Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sleep Easy with Arthritis

If you have chronic pain due to arthritis you need to work with your doctor to make sure the medications you are taking aren’t affecting the quantity and quality of your sleep. Your doctor may switch your medications or tell you to take them at a different time of day. There are other lifestyle changes that can work to control your pain. Using other methods in conjunction with your medication will help you sleep easy with arthritis. Taking a warm bath or shower, using a heating pad/ice pack and/or doing some gentle stretching before you go to bed will improve your capability to fall asleep. Remember not to do any intense exercising before bed as this will increase your heart rate and it will take you longer to fall asleep. What other methods can you do to reduce arthritic pain and get a good night’s sleep?

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Get a comfortable bed. If you have an older mattress that sags you can get a bed board to place under the mattress or a memory foam mattress pad for the top. I have arthritic pain in my lower back due to degenerative disk disease and pain in my shoulders and I recommend a memory foam mattress pad as it contours to my body while alleviating pressure points. If you can’t afford a memory foam mattress pad you can add one or two foam egg-crate pads. These are especially good if your mattress is too hard. If you sleep with your partner and can afford a new mattress the Sleep Number bed can adjust each side of the bed individually with just a push of a button. Adjustable beds with a traditional mattress that can change head and knee heights are also available on the market. The price range varies widely depending on the retailer and/or manufacturer. See more information about memory foam mattress pads.

Along with making your bed as comfortable as possible you also need a good pillow to support your neck and head. There are many different types of pillows today so you might want to try a few. If you have back or neck pain a cervical or memory foam pillow can support you neck, head and spine and keep your body in proper alignment. My favorite pillow is a 2 in 1 pillow. It features a molded memory foam side and a plush microfiber side that will give you double the softness and support. A memory foam wedge placed under your knees can also support your back. Since I sleep on my side most of the time I use the 2 in 1 pillow to support my head and neck and a full body pillow to rest my knee on to maintain back alignment and reduce hip and back pain. You can purchase specialty pillows online or at department stores. I purchased my 2 in 1 pillow at Kohls on Black Friday as the price was ½ off. It is also available at amazon.com Serta 2-in-1 Memory Foam PillowBed Pillows).

Bedding can play an important part in getting a good night sleep. I love cotton sheets and a heavy comforter but heavy covers can put a lot of pressure on your feet and ankles. If you have arthritis and heavy blankets are causing you to have sore feet and ankles it may be better for you to use an adjustable blanket. Adjustable blankets make it easier to turn and change positions during the night. Sheets that are soft such as high quality cotton or satin can also make it less painful to turn over. Side railings can make it easier for you to turn over and a partial railing can help you to sit up and stand when getting out of bed.

For anyone to get a good night’s sleep your room needs to be cozy, cool, dark and quiet. When trying to fall asleep while in pain you may need other sleep aids that will improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your sleep partner snores some ear plugs or Mp3 player may drown out the noise. You can download sleep music, sleep sounds such as ocean waves or a thunderstorm, self-hypnotic progressive relaxation methods or white noise on your Mp3 player. There are pillows on the market where you can attach your Mp3 player directly to the pillow or just make your own. Here is how from eHow:

Things You'll Need

• MP3 player
• Comfortable pillow
• Ear buds
• Fabric
• Scissors
• Needle and thread

1 Use the scissors to cut a slit in one side of the pillow. The slit should be made on the side of the pillow that faces the end of the bed. (You don’t want to have to run a cable under the person sleeping next to you.) Make the slit long enough that you can fit your hands inside the pillow.

2 Wrap each of the ear buds in a piece of fabric. It doesn’t matter what color this fabric is, as it will be hidden inside the pillow. Sew the fabric around each ear bud. Next, sew the ear bud pockets to the inside of the pillow, working through the slit you cut. The pocket of fabric will keep the ear bud in place, even as you shift around while sleeping. If you want, you can combine the ear buds into one piece of fabric.

3 Provide further security for the ear bud by looping the thread around the cable that leads through the slit. The better job you do, the less chance you’ll have to replace the ear buds. If you don’t care about aesthetics, use a piece of fabric-based tape. You may be tempted to use duct tape, but that kind of tape is too hard, and may make distracting sounds while you’re trying to listen to your radio.

4 Sew the slit in the pillow shut, making sure not to pierce the cable you’ve just installed. Put the pillow inside a pillowcase, and presto: you’re ready to fall asleep to the soothing voices of podcast hosts.

5 Plug the headphone cable into a device capable of playing MP3s. If you move around a lot as you sleep, you may want to invest in an extension cable so you have plenty of slack. Test the volume in your MP3 pillow speakers to make sure you’re the only one who can hear, and you’re all set.

Remember using other electronic devices like TV, video games or your computer will only keep you up passed your bedtime as it is recommended by many sleep specialists to go to bed (without gadgets) and get up each day at the same time, even on the weekends. If you have used these methods to drown out your partners snoring and it doesn’t help you may want to have them sleep in another bedroom. See Couples Sleep Easy Together or Apart for more information.

