Teenagers need 8 and 1/2 to 9 and 1/4 hours of sleep each night to feel good and perform well at school. Continue reading
If you find yourself tossing and turning most nights, unable to fall asleep, you’re in good company. Continue reading
In my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I explain to parents how there are three keys to prevent or treat overweight or obesity in children and teens: (1) better nutrition, (2) physical exercise, and (here’s the surprise!) better sleep!
Researchers are reporting that violent content on the TV or computer during the day disrupts sleep for preschool children. And it’s worse for any TV or computer time in the evening regardless of content, according to Michelle Garrison, PhD, and colleagues at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Seattle. Continue reading
Lazy Cakes Relaxation Brownies are stirring up lots of controversy. Why? Continue reading
You’re lying in a hammock on a warm afternoon. You rock softly back and forth. In no time you’re … snoring. This is no real surprise—after all, we’ve all rocked our babies asleep. But researchers wanted to know how rocking works. Continue reading
In a number of past blogs I’ve discussed the association with lack of sleep and overweight and obesity. This association is found in children, teens, and adults. Now we know another reason why this occurs. Continue reading
HealthDay reported that “many Americans might be losing valuable shut-eye because they spend the hour before bedtime in front of the electronic glow of a television, cell phone, or computer,” according to the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll results released earlier this year. Continue reading
As I’ve discussed in previous blogs (see list below), most people (whether children, teens, or adults) are simply not getting enough sleep. And now a couple of studies are providing more stark proof of what we’re doing to ourselves. The Centers for Disease Control is putting new numbers on this problem. Continue reading
In a past blog, Natural Medications (Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements) for Menopausal Symptoms, I discussed the data supporting a trial of isoflavones in women with menopausal symptoms. However, there was not a lot of data. Now, Medscape is reporting, “Isoflavones may reduce insomnia symptoms” in postmenopausal women, according to a small study in the journal Menopause. Continue reading
A combination of melatonin, zinc, and magnesium has been shown to be safe and effective in treating insomnia in older men and women, but the results are preliminary. Continue reading
Tired of counting sheep? Consider one of these remedies for the possibility of getting a good night’s sleep when you have occasional insomnia. These tips were posted on Health.com and are from RealSimple.com:
Try it: When you’re drowsy but slightly tense.
How to use it: Massage a dab of aromatherapeutic balm or oil into the back of your neck and shoulders (and inhale deeply) before you hit the sack. Certain fragrances, including lavender and lemon balm, promote snooze-inducing relaxation, says Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., a sleep specialist at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, in Tucson. (Try Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Night Health Bedtime Balm, which contains lavender; $25, origins.com.)
Good to know: You don’t have to stick to traditional aromatherapeutic scents — any fragrance that makes you feel good can be calming, says Dr. Phyllis Zee, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology and the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University, in Chicago.
2) Valerian tea
Try it: If you are getting a full night’s sleep but still feel tired in the a.m.
How to use it: Sip a brew made from the flowering plant an hour or so before bedtime. (Try the Republic of Tea Get Some Zzz’s; $10.50 for 36 bags, republicoftea.com.) Some studies have shown that valerian can help increase sleep quality (it’s packed with antioxidants, too). You may have to drink it for several nights in a row before it works, says Naiman.
Good to know: Valerian shouldn’t be taken for more than two weeks at a time, since prolonged use can lead to dependency. And it can interfere with some prescription medications, including cholesterol drugs, so check with your doctor before steeping.
3) GABA-enhanced drink
Try it: When your head is racing with worries.
How to use it: Down a shot of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) right before bed. (Try Arizona P.M. Relax FastShot; $3, drinkarizona.com for stores.) “GABA, an amino acid found in your body, has been shown to quiet the mind when taken orally,” says Naiman.
Good to know: Certain foods, including brown rice, bananas, and mackerel, contain GABA. Consuming them during the day may help you sleep better at night.
4) Melatonin supplement
Try it: If you don’t feel tired until way past bedtime.
How to use it: Take a three-milligram tablet 15 to 20 minutes before bed. (Try GNC Melatonin 3; $5 for 60 tablets, gnc.com.) Your brain makes this neurohormone naturally to “tell the body that it’s time for sleep,” says Naiman. “But many people have suppressed melatonin production because they’re overexposed to light in the evening.” Naiman has been using it nightly for 20 years.
Good to know: Consult with your doctor before taking melatonin. It is not recommended for pregnant women, women trying to conceive, children, and adolescent boys (it can affect testosterone levels in maturing males).
5) Over-the-counter sleeping pill
Try it: When you’re going through a short period of sleeplessness, like during a stressful time at work.
How to use it: At bedtime, take two tablets that contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that makes you feel sleepy (research shows that an excess of histamine in the body may cause insomnia). “The less often you take these pills, the better,” says Dr. Lisa Shives, M.D., a sleep specialist in Evanston, Illinois. “You can build up a tolerance, and then they won’t work as well.” (Try Unisom SleepGels; $10 for 32 gel tabs, at drugstores.) Note: Never mix alcohol and sleeping pills.
Good to know: “The older you are, the slower you metabolize this type of drug,” says Shives. That means you may experience lingering sleepiness in the morning.
6) Prescription medication
Try it: When insomnia becomes a chronic problem.
How to use it: Work with your doctor to figure out which medication is best for you. Shives’s favorite is Rozerem (rozerem.com). It acts on the melatonin receptors in the brain that help you fall and stay asleep (other aids act only as a sedative). However, only Lunesta (eszopiclone) and Silenor (doxepin) are approved by the FDA for long-term use. Take a tablet about 30 minutes before bed.
