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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sleep Aide: Techniques - Add Yoga Stretches to Your Nightly Routine

Rose knows that her sister often has a hard time getting to sleep at night. Like many of us that have insomnia struggle to get our required 7 -8 hours of sleep and find ourselves restless during the day. I have written often on methods to help improve quality of sleep such as; limiting caffeine, reducing noise and light, drinking decaffeinated herbal teas, and taking natural supplements. There are also yoga stretches and breathing exercises you can add to your nightly routine. If you find that you have spent up energy and you need to release it before you can relax enough to fall asleep, try these exercises before retiring:

Focused Breath – Breathing is really the key to calming your nervous system and easing into sleep. We want to do a focused breath, where you are just watching your breath – not trying to change it too much. Sit comfortably on the floor or in a straight-back chair. Breathe in and out through the nose and just observe your breath. Watch how your belly lifts and your ribs expand gently on your inhale and fall back on your exhale. As other thoughts come into your mind, release them and bring your attention back to your breath. As you do the follow stretches, continue to stay focused on your breathing.

Seated Cat/Cow – Sitting tall, with your shoulders over the hips, ears over the collar bones, as you inhale gently lift your sternum and arch your back. As you exhale, reverse the movement, rounding your back, drawing the belly towards the spine. Continue moving with your breath 6-8 times each way. Remember to keep the shoulders down as you move and maintain a pretty slow, deliberate pace. You can also do this stretch on all 4’s (hands and knees) – just make sure your hands are under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

Child's Pose – From all 4’s, rest your hips back over your heels and rest your forehead to the floor if it goes there comfortably. If not, place a small pillow in front of you to rest the forehead there. Allow your arms to rest along your sides, or overhead with hands on the floor. Breathe and stay as long as your body is comfortable. Child's Pose is great for relieving anxiety, calming a racing mind, and reducing stress.

Forward Fold – For this one, you’ll want to move to the floor. Let your legs come out to a comfortable V. If you feel any discomfort here, place a small pillow underneath your hips which should help make this more comfortable. Your legs can be bent or straight, but don’t lock the knees. Take a full inhale lifting the spine and as you exhale, hinge at the hips and come forward, resting your hands or forearms on the floor in front of you. Continue to use your breath, and with each exhale, relaxing a bit more into your stretch. Hold and breathe for 8 breaths.

Recline Twist – Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, legs bent. Extend your arms out to shoulder level, resting on the floor. Inhale and as you exhale, allow your legs to rest over to the right side. You want the legs to be resting on the floor – so if they’re in mid-air, draw the legs farther away from you so that they can rest. Stay and breathe 6-8 breaths, come back to center and switch sides. Twists help us release toxins by helping to move along our lymphatic fluid. They also calm our nervous system and help that racing, to-do list mind take it easy.

2:1 Breath – Finally, breathing is so important, we’ll do two different exercises. With this one, we want to make our exhale twice as long as our inhale. Begin by watching your breath and noticing the length of both your inhale and exhale. Maybe count to yourself. Then, as you exhale, allow that breath to linger and be longer than the breath in. You want to continue breathing comfortably, and never force a longer breath than you can do. Continue for 10-12 breaths.
Good Stretching,
Rose Sheepskill

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sleep Aides: Tips...Can't sleep? There's an App for that

Can't sleep?   Gem Impact's Hibino Sound Therapy Lab and Mission One, LLC have come up with a better solution.  Prescription For Sleep, an app for the iPhone and iTouch uses soothing visuals and original music by award-winning composer, Norihiko Hibino to send users to dreamland.

The original version of the game is already a hit in Japan and the Lite version of it is the #1 most-downloaded free app on the entire iTunes App Store.

The game's success is no surprise to Gem Impact, who has previously contributed to titles like Yakuza 2, Commando 3, 1942: Joint Strike, Beatmania, Ninja Blade and the Metal Gear series. “I am very pleased at the success of Prescription for Sleep, but I feel that I have only just begun,” comments Hibino. “Music is a universal language that can influence every aspect of our lives, and I’m looking forward to elevating the standing of music in society to more than just entertainment.”
Hibino isn't kidding when he says he's only just begun. A follow-up application is already in the works designed to “bring peace and relaxation to users during the daytime hours featuring the same distinctive visual style and a set of all new musical performances from Hibino, integrating live chamber music and embedded frequencies from nature.”

Prescription for Sleep is available now in both Japanese and English on the iTunes App Store for $2.99 USD, and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Dr Oz: The Secrets Behind Your Insomnia

droz.com - At some point, we’ve all experienced at least a few nights of too little, or restless sleep. Many of us are familiar with the consequences of one or more sleepless nights – sluggishness, poor concentration, irritability, changes in appetite, etc. For the majority of cases, it takes just a day or two to catch up on restorative sleep. Yet for up to half of the population, lack of sleep can turn into a more serious problem: insomnia.

While experts may disagree over the exact definition, insomnia is typically characterized by the duration of symptoms, not the specific amount of sleep one gets. Individuals may have vastly different sleep practices and require different amounts of sleep – but true insomnia usually involves difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep for at least one week or more.

Even more troublesome, the causes of insomnia remain a mystery for many sufferers. It’s not a disease in and of itself – it’s a symptom of another underlying problem. Therefore, the key to treating insomnia involves unearthing the root cause.

The main causes for insomnia can be broken up into 3 different categories:
1. Environmental/situational
2. Medical or psychiatric
3. Primary sleep disorders

Primary sleep disorders are much less common but include conditions such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. These are physical-neurological dysfunctions that need to be treated under a doctor’s care and may require medication. Yet for the vast majority of insomnia sufferers, environmental and common medical problems are the source of the problem.

That means there are simple lifestyle changes you can make in your daily routine that may dramatically improve the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. Common insomnia triggers include stress, depression, certain medications (e.g. beta blockers, anti-histamines, or anti-depressants), caffeine, alcohol, shift work, and underlying health problems. These factors can all impact our ability to fall or stay asleep. Insomnia is also more likely to strike women and older individuals due to hormonal changes and shifting sleep patterns.

Sleep medications may be helpful for some insomnia sufferers, but before you reach for the pills, consider some easy tips for better sleeping:

* Evaluate your sleep hygiene Avoid watching TV, eating, or working in bed. Make the bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep the temperature a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house and hide bedroom clocks so you’re not constantly checking the time as you try to fall asleep. Try sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting naps or daytime sleeping.
* Get active Thirty minutes of exercise each day (at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime) will help you get more restful sleep at night.
* Avoid triggers Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine or large meals before bedtime can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and remain asleep throughout the night. Though many people use alcohol to get to sleep initially – alcohol actually compromises the quality of sleep you get overnight.
* Check your medication Make sure they don’t contain stimulants. Talk to your doctor about other options if you think your prescriptions are preventing you from getting good sleep.

Stressful life events also commonly trigger insomnia. If you think anxiety is the underlying problem behind your insomnia, relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and deep breathing exercises may be helpful techniques to fight off tension at bedtime. Click here to read about several of these alternative techniques. Whatever the cause, insomnia can have devastating consequences on your health and quality of life – the key to relief is resolving the underlying cause.

Sleep Aides: Ambien Withdrawal | Ambien May Worsen Acid Reflux or GERD

Rose knows that Ambien is the most prescribed drug in the world for those that suffer from insomnia. In the USA it was reported that 11 billion Ambien pills are consumed each year. In which, 30 million people in the USA take some sort of prescribed sleep medication - a nearly 50% increase since 2000. As more and more people are facing stress due to work or family issues, they are looking for a way to escape by using a prescribed sleep aide, like Ambien. However, many weren’t forewarned about the addictive properties of Ambien and now have to go through the withdrawal process.

Before they can deal with their insomnia they have to clear the drug out of their system. Many professionals feel the best way to go through an Ambien withdrawal process is cold turkey. Like any addiction or habit you must have the mind set to quit as your brain will continue to send you a signal to continue to use the drug again. In order to prepare your mind and body, you must understand that you will have a higher level of insomnia during the initial withdrawal period.