Some other sleep tips: Limit liquids (especially caffeinated beverages) before going to bed to eliminate waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and then having a tough time falling back to sleep. Avoid excess alcohol. Alcohol can help you to fall asleep, but when the effect wears off you will sleep restlessly and not get the deep sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning. Got a lot to do tomorrow? It is better to get the to-do-list on paper and out of your mind in order for you to relax and not toss and turn with a busy mind.

People with arthritis often take prednisone and other corticosteroid drugs which can affect their ability to fall asleep. See Prednisone Insomnia for more information. Other medications like decongestants and blood pressure drugs can cause sleep problems and many resort to prescription sleeping pills or over-the-counter (OTCs) sleep aids that contain antihistamine to fall asleep. Prescription drugs and OTCs have many side effects and may cause a drug dependency and should only be used in rare circumstances for only a short period of time. Hopefully acquiring other natural methods and a few lifestyle changes can lessen the pain associated with arthritis. Studies have shown over the past decades that certain foods are beneficial for arthritis sufferers.

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Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acid such as salmon, flax seeds or walnuts; extra virgin olive oil, foods rich in vitamin C like broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries and kiwi; selenium-rich foods for instance brazil nuts, cod and snapper; beta-cryptoxanthin foods including red bell pepper, papaya, corn and watermelon and a diet that consists of tart cherries, either dried or tart cherry juice concentrate. Tart cherries are also known to help you fall asleep easier just like foods containing tryptophan such as a warm glass of milk, turkey, cereal, nuts and pumpkin seeds to name a few.

Herbs and other supplements that help arthritis as an alternative to prescription medications include: Pine Bark extract, Bromelain, Ginger and Turmeric spices, Ashwagandha, Boswellia, Seaweed extracts and Aloe Vera. Other supplements clinically linked to improve arthritic symptoms are: Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylemethane).

If you have problems sleeping with arthritic pain and you have tried many remedies you might have another sleep disorder like sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless legs syndrome. He/she may recommend a sleep specialist to determine and diagnose your sleep problem. The content provided in Sleep Easy with Arthritis 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. See Rheumatoid Arthritis Sleep Tips and Foods that Trigger RA Symptoms for more information

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 asleepeasy.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements made about the products.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: Go the F**K to Sleep is All About the “ME” Time

I read an article from CNN about a new book that is being pre-ordered on Amazon at a soaring rate because the title has yet to be released. Go the F**k to Sleep is written like a children’s book but the verses have an adult twist to them. Written by Adam Mansbach, he describes his annoyance with a toddler that is unwilling to go to sleep into a funny book hoping that other parents can relate and get a much deserve laugh over a very frustrating situation. Are the children just coming up with reasons not to fall asleep or can’t they fall to sleep easy because they suffer from parental separation anxiety? While children may ask for that 3rd glass of water or another bedtime story to keep their parents with them, parents are desperately trying to separate themselves from their children to get a little “me” time before they have to go to bed.

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The article goes on to tell us that Adam’s toddler wasn’t thirsty nor hungry and she didn’t need another story read to her, all the while Dad was thinking about “his” dinner, “his” glass of wine and “his” time outside his child’s bedroom. This nightly impasse between parents and their children is two-fold as the child needs to be assured that the parent is there to fall asleep, the adults need time to unwind and relax before they can go to bed and get some much needed zzzz’s. And you and I both know we can relax a lot easier when we know our children a fast asleep in bed. Working all day wears us out and we can’t wait to get in our Lazy Boy and watch the news or a television show other than Sponge Bob Square Pants! Sometimes we can’t help but rush the nightly routine or give in to a demanding child to avoid a tantrum, which would definitely extend the time away from the Lazy Boy just to calm them down. Mansbach said, “The nightly exhaustion is a frustrating part about something we love very much. A lot of these frustrations are not permissible to talk about. We're not completely honest because we don't want to be bad parents."

The cubs and the lions are snoring,
Wrapped in a big snuggly heap.
How come you can do all this other great sh*t
But you can't lie the f**k down and sleep?

This 32 page book is written in the style of a classic children's picture book, but there are two conversations going on: The first two lines are what the parent is saying to the kid; the second half is the internal monologue that is never said.

The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest
And the creatures who crawl, run and creep.
I know you're not thirsty. That's bullsh*t. Stop lying.
Lie the f**k down, my darling, and sleep.

At the end of the day, the child never hears the worst of the parent's frustration. Being a good parent is to internalize their frustration and take the irrational behavior, absorb it and never take it out on the child. This book is an outlet for the frustration.

This whimsical adult book has already hit no.1 on Amazon bestseller list a month before its June 14 publication date. It is illustrated by Richardo Cortes who captured the colorful mood of Mansbach’s poetry. It is a good idea to keep this book out of the way from the view of children because the illustrations are captivating. A G-rated version is in the works for younger children.

Go the F**k to Sleep hits a nerve with parents who hope for a life after their kids' bedtime. Independent publisher Akashic Books has responded to preorders and overwhelming Internet interest by increasing its first printing to at least 150,000 copies and moving up the publication date from October to June.

