Monday, December 31, 2012

Getting Better Sleep Is Possible

I was watching a series on Hulu over the weekend and yes, even Hulu has commercials. 70% of them were for prescription and over the counter medication. One in particular that prompted this post was for a prescription for a sleeping pill for when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. Of course I rolled my eyes, not at the concept that this doesn't happen, because it does, but that a medication has been pin-pointed to address yet another variable of sleep issues. It's really just a spin off from another very well known drug for sleep, but now it's able to target another market - and make yet another category of people think they are in need of serious medication. 

But wait, it gets better. Now, it may or may not work for you, but how about taking a chance on some of these side effects, whether you sleep or not? 'Driving, eating, or engaging in other activities while not fully awake without remembering the event the next day have been reported. Other abnormal behaviors including being more outgoing or aggressive, as well as confusion, hallucinations, and agitation, may occur. Don’t take if you drank alcohol that day or before bed, as it may increase these behaviors. In depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur.'  Wow where can I sign up?  (yeah, sarcasm can't be helped) 

Ok - I'll get to the real reason for this post.  Pretty much EVERYONE has sleep issues from time to time.  Some worse than others.  I certainly hope you will talk to your doctor or health care provider about it.  Using a mild sleeping pill for short periods or occasionally is not the end of the world, so I'm not condemning their use.  However as a reasonable adult, I hope you have also checked into possible reasons for the sleeplessness as well as looking at safer options first!  

I am one who has been dealing with sleep issues since I was 13!  It comes and goes over the years but it's never far away and can spring up for long periods of time depending on what is happening in my life - physically or emotionally.  When younger I can say it was worry and hormones.  Both just seemed to make the other worse!  Now as a full-fledged adult,  when it happens I know what to look at in my life and make adjustments.  And I always get better results!  Usually it's a deficiency (calcium/magnesium or b vitamins), and of course the emotional aspect causes the mind to go 100 mph and we all know how this can cause sleeplessness.  

What has helped  me and others I work with, in no particular order:

  • Stress:  Even if you think you are stress free - think again!  So many of us are programmed that our 'taking care of regular business' is 'normal' we don't even know what stress is anymore unless it's a big wake up call!  Work, family, health, money, relationships - you name it...something is always going on that can affect the nervous system. And it doesn't have to be bad 'stuff' - it can be the good/exciting stuff that can cause underlying problems too.  Noticing it is one thing..the other is to take some time out for yourself daily to keep it from affecting you physically or emotionally.  I use meditation, walking/nature, reading, yoga, massage, a sauna, a fun movie, a new restaurant - something used regularly to help diffuse any upsets that may otherwise take hold.
  • Deficiencies:  As I mentioned calcium and magnesium are key.  James F Balch, M.D. (author of Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing) has written that - "A lack of the nutrients calcium & magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not go back to sleep".  And with B vitamins, specifically B12 - from Dr. Mercola - "Without adequate blood levels of B12 you can experience low energy, mental fatigue, mood changes and sleep difficulties."  - So start taking all 3 if you aren't already!
  • Stop worrying about it : Not sleeping, that is.  This was hard to do at first.  All we hear are how important sleep is (yes, I know it is) but worrying about only makes it worse, trust me I KNOW! lol  Instead start telling yourself you will catch up on sleep this week, and in the meantime - after lying there a while with no luck, just get up and read or watch TV for a while and then try again.  Giving myself permission NOT to worry about it has allowed me to make up for lost sleep much easier now, than the days when I constantly worried and kept track of 'how much sleep I wasn't getting'.
  • Safe Supplements : Most have heard of Melatonin, which is a hormone produced in the body to help with sleep and wake cycles.  If deficient you can benefit from using it before bed.  GABA is another helpful supplement and is an amino acid prevalent in the brain which helps to calm excited nerve impulses.  Can also be helpful if you are deficient.  
  • Herbs: There are so many safe herbs to consider for calming and relaxation - I hope you will give them a try if you need them.  You can try one at a time or a combination of herbs that work together for a more potent effect.  Herbs like Scullcap, Chamomile, Hops, Valerian, Black Cohosh, Passion Flower and Wood Betony are just a few I have used with good results.  You will be able to find them in liquid, capsule or loose tea - so any preference is available for use!  I have sleep and nerve calming formulas that can be used for various concerns, so don't hesitate to ask for more info.
These are all very effective ways to improve your sleep habits. Each person is different and there are variables for other health concerns, hormone imbalances etc.  Bottom line is to know natural help is and always has been available!  Any way I can help, just ask!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

How To Fix Your Depressing & Dreary Day

We all have them and for many it can become repetitive - like a cycle that you can't seem to break.  

By all means talk to your doctor if you feel you are seriously depressed - but know there is help available for those days when you feel blah and just can't shake it.  

First off, If of the female gender, I ALWAYS will suggest taking a stab at balancing the hormones.  I use specific female herbs like Dong Quai, Wild Yam, Chaste Tree, Angelica and a few others to have mother nature assist! So many factors will cause hormones to go up and down.  If still getting periods, there can be such a drop before your cycle begins that you will feel it and it can feel like you are sinking - either that or your moods will be a roller coaster. With Peri Menopause and Menopause - it isn't as drastic but can be  more of a daily cloud that comes and goes.    If you are of the male species, and over 40 - also can't hurt to have your testosterone levels checked as they tend to go down or fluctuate causing changes as well.

Secondly - What are you eating?  Have you gotten into a habit of just grabbing food and not really enjoying it?  More takeout than home-cooked meals?  Not taking supplements to offset your sometimes poor food choices?  This can be another way to soothe the moods - Yes you really DO feel better when you eat better.  You will actually be getting real nutrition into your blood stream, cells and organs.  Fruits, veggies, salads - easy on the body, full of nutrition and energy inducing benefits.  Try and cut back on the quick fixes.

Third - Get the pipes moving!  Yes - improve your bowel habits if you aren't going once or twice per day.  Even if you are, one weekend a month of cleansing the bowel can be HUGE to release stored up toxins and improving your mood.  If you aren't going daily then gentle cleansing will feel like a weight has been lifted. You may even start skipping without realizing it- lol.

Last but not least - Movement and Nature.  Move the bod and get some fresh (outdoor) air!!  I don't care how cold it is. I know I don't like to be cold.  But there's something so invigorating about being bundled up properly and going for a walk in the winter. (I do tend to pass if windy) In Western NY we don't care what we look like if it's a matter of keeping warm! lol (I'm glad it's pretty well understood here!) Warmth is more important. Also I keep tissue stuffed in my pockets as my nose runs almost immediately when I go out...but other than's such a treat to be walking/moving to the point of where I feel warmth.  I have some good walking boots that keep me warm and have good traction, so really there's no excuse.  But what it does for the soul and mind - being out in nature, revving up the circulation and just 'moving' - really takes the edge off any prior dreary mood.

You don't have to settle for feeling down or depressed any time of year, but especially not during our longer winter months.  Lots you can do to feel good, so have these ideas in place the next time you feel a black cloud has found you - the fog will lift sooner when you know what to do about it!