Saturday, December 31, 2011

Causes of Insomnia Part 3 New Year’s Resolution

Getting through the holiday season can be stressful with office parties, family dinners, dealing with crowded stores and finding those perfect gifts. Have you ever asked yourself how the holiday season is affecting your sleep? Stress is the number one nonmedical reason people suffer from insomnia. Now is the time of year many people make a New Year’s Resolution. How many of you have decided this year is the year I will drop a few pounds? STOP the stress about dieting and losing weight and make your New Year’s Resolution GET MORE SLEEP! Here are some reasons getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your mind and body.

[caption id="attachment_1716" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Well this New Year Resolution shouldn't be too hard to accomplish"][/caption]

New Year’s Eve parties or partying in general may be fun but not when it affects your sleep. Staying up late and drinking alcohol is bad for your sleep cycle. Alcohol is not a sleep aid even though it may help you to fall asleep easy once the effects of the alcohol wear off you will have the tendency to wake up during the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep. The best way to enjoy your New Year’s Eve party is to take it slow and stop drinking at least two hours before you go to bed. It might be helpful to drink some water to counterbalance the dehydrating effects of the alcohol. Let me ask you two questions... if you have consumed a lot of alcohol and food this holiday season are you worried about the weight you have gained? Is dieting your New Year’s Resolution?

There is a connection between sleep and weight gain, you have probably read about it in many diet books and magazine articles. Maybe you have read about the sleep diet that suggests you can lose weight while you sleep. Is it true when you sleep you will lose weight? Well, sort of. The author of Beauty Sleep, Michael Breus, PhD states that if you are sleep-deprived, meaning you aren’t getting the quality and quantity of sleep your body needs, you metabolism will not function properly. If you suffer from insomnia and get only five hours of sleep and start to sleep at least seven hours you will start to lose weight. HOW?

There are two hormones that are associated with how much you eat and when you are hungry. Ghrelin tells you when to eat and when you don’t get enough sleep the more ghrelin you produce. Leptin tells you when to stop eating and when you are asleep you have less leptin. So less sleep means more ghrelin plus less leptin that equates to weight gain. On top of that how many of you grab a late night snack?

I am not saying that sleep alone will help you lose those pesky 10 pounds you will still need to adhere to a healthy diet and some exercise. If you plan on changing some bad lifestyle habits it is best to keep it to yourself. Blabbing about your New Year’s Resolution no matter what it is many hurt your chances of obtaining your goal. Many people want the credit for doing something rather than for the effort of actually doing it. Some of you may find announcing your intentions as a way of motivating yourself because it would be too embarrassing to back out, while others may find the stress of achieving your goal with the world watching (as with Twitter or Facebook) too challenging which may put other priorities one the back burner; like getting enough sleep. If you absolutely must talk about it, talk in terms of progress about you have done, what you have got left to do and what you need to be held accountable for.

If the stress of making a New Year’s Resolution is too great why not make your New Year’s Resolution not to make any more New Year’s Resolutions? New Year’s Resolutions are one of life’s biggest energy zappers. Trying to prioritize one’s life to include; how we eat, when we can exercise, look for a new job and/or trying to quit smoking is especially hard when we feel there isn’t enough time in the day already. Sometimes setting realistic goals and not limiting yourself to a once a year pledge you may find that you won’t abandon your objective.

[caption id="attachment_1717" align="alignright" width="300" caption="With all these New Year Resolutions she will be so stressed out she won't get a decent night's sleep!"][/caption]

The most popular New Year’s Resolutions are; losing weight, saving money (right), better job, exercise, healthier diet, better education, drinking less alcohol, quit smoking, reduce stress, take a trip and help others. On average some people will last a week while others stick it out till February 1st, very few achieve their goal. WHY? One, they look at it as a long term process…how am I going to keep this up all year long? When they should look at it as…What can I do today? Two, most New Year’s Resolutions are negative; I’m fat, I drink too much…etc. So most goals can only be achieved if you take something away from someone. If they thought about it in a more positive way of achieving their goal it would be less stressful. For instance think of your goal as looking and feeling better rather than losing weight and maybe instead of tossing and turning at night you will get a decent night’s sleep. Remember your beauty sleep is essential along with a healthy lifestyle to stay happy and taking caring of YOU should be a priority no matter what time of year it is!

