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  1. It happens to the best of us – we have an early start the next day but are unable to fall asleep. We lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, and listening to the ticking clock as the night refuses to end. For some people, it happens every day, and for others, it happens when they are too tired or stressed, and their brains simply won’t shut up. The most interesting – and frustrating -thing about not being able to fall asleep is that the more you think about it, the harder it is for sleep to come. Does that mean you have a sleep disorder? Yes and no. Some people have trouble falling asleep when they have a lot on their minds or when they are too stressed or excited. However, if this is a regular occurrence without any external cause, you probably have sleep-onset insomnia. This is a condition when the person is unable to fall asleep when he is supposed to. Sleep onset insomnia is also sometimes called delayed sleep disorder and can be a common occurrence with some people. When you are unable to fall asleep at the right time, you get late in the morning and remain drowsy the rest of the day. The hours lost at night result in sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness. It is no surprise that sleep disorders are on the rise around the world, and affecting the global economy because of lost productivity. Besides, sleep deficiency and excessive daytime sleepiness cause accidents and injuries and also lead to greater health problems later in life. Why You Can’t Fall Asleep? When we go to bed, we want to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Everyone loves a good night’s rest because it makes them feel fresh and alert and helps them achieve more throughout the day. But a lot of reasons contribute to sleep onset insomnia or simply the inability to fall asleep. This can either happen on a regular basis or once in a while, but it is frustrating nevertheless. Stress and anxiety are usually the two most important factors that interfere with normal sleep. When there is a lot on your mind, sleep can be elusive. Until your brain shuts off, it is hard to fall asleep. Consuming caffeine and alcohol before bed can also interfere with sleep. Medical conditions and medications also cause sleep problems. However, sometimes every person finds it hard to fall asleep, even if they sleep without any issues on other nights. This is often because of mental exertion, stress, anxiety or the wrong foods. 10 Tips to Fall Asleep Faster If you do not have a medical problem and are unable to fall asleep simply because of external factors, there are things you can do to make sleep come faster. The following tips are meant to help you get started on a healthy sleep routine that makes falling asleep and waking up the next morning equally easy. Go to Bed Only When You Are Sleepy Just because it’s time for bed doesn’t mean you should be lying in bed when you aren’t sleepy. Make it a point to go to bed only when you feel sleepy. This will help the brain associate the bed with sleep and nothing else. Maintain A Sleep Routine Once you get home from work, make sure to wind down with a relaxing sleep routine. From having a relaxing drink to taking a warm bath to listening to soothing music, it all helps your brain shut down and get into sleep mode. Watch or Read Something Boring That’s right if you must read or watch TV in bed, make sure it’s something boring. There’s even a channel on YouTube called Napflix that plays boring videos to help you fall asleep. Avoid watching horror movies or the 11 pm news or anything that excites you. Don’t Look at The Clock When you’re lying in bed unable to sleep, your eyes keep going to the bedside clock. Looking at the time every few seconds makes the night pass slower than usual. To avoid this, either remove the clock from the room or turn it backward. When you cannot see the time, you fret less about being unable to fall asleep. Adjust the Temperature Regardless of the season, if your bedroom doesn’t have the ideal temperature, it can be hard to fall asleep. If it’s too cold, turn the thermostat up. If it’s too hot, turn on the air conditioner. If you want your room warm even in summer and if it’s something that helps you sleep better, don’t be shy about turning up the thermostat when everyone else is using the AC. Keep Warm It isn’t uncommon to find people who have chilly hands and feet throughout the year, especially when they go to bed. If this is you and it keeps you from falling asleep at night, try warming up your feet. Either wear socks to bed or use an additional blanket or soak your feet in warm water before hitting the sack. Have Comfortable Bedding Not many people want to invest in comfortable bedding because they think it’s a waste of money. What they don’t realize is that bedding is crucial to sleep quality. When you have attractive and comfortable bedding, it makes sleep time more appealing and makes you look forward to going to bed. Try Deep Breathing If it’s stress and anxiety keeping you from falling asleep, practice deep breathing while you’re lying in bed. Simply breathe through your nose, making sure it’s your belly that swells and not your chest and exhale from your mouth. Keep doing this until you doze off. Have Sex Whether you are coupled up or single, sex is powerful enough to help you relax because it releases the feel-good hormone called oxytocin. That’s the reason why bedtime is regarded as the best time to have sex because it helps you get relaxed and sound sleep afterward. Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bed What you eat for dinner often has a big impact on your sleep quality. If you have a heavy meal close to bedtime, your digestive system will work throughout the night, preventing your brain and body from relaxing and falling asleep. If you must eat close to bedtime, keep it light. A heavy meal for dinner should be consumed within 6 in the evening, not later. When to Seek Medical Help for Sleep-Onset Insomnia? If all these lifestyle changes do not resolve your sleep-onset insomnia, you can seek medical help. However, it is recommended that you try every means in the book before taking the help of sleep supplements or medications.
  2. Alcohol is the most common type of sleep aid. But drinking alcohol regularly can interfere with your sleeping pattern. It may affect sleep quality, too. Does this mean that you need to give up alcohol altogether? No. You simply need to be smarter about how you manage your liquor consumption, instead. Caption: How to sleep better after drinking alcohol Source: Pexels There are several strategies that you can use to ensure better sleep after drinking alcohol. Avoid Caffeine If you want to sleep better after having a drink, stay away from caffeine. This does not only refer to coffee. You must refrain from consuming other caffeinated drinks like sodas, teas, and energy drinks. They will keep you awake at night. If you combine that with the effect of alcohol in your body, it will be hard to enjoy a restful night. If a night of drinking is on the horizon, no worries. Whether you are out with friends or enjoying the game with any of these great tasting beers, you should be smart. Make sure you avoid having any caffeinated drinks, especially during the hours close to when you plan to hit the sack. Have a Balanced Meal Drinking your favorite beer or wine on a full belly can reduce the impact of alcohol on your sleep (versus not having a full meal). When you are going out for a drink or sipping some spirits at home, don’t skip dinner. A solid and balanced meal can regulate your body’s absorption of the alcohol. Make sure you have enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This will allow the alcohol to be gradually introduced to your bloodstream, reducing its overall impact on your body. The less disruption your body has, the better your sleep will be. Drink Plenty of Water Alcoholic drinks, like beer, can make you dehydrated. When your body is dehydrated, you not only toss and turn during your sleep, you can also suffer from a headache the next morning. So keep yourself hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can combat the diuretic effect of alcohol on your body. Tips for better sleep after drinking alcohol Source: Pexels The goal is to drink as much water as the alcohol you consume. When it is not possible, just try to drink as much water as possible. This will help keep your body hydrated. Another benefit to drinking plenty of water is that it fills you up quickly. As a result, you don’t consume as much alcohol as you normally would. Say No to Smoking Aside from staying away from the bad combination of alcohol and caffeine, smoking should be avoided too. A lot of people like to drink and smoke at the same time. If you are one of them, don’t be surprised if you have trouble sleeping at night. Nicotine (found in cigarettes) is a stimulant. If you smoke, it can definitely keep you awake at night. By reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke (or by not smoking at all), you will be able to sleep faster. This can also improve the quality of your sleep. Turn Off the Alarm If you have an alarm set on the regular, turn it off just before hitting the bed. Give your body a chance to recover from the effects of alcohol during your sleep. Do not disrupt that sleeping cycle with an alarm going off. If possible, keep your phone away from your bed, too. You would not want to be woken up by a text message or call. After all, you are going to be highly sensitive to any noise so you want to minimize any disruptions as much as possible. Stay off Alcohol Before Hitting the Bed A lot of people have relied on alcoholic drinks such as beer or wine to help them get to sleep. But studies have shown that this is actually doing the opposite. It is time to change your habit of getting a drink right before you hit the bed. This habit of yours can make you feel more awake and energetic, instead, which can then cause a disruption in your sleep cycle. It is best to get started early on your alcohol consumption – this is called the ‘happy hour’. Do not wait until much later in the night when you are just about to go to bed to get your drink. You are more likely to sleep faster and more soundly when you have had your drink a few hours earlier. Make Your Bedroom Cozy Sleep better even with alcohol Source: Pexels This might seem like a simple step but it can be very effective if you want to fall asleep faster. A cozy bedroom is one that is dim and has a comfortable temperature that will help you doze off. Darker colors on the bedroom wall are also suitable for sleeping. If you are not into dark wall colors, neutral hues can create a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom. Ideally, your bedroom should be somewhere that is far from any sources of noise (such as the living room or a noisy street). The less disruptive noises there are, the sooner you can sleep. The quality of your sleep will be better, too. Setting the ideal temperature within your room can also make sleeping easier. Aim for a temperature range of 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Switching to new bedding such as microfiber sheets can improve the quality of your sleep as well. The goal is to make your sleeping space as cozy as possible. Final Reminders Heavy drinking is associated with sleep disorders. If you want to reduce the impact of alcohol on your sleep, you might want to lower your consumption. Instead of drinking as a regular nightcap, you can skip some nights. If you can, limit alcohol consumption to 2-3 times a week. Follow a pattern that works for you to improve your sleep quality. It is always a good practice to keep things in moderation.
  3. How does lack of sleep effects your brain in short term? Likewise, what happens to our brains when we don’t get adequate sleep for a prolonged period? Everybody knows that sleep is essential for our bodies and brains to function at their best. Otherwise, why would we be spending one third of our lives doing it? Chronic sleep deprivation puts us at a higher risk of various disorders and long term health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, to name just a few. It has also been amply demonstrated that the lack of sleep has a negative affect on our cognitive performance. At the cognitive level, the lack of sleep impairs our ability to focus, make judgements, consolidate information and learn new things. In the words of Dr Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, “It’s difficult to identify a cognitive skill that isn’t affected by sleep, and compromised by sleep deprivation.” Yet, while the effect of sleep and the lack of it on our cognitive performance is very well documented, much less is still known about how exactly sleep affects the brain on the cellular level. However, as brain science rapidly advances, more and more studies appear that begin to fill that gap. Here are four of the most prominent studies of recent years and their findings that looked closely at our sleep deprived brains. Sleep Allows Your Brain Cells To Repair Themselves A study published earlier this year in Nature Communications found that sleep is essential for the brain’s ability to repair itself. More specifically, scientists found that during sleep essential DNA repair processes take place in the brain. In the course of the study, the researchers from Bar-Ilan University observed zebrafish, species that are characterized by having transparent heads. With the use of a powerful microscope, the researchers were able to observe the brain of the zebrafish during sleeping and waking, and took time-lapsed images of individual neurons. They were then able to see that during sleep the process of DNA repair kicked off in their brains, reversing the DNA damage accumulated during the day. According to the researchers, human brain cells also regularly accumulate DNA damage not only from exposure to radiation and other undesirable conditions but also as a result of the normal brain activity. Sleep allows for these cells to be repaired. One of the study’s authors, Professor Lior Applebaum, explained why this complicated process takes place while we sleep, by comparing it to repairing potholes in the road. Speaking to Independent, he said: “Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic.” The researchers think that this finding might explain the essential role of sleep for all animals with neural system including humans. Sleep Deprivation Kills Your Brain Cells In a study that was published in 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine made an alarming discovery that lack of sleep can result in irreversible loss of brain neurons. The study was conducted on mice, whose brain is known to be surprisingly similar to the human brain. The mice were put on a schedule similar to the one that is used by people who work night shifts or long hours. In each 24 hour period, the mice got only 4 to 5 hours of sleep. The results were astounding. After just three day of this schedule, the sleep-deprived mice lost 25% of brain cells in part of the brain stem, the damage that seemed to be irreversible. According to the study’s authors, because of the similarity between the brains of mice and humans, it is very likely that the human brain suffers from the same loss of neurons when deprived of adequate sleep. This is something that researchers planned to further investigate by conducting autopsies of shift workers. Sleep Helps Brain ‘Detox’ Another study published in Science around the same time, found that during sleep a sort of detox process takes place in your brain, as it gets rid of harmful waste products, including some that have been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) who used high-tech imaging to look into the brains of mice and found that their brains behaved very differently when awake and asleep. Specifically, the waste removal process happened ten times faster when the mice were sleeping, flushing out among other things the toxic protein amyloid-beta that is associated with Alzheimer’s. The clean up process observed by the researchers happens with the help of the cerebrospinal fluid that flows through the spaces between neurons flushing waste into the circulatory system. During sleep, the researchers found, brain cells contract, leaving more space for the cerebrospinal fluid to do its job a lot more effectively. Sleep Enables Brain Cells to Communicate Effectively In a fourth study on brain and sleep published recently in Nature Medicine, researchers found neurological explanation to the mental sluggishness that is so familiar to any of us who’ve ever had to take an exam, drive a car or perform any other cognitively demanding activity while sleep deprived. Specifically, the study authors found that lack of sleep severely impairs the ability of brain cells to communicate effectively. In the study, 12 participants who were preparing to undergo surgery for epilepsy (unrelated to the study) had electrodes implanted into their brains and were asked to stay up the entire night. Several times throughout the night, researchers asked them to categorize images of faces, places and animals as fast as possible. They noticed that as people got drowsier, their reactions got slower. The researchers monitored the brain activity at the same time, paying particular attention to neurons in the temporal lobe, which regulates visual perception and memory. They were able to see that the slowed down response time was due to the less effective communication between their brain cells. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) explained in a statement: “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This paves the way for cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.” This of course has direct consequences in everyday activities such as driving, and thus can have a fatal affect. “Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much,” Fried said. “Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying overtired drivers on the road the same way we target drunk drivers.”
