Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’
Love is in the air! February is the month for Cupid’s arrow to fly and Valentine’s Day is the culmination if it all. As shy lovers seek their first kiss and time-tested twosomes renew their promises, gifts are often exchanged to seal the deal.
Traditional gifts of chocolate, wine and roses have been the go-to standards for years. Sought after and savored, they have lingered in lovers’ dreams throughout the ages. But did you know these sweet gifts may actually be stealing your sweetheart’s slumber? Chocolate, wine and roses may just be the perfect recipe for insomnia.
Chocolate – sweet, silky, melty bliss! (Can you tell I’m a fan?) I cling to the research that points up the high antioxidant qualities of the stuff. Its benefits include lower blood pressure and cholesterol and higher serotonin levels. Chocolate has been shown to increase blood flow to the heart and brain and even has cancer fighting credits. But chocolate also contains theobromine and caffeine, known stimulants and sleep stealers. For those who are sensitive or tend to overindulge, it may be best to skip the chocolate dessert at Valentine’s dinner.
Wine – heady, complex, mysterious, marvelous nectar! (Yep… a fan.) What romantic movie scene does not begin with the pop of a cork or the end with the last savory swallow of a beautiful Bordeaux? Though wine and its alcoholic cousins may lead us to feel heavy lidded and seem to whisk us more easily to sleep, the initial daze gives way to broken sleep later in the night. Deep slow wave sleep is replaced by lighter sleep stages. As the liver breaks down the ETOH (alcohol) to other chemicals that can be safely eliminated from the body, one of the resulting metabolites has stimulating properties almost as strong as espresso! Waking between 1 and 3 a.m. with difficulty getting back to sleep is often associated with drinking alcohol in the evening.
Ah, Roses! The sweet and pungent fragrance of deep, red velvet fills the heads of lovers with visions of eternal ecstasy – oh yeah, and pollen… A big bouquet of you darling’s favorite posies may pose another sleeping challenge. If your honey is allergic one of the main physiologic reactions is the release of histamine. This gives us the runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. In the brain, histamine gives a strong signal for wakefulness. Allergies and peaceful sleep are not compatible bed partners.
It seems our favorite perennial presents may not be the stuff of dreams after all. They may, in fact, be keeping our sweetie-pies from the sound sleep they so desperately desire. So next year when Cupid draws back his bow and you are struck with the desire to shower your beloved with tokens of your affection, you may want to skip the chocolate, wine and roses. Perhaps a nice card will do. Oh! And diamonds! No one I know has ever lost any sleep over diamonds!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
I am very excited to announce that I have just been licensed as a Brain Music Therapy Provider — there are only 20 others in the U.S.! This amazing technology lets me offer a drug free insomnia solution as well as a way to tame and harness runaway minds that lead us to feelings of anxiety, depression and foggy thinking.
The concept behind Brain Music Therapy is that the frequency, amplitude and dynamic patterns of the electrical activity of our brains is very much like the frequency, amplitude and harmonics that are the underlying science of music. Some very (very!) smart brain scientists in Russia figured out a way to translate brainwaves into music. It sounds like classical piano music, and because everyone has unique brain wave patterns, just like fingerprints, each person has his or her own unique brain music!
Here’s how it works. I have been trained to record the brain waves of my clients in such a way that they can be sent out for musical translation. Two musical tracks are created; one is quick and lively and the other is more sedate and soothing. These two files, the activating and relaxing files, are recorded onto a CD and returned to the client.
By listening to the relaxing music just before bed you remind your brain of the slow, calm, quiet activity that is compatible with sleep. Because it is your own brain wave pattern being played back, your brain can readily “recognize” the music and easily syncs up with it. This can also be useful for times during the day when you need to calm down, say after a confrontation or before a big performance.
The activating music can be used to bring the brain quickly into a more focused, alert and ready state. A good idea when first waking in the morning or before tackling a big project or competition.
First developed by Iakov Levine, MD at the Moscow Medical Academy, this technology has been used in Eastern Europe, Germany, Italy and France for nearly 20 years. It has only been available in the U.S. and Canada since it was introduced here in 2004 by Galina Mindlin, MD, PhD of Columbia University. Dr. Mindlin continues to build on the scientific studies that show how effective Brain Music Therapy can be for insomnia, anxiety and, it seems many other dysfunctions. Her latest work has shown that the activating music can help keep federal law enforcement alert on their surveillance duties. The applications may be far wider than we can now imagine.