What do separation problems have to do with sleep?

Separation anxiety is a very common reason for children under three years to cry out for that 3rd glass of water at night. By eight or nine months, children have learned that their parents exist even if they can't see them. However the inner confidence to be able to feel secure when their parents are not within their site is still developing until three or four years of age. Night waking usually drops off quickly after this. You can tell if your child has separation anxiety if they wake up during the night and need you to reassure them so they can fall back to sleep. My granddaughters between the ages of 3-5 woke up around 4am every night and would crawl into their parent’s bed. Since my daughter and her husband have a full vs queen size bed this would force an adult out of the bed (9 times out of 10 it would be her husband) to find the additional room for the two girls. Eventually they had to put a sleeping bag on the floor near their bed so when they did come in they could be near them without being in the same bed. Remember children with separation problems often have scary dreams about their fears and their anxiety may make these children insomniacs, either because of the fear of being alone or due to nightmares about separation.

To help prevent separation problems at night, when your child is between four months and a year old, give them a transitional object (like a blanket, doll or other favorite thing). Then when they wake up, having that object there will comfort them and help them go back to sleep.

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Other than separation problems, the University of Michigan Health Systems describes different reasons your child may not want to go to bed at night. Your child may have issues with autonomy. In other words, they may want to have more control over their body and their environment. This usually starts to happen after about nine months of age, and is what two-year-olds are famous for! Give your child some limited choice and “control” over the type of bedtime activities and the order of the bedtime routine. If your child has more control over these activities, they may feel less need to exercise control over when they fall asleep.

If your older child resists going to sleep at night, remember this: It is your responsibility to put your child to bed, but it is your child’s responsibility to go to sleep. Put your child to bed at a reasonable time after a reasonable bedtime routine. Have clear rules (stay in bed, no eating, etc.). Then, if your child doesn’t fall asleep, it may be that they don’t need so much sleep. If they stay awake late, and then want to sleep late in the morning, wake them up 10 minutes to a half hour earlier every morning until they are falling asleep at the time you want at night.

Basically, you should discuss the bedtime routine during the day so that the child knows what to expect at night. Then stick with it each night. If kids know what to expect, then they'll usually do okay and you will get to have your important “me” time….go..go get into your Lazy Boy.

The content provided in Book Review: Go the F**K to Sleep is All About the “ME” Time 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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Sunday, May 15, 2011

No Sleep Too Excited to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

It’s not too often we get too excited about going to the movies, but this year there are a couple I am anxious to see, one being Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opening this Friday at 12:01am. Definitely a movie a lot of people will see and possibly stand in line for at such an early hour. Last night after watching one of its prequels; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, I found myself tossing about and couldn’t fall asleep easy because my mind is racing about the upcoming sequel. No matter what causes you to have high levels of anxiousness, whether it’s just a silly movie or a life changing situation like; having a baby or getting a new job, the inability to fall asleep or getting little to no sleep can lead to insomnia.

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Over time feeling incapable to let your mind relax enough to go to sleep can become a habit that is very hard to break. So much so, people tend to stay up later to avoid trying to go asleep and thinking, “The later I stay up I should fall asleep because I am too exhausted to think!” They try alternative approaches to help them sleep like watching television in bed or drinking alcohol. Watching television may help you to keep your mind off your to-do-list, but it doesn’t allow your mind to relax enough to fall asleep. It still provides mental stimulation; like watching Jack Sparrow getting himself out of hot water. AHHH Jack, don’t we love him. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but after the effects wear off it causes a restless sleep (if not wake you up to go to the bathroom). Then there you are laying there at 3am trying to go back to sleep. I hate that!

Does any of this sound familiar? You are not alone. There are many people that have trouble falling asleep. During the day we accumulate all this data that has to be debriefed and stored so we can provide room for more data the next day. When we question our decisions or try to find the right decision for an upcoming event it can be very frustrating and your mind goes into overdrive when you lay in bed. Once you do fall asleep you get little to no sleep before the dreaded alarm clock wakes you up to start another day stumbling about half asleep. I have written about the body’s need for at least seven hours of sleep to allow your brain to repair and restore itself and if you get less than six hours a night it can impact your daily life as well as your health. See: Rest Assured on Seven Hours of Sleep for more information.

Chronic insomnia is a sleep disorder that requires medical attention, but if you only suffer from an occasional bout of insomnia due to a life changing experience there may be alternative methods or treatment other than prescription medication. Sleeping pills have bad side effects and are addicting, so it is imperative to find natural choices that are much healthier for you instead.

If you find that you are tossing and turning after 20 minutes, get up! Write down what is bothering you as it is better to get it out of your head and onto paper. This way you don’t have to worry that you will forget something in the morning. Do you toss and turn every night? It may be time to check with your doctor to see if there is an underlying reason you can’t fall asleep. He/she may require you to keep a sleep journal for 2 weeks or so. Keeping track of when you fall asleep and how well you sleep will help your doctor diagnosis a sleep disorder.

Getting yourself all keyed up over a “movie” for example all you need to do is learn to relax and your mind will take over and do the rest. Get it? OK, here is a basic breathing/relaxation technique I have used that helps me to fall asleep to think about Jack Sparrow another day.

