sleep you will feel better and improve your mental and physical capabilities. Finally, a scientific reason to make a Good Friday night even better. The content provided in Good Friday is a Good Nights 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, April 5, 2011

I Cant Sleep Because…..

I can’t sleep because I am excited about an upcoming trip, Spring break/NO school, pending promotion, having a baby, how much candy will I get for Easter. I can’t sleep because I am stressed/anxious about being fired, can’t pay my bills, had a baby, nothing to wear to prom. Not getting sleep can be caused by the good, the bad or the not so serious issues/events in your life. Your short- term insomnia will most likely correct itself once the issues are over. On the other hand, long-term or chronic insomnia can affect your health, work performance and quality of life. How do you know if you have chronic insomnia? The symptoms are; can’t fall asleep easy, wake up during the night and can’t fall back to sleep, you wake up still tired and you wake up too early.

[caption id="attachment_1074" align="alignright" width="287" caption="I can't sleep because.....I just love bu..nny humor:)"][/caption]

How much sleep is enough varies as most adults need seven to eight hours a night. I know you are probably not worrying about how much candy you’re getting for Easter or finding that “it” dress for prom, but short-term insomnia can affect everyone, even young children and teens, as sleep problems generally run in families. 35% of people with insomnia have a family history and their mother is usually the one to pass it along to the children, but a genetic component is difficult to identify.

What can we identify as a cause for chronic insomnia? Insomnia is a catch-22 as it can be caused by health problems and it causes health problems. Mental disorders associated with chronic insomnia are; depression, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder. Causes can also be combined psychological and physical conditions like; disruption in a person’s sleep/wake cycle, not associating their bed with sleep, stress over inability to sleep and unsuccessful attempts to control sleep loss thoughts (mind racing) worsening their insomnia.

Medical problems such as; allergies, cancer, heart disease, acid reflux, hypertension, pulmonary diseases, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hyperthyroidism, epilepsy and fibromyalgia cause insomnia along with the sleep disorder restless legs syndrome (RLS) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Medications can also be classified as sleep stealers, these include antidepressants, beta-blockers and beta-agonist.

Ten to fifteen percent of chronic insomnia cases are due to substance abuse in particular alcohol, cocaine and sedatives. Many people use alcohol as a way to calm down after a hard day at work and fall asleep easy. But excess alcohol used as a sleep aid tends to disrupt sleep after the affect wears off. It also increases the chance for OSA and RLS. Recovering alcoholics suffer from insomnia not only during the withdrawal period but for many years during recovery.

Chronic insomnia makes it hard to focus during the day and can cause additional health problems if left untreated. It has been reported that insomnia can cause heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression. If you feel you have chronic insomnia see your family doctor as he may recommend a sleep evaluation at a sleep clinic center. For more information about a sleep study, see: Overnight Sleep Study at a Sleep Clinic Center.

When you make your appointment with your doctor it is sometime advised to keep a sleep journal for at least two weeks. Make note of your sleep schedule; daily routine, number of hours slept, number of times woken up, naps and if you get tired during the day. Keep track of any other symptoms whether mental or physical you may be experiencing, major stress or life changes, list all your medications (prescription, over-the-counter and supplements), family history and a list of questions you may have for the doctor. It could be beneficial to take your partner along to tell the doctor how well you are sleeping and if there are any marriage sleep habits or preferences causing you to have a hard night's sleep such as snoring or gasping for breathe.

Your doctor will ask questions to determine if you need a sleep specialist These questions I found on WebMD, they include:

• How often do you have trouble sleeping, and when did the insomnia begin?
• How long does it take you to fall asleep?
• How often do you awaken at night and how long does it take you to fall back to sleep?
• What time do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning? Is this different on weekends?
• How many hours a night do you sleep?
• Do you snore or wake up choking for breath?
• Do you feel refreshed when you wake up?
• Are you tired during the day?
• Do you doze off or have trouble staying awake while sitting quietly or driving?
• Do you nap during the day?
• What is your bedtime routine?
• Where do you sleep? What is the noise level, temperature and lighting in this room?
• What do you eat and drink in the evening?
• Do you use tobacco or drink alcohol?
• Do you take any medications or sleeping pills before bed?
• Have you experienced stressful events recently, such as divorce, loss of a job or increased demands at work?
• Have you ever used sleeping pills?
• What type of work do you do?
• What is your exercise routine?
• Do you worry about falling asleep or staying asleep?
• Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
• Have you traveled recently?
• What medications do you take regularly?