For now, I am concentrating on introducing my clients to the wonders of natural relaxation and improved sleep quality. Here is a video of Dr. Mindlin as she records the Brain Wave Music of Matt Lauer on the Today Show.
When you come to see me in the California Wine Country, we can do the same for you — just no studio cameras! I look forward to seeing your comments below, meeting you at my office in Santa Rosa soon and hearing the melodies of YOUR Brain Music!
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep!
I know many clients who feel they would enjoy fabulous sleep again if they could just avoid the sweaty episodes in the middle of the night. Most middle aged women assume the cause of the night sweats is menopause, but that’s not always the case. Also, it’s not just middle aged women who suffer this discomfort.
I found this article from WebMD to be fascinating. However, after reading it I’ve decided that menopause might just be the most appealing cause after all!
Let me know what you think in the comment section below…
Best Wishes for (Cool, Dry) Peaceful Sleep, Patty
Eight Causes of Night Sweats: Is it Menopause — Or Something Else?
Doctors in primary care fields often hear their patients complain of night sweats. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if your bedroom is unusually hot or you are using too many bedclothes, you may begin to sweat during sleep — and this is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one’s surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.
In one study of 2,267 patients visiting a primary care physician, 41% reported experiencing night sweats during the previous month, so the perception of excessive sweating at night is fairly common. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) may also be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.
There are many different causes of night sweats. To determine what is causing night sweats in a particular individual, a doctor must obtain a detailed medical history and order tests to decide if an underlying medical condition is responsible for the night sweats. Some of the known conditions that can cause night sweats are:
- Menopause — The hot flashes that accompany the menopausal transition can occur at night and cause sweating. This is a very common cause of night sweats in women around the time of menopause.
- Idiopathic hyperhidrosis — Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body chronically produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause.
- Infections — Classically, tuberculosis is the infection most commonly associated with night sweats. However, bacterial infections, such as endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones), and abscesses all may result in night sweats. Night sweats are also a symptom of AIDS virus (HIV) infection.
- Cancers — Night sweats are an early symptom of some cancers. The most common type of cancer associated with night sweats is lymphoma. However, people who have an undiagnosed cancer frequently have other symptoms as well, such as unexplained weight loss and fevers.
- Medications – Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. In cases without other physical symptoms or signs of tumor or infection, drug side effects are often determined to be the cause of night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of drug that can lead to night sweats. All types of antidepressants can cause night sweats as a side effect, with a range in incidence from 8% to 22% of persons taking antidepressant drugs. Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats. Medicines taken to lower fever such as aspirin and acetaminophen can sometimes lead to sweating. Other types of drugs can cause flushing, which, as mentioned above, may be confused with night sweats. Some of the many drugs that can cause flushing include:
- niacin (taken in the higher doses used for lipid disorders),
- nitroglycerine, and
Many other drugs not mentioned above, including cortisone medications such as prednisone and prednisolone, may also be associated with flushing or night sweats.
- Hypoglycemia– Low blood sugar can cause sweating. People who are taking insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications may experience hypoglycemia at night that is accompanied by sweating.
- Hormone disorders — Sweating or flushing can be seen with several hormone disorders, including pheochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome, and hyperthyroidism.
- Neurologic conditions — Uncommonly, neurologic conditions including autonomic dysreflexia, post-traumatic syringomelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy may cause increased sweating and possibly lead to night sweats.
All life on Earth is determined, directed or defined by rhythms. Many are obvious, such as day and night, the flow of seasons and birth, growth, aging on to death. We see these play out over and over all around us, but we often forget that we, too, are a part of it all.
Caught up as we are in our electronically choreographed schedules in artificially lit rooms and thermostatically controlled airflow, it is easy to lose track of the subtle, yet relentless rhythm that tries to keep us in balance with the rest of the universal life force.
Our bodies, just like those of the birds and the bees, the bass, bison and birch are designed to function in rhythms. As far as sleep is concerned, the most important rhythms are the circadian rhythms. Circ-dia means “about a day”. These rhythms repeat every 24 hours and are generally driven by or in line with the tides of light. We are programmed to sleep when it becomes dark and cool. For nocturnal animals these same changes signal waking and activity.