The content provided in Causes of Insomnia Part 3 New Year’s Resolution 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, December 29, 2011

Causes of Insomnia Part 2 Clinophobia The Fear of Going to Bed

Clinophobia (derived from the Greek “klinein” as to bend, slope or incline during sleep and “phobos” meaning fear) is an abnormal and persistent fear of going to bed. Unlike somniphobia the fear of going to sleep that is a symptom of an anxiety disorder usually caused by an apprehension about not being able to wake up or frightened of not being aware of what goes on around them as they sleep. Even though clinophobia sufferers realize that going to bed is normal and is not a threat to their well-being, they worry about having uncontrollable nightmares, not being able to fall asleep easy or wetting the bed. If they do fall asleep, they wake often and overtime this phobia causes insomnia.

[caption id="attachment_1712" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Your mind will not rest like gears in constant motion"][/caption]

Have you noticed the more they fear going to bed because they can’t fall asleep, the more sleep eludes them? They lie in bed tossing and turning unable to relax because they are constantly rehashing the day or dreading the day ahead. Life stressors that include family, friends, work, school, finances and illness can create great mental and physical tension. General unhappiness can be a powerful trigger as stress and nervous energy can make the mere thinking about going to sleep seem impossible. Clinophobia is not a symptom of a sleep disorder or medical problem it is often caused by a deeper issue and if not resolved their insomnia will eventually affect their daily lives.

Onset insomnia is classified as having difficulty falling to sleep at the beginning of the night. Essentially something is preventing them to from falling asleep, such as problems, stress, fear, anxiety, not sleepy, uncomfortable bed and/or an un-relaxing sleeping environment. Working on the cause or in this case the deeper issues of clinophobia should eventually allow the individual to fall asleep. One characteristic of onset insomnia is sleep phase syndrome where they fall asleep later and wake up later. If you have teenagers suffering from clinophobia they tend to fall asleep at 2am and have great difficulty waking up for school and focusing on their studies during the day. Trying to adhere to a strict sleep schedule and some physical activity during the day as this should reset their internal body clock so they are sleepy when they are supposed to go to bed, like 11pm. If their fear of going to bed is due to nightmares, afraid they will wet the bed or stressed over school, friends or bullies, you need to talk to your child as these underlying conditions can make going to bed a frightening experience. Often, people who have frequent nightmares will experiences dreams of falling, dying, or being humiliated. The biggest trigger for clinophobia is often the fear of dreams/nightmares such as these.

Symptoms of clinophobia can vary from individual to individual. Some people may experience minor symptoms like nausea, sweating or distress, while major symptoms may include paralyzing anxiety or panic attacks. Other symptoms may include; dry mouth, heart palpitations, numbness, heightened senses, breathlessness, dizziness, muscle tension, hyperventilation, trembling, rapid heartbeat, feeling they are out of control, feeling trapped and/or feelings of impending disaster.

[caption id="attachment_1713" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A child may fear going to bed because he believes there is a monster under his bed"][/caption]

The vast majority of cases of clinophobia are self-diagnosed by the individual or in case of a child usually by the parent. The individual realizes that their fear of going to bed is irrational and is causing them to develop insomnia which is affecting their daily lives. A family physician if consulted should rule out any other cause whether mental or physical before a proper diagnosis of clinophobia can be determined. After a complete assessment and evaluation and depending on the severity of the condition your doctor may recommend a therapist or specialist that treats phobias, support groups with others that are coping with clinophobia and/or other types of therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy. If the case is minor he may offer self-help relaxation techniques such as breathing and visualization, if severe anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed.