Sometimes (more likely than not) by changing sleep habits and treating underlying causes can restore a person’s sleep/wake cycle to they can get the sleep they need. One non-medicated alternative he may suggest is behavior therapies where they teach you ways to improve your sleep environment and sleep habits, progressive muscle relaxation and breathing exercises, cognitive behavior therapy (thinking positive), sleep restriction and light therapy.

If your doctors prescribes sleeping pills they usually don't recommend relying on them for more than a few weeks because they are habit-forming and have other side effects. Over-the-counter sleep aids that contain antihistamines like Benadryl can make you drowsy but may reduce the quality of your sleep and also has side effects such as; daytime sleepiness, dry mouth and blurred vision, especially on the elderly.

[caption id="attachment_1073" align="alignright" width="300" caption="I can't sleep because.....prom dress dibs"][/caption]

If you are a 6 or less hour sleeper and have 90 minutes to spare in the afternoon you might consider trying a biphasic sleep pattern. Using the biphasic sleep pattern is simply sleeping 4-6 hours a night and a 90 minute nap during the day. This sleep pattern has been touted to give you enough sleep to feel energized during your waking hours, plus it gives you more time awake to go find that special dress you want for the prom:) Rest assured, heres to finding that dress and making sure no one else wears it! (Can you believe someone actually has a website for that? - amazing)

The content provided in I Cant Sleep Because… for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families 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, April 2, 2011

Relieve Night Sweats and Sleep Easy

Nights sweats are caused by medical conditions other than menopause. Night sweats are a prominent symptom of tuberculosis and lymphoma and an important diagnostic factor with those suffering from HIV, acid reflux, mono, an infection, OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia and even drug or alcohol abuse. The cause for night sweats can be determined by a number of tests such as: HIV test, complete blood count, thyroid-stimulating hormone test, chest and abdominal scans and a bone marrow biopsy. Night sweats has been defined as drenching sweats that require the patient to get up during the night and change bedclothes. A person’s medical history and a complete physical exam along with medical tests will narrow the “why” for night sweats as there are many diagnostic results. In turn, once established, the diagnosis will determine the proper treatment and lifestyle changes required, or the “how”, to relieve night sweats and sleep easy.

[caption id="attachment_1068" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Relieve Night Sweats and Sleep Easy - Men have night sweats too"][/caption]

If you are menopausal your OB/GYN may recommend a FSH test and offer hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a treatment for hot flashes and night sweats. For more information see: Cannot Sleep with Menopause. If you are overweight, experience daytime restlessness, snore and/or stop breathing for short periods throughout the night you may need to see a sleep specialist and have an overnight sleep study done at a sleep clinic. See: Overnight Sleep Study at a Sleep Clinic Center. Some foods and medications may interfere with some tests, so it is imperative that your doctor receive a list of your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. Foods to avoid are; tomatoes, red plums, pineapple, walnuts, avocado, eggplant and bananas. Drugs such as Robaxin, Valium, cough medicines and muscle relaxants should be reviewed with your doctor to see if it is necessary to stop taking them prior to a medical test due to the possibility of a false-negative result.

Medical history will be comprised of other symptoms such as fever, cough or weight loss, which are signs of tuberculosis. The most common complaint of an HIV infection is a fever, with or without night sweats. TB is also present in patients infected with HIV. Travel history may be helpful in evaluating the potential for other infectious diseases that cause night sweats. A low-grade fever along with drenching night sweats is a common systemic symptom of Hodgkin’s disease. Those that are diabetic and experience nocturnal hypoglycemia could have night sweats without other hypoglycemic symptoms. This is caused by missing a meal or over exercising. Some patients that are treated for gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD often have relief of their night sweats. If you suffer from hyperthyroidism it may lead to night sweats especially when your bedroom temperature is too high for sleeping. It is recommended that you keep your bedroom temperature under 70 degrees but those that experience night sweats may need a temperature below 65.

