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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

5 Popular Natural Sleep Aides for Children

Sometimes it is hard to get your child to go to sleep and stay asleep. You’ve tried some the gimmicks and gadgets for children but nothing has worked. There are sleep supplements for children. Here are the 5 popular choices:

1. Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the body by the pineal gland in your brain. Melatonin helps to control your sleep-wake cycle i.e. it tells your body when to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. This supplement is popular for adults who work late at night or for those suffering from jet lag as it lessens the time it takes to fall asleep and also increases the length of sleep.

Studies have shown that melatonin can help children with insomnia to fall asleep. Dosage should not exceed 3mgs and it is not recommended to give to children under 10 years of age. Side effects include: daytime drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, stomach upset. According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality it is safe for short-term use, usually three months or less. The pharmaceutical grade synthetic supplement is available at your local grocer, health food store or pharmacy. DO NOT purchase melatonin is its natural form derived from animal’s pineal glands due to the possibility it could be contaminated.

Talk to your pediatrician before giving melatonin to your child to rule out interaction with other medication or medical reasons such as breathing difficulties or ADHD.

2. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Chamomile is one of the oldest herbs used for a sleep aide. It is also very gentle on the body and that is why it is popular for children to use. The active ingredients are flavonoids; chrysin and apigenin that are believed to make one more relaxed and fall asleep more easily. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Many people use chamomile for an upset stomach. There are no known side effects with chamomile; however some people have an allergic reaction especially those with plant or pollen allergies. Most popular as a tea, chamomile is also available in pill form and also blended in a capsule with other sleep supplements like the ones listed below and also including hops and cat nip.

3. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Valerian is a plant belongs to the Valerianaceae family. It has been used for over a thousand years as a mild sedative and hypnotic (a preparation that brings on sleep). It is also a supplemental sleep aide for children to reduce the time they fall asleep and improve their quality of sleep. The parts of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes are the roots and rhizomes (horizontal underground stems), which are typically yellowish-brown in color. The roots and rhizomes are harvested in the autumn of the plant's second year. They can be freeze-dried and used to prepare tablets or capsules containing the ground herb. Juice can be pressed from the fresh root, or the root may be mixed with alcohol to become a fluid extract or tincture of valerian.

When valerian is used to relieve tension or induce sleep, it is frequently combined with either passion flower ( Passiflora incarnata ), lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis ) or skullcap ( Scutellaria laterifolia ). Because valerian tea has a somewhat bitter taste, flavorings are often added, including peppermint or fruit flavor, to make a more pleasant-tasting drink. Adults may use the dosages.

• 2–3 g dried root in tea, up to several times daily
• 1/4–1/2 tsp (1–3 mL) valerian tincture, up to several times daily
• 1/4 tsp (1–2 mL) fluid extract
• 150–300 mg valerian extract, standardized to contain0.8% valerenic acid

To relieve insomnia, one of the above dosages may be taken 30–45 min before bedtime. It may take one to two weeks of regular use before the herbal preparation takes effect.

When giving valerian to children, recommended adult dosages should be adjusted in proportion to the child's weight. Most dosages of herbal products are calculated for an adult weighing 150 lb (70 kg). A child weighing 75 lb (35 kg) should therefore receive 1/2 the adult dose. Not recommended for children under the age of three.
Side effects include nausea, headaches, dizziness, vivid dreams, weakened heartbeat and even paralysis.

4. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Lemon balm is a mint plant that has been used in Europe and has been approved in Germany as a supplement to treat insomnia in conjunction with a nervous stomach as it protects the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers. It's gentle enough for very small children and is a favorite remedy for colic. Taken as a tea it is very tasty, but according to a German study children benefit greatly if valerian is combined with lemon balm in tablets. Dosage: 160mg of valerian root dry extract and 80mg of lemon balm leaf dry extract. Not known to have any toxicity or side effects.

5. Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). This herb was used by the Aztecs to help relax the mind and induce sleep. Its active ingredient harmine and related compounds help inhibit the breakdown of serotonin. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. Because of the widespread distribution of its cells, it is believed to influence a variety of psychological and other body functions including sleep.

Passion flower also contains chrysin, the same flavonoid found in chamomile. It is an especially helpful sleep aid for sleep disorders caused by chronic pain, muscle conditions and anxiety. It can be taken as a tea, tincture or as capsules and safe for children. However, because the most common side effect of passion flower is drowsiness, don’t give it to them unless you plan to have your child sleep for while.

Now that you know these 5 natural sleep aids for children, always consult your pediatrician first if you are thinking of using any of them for your child. He should evaluate your child’s medical history and establish the correct dosage for each supplement.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coping with Sleepwalking and Sleep Eating

Since I can’t watch TV during the day I tape my favorite shows so I can watch them at night.  Recently on Doctor Oz he did a segment on sleep eaters. My friend and associate, Dr. Luke Sleepwalker finds that people who are sleepwalking will binge on food, take a walk outside or even think their closet is the bathroom!  Reports have shown that up to 1 million adults could be sleepwalkers who eat, in fact, may patients who are obese have been diagnosed with a sleep-eating condition   Sleep eating could be dangerous not only because of the extra calories and fat you consume in your sleep, but some people will even eat nonfood items like cigarettes or toxic cleaning products.

The guest on Dr. Oz’s show said the most bizarre thing she ever ate in her sleep was a steel wool cleaning pad, and it was only when her nephew told her about this that she realized she was sleepwalking and eating.  You’d think if the nephew would have stopped her before ingesting the pad.  Very often, people who do sleep-eating are either on restrictive diets during the day or prescription sleep pills.  Restrictive dieting or medications can alter your ability to become paralyzed while asleep, therefore you can act out during REM sleep.  In REM sleep you dream and your body naturally paralyzes itself so you don’t act out. 

Doctors have classified the nighttime sleep-related eating disorder (SRED) as parasomnia which is a category of sleep disorders related to sleepwalking (somnambulism), night terror and periodic limb movement disorder. People with SRED sleepwalk their way to the kitchen to forge on food and nonfood items more than one time during the night.  Not only is obesity an issue these folks can experience cuts and burns are they try to prepare food and could also be life-threatening for those that are diabetic and must monitor their diet for proper insulin management. Because sleep-eaters get up through the night they never experience an uninterrupted night’s sleep which can cause mental and physical side effects such as memory loss, fatigue, depression, limited motor skills and even heart decease.

Dr Sleepwalker also talks about night-eating syndrome (NES).  Different from SRED this is an eating disorder associated with people having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep and usually suffers from insomnia.  NES sufferers eat dinner between 8pm and 6am and eat uncontrollably with a continued urge to eat during periods of wakefulness.  People with NES consume 50% of their daily calories at night eating high-calorie carbohydrates.

Another nocturnal nuisance is night-eating syndrome (NES). This problem is a little different from SRED and may technically not be a sleep disorder, but an eating disorder instead. Many people with NES however have trouble falling or staying asleep, a symptom of insomnia, which is why the lines are blurred to its classification. Alternatively, NES and SRED may be part of the same syndrome, but different parts of the spectrum. Regardless, this problem can be equally detrimental to one's health.  These people are at high risk for substance abuse and depression.

If you feel you have SRED or NES it is advised to seek medical counseling as a medical professional can diagnosis your disorder though a proper sleep study.  In order to help the doctor determine the correct treatment there are a few steps you can take such as; medical exam, keep a sleep journal, review all drugs, over-the-counter medications and supplements, establish a sleep routine, get rid of high calorie foods and make note of your calorie intake. Sleep-eating is associated by sleepwalking and excess nocturnal overeating known as compulsive hyperphagia.  Even though sleep-eaters are unaware and unconscious of their behavior there are sketchy memories and signs that they are in fact suffering from this condition.  A messy kitchen, candy wrappers on the floor, food smeared on face and hands and/or indigestion.