It can take up to seven days before you have fully detoxified your body from the effects of the Ambien. Establishing a sleep routine and using natural sleep aides will benefit you in the long run, so you won’t have to use a prescription sleep aide any longer. Prescription drugs like Ambien are so highly addictive many people struggle to stop taking it as most people weren’t aware of the risks until they try to stop. Start the Ambien withdrawal process on a weekend so you can focus fully on the situation. You may want a family member or friend to stay with you for the first few nights for support. Make sure you talk to your doctor and he is aware of your decision, as he may have alternative methods to help you go through the withdrawal process. Some doctors stress that a patient should not stop taking Ambien abruptly, the process has to be gradual, otherwise there are risks of serious problems, including seizures.

Other side effects of Ambien are sleepwalking and short-term memory loss. However, as the company has no statistics on sleepwalking it is unlikely to know how often this might occur. Reports are growing of patients taking Ambien, getting up at night, eating loads of food, going back to bed, and remembering nothing of the event next morning. There have also been more patients reporting short-term memory loss. A rising number of patients are getting up in the morning, still feeling the effects of the drug, getting behind the wheel and crashing their vehicles.

Those that have an understanding about the Ambien withdrawal process and are successful will get their insomnia under control in their own terms. Trying non habitual supplements, natural sleep remedies and maintaining a sleep routine will allow you to get a good night sleep and wake refreshed in the morning. ready to take on whatever the day may bring.

Warning: Ambien May Worsen Reflux Symptoms
New studies in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology show that as many as 15% to 30% of patients wake up during the night due to undiagnosed Acid Reflux or GERD. In a controlled group of 16 GERD patients some were given Ambien while the rest took a placebo and the researchers recorded the number of reflux associated episodes during the night.

Ambien allowed the patients to sleep through the reflux events causing them increased acid exposure thus facilitating an increased risk for complicated disease, like Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a precursor to developing esophageal cancer. Those patients that received the placebo woke 89% of the time when experiencing acid reflux while those that took Ambien only awoke 40%. The GERD patients in the placebo group also experienced an acid reflux episode 20-55 seconds, while those that took a sleeping pill lasted 4 – 8 minutes.

The conclusion being that Ambien doesn’t cause acid reflux, but it allows a person that has acid reflux to sleep through an episode which may cause additional health concerns. Doctors should think carefully before giving a GERD patient a prescribed sleep aide. If you have acid reflux or GERD and you feel you need help getting to sleep, talk to your doctor about alternative sleep aid remedies.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Is Your Bed Healthy?

Rose here I found an interesting article asking a simple question...how healthy is your bed?  I found it on amoils.com and it is based on a news item on BBC News about bed sharing “draining men’s brains”. And you can imagine the jokes and comments to be made about that headline! According to an Austrian scientist, Professor Gerhard Kloesch and his colleagues at the University of Vienna, they found that when men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed and this impairs their mental ability the next day PLUS the lack of sleep also increases their stress hormone levels.

On the other hand, it was found that women managed to sleep more deeply and their stress hormone levels and mental scores did not suffer to the same extent as the men. To find out more about the study, go to htpp://news.bbc.co.uk/2hihealth/5197440.stm.
Meanwhile, Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the University of Surrey in the UK, says: “It’s not surprising that people are disturbed by sleeping together. Historically, we have never been meant to sleep in the same bed as each other. It is a bizarre thing to do. Sleep is the most selfish thing you can do and it is vital for good physical and mental health. There is no shame in separate beds.” But he added: “if people have shared their bed with their partner for a long time, they miss them and that will disturb sleep”.
In another news item which was a study by a washing machine manufacturer, it pointed out that many Britons are likely to be sleeping in beds and under duvets or comforters which are riddled with dust mites and dead skin! Less than 3-in-5 Britons wash their duvets or comforters as often as every 6 months which is the recommended frequency. They found one duvet they tested had not been washed for 11 years and it contained 45 grams of debris including, of course, skin scales and house dust mite feces. Ugh!

According to the site at http://www.care2.com/greenliving - the following points are important to follow if you want to have a healthy bed and bedroom. Many of us are unaware of environmental indoor air quality issues that can arise with certain synthetic materials. According to quality expert Dr. Rosaind Anderson of Anderson Laboratories Inc, most mattresses are chemical “wastebaskets” full of potentially health-damaging material!

o Use a mattress made with organic cotton, wool or latex or cover an existing mattress with a cotton barrier cloth “encasing”, and a pillow either made of organic wool or goose down or again covered with a cotton barrier cloth in the case of polyurethane or polyester. This will cut out any synthetic odor. Unfortunately, Americans lost their historic link to wool when the industrial revolution introduced them wholesale to synthetics and their toxic counterparts. Wool handles moisture better than any other fiber. It responds to your body temperature changes so it is never too hot nor too cold. Wool provides a wonderful resilient quality of support to your body.
o A pure organic wool mattress is naturally fire resistant. If a fire retardant has been used on your normal mattress, this could give out chemical fumes.
o If you use a plastic encasing around your mattress and pillow, this can help reduce exposure to mattress emission as well as protect against small allergen particles such as dust mite etc but the plastic itself will give out chemical fumes. So again, a natural cotton barrier cloth is much better.
o Think about other items in the bedroom such as digital clocks, halogen lamps, TVs, computers and electric blankets. All of these give off an electromagnetic field and should be at least 6 feet from the bed. A halogen lamp gives off such a strong swath of electromagnetic fields that it is suggested it should not even be in the bedroom.
o Bed linen, blankets, duvets and comforters should be 100% cotton or better still organic cotton. Another very suitable material is bamboo. Synthetic materials do not breathe the way natural fibers do and they give off chemical fumes because they are made of petroleum.
o A further item to check is the bed’s frame as it could be treated with paint or stain that has an odor or made of particle board. This should then be sealed with a sealant.
A healthy bed and a healthy bedroom will help in so many ways – cutting down on asthma, eczema, allergies as well as combating such conditions as insomnia and RLS (restless leg syndrome).

A final study from htpp://news.bbc.co.uk/2hihealth/4181629.stm. is quite funny and will give many of the more lazy amongst us an excuse not to make their beds any more! According to this site “failing to make your bed in the morning may actually help keep you healthy”. A Kingston University study discovered that the house dust mites that cause asthma and other allergies cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed. Researcher Dr Stephen Pretlove says: “Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die”.
I am going to leave my cript open from now on....I for one love to drain the blood of others, but do not want anything especially dust mites or bed bugs draining me of blood!
Good Day
Rose Sheepskill

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sleep Aide Techniques

Pamper Yourself with Lavender

Rose loves to use lavender not only because it is easy to grow or smells wonderful it is a popular herb for it has a wonderfully relaxing effect on the mind and body and makes a good remedy for anxiety, nervousness, and physical symptoms caused by stress such as tension headaches, migraine, palpitations, and insomnia. It also has a stimulating edge to it, acting as a tonic to the nervous system and restoring vitality to people suffering from nervous exhaustion. The relaxing effect of lavender can be felt in the digestive tract, where is soothes spasms and colic related to tension and relieves distension, flatulence, nausea, and indigestion, and enhances the appetite. As a tea, oil inhalation, or vapor rub, lavender is effective for colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, flu, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. A warm compress or bath will relieve chest congestion, and help with bruises and insect bites. It can be used as often as you would like and benefits anyone: men, women (including before, during or after pregnancy, and nursing), children and animals
Lavender oil can be inhaled, rubbed on, vaporized or used in your bath as it is commonly used as aromatherapy.  Many spas use lavender for massages or burn lavender candles to help their clients relax.  Research on the physiological and psychological effects of essential oils is well documented and shows that it has been used for centuries to soothe, heal and rejuvenate the mind, spirit and body.   The various health benefits of lavender essential oil include: Calming the nervous system, inducing sleep, pain relief, skin care, hair care, digestion, immunity and for respiratory disorders (the oil is either used in the form of vapor or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. )

Please note that those with sensitive skin should be aware that there have been documented reports of allergic reactions causing some individuals dermatitis when lavender is applied externally.  You should test a spot before administering a full application.  Not all varieties of lavender are calming a Spanish lavender can have the opposite effect. 