Breathe in through your nose and exhale by the mouth counting backwards from 8 to 1, 3 times slowly.
Tighten you legs while inhaling through your nose. As you exhale release the tension in your legs counting backwards from 8 to 1, slowly.
Tighten and release your arms, then your torso and lastly, your head/neck using the same breathing pattern. Be aware how your body and mind relax with each exhale. Tell yourself to relax, relax, relax, etc.

The content provided in No Sleep Too Excited to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 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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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Relieve Adult Bedwetting and Sleep Easy

Do you lose control and wet the bed during the night? Studies show that at least 2% of adults suffer from nocturnal enuresis (NE). There are different types of nocturnal enuresis and nocturnal enuresis is not the same as waking two or more time during the night to go to the bathroom which is known as nocturia enuresis. Persistent Primary Nocturnal Enuresis is a condition that begins during childhood when nighttime dryness is not achieved for longer than six month. 2-3% of adults over the age of 18 continue to have this type of NE. Adult Onset Secondary Enuresis is when bedwetting begins at an older age. It is important to understand that adult bedwetting, like bedwetting for children, is unintentional and is not voluntarily controlled.

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While bedwetting is generally associated with the very young or very old, it can affect people of any age. Some cases of bedwetting are caused by a person sleeping too deeply so they don’t wake up if they need to urinate. If you have trouble falling asleep easy and take a sleep aid this may be the reason you sleep too deep. To relieve adult bedwetting and sleep easy may be a simple as a change in your medication or reducing the dose. Discuss with your doctor other alternative sleep aid methods or natural sleep aid products that can help you sleep.

Another factor that NE occurs in adults is that it could be hereditary. Research has indicated if someone with two bedwetting parents has a 77% chance of becoming a bed wetter and with one parent the probability is a 40% chance. Bedwetting has been linked to the hormone, antidiuretic or ADH which tells the kidneys to decrease the amount of urine produced. Usually the body produces more ADH at night to reduce urine, but some people don’t produce enough ADH therefore, they have too much urine that causes NE in adults. People with type II diabetes produce less ADH with diabetics the condition is known as nocturnal polyuria.

Primary Nocturnal Enuresis with some is a result of a smaller bladder which means that the amount of urine the bladder will hold until a signal is sent to the brain indicating it is time to urinate is a smaller capacity and not that the bladder itself is actually a smaller size. The muscle that controls the need to go never fully relaxes; therefore, the bladders capacity is not very large. This muscle can also be overactive or instable causing NE and alcohol and/or caffeine can contribute to the problem by increase urine production.

Additional causes of secondary enuresis may also include diabetes, urinary tract infection, urinary tract stones, neurological disorders, anatomical abnormalities, urinary tract calculi, prostate cancer, prostate enlargement, bladder cancer, and obstructive sleep apnea. In very rare cases, acute anxiety or emotional disorder may cause adult bedwetting.

One way you can help your doctor diagnosis your condition is to keep a journal of your symptoms and daily habits. These details will determine the cause and severity of your NE. Describe your liquid intake and what you drink, when accidents occur, how long without an accident, if there are any problems urinating and other medical conditions that may contribute to NE like an UTI or night sweats. Also write down any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements you are taking. During your consultation you will be asked about family medical history as well as your own. You may also be required to give a urine sample and have a physical exam. NE tests include the Uroflowemetry that involves urinating into a funnel that measures flow rate, amount of urine and time required to urinate and the Post-void residual urine measurements that uses an ultrasound to determine the amount of urine left in the bladder after urinating.

Treating NE may be a minimal as making a few lifestyle changes. Limiting fluids in the afternoon and evening, especially right before bedtime, will decrease the amount of urine produced at night. Decreasing or eliminated caffeine and alcohol may also be suggested. If you have been diagnosed with a small bladder capacity or your bladder muscle is overactive you will be given a bladder volume training exercise that involves drinking large amounts of fluid during the daytime and refraining from urinating as long as possible, up to 2-3 hours. Through training, the functional bladder capacity is increased, making fewer trips to the bathroom.

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There are a number of bedwetting alarm systems that wake an individual from sleep as soon as an accident begins. These wet detection devices are attached to the underwear or bed pad. Making a habit of waking to the bathroom takes a few weeks to work and require determination, commitment and the ability to stop the flow of urine upon awakening and finishing in the bathroom. Sometimes this is a little harder for men to control. When you wrote in your journal the night you had an accident you should have also stated the time. If the accidents seem to occur around the same time you could set an alarm and wake up to urinate. Remember to adjust the time so your bladder doesn’t get used to a set schedule.