Clinophobia is an intense, irrational fear of going to bed and sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely stop a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, clinophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal and social life as well as hinder their work/school responsibilities. Untreated, clinophobia can cause insomnia that can impact a person’s mental and physical health.

The content provided in Causes of Insomnia Part 2 Clinophobia The Fear of Going to Bed 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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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Causes of Insomnia Part 1 Grief Cycle

Last Monday I had to lay my father to rest. Dad was 82 and even though some consider that he lived a full life no one understands the pain of losing a parent. 12 million Americans lose a parent annually and adult children often feel abandonment and panic when caught by a sudden death which can lead to depression and insomnia. We may live many years, but we will always be a child in relation to our parents. Our lives are full with our careers, family, friends but we naturally expect our parents to be there for us. When they die our world becomes a different place. No matter what age or how their death happened, the pain for the surviving adult children can be very hard.

A grief cycle has been developed that details the phases a person goes through upon the death of a family member. The first phase is shock. If your parent is elderly you know that someday you will lose them but you are never ready when that day comes. The second phase is denial. We want to deny that death has actually taken place. We hope it isn’t true. We just want it to be a bad dream and when we wake up everything will be all right. Healing from grief cannot happen until we accept the reality that our parent has passed.

The third phase is anger. We want to blame someone else (God, doctors, other family members) or ourselves for the loss and guilt sets in. The” what if” I had done this or “what if” they could have done that are questions that will never be answered. You may also be angry with the world in general wondering how people can just go on with their normal lives when such a misfortune has happened. The fourth phase is mourning and this is usually the longest phase. Symptoms of this phase include feelings of depression, insomnia, guilt, physical illness, loneliness, panic and periods of crying for no reason. The fifth phase is recovery. Even though we never really recover from death as death changes our lives forever, we do get to a point where we move on with our lives.

This grief cycle is not as simple as real life grief as many phases can overlap because each death is unique in itself. Each person experiences grief in their own way as it is long-lasting and usually does not fit a particular pattern or cycle. Experts have found that doing things like watch a funny movie or just taking a walk helps to get your life started again. The only cure for grief is time and in the meantime you should avoid alcohol and drugs, watch your diet and get your sleep. Remember losing sleep will cause insomnia which can lead to depression. Insomnia and depression are two fold as insomnia is a symptom of depression that can also lead to other health issues. If you are worried that you are suffering from depression during your grief process seek help by way of support groups, your family physician and/or a mental health care professional.

Many people think they are having a serious mental illness because of what they are going through. Most phases of grief are considered normal unless they become overwhelming or last for an extended period of time. Depression that lasts for months with no sign of improvement is not normal and professional help should be considered. Major depression is a psychiatric disorder that lasts two weeks in a row and is accompanied by other symptoms like; loss of appetite, weight loss, low energy level, unjustified guilt, loss of interest in family, work or normal daily life, lack of concentration, thoughts of suicide and insomnia.

Delaying finalizing their parent’s belongings is normal, but trying to maintain their home “as is” forever is a sign of denial. Actually working on settling their estate can help with the grieving process. Effective coping tips for grieving can be different and numerous for each individual. Anything from working, hobbies, friends and family can help the grieving person regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. While the painful aspects of dealing with the loss of a loved one is clear, grieving sometimes leads to enhanced personal development.

The content provided in Causes of Insomnia Part1 Grief Cycle 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.

Here is a picture of my parents with me in 1956. RIP Dad we love you and will miss you.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kindle for Sleep Kindle about Sleep

Kindle for Sleep

Do you like to read before going to bed at night because it helps you to relax? Reading is another popular way to relax. Pick something that you enjoy reading, something with a nice pace and nothing too scary. Curl up in a comfy spot and read away. Before you know it, you will be ready for bed and relaxed enough to go right to sleep.