A lavender eye pillow is filled with flower buds and flax seed.  The flax seed is added to give weight to the pillow against your eyes and forehead.  If you spend a lot of hours in front of a computer or book this pillow will sooth tired achy eyes as it will also alleviate tension headaches.  Chilling your eye pillow will help you beat the heat a promote sleep.  A dark cotton material is not only comforting it also blocks out external light. 

A lavender filled neck wrap covers the front and back shoulders as well as the neck and offers the benefit of moist heat to relieve stress and aching muscles.  A lavender body wrap is designed to soothe muscles, ease pain and menstrual cramps while eliminating tension and stress.  Heat the wrap for its full therapeutic value.  If you have a nightly routine that involves reading or watching television just imagine how wonderful this wrap would feel as it relaxes you.  There is another version of the body wrap that looks like a vest and has healing properties for your back as well as your shoulders. 

If you have an area in your yard or garden to grow your own lavender, here are some tips from eHow.com
  1. Step 1
    Picking your plants!
    The Lavender plants you pick depend on your climate. English Lavender, (Lavandula angustifolia), is the most hardy plant and grown the most widely. It is easy to mix in a perennial bed. This plant will endure subzero winters, but dislikes humid heat. If you live in a humid climate look for a LavanDIN instead of lavender. "Grosso and Provence" are the best lavandins. You can even chose your hue of lavender, but unless you get shoots from a "mother" plant, you will not have a consistent color or flower.
  2. Step 2
    Picking your spot to plant!
    The most important factor about Lavender is drainage. Soggy areas should definitely be avoided. Incorporate organic matter if necessary to make a loose soil for easy drainage.
    Lavender prefers a sloping bed in a sunny spot. A solution to that would be to heap soil in a pile about 12 to 18 inches high before planting the lavender. If your soil is mostly clay soil, dig out your hole and mix the clay with sand. Lavender plants cannot compete with aggressive weeds, so ensure your chosen spot is weed free. This is most important if you are planting a hedge of lavender, as weeding after they are planted can be a huge hassle. Weeding often becomes such a chore that Lavenders are overrun and eventually dies in a neglected hedge.
  3. Step 3
    When planting lavender place the plants at least 2 feet apart. Start with 4-inch-pot sized plants. Leave plenty of room between plants for air circulation. If planting in pots, make sure to repot every spring into a larger container with fresh soil to allow the plant to continue to mature. A good, coarse, sterile potting soil with organic fertilizers works best.
  4. Step 4
    Lavender does not like overhead sprinkler and could rot if they get too much water. Use a drip irrigation and water only when the bed is dry to a depth of 3 or 4 inches. While Lavender is extremely drought resistant once established, it grows larger and produces more blooms with regular watering. It is important to let the plant dry out a bit before soaking it again. In humid areas, this can be difficult and the excess moisture often causes death by rotting. Do not mulch lavender! It holds too m uch moisture.
  5. Step 5
    Wait about two years to fertilize the plants and then use an organic product such as fish emulsion. Feed the plants in spring when they start growing and again after harvesting in late summer. If you grow plants as annuals, you don't have to feed them at all.
  6. Step 6
    Pruning and Harvesting:
    It takes about three years for Lavender to reach full size. Plants should be pruned every year immediately after bloom. Pruning should not be confused with harvesting. Pruning is necessary to extend the life of the plant because lavender gets very woody if not pruned. Lavender flower wand stems are a bright green and Lavender leaves are gray. Cut back not only the flower stem, but also about a third of the gray-leaved stems as well. Avoid pruning back so far that only woody stems with no leaves are showing as it may die.

    Harvest the flowers according to end use. For a fresh bouquet pick when the flowers are in full bloom and scent. For dried bundles the stem must be harvested before the florets completely open. If you wait until the flower is open it will fall apart when they are dried. Take a handful of stems and cut them off at the base of the plant and then wrap rubber bands around them. To dry them hang them upside down. Drying takes about two weeks, but keep good circulation around your bundles to avoid them falling part or rotting. Harvesting the lavender for oil must be done at the peak of the day's heat. Essential oil can be extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowers.

 Make lavender satchels for yourself, friends and family or sell them at your local health food store or your website.  See Make Cash for Blondes to find out how to make Backyard Buckamoos. 
See this family fun way to make lavender satchels from alphamom.com
dried lavender
First get some dried lavender and some white muslin.  A pillowcase, handkerchief or even a linen napkin would also work well.
lavender steps 1
Once you have your fabric ready, cut it into circles that are big enough for hand stamping, leaving plenty of room around the sides. Make sure you cut two circles for each sachet that you want to make: one for the hand-printed side and one plain for the back. With some simple fabric paint, paint your child's hand (or if they are older, let them paint their own) and stamp away! Be very careful with fabric paint though because it is permanent.
I once did a craft like this with some kids I babysit and for some reason we painted in their laundry room. To this day (five years later) there is a splotch of yellow paint on their dryer. If you don't scrub it off right away, it's pretty much going to be there until the end of time. But that doesn't mean it isn't good. Permanent paint has it's purpose. It won't ever ever come off on Grandma's white linen hand towels either and that's a good thing!
hi five!
This next part is a bit tricky. I found, after several catastrophes with fabric glue, that a hot glue gun is the best way to adhere fabric quickly for these little pillows. If you want to wait around all day, you could try fabric glue but I don't recommend it.

After the handprints are completely dry (usually four hours), turn them over and glue a fine beaded line around the handprint but do not close the circle. Leave a two-inch gap so you can spoon the dried lavender into the sachet through this gap later. After you have made a nice big letter "C", stick your backside fabric onto the front side (making sure the handprint is facing outwards of course) and carefully pat it so the glue sticks. You will have to work quickly because hot glue dries fast but you'll also want to be careful because when it's hot it can seep through some fabrics and burn you. A blotting cloth might be helpful if you're not tough like me. I have asbestos hands.
Once the glue is completely hardened then comes the fun part: Spooning in the lavender! Pretty much anything works. Pouring it from the bag, spooning it, a big funnel--whatever works for you. Once you have filled your sachet loosely (don't over-fill it) just grab the glue gun and seal up the hole. If you've glued it properly, the lavender should not stick to the sides and will stay put. If you have a leak here or there don't worry. They can be patched up with a dot of glue. If the lavender sticks to the glue it's not the end of the world. Mothers understand imperfections.
we could stop here
You could stop here. These pillows are perfectly useful. It's not like they are going to get much wear and tear in the undies drawer. But if you're like me, you probably want the edges to look a little more finished. So grab a needle and thread and some pinking shears and finish them up!
I know, you're probably thinking, What?!! I have to sew?It's not so bad. A little stitching is good for the soul. I finished these up during one bath time and one Disney movie the next day. And let me tell you, those minutes I spent sniffing all that lavender were divine. It really is true that lavender is calming.
paper version
If you're truly averse to sewing you can make these with paper. We made some with pretty rice paper, paper glue and acrylic paint and they turned out quite cute. They are a little more fragile and crunchy but they are still pretty to look at and smell!
smell so pretty!
Whatever you end up doing, your finished product will be completely worth it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sleep Aide: Human Bed Warmers at Holiday Inn in Britain


Not so long ago, the services at a Holiday Inn hotel were pretty simple: a swimming pool, a vending machine, and an ice maker just a short walk down the fluorescent-lit hall. Well, times have changed. A lot. Holiday Inn says three of its British hotels, including two in London and one in Manchester, are offering human bed warmers this month to help their guests make it through the night.

