Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘Insomnia’

6 Morning Habits You Need to Dig Into

6 Morning Habits You Need to Dig Into

Stop snoozing. You and your snooze button have quite the relationship, but it would be better if you got up as soon as your alarm goes off. It may take some serious discipline at first, but the snooze disturbs sleep often enough to make you feel more tired than if you had simply awoken, albeit a little groggy, on time. If you fall back into deep sleep and the snooze interrupts your cycle, you will be worse off. Don’t talk yourself out of it, just get up when your alarm tells you to. If you get really good, try using your internal clock to wake up, not an alarm, for better circadian rhythms.

Wake up early. The early bird gets the worm. There is a reason that sayings like this exist. Rising with the sun encourages creativity, productivity, and motivation. Waking up with a positive view of the quiet world is a gift. Likewise, this means going to bed earlier, as skimping on sleep is not the answer. Waking up with the sun is also great for balancing your hormones, as the sunlight hitting initiates all sorts of hormonal responses –like shutting down sleep-inducing melatonin production — that are essential for internal balance.

Take a deep breath and check in with yourself. The first thing you should do, once you’ve sat up out of bed, is a take a few deep inhalations to check in and ground yourself for the day. Take 10 breaths and clear your mind. Step outside onto your deck if you have one and feel the crisp morning air caress your face. Take your time and enjoy the quietude of morning before you bustle off to work or peruse the internet.

Get some exercise. Whether it’s 15 minutes of yoga/stretching or an hour long jog, working out in the morning has some major perks. It gets your blood flowing and helps you become more awake and energized throughout the day. It also ensures that you fit in some form of physical activity without getting stressed or too busy. Once you’ve exercised, your day will seem to open up with ample energy and less stress.

Drink warm water with lemon before coffee. If the first thing you do when you wake up if brew a pot of joe, try this instead. Not only will it wake you up on a more natural level than caffeine, but it will hydrate your dehydrated body and gently arouse your digestive system. Water in the morning also boasts other benefits, like clearer skin, better weight maintenance, increased nutrient absorption, and balanced lymph.

Eat when you’re hungry. There’s no need to shove breakfast into your mouth the second you awaken. Sure, many seem to say that eating breakfast within an hour of waking is important, but if you aren’t hungry or have a hard time eating that early, don’t sweat it. Your body will tell you when it’s time for food. Let it complete its nighttime clean-up before you overwhelm your digestive system with a hearty meal. Your body WILL survive in the interim.

Not everyone is a morning person. If you are a night owl and regularly stay up well past midnight working or unwinding, then so be it. But for most with traditional 9 to 5 jobs, waking up even an hour earlier could jumpstart their energy and productivity, allowing them to relax and de-stress at night. Seize your day! Utilize the morning hours and feel great all day.

By Jordan Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at jordyncormier.com.

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 

Member Inernational Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

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What’s the Best Sleep Position?

What’s the Best Sleep Position?

 It makes sense that your sleep position can have an impact on your overall health, right? We’ve all woken up from time to time with a crick in our necks or a weird leg cramp, and it is no fun at all. Spending eight hours on your side or on your back puts pressure on nerves and muscles, and we can feel the effects of a wonky sleep position the next day.

If you deal with chronic pain or conditions like acid reflux, your sleep position can have an even more powerful impact on your comfort. Finding the best sleep position can make the difference between restorative rest and a night of tossing and turning.

So, what’s the best sleep position? It depends.

To alleviate back and shoulder pain, you can combine a beneficial sleep position with some strategic pillow placement to give your body extra support while you snooze. Pillows can help you sleep through bouts of acid reflux, too. And if foot pain is keeping you awake, just tucking your sheets more loosely can make a difference.

The graphic below looks at a handful of aches, pains, and conditions that can keep us from getting a good night’s sleep along with tricks to overcome them. You can click the image to view a full-sized version, if you’re having trouble reading the small text. You can also scroll down for a summary of this infographic’s helpful sleeping tips.

Best Sleep Position

Graphic via Best Infographics

Neck Pain
Keep the neck in a neutral position. Avoid sleeping on the stomach. Too many pillows can put your neck in a bent position. Keep your pillow above your shoulders. Some experts suggest using a rolled up hand towel to support the neck.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Sleep on your side or stomach to avoid impaired breathing. One way to keep from rolling onto your back is to sew a tennis ball into the back of your pajama top.

Acid Reflux
Use pillows to elevate your head or use bricks to elevate the front legs of the bed. Otherwise, sleep on your side.

Shoulder Pain
Don’t sleep on the shoulder that causes you pain. Or, if you do, place a pillow next to you and place your arm over it — almost as if you’re hugging another person.

Back Pain
The best sleep position for back pain is generally on your back with a pillow under your knees or a rolled up towel under the small of your back.

On your side, put a pillow between your knees for extra support. This is also good for people with hip and knee problems. A fetal-like position can help with lumbar spinal stenosis.

Sleeping on your stomach can be hard on your back and neck. But if you must, put a pillow under your back and lower abdomen to relieve strain.

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Faciitis is an inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot caused by running or poor arch support. Keep your ankles and feet in a relaxed position. Avoid tucking in the sheets too tightly.

By Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! 

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 

Member Inernational Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

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skpe ~ healthyhighway

3 Strange New Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

3 Strange New Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

 1. Work Near a Window

Need some help convincing your boss that you need a corner office? Bring up this study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers found that when employees were exposed to natural light during the workday, they slept 46 minutes longer—and more soundly—than employees in windowless offices.

Why should your boss care? A bad night of sleep means short-term effects like memory loss, attention issues, and slower reflexes—something that would surely affect your performance at work. The employees who saw sunlight from their desks were even four times more active during the workday.

The benefits of a windowed office extended past the workday, too, with workers getting more rest and sleeping better and longer on the weekends.