Our body chemistry changes with the setting of the sun and many important physiologic functions are dependent upon or at least most efficient in darkness and in sleep. Among these functions are tissue repair, hormonal rebalancing, immune modulation and memory fixing. When we try to force our bodies to work against these pre-programmed rhythms we are fighting against nothing less formidable than Mother Nature herself. When we recognize, respect and align ourselves with the rhythms of nature we recruit this same powerful source as an ally.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night or maintaining your energy through the day you may have lost touch with your internal rhythms. Instead of reaching for counterfeit energy in a can of cola or sugary snack try tuning into what’s going on outside. Get out into the yard, a park or a meadow. Smell real air, feel breezes, even rain. At dusk when the natural light dims, dim your lights too. As the activity outdoors slows, so should you. Open your windows to remember how much it cools down at night. To sleep well you need to cool down as well.
Try spending some time in the dark awake, just being still. When was the last time you turned out all the lights when you weren’t going to sleep? If you can sit outside in the dark you may be able to enjoy the stars and let your imagination open up as your active day drops away. Why should dreaming have to wait for sleep?
These simple steps to bring some awareness back to the natural flow of you within the you-niverse can be giant strides toward deep, peaceful sleep and positive productive days.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
“Sleep is a waste of time.” “Sleep is for the weak.” “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”
These are the rallying cries of driven start up executives and creative entrepreneurs. Burning the midnight oil to create product, craft marketing campaigns and stitch together strategic alliances, they cast aside their need for sleep in favor of being first, being best, being most innovative.
While sleep may often be sacrificed in the name of success, this may actually be a false economy. I wrote a short chapter on this subject for a book that is being put together online. If you read it, like it and vote for it I may make the final version! Please let me know what you think.
Click here for book chapter.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
These days life comes at us fast. Our daily tasks are listed and leering at us from our computers and date books. Even our phones chirp and chime at us throughout the day to let us know when it’s time to do this or that. Many of us are so busy we rarely accomplish everything on the list; we just keep moving from one meeting or project or chore to the next until we can’t go on any further and then we collapse. The surprising thing is, that as exhausted as we may be, sleep is not necessarily waiting right there to catch us when we fall! In fact, overfull days can easily become overalert nights.
For sleep to be as consistent and reliable as we would like it to be we need to give it as much respect as all our other appointments and obligations. Sleep needs to be scheduled into the day from the start so that the rest of the day can be built to accommodate it. If we leave sleep as an afterthought, treat it like leftovers or make it a last choice, sleep may become as elusive as a scorned lover. Declare your feelings; let sleep know it is important to you by giving it a priority place on your schedule and keeping your promise to show up on time. Then you will find sleep becomes more available for you.
While we have that BerryPhone out, let’s pencil in some exercise. The ideal time would be mid to late afternoon, but any time is better than no time, as long as you finish at least 2 hours before bedtime. A brisk walk in the sunlight is excellent. A spin class after work, awesome. Let your body move in space as it was designed to do. Get your heart rate up a bit. Sound sleep depends on changes in our core temperature. We sleep better when our inner temperature is falling. If we never do anything to raise our temp in the first place it’s like working in a room with no windows. The natural rhythms of the day and night are lost.
3) Eat Regular Balanced Meals
Speaking of natural rhythms, our bodies take their cues about when it is time to sleep and when to be awake from several different things. Light is really important, as is exercise and temperature changes as we just discussed. Another strong cue can come from regular mealtimes. It is important to eat, i.e. fuel the machine, several times during the day. Good, unprocessed, organic food is always preferable. If you go to bed hungry you are likely to find yourself awake, standing in front of the fridge at 3 a.m. Likewise, if you eat a big heavy meal 30 minutes before lying down for the night, your bodily functions will be busy with digestion. Sleep is likely to be delayed or at least restless for a couple hours. Regular nutritious meals at thoughtful intervals through the day can help you sleep more soundly at night. There are certain foods that can assist or hinder your ability to fall asleep easily or stay awake when required, but that is for another post.
4) Make a Worry List
Here we are back at lists again! This one however is one you should do nearer the end of the day, but not too close to bedtime. Right after dinner would be a reasonable time for this exercise. The idea here is to sit down with a blank piece of paper (several if needed) and let all those nagging little thoughts that are likely to start circling in your brain after lights out and spill them out in ink. You don’t have to be neat — just get it out on paper for safekeeping overnight. You may write out tomorrow’s to-do list, or a reminder to get the tires rotated. You may jot down an idea for next week’s presentation or just a gripe about an inconsiderate neighbor. What ever comes up, put it down. Once this “brain dump” is complete you’re free to slip away to slumber without concern you’re missing something. If, out of habit, one of those petty thoughts tries to rise up after you’re down for the night you can let it go quickly, knowing you’ve covered that ground already and have it well secured on your “worry list”.