Upon request, a willing hotel employee will slip into a one-piece fleece sleep suit and roll around between the sheets for five minutes to help bring the crisp, chilly sheets up to a more comfortable, cozy, 68 degrees. The new service coincides with a cold snap in Britain, and the opening of 3,200 new Holiday Inn hotels worldwide.

The service is being launched with the aid of sleep expert Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, who cites a mountain of scientific evidence showing that cold beds inhibit sleep.

Yet it seems unlikely that the appeal of this endearing new service has anything whatsoever to do with sleep. If that were the case, a hot water bottle or an extra blanket would do just fine.
resource:  http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/daily-brief/2010/01/22/

Save up to 20% on Holiday Inn

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sleep Aides: Remedies

Buckwheat Pillow for Sleep

Buckwheat-filled pillows aide sleep by reducing aches and pains by conforming perfectly to your head and neck and keeping the spine aligned. They not only help as a sleep aide, they also resist dust mites which will eliminate allergies that cause congestion while you sleep. You can purchase a buckwheat pillow online or at a medical facility, such as a chiropractor, physical therapist and doctor’s office. They usually cost somewhere between $15 - $75. On amazon.com a Rirakkusu Makura Natural Buckwheat Pillow costs $14.75. (see below)

Makura Miracle Pillow made by Tru-Makura Co., Orange CA, uses buckwheat hulls grown in the Dakotas. They clean the hulls to remove the flour residue that would normally cause allergies. Since buckwheat hulls do not compress health-care professionals recommend this pillow for relief of neck pain, headaches, muscle tension, snoring, sleeplessness and other medical conditions. Naturopathic physicians know if you support your cervical spine and neck you will sleep better. Just like a memory foam pillow, you will put a dent in it as it supports your neck when you lay on it. If you sleep on your side you can bunch up the pillow for added head support.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore findings show that people who have neck pain, caused by tense muscles are due to having poor posture during the day. Using a buckwheat pillow will keep your neck in a neutral position, reduce tension and give your tense muscles a chance to recover.

Many pillows will have a zipper which is a benefit because you can adjust the number of buckwheat hulls you require for your head and neck. After a number of years the pillow will flatten and all you have to do is add more hulls. On amazon.com a pound of hulls cost as little as $8.00+ while 5lbs of organic hulls are on sale right now for $24.95. At first your pillow may seem rock hard even after you adjust the number of hulls. It takes about 3-4 days of use before you and your pillow adjust and you see how it provides additional support over other pillows.

U.S. made buckwheat pillows are best because the hulls have been clean thoroughly. Studies have shown that Korean-made pillows have higher levels of a bacterial toxin that can aggravate asthma. There is no scientific evidence that buckwheat pillows resist dust mites, however there U.S. manufacturers claim their customers who have dust mite allergies are getting relief. Many websites that sell buckwheat pillows state that "the pillow does not house dust mites".

If you think your buckwheat pillow has mites you can easily kill them by freezing the pillow. Manufacturers do not recommend that you wash the pillow as the hulls do not dry easily. An allergic reaction may not be due to toxins or mites as some people may be allergic to the buckwheat itself. If you are allergic to buckwheat filled pillows there are other pillows you can try to get the same sleep aide remedies, such as memory foam or a pillow filled with lavender or hops.

Sleep Aides: Tips Techniques and Remedies

Rose knows that stress is a major cause of insomnia. Stress is unavoidable as we try to deal with personal problems, family and work issues and scheduling in our daily to-do-list. Trying to achieve an inner calm to relax enough to get to sleep is not always an easy feat. Some of your stress is controllable while some are not. What are not controllable are external factors such as outside noise and light. If your bedroom is too light it will reduce your body’s ability to produce melatonin a hormone that controls your inner sleep/wake cycle. You can add blinds or blackout curtains to control the amount of light that enters your room. Or you could wear an eye mask if you are staying at a hotel or a guest at another home. You can also purchase a melatonin supplement at a local pharmacy or health food store.

An external noise can also contribute to stress which you may have no or limited control over, especially if you live in an apartment or staying at a hotel. Your bedroom should be for sleep and sex only and not for watching television, playing video games or searching the web. It will take your mind extra time to fall asleep if it is constantly thinking of how to beat Goomba in Super Mario Brothers. If noise is due to an outside influence you might need to find something to block out the noise by listening to sleep music, white noise or relaxation CDs. If you are staying at a hotel, the fan will drown out the noise. You could also invest in ear plugs or iPod if traveling on an airplane for an extended amount of time. If you plan on sleeping on a long flight your doctor may prescribe a sleep aide like Ambien, but my advice is to limit taking any prescribed sleep medication as it is addictive. Becoming additive to any medication has risks of other health issues such as daytime drowsiness, dizziness, depression and suicidal thoughts. It is recommended that Ambien not taken more than 7 -10 days in a row. Anyone that has chronic insomnia should be treated and monitored by a physician or sleep specialist.

If you mattress is lumpy, sags or just plain uncomfortable, but you cannot afford a new mattress, a memory foam mattress topper may be all you need. A memory foam mattress topper comes in various sizes; twin, full/queen and king and various thicknesses 1” – 4” Cost vary due to the size and thickness. At least a 3” memory foam mattress topper is recommended to overcome any defects you have in your mattress. As anything less requires a firm mattress. Why? When the foam warms from your body heat it depresses to adjust to your pressure points. The depression due to heat will be more than 2 inches, therefore you might still feel the lumps in your mattress.

Not only do you need a mattress that fits your need you also need soft, clean sheet and unrestrictive, cool pajamas. Nothing is worst than waking from sleep and finding yourself strangling or too warm because of your sleepwear and then you have to try to fall asleep all over again!

Some people believe in the principles of feng shui which examines how the placement of things and objects within it affect the energy flow in your living environment, and how these objects interact with and influence your personal energy flow. According to Feng Shui for Dummies the following is how to apply feng shui principles to your bed.

Applying Feng Shui Principles to Your Bed
Feng Shui involves many principles for the auspicious (or favorable) positioning of your bed. To take advantage of as many of them as you can, use common sense, along with the conditions of your individual room, to make the best choices possible. For example, Commanding Position concept shows you how to achieve the most powerful bed position according to one Feng Shui school of thought. If you see that your bedroom doesn't meet these criteria — don't panic! There are cures you can implement to dramatically enhance your bedroom situation.

The position of the bed relative to the door
The first Commanding Position principle states that the position of the bed relative to the bedroom door rates more importantly than the compass direction the bed faces. That is, you don't analyze whether your bed faces east, west, north, or south. You can rest easy and position the bed according to the way it best relates to the other main feature of the room — the door.

The distance from the bed to the door
The second Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should sit as far from the bedroom door as possible. If the door is on the left, the best position is the far right corner of the room; if the door is on the right, the best bed location is the far left of the room; and if the door is the center, the best location is either the far right or far left corner of the room. (See Figure 1.) The farther your bed sits from the door, the more control you can feel over your space and your life. You aren't startled easily, and you have plenty of time to prepare for events as they unfold.

The sleeper's scope of vision
The third Commanding Position principle asserts that the bed position should allow the sleeper the widest possible scope of the room. A diminished range of sight within the room can restrict the sleeper's chi and his or her life vision. The larger the space in front of your bed, the more your life expands, breathes, and improves. For this reason, Feng Shui cautions against placing the foot of the bed against a wall, which can block your career and cause foot and ankle problems. In addition, placing your bed directly against a side wall (with no space between the side of your bed and the wall) can make you feel cramped, stifled, and less flexible in life.

The visibility of the bedroom door
The fourth Commanding Position principle states that you should clearly see the bedroom door from the bed. This concept means that when lying on your back in bed — that is, in the center of the bed (if you sleep alone) or on your side of the bed (if sleeping with a partner) — you can open your eyes and immediately see the door of the room without repositioning your body. If you have to perform gymnastics or create new yoga positions to see who or what's coming in the door, your bed position does not meet this principle.