 

2. Keep Your Feet Outside the Covers

To sleep better and fall asleep, keep one or both feet outside the covers, National Sleep Foundation spokesperson Natalie Dautovitch recently told Science of Us.

The reason it helps, she says, is the same reason you’ll hear suggestions to take a warm bath or have a cup of tea before bed. It’s not the warmth that relaxes you into a restful slumber; it’s that your body temperature actually rapidly cools when, for example, you leave the warm tub. There’s a connection between cool body temperature and sleep—researchers have found that our bodies are at our coolest in deep stages of sleep, and our bodies naturally cool when we’re about to go to sleep.

But why stick your foot out? Isn’t it enough that your head is uncovered? Dautovitch explains that feet (and hands) contain blood vessels designed to help dissipate your body heat. Turning up the AC could also help—research shows that people sleep best in rooms that are 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

3. Get Placebo Sleep

Still not sleeping well? Just trick yourself into thinking you are and you can still get the benefits of a full night of restorative snoozing, new research says.

Psychologists at Colorado College asked participants how well they slept the previous night before randomly assigning them to “above average” or “below average” sleep qualities. They then hooked them up to a machine they claimed (falsely) could measure the previous night’s sleep. After the researchers told participants whether their sleep quality was below or above average, they had them complete a cognitive functioning test.

It turned out that regardless of how well participants reported they had slept the night before, it was their perception of sleep quality (their “above average” or “below average” group) that influenced their performance on the test. Participants who believed they had slept poorly scored 44% on the test, while those who believed they slept well scored 70%.

The downside for the rest of us? Once we know about the placebo effect, it’s not as effective.

So let’s try this—I’ll tell you that you slept fantastically, and you tell me the same thing tomorrow morning. Deal?

By Diana Vilibert

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can be blog-friends with her at dianavilibert.com, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 

Member Inernational Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn   www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.google.com/+HealthyhighwayOrg

join ~ www.google.com/+LeesaWheeler

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

skpe ~ healthyhighway

Top 10 Sleep Mistakes and Their Solutions

Top 10 Sleep Mistakes and Their Solutions

 

Although we may not like to admit it, many of the sleep problems we experience are the result of bad habits and behaviors. We stay up late or sleep in late. We eat foods that disagree with us or enjoy a drink late at night, oblivious to its disruptive impact on our sleep rhythms. Over time, we teach our body not to sleep. For relief we often turn to sleeping pills, which mask rather than solve the problem, and can lead to addiction. Ultimately for real success, with insomnia as with any chronic problem, one must look for the underlying imbalances and root causes and address those.

Here are the common sleep “mistakes” I see in my practice and their solutions.

MISTAKE #1 Not keeping a consistent sleep schedule.
We often think we can make up for lost sleep by going to bed extra early another night, but the body clock’s ability to regulate healthy sleep patterns depends on consistency. We stay up late on weekends, expecting to make up sleep later or use the weekend to make up for lost sleep during the week. Both practices disrupt bodily rhythms and late-night weekends in particular can cause insomnia during the workweek.

SOLUTION: Create a routine and stick to it.
Getting up and going to bed around the same time, even on weekends, is the most important thing you can do to establish good sleep habits. Our bodies thrive on regularity, and the best reinforcement for the body’s internal clock is a consistent sleep schedule.

Waking and sleeping at set times reinforces a consistent sleep rhythm and reminds the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones, and more importantly, when not to.

MISTAKE #2 Using long naps to counter sleep loss. 
Long naps during the day especially after 4 p.m. or even brief nods in the evening while watching TV can damage a good sleep rhythm and keep you from enjoying a full sleep at night.

SOLUTION: Nap for no more than 30 minutes.
If naps are absolutely necessary, make sure you only nap once a day and keep it under a half hour and before 4 p.m. In general, short naps may not hurt sleep and in fact a short siesta for half an hour after lunch or a 20 minute power nap before 4 p.m. works well for many people.

MISTAKE #3 Not preparing for sleep.
Expecting the body to go from full speed to a standstill without slowing down first is unrealistic. Our bodies need time to produce enough sleep neurotransmitters to send feedback signals to the brain’s sleep center, which will result in the release of sleep hormones to allow you to sleep.

SOLUTION: Take the time to slowly shift into sleep. 
a) Create an electronic sundown. By 10 p.m., stop sitting in front of a computer screen (or TV screen) and switch off all electronic devices. They are too stimulating to the brain and will cause you to stay awake longer.
b) Prepare for bed. Dim the lights an hour or more before going to bed, take a warm bath, listen to calming music or soothing sounds, do some restorative yoga or relaxation exercises. Getting your mind and body ready for sleep is essential. Remove any distractions (mentally and physically) that will prevent you from sleeping.

MISTAKE #4 Not giving your body the right sleep signals. 
Our bodies depend on signals to tell them when to fall asleep and wake up, the two most fundamental ones being darkness and light. But we live and work in artificially lit environments and often miss out on the strongest regulatory signal of all, natural sunlight. When we do go to sleep and our bodies need complete darkness for production of the important sleep hormone, melatonin, our bedrooms are not pitch dark, thereby interfering with this key process.

SOLUTION: At night, keep the room as dark as possible.
Look around your bedroom: the alarm clock read-out that glows in bright red; the charging indicator on your cell phone or PDA, the monitor on your computer, the battery indicator on the cordless phone or answering machine, the DVD clock and timer. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of sleep hormones and therefore disturb your sleep rhythms.

Conceal or move the clock, cover all the lights of any electronic device and use dark shades or drapes on the windows if they are exposed to light. If all of that is not possible, wear an eye mask.

If you get up in the middle of the night, try keeping the light off when you go to the bathroom. Use a flashlight or night light.

