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Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

Every company today seems to be marketing a new product that can make you look and feel younger. You can find them all over billboards, magazines, T.V. and the internet. So why are there so many products claiming take ten years off? Simple, most people are willing to spend lots of time and money searching for the proverbial fountain of youth. If you’re one of these people, then I have a great secret to share with you. Instead of spending late nights buying creams and pills; put you wallet or pocketbook away and go to bed. If you want to look and feel younger, look no further than a good night’s rest.

Who looks younger…a healthy person, or a sick person? Chances are you answered “the healthy person.” Being sick can make you look old and haggard. Well, one big side effect of sleep deprivation is that it can severely compromise your immune system, making you get sick more often. Sleeping keeps you healthy and looking great.

Even if you don’t catch colds or other illnesses a lot, if you’re not getting enough sleep your body isn’t as healthy as it could be. Stage 4, or deep sleep, helps restore and renew the cells of our bodily organs. This helps them function properly and lets the body work as efficiently as possible. If our organs don’t work properly, it can take a toll on our physical appearance. That means you don’t look as good as you could. Plus, even if you’re not sick, you probably won’t feel as healthy as you might if you had enough sleep.

So you already now know that deep restorative sleep helps renew organ tissue and keep them in peak condition, but do you know what your body’s largest organ is? If you said skin, you’re absolutely right. And what’s the most important factor in determining how young or old you look? Your skin! Proper sleep will allow old, dead skin cells to be replaced with beautiful, fresh, new skin cells quickly and efficiently. This will leave you and your skin looking younger.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a bad mood, depressed, or just not feeling good about life, you don’t look as good? It’s not just your perception; how you feel affects facial expressions body posture, and other factors that determine how we look. When you’re well rested, you feel younger; and when you feel younger you look younger.

So how much sleep is enough to keep you looking and feeling younger? Well, that depends on you. Generally it’s recommended that adults get 8 hours of sleep; however, there are people who can function just fine on less. Others need at least 9 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. If you feel tired and sluggish in the morning, or require an alarm clock to get up (yes, I’m serious); you’re not getting enough sleep. If you get as much sleep as your body will allow and still feel sluggish in the morning, you may have a serious sleep disorder and should see a doctor.

So if you want to look younger and feel better, head to bed.

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People with insomnia will try most anything to get to sleep. The endless tossing and turning can be agonizing, so why not try a sleep medicine to get some severely needed rest? Well, because the solution may be much easier than that. Next time you just can’t seem to sleep, try opening the refrigerator for relief instead of the medicine cabinet.

While we tend to overlook it, we all know that food can make us sleepy. After eating a big turkey dinner, it’s hard to do anything but lie down and take a nap. This is because of a chemical you’ve probably heard a lot about in recent years: tryptophan. So what exactly is tryptophan? It actually allows your body to produce an amino acid called L-Tryptophan. This amino acid is essential in the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. These help slow down the nerve traffic in your brain, relax you, and allow you to think less and sleep more.

While you’ve already felt the relaxing powers turkey has, you probably aren’t too happy about the prospect of eating turkey before bed every single night. Well, the good news is that turkey isn’t the only source of tryptophan. This chemical is found in dairy products, soy, meat (especially poultry), nuts, fish, beans, eggs, hummus and most other high-protein foods. Eating a small amount of these foods shortly before bed time can help you sleep soundly.

The problem with many of the foods that contain tryptophan is that they also contain an amino acid called tyrosine. This produces chemicals that perk you up and make you more energized. Eaten alone, these acids will counteract each other produce no significant effects in either direction. The key to getting rest is to eat other foods that will allow you to utilize the tryptophan and not the tyrosine. Excellent foods for accomplishing this effect are carbohydrates. They encourage your body to produce insulin which “ties up” the tyrosine and allows the tryptophan to reach the brain without competition. Just be sure to avoid too large amounts of carbs and simple sugars. You can produce too much insulin; causing you to wake up not long after you’ve fallen asleep.

Another way to get the full benefit of tryptophan is to eat foods that will increase your brain’s absorption of this amino acid. The best way to do this is with calcium. And we already learned that dairy products are a great source of tryptophan. This is why our mother’s always gave us a warm glass of milk at night to help us rest; because it works.

So, if you just can’t seem to settle down and get to sleep, try a late night meal containing nature’s sleeping pill: tryptophan. Just remember not too eat too much at night or you’ll likely wake up a few hours later. The most effective plan is to have a moderately sized dinner and a small snack an hour or two before bed. If you eat the right foods at bedtime, you’ll bed drifting off to dreamland in no time.