Do you read from a book or one of the new electronic e-readers like iPad or Kindle? According to sleep experts, the iPad’s bright LCD display could hinder you body’s natural ability to create melatonin the hormone that controls your internal sleep/wake cycle. The Kindle and other e-ink gadgets won’t disrupt your sleep cycle. The reason for this is due to the bright light confuses your body, hampering the production of melatonin and causes sleeplessness. The Kindle has no back light because it simulates the look of an actual printed page, therefore, it doesn’t have an effect your Circadian Rhythm. Electronic gadgets that emit light should not be used prior to bedtime.

If you've watched any late-night TV, or use other light emitting devices, including cell phones they tell the brain to stay alert. Devices that are held close to your face amplify the effect verses a TV across the room or a bedside lamp. That is why Kindle is better for your sleep.

Video on Consumer Reports Kindle vs. iPad:

Kindle about Sleep

SLEEP is a magazine subscription that is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific and medical journal that features articles about sleep-related research. SLEEP is an official publication of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC (APSS) a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

SLEEP publishes 12 regular issues annually about original findings and analysis related to sleep disorders, medical dysfunctions during sleep, clinical investigations, therapeutic trials, physiologic events, anatomic structures and molecular components underlying normal and abnormal sleep, psychological and psychophysiological research, and the pharmacology of sleep.

The primary audiences are clinicians and research professionals specializing in sleep-related disorders. SLEEP specialists treat a broad spectrum of disorders, categorized into primary dysfunction of the neural mechanisms of sleep and arousal, pathologies uniquely related to sleep and disturbances of sleep associated with behavioral or psychiatric syndromes. Experts come from a variety of primary backgrounds, including pulmonology, neurology, psychiatry, psychology, otolaryngology and dentistry.

Kindle Magazines are fully downloaded onto your Kindle so you can read them even when you're not wirelessly connected. The subscription has a monthly cost of $9.99 and is only available on Kindle devices. This subscription comes with a risk-free 14-day free trial and is auto-delivered to your Kindle. The magazine does not necessarily reflect the full print content of the publication. Subscribers have access to all new and archived issued online. All articles are available to the public free of charge six months after publication.

The content provided in Kindle for Sleep Kindle about Sleep 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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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lark Personal Sleep Coach

Lark announced today its association with sleep experts on its new Personal Sleep Coach. Lark the same company that has the first, patent-pending silent and natural-feeling wake-up silent alarm clock and wireless sleep tracker. The Personal Sleep Coach goes beyond simple sleep monitoring; it will help you to understand your sleep patterns and sleep health while giving you ideas on how to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Over time your Personal Sleep Coach will track your improvement and urges you to improve with words of encouragement. The new Lark coaching experience is a great Christmas gadget gift for those who have trouble falling asleep easy or can’t get enough sleep during the night.

The Personal Sleep Coach is available for $99 and includes:

[caption id="attachment_1697" align="alignright" width="164" caption="Lark Personal Sleep Coach monitors your sleep patterns"][/caption]

- A 7-Day Sleep Assessment - a baseline assessment designed by leading sleep experts and a Pro sports sleep coach that helps you uncover what type of sleeper you are and reveals your sleep patterns. All you have to do is sleep and wear Lark for seven days.

- A 7-Day Sleep Report - a detailed report which gives you a personalized, actionable plan based on your sleep pattern data and

-- Identifies your Sleep Type (1 of 12 types)
-- Analyzes your sleep patterns
-- Gives you recommended next steps to improve
-- Provides tailored sleep tips based on your sleep type and patterns
-- Recommends sleep targets to reach
-- Shows how your sleep compares with both your average and the rest of the sleep population

- An in-app Personal Sleep Coach that monitors your sleep improvement on a weekly, monthly and over all basis provides:

-- Ability to tag issues and track moods to show you how external factors such as caffeine impact on your sleep and how sleep
affects your mood.
-- Motivational mobile coaching with interactive messages as you improve your sleep and reach your goals.
-- Social sharing to share your success and improvement with friends and family via Twitter and Facebook.

-- For $60 extra, a subscription upgrade, LARK Pro can be purchased for a richer set of tools to help you sleep better.