MISTAKE #5 Having a bed time snack of refined grains or sugars.
These are metabolic disruptors which raise blood sugar and overstress the organs involved in hormone regulation throughout the body. This hormone roller coaster can affect sleep cycles by waking you up at odd times during sleep as the hormone levels fluctuate.

SOLUTION: If you have to eat, have a high-protein snack.

It is better not to have anything before bed. But if you must eat something, a high protein snack will not only prevent the hormone roller coaster, but also may provide L-tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce melatonin.

MISTAKE #6 Using sleeping pills to fall and stay asleep. 
Sleeping pills mask sleep problems and do not resolve the underlying cause of insomnia. Many sleep studies have concluded that sleeping pills, whether prescription or over-the-counter, do more harm than good over the long-term. They can be highly addictive and studies have found them to be potentially dangerous (see references, page 11).

For short term use, there may be indications for needing sleeping pills, but over time, sleeping pills can actually make insomnia worse, not better. If you have been taking them for a long time, ask your doctor to help you design a regimen to wean yourself off them.

SOLUTION: Learn relaxation techniques. 
Aside from physical problems, stress may be the number one cause of sleep disorders. Temporary stress can lead to chronic insomnia and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Many people tell me they can’t switch off their racing minds and therefore can’t sleep.

Do some breathing exercises, restorative yoga or meditation. These will calm the mind and reduce the fears and worries that trigger the stress.

MISTAKE #7 Using Alcohol to fall asleep.
Because of alcohol’s sedating effect, many people with insomnia drink alcohol to promote sleep. Alcohol does have an initial sleep inducing effect, but as it gets broken down by the body, it usually impairs sleep during the second half of the night leading to a reduction in overall sleep time. Habitual alcohol consumption just before bedtime can reduce its sleep-inducing effect, while its disruptive effects continue or even increase.

SOLUTION: Take nutrients that calm the body and mind, getting you ready for sleep. 
Don’t drink alcohol to help you sleep. Look for a calming formula that has some of the following: amino acids, L theanine, taurine, 5 HTP and GABA, and herbs like lemon balm, passion flower, chamomile and valerian root. Taking the minerals, calcium and magnesium at night is also helpful. For some people, especially those of us over 50, melatonin can be helpful too. This is because the body produces less melatonin with advancing age and may explain why elderly people often have difficulty sleeping and respond well to melatonin.

MISTAKE #8 Watching television to fall asleep.
Because we have no trouble at all falling asleep in the living room in front of the TV many of us watch TV in bed to fall asleep. But when we fall asleep in a bed watching TV, we invariably wake up later on. This sets up a cycle or conditioning that reinforces poor sleep at night. I have had many patients over the years develop insomnia due to this type of conditioning.

SOLUTION: Get the TV out of the bedroom.
Don’t watch TV in bed. The bed should be associated with sleep (and sex).

MISTAKE #9 Staying in bed hoping to fall asleep.
If you can’t fall asleep within 30-45 minutes, chances are you won’t for at least another hour, and perhaps even longer. You may have missed the open “sleep gate” or missed catching the sleep wave. A “sleep gate” is the open window of time your body will allow you to fall asleep. Researchers have found that our brain goes through several sleep cycles each night where all sleep phases are repeated. These cycles last from 90 minutes to two hours, and at the beginning of each cycle, the body’s “sleep gate” opens. You won’t be able to fall asleep when your sleep gate is closed. 

SOLUTION: Catch the sleep wave. 
If you find you can’t fall asleep within 45 minutes, get up and get out of the bedroom. Read a book, do a restorative yoga pose or do some other calming activity for another 1 -1 1/2 hours before trying to sleep again. Staying in bed only causes stress over not sleeping.

It is like surfing; you need to catch that sleep wave. Have you ever been exhausted and yet you avoid going to sleep and then a few hours later when you are ready for bed, you are suddenly wide awake? You missed the wave.


MISTAKE #10 Making sleep a performance issue. 
Often just thinking about sleep affects your ability to fall asleep. What happens frequently is that the way you cope with the insomnia becomes as much of a problem, as the insomnia itself. It often becomes a vicious cycle of worrying about not being able to sleep which leads to worsening sleep problems. Like so many things in life, it is about letting go, going with the flow. Sleep needs to become a natural rhythm like breathing, something that comes automatically and you don’t think about.

SOLUTION: Let go and go with the flow.
Use the time to practice breathing exercises or meditation and to become aware of how what you eat, what medications you take, what behaviors or certain activities can affect your sleep cycle.

Increase your awareness by paying attention to your body and becoming conscious of how you react to different foods and situations. Use this time productively, instead of getting upset that you can’t fall asleep.

One final point.
For chronic insomniacs, especially if you are a heavy snorer, make sure Sleep Apnea is not the cause. This is a serious condition that affects at least 12 million Americans, many of whom have not been diagnosed. Usually they are heavy snorers. What happens is that the tissues at the back of the throat relax and in so doing block the airways. The brain senses oxygen deprivation, and sends wakeup signals. There is a release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone. Not only does this interfere with sleep, it can increase blood pressure, raising your risk of heart problems and stroke. It can also interfere with insulin sensitivity, and increases your risk of diabetes.

EFERENCES

1. What’s wrong with prescribing hypnotics?“. Drug Ther Bull 42 (12): 89-93. December 2004. doi:10.1136/dtb.2004.421289PMID 15587763http://www.nelm.nhs.uk/en/NeLM-Area/Evidence/Drug-Class-Focused-Reviews/498264/.

2. D. Maiuro PhD, Roland (13 Decemember 2009). Handbook of Integrative Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Behavioral Medicine: Perspectives, Practices, and Research. Springer Publishing Company. pp.128-130. ISBN 0-8261-1094-0http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4Tkdm1vRFbUC

3. Lader, Malcolm Harold; P. Cardinali, Daniel; R. Pandi-Perumal, S. (22 March 2006). Sleep and sleep disorders: a neuropsychopharmacological approach. Georgetown, Tex.: Landes Bioscience/Eurekah.com. p.127. ISBN 0-387-27681-5.