  4. Have you ever experienced excessive daytime sleepiness, so much so that you almost fell asleep at the wheel of your car? Or maybe you dozed off at your desk, only to be seen by your boss. Yeah, that was bad. According to National Sleep Foundation, everyone suffers from daytime sleepiness at some point. When the condition persists and becomes chronic, it is called hypersomnia (or hypersomnolence). Not all cases of daytime sleepiness can be called hypersomnia. For instance, if you do not get enough sleep at night for a long stretch it may result in daytime sleepiness, but getting enough sleep again is going to make it all right. When sleep alone does not cure the sleepiness and fatigue it usually is a symptom of hypersomnia. This condition is often accompanied by other symptoms like poor concentration and lack of energy. Hypersomnia can disrupt day to day life, and severely affect productivity. In some cases, it may even cause accidents if the person falls asleep while driving. Hypersomnia can be properly diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Causes of Hypersomnia There are several causes of hypersomnia: Sleep Disorders: More often than not, sleep disorders cause excessive daytime sleepiness. When a person does not get enough sleep at night, it results in fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Two major sleep disorders that cause hypersomnia are narcolepsy and sleep apnea. Narcolepsy is a central nervous system disorder that causes daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, muscle weakness, and disturbed sleep at night, whereas sleep apnea is a breathing disorder in which the air passage is blocked by the tissues of the throat and the roof of the mouth (soft palate), resulting in snoring and disturbed sleep. Sleep Deprivation: This is often the most common cause of EDS, and can be cured with enough night-time sleep and short naps in the day. Lack of sleep is mostly caused by stress, little or no exercise, shortage of vitamin D, or a pair diet. Managing these helps in dealing with hypersomnia. Obesity: Being overweight can give rise to a number of health problems, including EDS. When a person is obese or overweight, they are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, because fatty tissue in the throat and the soft palate obstruct the air passage in the supine position. The difficulty in breathing results in unsound sleep, several episodes of gasping awake, and also snoring. This leads to sleep deprivation and hypersomnia. Neurological Disorders: Quite often, neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis or even a head injury can have symptoms resembling hypersomnia. When EDS develops after a head injury, it is called post-traumatic hypersomnia. This is not exactly hypersomnolence but has some of the same symptoms. Excessive sleepiness is also one of the earliest signs of brain tumor even when other symptoms are not present. Substance Abuse: Addiction problems like substance abuse are often the reason behind a number of sleep disorders. Withdrawal can also give rise Insomnia sleep apnea and other disorders. Prolonged use of prescription drugs can also lead sleep disorders by affecting normal body functions. All these result in disrupted sleep at night and excessive sleepiness during the day. Smoking, caffeine, and other lifestyle problems also result in sleep disorders and hypersomnia. Genetics: Research has found that sleep disorders run in the family. So if any member of your family suffers (or suffered in the past) from sleep disorders or hypersomnia, you may be at a greater risk of EDS. Diagnosis of Hypersomnia Not all daytime drowsiness is hypersomnia, and only a qualified medical professional can diagnose if you are suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness. If you feel excessively drowsy during the day, try making some lifestyle changes first. Cut down on the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and get enough exercise and sunlight during the day. Even after making these changes, your symptoms persist, talk to your GP. The doctor is going to talk to you about your medical history and your lifestyle to try and find out if you have any sleep or neurological disorder. Hypersomnia is usually caused by an underlying condition, and the doctor will attempt to treat that condition to eliminate EDS. Treatment of Hypersomnia There are various treatments for excessive daytime sleepiness, but it will depend on your symptoms and the underlying cause. The first thing your doctor will try to find out is if you suffer from a sleep disorder. To diagnose this, you have to undergo certain tests, including a polysomnography, in which you have to stay overnight at a sleep center to analyze abnormalities in your sleep pattern. If you are found to have sleep apnea, then a proper course of treatment is going to be prescribed. Two of the most common treatments for sleep apnea are Oral mouthpieces, where dental appliances are fitted to your mouth to correct the jaw, tongue and soft palate position for unblocking the airway, and Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) that involves wearing a pressurized mask over your mouth and nose during sleep, to keep the air passage open by forcing air through it. If your hypersomnia is being caused certain prescriptions drugs that make you drowsy during the day, then the doctor may change the medication or stop it altogether for some time to check for any improvement in your condition. Excess weight should be reduced if the sleep disorder is being caused by obesity. Your doctor may suggest a diet, exercise, and medications to bring down your weight and unblock the air passage while sleeping. In extreme cases, surgical options may also opt for quick weight loss. Iron and Vitamin D deficiency can also cause daytime sleepiness. In such cases, you will be given supplements, and also advised to be on a healthy diet. Making lifestyle changes is the most recommended treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness. Setting a proper bedtime every day, getting more sleep, quitting caffeine and smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption are some of the ways hypersomnia can be treated effectively. If a sedentary lifestyle is the problem, thirty minutes of physical activity daily could be beneficial in treating hypersomnia. In extreme cases, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to treat the condition. These include stimulants like Provigil or Ritalin, sodium oxybate to treat narcolepsy, and antidepressants. However, in most cases, making lifestyle changes and treating sleep disorders are enough to cure excessive daytime sleepiness. A thorough diagnosis by a doctor is necessary before jumping to any conclusion. Excessive daytime sleepiness can be a nuisance that affects normal life and even gives rise to risks like road accidents. Whether you are driving, crossing the street, climbing the stairs, being drowsy can result in freak accidents and injury. Hypersomnia may not always be serious. Taking iron and Vitamin D supplements and proper diet and exercise can often help when the symptoms are mild. In more severe cases, a doctor’s opinion must be sought, and the appropriate course of treatment taken to cure the condition. Hypersomnia is a curable condition that affects several people throughout the world. If you suffer from excessive drowsiness during the day, make an appointment with your doctor to get to the root cause and start the journey to a more productive life.
  5. Best Tea for Sleeping Problems Millions of people all over the world spend their nights tossing and turning in bed rather than getting that much-needed rest that everyone craves. If you are one of these people, you know how terrible it feels not to get enough sleep – you wake up feeling groggy instead of refreshed and revitalized and lack energy for the rest of the day. Have you ever thought of trying out a cup of tea before going to bed? It could do wonders in helping you get that restful sleep that you need so badly. Here is a look at some of the best teas to help you sleep: Lemon Balm Tea: Does drinking lemon balm tea seem like the last thing that could help you sleep? Well, it actually works. Although it sounds pretty unlikely, lemon balm tea is excellent for people with insomnia. If you have difficulty sleeping, this is one of the best herbal teas for you as it helps in treating indigestion and anxiety and also reducing stress. You can mix it with other herbs like chamomile and valerian to increase its effectiveness. Lavender Tea: Everyone knows that lavender smells amazing and that it has quite a few medicinal properties that help treat a number of health issues. You can use lavender tea to help you sleep as it is quite an effective sleeping aid. All you need is a small cup of lavender tea to ease your body and mind and help you fall asleep. It works great for kids and adults alike and is a much safer sleeping aid than OTC products. Chamomile Tea: There is no better herbal tea than chamomile tea when it comes to feeling calm and relaxed. Because of this, it is one of the most effective natural sleeping aids. It is also packed with antimicrobial properties and antioxidants, making it highly beneficial to your overall health. Chamomile tea, apart from helping you sleep, can prevent cancer and treat diabetes and high cholesterol. Peppermint Tea: Peppermint is an excellent aid for digestion, and it also helps you relax, which is why peppermint tea is a great herbal tea for sleeping. With its soothing taste, peppermint tea is one of the best tea to help people with sleep problems. It contains menthol, which relaxes and calms the body and mind. It may also be able to stimulate vivid and pleasant dreams, so sip on a cup of peppermint tea every night before you go to bed. Valerian Root Tea: Have you heard of valerian root? If not, you are missing out on one of the best herbal teas for sleep. It contains compounds that have mild sedative properties with phytochemicals that activate those compounds to send the brain a message that it is time to sleep. Valerian root tea is safe and is the best choice for people who suffer from mood problems, anxiety as well as insomnia. Magnolia Bark Tea: For centuries, many countries in Asia have been using magnolia bark tea to treat anxiety and nervous disorders. However, recent studies have shown that it is an effective sleep aid. Magnolol, the main ingredient of the herb, acts as a mild sedative and effectively helps people fall into a deep, peaceful sleep. Turmeric and Ginger Tea: From ginger cookies to ginger ale, ginger makes everything taste delicious. It also has a number of different health benefits thanks to its natural antiviral and antibiotic properties. When you combine ginger with turmeric, you get the perfect herbal tea with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The combination of these two ingredients also helps in creating an effective sleep aid. One of the best things about turmeric and ginger tea is that it is easy to make as you probably have the two ingredients readily available in your kitchen. Herbal teas are fantastic as they not only help you relax and relieve stress and anxiety but also come with many other health benefits, such as fighting cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. If you are tired of sleepless nights, do not head to the chemist for OTC sleep aids. Try out different herbal teas instead and find out which one works best for you. OTC medications may also have serious side effects and can be addictive. Stop wasting your money on medications that do more harm than good. You will find it much more beneficial to drink a cup of soothing herbal tea before bedtime – let the tea do its work and help you fall into sweet slumber and wake up refreshed, ready to tackle the day.
