Why Sleeping Pills Are A Bad Idea

People around the world understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Without sleep, exhaustion sneaks into every single part of your day and just continues to build up on top of everything you do or everything you need to deal with. Nothing is as refreshing to the body, brain, mental and emotional health, than a good night’s sleep. An entire industry has sprouted up around sleeping pills, selling the promise of delivering a restful and incredible night of sleep after taking a couple pills.

The problem is that this picture isn’t even close to being accurate, and for most people sleeping pills are actually a very bad idea.

Doesn’t Create Healthy Sleep
Not all sleep is created equal. While most people have a basic sense of this, since we’ve all had a great night’s sleep and woke up refreshed as well as the experience of waking up after 8 hours still feeling exhausted, but this is scientifically backed up, as well. Just being unconscious isn’t enough. REM cycles with deep sleep where you are dreaming is absolutely critical in order to have good overall health.

The problem is that sleeping pills don’t provide any deep dreaming sleep or REM cycles – they basically knock you out or make you unconscious. You don’t get the full benefits that actual sleep provides, which is why over time many people take more and more, hoping for that deeper refreshing sleep, but it’s not going to come from pills.

There Are Better Non-Prescription Options
What’s the root cause of the sleeplessness? Meditation, making a habit of getting away from screens and reading an hour before bed, creating pre-sleep rituals, cutting down on caffeine, and even ambient sound recordings can all be ways to encourage you to sleep, and create the type of sleep that will actually help you to feel completely refreshed and ready to take on the world. These are all potentially better options than sleeping pills, and they don’t have any of the harmful side effects.

Potential Side Effects
There are many potential side effects. Obviously an overdose can lead to major issues including death, and many people have OD’ed on sleeping pills as a form of suicide. This is an extreme case, but many times issues people attribute to still not getting enough sleep are actually potentially side effects that can occur directly from taking sleeping pills.

Just a really short list of some of these side effects include:
– Burning and tingling in your fingers, toes, and extremities
– Severe loss of appetite
– Frequent nausea
– Constipation or diarrhea
– Dizziness, imbalance, sudden shifts in balance
– Drowsiness throughout the day
– Severe dry mouth or dry throat
– Headaches and migraines

Can Hide A Concerning Medical Issue
What if trouble sleeping isn’t the problem, but it is a symptom? Not feeling rested could be due to severe sleep apnea (which can be fatal if not treated), or a variety of other much more serious issues that need to be checked out. Taking sleeping pills not only increases this type of danger, but can hide a much more serious issue.

Why a Consistent Sleep Pattern is Important

So many people have a misconception about what sleeping entails. For most it’s just something that needs to be done, and the only benefit they can see is feeling a little rested afterward. What they don’t notice is the gradual decline in concentration. Or depressive cycles coming around more often than usual. They probably won’t even notice that they seem to be aging more rapidly. The fact is that a consistent sleep pattern is important based on several factors. The main point being, it promotes a better quality of life.

Understanding The Nature Of Sleep

The biggest possible reason why people take sleep for granted is that they don’t really know what it entails. It’s habit that nobody really questions or explores more deeply, seeing as they’re not awake to experience it. But sleeping has a much deeper value than you may think. There’s no time like the present to get a little more perspective on the subject.

There are different states of sleep and brainwave activity. When a person loses consciousness and heads into his or her dream world, there should be two specific phases involved. The first is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement). This is the phase where you dream. It’s when your sub-conscious becomes more visual and active, seeing as your conscious mind is resting. All your feelings and thoughts are being processed throughout this phase.

The second phase is called NREM. This is when you reach a deeper state of sleep, which is usually when the body starts “repairs” so-to-speak. Yes, the body heals during sleep. Dreams don’t really occur during this phase, although it’s not a rule.

You’ll go through both these cycles several times during the night, NREM usually being the first.

The Consequences Of Breaking The Cycle

Everyone probably knows what it feels like to stay awake from dusk till dawn. Everything feels upside down and you get past the point of feeling tired. But even though your body functions the same way it usually does, your mind won’t. You’ll experience a loss of concentration and most likely feel worn out.

These are just things you’ll notice if you start breaking your valuable sleeping cycle. In fact, if you regularly change your sleeping pattern you can expect to feel more depressed. You’ll also experience a loss of energy. Chances are you won’t feel like doing anything, much less go to work and be productive.

But it gets even worse, because you’re exposing yourself to health risks. Losing sleep actually increases your chances of suffering a stroke, a heart attack, and it can even lead to becoming a diabetic. All these negative things are associated with a lack of sleep.

Maintain A Consistent Sleeping Pattern

It’s critical for your physical and mental health to maintain a consistent sleeping pattern. You won’t just be decreasing your quality of life, but you can possibly cut your time on earth shorter than it has to be. Just like eating and drinking water, sleep is a critical part of life.

Practicing Sleep Hygiene

The word “hygiene” is often strictly taken as synonymous with cleanliness. But, the true meaning of the word has more to do with a set of habits, practices, and environmental influences that can impact the health of a person. All forms of hygiene are important in your health and well-being, as it reduces your chances of getting infections, contracting diseases, preventing oral cavities, spreading germs or viruses, etc.