4. Authier, N.; Boucher, A.; Lamaison, D.; Llorca, PM.; Descotes, J.; Eschalier, A. (2009). “Second Meeting of the French CEIP (Centres d’Evaluation et d’Information sur la Pharmacodependance). Part II: Benzodiazepine Withdrawal.” Therapie 64 (6): 365-370. doi:10.2515/therapie/2009051PMID 20025839.

5. Glass J, Lanctot KL, Herrmann N, Sproule BA, Busto UE (November 2005). “Sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia: meta-analysis of risks and benefits“. BMJ 331 (7526): 1169. doi:10.1136/bmj.38623.768588.47PMID 16284208PMC 1285093http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/331/7526/1169

By Frank Lipman MD,  an internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine. A practicing physician, he is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC, where for over 20 years his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality. To bring his approach to a wider audience, he created Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions. He is the author of Revive (previously called Spent) and Total Renewal. To hang with Frank, visit his blog, follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook community today.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

as-seen-on

6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze

6 Diet Strategies For a Sounder Snooze

 

A good night’s sleep is not just an extravagance—it’s essential for  maintaining short and long-term health.

If worry and stress are keeping you up at night, you’ve probably searched  high and low for information on relaxation and meditation techniques to help you  salvage some valuable snooze time.

But counting sheep isn’t the only way to get yourself to sleep—what you eat  right before you go to bed can also play a role. While no particular foods are  known to induce sleep; knowing what, when, and how much to eat and drink can up  your chances for a sound snooze.

Here are six things to keep in mind when preparing midnight  munchies:

1. Keep your pre-bedtime beverages virgin and decaf: If you  want a solid stint of shut-eye, stay away from alcohol and caffeine in the hours preceding your bedtime.  It’s true that alcohol, which is a depressant, can help you fall asleep, but it  won’t help you stay that way.Multiple studies have shown that  alcohol can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep cycles—first by reducing the amount  of time they spend in the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage, and then by causing  them to awaken multiple times throughout the night. On the opposite end of the  spectrum lies caffeine—the everywoman’s go-to stimulant. According to the  American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it can take anywhere from 8 to 14 hours for  the effects of caffeine to fully wear off, depending on how acclimated you are  to it. That’s why it’s a good idea to lay off of common sources of caffeine,  including: coffee, tea and chocolate, at least a few hours before you want to go  to bed.

2. Use your diet to master melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone  produced by the brain that plays a big role in regulating sleep cycles. Light is  the ultimate arbiter of melatonin production. When daylight fades, your body  begins to churn out more of the sleep-inducing chemical. It is also available in  supplement form and is a popular alternative to prescription sleep aids. As a  person ages, they generally become less capable of producing melatonin. Cherries  are one of the few foods that can lay claim to being a natural source of  melatonin and studies done by scientists from the University of Rochester and  the University of Pennsylvania have indicated that consuming tart cherry juice  can facilitate sleep in certain people. But chugging cherry juice isn’t the only  way to naturally up your melatonin production. Certain snacks, including:  bananas, some fish (salmon, tuna and cod), pistachios, peanut butter, chickpeas  and fortified cereals contain significant amounts of the vitamin B6—a key  component for making melatonin.

3. Smaller is better: The Mayo Clinic advises hungry  insomniacs to keep their midnight meals miniscule and low-fat. A big meal can  make you feel bloated and may cause painful heartburn. A small bowl of cereal  with milk, or a banana with a bit of peanut butter will generally be enough to  fight off hunger pangs so you can get some shut-eye.

4. Insufficient nutrients can equal insufficient sleep: A  rumbling tummy and certain vitamin deficiencies can contribute to insomnia.  Research has shown that maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in particular  is essential for sound slumber. Aim for a nighttime snack that includes:  fortified cereals and dairy products, and eggs.

5. Carbo-loading isn’t just for marathoners: Bread lovers  rejoice—carbs are a key component of sleep-inducing snacks. Consuming  carbohydrates makes it easier for your brain to pick up and convert tryptophan (an  essential amino acid found in a variety of different foods, including: eggs,  cheese, oatmeal, potatoes, bananas and poultry) into serotonin and melatonin,  two hormones that make you more relaxed and drowsy.  When creating your  bedtime snack, it’s probably best to stick with complex carbs, such as: fruits,  oats, whole grain cereals and breads, and veggies.

6. Liquidate your pre-bedtime fluids: In order to prevent  unwanted trips to the bathroom at one o’ clock in the morning, the Mayo Clinic  recommends avoiding drinking too much in the hour or so right before you go to  bed.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

AgingCare.com provides online  caregiver support by connecting people caring for elderly parents to other  caregivers, elder care experts, personalized information, and local resources.  AgingCare.com has become the trusted resource for exchanging ideas, sharing  conversations and finding credible information for those seeking elder care  solutions.

 

Best and Worst Foods for Menopause Symptoms

Best & Worst Foods for Menopause Symptoms

INSOMNIA AND HEADACHES

Studies suggest that eating carbs can increase the release of tryptophan, an  amino acid that helps the brain manufacture serotonin, which helps people fall asleep.

SAY YES TO:

  • Eating a piece of toasted whole grain bread or a small portion of  another  carbohydrate before going to bed.
  • Other foods that contain tryptophan are turkey, soy, cod, egg whites  and warm  milk.
  • Also, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon, trout and  tuna, play a role in sleep induction.
  • And don’t forget cherries. They contain melatonin, a substance found in  the body, which helps regulate sleep.

