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Sleeping difficulties

I’ve written about insomnia in the past in an article titled “Natural ways to help with insomnia“. And recently I came across an article on YAHOO®HEALTH, written by Barbara Brody entitled “Sleep Routine Makeovers”; so I thought I would comment on it.

Brody discusses how to deal with three different people’s sleeping issues based on tips given by Joyce Walsleben, RN, PhD, diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and coauthor of A Woman’s Guide to Sleep, and Michael J. Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep specialist. I’m going to review this article as well as add some of my own thoughts. The article addresses the following three common sleeping issues: 1) waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep; 2) sleeping only about four to five hours a night; and 3) nights sweats. I’ll discuss each of these separately.

The first problem is fairly common and a woman who suffers from it is quoted saying, “I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep”. In order to fall back asleep she reads The New York Times on her BlackBerry, and eventually falls back asleep only to wake up feeling exhausted all day.
Walsleben gives the following three tips for this routine:

1) “Ban the BlackBerry from the bedroom. Also cover (or remove) clocks so that you’re not disturbed by the light from them or tempted to stare at the numbers.” Walsleben explains that this is a two-fold problem because reading news articles can be too stimulating, and the light of the BlackBerry “can get in the way of the production of hormones that are essential for sleep”. Presumably, Walsleben is referring to the important sleep hormone melatonin, which is critical for sleep and won’t work properly when the eyes are exposed to light.

2) “Stay in bed. If you wake up, keep your eyes closed and practice relaxation exercises that will hopefully lull you back to sleep.”

3) “Relax during the day, too…so that you’re not overwhelmed by the worries of the day as soon as your head hits the pillow.”

These three tips are great as they discuss both the physiological and psychological aspects of sleeping routines. I’d like to add some nutritional tips at this point. For those who fall asleep and wake up in the middle of night, I find that it is important to look into blood sugar regulation. Typically, I find that a person experiencing this problem will have a drop in blood sugar in the middle of the night, which triggers stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline) to break down stored sugar (or glycogen) in order to bring the blood sugar back up to a normal level. When this occurs, the person wakes up out of sleep and usually has anxiety and can’t stop their mind from racing.

In order to avoid this, it’s best to follow an eating plan that stresses healthy blood regulation. I’ve touched upon this in the past in an article titled, “How to eat to maintain healthy blood sugar levels“. Additionally, I would suggest limiting caffeine to no more than one cup of coffee per day, and avoid all caffeine after 2:00pm. It may also be helpful to have a low-carbohydrate snack sitting next to your bed. Taking a few bites of a snack like this should help to normalize the blood sugar response and help you easily fall back asleep. Nuts or a low-carbohydrate “health food” bar usually work well.

The next routine involves a woman who said, “I only get four to five hours of sleep a night”. Breus gives the following tips in regards to this:

1) “Start “caffeine fading.”… drink most of your caffeinated beverages early in the morning and taper off as the day goes on. If you’re currently used to five or six cups of coffee a day, try having one or two cups of drip coffee in the morning, a latte (which has a higher milk-to-coffee ratio) or half-caf coffee midday, and a tea or cola in the afternoon if you’re still craving caffeine. But after 4 p.m., no more caffeine!”

2) “Set your alarm clock or cell phone to go off 30 minutes before bedtime as a reminder to stop what you’re doing and get ready for bed.”

3) “Take a hot bath or shower right before bed. This should make you sleepy because your temperature will rise and then dip–and body temperature naturally drops when you get sleepy.”

4) “Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time on weekdays and weekends. (A shift of about an hour is OK.)”

These four tips are great. Personally, I would recommend no more than one cup of a caffeinated beverage per day and no cola whatsoever. Assuming there is sugar and/or corn syrup in the cola, it would be best to avoid it altogether, to prevent unhealthy blood sugar metabolism. Diet colas also pose a problem as artificial sweeteners can cause a host of complications unto themselves. That’s a topic for another article. The second tip is a great one too, because often people stay up and get their “second wind” (as is mentioned in the article). It is important to go to bed when you feel sleepy to prevent that second wind from hitting. For tip number three, you may think about adding some relaxing essential oils if you take a bath. Lavender is a calming one and may help you relax and wind down nicely. Tip four is also invaluable for keeping your circadian rhythm normal.

The last routine the article refers to quotes a woman saying: “I have night sweats–but I’m only in my 20’s!”. In regards to this (and the fact that her husband gets into bed later than her, thus waking her up), Walsleben gives three tips as follows:

1) “Normalize your weekday and weekend sleep routines as much as possible. That might mean going to bed slightly later during the week than you are now, as well as turning in a bit earlier on Friday and Saturday. The goal is to bridge the gap.”

2) “Embrace the darkness. Even if you fall asleep with the light on, it probably won’t be quality sleep–and it’s all too easy to be woken up. If your husband insists on reading in the bedroom after your bedtime, ask him to use a book light or wear an eye mask yourself.”

3) “Talk to your doctor. If you practice these lifestyle changes for a few weeks and you’re not sleeping any better–and still waking up sweating–see your primary care doctor to make sure an unknown medical problem isn’t to blame.”