  6. Sleep is one of the most mysterious phenomena in living beings, and it has intrigued since the dawn of civilization. Although science has been able to understand much of the processes in living beings, sleep is still mostly a mystery. Much of this is because we aren’t conscious when sleep happens and it’s impossible to tell what happened while we were sleeping after we wake up. For years, scientists have been studying sleep and associated phenomenons like sleep paralysis and have also managed to figure out a lot about what happens in the brain and the body when a person is asleep. However, some aspects of sleep are yet to be demystified, and one of them is the REM stage. The final of the four stages of sleep is called the Rapid Eye Movement stage because the brain is active in this phase and the eyes move rapidly behind closed eyelids. Many interesting things happen during this stage. Dreams, for instance, have intrigued both scientists and the common man for the longest time, and they happen during the REM phase. When dreams happen, the brain is active, but the body is still inactive, in a state of paralysis, to prevent it from acting out the dreams. Another mysterious phenomenon is linked to the REM stage, and this is sleep paralysis. Decoding Sleep Paralysis? Have you ever woken up from sleep, only to find that you couldn’t move or talk or get out of bed for a few moments? That’s what is sleep paralysis. In ancient times, it was linked to supernatural creatures. When the episode occurs, everyone thought that is supernatural creature had possessed him. This made sleep paralysis a very scary phenomenon for everyone. The condition was also termed a type of nightmare. But after a lot of scientific research, it is now known that the condition is nothing but being mentally aware while still asleep. This can happen either during falling asleep or waking up. The REM stage is the most complicated phenomenon associated with sleep, mainly because the brain becomes active and is conscious enough to experience life-like visions in the form of dreams, but the body is still inactive. Although the cause of sleep paralysis has been learned, the reason behind it still remains unclear. What Causes Sleep Paralysis? Although science is still unsure about the exact cause of sleep paralysis, global folklore has had explanations for centuries. These include visits from supernatural beings like ghosts, witches, and demons. In recent cases in the US, sleep paralysis has also been called “alien abductions.” These associations to supernatural activity make sense because during sleep paralysis many people experience pressure on the chest, the feeling of being secretly watched by an intruder, and other hallucinations. However, none of these actually happen. These are only sensory perceptions because the brain is still in the REM phase and the body is inactive. This means the person has woken up when he is not supposed to be awake. Because sleep paralysis is a complex phenomenon, it has been widely studied by scientists. The most common cause is waking up in the middle of REM stage sleep. When a person wakes up when the REM stage is still active, he is able to see, hear and feel because the brain is awake, but is unable to move because the body has not yet come out of the REM stage. Although this sounds scary, it lasts only a few seconds because the body realizes that the brain is already awake and slowly begins to move again. In the number of studies conducted over the years to find out more about sleep paralysis, the most common cause has been identified as sleep deprivation. When a person is deprived of the normal sleep cycle, he is more likely to wake up in the middle of the REM stage. Usually, we are supposed to wake up at the end of the REM stage, but if we don’t have a normal sleep cycle, the possibility of waking up in the middle of the REM stage increases. This is when sleep paralysis is most likely to happen. Sleep paralysis is also common in narcolepsy patients, according to sleep experts at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Health System, New York. Because narcolepsy is the result of a disrupted sleep cycle, sleep paralysis is more likely to happen, in combination with hallucinations. Napping also increases the possibility of sleep paralysis because it disrupts the natural sleep pattern. If you oversleep while napping, you may experience sleep paralysis. Young age also is likely to be a cause behind sleep paralysis. The Mayo Clinic says that sleep paralysis is most common in the age range of 10 and 25. This means even children can be affected by this disorder and also get very frightened. In people with anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder, sleep paralysis is very likely, according to a 2017 report published by the National Institutes of Health. Since these emotional disorders result in nightmares and insomnia, they also increase the possibility of sleep paralysis. According to a 2011 study by Pennsylvania State University, nearly eight percent of the general population experienced sleep paralysis. Among them, about 31 percent of people suffer from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Although this was a small study, it does go a long way in proving that mental disorders are associated with sleep paralysis to a certain extent. However, this doesn’t mean that every person with anxiety or PTSD will get sleep paralysis. Genetics may also have a role to play in sleep paralysis. According to the findings of a 2015 sleep study involving 862 twins and siblings by the University of Sheffield, genetics could influence sleep paralysis is some people. Although this study was also preliminary, the researchers added that it does provide a basic idea about the involvement of circadian rhythms in sleep paralysis. Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis Those who have experienced sleep paralysis find it to be scary. It almost seems like you were having a stroke, where your entire body was paralyzed, and you couldn’t move or speak. These are the most important symptoms of sleep paralysis. People are unable to move any part of their bodies or speak right after waking up or right when falling asleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can last a few seconds or up to a minute. Along with paralysis of the body, people may also experience tightness or pressure on their chest, as well as a choking feeling. Hallucinations are also not uncommon during an episode of sleep paralysis. This is because the brain is still in a dream-state and hasn’t fully woken up. These visions or hallucinations can be an extension of an ongoing dream. Aside from these, there are no other symptoms of sleep paralysis. The person is awake and aware during sleep paralysis episodes and can later recount the experience. Sleep Paralysis Prevention and Treatment There are no short or long term effects of sleep paralysis. Hence, there is no treatment for it. What can be treated is an underlying cause that could be contributing to sleep paralysis. Rather than treatment, this is an effort to prevent sleep paralysis. Sleep experts suggest that medical help is not required after only one rare episode of sleep paralysis. What is important is to check your sleep hygiene. Often, sleep paralysis is a sign of sleep deprivation. If you have experienced sleep paralysis only once or twice, you should make sure to get enough sleep daily, limit caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and all other drugs, and stop using electronics at bedtime. Medical help might be needed to treat underlying causes if the above doesn’t help and sleep paralysis episodes keep becoming more frequent. A sleep specialist is a person to see if you have recurrent sleep paralysis episodes. Although sleep paralysis is not dangerous, if you experience extreme episodes, you may be prescribed a short course of antidepressants. This helps to treat any underlying stress or mental disorder that might be the reason. Sleep experts suggest that during a sleep paralysis episode, it is important to remain calm and keep telling yourself that it will soon pass. There’s not much else that you can do. No one has ever remained in a sleep paralysis forever, so it’s important to understand that it’s only temporary and pass very soon. However, this is possible only when you’ve experienced an episode or two before. The first time, such episodes can really be frightening. Risk Factors of Sleep Paralysis Sleep paralysis is a fairly common phenomenon and can affect anyone in any age group. It is most likely to begin between age 14 and 17 years and decreases after the age of 30. A person is more likely to experience it if there someone in the family with the disorder. Some of the risk factors are: Bipolar disorder Anxiety, depression or PTSD Sleeping on your back Excessive stress The use of certain medications Interesting Facts About Sleep Paralysis In the past, before science could explain everything, it used to be believed that ghosts and demons caused sleep paralysis by pinning people down by sitting on their chest. However, these visions were mere hallucinations, a common symptom of sleep paralysis. In fact, most people who report seeing apparitions actually had sleep paralysis. People also use different methods to shake themselves out of the episode. Some wiggle their toes while others cough. However, it isn’t possible to wake oneself up from an episode of sleep paralysis, until it passes.
  7. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formally recognized the importance of sleep and its effects on public health. In spite of a lack of sleep being linked to issues as diverse as lackluster job performance, hypertension, difficulty concentrating, diabetes and more, data gathered by the agency via its National Health Interview Survey notes that nearly 30 percent of adults slept an average of six hours or less each day. How Yoga Nidra Can Help While the factors leading to this lack of restful sleep — and its related sleep deprivationn— are varied, many people find that their sleep is restless or that they simply cannot fall asleep in the first place. Yoga nidra — often translated as meaning “yogic sleep” — is a sleep-like experience that can occur during meditation and that can lead to a better night’s sleep. During the three states of consciousness that can occur during yoga nidra — waking, dreaming and deep sleep — you can experience benefits such as peaceful energy, total body relaxation as well as a reduction in anxiety and pain. Preparing for Yoga Nidra The techniques of yoga nidra can be found in the Mandukya Upanishad. Some people — especially when they are first starting the process of yoga nidra — can benefit from a recording instead. Before getting started with the practice of yoga nidra, you need to thoroughly prepare. First, give yourself plenty of time for a relaxed and unhurried experience. Choose a period when you have a long block of time to yourself — without pressing obligations that await at its conclusion, if possible. Clear out a space to lay a yoga mat as well as rectangular yoga bolsters or cushions, if needed. Use an eye mask or eye pillow to reduce the sensation of light. For a more permanent solution, consider installing room-darkening curtains or shades to help you focus during yoga nidra and to help maintain a restful setting for sleeping. Yoga Nidra Techniques Yoga nidra techniques can be loosely defined as the following: 1. Connection Focus your mind to connect on that which you desire — perhaps well being, health or peacefulness — most of all. Use your entire body to feel this desire, experiencing and imagining it as if it were happening at that moment. 2. Intention What is your intention during this yoga nidra session? You might want to explore a sensation, belief or emotion. Perhaps you simply want to rest and relax. Invite, welcome and affirm your intention with your entire being. 3. Resources Look inside yourself and find that safe place where your feelings of well being, calm and security reside. Perhaps there is a particular person, place or experience that helps you feel this way. At any time during your day-to-day life or while practicing yoga nidra, feel free to experience that place to bring yourself back to center and calm. 4. Scan Taking an unhurried approach, become aware of each of your body parts. Scan your scalp, forehead, neck and throat. Guide yourself to become aware of your eyes, mouth, nose, ears and jaw. Experience sensation throughout your fingers, your palms and up through your arms and shoulders. Perform the same gradual guided scan of each part of your body in turn. 5. Breathe Focus your awareness on your breath. Notice how it occurs on its own — with no help from you. Feel the flow of air as it naturally leaves and enters your throat, nose and lungs. Embrace the energy as it flows throughout your body. 6. Feel Open yourself up to your feelings, withholding judgment or change. Embrace the sensations — like tension, warmth or heaviness — that you feel in your body. Notice any emotions like anger, worry or sadness, and answer these with serenity and feelings of ease instead. 7. Witness Again, without judging your memories, thoughts or images or trying to change them, simply notice them. Welcome your thoughts and observe them. Experience the opposite thoughts as well, bringing them to mind and experiencing them as they occur. 8. Experience Open your being up and experience sensations of bliss, happiness, joy and well being. Feel them originating from deep within your belly or your heart before they spread throughout your entire body and reach into the surrounding space. Radiate these feelings of positivity with your every exhalation. 9. Observe Increase your awareness of yourself. Observe the identity of you — your personality and those traits that comprise you. Be cognizant of those feelings that arise as you experience your sense of identity. Give way to consciousness and awareness rather than thinking. 10. Reflect As your session of yoga nidra winds down, reflect on the sensations you acquired along your journey. Affirm the peace and awareness that lies deep within you regardless of the changes swirling around. Contemplate on ways to integrate this into your day-to-day life so you can retain a sense of equanimity. Finish the session on a gentle note, allowing yourself to transition back to the present gradually. Take a few moments to reorient yourself and to feel gratitude for having this experience. While many people fall asleep when they first begin yoga nidra, the goal is for you to use the techniques you learn to help you fall asleep at night. Teaching your body to let go of the day’s experiences and to relax makes all the difference in getting the sleep it needs. If you’re looking for other meditation options, check out the Sol Tec Lounge.
  8. Benefits of Sleeping Naked What if someone told you that by doing one simple thing every night, you could beat stress, build self-confidence, and have an overall healthy life? Would you be intrigued? Or would you laugh, and call that person crazy? You are not alone. Most people would laugh it off if they were told that sleeping naked could dramatically improve their health and life. It isn’t surprising that a mere 8% of the world’s population sleep naked, while the rest wonder about its benefits. A Google search will reveal the huge number of ways you can improve your life, but none of them is as simple as stripping to your birthday suit before going to bed. It takes a little effort and has several benefits that you may not have ever imagined. Read on to find out the great things sleeping in the nude can do. You Sleep Better Naked We have all heard that sleep is good for the brain. But a new study shows how exactly sleep benefits the brain. When we are asleep the brain removes toxic proteins from neurons, which accumulate when we are awake and do the neural activity. But the brain is only able to remove these proteins when we get quality sleep successfully. Sleeping naked helps us sleep better by lowering our body temperature. When the skin temperature is low, we sleep deep and wake up less at night. This results in high-quality sleep that improves brain function. It Cuts Down Stress How stressed we are usually depends on the amount of cortisol released by our body. This hormone leads to several issues like anxiety, unnatural weight gain, and sleep disorders. Cortisol production is higher when the body is overheated. It has been seen that the release of cortisol is regulated and reduced when our body temperature is low. One of the best ways bring down body temperature is sleeping without clothes on. When cortisol production goes down, it reduces stress and keeps you healthier. It Boosts Male Virility You must have heard that men who wear loose boxer shorts have better sperm quality than those who wear tight underpants. According to a 2015 research, men who sleep naked have even better sperm quality than those who wear loose boxers. This is good news for men who are planning to start a family or add to an existing one. Sleeping without clothes on also increases happiness between couples. The skin on skin contact brings couples closer, leads to spontaneous sex, and aids in overall health. It Regulates Growth Hormones If you have always feared those dreaded wrinkles and crow’s feet, then you should be sleeping in the buff. Melatonin and growth hormones are responsible for keeping your skin in great condition and looking youthful. The best way to regulate your growth hormones is to keep your body temperature below 70°F. Sleeping without clothes keeps your body temperature regulated and balances your melatonin and growth hormone levels, slowing down the aging process. It Boosts Self-Confidence We all know that self-confidence is crucial to success. When you are confident, you take on challenges more easily and are more likely to succeed in every role in life. It means you are comfortable in your own skin and not afraid to be the real you. When you sleep naked, you grow more comfortable with your body and more confident in your own skin. This affects your overall self-esteem and makes you a more confident person. It Is Good For Your Skin Sleeping in the buff lets your skin breathe. We usually wear layers of clothing throughout the day, and it restricts the body, especially the armpits, feet, and private parts. Taking off your clothes at night airs out these parts and aids in better blood circulation, leading to glowing skin. Letting your skin breathe, particularly in summer, prevents fungal infections, rashes, and itchiness. It Is Simply Easier Sleeping naked is so much easier than deciding what to wear to bed. You don’t need to buy pajamas or lingerie, don’t have to worry about washing extra clothing, and you also save money. Who wouldn’t love to save some money, as well as a lot of space in the wardrobe? Stripping off your clothes and simply hopping into bed to sleep makes life easier. It Makes You Feel Free Know that feeling of lying naked in bed, free from all your clothes? Yes, that’s what we are talking about. That’s also the feeling sleeping naked gives you. Imagine taking off your bra after a long day, or getting out of your underwear while going to sleep. You feel free and unconstrained. Without clothing on, your body feels lighter, just like it’s meant to be. Now imagine being between the sheets in your birthday suit. How great is the feeling? That feeling of being light and free automatically makes you smile and makes you feel good after a hard day at work. If sleeping au natural can make you smile and feel good more often, then why not? It Reduces Sleep Distraction How many times have your uncomfortable lingerie or the tight waistband of your pajamas woken you up from sleep at night? Plenty of times, we are sure. It takes something as small as the drawstring of your pants to ruin your night’s sleep. When you sleep naked, there is no chance that uncomfortable clothing is going to disturb you at night. Strip off your clothes, and slip between soft sheets for the most peaceful sleep and a fresh morning. It Makes Sleeping Easy During Summertime When the mercury soars, it becomes difficult to sleep comfortably. If you don’t have the convenience of an air conditioner, you must be familiar with the trickling sweat or the itchy skin that keep you up at night all through summer. That’s when sleeping in the buff is the most comfortable. Even when the bedroom feels stuffy, your bare skin will give off heat and keep you cool. You may not even need the AC anymore when your body becomes cool and you sleep comfortably, no matter how sultry the summer is. Sleeping naked has benefits that you may not have considered before. Apart from letting your skin breathe and helping lower body temperature, sleeping in the buff aids in overall better sleep by removing distractions and makes you more comfortable in your skin. Of course, it isn’t always advisable to sleep naked, especially if it’s too cold or if you are sick. At all other times, go commando to make the most of your forty winks!