SAY NO TO:

  • Large meals.  When you eat a large meal, digestion brings blood into the  abdomen, raises body temperature and tells the hypothalamus in the brain to  send a signal that causes hot flashes. Eating smaller meals can help reduce  the number of hot flashes.
  • Caffeine.   Coffee, tea, colas and dark chocolate contain caffeine. They  may trigger  hot flashes and affect your sleep. So drink water and avoid caffeine,  especially in the late afternoon and at night.
  • Alcohol.   Alcohol can increase the hot flashes and affect sleep, mood  and weight.  eavy use can lead to osteoporosis because alcohol prevents  cells from  building new bone. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a  day.

BLOATING

During the menopause transition, another common midlife symptom is bloating,  which may be due to hormone fluctuations, overproduction of estradiol and  conversion of androgen (a so-called “male” hormone) to estrogen through a  process called aromatization, which increases with age and body weight.

SAY YES TO:

  • Foods and herbs that have diuretic properties, such as celery seeds,  parsley, dandelion, juniper berries, asparagus, artichokes, melon and  watercress.  And drink plenty of water and herbal teas.

SAY NO TO:

  • Sugary and high-sodium foods such as frozen dinners and  canned soups. Read the sugar and sodium content on food labels, and reduce  the amount of sugar and salt you add to foods and beverages.

MOOD SWINGS

Many women during the menopause transition report a decreased sense of  well-being due to irritability and mood swings. Good nutrition plays a major  role in moods. So it is important to understand which foods stabilize our moods and which ones to avoid.

SAY YES TO:

  • Omega-3  fatty acids in foods such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.
  • Eating vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts and beets, which  are rich in B vitamins. Green vegetables such as spinach and peas are high  in folic acid, a member of the B-complex group that may also help stabilize  mood because it’s needed to make serotonin. Don’t forget that spinach and  other dark, leafy greens can be used raw in salads and sandwiches as  well.
  • Chicken and turkey, which are rich in vitamin B, a player in the  production of serotonin in the body.

SAY NO TO:

  • Sugary foods, which cause a rise in blood sugar and may increase mood  disturbances.

DECREASED SEX DRIVE

For some women, menopause and its associated decline in “sex” hormones can  lead to a decline in sex. A lower level of estrogen is the main culprit and that  can lower libido and cause vaginal dryness. Recent information suggests that food  can spice up your love life.

SAY YES TO:

  • Granola,  oatmeal, nuts, dairy, green vegetables, garlic, soybeans and  chickpeas.   These foods contain L-arginine, which is thought to be helpful  in improving sexual function.
  • Avocados contain potassium, which regulates thyroid hormones and may  enhance female libido.
  • Chocolate intake releases serotonin in the brain, producing feelings of  pleasure similar to having sex. But indulge in moderation for its benefit,  and try  eating it as a prelude to lovemaking.
  • Asparagus  is a vegetable to consider due to its vitamin E content.
  • Fresh fruits. Feast on fresh fruits such as strawberries, pomegranates  and grapes, which are delicious and rich in antioxidants.

SAY NO TO:

  • Chile peppers. Eating chili peppers in excessive amounts can lead to  hot flashes.   This will not help you set the mood. However, when enjoyed in  a flavorful  recipe, these feisty peppers can also help trigger the release  of natural endorphins, creating a high that is not unlike  lovemaking.

Source: Red Hot Mamas via Ode Magazine

5 Foods That Help You Sleep

5 Foods That Help You Sleep

Should you let yourself have that midnight snack if you’re having trouble  sleeping and you think hunger might be part of the problem? Here are five  foods that can actually help you drift off:

1. Cherries. Fresh and dried cherries are one of the only  natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body’s  internal clock to regulate sleep. Researchers who tested tart cherries and found  high levels of melatonin recommend eating them an hour before bedtime or before  a trip when you want to sleep on the plane.

2. Bananas. Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle  relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both. They also contain the amino  acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn  is converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and  melatonin.

3. Toast. Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger insulin  production, which induces sleep by speeding up the release of tryptophan and  serotonin, two brain chemicals that relax you and send you to sleep..

4. Oatmeal. Like toast, a bowl of oatmeal triggers a rise in  blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin production and the release of  sleep-inducing brain chemicals. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which many  people take as a sleep aid.

5. Warm milk. Like bananas, milk contains the amino acid  L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases relaxing serotonin. It’s also  high in calcium, which promotes sleep.

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com  senior editor

Caring.com  was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other  loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet,  our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better  decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical  information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need  during this challenging time.

7 Surprising Reasons You Wake Up Tired

7 Surprising Reasons You Wake Up Tired

When you can’t sleep, you know it. But what about when you can, yet you wake  up feeling tired and achy or you’re groggy again a few hours later? What’s that  about? All too often, it turns out, the problem is one that doesn’t keep you  awake but does sabotage your sleep in more subtle ways, so the hours you spend  in bed don’t refresh and revitalize you the way they should. Here are seven  signs that you have a sleep problem that’s secretly stealing your rest.

1. You sleep poorly and wake with a bad taste in your  mouth.

What it’s a symptom of: “Morning mouth” can be a  signal of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or asymptomatic heartburn.  Recent sleep studies have shown that up to 25 percent of people who report  sleeping poorly without a diagnosed cause have sleep-related acid reflux. But  because they don’t have obvious heartburn symptoms, they’re unaware of the  condition.

How it interrupts sleep: Acid reflux causes the  body to partially awaken from sleep, even when there are no symptoms of  heartburn. The result of this “silent reflux” is fitful, uneven sleep, but when  you wake up digestion is complete and you can’t tell why you slept poorly.

What to do: Follow treatment suggestions for  heartburn, even though you aren’t experiencing classic heartburn symptoms: Don’t  eat for at least two hours before hitting the sack, and avoid acid-causing foods  in your evening meals. (Alcohol, chocolate, heavy sauces, fatty meats, spicy  foods, citrus fruits, and tomatoes all contribute to heartburn and acid reflux.)  Some doctors also recommend chewing gum before bed, because it boosts the  production of saliva, which neutralizes stomach acid.