The medicine you are taking may cause or increase your night sweats such as antihypertensives, antidepressants, tamoxifen and niacin. An alcohol dependency may also result in night sweats. During the physical examination the patient’s temperature and blood pressure are taken as well as their body build should be documented. Their lymph nodes will be checked to see if they are tender and not firm. If firm it could be a sign of lymphoma or leukemia and a biopsy will be taken for diagnosis. The airway passage will be examined for extra tissue consistent in those that have OSA. If all findings are negative the patients night sweats are more likely due to being over heated during the night. They should report further symptoms and continue to have a yearly medical exam.

How to relieve night sweats and sleep easy? Here are some lifestyle changes and alternative treatments:

Lose weight. If you have a high body mass indicator or BMI you are at a higher risk for experiencing night sweats and hot flashes. Anything over 30 is considered high. The Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine did a study in 2003 and found a link between the amount of fat and night sweats. Your risk for night sweats decreases when your BMI drops to 24 or below.

[caption id="attachment_1066" align="aligncenter" width="405" caption="Relieve Night Sweats and Sleep Easy - BMI & Night Sweat Risk"][/caption]


Reduce or Stop drinking alcohol. A 2006 study at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst reported those that drink alcohol daily are at a higher risk of hot flashes, night sweats and day sweats. Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of both moderate and severe hot flashes.

Avoid Insomnia by taking natural approaches to sleep pattern problems. Make sure you calm your mind and body at least an hour before you retire. That means shutting down all electronics especially in the bedroom. No caffeine after lunch because caffeine takes 14 hours to be completely out of you system. No big meals at night, if you want a late night snack have a slice of turkey or a glass of milk, both high in the compound tryptophan which causes us to become drowsy. Keep your room dark, quiet and cozy. Try some aromatherapy like lavender scented candles or a hops filled pillow. Studies show they will help you relax and stay asleep throughout the night.

Alternatives to prescribed drugs, which are addictive and have unwanted side effects, the supplement melatonin which is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland controls your sleep/wake cycle and promotes sleep. As we age we produce less melatonin and that is why people over the age of 50 find it harder to fall asleep at night. Melatonin should be taken after 9pm or dark as light interferes with melatonin’s effectiveness. Cherries are rich in melatonin, especially Montmorency cherries which have 6 times as much melatonin as any other type. Passion flower extract can induce sleep and acts like the drug benzodiazepine a sedative. Brew passion flower as a tea with honey for a natural sleep aid. Ashwagandha tea is an Indian tea that helps restore your immune system and will decrease inflammation. Valerian is also a sleep inducing herb without any side effects. It is advised to contact your doctor before taking any supplements as they may interfere with other medications and medical conditions.

If you are suffering from night sweats and want to find out the “why” and “how” to relieve them, have the following tested or at least discussed with your doctor when you have your next annual exam:

Heartburn, chronic indigestion or acid reflux
Thyroid test
Blood sugar level
Blood pressure
Constant low-grade fever

The content provided in Relieve Night Sweats and Sleep Easy is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

When purchasing a supplement on line it is recommended that you do not solely rely on the information presented. The information and statements regarding their products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. Therefore, they (the online distributor) and assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements made about the products.


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Friday, April 1, 2011

Cannot Sleep with Menopause

Last October an issue in Sleep reported that the increase in the hormone FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is associated with the poor sleep quality. FSH regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland. These findings from a study of 365 participants indicated that postmenopausal women slept deeper and longer than premenopausal women. The faster a woman transitioned from premenopausal to postmenopausal they slept longer earlier, but during the “change” reported the inability to sleep easy. If you cannot sleep with menopause it may not be due to the level of FSH, but how quickly your menopause transition occurs.

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Women who are near the end of their menopause cycle, indicated by the decreasing percentage of estradiol to testosterone, sleep better without interruption than those in their early stages. Estradiol is the sex hormone that effects reproduction and sexual function. Unlike FSH, estradiol does not affect sleep by its level or rate of change. Estradoil levels do not decline gradually but drop within a year or two of the final menstruation period. Menopause can last between four to ten years with many symptoms that can trigger or worsen sleep problems. The higher a women’s testosterone level or those close to completion of the transition period will sleep better and fall back asleep faster if awoken during the night.