  9. Even though often overlooked, sleep is undoubtedly the most important part of life. People can go without food for days, but the effects of sleep deprivation are quick to show. It’s not surprising that a good night’s rest has incredible benefits for both the body and the mind. How you feel during the day depends on the quality of sleep you get at night. Your productivity at work, your concentration, memory, and your mood and appetite also depend on the quality and quantity of sleep that you get. When you are deprived of sufficient sleep for a prolonged amount of time, the effects do not take long to show. A large number of people suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. And in most cases, they are not even aware of it. Most people who suffer from a sleep disorder go their entire lives without realizing why they never got sufficient sleep. Disorders of sleep are of various kinds, but they all interfere with the normal quality and quantity of nightly sleep. There are people who do not suffer from any sleep disorder but also do not get sufficient sleep. This is mainly because of a hectic schedule and making more time for work, home, and other social commitment. It is no surprise to find people doing with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep every night because they work too late and wake up early. When people have too much stress in life but not the required amount of sleep, it is a potential course for various health disorders. Productivity, memory, and concentration also suffer if nightly sleep remains insufficient for a long time. Why Is Sleep Important? Most imagine that sleep is a period of inactivity. This assumption is not surprising because while we are asleep, we do not get to know what happens inside our brain. That’s why we tend to think that while we sleep the brain is also asleep. But the brain and the body never sleep and keep working even while we rest. Some of the most important processes of the brain take place while we are asleep. It must be remembered that the brain cannot perform the rejuvenating and revitalizing functions while we are awake. These functions can only be performed when we go to sleep. Sleep can be divided into four stages, three of which are non-REM stages and one REM stage. All of these stages are equally important in ensuring sleep quality. While the first two stages are light sleep, the later stages are deeply relaxing and rejuvenating. The third sleep stage is a non-REM stage and lasts 10 to 30 minutes, but sleep here is the deepest and almost like a coma. It generally takes a long time for a person to wake up from this sleep phase. In this stage, the heart rate and the body temperature of the person are the lowest, muscle movements barely occur, and the breathing is gentle and rhythmic. It isn’t possible to turn or change sides in this phase because the body is immobile. Delta waves in the brain are produced in this stage, deeply relaxing to the body and helping it heals and recharges in this stage, because of the delta waves. This is the stage when bedwetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking occurs but the person has no memory of them when they wake up. The final stage of sleep is the only REM phase. Unlike the earlier three stages, the brain becomes active in this stage although the body is still immobile. The REM phase lasts for a short time, with most adults spending only about 20 percent of their sleep in this phase. This is when dreaming occurs along with the rapid movement of the eyelids from side to side behind closed eyelids. The heart rate, breathing, and body temperature begins to rise in this phase. The REM sleep stage is when the brain starts to become active, right before the person wakes up. This stage is extremely important in ensuring proper sleep quality. Because this is the deepest sleep stage, the brain recharges and prepares for the day. The REM sleep stage is important because this phase boosts learning, memory, and cognitive functioning. When this stage is hindered, the brain doesn’t get to complete these processes, leaving you foggy and disoriented when you wake up. Alcohol is notorious for hindering REM sleep, preventing you from restorative sleep no matter how long you’re asleep. Importance of A Sleep Study It goes without saying that being part of a sleep study is expensive. Then why would anyone want to take one? That’s because there’s so much that a sleep study can reveal about your health and your sleep quality. If you have untreated sleep disorders, a sleep study can be eye-opening and lead you to take your sleep more seriously. Sleep studies can be performed either in a labor at home. However, if serious sleep disorders need to be diagnosed, then the study should be performed at a lab because brain waves will be monitored. The great thing about a sleep study is that it’s able to diagnose a problem in an hour or two whereas a doctor will require a series of tests to find out the same over a few months. Because sleep studies are conducted by sleep experts, if they diagnose a sleep disorder, they can begin treatment immediately. This means you can recover quickly. Is Sleep Study Worth The Cost? Although sleep studies are on the expensive side, most insurers have started to recognize the health risks of untreated sleep disorders and also have good coverage costs. You should check with your insurance company to find out if they offer coverage for a sleep study. In many cases, it can be very affordable. A sleep study depends on the type of sleep disorder. An affordable alternative to taking a sleep study in a lab is to take a home sleep test, which is only a fraction of the cost.
  10. You know exercise burns calories, so it affects weight management and it’s important for heart health, too, but what about sleep? Does exercising impact your sleep schedule, as well? Put simply, yes, if you have trouble closing your eyes and drifting off or staying asleep all night long, it may be because you are not active enough. Before you reach for a bottle of pills to treat your chronic insomnia, consider how exercise and other smart, healthy habits will improve your sleep naturally. Sleep and Exercise: What’s the Connection? If you do have poor sleep habits, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists insufficient sleep as a major public health issue in this country. A 2009 analysis conducted by the CDC found that about 48 percent of the study participants stated they got less than seven hours of sleep each day. More importantly, 37 percent claimed to fall asleep during the day hours, which might explain the over 1,500 fatalities each year associated with driving while drowsy. Sleep hygiene is defined as behavior designed to promote quality sleep, including certain lifestyle choices like regular exercise. Lack of exercise may be at the heart of many sleep disorders, according to researchers at Northwestern University. They conducted a study to measure the effect exercise has on sleep habits in middle-aged to older adults who were less active than recommended. The scientists broke them up into two exercise groups: One did two 20-minute workout sessions four times a week One did 30 to 40-minutes of exercise four times a week Both groups strived to reach 75 percent of the maximum heart rate in at least two activities. A third control group was established, as well. These participants didn’t exercise at all but instead exerted themselves mentally. The active groups slept better and reported less depression and daytime sleepiness. How Exercise Affects Sleep Sleep isn’t just about how long you are in bed each night. Sleep quality is actually broken down into multiple categories: Duration – How much a person sleeps in 24-hours Sleep continuity – How fast a person falls asleep Timing – When a person goes to sleep in each 24-hour period Alertness – During the waking hours Satisfaction – How well a person sleeps Depth – This refers to sleep stages and brain activity Exercise works to improve the quality of your sleep by providing better sleep continuity and enhanced satisfaction. Better sleep automatically improves timing, because sleep habits become more consistent, as well. Vigorous vs. Moderate Exercise In a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, respondents indicated: Up to 67 percent slept better with exercise 26 percent found vigorous exercise offered the most benefit 66 percent of those who do exercise vigorously stated they get all the sleep they need to feel good compared to 55 percent who only exercised moderately or lightly 50 percent of the vigorous exercisers stated they were able to maintain momentum better during the day as a result of quality sleep The truth is all exercise helps, but the more intense the better you sleep. Exercises Worth Doing Before Bed Effective exercisers develop routines that might include doing specific exercises right before bed to further enhance sleep quality. Few types of exercises say relax and go to sleep like yoga. The right poses are enough to ease your mind and body in preparation for sleep. Consider some moves that help promote sleep and mental relaxation. Upside-Down Pose Lie on your back and slide your bottom up next to a wall, leaving about six inches of space between your skin and the surface. Extend your legs so they rest flat on the wall while spreading your arms to the side. Maintain this pose for up to two minutes, slowly inhaling and exhaling to promote relaxation. Twist Sit with your legs crossed in front of you. Place one hand on the opposite knee while twisting at the waist until you feel the core muscles engage. Hold as you breathe in deeply and then exhale. Reset to center and repeat the exercise twisting to the other side. Do this for up to three minutes. The Child’s Pose Get into a table pose with your shoulders over your hands and your hips over your knees. Push back until your bottom is resting on your feet and your hands are stretched overhead. Your face is facing the floor. Hold this position for up to five minutes playing close attention to your breathing. Rock-a-Bye Pose Roll over to your back and pull your knees towards your chest, crossing your ankles. Place your hands just above your crossed ankles and pull your knees in further and hold the pose for up to 7 minutes. Any one of these exercises alone or in combination will improve your quality of sleep by relaxing your body and calming your mind. Avoid intense cardio exercises before bed unless that’s what you are used to and it works for you. For most people, a heavy workout disrupts circadian rhythms. Save your jogging for mornings or early in the evening instead and just do stretches close to bedtime. 5 Easy Fixes the Go Beyond Exercise Exercise is a critical part of any healthy lifestyle and certainly will work to improve your sleep quality, but it is just one step in developing good sleep habits. Other things you’ll want to do include: Go to bed at the same time each night – This includes weekends or your regular days off. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be to fall asleep. Get up at the same time each day – The flip side of the consistency coin is wake up times. If you get up for work each day at 8:00, keep that going even on your days off. This will make it easier to maintain that stable bedtime. Choose bedtime snacks wisely – Avoid going to bed with either a full or hungry stomach. When choosing a bedtime snack, avoid things that contain caffeine like soda or chocolate. Limited what you drink an hour before bed, too, to keep from waking up to go to the bathroom. Create a Ritual at Bedtime – In other words, do the exact same thing each night. If you shower at night than always shower at night, for example, but whatever you do, do it consistently. This will send a message to your brain that it is time to prepare to sleep. Make Sure the Bed Comfortable – If you are having trouble getting comfortable at night, figure out why. Is it the mattress? How about the pillows? Do whatever is necessary to make that space as sleep inducing as possible. While regular exercise is just part of the sleep puzzle, it’s an important one. Develop a fitness schedule and stick to it to get a better night’s sleep.
  11. The Best Sleep Supplements for Getting a Better Night’s Rest When it comes to the topic of natural sleep aids, it gets rather confusing, doesn’t it? What works, and what does not? Are they safe? There are so many questions when you think of natural sleep supplements. Sleep is important as it is when your body repairs and heals itself and rejuvenates. When you do not get enough proper sleep, it affects your health, making you more prone to health issues. This is why you should find a good sleep supplement if you cannot sleep or do not get enough sleep. Luckily, there are quite a few excellent sleep supplements that can help you get the restful sleep you need. Here is a look at some of the best sleep supplements that you can use to get better sleep and wake up every morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the world: Multivitamin: Do you know that nutrition plays a vital role in fighting insomnia and other sleep problems? Most people do not eat the right amounts of fruits and vegetables every day to give their body the nutrients it needs. Fact: shortage in nutrition can affect sleep and leave you feeling fatigued. You should take a good multivitamin daily to improve your ability to sleep and get the night’s rest your body needs. Calcium and Magnesium: Your daily diet should have adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium as they are important nutrients that help you relax and ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. Magnesium may be particularly helpful in stress and fatigue reduction. Multivitamins do not contain much of these two nutrients so you may need to take a supplement if you lack these two essential nutrients in your diet. You should also make sure that you get a minimum of 400 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. This vitamin plays a critical role in the absorption of calcium in your body. Melatonin: This is a natural hormone that helps in regulating your sleep-wake cycle, also known as circadian cycles. According to studies, melatonin does not only help some people fall asleep, but it also enhances sleep quality. Experts say that it comes in two forms – immediate release and extended release. If you have difficulty falling asleep, the immediate release may be the better option to take before bedtime. For those who tend to wake up in the middle of the night, extended relief may be better. Melatonin supplements can also be an effective treatment for certain sleep disorders, including jet lag. Kava: A member of the pepper family, the Kava plant has been shown to help in relieving anxiety. A review of six studies showed that patients who took Kava showed reduced anxiety compared with patients who took a placebo. According to another small study, Kava helps in improving sleep in people suffering from stress-related insomnia. However, it is important to consult a doctor before using Kava supplements to find out if it is safe for you as the FDA has issued a warning that there is a link between this supplement and the risk for severe liver damage. Passion Flower: As you may already know, passion flower has a wide range of health benefits, including calming and anti-anxiety effects. Anxiety can have a major effect on sleep as you are unable to turn your brain off, in particular when you are trying to get some rest. Passion flower supplement is great as it can have a calming effect that helps in stopping that vicious cycle of thought. It has been found that passionflower is one of the most effective natural anti-anxiety sleep aids that do not result in lingering fatigue the next day. St. John’s Wort: Do you have trouble sleeping due to depression? St. John’s Wort supplements may be the solution to your problem. According to recent studies, this herb contains chemicals like adhyperforin and hyperforin which act as small messengers in the brain that affect mood and work as effective and powerful antidepressants. If it is your depression that is keeping you from sleeping or getting a full night of restful sleep, it may be worthwhile to try out St. John’s Wort supplements to treat the depression. If it works, you may be able to get the rest and sleep that your body and mind need. While many people use over-the-counter sleep aids to help them with their sleep problems, they do not realize that these OTC products may cause serious side effects in the long run and over time, lose their effectiveness. Natural sleep supplements like the ones mentioned above are safer and better options, plus they work very well in treating various sleep disorders, helping you sleep better and thereby improving your health.