There are many prescription medications available to treat NE. Some may be taken alone or with lifestyle changes to become more effective. Medication is good as long as it is taken and if stopped the NE returns. It is important to treat the underlying condition or factors caused NE. If you are diagnosed with a reduction in ADH there is a drug that mimics this hormone and makes the kidney produce less urine. Desmopressin or DDAVP taken before bedtime make help a person get through the night without incident as long as they are taking this medication. It comes in the form of nasal spray or pill. This is an option that works well will other treatments such as the alarm when traveling. Side effects include but not limited to; mood changes, dry mouth, sleep disturbances and elevation in blood pressure for older people. Other NE drugs on the market are; anticholinergic medications: Darifenacin, Oxybutynin, Tolterodine, Trispium Chloride and Solifenacin.

Surgery is an option but limited to those with severe cases and only considered it all invasive treatments have been exhausted. Sacral Nerve Stimulation is when the sacral nerve root is stimulated by neuromodulation, a process where neurotransmitters control various neuron groups. This is recommended for people with moderate to severe urge incontinence because it decreases the activity level of the muscle causing less frequent urination episodes. Clam Cystoplasty is when the bladder is cut open and a patch of intestine is placed in between the two halves to control bladder instability and increase capacity. Detrusor Myectomy a surgery that removes a portion of the exterior muscle surrounding the bladder to strengthen contractions and reduce the number of them. Other treatments undergoing trials are the Botulinun Toxin A an injectable bulking agent and Laser Acupuncture which is being used to target specific areas of the body for a variety of medical problems.

If you or someone you know has NE there are ways to manage the accidents. Make sure you use a waterproof mattress cover, wear absorbent briefs and protect the skin from irritation with various skincare products. Remember NE could be a symptom of another medical condition, a side effect of medication or just diminishing bladder muscles due to age. There are exercises specifically for muscle tone of the bladder to recover some of its strength. Some herbal supplements have shown to help reduce or prevent bed wetting depending on the exact cause. Saw palmetto, for example, is an effective way for males with an enlarged prostate to control their symptoms which can include excessive urination and bed wetting. Another herb that is helpful in treating bed wetting is fennel.

If you suffer from persistent primary nocturnal enuresis, you may first see a primary care professional, such as a family practice physician or nurse practitioner. However, individuals with adult onset nocturnal enuresis usually need to be referred to a specialist, such as an urologist or sleep disorder specialist. While you may be embarrassed to address the issue with others, a medical professional is able to give you options to help treat bedwetting. In many cases, bedwetting can be cured. Please contact NAFC by going to www.nafc.org or call 1-800-BLADDER. The content provided in Relieve Adult Bedwetting 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.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sleep Easy on a Plane Tips to Make Flying Stress Free

In the next few weeks I will be flying to Europe and even though I am excited to go, perhaps too excited, I dread the 10 hour flight. If you are flying to Europe from the States your body’s sleep/wake cycle has to adjust to avoid jet lag. Researching ways to diminish jet lag and enjoy my trip starts by being able to sleep easy on a plane. There are many things that you should do pre-flight and during flight to help your body to adjust. Tips to make flying stress free begin by getting a good night’s sleep each night, eating right and trying to get some exercise before your trip begins. Although the effects of flying across several time zones varies from person to person and flight to flight there are ways to make your flying experience a relaxed stress free one.

Do you have a sleep routine? Meaning: do you go to bed and get up every day at the same time. You can prepare for different time zones by going to bed and getting up a couple hours earlier. Also you can eat meals at an earlier time. During the flight keep dehydrated by drinking bottled water and from time to time walk around. To sleep better on the plane try to control ways to make it quiet, dark and not too cold or hot. What are some ideas to feel worry free and relax for your next trip?

If you take your laptop computer make sure that you take it as a carry on as it will not survive in the cargo hold. Even though you will not be able to get on the internet you can watch a movie, write an article or do some off line work to help pass the time.

Whenever I fly I make sure I purchase a USA Today newspaper and a couple magazines. If you can’t sleep but want to relax while helping the time pass by quicker, reading or playing games like Sudoku or a crossword puzzle can ease boredom. You can also buy a Sudoku or crossword book at the airport. Don’t forget to bring a pen or pencil!

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To eliminate noise bring some noise-canceling headphones or wax-moldable over-the-counter ear plugs. You don’t have any control over a crying baby or a talkative neighbor, but you have ways to block them out. Bring an Mp3 player with your favorite songs or download your own list of sleep easy listening with self-hypnotic relaxation techniques, classical/sleep music or nature sounds.

Many airlines have AVOD (Audio Video on Demand), which is a TV screen in the back of the seat that is in front of you. Hopefully on a long flight you have a full menu of movies or music you can watch or listen to. However, some airlines have only a few choices. You may be able to check on their website to review their playlist or to be on the safe side, have some other entertainment choices. A new book to read or an e-Reader that can store multiple books are great, but remember you can’t have your e-Reader on unless you are at 10,000 feet. An iPod, iPhone, iPad, Nintendo DS, CD player or portable game can be alternative ways of amusement.

Often on a long flight a meal as well as snacks and drinks are offered. But if you are worried about dehydration it might not be a good idea to eat foods full of sodium. No one has to tell you that the snack packs offered by airlines are loaded with calories and unhealthy fats. Check airlinemeals.net before and look through the reviews and decide if you should buy food before the flight. Your airline probably won’t volunteer this information, but the food is even better if you order from the “secret” menu. And often, the economy class meals from this menu are better than the fare served up front. I’m talking about entrees for passengers with dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, vegans and diabetics. Be sure to contact your airline at least a day in advance to order the meal. But it’s well worth the call.

