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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

9 Tips that Aide Sleep

Rose knows that too many of us toss and turn each night trying to go to sleep.  Did you know that sleep deprivation is harmful to our health?  Lack of sleep can cause heart conditions, diabetes and obesity according to Lisa Shives M.D. a medical director of the Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, IL, and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  She recommends the following 9 tips that  aide sleep. 

NO ELECTRONICS IN THE BEDROOM….that means no TV, no Laptop, no Video Games period!  Your computer’s light triggers your suprachiasmatic nucleus which is a tiny receptor in the brain that regulates your circadian rhythms that control your sleep/wake cycle.  Light generated from electronics overrides the sleep cycle and will limit the amount of melatonin produced.  Melatonin is needed to make us prepare and fall asleep.  As we age we naturally produce less melatonin so we don’t need light from electronics to make this receptor think it’s time to get up.  In fact it would be best to turn everything off an hour or two before retiring.

YOUR BOUDOIR IS FOR SLEEP AND SEX ONLY!   Research has shown that people fall asleep faster without distractions so keep your bedroom quiet.  If outside uncontrollable noises are keeping you awake, try white noise (fan) or ear plugs to drown the noise out.  Street lights shining through your window, get some black out curtains or blinds.  According to David Schulman, M.D., director of Emory Sleep Disorders Laboratory in Atlanta you should reserve your bedroom for sex and sleep only.

RELAX…in 2009 the National Sleep Foundation reported that 30% of 1,000 Americans have a hard time falling asleep because they worry too much.  Stress created by the economy, family issues and keeping a job cause 12% of us to toss and turn almost every night.  Free your mind by concentrating on soothing sounds of waterfalls, ocean waves or a thunderstorm.   Self-hypnotic sleep tapes or CDs also help as your brain will pay attention to the instructions and in no time you will relax and fall asleep naturally.

NO ALCOHOL AS A SLEEP AIDE.  Ok a few drinks will help you fall asleep, but as the alcohol wears off, generally in four hours, you will wake up and it will be harder to fall back to sleep.  A healthier choice would be a cup of Sleepytime decaffeinated tea or a warm glass of milk.  Warm liquids raise your core body temperature and then it will drop rapidly. A cool body helps you sleep better.  But, don’t drink too much or you will be in the same boat and wake up during the night to go to the bathroom.

COOL BEDROOM TEMPERATURE.  Personally I love heavy blankets in my crypt, but results of a 2008 study done in Australia found that insomnia is associated with higher core body temperatures.  For those suffering from menopausal symptoms or nights sweats will agree keeping your bedroom temperature between 60-65 degrees will help your brain cool the body while you are asleep so you fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.  If you like to take a bath as part of your bedtime routine make sure it is not too hot or take it and hour or two before retiring as this raises your core body temperature and you will be too warm to fall asleep.

NO LATE NIGHT DINNER.  Dinner should always be at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.  If you eat later the result may be indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux which will only keep you awake or wake you up during the night.  Hunger can also keep you awake, so don’t go to bed on a completely empty stomach.  If a snack is needed, snack on foods that are rich in tryptophan an amino acid that makes us drowsy.  Try a slice of turkey, nuts, pumpkin seeds, cereal, banana or milk.  And we always wondered why we wanted to nap after a big Thanksgiving meal.  Try to avoid high calorie snacks as these will only end up on your hips and spicy foods will add to the risk of heartburn.

NO CAFFEINE LATE IN THE DAY.  If you have a sleep problem too much caffeine or drinking caffeine too late in the day might be the reason.  Caffeinated beverage are more than you daily cups of joe, its sodas, teas and even energy drinks.  Energy drinks can contain twice the amount of caffeine and take more than twice as long to get rid the affects.

ESTABLISH A BEDTIME ROUTINE.  Going to bed too late, getting up late, working different shifts, jet lag or taking long naps in the afternoon can throw off our sleep/wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep. Try to set a sleep routine that consists of going to bed and waking up the same time every day.  Eventually your body and brain will prepare itself to become sleepy at night and wake up naturally in the morning without an alarm clock.  How great would that be?

GET UP IF YOU CAN’T SLEEP.  Ok so you have tried the above tips and to no avail you’re still tossing and turning.  GET UP!  If you are lying there for more than 30 minutes it is better to leave your bedroom for awhile and do something else that will make you sleepy like read a boring book or write in a journal.  Try light stretches or yoga exercises, but no vigorous exercising as this will only increase your heart rate. Oh, and stop looking at your alarm clock this will just make your more aware and stressed about not getting the sleep you need.

If you don’t get the sleep you need your production levels decrease, you’re a bit grumpy and you may have trouble operating heavy equipment, but did you know that your sleeping habits can also make you fat?  Scientists are formulating a theory that lack of sleep might contribute to obesity, because lack of sleep influences two hormones that control hunger.  Leptin, made by fat tissue will tell your brain to stop eating and grhelin, made in the stomach tells us when to eat more.  A study found that restricting sleep leptin was suppressed and grhelin increased.  Grhelin and leptin are major players in determining how much we weigh as does growth hormone, insulin, cortisol and melatonin and the activity of each is influenced by how much sleep we receive.  That is why it is important to establish a sleep routine and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, which might mean that we go to bed as early as 9:30 (because going to bed doesn’t mean we go to sleep right away).

As I mentioned before no high calorie snacks before bedtime and this means no simple carbohydrates and sugar/sweet stuff, as these will increase your insulin levels.  High insulin levels will keep you awake.  Alternative choices are whole-wheat crackers which can control insulin and wild lettuce has a history of helping people fall asleep (see below). Lack of sleep is one area doctors are considering in helping people that are obese, as this is just part of the picture, along with little to no exercise and dietary indiscretion.
Good Evening,
Rose Sheepskill

How Eating Sweets Affects Sleep -- powered by eHow.com

Wild Lettuce, Lactuca Virosa

lactuca virosa identification
Wild lettuce , looks likes dandelion leaves but no flower.

Lactuca Virosa has very similar properties to opium, but does not contain any opiates and so it is safe to consume in controlled doses. An extract from the stem is prepared in such a way, very similar to opium and this produces lactucarium.When taken, this gives a mild euphoria and last last a few hours. This is open to abuse by many, but its main medicinal purpose is to aide sleep. In the past it has also been used as anesthesia.

It has a bitter flavoring, and is best used as a tea with lemon or with sugar. It is a powerful sleep aide and is best mixed with valerian root, and hops. This combination will make a deep sleep by promoting drowsiness and is often used in over the counter natural sleep remedies, even available from the supermarket or your local health food store. Some people have been known to even smoke the dried leaves.The liquid from the stem is the most potent part of the plant and is generally too strong to be used as a sleep aide, but it can be put into hot water and frozen into cubes, and this in turn can be used as a ready made tea by just dropping a cube into a hot cup of water before bed.  Freezing will keep it potent for a week.

As usual , the plant has flavonoids, an antioxidant ( such as those in normal tea) as well as coumarins, and  methyl beta phenethylamine.
Wild lettuce
Side effects include distorted vision, loss of balance and is not recommended for nursing or pregnant women.

In identification they plant is similar looking to the crepis japonica, but is different in many ways, including the thickness of the leaves and the texture of the leaves. In the taste, the bitterness is the giveaway.

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