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Sleep Problemsby Dave Foreman
For many of us falling asleep at night is like work. For others, we may fall asleep easily but wake up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back to sleep. Whatever your sleep dilemma, I am here to help. If you are having trouble sleeping, you're not alone. Probably over half of your friends would say they are tired because they didn't sleep long enough or deep enough. What you may not know is the severe health effects decreased sleep can cause. Insufficient amounts of sleep, or working odd hours, has now been linked to the following diseases:
It's also a major contributing factor to emotional and psychological problems, hospitalizations, reduced work efficiency and even death! There are many potential reasons why we have trouble sleeping. Insomnia is usually associated with various physical and psychological disorders, medications, and environmental conditions. Physical problems, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma, emphysema, GERD (Gastroesophogeal reflux), Alzheimer's, apnea, ulcers, Cancer, heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heartburn, menopause and restless leg syndrome are just a few of the many health challenges that can contribute to insomnia.
The classes of medication that can contribute are:
(including those for stomach issues) Some recommendations to help you sleep better
Eliminate caffeine - Caffeine is a drug and takes almost one day to be cleared from the body. There can actually be an additive effect from consuming caffeine on a daily basis. This may be why you used to drink one cup of coffee in the morning and now require 3 or 4 cups per day to keep from being tired. This stimulant is found in coffee, tea (all forms), chocolate, certain herbs (guarana, kola nut) and many beverages.
Food Sensitivities - This may shock many of you, but being sensitive to a certain food group has shown to impact your ability to sleep. If you have tried many techniques to improve your sleep and still are having issues, then having yourself tested would be a great next step.
Avoid other drugs - Drugs like nicotine, alcohol (yes these are drugs), stimulants used for ADD etc. can all affect your ability to sleep. I recommend consulting your pharmacist for a complete list of potential side effects of your medications to see if they are contributing to your sleep disturbances.
Get the TV out of your bedroom - This alone may be the biggest recommendation I can make. Too many of us will fight falling to sleep because we are too interested in seeing the end of a particular program. Record your program and watch it earlier in the evening.
Take a warm shower or bath - If you choose a bath, put a few cups of Epsom salt in the water to get an increased effect. The magnesium in the Epsom salt can be absorbed and help relax your muscles and decrease stress.
Increase your activity - activity/exercise can have a huge impact on your sleep. Don't do the exercise too close to your bedtime because this will probably have the reverse effect. I already recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking per day as part of my Four Pillars of Great Health. Give it a try for 4 weeks, you will see remarkable changes in your sleep and overall health. For those who tend to wake up between 2 and 4 AM, I recommend taking better care of your liver. This can be caused by consuming too much alcohol. You may be awakening between 2 and 4 PM because your liver is bogged down trying to metabolize alcohol. I recommend starting with a Liver Cleanse, such as Renew Life's or Enzymatic Therapy's. They're designed to help detoxify the liver gently and effectively. When done, continue your liver treatment with Milk Thistle 400-600 mg per day (Standardized to 80% silymarin). Overall, I've found the following supplements beneficial for falling asleep quicker and staying asleep longer.
Or look for products with these ingredients: Valerian root, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm, Melatonin (for jet lag or for those over the age of 55 - use sparingly), Magnesium (& calcium), Chamomile, Hops, Catnip, Scullcap, and Theanine.
For a different approach, try aromatherapy. A few drops of lavender oil in the bedroom can provide pleasant and surprising sleep benefits. Last, but not least, try my favorite trick. For each letter of the alphabet, think of something for which you're thankful. Lie in bed and breathe slowly and deeply. Here's how I have started in the past: "A" . When using this technique you'll rarely get to the letter Z. If you need to do this every night, change your answers. If it doesn't help, at least you'll be doing something positive to end the day.