-- LARK also includes a silent alarm that wakes up only the person wearing LARK in a non-jarring, gentle way, without disturbing those around you.

-- The importance of sleep can often be underestimated, but sleep is the easiest way to improve health, happiness and overall performance. LARK helps you realize how critical sleep is by showing you how much it matters and how much it impacts your health and happiness.

-- LARK is currently available for $99 and can be purchased in stores nationwide at Apple Retail Stores, Wal-mart, Radio Shack, and select Targets and online at Amazon.

Julia Hu, Founder & CEO, LARK "We are excited to help our users improve their lives. LARK's Personal Sleep Coach is truly the next generation of personalized health. We are going beyond simple data tracking and giving meaning to your data. Some of the world's top sleep experts helped create LARK's software to give you a personalized sleep coach that is on your mobile phone, 24-7."

About LARK: Designed by the world's leading sleep experts, LARK brings cutting-edge sleep science to your wrist by analyzing your sleep patterns and providing thoughtful sleep aids for the whole family. Utilizing your personal sleep data, LARK's Personal Sleep Coach empowers you to sleep better in the easiest ways possible. Founded in 2010, LARK is based in Mountain View, Calif. To wake your potential, visit . For ongoing company and product updates, follow LARK on Twitter at or connect on Facebook at .

Don’t sleep for sleep’s sake. Sleep so you can improve what matters to you most: your health, happiness and performance. Every day, use the real-time feedback and tailored sleep plan from your Personal Sleep Coach and Silent Alarm Clock to improve your life.

The content provided in Lark Personal Sleep Coach 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, December 11, 2011

How to Sleep Easy with Sciatica Pain

Sciatica is the pain associated with the sciatic nerve that runs from your spinal cord through your hip bone down your legs to your feet. Your lower back pain can be caused by a herniated disk that applies constant pressure on your sciatic nerve. This pressure produces muscles spasms, numbness in legs and feet, a sharp stinging pain, tingling and sometimes loss of movement. Simple tasks from walking, sitting, standing and even sleeping can greatly be affected by these symptoms. Treatment for sciatica depends on the severity of the pain and its symptoms. If there is no disk or nerve degeneration or difficulty moving then more conservative, natural treatments are most effective.

According to sciatica research most people with sciatic pain find that the problem will go away naturally within six to twelve weeks. During this time, over-the-counter acedeminophin or aspirin will help ease the pain. Some apply ice packs over the affected are where the pain is the deepest to reduce the inflammation. Others alternate ice packs with heat therapy to find relief while anti-inflammatory prescription medication may be necessary if the pain proves too hard to manage.

[caption id="attachment_1690" align="alignright" width="240" caption="One avocado has enough potassium to help those with sciatica"][/caption]

Donald Lepore, N.D. who wrote the book The Ultimate Healing System stated that sciatica in the right leg is caused by a potassium deficiency. Some drugs like Metformin (Type II diabetes) and Lisimipril (high blood pressure) can cause a potassium deficiency then people get sciatica pain. Molasses, avocados, peanuts, potatoes, lima beans, apricots, bananas, potatoes and pears have potassium, but out of those foods one entire avocado can give sciatica relief in one hour for some people Other natural remedies include taking potassium with a B complex, using an Icy Hot spray or stick and take baths with Epsom and lavender. Some like very hot baths followed by a cold water sitz bath, while others take cold showers. One man described his condition after taking a cold shower that he had the first peaceful night of sleep in a long time. He felt no pain in his legs at all, no numbness, no prickly tingles so he continued his cold shower regimen for an additional three days with the same results and has now vowed never to take a hot shower again! A woman that has dealt with horrible sciatica pain with muscle spasms in her back tried many doctors and a chiropractor and after many modern therapeutic treatments (stretching exercises, pain medications, acupuncture and massage therapy) her pain continued. She hated taking prescription medication and looked for an alternative natural cure. She read up on how ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and decided to give it a try. She went straight to the source and ate slices of ginger throughout the day. After two days she started to feel better and by the third day her pain was almost gone.