  12. The endocannabinoid system is present in humans as well as other mammals. This system comprises neurotransmitters, which are known as endocannabinoids, and protein receptors. It is these receptors that react with plant-based cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, which are present in hemp products. THC is responsible for the psychoactive high when you use cannabis while CBD does not produce a high; rather it has a soothing and calming effect. The endocannabinoid system is quite complex, but researchers know that it regulates several physiological and cognitive processes, including sleep, mood, pain, and appetite. In fact, the endocannabinoid system is essential for homeostasis in humans. Research is still ongoing to find out how the endocannabinoid system affects sleep cycles. The Function of the Endocannabinoid System Homeostasis means that the body is in total equilibrium – the physiological and cognitive processes in the body are functioning the way they should and hence, the body is completely in balance. When one or more of the physiological and cognitive processes are not balanced, the endocannabinoid system comes into play. It helps to restore the balance. Based on this function of the system, you can say that the endocannabinoid system works to regulate the physiological and cognitive processes that are associated with homeostasis. These processes include sleep cycle, circadian rhythm, appetite, digestion, pain, responses to stress, body temperature, thermoregulation, fertility, pregnancy and pre- and post-natal development. In addition, the endocannabinoid system also regulates mood and controls motor learning and skills, and memory. It is prudent to remember that the endocannabinoid system can regulate one process without having an effect on other physiological and cognitive processes. As a result, it helps the body attain homeostasis quicker. In order to restore homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system interacts with receptors, enzymes, and hormones. Once the body attains homeostasis, the resultant byproducts are metabolized and degraded in the body. Hence, these molecules (byproducts) cannot affect other processes occurring in the body. Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoid System The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, receptors that these cannabinoids bind to and enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids after they restore homeostasis. The two primary endocannabinoids in the body are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. The former plays a role in the generation of nerve cells in the brain and can also enhance mood and minimize anxiety. That is why it is known as the bliss molecule. Anandamide is also found in copious amounts in the body after performing strenuous exercise. On the other hand, 2-arachidonoylglycerol helps to regulate the circulatory system. These endocannabinoids are difficult to study as they quickly get broken down by the endocannabinoid enzymes unlike other neurotransmitters, which tend to last longer in the blood or are stored for use later on. When it comes to cannabis, the two most common cannabinoids in this plant is CBD and THC. These phytocannabinoids react with the same receptors that endocannabinoids react with, but this interaction is different. For instance, THC and anandamide bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors and produce a feeling of calm and relaxation. But, THC does not get broken down by the enzyme that metabolizes anandamide. Hence, it stays longer in the bloodstream, causing persistent high in people who consume it. Endocannabinoids cannot function without the presence of cannabinoid receptors, and the most common receptors within the endocannabinoid system are CB1 and CB2. These two receptors were first discovered in the 1990s. The CB1 receptors, although present across the body, are mainly found in the CNS and the brain. The CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, digestive system, and peripheral nervous system. The phytocannabinoids react with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but in a different manner. Hence, they produce different effects. Scientific studies show the CBD tends to produce therapeutic effects without the high that is associated with THC. Hence, it promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation without the person feeling high. It is this reaction to CBD that treats sleep issues, including insomnia. Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase is the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. However, the enzyme decomposes quickly in the body to prevent over-activity from high levels of anandamide. When you consume CBD, it inhibits the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase enzyme. As a result, the breakdown of anandamide occurs slowly. This increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the body, allowing the body to get relaxed. When the body is calm, without any feeling of anxiety and stress, a person can go to sleep more easily. Anandamide is not the only receptor that the CBD binds with. According to researchers, it binds with receptors that are not even part of the endocannabinoid system. So, if you take full-spectrum CBD tincture or oil, it will contain many more cannabinoids other than CBD. Each of these cannabinoids will have their own reaction and health benefits. Researchers are still trying to ascertain how the endocannabinoid system affects sleep and circadian rhythm. At the moment, do know that the system has a profound effect on different parts of the brain and the body which are essential to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Researchers also know that if a person has a deficiency of endocannabinoids in the body, it has an adverse effect on the person’s sleep and circadian rhythm. The Bottom Line The endocannabinoid system is relatively new to researchers and studies are ongoing to find out how it affects biological processes in the body. Nonetheless, researchers already know that the endocannabinoid system does impact sleep. If you are suffering from insomnia or you do not get a good night’s sleep, it may be prudent to use CBD oil that is organically grown and does not show signs of contaminants and pollutants. It will enable you to ensure that the CBD binds to the right receptors and promote a feeling of calm. When the biological processes are in the right balance, you will enjoy good sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. You may want to consult your physician if you are taking any other medication before you begin using CBD oil, as it may have contraindications. FDA DISCLOSURE The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.
  13. Have you ever found yourself stacking pillows, folding them up, or just really wanting anything other than the pillow that you’re sleeping on right now? The best pillow is not the same for everyone. There are several considerations for what will give you a good night’s sleep. Pillow material and feel is of course important. But something not frequently discussed is pillow height ideal for your size and sleeping position. Getting your head and neck are in a good position for spinal alignment has a huge impact on your sleep. Our pillow reviews cover a variety of pillows and sleep preferences. Pillow Height Calculations Start with Your Sleep Position You’ve probably heard it before: determining your sleep position will inform the best products for your sleep. And the pillow is no exception. Do you start and finish in the same position or do you do a lot of tossing and turning? If you’re not sure of your sleep position, you might consider recording your sleep to get a sense of your dominant sleep position. If you do a lot of moving and turning during the night, it’s a safe bet that your sleeping position is mixed. A mixed sleeping position usually calls for a hybrid or middle-of-the-road measurements and products. Pillow Heights for Side Sleepers, Stomach Sleepers, and Back Sleepers Determining the ideal height for your head and neck is determined by sleep position. Pillow height, side sleeper position means you want a relatively tall pillow to match your spine height raised by virtue of sleeping on your shoulder. The pillow should be fairly firm. Neutral spine alignment on your side is a straight spine. Stomach sleepers should stay close to the mattress and need a soft, thin pillow. The best pillows for back sleepers are right in the middle with a medium firmness and height that positions the head slightly upward from the spine. The neutral spinal alignment for back sleepers maintains an S curve. Additionally, as a general rule if your pillow is too low, you’re going to be straining muscles as they have to work maintain alignment. If your pillow is too high, you can be constricting your air flow, essentially a crimp in your airway. As a general rule, a medium pillow height is the safest bet if you don’t have any defined preference or indeterminate sleep position. A research study found that between 3 different heights, the middle height pillow supported the head and neck the most with the least amount of muscle activation being required. You might also consider a supplemental pillow elsewhere on your body to support good sleep posture. The position of this pillow varies by sleep position. Side sleepers can position a pillow between their legs for cushioning and to prevent twisting of the spine. Back sleepers can put a pillow under their knees to relieve pressure. And stomach sleepers can put a thin pillow under their stomach to better align their head and neck with their main pillow. Pillows are made from a multitude of different materials such as down, memory foam, polyester, and latex. Aside from individual preferences about how different materials feel to you, the most important consideration is its firmness, matched to your sleep position (see above). Memory foam and latex tend to the firm side of the scale, whereas down and polyester are softer. Of course you should treat every pillow on individual basis as there are exceptions. Evaluating Your Pillow Performance and Adjusting Pillow Height As with all aspects of a bed system’s performance, the proof is in the pudding. If you’re having trouble going to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or waking up sore or stiff, something isn’t working. To start, gauge the feel of the pillow and whether you like it or not. Next, lying down in your dominant sleep position, see if the the pillow height and firmness effectively gets your head and neck properly aligned with the rest of your spine. You might have your partner or friend eyeball it or even take a picture to see your spinal alignment. How you sleep during the night and feel in the morning is the true test of whether or not a pillow is right for you. You should give it at least a week to make a conclusion. With pillows, you might start at the lower height end of the spectrum. If it’s not sleeping well, you might add an insert or additional to provide additional height to see if that makes an improvement. One pillow of note is the Purple Pillow. It uses its unique polymer material and design to provide excellent support. Another benefit though is that they provide an air booster add-on that you can adjust the height to the level that works best for you. Our Purple Pillow Review provides more detail.
  14. The unexpected speed of transmission of the deadly Coronavirus has been generating headlines throughout the globe marking a sad beginning of the year 2020. Originating from a food market in Wuhan, China, this new virus has been spreading like wildfire since December 2019, infecting tens of thousands with a death toll of over 2000 to date. But despite such global panic and the yet undiscovered vaccine for the same, any person is unlikely to contract such a virus unless he/she gets in contact with a virus-infected person. To restrict the possibility of contracting such a deadly disease, we should execute all possible measures, and one of the best ways to combat such a virus is by getting a good night’s sleep. Yes, you heard it right. Getting a deep and uninterrupted night’s sleep can minimize the possibility of being affected by Coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 But before getting into the benefits of such an effective technique, it is necessary to know the probable symptoms associated with such a virus infestation. Doctors are learning new things about the virus every day, and it has been seen that people affected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms initially. They may carry the virus for 2 days up to 2 weeks without producing any noticeable symptoms. Some of the common symptoms associated with the COVID-19 observed to date include – Experiencing a cough that may get more severe with time. Feeling short of breath. Fever, which may gradually increase over time. However, a lot is yet to be explored through further investigations. How the Immune System Functions The in-built defense mechanism of our body helps in combating various viruses and flu from damaging the normal functioning of the body. This system is responsible for executing three primary jobs which include – Identifying pathogens and disease-producing germs and removing them from the body. These may include parasites, fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Detecting and neutralizing external harmful substances before they can affect our bodies. Combating major changes within the body, such as the cancer cells. The immune system gets down to work as soon as it detects any toxins or antigens or any other foreign substances in the body. Such a response leads the immune system to develop antibodies and cells that help in fighting the invader. Upon the production of such antibodies, the immune system will keep a record of the same and use it again if it runs into the same situation again in the future. The Connection Between Sleep and the Immune System Sleep for the human body can be portrayed as the halftime break while the immune system as the football coach. A good coach analyses the proceeding of the match during the halftime break and takes necessary actions to turn the match in favor of his team. Similarly, the immune system can combat any external threats by producing antibodies to counterattack virus-borne diseases. Without adequate sleep, your body will have a hard time assessing the best game plan and combating illness. Regulating the Body Temperature Another benefit that a good night’s sleep provides is regulating body temperature. This helps the body to maintain an optimal temperature level that can prevent any external disease-producing substances from adversely affecting the body. Boosting T Cell Production By fostering T-cell production, sleep helps in boosting the immune system. T cells are the white blood cells of the body that plays an essential role in the response of the immune system to viruses. The activation of T cells is important in determining how the system handles invaders with the T cells attacking and destroying the virus-borne cells before they invade the body’s immune system. Research studies reveal that people who get a good night’s sleep report higher levels of T cell activation in comparison to those who don’t get sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation adversely affects the ability of the T cells to respond to external threats and fight back against illness. Improving the Response of the Immune System to COVID-19 The response time of the immune system gets greatly enhanced by getting a good night’s sleep. People who complete the four sleep cycles are able to support the release and production of cytokine, which is a multifaceted protein that helps the immune system to respond quickly to antigens. Cytokines mainly help in Establishing cell-to-cell communication Directing the cells to proceed towards infections and counteracting issues. The human body requires a complete night’s sleep to replenish the proteins and cells it requires to combat diseases like the Coronavirus. A lack of sleep hinders cytokine production, making it harder for the body to battle against viruses like the COVID-19. Tips to Get the Best Sleep Possible Now the most important question is, “How to get a good night’s sleep?” It is quite difficult for today’s generation to maintain work-life balance and getting adequate rest despite the excessive work pressure. You can develop a daily routine for yourself or follow various online sleep calculators to ensure at least 7.5 hours of daily night’s sleep. Also, make sure that you stay away from gadgets that emit blue light as it can prevent you from sleeping as soon as you hit the bed. Refrain from consuming any substance containing caffeine prior to bed, as it can affect your normal sleep routine. Stay well hydrated throughout the day but reduce your water consumption post evening so that you don’t visit the toilet once you go to sleep at night. The Bottom Line For centuries we have known that sleep is a natural immune booster. So, getting a good night’s sleep consistently can help to improve our immune system and defend our system from any deadly diseases and viruses like the COVID-19. Modern researchers have helped to highlight the benefits of sleep in boosting the body’s immune system. However, this does not establish the fact that sleep is an all-cure for coronavirus. Till a vaccine for killing the deadly virus is developed, it is important to remember the fundamentals so that we can keep ourselves safe from the clutches of Coronavirus to the utmost extent possible.