Not seeing who's approaching can keep you uncertain and on edge. Even if you think that you're accustomed to not seeing the door, you still likely experience ongoing subconscious stress, which can create imbalance and frustration. The possibility of always being startled can keep you on edge, and over time, the continual tension and unrest can cause an imbalance in the nervous system. Results can include nervous problems, arrhythmia, and heart palpitations. In addition, repeatedly twisting the body to see whether someone's coming can cause neck and spinal problems in the long run.

If your bed position doesn't allow you to see the door and you can't move the bed, you can place a sizable mirror opposite the bed that allows you to easily see the door. If you need to angle the mirror to show the door, use a standing mirror angled to the appropriate position.

The direct line from the door
The fifth Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should not sit in the direct line of the path of the doorway. If your bed does sit in the direct line of the door, the chi of the door runs directly and too powerfully up the middle of the bed. This factor can create diseases along the midline of the body.

The farther you sleep from the door and the more of the room you see while in bed, the more you can feel in control of your environment and, therefore, your life. Seeing the door to your bedroom symbolizes that you know what life is bringing and feel prepared to deal with whatever comes. You're in command, and the results manifest positively in many areas of your life.

When following the Commanding Position principle, you can choose from three alternatives for good bed placement.  Choices 1-b and 1-c are both excellent; just be sure, if possible, to leave enough room on the side closest to the wall for your partner (or yourself) to get into bed. Position 1-a (the bed angled in the corner) is the strongest choice of all; it gains support from two walls rather than one wall. If you choose this position, then your bed should feature a solid headboard. Make sure the corners of the bed firmly touch the walls. You can strengthen this bed position by placing a plant and a light behind the headboard. (A real or an artificial plant works for this cure, and the light should be in good working order but doesn't need to be on at all.

What can you do for yourself to release tension, aches and soreness in order to relax? For mental tension there are a variety of products you can purchase such as meditation and hypnotic tapes or CDS, binaural sound waves or audios and natural sounds such as a rain storm or ocean waves. Binaural sound waves also help you recall lucid dreams. Keeping a sleep journal of your dreams may help you to fall asleep. How? Lucid dreaming can be a helpful practice for those with sleeping troubles such as insomnia. When you are having a hard time getting to sleep, remind yourself that sleep means lucid dreaming(by dream recall); and your subconscious mind will make sure that you get to sleep quickly.

Sometimes you might not get to sleep because you are too anxious, emotional or afraid. Crystal therapy has shown to calm and regulate sleeping patterns. The following is an article I found on using Amethyst crystals for a sleep aide from jewelrysuppliers.com

Amethyst Crystals as a sleep and rest aide and dream stimulator by Crystal Healers, New Age Priests and Spiritualists.

Some Gemstones, gems, crystals and minerals have been believed to be a sleep aide, to have an effect on dreams, sleeping, dreaming, insomnia, sleeplessness, nightmares, foretelling, rest, resting, psychic development, consciousness and mental energy. Others have been said to work in the unconscious mind and the spiritual plane and seem to bring mental, ESP, emotional, physical, sleep transition, soothing to the spirit and can sometimes stop sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea, snoring, tossing and turning, stress relief, energy, disturbed sleep or sleep walking.

According to spiritual healers, there are two main characteristics of amethyst that make it a gem of tranquil sleep and inspired dream for fighting sleep disorders: first, its capacity to make that which is disturbed tranquil and its ability to ease transition. They believe that Amethyst is a protective stone that fends off psychic attack and reverts negative energy to positive peaceful energy, that it heals at all levels of mind, body and spirit including all levels of consciousness, and that it can open up channels for spiritual and psychic enlightenment. Members of the New Age also herald its ability to maintain focus and make its carrier spiritually aware, which they say is a characteristic which aides in restful and productive sleep. Amethyst is used to calm the stressed and provide sound sleep for the overworked and overwhelmed.

Amethyst and Dreams
The evening is the time most representative of sleep and dream and according to crystal healers, the violet of amethyst is representative of the dusk-colored sky and the transition between night and day and between physical conscious and unconsciousness. In their belief system, the physical and mental calming attributes of Amethyst contribute to soothing the transition between wake and sleep to fight sleeplessness. Amethyst, therefore, soothes the process of slipping into a dream state. Its calming power also allows for the eradication and protection against nightmares and disturbed sleep. Amethyst stabilizes the connection to the ethereal. Many crystal healers use amethyst to help others (and themselves) to engage in inspired dreaming, which inhibit dreams that foretell some sort of life truth about the dreamer. Amethyst has also shown its effectiveness for accessing the source of knowledge unattainable by conventional means. This resting quality allows for the growth of one's intuition and psychic development.

Amethyst and Sleep
Those involved in crystal magic say the transitional aspect of the gemstone amethyst's healing allows for a peaceful sleep as the amethyst radiation eases the passage from the physically conscious mind to the unconscious. The energies focused upon the reality we know to be physically visible, begin to switch over to those which are visible through intellect. Amethyst is known as a great asset in meditation and its ability to maintain peaceful energy during rest from rigorous mental activity carries over as a sleep aide to reduce tossing and turning and for stress relief. It, therefore, bridges the gap between ordinary and more complex forms of consciousness. Some have said it may even aid in reducing snoring.

Physical tension can be eased with a massage or warm bath with aromatherapy oils. Lavender and sage help headaches and muscular soreness, while chamomile will help with stress. You can also burn candles, buy pillows and take tinctures with the same herbs as they are known to relax you enough to aid in falling asleep faster.

If you take a tincture or decaffeinated tea prior to bedtime but find that you want a snack keep it light as a lot of food and liquid can cause indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux and the need to go to the bathroom during the night. It is best to just have a slice of turkey, hardboiled egg, small bowl of cereal or some nuts or seeds as these foods contain tryptophan that will make you feel lethargic. Don’t like tea? Drink some warm milk, it not only contains tryptophan but peptides that calm the system.

Exercise will help you to become tired faster because you are physically exhausted. Try to exercise at least 3 hours prior to retiring to give your body enough time to cool down and lower your heart rate. Some yoga techniques prior to bed can help your body to stretch and relax.

8-Minute Workout: Yoga for Better Sleep

• Upside-Down Relaxation
• Winding Down Twist
• Nighttime Goddess Stretch
• Child's Pose
• Rock-a-Bye Roll

Try this 5-move yoga routine to relax your body and mind before sleep. The best part? Each pose can be done in bed!

Upside-Down Relaxation
Forget counting sheep. Ease your way into dreamland with this five-move yoga routine from Edward Vilga, creator of the DVD Yoga in Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas (yogainbeddvd.com, $19.95). The moves will relax your body and mind, but the best part is that you can do them all in bed!

• Sit facing a wall (or your headboard) with your butt about 6 inches away from it.
• Lie back and extend your legs up the wall.
• If this is too intense a stretch for your hamstrings, slide your butt farther away from the wall.
• If it's not enough, scoot closer.
• Let your arms rest by your sides, palms facing up, and breathe gently, feeling the stretch in the backs of your legs.

3 Instant Remedies:
Establish a sleep routine: go to bed and get up at the same time.
Deep breathing exercise
Tighten and relax your muscles extremities

If you can’t get to sleep …get up for 20 minutes or so before trying to fall asleep again. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, smoke, watch a horror flick or play videos as these will stimulate your brain instead of calming you.

Another thing if you love to nap, try a “power nap” of not more than 20-30 minutes and not after 4pm as anything longer or later might interrupt your needed 7 hours of sleep at night. If you find you are having additional health issues or want to take any over-the-counter medications/supplements contact your doctor as he may recommend dosage and advice on interactions with other drugs or health problems.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) Membership

Providing sleep medicine and sleep research professionals with the Support, Science, Education, and Networking that you need.

Support Support

The AASM provides our members with support through the monitoring of relevant legislation and health policy in the field, as well as through the development of practice management resources for your facility.