[caption id="attachment_1688" align="alignright" width="294" caption="Ginger for Sciatica Pain"][/caption]

Another woman wrote that after trying ice packs, heating pads, ibuprofen, etc she elected to make ginger syrup and dried ginger slices. She found that ginger enhances the anti-inflammatory benefit from the ibuprofen so she doesn’t have to take as much to control her pain. She hopes to only take ginger and eliminate ibuprofen altogether. Her recipe called “Ginger Ale and It’s Candy” by Ming Tsai consists of:

• 2 cups ginger slices, peeled (1/8 inch thick)
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• 1 quart soda water
• 1 lime cut in wedges
• 4 mint sprigs

Direction:s Mix ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Reduce mixture by 50 percent until a syrupy consistency is reached. Keep in mind that the syrup will thicken as it cools. Strain warm syrup.

Allow to cool. While syrup is cooling, make ginger candy. Take ginger slices that have been drained out of the syrup and completely coat in sugar. Spread on sheet pan and slowly dry out in a 225-degree oven for 3 hours. Ginger slices should be dried but still chewy.

In a tall glass of ice, add mint sprig and a ratio of 1 part ginger syrup to 7 parts soda water. Squeeze lime wedge and add to drink. Use more syrup if desired. Stir and enjoy. Can also make drink with chilled soda water and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a tasty Ginger Ale Float.

While eating foods rich in potassium or trying some ginger slices it may be important to stretch every night before you go to bed to keep your muscles from tensing up during the night. Here are a couple stretches:

1.Sit on the floor. Cross on right leg over the other with the heel lined up with the knee of the left leg and then twist towards the right. Balance with your arms. Hold for a few seconds and then do it with the other leg.

2.Sit on the floor or in a chair. Clasp your hands over the right knee (leg is bent) and push against your hands and hold. Then put your hands on top of your bent knee and push up against your hands. Repeat with the other leg.

Many times natural home remedies just aren’t enough to alleviate the pain associated with sciatica. Many times sciatica pain is caused by an injury or another medical issue and is not a condition by itself. Physical Therapy proves beneficial to some sufferers. A medical professional should prescribe therapy. A professional physical therapist will avoid exercises that irritate the nerve and bring on attacks. Therapy that strengthens the muscles holding the spine in position promote good posture. Yoga, undertaken carefully, is beneficial for sciatica sufferers. Some yoga positions, such as forward folds or twisting, may exacerbate sciatica. The benefits of yoga include mental and physical balance, and many people find Yoga exercise offers permanent healing for sciatica.

You may consider trying acupuncture, where very slim needles will be applied to your skin. Believe it or not, many don't even feel these, and do find significant relief here, from lower back sciatica. Of course, you will want to be working with an experienced and licensed practitioner. The idea behind this practice is that your energy is unblocked and your health is thereby improved.

The content provided in How to sleep easy with sciatica pain 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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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cheap Christmas Sleep Gifts

The Christmas season is upon us and the rat race has begun from decorating, get-togethers, family fun and shopping, who has time to sleep! We crave sleep and we just don’t have time for it. 43% of Americans between the ages of 13-64 have reported that they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep during the week. If you or someone you know has run raged this holiday season and needs a good night’s sleep…get them the gift of sleep along with some Christmas sleep gifts. Sleep gift gadgets are helpful, but their effectiveness does not replace good sleep habits like; going to bed the same time every night, limiting caffeine and giving yourself (or them) some “me” time to relax at night. So, give yourself or your sweetie a night off, take a nice bath with lavender scented oil or curl up on the couch and read a good book. Some sleep related gadgets can help you to doze off. Here are a few ideas to promote sound sleep.