  15. What are the Best Melatonin Alternatives Could there be anything worse than not being able to sleep every night? Or waking up frequently in the middle of the night? If you have this problem, you know the toll it can take on your body and your ability to function every day. Many people who have sleep problems turn to melatonin to help them get the sleep they need. But some people say that the supplement makes them feel groggy and hungover while others say it does not agree with them. So what do you do when you want an alternative to melatonin? If you are looking for melatonin alternatives, you will be glad to know that there are quite a few. These non-risk alternatives may be just what you need to help you get that much-needed rest and sleep. Here is a look at some of the best melatonin alternatives that you can try out: Sleep Masks: If you want to get good natural sleep, sleep masks are one of the simplest yet most effective solutions out there. A quality sleep mask, both glamorous and comfortable, should be made of a soft and natural material that covers your eyes so that light gets cut out to the greatest extent. This then allows the darkness work its magic to boost the production of melatonin. What is great about sleep masks is that they also cut off any visual distraction that could potentially keep you from falling asleep. Combine a sleep mask with earplugs to block out the noise, and you have the perfect sleep aid that stimulates your natural melatonin levels, so you get sound sleep. Sleep-Aiding Herbal Teas: For centuries, herbal teas have been used to treat a wide range of ailments and diseases, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia. If you are looking for a delicious and healthy way to relax before bedtime and prepare your body for rest, herbal teas are an excellent alternative to melatonin supplements. You will find many special blends with chamomile, lavender, and valerian which are excellent natural sleep aids. There is nothing quite as calming and relaxing as sitting down quietly with a cup of herbal tea before heading to bed. Magnesium Supplements: Studies have found that magnesium contributes to a good night’s sleep. The NIH says that when the body does not get an adequate supply of magnesium, it leads to inhibition of nerve cell communication which in turn causes cell excitability and a person becomes more nervous and stressed out than normal. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and also effective in blocking cortisol production in the brain, which means that it helps in inducing an overall calming effect in the body which then allows you to fall asleep and stay asleep all night. Glycine Supplements: Glycine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and plays an important role in a number of different cognitive, musculoskeletal and metabolic functions. Your body also uses glycine to induce relaxation and kick start the sleep process. This makes it a good choice if you are looking for a supplement to replace melatonin supplements and improve the quality of your sleep. It has been shown to be effective in particular for people who are prone to waking up in the middle of the night. It has also been proven that glycine reduces brain hyperactivity and calms nervousness and anxiety that may keep you from sleeping. Plus, it does not leave you with that awful hangover or groggy feeling in the morning as melatonin does. L-Tryptophan Supplements: Tryptophan is another amino acid that the body needs to produce serotonin, which is a chemical known for balancing and regulating moods. Serotonin also plays a crucial role in the production of melatonin, so it makes sense that boosting the levels of tryptophan in your body will help in achieving a restful night’s sleep. While research related to tryptophan as a sleep aid is quite limited, this supplement has nevertheless shown potential as an effective treatment for insomnia. L-Theanine Supplements: Theanine is another melatonin alternative that does not have any known side effects. First discovered in green tea, it is now typically found in a number of different types of tea. It is known to act as a natural sedative and has a calming effect. Theanine is used for treating stress – physical and mental – as well as insomnia. L-Theanine is known to the regulation and generation of alpha waves in the brain, which occur when the body is deeply relaxed. When it increases alpha wave activity, Theanine helps in regulating sleep and suppressing hyper beta waves that might keep you awake and alert when all you want is rest and sleep. As you can see, there are many melatonin alternatives that can help you sleep just as effectively as melatonin supplements. If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, pick one of these alternatives and get that sweet, deep slumber that your body needs to stay energetic and healthy.
  16. Sleep disorders have been on the rise since the past decade or so. It is hard to find people who experience healthy sleep every night or don’t resort to a sleep aid. Because sleep is vital to mental and physical health, the growing incidence of sleep disorders around the world is concerning. Sleep disorders are more common in the US than any other country; the reason why scientists and sleep experts are always trying to find out the causes behind it and possible solutions. If you are one of those people who has failed to get a good night’s sleep in a long time, you are acutely aware of how sleep disorders can strip your life of joy and peace. When you are sleep deprived sleep deprived, everything becomes harder than usual. You lose your appetite, you are unmotivated to work out, your social and personal commitments suffer, and your productivity at work keeps dropping. In fact, the American economy suffers a loss of millions of dollars every year simply because of workers not getting enough sleep. Don’t be surprised, because sleep disorders have far-reaching consequences. Sleep deficiency causes daytime sleepiness and drowsiness, causing accidents and injuries. Drowsy driving is one dangerous consequence of sleep deficiency and daytime sleepiness. It is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Of course, no person can go without sleep for a long time, and they all reach for some kind of sleep aid at some point. However, the recent FDA warning about conventional sleep medications has led people to look for natural solutions to sleep disorders. Dangers of Sleep Medication A large number of people depend on sleep medications for a good night’s rest. Older people have usually prescribed sleep medicines because they are unable to get proper sleep any longer. However, even though in the beginning the medications work as intended, they are harmful in the long run because the user starts to get dependent on them. Most sleeping pill users are unable to sleep again without taking the medication, and the dependence only keeps growing. Most doctors do not hesitate to increase the dosage, but this only adds to the danger. The FDA has recently called out certain sleep medications for being dangerous and causing injuries and accidents. However, even without the FDA warning, most people have always known about the side effects of conventional sleep medications. They are quick to work, but the chemicals in them are harmful to health and often make sleep disorder worse. Increasing the dosage of the medicine only leads to sleeping pill abuse, some of the most common symptoms of which are: Dry mouth Dizziness Difficulty with coordination and focus Excessive daytime sleepiness Foggy memory Nightmares Itching and swelling Lightheadedness Chest pain Blurred vision or other vision changes Difficulty breathing or swallowing Hives Hoarseness of the throat Palpitations If sleep medications are continued for a long time, it can lead to other health complications and even death. These fears are not unwarranted because there are a large number of people suffering from the side effects of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills being available over the counter have also contributed to their overuse. All these fears surrounding sleeping pills have led people to look for natural alternatives. At the moment, there are two natural sleep solutions, one of them proven and the other debatable. They are melatonin and cannabidiol. Melatonin Supplements for Sleep Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced by the brain in response to the dark. When the sun begins to set, the body clock tells the brain it’s time to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps us relax, makes us feel drowsy and ultimately gets us to sleep. Melatonin is hindered by bright lights and triggered by darkness. That is the reason why sleeping in a dark room is the healthiest. Imbalances in the production of melatonin are often responsible for sleep disorders. If shunning bright lights don’t work, then a possible remedy is melatonin supplement. This is a natural sleep remedy that has recently started to be administered to insomnia patients. The reason why melatonin supplement has become so popular is that it is not known to have any side effect for it simply replicates the natural melatonin produced by the brain. The melatonin supplement remedies any imbalance and helps the hormone function normally to bring about healthy sleep. So far melatonin supplements have not been found to cause any adverse side effect. Because this hormone is already produced by the body, melatonin supplements simply aim to correct any shortage or imbalance of the hormone. However, because melatonin supplements tend to work very quickly, the dosage must be appropriate and timed right. Otherwise, the person can feel drowsy well into the next morning. CBD Oil as Sleep Aid Another popular sleep solution that is still controversial to some extent is cannabidiol. Also called CBD, this is a natural extract of the hemp plant, and has been hailed to be highly beneficial for a lot of health issues. One of the most popular uses of CBD is in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Although the exact connection between CBD and sleep is not yet known sleep experts believe that CBD helps induce sleep by reducing anxiety and stress. If you have stress and anxiety related issues that prevent you from falling or staying asleep at night, CBD can be used as a natural alternative to conventional sleep medications. However, if your sleep issues are caused by other health problems or hormonal imbalances, then CBD will not be effective. CBD is also highly controversial and not easily available everywhere. Unlike melatonin, CBD has not been proven to be beneficial for sleep disorders and should be consumed only after a consultation with a healthcare practitioner. Before resorting to a sleep aid, it is recommended that you try making lifestyle changes to deal with sleep disorders. If all else fails, talk to your doctor to adopt the safest possible way to induce sleep and reduce sleep deprivation.
  17. Red-eye flights are called so for a very specific reason. Passengers end up having red-eyes due to lack of sleep during the flight because of overnight flying. People usually find it difficult to fall asleep during a flight, but there are a few ways to help you get some decent shut-eye while on a plane. You can use a number of tips and hacks, as well as certain products, to make sure that you get the restful sleep you need during a flight. Tips to Help You Fall Asleep on a Plane Following a few tips before your flight can help make sure that you fall asleep on an airplane, including: Stick to Routines: It would be perfect if the flight you have scheduled matches your natural sleeping patterns. If not, stick to the usual routine, you follow before bedtime at home – brushing your teeth, reading a book or listening to soft music. Dress to Sleep: Of course, you cannot wear your pajamas in public, but wearing sportswear or sweatpants will make you feel comfortable. Make sure that you do not forget to keep your feet warm by wearing thick socks. Choose the Right Side: If you can, you should book a seat on your flight, according to the side you normally sleep on. According to a poll by Skyscanner, the left side – when you are facing the cockpit – is a better choice because the window seats are off center. This gives you more space to sleep on. Exhaust Yourself: You should try getting a little less sleep the night before your flight. For example, reduce the number of hours you sleep from 8 hours to about 4 or 5. Once you are seated down and relaxed on the plane, sleep should come naturally. Do Stretching Exercises: Aches and pains can keep you from falling asleep – they are the last thing you need. Try a bit of yoga or stretching exercises to keep your body supple and relaxed. This will most likely help you get some sleep when you are on the air. Carry Some Comfort Items: Do you remember being unable to sleep as a kid without your favorite teddy or blanket? Well, think of this as the grown-up version of a security blanket. Bring things to comfort you during the flight – it could be a shawl, an old t-shirt or even a soft toy. Making yourself feel at home is what will help you fall asleep when you are 38,000 feet up in the sky with 200 people around you. During the Flight Once you are inside the airplane and seated, a few tips can help you relax and fall asleep, such as: Flipping Your Neck Pillow: Instead of placing your neck pillow behind your head, do the opposite and wear it under your chin. When you doze off, the pillow will support your head when you roll. On of my favorite neck pillows so far is the Trtl neck pillow. It will support your neck no matter your sleep position. Using a Foot Rest: To improve your posture and maximize comfort, make a foot rest out of your carry-on luggage. You may also feel more relaxed if you rip off your shoes – just remember to wear clean socks so that you do not keep other passengers awake because of your stinky socks. Staying Away from the Light: Although backlit devices or in-flight movies can be a good form of distraction and entertainment, they can also disrupt your sleep. Use an eye mask to block out light from smartphones, tabs, etc. Listening to White Noise: Are different sounds on the plane distracting and keeping you awake? Drown them out with white noise. According to studies, white noise can actually promote better sleep. You will find a wide range of ambient soundtracks, such as TV static or rainfall, available on the Internet. Avoiding the Snack Trolley: Your sleeping pattern can be disrupted by the alcohol, sugar, and caffeine in snacks and beverages, so avoid the snack trolley at all costs. If you do need to eat, try to have a snack that is rich in carbs, such as cereal, an hour or so before you doze off. Falling asleep on an airplane can be seriously difficult for some people, leaving them tired and stressed out when they land. They often become unable to enjoy their vacation for a few days or perform the task they came to do if it is a business trip. With the handy tips above, you can avoid this problem and make sure that you sleep peacefully during your flight and wake up refreshed, ready for any adventure.