You can also bring some foods/snacks that are full of tryptophan the amino acid that causes you to become drowsy. The top snacks with the most tryptophan are: Soy chips or crisps: 378mg, Formulated Bar, Snickers Marathon Protein Performance Bar, Carmel Nut Rush 314mg (all other flavors 221mg), Oriental mix/rice based 192mg, Formulated bar, Power Bar chocolate 190mg, Smoked beef sticks 184mg, Hard, plain granola bars 177mg, Hard, peanut granola bars 172mg, Hard, whole-wheat pretzels 172mg and Trail Mix 166mg.

Some evidence suggests that nuts might help protect tooth enamel from plaque by neutralizing acids in the mouth and providing a dose of healthy minerals such as phosphorus. Pretzels may sound like a healthy snack choice, but they are more likely than nuts to get caught between the teeth, and they contain more of the fermentable carbohydrates that can foster the growth of bacteria in your mouth, especially if you won’t be able to brush your teeth for a while.

Beside a portable toothbrush, Floss and Wipe or Oral-B Brush-Ups in your carry-on to keep your mouth refreshed, bringing a spare pair of clothes is also a good idea to take on board just in case your checked luggage is lost or your flight is delayed overnight. Note: Although you may get the chance to brush your teeth using dry toothpaste (damn restrictions) on the plane or in the airport…don’t attempt to shave in an airplane! Not only is it disgusting, you will also cut yourself if there is turbulence.

[caption id="attachment_1156" align="alignright" width="163" caption="Unwind Bulldozer - Natural Sleep Aid - Sleep Easy on Plane"][/caption]

If you are going to sleep on the plane bring a travel pillow or head restraint, and try to avoid using the inflatable ones. I usually don’t tout prescription sleep aides because they have side effects, there are natural alternatives like; Bulldozer Relaxation Shot - 12 pack Tropical Berry, a low-calorie; berry-flavored 3oz drink. It's small enough to bring through security with you. (you may want to try it out and see if it actually works for you before your trip)

Find a good seat as some are better than others. Aisle or exit row seats provide extra leg room or a window seat for sleep. Seatguru.com has airline-specific information on individual seat comfort and amenities. Avoid seats near the restrooms, as other passengers will be passing by often. Also the noise, light and ah smells that escape when the door is opened can be quite disturbing especially when you are trying to catch some zzz’s. In larger aircraft such as a Boeing 747 the back row of seats have more area to stretch if you don’t mind the noise coming from the engine. Remember the very last row of seats do not recline.

Do you like to watch the in-flight map showing the current position of the airplane? Watching this regularly or checking the time will only make the flight feel longer. It is better to move around when you have the urge to check as this will get your mind off of the time and give your body some much needed circulation especially when traveling on a long flight. Some airlines provide an exercise video for in-seat stretches to help with body circulation.

Protect yourself from the dry air onboard the plane that may cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water and bottle water is better than the airplane’s water. Purchase bottle water once you pass security or bring empty plastic bottles you can fill from the airport’s water fountain. The planes water, especially in the restroom, may contain bacteria. See: How to Stay Healthy and Sleep Easy on Long Flights. Use eye drops if your eyes feel dry and consider a saline nasal gel/spray to keep your nose moist and make breathing easier. Lip balm in a 3oz container can protect your lips and a small container of hand lotion or cocoa butter will help your skin if it dries easily.

Other Tips:

Go to the bathroom right before you leave just in case there is a delay at the gate.

Chew gum or use EarPlanes to relieve air pressure changes during the flight.

Talk to your doctor if you have a fear of flying

Move up to first or business class is easier (if not sold out) if you are dressed appropriately and have smaller carry-on luggage.

[caption id="attachment_1157" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Sleep Easy on a Plane - NadaChair for lumbar support"][/caption]

WetOnes, the pre-moistened antibacterial wipes, can be used to wipe down heavily used areas and help alleviate picking up any unwanted germs.

Nada Chair S'port BackerBraces) helps those with back problems and provides better lumbar spine posture which can also lower blood pressure. It keeps you sitting upright and prevents slouching which puts a strain on your back. It folds up to the size of a paperback book.

Keep a photocopy of your passport just in case your original is lost or stolen.

If traveling overseas and do not have international cell phone service turn off your phone because you may still get your emails but at the international rates, which can add up in a hurry.

To control light from the windows or your partners overhead light bring an eye mask. Some eye masks/pillows contain lavender which helps you to fall asleep.

Older adults or those that have circulation issues may consider wearing pressure socks during a long flight.