Let there be peace and quiet! In order to fall asleep easy some people need to eliminate noise either inside the house from a snoring partner or those neighbors who are always having a loud Christmas party. What are some gadgets that mask or reduce sound? WebMD suggests the following three items:

White noise machines and apps. Whether it’s the sounds of rain, the crackle of thunder, or the pounding of horse’s hooves, white noise can help you tune out the sounds that can disrupt sleep. “White noise is ideal to help block noise,” says Shelby Freedman Harris, Speed, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Harris says she prefers machines to apps because the noise on machines is gentler.

Music. Playing music that relaxes you may promote better sleep. Studies have found that music can improve sleep in elderly adults, people with schizophrenia, and young adults. Helene Emsellem, MD, director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Bethesda, Md., and author of Snooze or Lose: 10 No-War Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits, recommends creating a playlist on your MP3 player of soothing songs, be it hard rock, the blues or jazz -- whatever relaxes you.

Ear plugs. They’re cheap and easy, and they actually work, experts say. “I have many patients who use earplugs to block the noise of snoring bed partners,” Harris says. “Silicone earplugs are often better at blocking noise than the usual foam ones.”

Personally I love to fall asleep to a self-hypnotic relaxing CD that offers soothing hypnotic dialog that not only will reduce external sounds this CD: Daydreaming by the Sea: Guided Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief and Restful Sleep will keep your mind focused on every relaxing word and not your Christmas to-do-list. It also features four pleasant, effective relaxation techniques to calm the mind and body; relaxation breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery guide and meditation.

What do you know about your sleep? There are gadgets on the market today that can tell you what sleep cycle you are in at any given time, monitor your quantity of sleep and can tell when it would be best to wake you up. Your sleep cycles run every seven hours, so you can get up when you are in a deep sleep. Waking up during a deep sleep when your body is restoring itself can leave you fighting afternoon sleepiness. Sleep monitors aren’t cheap this Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager runs around $100.00.

You can control the quantity and quality of sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same time. In fact if you train yourself to do exactly that you can learn to wake up when you need to without an alarm. But in the meantime if you or someone you know has a hard time waking up why not get an alarm that will get you out of bed to turn them off? I know what you are thinking…why not just put the alarm clock you have out of reach. Sure, but if you need to buy a novelty gift for the person who has everything a Flying Digital Alarm Clock maybe just the gift. When the alarm goes off, a helicopter flies into the air, carrying the key to turn off the alarm. The only way to silence the alarm is to get out of bed and find the key! The true late sleeper has finally met their match!

But if you or your sweetie needs an alarm clock with nature sounds and a light feature that mimics the sunrise a BioBrite Sunrise Clock Advanced Model with White Noise has the ability to set different dawn and dusk cycles of 15, 30, 60 or 90 minutes, adjustable display brightness, fade to nightlight, snooze feature and more. This model has a white noise option that can mask distracting sounds and lull you to sleep faster. It can cover up the sound of street traffic or a snoring roommate. The white noise can be programmed to fade out as the sunset light goes out, or stay on all night. Only down side it is a bit pricy, so I wouldn’t consider it a cheap gift at around $135.00.

Your bedroom environment is very important when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. I mentioned above taking a bath in lavender oil will help you to relax. A 2005 study at Wesleyan University did a study that determined smelling lavender helped people get better sleep. What can you get to lavender up your bedroom? Try a lavender scented eye pillow, candles or incense. If you don’t like lavender there are other scents commonly used to induce sleep including; Rose, Sandalwood, Cypress, Marjoram, Chamomile and Petitgrain (Petitgrain comes from the name 'small grains' due to the oil originally being distilled from the small fruits of the Orange as well as the Lemon and Mandarin trees). The scents can either be diluted into water and then vaporized into the air by means of a heat source usually a candle or light bulb, or they can be added with a “carrier oil” such as sweet almond, and then applied directly to the skin or added to a hot bath.

Scented eye pillows are cheap (around $9.00) and make a great stocking stuffer as does any eye mask. To suppress light at night aides the natural production of melatonin the hormone that is essential in controlling our sleep/wake cycle. Eye masks are great in eliminating external lights like those coming from electronics including your alarm clock. They are especially helpful when you travel and do not have control over external light sources.