Legislation and Health Policy
Benefit from the AASM’s involvement as health policy issues are developed and reviewed. At the national level, the AASM has maintained a strong influence with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and in issues involving professional liability insurance and Medicare billing compliance. The AASM is also actively involved in state issues regarding licensure for sleep technologists, drowsy driving and more.

Practice Accreditation
Earn the gold standard in the sleep medicine field by having your sleep center accredited by the AASM. As an AASM member, you will receive a multitude of resources to aid your practice throughout the accreditation process.

Practice Management
Get substantial discounts on valuable practice management resources such as reference manuals, slide sets, webinar archive CD-ROMs and more. The AASM regularly releases new and updated products in an effort to provide our members with most timely and relevant information available.

Cutting-Edge Information Science

As the professional medical association for sleep medicine, the AASM is committed to improving patient care through the development, support and publication of sleep-related research.

Practice Parameters and Clinical Guidelines
Receive early notification when the AASM releases new practice parameters and clinical guidelines that set standards for the field. The evidence based practice parameters and consensus-based clinical guidelines provide clinicians with a framework for the assessment and management of sleep disorders.

Receive free online access and print subscriptions to the peer-reviewed journals, SLEEP and the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM). The journals each serve to satisfy two basic needs of sleep professionals: SLEEP presents the latest in sleep research, while JCSM covers best practices in the clinical setting.

Sleep Research Support
Benefit from the AASM’s efforts to increase funding and awareness for sleep research through contact with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and advocacy of increased funding for the NIH through Congress.

Education and Training Education

Members receive significant discounts on all AASM educational opportunities and products. Offered in a variety of formats and at different educational levels, these resources are of value to all medical professionals interested in sleep medicine.

Webinars & Courses
Receive substantial discounts on registration to any of the webinars and courses in the AASM’s Sleep Education Series. Webinars and courses are held throughout the year covering the topics of greatest relevance to the field.

SLEEP Annual Meeting of the APSS
Save up to 40% on registration to the leading educational event in the fields of sleep medicine and sleep research.

Earn CME or CE credits through several of the AASM’s educational opportunities.

Members-Only Updates
Stay informed on new developments in the field through weekly e-mail updates and access to the Members-Only section of the AASM Web site that contains information on government relations, health policy, sleep medicine coding and reimbursement and more.

Networking Opportunities Networking

The AASM brings together physicians, researchers, nurses, technologists and other professionals of all backgrounds and career paths to share their perspectives, resulting in an ongoing conversation about sleep disorders research, diagnosis, treatment and management.

Membership Directory
Receive a copy of this vital networking tool that makes your contact information available to colleagues both in the United States and abroad.

Sections and Committees
Interact with other members who share your interests, and make valuable contributions to the field by participating in one or more of the AASM’s sections and committees.

Online Discussion Forums
Communicate through multiple online discussion forums where members can post questions, experiences, ideas and other information of immediate relevance.

Online Job Board Listings
Search for job openings or fill an open position at your facility through the AASM online Job Board. AASM members receive discounts on all job postings for their facilities.

Join online or download the membership application to join by fax or mail. For more information about membership, contact the membership department at 708-492-0930 or AASMmembership@aasmnet.org.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baby Sleep Problems

Rose knows over the years moms and pediatricians have tried many ways help children fall asleep and stay asleep.  Here is an article that will give you some time-tested, proven techniques for infants and toddlers.


1. Develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting. Sleeping, like eating, is not a state you can force a baby into. Best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows sleep to overtake your baby. A realistic long- term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep: that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude about sleep—that sleep was not a pleasant state to enter and was a fearful state to remain in. Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep when they are young and both you and your children will sleep better when they are older.

2. Beware of sleep trainers. Ever since parenting books found their way into the nursery, sleep trainers have touted magic formulas promising to get babies to sleep through the night – for a price and at a risk. Most of these sleep-training techniques are just variations of the old cry-it-out method. And technology has found its way into nighttime baby care by providing tired parents with a variety of sleep-inducing gadgets designed to lull a baby off to sleep alone in her crib: oscillating cradles, crib vibrators that mimic a car ride, and teddy bears that "breathe." All promise to fill in for parents on night duty. Be discerning about using someone else's method to get your baby to sleep. Before trying any sleep-inducing program, you be the judge. Research  these schemes and read other parent product reviews before trying them on your baby, especially if they involve leaving your baby alone to cry. Does this advice sound sensible? Does it fit your baby's temperament? Does it feel right to you?

If your current daytime or nighttime routine is not working for you, think about what changes you can make in yourself and your lifestyle that will make it easier for you to meet your baby's needs. This is a better approach than immediately trying to change your baby. After all, you can control your own reactions to a situation. You can't control how your baby reacts. Use discernment about advice that promises a sleep-through-the-night more convenient baby, as these programs involve the risk of creating a distance between you and your baby and undermining the mutual trust between parent and child. On the surface, baby training sounds so liberating, but it's a short-term gain for a long-term loss. You lose the opportunity to get to know and become an expert in your baby. Baby loses the opportunity to build trust in his care giving environment. You cease to value your own biological cues, your judgment, and instead follow the message of someone who has no biological attachment, nor investment, in your infant.

Especially in the first six months, avoid sleep trainers who advise you to let your baby "cry-it-out." Only you can know what "it" is and how to respond appropriately to your baby. Using the rigid, insensitive "let-him-cry-it-out" method has several problems. First, it will undermine the trust your baby has for nighttime comfort. Second, it will prevent you from working at a style of nighttime parenting until you find the one that works best for you and your family and third, it may keep you and your doctor from uncovering hidden medical causes of nightwaking. Nightfeedings are normal; frequent, painful nightwaking is not.

3. Stay flexible. No single approach will work with all babies all the time or even all the time with the same baby. Don't persist with a failing experiment. If the "sleep program" isn't working for your family, drop it. Develop a nighttime parenting style that works for you. Babies have different nighttime temperaments and families have varied lifestyles. Keep working at a style of nighttime parenting that fits the temperament of your baby and your own lifestyle. If it's working, stick with it. If it's not, be open to trying other nighttime parenting styles. And, be prepared for one style of nighttime parenting to work at one stage of an infant's life, yet need a change as she enters another stage. Be open to trying different nighttime approaches. Follow your heart rather than some stranger's sleep-training advice, and you and your baby will eventually work out the right nighttime parenting style for your family.

4. Decide where baby sleeps best. There is no right or wrong place for babies to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you and your baby. Some babies sleep best in their own crib in their own room, some sleep better in their own bassinet or crib in the parents' bedroom, other babies sleep best snuggled right next to mommy in the parents' bed. Many parents prefer a co-sleeper arrangement. Realistically, most parents use various sleeping arrangements at various stages during the infant's first two years. Be open to changing styles as baby's developmental needs and your family situation changes.


Sleep is not a state you can force your baby into. Sleep must naturally overtake your baby. Your nighttime parenting role is to set the conditions that make sleep attractive and to present cues that suggest to baby that sleep is expected. Try the following sleep tight tips, which may vary at different stages in your baby's development. What doesn't work one week may work the next.

Get baby used to a variety of sleep associations. The way an infant goes to sleep at night is the way she expects to go back to sleep when she awakens. So, if your infant is always rocked or nursed to sleep, she will expect to be rocked or nursed back to sleep. Sometimes nurse her off to sleep, sometimes rock her off to sleep, sometimes sing her off to sleep, and sometimes use tape recordings; and switch off with your spouse on putting her to bed. There are two schools of thought on the best way to put babies to sleep: the parent-soothing method and the self-soothing method. Both have advantages and possible disadvantages.

1. Parent-soothing method. When baby is ready to sleep, a parent or other caregiver helps baby make a comfortable transition from being awake to falling asleep, usually by nursing, rocking, singing, or whatever comforting techniques work.

* Baby learns a healthy sleep attitude – that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in.
* Creates fond memories about being parented to sleep.
* Builds parent-infant trust

So-called "Disadvantages": Because of the concept of sleep associations, baby learns to rely on an outside prop to get to sleep, so—as the theory goes—when baby awakens he will expect help to get back to sleep. This may exhaust the parents.