Certain medications, particularly aspirin and other painkillers, are hard on  the stomach and esophageal lining, so don’t take them just before bed.

Sleep studies have shown that sleeping on the left side reduces symptoms, and  sleeping on the right side causes them to worsen because acid takes longer to  clear out of the esophagus when you’re on your right side. If you prefer to  sleep on your back — a position that can increase reflux — elevating your head  and shoulders can help.

Losing weight can do wonders to banish heartburn and acid reflux. And if all  else fails, try taking an over-the-counter antacid.

2. You toss and turn or wake up often to use the  bathroom.

What it’s a symptom of: Nocturia is the official  name for waking  up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. The National Sleep  Foundation estimates that 65 percent of older adults are sleep deprived as a  result of frequent nighttime urination. Normally, our bodies have a natural  process that concentrates urine while we sleep so we can get six to eight hours  without waking. But as we get older, we become less able to hold fluids for long  periods because of a decline in antidiuretic hormones.

How it interrupts sleep: For some people, the  problem manifests as having to get up to use the bathroom, and then being unable  to get back to sleep. Once middle-of-the-night sleeplessness attacks, they lie  awake for hours. But for others the problem is more subtle; they may sleep  fitfully without waking fully, as the body attempts to send a signal that it  needs to go.

What to do: Start with simple steps. Don’t drink  any liquids for at least three hours before going to bed. This includes foods  with a lot of liquid in them, like soups or fruit. Lower your coffee and tea  consumption; the acids in coffee and tea can irritate the bladder. Don’t drink  alcohol, which functions as a diuretic as well as a bladder irritant.

Go to the bathroom last thing before getting in bed and relax long enough to  fully empty your bladder. It’s also important to get checked for conditions that  cause urination problems. Guys, this means getting your prostate checked.  Inflammation of the prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPN), and prostate  tumors can all cause frequent urination. In women, overactive  bladder, urinary  tract infections, incontinence,  and cystitis are common causes of urinary problems.

Diabetes  can also cause frequent urination, so if you haven’t been tested for diabetes  recently, see your doctor. Certain drugs such as diuretics and heart medications  can contribute to this problem; if that’s the case, talk to your doctor about  taking them earlier in the day. A prescription antidiuretic can cut down on  nighttime urination if all else fails and there’s no underlying issue.

3. Your jaw clicks, pops, or feels sore, or your teeth are wearing  down.

What it’s a symptom of: Teeth grinding, officially  known as bruxism,  is a subconscious neuromuscular activity. Bruxism often goes on without your  being aware of it; experts estimate that only 5 percent of people who grind  their teeth or clench their jaws know they do it until a sleep partner notices  the telltale sound or a dentist detects wear on the teeth. Jaw clenching is  another form of bruxism, except you clench your teeth tightly together rather  than moving them from side to side. Jaw clenching can be harder to detect than  grinding, but one sign is waking with pain or stiffness in the neck.

How it interrupts sleep: Bruxism involves tensing  of the jaw muscles, so it interferes with the relaxation necessary for deep  sleep. And if you’re fully grinding, your body is engaged in movement rather  than resting.

What to do: See a dentist. If you don’t have one,  dental schools often offer low-cost dental care provided by students supervised  by a professor. A dentist can look for underlying causes, such as problems with  your bite alignment, and can prescribe a mouth-guard-type device such as a  dental splint. If jaw clenching is your primary issue, there are specific dental  devices for that.

Experts also suggest giving up gum chewing during the day, because the  habitual chewing action can continue at night. Some people who grind their teeth  have experienced relief from botox injections to the jaw muscle. Others have had  success using a new biofeedback device called Grindcare, approved by the FDA in  2010.

4. You move all over the bed or wake tangled in the  covers.

What it’s a symptom of: That kind of movement  indicates restless  leg syndrome or a related problem, periodic limb movement disorder  (PLMD).

How it interrupts sleep: Doctors don’t know exactly  what causes these sleep movement disorders, but they do know they’re directly  related to a lack of deep, restful, REM sleep. The restlessness can prevent you  from sinking into deep sleep, or a muscle jerk can wake or partially rouse you  from deep sleep.

What to do: See a doctor to discuss your symptoms  and get a diagnosis, which may also involve looking for underlying conditions  related to restless leg syndrome or PLMD. Diabetes, arthritis,  peripheral neuropathy, anemia, thyroid disease, and kidney problems can all  contribute to restless leg syndrome and PLMD. Make sure to tell your doctor  about any medications you’re taking; a number of medications, including  antidepressants, antihistamines, and lithium, can cause restless leg syndrome as  a side effect.

You can also try making dietary changes to make sure you’re getting enough  iron and B vitamins, particularly folic acid, since iron and folate deficiency  have been linked to restless leg syndrome. Red meat, spinach, and other leafy  greens are good sources of both nutrients, but you may want to take supplements  as well. If your doctor diagnoses restless leg syndrome or PLMD, medications  used to treat Parkinson’s can relieve symptoms by eliminating the muscle jerks.  Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you sleep more deeply, with  the idea of preventing the involuntary movements from keeping you in light  sleep.

5. You wake up with a dry mouth or horrible morning  breath.

What it’s a symptom of: Mouth breathing and snoring  both disrupt sleep by compromising breathing. Look for drool on your pillow or  in the corners of your mouth. If you have a partner, ask him or her to monitor  you for snoring, gasping, or overloud breathing.

How it interrupts sleep: Mouth breathing and  snoring can interrupt sleep because you’re not getting enough air to fully  relax. Severe snoring — particularly when accompanied by gasps or snorts — can  also indicate a more serious problem with obstructed breathing during sleep.