[caption id="attachment_1159" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sleep Easy on a Plane - Airline Luggage Restrictions"][/caption]

Airlines have carry-on size restrictions and if your bag is over the limit you may be asked to check it, so it is important to stay within their size guidelines. It is better to minimize your carry-on luggage so it will be easier to find a place in the overhead bins or under the seat. The current size which includes length, width and height summed up in inches should not surpass 45 inches. However, some airlines allow carry-on luggage to size up to 51 inches. Restrictions with carry-on weight depend on the airline. American Airlines, Continental, Delta and Northwest have a weight restriction of 40lbs, while US Airways allows 50lbs. To keep current for the items allowed in carry-on luggage you should go to tsa.gov.

REMEMBER if you are on prescription medication it is allowed in your carry-on bag with some restrictions. It must be in its original pharmacy container labeled with the name of the passenger on their ticket. Take each medication in its own bottle and place them in a plastic bag for ease during security screening.

The rules and ordinances of carry-on luggage are stricter in case of flights to international destinations. The airline carry- on luggage restrictions for the first class travelers varies from those traveling in coach and business class. These ordinances may seem very complicated, but is certainly better to be safe when it comes to air travel. The best way is to confirm with your airline in advance as to what can be taken and what can't.

The content provided in Sleep Easy on a Plane Tips to Make Flying Stress Free 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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Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Do You Beat Afternoon Sleepiness

This question is for anyone that has a job whom has to be on top of their game in the afternoon. If you like your job and wake up every day excited to start your day but in the afternoon, usually after lunch, no matter what you may be doing you want a nap. So how do you beat afternoon sleepiness? If fighting sleep and spending the afternoon in a stupor has become the norm, here are some tips to keep alert.

[caption id="attachment_1151" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How Do You Beat Afternoon Sleepiness - Have your own business so you can take a nap!"][/caption]

Ok the best way to recharge your brain battery is to take a 30-90 minute power nap. Not only will a power nap boost your brains ability to accomplish whatever your boss may through at you, your entire body will feel ready to go. If a nap is out of the question some folks have tried some energy boosting drinks, like 5 Hour Power. 5 Hour Power Active Ingredients: Taurine, Caffeine, B-Vitamins can give you enough brain functioning ability to do the tasks you need to do plus enough energy to go exercise after work. Exercising also revs up your heart rate and body temperature so when you are ready for bed your are not only tired from exercising you also feel a sense of accomplishment that you did something good for yourself. 5 Hour Power is touted to give you energy without the “crash” because it has zero sugar and zero carbohydrates. Some people have given reviews about 5 Hour Power stating it looks like it might have some negative side effects as well as building up a resistance to it.

Drinking a 5 Hour Power every day can cause you to be jittery due to too much caffeine and mess up your ability to fall asleep easy at night. Adding other caffeinated products like soda, tea or coffee can acerbate the effects of the 5 Hour Power. If you have problems sleeping at night you don’t need to make the problem worse even if you get more work done during the week. Two infrequently diagnosed caffeine-induced disorders that are recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) are caffeine-induced sleep disorder and caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, which can result from long-term excessive caffeine intake. In the case of caffeine-induced sleep disorder, an individual regularly ingests high doses of caffeine sufficient to induce a significant disturbance in his or her sleep, sufficiently severe to warrant clinical attention.

5 Hour Power may be ok if you need some extra energy to get through a project or cram for an exam, but there are other methods to stay wake during the day. Up-beat music or motivational tapes or webinars might keep you focused. Take a 15 minute break and go outside and get some fresh air and some vitamin D. Other natural supplements can provide and energy boost like; Siberian Ginseng, Gotu Kola and Maitake. Also if you are tired after lunch, eat smaller meals which will keep your metabolism going and not create that afternoon “crash”. Your diet may be causing you to have insulin fluctuations and the post lunch lull can be due to your blood flowing to your digestive system and not your brain to process food.

If you have time to take a 30-90 minute power nap, but not the time it takes for you to fall asleep you may consider using progressive relaxation techniques. Some people use the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups while others use mind control to just “feel” for tension throughout their body and consciously relaxing each part they find tension. With a relaxed body your mind isn’t that far off. Afraid you may oversleep? Set and alarm but try not to interrupt your natural sleep cycle or you may still wake up feeling groggy.

Sometimes being tired in the afternoon means you haven’t had enough protein/complex carbohydrates for breakfast to bar any imbalances in your body like hypoglycemia. Some recommended foods are: avocado, yams/sweet potatoes and steel cut oatmeal. Besides avocado which is a “good fat” there are other slow burning carbohydrates that work wonder and fuel the body without taxing the digestive system thus making you tired. Drinking more water will keep dehydration away which can zap your energy.

[caption id="attachment_1150" align="alignright" width="267" caption="How Do You Beat Daytime Sleepiness - Soda E211 Reaction"][/caption]

Deep breathing exercises, eating an unprocessed natural diet that included raw, whole foods, plenty of water, limiting sugars and caffeine, getting plenty of sleep at night, daily exercise can reduce sleepiness in the afternoon. What else may cause you to be tired in the afternoon? Some people have a reaction to the preservative 211 which is in soft drinks. Preservative 211 is sodium benzoate and with other food additives it can convert to benzene, which is a carcinogenic. It also has been reported to damage mitochondria, the mitochondria are sometimes described as "cellular power plants" because they generate most of the cell's supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used as a source of chemical energy. If you are having a reaction to the preservative 211 you may consider getting your caffeine from coffee or tea instead.