Just as these forms of hygiene serve to preserve your health, sleep hygiene aims for the same, and it can help you improve your everyday life. Here’s how:

Why You Need Quality Sleep

A full night sleep is important in your overall health and happiness. Most people are already aware that losing a few hours of sleep can make them feel cranky and tired the next day, and even experience difficulties staying alert, concentrating, and keeping a positive mood. Such effects can result from a few hours of lost sleep.

People who are regularly losing sleep put their lives at risk of a whole range of medical conditions an health issues such as:
•    Stroke
•    Heart disease
•    Diabetes
•    Heart attacks
•    Cognitive impairment
•    Chronic stress
•    Obesity
•    Depression
•    Memory loss
•    Mood disorders
•    Vulnerability to accidents
•    Heart arrhythmia
In today’s modern world where time is a scarce resource, many people are feeling that sleep comes second to societal needs, and it’s no wonder that so many people are sleep deprived.

Practicing Sleep Hygiene
Most people believe that since they are sleeping for the recommended 7 to 9 hours, they are doing it right. Nonetheless, although getting enough sleep is crucial, getting quality sleep is much more important. If you engage in activities that disrupt your sleep, then your mind and body are not resting enough to restore and prepare for the next day.

Your sleeping environment and personal habits are the main determinants of whether you are getting quality every day sleep or not. Optimizing both is paramount for a proper sleep hygiene.
Personal Habits
•    Develop a regular bedtime routine
•    Avoiding eating too close to your bedtime
•    Practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime also helps
•    Don’t take nicotine and caffeine close to your bed time
•    Get light whenever possible
•    Avoid taking alcohol just before your bedtime
A regular bed time routine (going to bed and rising every day at the same time) is essentially the most important practice you should practice for better sleep. Part of it is keeping it up even during the weekends, by avoiding sleep ins and staying up late. Keep in mind that depriving yourself sleep during weekdays and binge-sleeping during weekends will do more harm than good to your sleep cycles.

Sleep Environment
•    Ditch all your electronics (TVs, laptops, tablets, cellphones, e-readers, etc.) before bedtime
•    Let your bedroom be associated with only sleep and sex
•    Keep your bedroom dark
•    Keep the bedroom cool and quiet
•    Keep your alarm away from your bed after you set it
•    Make your bed as comfortable as possible

These sleep hygiene practices will help you get more fulfilling sleep, and awake more alert and energetic to start your day. If you find yourself sluggish, tired, and struggling to stay alert during the day, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder. Contact your local sleep clinic for assistance.

What is Sleep Apnea: Causes, Risks and Treatment Options

Deep and calm breathing during the night plays an important role in determining the quality of sleep. Unfortunately, many people suffer from sleep apnea – a condition characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing in one’s sleep.

Sleep apnea is a relatively common condition. Nearly 42 million Americans suffer from some kind of disordered breathing in their sleep, SDB statistics suggest. One in five people has mild sleep apnea and one in 15 has a moderate to severe form of the condition.

While it’s relatively common, sleep apnea is still somewhat misunderstood. What is it caused by and what does it take to overcome the problem? The following article will try to answer these questions.

Types of Sleep Apnea
The obstruction of breathing in one’s sleep comes in two main forms – obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

The obstructive form is much more widespread and it is caused by an airway blockage. This blockage is often the result of excess weight. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, doesn’t come with an airway blockage. Instead, the brain fails doing its job and signaling the respiratory muscles to initiate the breathing process.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are several common symptoms that people suffering from sleep apnea are likely to experience.

For a start, sleep apnea will usually be noticed by partners and significant others. It often comes with periods of loud snoring followed by a complete cessation of breathing. The loud snoring will resume in a couple of seconds.

People who suffer from sleep apnea will often wake up with a dry or a sore throat. They may also wake up in the middle of the night because of breathlessness. A few other common sleep apnea symptoms include headaches in the morning, lack of energy, insomnia, forgetfulness and decline in cognitive function, restless sleep, abrupt awakening and irritability.

Risk Factors
Sleep apnea is more common among certain kinds of people. Several risk factors make the likelihood of suffering from the condition higher.

For a start, sleep apnea is more common among men. While only nine percent of middle-aged women suffer from OSA, the condition affects 25 percent of men within the same age group.

Being overweight or obese is a second common risk factor. People who are obese are four times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than people who maintain a healthy weight, Mayo Clinic reports. The fat deposits in the area of the neck and the upper body are the ones that can lead to breathing problems during the night.

A big neck circumference, cigarette smoking, family history, age, nasal congestion and the use of alcohol are other risk factors that increase the risk of the condition.

Treatments
Sleep apnea is a treatable condition. There are several things that people can do on their own to overcome mild to moderate cases of the sleep disorder.

Losing weight is the number one self-help treatment. Even a small loss in body fat can contribute to much higher sleep quality and easier breathing during the night. The same thing applies to quitting smoking.