This last scenario seems a bit more serious than the first two, and I would agree with all three tips. The third tip certainly brings a couple things to mind. I would look to rule-out an infection that may be causing the body temperature to rise, as in a fever. Many times a person can experience a low-grade infection and night sweats will be the only symptom; as a fever is brewing to help fight the infection. Also, despite this woman being in her twenties, I would look to get a full analysis of her hormones (both stress and sex hormones). It’s not likely that this woman is going through menopause considering her age, however, it’s quite possible that there are major hormonal imbalances leading to hot flashes.

If you are interested in reading Brody’s entire article, here is a link to the YAHOO®HEALTH piece titled “Sleep Routine Makeovers“.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Anti-aging sounds like an oxymoron.  I look at it as basically being able to regenerate optimally.  That said, one can certainly reverse signs of aging that have set in due to poor lifestyle habits, hence “anti-aging”.  Our “biological” age can be more important than our chronological age.  Wouldn’t you rather look and feel 10 years younger than you are?  The following 10 tips are in no particular order.  Remember, there are no magic bullets!

1Drink optimal amounts of PURE, CLEAN water!
If you haven’t read my articles on this yet, click here – I don’t want to overstate the point.

2STOP eating sugar AND starches!
Any type of sugar will wreak havoc on your body.  This includes: refined white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, date sugar, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice, concentrated white grape juice, corn syrup, fructose, turbinado sugar, sucanat and more…let’s stop there for now.  Well, don’t forget foods with sugar in them like: pies, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda, doughnuts, brownies, etc..  The list of problems that sugar causes or contributes to is mind-boggling extensive.  I’ll be posting 76 reasons to avoid eating it soon.  OK, some more – I’d also stop eating refined honey, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, and many more devils in disguise.  It’s impossible to overstate this point!!!  By the way, artificial sweeteners can (and often are) worse for the body.  More on that another time.  One more thing – don’t go binging on fruit now.
Starches are basically processed in your body the same as sugar, and therefore have the same detrimental effect.  They include bread (even 99-grain), pasta (even supposed whole-grain), rice (even brown, though some people are OK with it), and potatoes (especially white).

3Detoxify your digestive tract!
This is one of the biggest causes of systemic toxicity that can affect any area of your body and cause premature aging and degenerative diseases.  The most common problems I see are an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, viruses, and/or parasites.

4Eat your GREENS!
Green vegetables are by far the healthiest you can eat.  Especially dark green, leafy vegetables.  Several good ones are kale, collards, dandelion, and swiss chard.  Greens are loaded with chlorophyll, the “life blood” of the plant, and pigment that gives them their green color.  Human blood gets its red color from the molecule hemoglobin, which allows blood the ability to carry oxygen.  Interestingly, the chlorophyll molecule in plants and the “heme” portion of the hemoglobin molecule in humans are almost identical.  The similarity rests in what’s called porphyrn, a ring of of atoms.  Chlorophyll contains magnesium in the center of the ring and hemoglobin contains iron.  Thus, chlorophyll is known to be an excellent blood builder and purifier.

5JUICE your vegetables!
Juicing is one of the best ways to flood your body with antioxidants and vital nutrients.  What makes juicing more powerful than eating vegetables is the efficient absorption, and the live enzymes because of their raw state.  Of course, eat your veggies too.  Just don’t drink too much green juice in one sitting, trust me on this.

6Exercise!
Some individuals need more aerobic exercise (constant and steady – e.g.: jogging, swimming, etc.) than anaerobic exercise (quick bursts – e.g.: weight training, sprinting, etc.).  Your applied kinesiologist can determine which is more necessary, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to do both.  At least 30 minutes every day would be ideal.  Yes, you can over-exercise, I see it all the time – and it’s harmful.

7Restrict you caloric intake!
There are probably hundreds of studies that have shown eating less (more likely, not overeating), will extend your life span.  The mechanism(s) is not fully known.  I would speculate that it has to do with controlling insulin levels, lessening the load on your liver, and preventing your gut from becoming toxic due to undigested, fermenting, and putrefying food.  Remember, you still have to get an optimal amount of nutrients; just do it with more nutrient-dense whole foods.

8Take dietary supplements!
This will ensure that you are taking in necessary nutrients that you may be missing from your diet, for any number of reasons.  Ideally, you will want your applied kinesiologist to determine the exact supplements you require most.  It is much better than a “shotgun” approach.  However, if you’re going to “shotgun” it, read my article on supplements by clicking here.

9Get adequate amounts of sleep!
This is of prime importance!  When you sleep, your body regenerates.  If you are not regenerating – there will nothing to prevent you from degenerating.  The necessary amount of sleep will vary by individual, but go for a MINIMUM of 8 hours each night.  There is more to know about sleep beyond the scope of this article.  Let’s get the amount of time down first.

10Laugh!
A study in Norway showed that subjects who found the world most funny were 35% less likely to die during the time the study was run.  Also, people in the study with cancer were 70 times more likely to survive until the end of the study.  Regardless, get some funny movies (with/or without) friends and try it!

Age – doesn’t matter

Health is what you do for your body minus what you do to your body – a quote from one of my mentors that appears to reign true

THE BODY NEVER LIES!!!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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