For your information according to Livestrong.com, Hsien-Hsien Lei, a biotech and epidemiological consultant, reported in 2007 in "DNA and Disease" that a combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C damages the mitochondrial DNA in the body. The research originally done by Peter Piper, a researcher on aging and a professor of biotechnology and molecular biology at Sheffield University in the United Kingdom, isolated the damage of E211 to the cell DNA.

The mixture of ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, and E211 or sodium benzoate, combines to form benzene. Numerous products, including Fanta Pineapple and Vault Zero, included the two ingredients before the products were removed from the shelves in 2006 in the wake of a lawsuit that required Coca-Cola to halt sales. PepsiCo also removed E211 from many drinks to prevent lawsuits.

You may also want to get plenty of Vitamin D and Omega-3 fish oil along with a completely dark room that is very quiet to get the best possible sleep at night.

Have you had your thyroid and adrenals checked lately? Either or both commonly undiagnosed can contribute to the mid-afternoon slump. It is important to talk to your doctor to see if you need porcine thyroid supplements and/or cortisol supplements for thyroid or adrenal problems. The content provided in How Do You Beat Afternoon Sleepiness 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, May 1, 2011

New Research about Sleep Deprivation

On Friday, April 29, 2011, USA Today’s article Tired Brains May Enter Sleep Mode While Awake stated that researchers know that sleep deprivation impairs the ability of people and animals to function. Now new research about sleep deprivation has found that the brains of rats kept awake past their bedtime began turning certain cells off while they were still awake. Certain brain cells known as neurons that get used during the day are the ones that appear to go off-line. It is likely that sleep-deprived human brains react in the same way. “Long before we show signs of tiredness, such as yawns and trouble focusing, it is probably happening,” stated a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chiara Cirelli.

[caption id="attachment_1144" align="alignright" width="248" caption="New Research about Sleep Deprivation - Neuron's Electrical Impulses"][/caption]

Here at A Sleep Easy we know that sleep is crucial to mental and physical health for humans and animals alike. The neurons are brain cells that transfer information by way of electrical impulses and when we sleep, slow-wave activity switches them off. The researchers kept rats up for hours and measured their brain waves using an EEG, or electroencephalogram, and found even though the rats were awake their neurons were turning themselves off in a random pattern. The shutdown of the neurons, researchers believed, is why the rats performed less well on a task of finding a sugar pellet.  The shutdown of neurons is an important function especially when we are asleep, because it makes the sleeper unable to move while dreaming, causing temporary paralysis of the limb muscles. If the brain didn't turn off these neurons, people would begin to physically "act out" their dreams — a rare, dangerous problem called REM sleep behavior disorder.

Cirelli continued to state that there is no reason to think this doesn’t happen in the human brain. Her research group is beginning to do similar studies with people getting ready for brain surgery and having their neural pathways mapped. Cillelli also thinks that the neurons we use during the day when awake are the ones that need to go to sleep when we are tired. What she is suggesting is, that when we wake up in the morning approximately 90% of our brain cells are awake, but as the day progresses your cells start to drift off into sleep, which explains why we perform less efficiently the longer we stay awake.

The research could mean that those who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are losing a portion of their brain function even though they are awake. The bottom line: sleep is very important and should be taken seriously. Even before you get tired you may show signs of impairment and you need to respect your need for sleep.

[caption id="attachment_1146" align="alignright" width="300" caption="New Research about Sleep Deprivation - How much sleep do you need?"][/caption]

How much sleep should you be getting to prevent sleep deprivation, well it depends. You can identify how much sleep you need by making a few observations like; do you get tired during the day and do you decline social functions to catch up on some sleep. Many factors impact an individual’s amount of needed sleep, including their general health and their age. Your amount of sleep varies as you age and with changes in physical states such as pregnancy or menopause.

If you are concerned about your sleep deprivation you may want to keep a record of your sleep habits. A sleep journal can keep track of when and how you are sleeping to pinpoint patterns or bad sleep habits and problems. Many sleep doctors can diagnosis a potential sleep disorder, like insomnia, when you provide them with a sleep journal. The following information should be recorded in your sleep journal:

- The time you went to bed and woke up
- Your total sleep hours
- The overall quality of your sleep, do you snore or stop breathing periodically during the night
- The times you were awake during the night and what you did (did you stay in bed, get up, get a glass of milk, meditate?)
- The amount of caffeine or alcohol you consumed and the times of consumption
- The types of food and drink and the times of consumption
- Your feelings (happiness, sadness, stress, anxiety)
- Drugs or medications taken and the amounts taken and times of consumption

Go over your sleep journal and see what changes you can make with your lifestyle habits to help alleviate your sleep deprivation. Make note if any changes affect your quality and quantity of sleep and if you feel more alert during the hours you are awake. If nothing helps, it may be time to see your physician or a sleep specialist so they can determine the cause and make recommendations or treatment to address your sleep deprivation. The content provided in New Research about 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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