2. Self-soothing method: Baby is put down awake and goes to sleep by himself. Parents offer intermittent comforting, but are not there when baby drifts off to sleep.

So-called "Advantages": If baby learns to go to sleep by himself, he may be better able to put himself back to sleep without parental help, because he doesn't associate going to sleep with parents comforting. May be tough on baby, but eventually less exhausting for parents.

* Involves a few nights of let-baby-cry-it-out
* Risks baby losing trust
* Seldom works for high-need babies with persistent personalities
* Overlooks medical reasons for nightwaking
* Risks parents becoming less sensitive to baby's cries

Remember, in working out your own parenting-to-sleep techniques and rituals, be sensitive to the nighttime needs of your individual baby and remember your ultimate goal: to create a healthy sleep attitude in your baby and to get all family members a restful night's sleep.

6. Daytime mellowing. A peaceful daytime is likely to lead to a restful night. The more attached you are to your baby during the day and the more baby is held and calmed during the day, the more likely this peacefulness is to carry through into the night. If your baby has a restless night, take inventory of unsettling circumstances that may occur during the day: Are you too busy? Are the daycare and the daycare provider the right match for your baby? Does your baby spend a lot of time being held and in-arms by a nurturant caregiver, or is he more of a "crib baby" during the day? We have noticed babies who are carried in baby slings for several hours a day settle better at night. Babywearing mellows the infant during the day, behavior that carries over into restfulness at night.

7. Set predictable and consistent nap routines. Pick out the times of the day that you are most tired, for example 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Lie down with your baby at these times every day for about a week to get your baby used to a daytime nap routine. This also sets you up to get some much-needed daytime rest rather than be tempted to "finally get something done" while baby is napping. Babies who have consistent nap routines during the day are more likely to sleep longer stretches at night.

8. Consistent bedtimes and rituals. Babies who enjoy consistent bedtimes and familiar going-to-sleep rituals usually go to sleep easier and stay asleep longer. Yet, because of modern lifestyles, consistent and early bedtimes are not as common, or realistic, as they used to be. Busy two- income parents often don't get home until six or seven o'clock in the evening, so it's common for older babies and toddlers to procrastinate the bedtime ritual. This is prime time with their parents and they are going to milk it for all they can get. In some families, a later afternoon nap and a later bedtime is more practical. Familiar bedtime rituals set the baby up for sleep. The sequence of a warm bath, rocking, nursing, lullabies, etc. set the baby up to feel that sleep is expected to follow. Capitalize on a principle of early infant development: patterns of association. Baby's developing brain is like a computer, storing thousands of sequences that become patterns. When baby clicks into the early part of the bedtime ritual, he is programmed for the whole pattern that results in drifting off to sleep.

9. Calming down. Give baby a warm bath followed by a soothing massage to relax tense muscles and busy minds. Be careful, though, because this will stimulate some babies.

10. Tank up your baby during the day. Babies need to learn that daytime is for eating and nighttime is mostly for sleeping. Some older babies and toddlers are so busy playing during the day that they forget to eat and make up for it during the night by waking frequently to feed. To reverse this habit, feed your baby at least every three hours during the day to cluster the baby's feedings during the waking hours. Upon baby's first night waking, attempt a full feeding, otherwise some babies, especially breastfed infants, get in the habit of nibbling all night.


Many infants need help making the transition from being awake to falling asleep, which is really a prolongation of the bedtime ritual that conditions baby that sleep is expected to soon follow.

11. Nursing down. Nestle next to your baby and breastfeed or bottlefeed him off to sleep. The smooth continuum from warm bath, to warm arms, to warm breast, to warm bed is a recipe for sleep to soon follow.

12. Fathering down. Place baby in the neck nestle position (nestle baby's head against the front of your neck with your chin against the top of baby's head. The vibration of the deeper male voice lulls baby to sleep) and rock your baby to sleep. If baby doesn't drift off to sleep while rocking, lie down with your baby, still in the neck nestle position, and let baby temporarily fall asleep draped over your chest. Once baby is asleep, ease the sleeping baby into his bed and sneak away.

13. Rocking or walking down. Try rocking baby to sleep in a bedside rocking chair, or walk with baby, patting her back and singing or praying.

14. Nestling down. For some babies, the standard fall-to-sleep techniques are not enough. Baby just doesn't want to be put down to sleep alone. After rocking or feeding baby to sleep in your arms, lie down with your sleeping baby next to you and nestle close to her until she is sound asleep. We call this the "teddy- bear snuggle."

15. Wearing down. Some babies are so revved up during the day that they have trouble winding down at night. Place your baby in a baby sling and wear her around the house for a half-hour or so before the designated bedtime. When she is fully asleep (see limp-limb sign) in the sling, ease her out of the sling onto her bed. For babies who are used to nursing off to sleep in a mother's arms, fathers can wear their baby down to sleep and give mother a break.

Wearing down is particularly useful for the reluctant napper. When baby falls asleep in the sling, snuggled with his tummy against your chest or draped over your chest once you lie down, you both can take a much-needed nap.

16. Swinging down. Wind-up swings for winding down babies are a boon to parents who have neither the time, energy or creativity to muster up rituals of their own. Tired parents will pay anything for a good night's sleep. Once in a while a moving plastic seat may be more sleep inducing than a familiar pair of arms. Sometimes high-need babies associate a parent's body with play and stimulation and will not drift off to sleep in a human swing. For them the mechanical one is less stimulating, if not downright boring, and therefore can be a useful part of a sleep-ritual repertoire. Yet remember, high-need babies are notoriously resistant to mechanical mother substitutes and will usually protest anything less than the real mom. Before you actually spend money on a swing, you might want to borrow one for a week or two to see if the spell of the swing will last. You may discover that you are uncomfortable with mechanical mothering and decide to get more creative. Still, swings have their moments.

17. Driving down. If you've tried all the above transitioning techniques and baby still resists falling asleep, place baby in a carseat and drive around until she falls asleep. When you return home and baby is in a deep sleep, carry the carseat (with the sleeping baby) into your bedroom and let baby remain in the carseat until the first nightwaking. If she is in a deep sleep (witness the limp-limb sign – hands unclenched, arms dangling loosely at her side, facial muscles still), you may be able to ease her out of the carseat into her own bed.

18. Mechanical mothers. Gadgets to put and keep baby asleep are becoming big business. Tired parents pay high prices for a good night's sleep. It's all right to use these as relief when the main comforter wears out, but a steady diet of these artificial sleep inducers may be unhealthy. We remember a newspaper article extolling the sleep-tight virtues of a teddy bear, with a tape player in his stuffing that sings or makes breathing sounds. Baby can snuggle up to the singing, breathing, synthetic bear. Personally, we are not keen on our babies going to sleep to someone else's canned voice. Why not use the real parent?


Now that you've learned all the tricks of the nighttime trade to get your baby to sleep, here are some ways to keep your baby asleep. Because of the characteristics of babies' sleep cycles and easy arousability from sleep, you will notice that we purposely omit what we call the "harden your heart" method: put your baby down to sleep awake in a crib in his own room, put cotton in your ears, and let him cry himself to sleep. When he awakens, don't go into him. He will soon learn to put himself to sleep and back to sleep. We believe that this method is unsafe, runs the risk of baby losing trust, and, for infants with persistent personalities, doesn't work. Try these tips to help your baby sleep increasingly longer stretches at night.

19. Dress for the occasion. Try various ways of swaddling your baby at night. In the early months, many babies like to "sleep tight," securely swaddled in a cotton baby blanket. Older infants like to sleep "loose," and may sleep longer stretches with loose coverings that allow them more freedom of movement. Oftentimes, dressing a baby loosely during the day, but swaddling him at night, conditions the baby to associate sleep with swaddling. A baby who gets too hot or too cold may become restless. Adjust the layering according to the temperature of the room and the sleep habits of your baby. Allergy-prone babies sleep better in 100 percent cotton sleepwear.