5) Invite Sleep In
After our busy day is done, after the workout is over, after the worry list is written and the dinner dishes done, there needs to be one more task to really get the most out of our coming night’s sleep. We need to wind down. There needs to be a very clear separation between our waking day and our sleeping night to reinforce the change in states we are seeking.
Remember the bedtime routine your mom set up for you when you were little, or the ones you have for your kids? Well, bedtime routines aren’t just for children. In addition to brushing our teeth, changing into our jammies and checking the closet and under the bed to be sure there are no monsters lurking, there are some grown-up things we can do.
First, an hour before “official” bedtime, turn off all your screened devices. That includes computers, video games and phones. Dim the lights and engage in a relaxing stress free activity. This may be a warm bath, a soothing cup of caffeine free tea, a good lighthearted book or soft music. Relaxing yoga poses, a foot massage or lovemaking can also ease the body toward slumber. With this obvious change in lighting, mood, thought and activity you signal your mind and body to prepare for sleep. In essence, you invite sleep in.
When it’s time, lay your head on your pillow, give thanks for your blessings, turn out the light and
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Many of my sleep coaching clients come to me with statements like that and the belief that they will never be able to get good sleep again. These same people can be caught saying things like “Oh, that never works” or “Everyone is always so clueless” or other generalized negative pronouncements. These people aren’t necessarily depressed (though they may be) but they are falling victim to a deadly cycle and habit known as A.N.T. — Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are seemingly simple thoughts that come from out of nowhere (actually they come from inside your head) and fill your brain with doom and gloom for even the most splendid occasion. An example of an ANT might be someone who, when faced with an absolutely glorious day might immediately think, “Well, it’s nice now, but I’ll bet it will rain and spoil the BBQ. You know it always does.” Another ANT influenced individual may feel they are never good enough, or no one likes them, or they will never have enough money (time, freedom, space, hair, or whatever) that they need to be happy.
ANTs can often be recognized as statements that contain words such as “never”and “always”. They are also often big generalization or the worst case scenarios. Here are some really big ANTS:
She didn’t want to go to the movie with me tonight. She probably hates me and is talking behind my back. I’ll bet all her friends think I am a geek. I will never have any close friends and I will die alone in a smelly back alley somewhere.
Uh, oh! I forgot to mail the letter. They will probably cancel my account and I won’t be able to get any credit in the future. I am such a loser!
ANTS have a tendency to march around in your head when you are trying to get to sleep. This can be especially uncomfortable, because there in the dark with everyone else asleep it is really easy to start to believe those thoughts. After all you can’t do even the simplest thing like sleep. No one else ever has this problem. You’ll probably lay awake all night, feel terrible in the morning, mess up at work and lose you job! See how easy that was to get carried away by the ANTS?
This kind of unhelpful thinking can become a habit (hence the Automatic part of Automatic Negative Thoughts). And that’s actually the good news. A habit can be changed. But first you have to recognize that you are doing it.
Here is a cute music video to help keep you on the alert for the ANT invasion in your life.
I hope ANTS don’t spoil your picnic.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
I meet clients all the time who say the main reason they have difficulty getting to sleep or back to sleep if they wake up, is because they “can’t shut off their mind”. Losing track of the off switch to the brain is a pretty common condition. It also seems the more we try to leave the brain or mind running too long and the higher we rev the engines during the day, the harder that switch is to find at night when we finally want some inner peace and quiet.
In this article from Betsy McGuire, I think she has landed on an excellent principle and I agree with her on the multitude of benefits from meditation. Though she lists her 6 favorite, I would have to argue for adding one more very nearly at the top of the list; it helps you sleep more reliably and quietly.
Read the article below and then leave your comments about how meditation has worked for you.
Shut Up Brain
Change your brain, change your life. Quieting your brain every day is one of my three pillars of wellness. For many of us, this life moves fast. We’re here, we’re there, we don’t have the time to just sit and be quiet. I urge you now to take the time. A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital has found that practicing meditation for as little as eight weeks produces changes in certain areas of the brain associated with feeling calmer, as well as an improved sense of self, empathy, and memory.