  18. Below are some interesting findings on how people sleep provided by Eight Sleep, makers of the Eight Mattress Pad and Eight Mattress. This data was generated by users of the Eight Sleep smart mattress pad and then anonymized. It includes data from 5,570 Eight Sleep users. On average they found that people from this group slept 7 hours and 38 minutes a night. Men sleep an average of 7 hours and 30 minutes compared to women at 7 hours and 54 minutes. The Eight mattress pad comes with a heating element to warm your bed. They found that women will warm their bed to a higher temperature than men. Eight was even able to find out how well people slept alone vs sleeping with a partner. People who shared a bed slept slightly better with a sleep score of 73 vs. those who slept alone with a sleep score of 71. Those who slept the worst were people that slept in their own bed but shared a room with someone. They had an average sleep score of only 65 and were in deep sleep for an average 16% of the time. I’m thinking this could be dorm room environments. Some other interesting findings are that despite the fact that people who sleep together sleep longer, women who slept with a partner would toss and turn more during the night. Whereas men who sleep with a partner get higher sleep scores and sleep more during the night. Eight was even to gain some insights into how married vs. divorced people sleep. Not surprisingly, married couples sleep more than divorced or separated couples. The Divorced or separated slept 7 hours 18 minutes a night vs. 7 hrs. 42 minutes a night for married couples. Interestingly, divorced people get deeper sleep. The Eight tracker found them to be in deep sleep an average of 21.11% per night vs married couples at 19.83% of the time. This is very preliminary data but a significant sample size that will only continue to grow as more people report in. What makes this data interesting is that using large data sets like this can help us understand how we compare with the rest of the country in terms of length of sleep and sleep quality. Having this data within the context of sleep environments also gives us insights into how we can optimize our sleep environment. If you want to know how you compare to this sample, you can purchase an Eight Sleep system to start tracking your sleep.
  19. You know the feeling, you’re ready for bed and can’t wait to hit the hay to get a deep, restful sleep. But instead, you lie awake for hours, trying to fall asleep. It’s the worst! Have you considered aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is an alternative and complementary medicine practice that uses the power of the scents from essential oils to balance the body, mind, and spirit. According to a number of studies, specific essential oils can aid in relaxing the body, relieving stress and promoting better sleep. Here is a look at some of the best essential oils to help you sleep faster and better: Lavender Essential Oil: You have probably heard of the relaxing effects of lavender essential oil. So it only makes sense that it would be on the list of sleep-inducing essential oils, right? It is, in fact, one of most studied essential oils and is known to calm the nervous system – lowering heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature while also changing brain waves to put you in a more relaxed state. Bergamot Essential Oil: Did you know that citrus bergamot is a hybrid fruit? It is somewhere between a lime or lemon and bitter orange. Traditionally used in Italian folk medicine, bergamot essential oil has been found to relieve tension and anxiety – two things that cause difficulty sleeping or insomnia. Studies have found that bergamot essential oil can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. Clary Sage Essential Oil: Clary sage is a herb that is closely related to the common garden herb, sage. In fact, clary sage essential oil is used in dental procedures to help patients relax. It is true! This essential oil is also known to have effects similar to antidepressants. If you suffer from sleepless nights, this is one essential oil you should definitely consider to lull you to sleep. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: Extracted from the flower of a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia, ylang-ylang essential oil has a sweet floral fragrance. Its aroma has been found to be highly relaxing and decrease blood pressure. It also has a positive effect on the nervous system, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate. If you have issues falling asleep despite feeling exhausted after a long day, give ylang-ylang essential oil a try. Jasmine Essential Oil: The sweet aroma of jasmine can be quite relaxing. Although there is not much research on jasmine essential oil, there is a buzz that the smell of jasmine tea can have a calming effect. The next time you are wide awake in the middle of the night, why not go to the kitchen and brew a cup of soothing jasmine tea to help calm you and make you fall into sweet slumber. Other essential oils that can help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep include vetiver, cedarwood, Roman chamomile, marjoram and sandalwood essential oils. How to Use Essential Oils to Help You Sleep Do you want to create a more tranquil and soothing sleeping atmosphere? Make use of your essential oils. Whether it is lavender or jasmine, there are a number of different ways to use these oils to help you sleep better. If you’re looking for the best essential oil blend for sleep, Amazon is your best stop. Check out the Good Night Essential Oil Blend 10ml – 100% Natural Pure Undiluted Therapeutic Grade for Aromatherapy, Scents & Diffuser
  20. Maybe it’s because I live in the city of lakes which is also located in the land of 10,000 lakes that drew me to the idea of Float Therapy. Float Therapy is a rebranded term for what used to be called isolation therapy or sensory deprivation therapy. It is a practice where you float in a sort of large bathtub that is filled with salt water. Float therapy is a form of mediation. I did my first float session at the Float Foundation in Minneapolis which coincidentally is on the other side of Lake Harriet from my house. I found a Groupon deal for a float session and thought I would give it a try. A 90 minute float session costs $69 while a 60 minute costs 61.99. After purchasing you can book a time via their online calendar on their website. My go to method of relaxation and meditation is the Sol Tec Lounge in my house which is sort of the opposite of the sensory deprivation method where layered music is played along with vibrations to keep you present and avoid distracting thoughts. What are the benefits of float therapy? Here’s a roundup of some symptoms that float therapy claims to alleviate: Stress relief Muscular pain Rheumatism Chronic pain Fatigue Fertility High blood pressure Migraine headache Jet lag Anxiety Insomnia Back pain Depression Pre-menstrual tension Post-natal depression Float therapy also promotes the following: Problem solving Creativity Increase energy Increased feelings of well being The float tank is sound proof or as sound proof as can be, and the temperature of the water is skin temperature so that you aren’t too hot or too cold. The epsom salt allows you to float effortlessly. If you haven’t floated like this before, it is an experience worth having. Here’s a picture of the float room that I used. Behind me is a private shower as well to use before and after using the float tank. I didn’t feel clausterphobic in the float room because the ceiling was high enough at my head. It slopes lower towards my feet but I didn’t find that to be a problem. I booked an hour and a half float session becuase with meditation it takes a while for me to properly relax and I wanted to make sure that I had adequate time to adjust given the new environment. These rooms have a button where you can have a soft light on or push it again for total darkness. I played around with both but ultimately found the darkness to be preferable and less distracting. This float chamber also has a neck support which you can use to help stabilize your head. I don’t think it’s necessary but I ended up using it for most of my session to fell a little more secure and to ensure water didn’t get in my ears. Inside the chamber there is also a dial which can be used to play quiet, relaxing music. I tried that out for a bit and found it enjoyable since it was so faint it wasn’t really distracting. It took me about 20 minutes to fully relaxing during my session. I think that’s because I was just enjoying the experience of floating and total relaxation. For an hour and a half session, this went faster than I expected. There’s no need to worry about over staying your welcome either. The light outside the chamber will turn on to alert you that your session is over. After your session you can rinse off with a shower with soap and shampoo included: I really enjoyed my float therapy session. Since I did it in early March in Minnesota, it was kind of a hassle to get undressed, shower then get dressed again and go off into the cold. However, the warm float tank really took the chill off and took me away from the winter doldrums. While I found the float therapy session to be relaxing, I didn’t have as productive a meditation session as I normally have in my Sol Tec Lounge. It could be that I am used to my form of meditation over this one. Using the Lounge in my house is much more convenient as well. I highly recommend trying float therapy. I think many people will benefit from just being able to tune out the world and all its distractions for an hour. While I didn’t fall asleep during float therapy, I slept very well the night I did my session.
  21. Are you someone who finds it difficult to fall asleep in a noisy environment? You are not the only one – a lot of people struggle to fall asleep when it is not quiet, unlike those lucky ones who can sleep right through a tornado. So what do you do if there is traffic noise outside or the dog next door is barking all night and keeping you awake? If you have problems falling asleep or tend to wake up easily during the night, white noise may be just the answer you are looking for. What is White Noise? So what is white noise? To put it simply, white noise is a special type of sound that masks all other background sounds. It helps in drowning out sounds which might be keeping you from falling asleep when it is used as a way to promote good sleep. Genuine white noise cannot be generated in any other way than electronically, and it sounds a little like radio or TV static. Because it contains a high amount of high-frequency energy, pure white noise is not every pleasant to the ears. In some cases, the term is used as a general description for any type of noise that is constant and unchanging. White noise has become a colloquial term for a wide range of different sounds, including: Machinery sounds – washing machine, air conditioners, etc. Nature sounds – waves/ sea, rain, jungle, crickets chirping, etc. Ambient soundscapes – crowd noise, a crackling campfire, aircraft interior, etc. Some people, when trying to fall asleep, prefer listening to these types of sounds rather than the harsh tone of genuine white noise. White noise machines are highly recommended by sleep specialists to help people who find it difficult to fall asleep or are awakened easily while they are sleeping during the night. Do White Noise Machines Really Work? Nowadays, you will find a wide range of white noise machines available on the market. Also known as sound conditioners or sleep sound machines, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from cutting-edge ‘sleep sound systems’ to low-tech, affordable options. Let us take a quick look at how white noise machines work. When you think about it, it may sound counterintuitive to add more noise in your bedroom to help you sleep when the noise is exactly the reason you cannot sleep. However, white noise works because it has the ability to blend external sounds (traffic, barking dogs, etc.) into the overall background noise, and therefore, your brain pays less attention. According to experts, it is not necessarily the volume of the sound that keeps you awake but its context. This is why some people can fall asleep in a noisy nightclub. Similarly, a startle response can be set off by a distant barking dog even if you are asleep and unconscious. When white noise, or a similar sound, is added to your sleeping environment, you are using a principal that is known as sound masking. Instead of drowning out the sounds that are keeping you awake, the frequencies of the white noise signal “masks” them. White noise machines produce a sound that masks the external sounds that prevent you from falling asleep. Studies have shown that these machines can benefit problem sleepers. If you prefer, you can also use nature sounds, etc. the same way you use white noise so that you can relax and drift off to sweet slumber. Other White Noise Solutions If you would rather not spend money on a white noise machine, there are other ways to create white noise, such as: A fan: If you have a standard table fan at home, you can use it to mask external sounds. Its whirr is quite ideal for sound masking. An old boom box or radio: Anything that comes with an FM tuner should work well. Just break the antenna or dial in between stations to create pink noise, which is a variant of white noise that has been shown to work effectively as a sleep aid. An app: A smartphone is one of the easiest ways to try out white noise to help you sleep. You will find countless apps – both free and paid – that are designed to help improve your sleep. However, keep in mind that some free apps use low-quality sounds that could turn out to be irritating rather than soothing and relaxing. White noise machines are an excellent investment if you have a serious sleeping problem and do not want to depend on sleeping pills. As mentioned, there are numerous types of white noise machines to suit any budget, so you will definitely find the right one to help you sleep. Say goodbye to sleepless nights. My favorite sound machine is the Marpac Sound Machine. It plays a nice analog sound that can be adjusted with a dial. They are very durable and really drown out ambient noises. Check out my full review of the Marpac Sound Machine.