What to do: Train yourself to breathe through your  nose. Try snore-stopping nose strips, available over the counter at the  drugstore, or use saline nasal spray to irrigate your nasal passages. Experiment  with sleep positions; most people have a tendency to snore and breathe through  their mouths when sleeping on their backs. Use pillows to prop yourself on your  side, or try the tennis ball trick: Put a tennis ball in the back pocket of your  pajama bottoms (or attach it some other way), so it alerts you when you roll  over.

If you typically drink alcohol in the evening, try cutting it out. Alcohol, a  sedative, relaxes the muscles of the nose and throat, contributing to snoring.  Other sedatives and sleeping pills do the same thing, so avoid using anything  sedating. Alcohol also can trigger snoring in two other ways: It makes you sleep  more deeply initially and is dehydrating.

Losing weight — even just ten pounds — can eliminate snoring, studies show.  If none of these solutions work, consult a doctor to get tested for  sleep-disordered breathing conditions such as apnea.

6. You sleep fitfully, feel exhausted all the time, and wake with a  sore throat or neck pain.

What it’s a symptom of: Obstructive  sleep apnea is a disorder defined as breathing interrupted by intervals of  ten seconds or more. A milder sleep breathing problem is upper  airway resistance syndrome (UARS), in which breathing is obstructed but  stops for shorter intervals of under ten seconds. The number of people who have  sleep apnea and don’t know it is astounding; experts estimate that 20 million  Americans have sleep apnea, and 87 percent of those are unaware they have the  problem. One mistaken assumption is that you have to snore to have sleep apnea.  In fact, many people with apnea don’t snore.

How it interrupts sleep: Obstructive sleep apnea  results when the throat closes and cuts off airflow, preventing you from getting  enough oxygen. UARS is similar, but it’s usually tongue position that blocks air  from getting into the throat. Blood oxygen levels drop, and when the brain knows  it’s not getting enough oxygen, it starts to wake up. This causes fitful,  unproductive sleep. Weight gain is a major factor in sleep apnea, because when  people gain weight they end up with extra-soft tissue in the throat area, which  causes or contributes to the blockage.

What to do: See an otolaryngologist, who will  examine your nose, mouth, and throat to see what’s interrupting your breathing  and how to fix the problem. It’s also important to have your oxygen levels  measured during sleep. Your doctor will likely recommend using a Continuous  Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, a mask that blows air directly into your  airways. Studies have shown CPAP masks to be extremely effective in treating  sleep apnea. Another mask called a BiPap (Bilevel positive airway pressure  device) works similarly but has dual pressure settings. Airway masks only work  if you wear them, so work closely with your doctor to choose a model that’s  comfortable for you.

Other options include oral appliances, which change your mouth position by  moving your jaw forward to open up the throat, and surgery, which aims to remove  the excess tissue from the throat. Newer, minimally invasive outpatient surgical  treatments include the Pillar procedure, which involves using permanent stitches  to firm up the soft palate; coblation, which uses radiofrequency to shrink nasal  tissues; and use of a carbon dioxide laser to shrink the tonsils.

7. You get a full night’s sleep but feel groggy all the time or get  sleepy while driving.

What it’s a symptom of: This signals circadian  rhythm problems or, more simply, getting out of sync with night and day.  Irregular sleep patterns, staying up late under bright lights, working a shift  schedule, using computers and other devices in bed, and having too much light in  the room while you sleep can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Why it interrupts sleep: The onset of darkness  triggers production of the hormone melatonin, which tells the brain it’s time to  sleep. Conversely, when your eyes register light, it shuts off melatonin  production and tells you it’s time to wake up. Even a small amount of ambient  light in the room can keep your body from falling into and remaining in a deep  sleep. The use of devices with lighted screens is especially problematic in  terms of melatonin production because the light shines directly into your eyes.  This light is also at the blue end of the spectrum, which scientists believe is  particularly disruptive to circadian rhythms.

What to do: Try to get on a regular sleep schedule  that’s not too far off from the natural cycle of night and day — and preferably  the same schedule all week. (Experts recommend 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. to 7  a.m. every night, but that’s just a general outline.) If you struggle with not  feeling alert in the morning, go outside and take a brisk walk in daylight to  feel more awake; you’ll find that it’s much easier to fall asleep the following  night. This is also a trick experts recommend to help night owls reset their  internal clocks. Force yourself to get up and get into bright light one or two  mornings in a row and you’ll be less likely to get that “second wind” and burn  the midnight oil or experience nighttime sleeplessness.

As much as possible, banish all screens (TVs, computers, and iPads) for at  least an hour before bed. Reading is much more sleep-inducing than looking at a  lighted screen, but make sure your reading light isn’t too bright and turn it so  it doesn’t shine in your eyes. Remove night-lights; if you need to get up in the  middle of the night, keep a small flashlight next to your bed, being careful to  turn it away from you. Check your bedroom for all sources of light, however  small. Does your smoke alarm have a light in it? Put tape over it. Use an alarm  clock without a lighted dial, or cover it. If your windows allow moonlight and  light from streetlights to shine in, install blackout curtains or shades tightly  fitted to the window frames. Don’t charge laptops, phones, cameras, and other  devices in your bedroom unless you cover the light they give off.

(Leesa recommeds rubbing Lavendar essential oil on the soles of your feet before bed!)

By Melanie  Haiken, Caring.com  senior editor

How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

Economic woes keep many of us awake,

but you can give yourself a bedtime bailout package.

Can’t sleep? If you find yourself looking up at the ceiling at 3 am thinking about your financial future, know that you are not alone. A third of Americans say that they have been losing sleep over the state of the economy and personal financial concerns, according to the results of a poll released last month by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The economy has added to the already epidemic number of Americans experiencing sleep difficulties: 72 percent of American adults report sleeping less than 8 hours a night, up from 62 percent in 2001. And 20 percent of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours a night, up from 13 percent in 2001.