I recently ran across an article which listed 100 benefits of practicing meditation. It sparked me to think about my six favorite things about quieting the mind. (I just couldn’t narrow it down to five). Here they are:
6. Enhances your immune system keeping your body healthier
5. Helps to focus and control your thoughts for increased patience and gratitude
4. Increases serotonin level, elevating your mood
3. Decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow
2. Alleviates fear and worry by focusing your attention on the present moment
1. Meditation brings you closer to who you really are. It helps to chip away at your “life story”. This is the story you tell yourself and others about who you are. We hide behind this mask of our past experiences and how we want to portray ourselves to the world. We insist that this story is who we are, and we tell the tale over and over. Meditation opens your heart and gets you to focus on your true self. The “you” without the mask. When you give up your story about yourself and about life, you are left with things as they are.
All these benefits and SO many more can be yours for free!! Try these beginning meditation steps to get you started:
1. Find a quiet comfortable place and sit. You want to be able to completely relax without falling asleep. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Clear your head. Let go of any thought that comes into your mind without engaging it. One technique I use is to imagine tying a helium balloon to a thought as soon as it comes to mind. Picture the balloon floating away with the thought.
Meditation is like any other exercise, it takes time and practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Betsy_McGuire
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6288964
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
Lately I’ve been thinking alot about bedtime snacks. There seems to be a bit of a debate going on about whether or not it is a good idea to have “a little something” before retiring at night. There are some very smart folks on either side of the discussion and I was hoping to get a dialogue going on here so I can follow it along with you. Here is some of what I’ve seen of the question:
The Case FOR a Bedtime Snack
Michael Breus, PhD, “The Sleep Doctor”, says you should not go to bed hungry and recommends a high carbohydrate, low protein snack in the hour before bed.
More from Dr. Breus
Today Show nutritionist, Joy Bauer points out that while you should not eat a big meal too close to bedtime, a snack may be just the thing to beat chronic insomnia. The trick is to “combine foods that have some tryptophan with ample carbohydrate”.
More from Joy Bauer
Here’s another article from Discovery Health by Virgil Wooten, MD that promotes a light healthy snack before bed for more restful sleep. Again, the carbohydrates seem to be the clear favorite.
More from Dr. Wooten
The Case AGAINST a Bedtime Snack
Well known sleep apnea specialist, Steven Y. Park, MD has been very clear on the dangers of eating too close to bedtime. He puts it this way in this MedHelp Journal entry, “Three to four hours is the general recommendation to avoid eating before going to bed. The only thing you can have is water within this timeframe.”
More from Dr. Park
Mayo Clinic offers advice to avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. They also specifically warn against spicy or fatty foods, especially for heartburn sufferers, as these could lead to heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux that could interfere with restful sleep.
More from Mayo Clinic
In his Daily Blog, much beloved Dr. Andrew Weil makes these comments on the subject, “It is more difficult to digest food when lying down. Our digestive tracts work best when we are upright – sitting, standing or even walking. When you lie down after a meal, gravity can disrupt proper digestion; this can lead to acid reflux, or heartburn, which can hinder sleep. Digesting food requires the body to expend energy. This can interfere with the relaxed metabolic state required for sleep.” He also says that any eating before bed should be limited to “small, healthy snacks”.
More from Dr. Weil
So where do you stand on the issue of bedtime snacks?
- Do they help us drift to sleep with the help of tryptophan producing carbohydrates?
- Do they keep our blood sugar even through the night or cause disruptive spikes and troughs?
- Should we fast for hours before sleep or is this advice only for those who have GERD?
- Can the body digest a meal and sleep at the same time? It has to, doesn’t it – since it takes several hours from end to end, as it were…
- If we eat before bedtime what should we eat and what should we avoid?
- What do you think of products like this one? Click here to learn about NightFood
Please post your comments, information, insights and ideas below. I am really interested to hear your thoughts.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,
This is an excellent review of major sleep disorders in just under 6 minutes! Since the video was filmed, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has decided to consolidate Sleep Stages 3 and 4 so that we now speak of only 4 sleep stages. They are the lightest sleep Stage 1, deeper sleep Stage 2 (where we spend most of a normal night), deepest, slow wave sleep Stage 3 and dreaming sleep REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep.
If you are concerned you may have a sleep disorder or just want to talk more about it to find out, please leave your questions or comments below. You may also want to visit my Sleep Coaching website: http://www.SleepRestLive.com.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,