Good to know: Finding the right medication may require trial and error: Some can make you more wired and awake. Side effects are common, says Shives, and range from the annoying (headaches, grogginess) to the serious, like unconscious nighttime binge eating and driving. Pregnant women may want to avoid these aids, even though they have not been proven to be dangerous.
Insomnia is considered chronic when it lasts most nights for a few weeks or more. This longer-term condition deserves professional attention, says Tom Roth, Ph.D., head of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. If you’re unsure about whether you have chronic insomnia, Roth suggests looking at it like a headache. “If it goes on day after day and nothing you do makes it go away, then you should see a doctor,” he says. “Ask yourself: Do you know the cause?”
When you turn your clocks back an hour tonight, it might be a good opportunity to think about whether you’re getting enough sleep. The switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time officially occurs at 2 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday) morning, and it moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning. You’ll likely appreciate the extra hour of sleep you’ll gain with the return to Standard Time, but it won’t be enough to eliminate any major sleep debt you may have accumulated due to a hectic lifestyle, experts say. Here are the details from HealthDay News:
Chronic sleep deprivation can affect attention levels, reaction time and mood, leading to decreased productivity at work, increased family stress, and potential health problems, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).
“People tend to ignore the need for sleep in order to get other things done, but sleep is as important as what you eat, how much you exercise, and other healthy lifestyle practices,” Dr. Nancy A. Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center and president-elect of the AASM, said in an academy news release. “It’s important to acknowledge the role that sleep plays in our daily lives, and recognize that how we feel, think and perform is all dictated by the amount of sleep we get.”
The amount of sleep needed for good health and optimum daytime performance varies by age: preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours a night; school-age children should get 10 to 11 hours; teens must have at least nine hours; and adults should get seven to eight hours each night.
The AASM offers these tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Don’t exercise or have caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or heavy meals close to bedtime.
- It’s fine to eat a small snack before bedtime to avoid going to sleep hungry.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.
- Don’t sleep in on the weekends. That just makes it harder to wake up on Monday.
For More information, the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about sleep here.
Here’s some excellent information on avoiding insomnia and getting a good night’s sleep using common-sense sleep hygiene. It’s from my friends at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. However, I find that many of my patients are not aware of some (or even most) of this information. So, here’s to a good night’s sleep for each of you.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common complaint. Some symptoms of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and difficulty with early morning awakening.
Sometimes insomnia only lasts for a short time and can be easily managed. Persistent insomnia is more troublesome and can affect work, school, social relationships, and health.
Many conditions are associated with insomnia such as depression, anxiety, allergies, and pain. Much of the time insomnia is simply the result of poor sleep habits.
How Is Insomnia Treated?
Insomnia treatment in adults may include use of an over-the-counter medication or, in other cases, use of a prescription sedative.
Over-the-counter sleep medications (diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) may worsen insomnia in children.
It is important to determine the cause of insomnia before treatment begins. Maintaining a sleep diary for one to two weeks is a good way to start. Keeping track of sleep times, caffeine and alcohol ingestion, etc. may provide clues as to the cause of insomnia.
Behavioral changes are often all that’s needed to improve sleep. By maintaining good sleep habits (sleep hygiene) the need for medication may be avoided. In children, ensure a regular sleep schedule and calming bedtime routine.
PRINCIPLES OF SLEEP HYGIENE
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule—even on weekends.
- Exercise regularly—avoid exercise in the late evening.
- Go to bed only when sleepy.
- Put your worries away when you go to bed.
- Do something relaxing and enjoyable before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable.
- Avoid large meals just before bedtime.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity.
- If you cannot sleep within 15 to 20 minutes get up and go to another room. Return to bed only when drowsy.
- Remove the clock from eyesight.
- Do not nap during the day. If you must nap, limit it to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine use.
- Avoid frequent use of sedatives.
- Schedule outdoor time at the same time each day.
- Have your pharmacist check your medications for potential sleep effects.
- Avoid bright lights (e.g. from TV, computers, video games) before bed.
Adapted from Jermain DM. Sleep disorders. PSAP. 1995:139-154.
What If Nondrug Treatment Fails?
If you or your child are still having difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, you should talk to your pharmacist or other healthcare provider. The cause of your insomnia will need to be determined and a medication may be needed.
Even if medication is used for insomnia, sleep hygiene principles should still be followed and can provide added benefit.
Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental assessments, according to a research abstract that was recently presented at at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Continue reading
When I wrote my book, 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People, I included information on how people can make decisions that will affect the quantity and quality of their lives. Here’s a redux of a number of studies on longevity (adapted from an article from Fox News).
More Information: Continue reading
HealthDay News is reporting a study showing that normal sleep is associated with healthy aging. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego assessed 2,226 women aged 60 and older and found increased severity of sleep disturbances predicted lower self-rated successful aging and a greater difference between perceived and actual age. Continue reading
WebMD Health News is reporting that Brazilian researchers have found that the more fat you consume each day, the less likely you are to get a good night’s sleep.
Having a fat-laden cheeseburger and fries for dinner may be particularly disruptive to your sleep pattern, the small study suggests. Continue reading
HealthDay News reports new research that found that women in happy marriages tend to sleep more soundly than women in unhappy marriages. The research does not answer the question, “Which comes first – does the unhappy marriage lead to poor sleep, or does poor sleep contribute to a bad marriage?” Continue reading