Losing sleep does more than make you tired. Insufficient sleep is related to numerous cognitive, emotional, and medical conditions, including impaired concentration and anxiety, depression, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, as well as memory and immune dysfunction. Sleep deprivation is a public-safety issue as well, causing tens of thousands of car and truck accidents every year. In the recent NSF poll, 54 percent of drivers said they had driven while drowsy at least once during the past year, and 28 percent said they had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle. When sleep-deprived subjects are brought into the lab to perform a driving simulation, they perform more poorly than intoxicated subjects.

WHAT IT MEANS: If you are one of the millions of people who are not getting the sleep you need, there are several strategies you can use to improve your sleep:

1. Stick to a schedule.

Do your best to fall sleep at about the same time each night and wake up at about the same time each morning, weekends included. Your body does best with a regular sleep-wake rhythm.

2. Stay away from food and alcohol.

Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before going to bed. Avoid drinking alcohol late in the evening. While a drink or two might relax you at first and help you fall asleep, the effect can wear off during the night, causing a rebound alertness that can wake you up and make it hard to get back to sleep.

3. Exercise.

Engage in vigorous exercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. “Vigorous” means that most of the time, you’re too out of breath to speak more than a few words. If exercising in the evening makes it hard for you to get to sleep, do your workout in the morning or afternoon.

4. Create a restful bedroom.

Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. It should be dark, quiet, cool, and uncluttered. We spend so much time in our bedrooms that we tend to overlook the simple changes that could help us get more sleep, such as hanging thicker curtains to block out light, or moving the bed away from a noisy window.

5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

The moment you get into bed, you want to have a feeling of rest and relaxation that invites sleep. But if you engage in brain-stimulating activities in the bedroom, such as watching TV, sending e-mails, or talking on the phone, you become conditioned to associate your bed with energy and alertness, and that interferes with sleep.

6. Learn how to relax your body and quiet your mind.

Simple relaxation techniques like slow abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation, or guided imagery allow your body to release tension and your mind to settle down so you can ease into sleep. If it’s worry and anxiety that keep your mind from settling down, keep a notebook by your bed and jot down your concerns (and any possible solutions) before you turn out the light. The act of recording your worries so you can tackle them later helps you feel more in control.

7. Don’t worry about falling sleep!

While this might sound like the ultimate catch-22 for someone struggling to sleep, this may be the most overlooked tactic of all. The truth is, you can lessen the struggle by changing the way you think about sleep. Instead of thinking, I’ll never get to sleep. I’ll be a wreck tomorrow, say to yourself, Eventually, I’ll get to sleep. Even if I don’t get a full night’s sleep, I’ll be able to function tomorrow. I always do. Try turning your alarm clock to the side so you won’t be constantly confronted with how late it is.

By Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, Rodale.com

Jeff Rossman, PhD, is a Rodale.com advisor, and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. His column, Mind-Body-Mood Booster, appears most weeks on Rodale.com.


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

5 Foods to Fight Insomnia

5 Foods to Fight Insomnia

If you’re having trouble catching some Zzzs, the solution could be as close as your kitchen.  Sleep restores us. And not getting enough of it can put us at greater risk of heart disease and cancer. Sleep even makes us smarter. Yet researchers are finding that more than 10 percent of the population is chronically sleep deprived. If you’re having trouble slipping into and remaining in Dreamland, don’t dart straight to prescription sleep drugs, which can be habit-forming, harmful if you live with certain conditions, and even downright bizarre! (Some people develop sleep-eating and sleep-driving habits when using prescription sleeping pills.) The good news is, science has found that many foods, drinks, herbs, and other natural sleep aids can help put you to sleep…naturally. In fact, just this summer, researchers made the connection between tart cherry juice and getting adequate shut-eye. Here are some natural food- and drink-based sleep aids.

Cherries

In the small study, participants drank eight ounces of the tart cherry (also known as sour cherry) juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits. Since all cherries are naturally high in melatonin, a compound that makes us sleepy, you can try eating a cup as a snack before it’s time for shut-eye if you’d rather not drink the juice.

Fish

Certain fish and sea creatures contain sleep-inducing tryptophan, including shrimp, cod, tuna, and halibut. But since not all seafood choices are healthy for us (some are high in contaminants) or for the planet (many are overfished, or methods for catching them kill other species), stick to catches like Pacific cod from Alaska or pole-caught Albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia.

Carb/Protein Combo

If keeping track of the latest safe seafood guidelines is too complicated, you can get your tryptophan fix from other things. You’ve probably heard that warm milk can help you sleep, since milk contains tryptophan. But the key is to combine carbs with a protein containing tryptophan to help your body better utilize the sleep inducer. Try pairing a cup of whole grain cereal with organic milk before bedtime.

Lemon Balm

This lemon-scented member of the mint family has been a sleep-inducing superstar for ages. Other benefits include better digestion and decreased agitation. Try making lemon balm tea by steeping 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried herb in 1 cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. (If you take thyroid meds, talk to you doctor…drinking the tea could mean you’ll have to adjust your dosage.)

Other Herbs

If lemon balm’s not your thing, another herb, sage, also works as a natural sleep aid. Just steep 4 tablespoons in a cup of hot water, steep for four hours, strain, and reheat to drink. Chamomile tea and valerian teas, other sleep inducers, are also more widely available pre-bagged in natural food stores, if you don’t want to fuss with the aforementioned straining herbs.

By Leah Zerbe


Rodale.com is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. Rodale.com focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice. Rodale.com features a Daily Newsletter, and provides simple, powerful tools including Recipe Finder and Home Remedy Finder to help audiences improve their health and their environment. Rodale.com also includes “Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen,” a personal blog where Editor-in-Chief and Rodale, Inc. CEO and Chairman Maria Rodale is “Cooking Up Trouble, Dishing Out Advice.”

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