The study concluded to state that 59% of women between the ages of 35 and 55 won’t get much sleep in the four to eight year period prior to menopause (perimenopause) as this group will experience insomnia more than any other. When their menstruating cycle actually stops, usually between the ages of 45 and 51, 61% reported they had trouble falling and staying asleep several nights every week. Symptoms of menopause are; hot flashes, anxiety, depression that disrupt sleep. Hot flashes/night sweats alone cause women who are perimenopausal to wake 100 times a night which is three times more likely than women you do not have these symptoms. Other sleep-related problems caused by menopause are obstructive breathing, narcolepsy and/or restless legs syndrome (RLS).

New research shows that these symptoms are a result of imbalances in various hormones that regulate the body’s biological clock in the brain’s hypothalamus, the SNC. The SNC is the alliance between the sleep/wake cycle and the endocrine glands affect on the monthly reproductive cycle. We know the insomnia symptoms; waking up during the night or waking up too early can be associated with external and internal factors.  External factors can simply be that you just have to go to the bathroom or you are too hot or too cold. During a hot flash you may throw off the blanket, sleep, wake because you are cold and pull the covers back up…if you are perimenopausal, you know what I am talking about.

Internal factors are less direct, as it may be due to something conjured up in the subconscious. Your mind is very active during REM sleep, but when it wakes you up it involves processing two kinds of events; the ones that happen recently and the ones from your past that are the most powerful. Example: a report that is due for your boss tomorrow or something that happened during the war. These internal factors can be controlled or not, but when you are thinking about what is bothering this will cause stress and anxiety which will keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.  Sometimes it is best to get up and write down what is bothering you.  Getting the issues out of your head and onto paper may help you to fall asleep easier.

External or internal factors that trigger sleep problems due to menopause have been treated with hormone replacement therapy for years. The fact is that perimenopausal women sleep well who use HRT because it reduces hot flashes even though long term studies indicate HRT can increase chances of blood clots, breast cancer and gallbladder disease. If cancer runs in your family but you suffer from hot flashes/night sweats nightly, a super-low dose might be helpful if taken only in the short-term and only once a week just enough to keep symptoms in check. Most women do not need HRT to get through the hormonal transition of menopause. But for the 1 in 5 that can’t sleep HRT still plays an important role for these women. Another medication that decreases hot flashes and is prescribed by doctors for their breast cancer patients is the antidepressant Effexor. Effexor is twofold as it may not be as good as HRT but can reduce hot flashes up to 60% and will make you drowsy.

Lifestyle changes that can help you sleep include reinforcing your sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday can make it easier for your body to override some of the conflicting messages it may be receiving from unruly hormones set off by perimenopause. If you want to be able to count on a good night’s sleep in this uneasy stage of life establishing good sleeping habits can serve you for the rest of your life. If you don’t get enough sleep at night taking a short 20 minute nap during the early afternoon can take the edge off your daytime drowsiness. Unruly hormones will bring about an out of balance sleep/wake cycle and some physicians recommend tai chi, meditation, prayer, biofeedback, yoga or any activity that allows you to cultivate a peaceful center and a sense of control in your life.

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There are a few products out there that can curtail or reduce hot flashes. Clothes made by fabrics that wick away moisture won’t stop hot flashes but can keep you from waking up during the night and changing clothes from night sweats. The Chillow Pillow has a cooling water insert that lowers the body temperature that can reduce the intensity of hot flashes. Lowering your body temperature is an internal signal that it is time to go to sleep. Reducing the bedrooms temperature to 65 degrees or taking a hot bath right before retiring will help. In a hot bath your body’s temperature will rise, but your body will respond to the heat and drop your internal temperature.

Your doctor may also recommend a sleep specialist especially if you have a sleep disorder involving obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome (RLS) or narcolepsy. A sleep clinic can perform many tests to determine your diagnosis and propose which treatment method is best for you. See: Overnight Sleep Study at a Sleep Clinic Center for more information. The content provided in Cannot Sleep with Menopause is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families 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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