One important note if buying anything for the bedroom like; sheets, pillowcases, comforters etc. keep the colors on the calming side such as soft blues, greens, purples and warm neutrals. If they like bright colors (red, orange or yellow) go for the light softer shades or pastels.

The content provided in Cheap Christmas Sleep Gifts 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, December 1, 2011

Sleep Easy with Exercise

A new study published in the Journal Mental Health and Physical Activity reported that those who exercised at a moderate to vigorous level for 50 minutes three times a week had a 65% chance for better sleep quantity than for those that exercised less. These people also stated they felt more alert all day and had fewer leg cramps while sleeping. There now is evidence that regular physical activity may be the next step to improve sleep without prescription sleep aides. Using exercise guidelines that have been used for cardiovascular health can make you stronger, improve your heart health and benefits your sleep. The study included health data from more than 3,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 85. They wore a monitor on their right hip for a week and were questioned on their quality of their sleep as well as how easy it was to fall asleep.

No mention of what physical activities were used during the study. According to the Center of Decease Control and Prevention’s website in 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Adults needs at least:

Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

10 minutes at a time is fine. We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you don't have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Give it a try

Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Don’t exercise right before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising 2 to 3 hours before bed could interfere with your sleep. Instead, exercise in the morning or afternoon.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed that morning exercise increased the sleep quality of cancer-free post-menopausal women, but when the women exercised closer to bedtime, there was no improvement in sleep quality.

In the study, over 170 women (aged 50 to 75) participated in either a moderately intense exercise program for a year or a low-intensity stretching program. Women who exercised at least 225 minutes a week in the morning reported better sleep than women who exercise 180 minutes or less in the morning. The opposite effect was noted among evening exercisers: Women who exercised only 180 minutes or less in the evening reported better sleep than those who exercised more in the evening.

Researchers believe that morning exercise may help to set a person’s circadian rhythms (body clock) to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Exercising at night may create the pattern that the body is too awake in the evening.

STOP THE SLEEP PILL INSANITY! QUIT Running to the medicine cabinet or to doctors for sleeping pills, aerobic exercise might be the best prescription. Scientists at Northwestern University say sleep problems affect millions of adults, who could likely improve their quality of sleep, vitality, and mood with regular aerobic exercise.

Researchers say the participants who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their diagnosis from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less afternoon sleepiness. A drug-free treatment is best for insomnia because it eliminates the potential of sleep medications interacting with other drugs a person might be taking.

By improving a person’s sleep, you can improve their physical and mental health, more sleep means less stress and a better way to manage hypertension and diabetes. Exercise also is good for your metabolism and weight management.

Exercise to help sleep takes planning, but can greatly increase the chance of getting a good night's rest. An exercise program not only helps people sleep better, it also encourages greater waking efficiency and alertness. However, before starting exercise to sleep better, visit a doctor to develop an exercise program that works for you.

Adding exercise to sleep better can improve sleep quality. However, exercise to help sleep need not be a dramatic increase in activity. Simply raising the heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes a day, a few days a week may be enough exercise to improve sleep. For those who have trouble finding the time to exercise, breaking up workout times into 10-minute periods can make it easier to squeeze in exercise throughout the day.

In order to get the maximum benefit from sleep and exercise, aim for some type of cardiovascular exercise at least six days a week, such as:

• Jogging
• Jumping rope
• Kickboxing
• Riding a bike
• Walking.

Strength training is important for building muscle, increasing bone density and raising metabolism. Incorporate some light weight lifting into exercise programs to get the most benefit from the time spent exercising.

Another exercise to sleep better involves stretching throughout the day to relieve stiffness and tension. Yoga classes and physical therapists teach stretching techniques. Slow, gentle stretches at bedtime might also improve sleep and increase relaxation.

The content provided in Sleep Easy with Exercise 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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