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Many people already know that depression can be a major cause of insomnia. When you’re so worried about life, it’s hard to clear your mind and get a good night’s sleep. But did you know that lack of sleep may lead to depression? Here is some information to help you understand the link between these two pressing problems.

When you think of a depressed person, you may picture them lying in bed all day, but even though they may not want to leave their bedroom, that doesn’t mean they’re sleeping. While only 15% of clinically depressed people get more sleep than when they’re feeling fine, more than 80% of them don’t get enough sleep. In fact, one of the best indicators of depression is someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. While they tend to get about 6 hours of sleep a night, it’s still enough of a loss to become a problem.

So, does this mean you treat the depression and the sleep disorder goes away? Probably not. Recent studies have shown that the sleep disorder is what starts the cycle, not the depression. Many patients with clinical depression had trouble sleeping for up to five weeks before experiencing depression symptoms. If the person is treated for the sleep disorder while they are still in a normal emotional state, many of them don’t become depressed. However, as mentioned earlier, depression feeds the sleep disorder as well; once a person becomes depressed, their sleep disorder tends to worsen. Current research is pointing towards the fact that while insomnia may not cause depression, treating insomnia may result in fewer depressive episodes for someone diagnosed with clinical depression.

Research has shown that depression not only affects how much sleep a person gets, it also determines what kind of sleep they have. Someone with depression has a short and sometimes barely existent early stage of sleep. Instead of going through the normal sleep cycles, the brain skips forward to REM sleep; the type of sleep that lets us deal with our emotions and convert memories. Their brain also tends to stay in this stage longer than non depressed people. Besides skipping important and vital stages of sleep, depressed people may get different effects from REM sleep than non depressed people. They tend to convert memories incorrectly and put them in a more negative light. Researchers also think that depressed people and their families have this type of REM sleep even if they are not depressed.

It should be noted that these studies have been done on people with unipolar depression. These are people who get depressed, but never enter a manic phase. For those with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, inability to sleep is completely different than in unipolar patients. It is actually normally associated with the manic phase of the disorder.

While the exact relationship between sleep and depression hasn’t been completely determined, it is obvious that there is a definite link between the two conditions. What is known is that if you are prone to depression and are experiencing insomnia, you should seek treatment immediately to avoid having a depressive episode.

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Most of us have experienced a night of where we just couldn’t get to sleep, or kept waking up in the middle of the night. In fact, most of us haven’t experienced a good night’s sleep since our oldest child was born!

While one night of not sleeping can be annoying, persistent insomnia can have negative consequences on our work, personal relationships, and health. If you just haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep, here are some tips and tricks you can use to catch some z’s.

Watch What You Eat!

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. You may think you’re okay if you don’t drink caffeine before bedtime, but stimulants can stay in our bodies for up to 6 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping. Try not to drink caffeine after lunch time.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. This may put you to sleep right away, but you’re much more likely to wake up in the night and have a much less restful sleep.
  • Try some tryptophan. This is the chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy. It’s also found with most protein. Try eating a little protein with some complex carbohydrates at night. You could also try a warm glass of milk, another good source of tryptophan.
  • Avoid a big dinner. A lot of food late at night provides you energy and actually helps wake you up. It can also cause painful indigestion that will keep you from sleeping. Try eating a moderate dinner and a small bedtime snack instead.

Watch Your Sleeping and Bedtime Habits!

  • Have a set sleeping schedule. Our bodies thrive on schedules and rhythms. Waking up and going to bed at a set time will help your body develop a normal sleeping rhythm.
  • Get darkness and light. Another way to help set your natural rhythms is to make your bedroom dark or wear a mask while you’re sleeping. Shortly after you wake up in the morning, expose yourself to the sun or other bright lights.
  • Start a bedtime ritual. Our bodies develop natural responses to what we do. If you follow a certain pattern before you go to sleep every night, your body will know it’s time for sleep when you do these things. This will help you fall asleep faster and easier.
  • Only sleep in your bedroom. You’re much less likely to be able to sleep in a place where you work, read, or watch T.V. If you sleep and only sleep in your bedroom, your mind won’t be occupied by other things.

Watch the Stress!

  • Take a warm bath. This will soothe your muscles and help you relax. Just be sure your bath isn’t too hot; it can actually make you more awake.
  • Try deep breathing and visualization. These can not only help calm you and prepare you for rest, they can also clear your mind and push away stressful thoughts.
  • Avoid stimulating activities. This includes not reading or watching T.V. before bed. Instead of relaxing and sleeping, you’ll end up thinking about what you saw or read.

If you find that none of these techniques work for you, you may also want to look at herbal remedies that will calm you and help you rest. If all else fails, you should pay a visit to your doctor.

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