In fact 1 to 3 percent of the population is affected by sleep eating and more common among younger women in their late 20’s. Also sleep-eating may be genetically linked and those affected have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse or another sleep disorder and is directly linked to the onset of another medical problem that is why it is necessary to seek professional care from a doctor or sleep specialist to determine any underlying causes. Underlying causes may include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, drug abuse, drug withdrawal, chronic autoimmune hepatitis or acute stress.   
Treatment for those that have been diagnosed with a sleep-eating disorder may find interventions available to them other than prescription medication. If their condition is caused by acute stress, stress management courses or hypnosis may be recommended.  Lifestyle changes such as a change in diet, eating at different times during the day and reducing caffeine and alcohol maybe an alternative to medication.  If the underlying problem is sleepwalking, some medications have been found to be helpful are those in the benzodiazepine family.  Supplements such as GABA are known to help those with restless leg syndrome (RLS). 

Another similar sleep-related eating disorder that is different from sleep eating the individual is awake during episodes of nocturnal bingeing. This disorder has many names: nocturnal eating (or drinking) syndrome, nighttime hunger, nocturnal eating, night eating or drinking (syndrome), or the "Dagwood" syndrome. Affected individuals, usually children, are physically unable to sleep without food intake and are experiencing weight gain as well as insomnia. 

This is usually behavioral as infants are conditioned to have a bottle right before bedtime.  As the child grows they continue to have a drink or a bedtime snack and refuse to go to bed unless their request is granted. 

Eating or drinking at night is usually a conditioned, conscious behavior, although it is a disorder, in many cases night eating is not caused by a mental or physical condition and can be corrected with healthy lifestyle changes.  Undue stress, an ulcer or Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) has also been projected as a possible cause of nighttime eating. Low blood sugar can be determined by a glucose tolerance test.

Treatment for an adult with night eating should be determined by a physician so they can rule out another condition such as Hypoglycemia. Correcting the behavior may take longer with an adult than with a child, but overtime establishing a healthy daily life by eating smaller more frequent meals, reducing carbohydrates while increasing proteins before bedtime and reducing stress may help.  Protein metabolizes slowly and stabilizes the blood sugar levels which should help alleviate the uncontrollable urge to eat and drink often late at night and for those that suffered from night eating should fall sleep and stay asleep through the night.

Why Benadryl is a bad sleep aide

reourse: Julie's Health Club 
It's tempting to pop a Benadryl when you can't sleep. But seemingly benign over-the-counter drugs taken for insomnia and other common conditions, such as allergies, motion sickness or incontinence, can damage the aging brain, according to research published in the journal Neurology.

The drugs, called anticholinergics, work by blocking acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter.  They're widely used, especially by the elderly and sold under the names Benadryl, Dramamine, Exedrin PM, Nytrol, Sominex and Tylenol PM. Some anticholinergics, such as  Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil, are available only by prescription. (Here’s a list of medications with anticholinergic effects.)

In a six-year observational study, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and Wishard Health Services evaluated 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began. The study was longitudinal, which means it collected data on people at more than one time point and analyzed the change.

The scientists monitored cognition and tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants. They found that consistently taking one anticholinergic "significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment" while taking two of the drugs doubled the risk.

The finding was especially significant for African Americans, who are already known to be at high risk for developing cognitive impairment, said lead author Noll Campbell, a clinical pharmacist with Wishard Health Services. But the results can be generalized to other races, the researchers said.

Indiana University geriatrician Malaz Boustani, a study co-author and investigator at the Regenstrief Institute, discourages his patients from taking the drugs. But one bright spot in the study, was that the medications were linked with mild mental impairment, involving memory loss without functional disability, but not with Alzheimer's Disease, said Boustani.

Previous studies have shown negative short term effects on cognition and  found a link between anticholinergics and delirium, a rapid change in a person’s mental state. This was one of the few that used longer term data.