20. Quiet in the bedroom. Since most babies can block out disturbing noise, you don't have to create a noiseless sleeping environment, yet some babies startle and awaken easily with sudden noises. For these babies, oil the joints and springs of a squeaky crib, put out the dog before he barks and turn the ringer off on the phone.

21. Darkness in the bedroom. Use opaque shades to block out the light, which may get you an extra hour of sleep if you have one of those little roosters who awakens to the first ray of sunlight entering the bedroom.

22. Sounds to sleep by. Repetitive, nearly monotonous sounds that lull baby to sleep are known as white noise, such as the sounds of a fan, air conditioner, or even tape recordings of womb sounds or vacuum cleaner sounds. Also, try running water from a nearby faucet or shower, a bubbling fish tank, a loudly ticking clock, or a metronome set at sixty beats a minute. (These can all be tape-recorded.) Try music to sleep by, such as tape recordings of waterfalls or ocean sounds, or a medley of easy-listening lullabies on a continuous-play tape recorder. These sleep-inducing sounds remind baby of the sounds she was used to hearing in the womb. (See 11 Ways to Soothe Fussy Babies for more sleep-inducing tips.)

23. Music to sleep by. Try a continuous-play tape recording of your baby's favorite lullabies, so when she awakens she can resettle herself to the familiar sleep-inducing sound of the tape-recording. You can make a medley of your own lullabies that have been proven sleep-inducers.

24. Leave a little bit of mother behind. If you have a separation-sensitive baby, leave a breast pad in the cradle, or play a continuous tape recording of yourself singing a bedtime lullaby.

25. A full tummy (but not too full). While stuffing baby with a glob of cereal before bedtime seldom works, it may be worth a try. A tablespoon or two given to a baby over six months of age may get you an extra hour or two. Tiny babies have tiny tummies, a bit bigger than the size of their fist. So, your baby's digestive system was designed for small, frequent feedings, which is why, in the early months, babies feed at least every 3 to 4 hours at night and more often during the day. (See Foods for Sleep)

26. Lessen physical discomforts.

1) Clear the nose. In the early months, babies need clear nasal passages to breathe. Later they can alternatively breathe through their mouth if their nose is blocked. Bedroom inhalant allergies are a common cause of stuffy noses and consequent nightwaking. Dust-free your baby's bedroom as much as possible. (Remove fuzzy blankets, down comforters, dust-collecting fuzzy toys, etc.) If your baby is particularly allergy-prone, a HEPA-type air filter will help. As an added nighttime perk, the "white noise" from the hum of the air filter may help baby stay asleep.

2) Relieve teething pain. Even though you may not yet be able to feel baby's teeth, teething discomfort may start as early as three months and continue off and on all the way through the two-year molars. A wet bedsheet under baby's head, a drool rash on the cheeks and chin, swollen and tender gums, and a slight fever are telltale clues that teething is the nighttime culprit. What to do? With your doctor's permission, give appropriate doses of acetaminophen just before parenting your baby to sleep and again in four hours if baby awakens.

3) Change wet or soiled diapers. Some babies are bothered by wet diapers at night, most are not. If your baby sleeps through wet diapers, there is no need to awaken her for a change – unless you're treating a persistent diaper rash. Nighttime bowel movements necessitate a change. Here's a nighttime changing tip: If possible, change the diapers just before a feeding, as baby is likely to fall asleep during or after feeding. Some breastfed babies, however, have a bowel movement during or immediately after a feeding and will need changing again. If you are using cloth diapers, putting two or three diapers on your baby before bedtime will decrease the sensation of wetness.

4) Remove irritating sleepwear. Some babies cannot settle in synthetic sleepwear. A mother in our practice went through our whole checklist of nightwaking causes until she discovered her baby was sensitive to polyester sleepers. Once she changed to 100 percent cotton clothing, her baby slept better. Besides being restless, some babies show skin allergies to new clothing, detergents and fabric softeners by breaking out in a rash.

5) Remove airborne irritants. Environmental irritants may cause congested breathing passages and awaken baby. Common household examples are cigarette smoke, baby powder, paint fumes, hair spray, animal dander (keep animals out of an allergic child's bedroom), plants, clothing (especially wool), stuffed animals, dust from a bed canopy, feather pillows, blankets, and fuzzy toys that collect lint and dust. If your baby consistently awakens with a stuffy nose, suspect irritants or allergens in the bedroom.

27. A warm bed. Placing a warm baby onto cold sheets can cause trouble. Especially in cold weather, use flannel sheets or place a warm towel on the sheets to warm them, and remove it before placing baby on the warmed sheets.

28. Create the right bedroom temperature and humidity. A consistent bedroom temperature of around 70 degrees F is preferable. Also, a relative humidity of around 50 percent is most conducive to sleep. Dry air may leave baby with a stuffy nose that awakens him. Yet, too high a humidity fosters allergy-producing molds. A warm-mist vaporizer in your baby's sleeping area helps maintain an adequate and consistent relative humidity, especially with central heating during the winter months. (And, the "white noise" of a consistent hum may help baby stay asleep.)


When your baby awakens, develop a nighttime parenting approach that respects your baby's need for nighttime trust and comfort, in addition to the need for baby and parents to quickly get back to sleep. While some babies are self-soothers, being able to resettle easily and quickly without outside help, others (especially those high-need babies with more persistent personalities) need a helping hand (or breast, or whatever tool you can muster up at 3:00 a.m.). Try these back-to-sleep comforters:

29. Laying on of hands. Determine what your baby's nighttime temperament is. Is your baby a born self-soother who awakens, whimpers, squirms, and then resettles by herself? Or is your baby, if not promptly attended to, one whose cries escalate and becomes angry and difficult to resettle? If you can get to your baby quickly before she completely awakens, you may be able to resettle her back to sleep with a firm laying on of hands. To add the finishing touch, pat your baby's back or bottom rhythmically to match your heartbeat. Remove your hands gradually – first one and then the other – easing the pressure slowly so as not to startle baby awake. Sometimes fathers, perhaps because they have larger hands, are more successful in this hands-on ritual.

30. Honor your partner with his share of nighttime parenting. It's important for babies to get used to father's way of comforting and being put to sleep (and back to sleep) in father's arms, otherwise mothers burn out. A father's participation in nighttime parenting is especially important for the breastfeeding infant who assumes the luxury that "mom's diner" is open all night.

31. Detect hidden medical causes of nightwaking. If you've tried all these techniques and your infant is still waking up frequently – and painfully – suspect there may be an underlying medical problem contributing to your baby's nightwaking. (See Hidden Causes of Nightwaking) One of the most common hidden medical causes of nightwaking (and colicky behavior) in babies is a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Due to a weakness of a circular band of muscle where the esophagus joins the stomach, irritating stomach acids are regurgitated into baby's esophagus, causing pain like adults would call heartburn. Clues that your baby may be suffering from GER are: painful bursts of nightwaking fussiness, particularly after eating; frequent spitting up (although not all babies with GER spit up regularly); frequent bouts of colicky, abdominal pain; frequent bouts of unexplained wheezing; and hearing throaty sounds after feeding. Another hidden medical cause of nightwaking is allergies to formula or dairy products, either in milk-based formulas or in dairy products in a breastfeeding mother's diet. Clues that milk allergies may be causing nightwaking (and colicky behavior) are bloating, diarrhea and a red rash around baby's anus, in addition to many of the signs described above under GER. If your baby is not only waking up frequently, but waking up "in pain," discuss these two medical possibilities with your doctor, since both can be diagnosed and treated, giving everyone in the family a more peaceful night's sleep.

The above tools not only help your short-term goal of getting your baby to sleep, but, more importantly, create a healthy sleep attitude that lasts a lifetime. A baby who enjoys this style of nighttime parenting learns that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Therein lies the key to nighttime parenting.