  22. Do you have trouble falling asleep or often wake up in the middle of the night? Or do you often feel drained and exhausted in the morning instead of rested and refreshed? You are not alone. Millions of people across the world have sleep problems. Everyone needs good sleep, and deep sleep is even more important as it affects your health and body. When you get the adequate amount of deep sleep, you will wake up refreshed and with restored stamina, making you ready for anything the day throws at you. What is Deep Sleep? So what is deep sleep? Well, the simplest answer is that it is one of the stages in the sleeping process. This stage is also known as slow wave sleep, delta sleep and more recently, N3. Deep sleep is a time when repairs take place within the body and energy is restored for the day ahead. This stage of sleep plays an important role in maintaining your health as it boosts the immune system, stimulates growth and repairs any damage to tissue and muscles. Deep sleep also has a number of benefits, including: It can help in keeping your heart healthy. During deep sleep, your heartbeat slows down and gives your heart the opportunity to repair itself. Lack of deep sleep can trigger the production of cortisol and adrenaline which increases blood pressure. Deep sleep allows your body to rest and slows down your heartbeat, thereby lowering blood pressure. During deep sleep, the brain repairs itself and the body produces hormones as well as neurotransmitters that help in promoting new brain cell production. This brain repair prevents different mental disorders. By maintaining healthy brain function, deep sleep can significantly help in preventing memory loss and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. When you are in the deep sleep stage, the protein inside your body repairs damage caused by free radicals, microorganisms and other factors like harmful substances and toxins. Apart from this, deep sleep helps in improving digestion, preventing diabetes, fighting inflammation, alleviating stress and anxiety, preventing obesity, promoting healthy weight, restoring energy, enhancing immunity and more. Tips to Get Deep Sleep If you have trouble sleeping and want to get deep sleep, here are a few tips that you might find helpful: Disconnect Yourself: Many people have trouble sleeping because of work. You should disconnect yourself and relax a few hours before bedtime. Switch off your smartphone and other devices after 8 pm. It will provide great results. Listen to Soothing Music: Listening to soothing soft music before hitting the sack can do wonders to help you get deep sleep. It will reduce stress and anxiety and lower your blood pressure. Breathe Deeply: Deep breathing exercises and meditation helps to relieve stress and improve sleep quality. Find out a few breathing exercises and try them out before you get into bed. You can try this exercise – first, close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nostrils to count to 3 while expanding your stomach. Hold for 3 seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth, while counting to 6 and keeping your stomach flat. Repeat 5 times. Pick a Good Pillow: You should never underestimate the importance of having a good pillow to lay your head on. The right pillow can have a significant effect on your quality of sleep. Use a medium-soft pillow if you are a side sleeper, and a firm pillow if you prefer sleeping on your back. Reduce Light Level: When you reduce the level of light that you are exposed to in the evening, it can encourage the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin and ease your body into sleep mode. So, if possible, get a dimmer switch and turn down your lights in the evening. Drink Milk or Eat a Banana: Bananas are an excellent source of melatonin and tryptophan, an amino acid. Warm milk is also quite rich in tryptophan. If you have problems getting good sleep, you should eat a banana or drink a glass of warm milk before bedtime – make this a pre-bedtime routine. As you can see, deep sleep plays a critical role in your health and well-being. You need to get deep sleep in order to be able to function the next day properly. Without it, you will be easily tired, and you will definitely experience a dip in your productivity. To make sure that you get deep, restful sleep every night, try out the tips mentioned above.
  23. From the neurophysiologist’s point of view, dreams are said to be the results of rapid eye movement (REM) when a person sleeps or is in a semi-conscious state. We see vivid images that keep flashing one after another to suggest a sequence of events that either make sense or don’t at all. The father of modern psychiatry, the legendary Sigmund Freud in his historical work, Interpretation of Dreams, stated that dream content is motivated by our longing for wish-fulfillments, and dreams are often instigated by daily events that precede the dream. He called it the “day residue.” In adults Freud observed, dreams occurred from “latent” dream-thoughts present in their unconscious or subconscious minds. The Interpretation of Dreams: What Dreams Convey Your dream may be a collection of simple images like a grand event, the reappearance of a dead relative or friend or even a euphoric you winning the lottery jackpot. However, dreams don’t tell simple stories always. This is more so because people from different backgrounds and cultures report having the same dreams. In a recent study on dreams, it was found that most members of the sample group saw the following fourteen most common images while dreaming. Being Chased: A very commonly reported dream. May be interpreted as a result of anxieties within us that we go to sleep with. Often, it’s not the fear of being chased actually, but what we’re running from causes such images to be seen. Dream of being chased help us understand that we may not be addressing important issues in our waking lives that require immediate attention. Vehicles: Be it a car, train, airplane or ship, any vehicle that we see in a dream reflects what direction we would like our life to take. Moreover, these are also suggestive of the quantity of control we think we have over the path ahead. Vehicles empower us to make transitions and point towards a definite destination. They are also known to highlight obstacles we think we are facing and need to overcome. Water: Water is a typical symbol of our unconscious minds or emotions. The state of the water — clear or cloudy; calm or turbulent — often gives insights into how effectively we manage our emotions. Classroom or School: Yet another very common situation. We often find ourselves in a classroom, confronted with a difficulty which we aren’t prepared to take. A classic case of the “dream pun” or the mind using a concept or word and defining it differently. The unwanted “test” that we face indicates that we have to learn from past mistakes. Reported mostly by people who have left school long ago. People: When you see other people while dreaming, take it as a reflection of the self’s different aspects. People who flit by in dreams may relate to special characteristics that need development. When you see specific people, you are directly relating to interpersonal issues or existing relationships that need to be worked upon. When you dream of your lover, in particular, it denotes a certain detachment. Death: Often perceived as a negative occurring, it often directly relates to dramatic changes that may happen in the dreamer’s life. It could indicate the ending of one thing and the beginning of another new phase in your life. Paralysis: When you dream of turning paralytic, your body actually assumes a paralytic form as you dream and this prevents it from performing any action or actions that occur in the dream. Dreaming paralysis is interpreted as an overlap between the REM and waking stages of sleep. It also indicates that the dreamer lacks control in his waking life. Falling: Reported quite frequently by dreamers. However, not all dreams about falling are negative or scary. Slow falling indicates a smoothness and serenity as also the letting go. However, images of falling from great heights indicate that something in our waking life is completely beyond our control. Flying: Indicates how poorly or effectively we control our lives and our confidence levels in achieving our goals. When you fly high, you are euphoric. Flying low or skimming and getting caught in obstacles like power lines indicate frustration somewhere deep down. Even images of babies, food, houses and sex seen in our dreams, have their own stories to tell. A baby usually represents something new — a new project, idea or development. Food symbolizes hunger for new insights and information while a dreaming of a house can be read as different aspects of dreamer’s degrees of consciousness. Last but not least, sex, as Freud put it, is best interpreted as an outlet for sexual expression, and close connections with others.
  24. Lucid Dreaming Tips: How to Have Lucid Dreams Do you have times when you wake up and can vividly remember your dream and why you dreamed it? For instance, if you ran into a friend you have not seen in years and then had a dream about going on a picnic with them, you know why you had that dream. Then there are other times when you cannot remember your dream. In most cases, dreams reflect real life, but there are times when they are completely random and can be controlled. This is known as lucid dreaming. It is when you are fully aware that you are having a dream and can do whatever you want. With lucid dreaming, your imagination is the limit, so anything can happen. Here are a few tips on how to have lucid dreams: Think about lucid dreaming before bedtime: Your chances of having a lucid dream are much higher when you make it the last thing you think about before hitting the hay. This is due to the fact that everything related to dreams is psychological. This means that when you think about lucid dreaming, your brain may become more aware of your surroundings even when you are sleeping. Do not wake up: There can be times when your lucid dream is so exciting that you wake up. Doesn’t it just frustrate you when that happens? However, you can usually tell if you are about to wake up from your sleep. If you feel like you are gaining consciousness, calm yourself down and slowly rub your hands. Although there is no known reason why it works, in most cases, it does. Another very strange way to stay asleep is to turn in a circle and fall to the floor. Have a consistent sleep routine: This tip is an obvious one. Your melatonin, or body clock, is set by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day. You have mornings when you wake up 5 minutes before your alarm goes off, right? That is, your melatonin working. However, keep in mind that it cannot work if you do not have a consistent or proper sleep schedule. Sleep in complete darkness: According to scientific research, your levels of melatonin are the highest at night while you sleep in complete darkness, around the time that you are dreaming. This helps in promoting vivid dreams and improving dream recall. The ideal situation would be when there is no difference in darkness when you open your eyes as when you close them. When you sleep with a light on, it decreases the quality of dreams and your internal clock gets messed up as the melatonin level in your body is brought down. Do not let light spoil your dreams. Recall what happened throughout the day: This is a great thing to do while you are lying down before falling asleep. Start from the very beginning of your day and try to recall as many details as possible. What was the color of the car that sped past you on your way to work? Who served you at the restaurant? What was the color of his or her eyes? Go through the entire day and recall the events as well as you can. Practicing this each night will encourage you to increase your awareness levels subconsciously. You will be practicing lucid living without much effort in no time. Eat lucid foods: Yup, lucid foods exist! There are certain foods that increase melatonin production, therefore making it easier for you to attain lucidity. Did you know that a teaspoon of mustard before going to bed can actually increase your chances of having a lucid dream? Lucid foods include white mustard, black mustard, sunflower seeds, almonds, oats, flax seeds, cherries, rice, poppy seeds, red radishes, tomatoes and of course, banana. Milk, eggs, fish, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lentils, and mushrooms are other lucid-friendly foods that also contain tryptophan. Include these foods in your regular diet will help you have lucid dreams more frequently than you did in the past. Learning to have lucid dreams is fun, frustrating, daunting, bizarre, intensive and euphoric, yet lucid dreaming is ultimately an experience that is life changing and hugely rewarding. Like any other skill, learning to have lucid dreams is one that develops over time. There is no magical secret that can be passed from one person to another. However, the tips mentioned above can help immensely in giving you, lucid dreams more frequently.
  25. What are the CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a common problem that affects over 18 million people around the world. More often than not, sleep apnea isn’t recognized, diagnosed, or properly treated. But when sleep apnea is detected, the go-to treatment is often the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This involves wearing a mask while you sleep, which supplies air continuously to keep the air passage unblocked and facilitate normal breathing. If you, or someone you know, suffer from sleep apnea, you must have used or have been recommended to try CPAP. Although a very effective treatment in dealing with sleep apnea, it often takes a lot of effort to get used to the mask. It causes claustrophobia, nightmares, dry and irritated throat, and nasal problems. Many people never get used to it, and several studies have found that more than 86 percent of sleep apnea sufferers never get comfortable with CPAP machines. While a good solution for sleep apnea, CPAP is definitely not the only treatment for the condition. With technological advances, several alternatives to CPAP have been invented. They are often minimally invasive and provide long term treatment for sleep apnea. Here are six alternative options for CPAP non-compliant people: Oral Appliances Also called Oral Appliance Therapy, dental appliances form the safest and simplest alternative to CPAP. This appliance is customized to fit the mouth of the patient and is worn only during sleep. Dental mouthpieces work like orthodontics that keep the jaw in position and enable proper breathing. This appliance is made and fitted by a dentist, so the patient, the doctor, and the dentist should work in close consultation about the device. Oral devices are portable, comfortable, and don’t have the side effects of a CPAP. They are also often cheaper than CPAP, and more convenient when traveling. Laser Surgery The piece of tissue hanging down the back of your throat is called the uvula, and most often, this tiny projection is the cause of obstructive sleep apnea. The condition can be treated by minimizing an enlarged or extended uvula with the help of laser surgery. While traditional removal of the uvula is complicated and results in a number of side effects, laser surgery takes less than 30 minutes and is generally less complicated. With the removal or minimizing of the uvula, symptoms of sleep apnea are controlled, and proper sleep is restored. Laser Tonsil Ablation When tonsils are the ones blocking the airway, reducing their size can often provide relief from sleep apnea and snoring. This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a laser to reduce the size of the tonsils and unblock the airway. The process takes around thirty minutes and is generally performed under local anesthesia. Compared to other forms of surgical procedures to cure sleep apnea and related symptoms, laser tonsil ablation has little to no discomfort, requires no hospital stay, and does not need the tonsil to be removed. Laser tonsil ablation is a common alternative to CPAP to treat sleep apnea as well as other tonsil disorders. Positional Therapy If a patient suffers from positional sleep apnea, then positional therapy is an effective solution. People sleeping on their backs, also called the supine position, often suffer from sleep disorders because of the obstruction of the airway. Positional therapy involves wearing a device that keeps a person on their side while they are asleep. This solution works only for those who suffer from mild sleep apnea that is corrected when they sleep on their side. For more severe cases, this therapy may not be effective. Acupuncture or Acupressure In a recent study, acupuncture and acupressure were found to be more effective than CPAP. They provide relief by stimulating the muscles of the upper air passage. This is a holistic method that aims to relieve sleep apnea sufferers without medications, devices, or surgery. However, this is again a procedure that works best for mild sleep apnea. For more complex problems, a more potent treatment needs to be followed. Radiofrequency Tongue Ablation If sleep apnea and snoring are being caused by an abnormal positioning of the tongue, then radiofrequency tongue ablation is a procedure that could provide relief. This procedure often proves helpful for those with an enlarged tongue that gets in the way of airflow. This minimally invasive procedure involves shrinking and tightening the base of the tongue with the help of radiofrequency technology, and usually takes less than thirty minutes. Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can lead to severe health problems, including cardiac issues and hypertension. While CPAP is still the most widely used treatment for sleep apnea, there are alternatives that are designed for people uncomfortable with the CPAP device. Even if CPAP isn’t for you, there are other options that can provide long-term relief from the problem.