It's possible that sleeplessness could be driving both the ingestion of the drugs and cognitive decine. But animal studies have found a direct effect of anticholinergics on neuron health, said Boustani.

The researchers next hope to conduct randomized controlled trials—the gold standard of research--and to focus on  “whether anticholinergic-induced cognitive impairment may be reversible,” said Boustani, the founder and scientific director of the Indianapolis Discovery Network for Dementia.

Sleep Aides: New Bath Salts

resource: Bath and Body Co.

We’re excited to bring a new line of all natural therapeutic bath salts to our customers. Our bath salts are specifically formulated to help detoxify and comfort your body in four unique formulas: Sleep Aid, Sports Therapy, Sinus & Cold Relief and Detox Therapy.

Sleep Aid Bath Salts2
Our Sleep Aid therapeutic bath formula is a relaxing, sleep-inducing mixture of botanicals and calming essential oils in an effervescent blend of healing salts. We’ve added lavender, chamomile and vanilla to help calm and relax you. A bath soak in our Sleep Aides blend will cradle  you to sleep in no time.

If you need serious relief from a weekend of overindulgence or a stressful day at the office, take a soak in our Detox Therapy bath formula. Flush out the toxins from your body with our cleansing blend of 100% natural ingredients.

Our Sinus & Cold Relief bath formula blends essential oils and healing salts to relax muscles and aid in sinus decongestion. We use a soothing blend of peppermint and eucalyptus to help provide fast sinus relief in just one aromatic and effervescent bath soak.

If you are looking for a natural remedy to comfort you after hard day’s play, turn to our Sports Therapy bath soak. Our 100% natural formula reduces minor sports-related aches and pains, soothes bruises and strains. A soothing blend of essential oils and epsom salts reduce inflammation and helps to reduce tomorrow’s stiffness.
All of our therapeutic bath salt formulas come in our 16 oz. eco-friendly brown bags.  Add 1 cup or more to a warm bath and soak for 15 minutes or more for soothing, aromatherapeutic relief.

Sleep Aides: Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

resource: Coolest Gadgets
zeopersonalsleepcoach Rose knows that alarm clock technology has changed very little since its first appeared on the market, as it is just a loud sound programmed to get you up at a time that you would prefer to be sleeping. Most “improvements” are usually a louder sound, or some kind of activity to make the user alert, like the Dynamite Alarm Clock. I’ve seen one that uses scents to aid the early riser, but this was just a concept for now.

Zeo has come out with the first alarm clock that I have seen that actually wants to help you sleep. In fact, this product is billed as a Personal Sleep Coach. Sleep coach? I’ve heard of a life coach, but this is not ridiculous.

The user of the Personal Sleep Coach must wear a headband that will track sleep patterns with a sensor. This sensor can detect electrical signals from the brain, and wirelessly transmits its results to the display. Your sleep record is saved on the SD card that you can see sticking out of it.

From there, the user can upload the information to the myZeo Personal Coaching Web site, and learn about ways to improve their sleeping program. Not a bad idea. This is probably the only alarm clock that I would want by my bedside, as I sometimes have a problem with my sleeping.

See the 2011 Best Sleep Gadget Gifts   for more gift giving ideas or buy one for yourself...you deserve a good night's sleep too!

At last, someone has made an alarm clock that I don’t want to curse. Of course, some of you might have a problem with the high price tag.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Can’t Sleep Because of Bills

While Washington is contemplating to extend unemployment benefits to 2.5 million out-of-work Americans many of those Americans can’t sleep because of bills.  As unemployment rises to a 62 year high, benefits for those that have been out of work for more than six months expired 48 days ago with 5 jobless Americans vying for every job opening available.  CreditCard.com poll reported in June, 2009 that one in five Americans suffer from restless nights and insomnia because of financial troubles including paying for their credit cards. 

Many credit card holders have seen their interest rates increased as well as added fees in the last year causing several to file for bankruptcy. The poll which was conducted by GfK Roper, a division of GfK Custom Research North America asked over a 1000 Americans why they couldn’t sleep and their response was; can’t save money for retirement, can’t afford health insurance, inability to pay mortgage or rent, education or credit cards. 

There is little doubt that today’s economy is causing many Americans to have sleeplessness nights.  Some have considered financial counseling to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety in order to sleep at night.  Others meditate or use self-hypnotic tapes to keep their mind off their financial problems before they go to bed. 
  Women were more likely than men to lose sleep over financial matters due to fluctuating hormone levels that interrupt normal sleep patterns caused by stress.  If a spouse or loved one is in financial trouble the women of the family feel the impact in their sleep.  Since many men lost their jobs the wife has picked up a low paying job just to keep employment benefit such as health insurance, life insurance, an accident plan and/or dental and vision for the family. 

Older people were mainly concerned over health care and younger adults reported losing sleep over saving for retirement.  Almost half of those polled or 48% worried about paying their mortgage/rent and 32% suffer from lack of sleep due to credit card debt.   Since the poll many more are losing sleep due to the change in interest rates and the retirement loss many faced when Wall Street had its meltdown. 

For those that wonder, how much sleep do I really need?  Well, if you are having difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early in the morning and feeling restless during the day you are not getting enough sleep.  Lack of sleep also affects work performance and concentration, so if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night because you are stressed about work and bills, you may not be able to get or keep a job….it’s a catch 22.  If you can’t keep your job to get your health care you can’t afford to get COBRA to obtain counseling for your financial difficulties or a doctor for your sleep disorder.  If it isn’t one thing it is another. 

If Washington manages to get both the Senate and the House to agree on extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans at least then for those that can’t sleep because of bills might rest a little easier, if not at least they will be surprised. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tart Cherry Juice: A Natural Sleep Aide to Improve Sleep and Other Age-Related Conditions

Rose knows there is one more reason to add cherries to your grocery list. The fruit, touted for its multiple health benefits is now being considered as a natural alternative to a sleeping pill.

According to researchers, the tasty, non-addictive cherry juice could be the natural cure for insomnia, a major health problem affecting people worldwide that destroys the quality of life and leads to depression and hypertension.
Psychiatrist Dr Wilfred Pigeon, from the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study stated, “This trial suggests CherryPharm, a natural juice, improves sleep in individuals with insomnia. Given the side-effects of some medications, it is encouraging to have a natural alternative.”
Details of the study
In order to evaluate the benefits of cherry juice easy sleep the researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of 15 elderly adults with chronic insomnia.

A team of University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and VA Center of Canandaigua researchers conducted a pilot study on the sleep habits of 15 older adults. The adults drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice beverage  in the morning and evening for 2 weeks, and a comparable matched juice drink, with no tart cherry juice, for another 2 week period. There were significant reductions in reported insomnia severity when drinking cherry juice daily, compared to when they were drinking the juice drink.
All the participants were asked to keep a sleep diary to record their sleep patterns.
The researchers used the entries to assess sleep continuity, sleep onset, wake after sleep onset, total sleep time and sleep efficiency with the help of the insomnia severity index.

Observations by the researchers
It was noted that after drinking cherry juice, participants slept better, experienced less sleeplessness and also enjoyed around 17 more minutes of sleep time.

Experts theorize that the benefits in the sleep patterns may be due to the fruit's high content of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the body's sleep-wake cycle.

The Power of Red
Not only is melatonin linked to sleep, but research suggests melatonin can be a powerful antioxidant, helping reduce age-related inflammation and fighting free radicals in the body. Beyond melatonin, cherries are packed with other powerful antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins – the compounds responsible for cherries’ bright red color. A growing body of science indicates that cherries may help reduce inflammation, aid muscle recovery and reduce risk factors of age-related conditions.

According to Dr Russel J. Reiter, a biomedical scientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center, though melatonin supplements are promoted as a sleep aide, cherries may be better option for enhancing the body’s own supply of the chemical.
He explained, "When consumed regularly, tart cherries may help regulate the body's natural sleep cycle and increase sleep efficiency, including decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep.
"And, because cherries are so rich in other antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, you get other important health benefits."
The findings of study are published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Benefits of cherries

Cherry juice is also known to be a good remedy in relieving pain associated with arthritis. The anthocyanins in cherries offer ten times the pain-relieving equivalent of an aspirin. Researchers have also found that anthocyanins are strong fighters against cancer, stroke risk and heart attacks.

Michigan Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oats
4 cups milk
1/4 tsp almond flavoring
1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 large apple, unpeeled, grated or chopped


* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
* Coat 3 quart casserole or baking pan with cooking spray.
* In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
* Fold into baking dish.
* Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Cherry Chocolate Recovery Drink

4 oz (120 mL) chocolate milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) tart cherry juice concentrate
2 tbsp (30 mL) plain yogurt
½ oz (14 g) dark chocolate, melted
1-2 tsp (5 – 10 mL) maple syrup (optional)

Melt chocolate in saucepan over low heat or in the microwave for a few seconds.
Add chocolate milk, tart cherry juice concentrate, yogurt, melted chocolate and maple syrup together and blend or mix well. Chill and serve.

Nutrition Info:
Nutrition Facts per 208 g serving: 210 calories, 10 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 28 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein, 3 g fiber, 105 mg sodium; Daily Values: 8% vitamin A; 43% vitamin C; 20% calcium; 20% iron

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hypnosis for Sleep Problems

Using hypnosis to treat sleep disorders such as bedwetting and insomnia has been used as early as the 1930’s to determine emotional and stress issues that are the cause of disrupted sleep.  When a person is hypnotized they enter a trance-like state that opens their mind to the hypnotist suggestions during which can identify these issues and persuade the patient to get the rest they need by reinforcing and applying repetitive affirmations that address memories and emotions.

During the initial consultation the patient and the therapist will agree on what will be said during the hypnotic trance and therefore reinforce positive behaviors for later use.  These positive reinforcements will enable the patient to become relaxed at any time, reducing stress and anxiety.

Hypnotic sleep and deep sleep are different in a way that a therapist can influence the patient’s mind and body in order to alter sleep disorders and create effective sleep patterns.  This technique helps the patient achieve a relaxed state of mind to attain a deep sleep.

Patients with sleep disorders suffer from not being able to fall asleep to not being able to stay asleep.  Therapist use hypnosis for those as young as five that wet the bed, emotional issues that cause insomnia, relieve anxiety for those that have reoccurring nightmares and help sleepwalkers.  Therapist also use other means with hypnosis to treat a patient such as medication, counseling, teaching self-hypnosis and sleep journals.

Those that experience an occasional night without sleep may benefit from self-hypnosis without the need to see a therapist.  Reaching a state of relaxation through self-hypnosis for sleep can be obtained by just getting into a comfortable position in bed, usually on your back and close your eyes.  Take deep breaths, hold it and exhale slowly, as this will allow your heart rate to decrease.  Flex and release the muscles in your arms, legs, body then head and concentrate on these areas. This will allow you to focus on relaxing and not the stress that is causing you to stay awake.  Taking deep breaths while you flex your muscles, release them as you exhale slowly counting from 8 to 1 and tell yourself to relax, relax. 

There are many self-hypnotic sleep aides on the market that will give you step by step instruction on how to achieve maximum relaxation.

Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to achieve your goal.  There should be limited or no light, no other sounds to disrupt your concentration and the room should be cool, so you don’t wake up during the night because you are too warm.  Adding a self-hypnotic sleep aid with your regular sleep routine such as taking a bath or having a cup of decaffeinated Sleepytime tea will help you to relax and allow you to get the rest you deserve.