It’s a good idea to decrease alcohol consumption and avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening. Maintaining regular sleep hours and exercising in the evening are two other excellent treatment options.

If these techniques fail, a physician may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. A mask is used to deliver continuous pressure to keep the upper airways open through the night. While this is one of the most common treatment possibilities, it may necessitate some getting-used to in the beginning.

The Number One Cause of Insomnia: Anxiety and How to Deal With It

Your everyday life can be significantly impacted by insomnia. Whether you have a difficult time actually falling to sleep or if you find it almost impossible to stay asleep, your overall health, work productivity and relationships can be adversely affected. It is important that if you are struggling with insomnia, you consult your primary care provider as he or she can help you to determine the kind of insomnia you are struggling with.

Primary insomnia is when your insomnia is not a symptom of another underlying condition. Insomnia can either be acute or chronic. When it is acute insomnia, it will not last as long, perhaps a few days or at most a few weeks, however when it comes to chronic insomnia, it is more of a long term condition.

Secondary insomnia is insomnia which stems from an underlying condition and is the most common kind of insomnia. With secondary insomnia it too can be either acute or chronic. There are quite a few causes as well as risk factors involved with secondary insomnia and the number one cause is anxiety.

If you are worrying, stressing or anxious, your mind will remain active at night. It could be for any reason, issues at school, feeling overworked, problems with your family, whatever it is that’s making you anxious can make it difficult if not completely impossible to be able to fall asleep and/or remain asleep.

If you have experienced a more traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, friend or relative, a divorce or even the loss of a job then long-lasting stress and anxiety could ensue. These types of conditions are the main cause of chronic insomnia and can cause other physical and emotional problems as well.

When dealing with insomnia, often times it may make you feel as if it is something that you are unable to control. Now of course there will be times in which you will simply not be able to sleep — if you are feeling sick, are uncomfortable, etc. and these reasons may not necessarily be related to anxiety. That being said, with the right strategies it is possible to reduce your stress and anxiety throughout the day so that you are also able to experience relief at night.

Here couple of the simplest, most effective natural strategies that you can immediately begin implementing in order to curb your anxiety related insomnia and be able to sleep better at night:

1. Exercise

When you exercise regularly, not only will you be in better shape which helps you better deal with anxiety, but it also releases endorphins in the brain that are basically happy chemicals and can help your brain to balance out any anxious or sad chemicals it may be used to producing. Just make sure you do not exercise to close to bedtime as that in itself will give you energy and keep you awake.

2. Lighter Dinners

It is best to have your more substantial meal in the middle of the day and lighter meals at night, this way your body does not have to work hard at digesting food. It is also a great way to avoid gaining weight and to stay physically fit.

As mentioned above it is important to consult your primary care provider as he or she will not only be able to help you determine what kind of insomnia you are dealing with, but can also help you find the best strategies for dealing with your day to day stress and find a solution for your insomnia.

3 Effective Natural Sleep Aids

Everyone needs to sleep. Going too long without getting enough sleep can result in anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, trouble focusing and even emotional distress. During sleep, our bodies heal and rejuvenate and if we aren’t getting enough sleep it can begin to affect our health. The amount of sleep an individual needs varies from person to person, however, most of us need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. This is crucial to keeping our minds and our bodies healthy. While it isn’t unusual to have a sleepless night occasionally, when it is occurring almost every night, it is a problem.

Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that can help induce sleep without taking prescription medications. Talk with your doctor before starting any of these to ensure there isn’t a medical issue causing your insomnia.

One of the most common natural sleep aids is melatonin. This hormone occurs naturally within our bodies and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. If your melatonin levels are low or if something is disrupting your sleep patterns, taking a melatonin supplement may help.

Many frequent travelers use melatonin to help get over jet lag. These supplements are also used for other sleep conditions and are effective at improving the quality of sleep. Taking this hormone also seems to help with morning alertness in seniors. They have more energy and are able to focus more quickly. Melatonin should be taken no more than two hours before going to bed.

Another natural sleep aid is valerian. This herb is taken as a supplement or brewed into a tea and drank before bed. Valerian helps improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and acts as a sedative to help with falling asleep.

Taking valerian helps reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and seems to also improve the quality of the sleep. Valerian contains gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA which can help calm someone suffering from anxiety or stress. One of the benefits of valerian as a natural sleep aid is there is no grogginess or morning after effect. Research indicates that valerian becomes more effective the longer it is taken and reaches maximum effectiveness at around four weeks.

Valerian can also be combined with chamomile and brewed into a tea. This may also help induce calmness and then sleep when someone is having trouble falling asleep.

It is also helpful to meditate regularly if you are having trouble sleeping. This is another natural way of relaxing before bed. Regular meditation helps slow breathing and reduces stress levels. There are several types of meditation which are effective as a natural way to fall asleep.

Visualization is an effective way to meditate. As the person is lying in bed, they imagine themselves in a relaxed situation. They try and visualize the details creating as vivid a scene as possible. The more a person focuses on the details, the more relaxed they will become. As they relax, they are able to fall asleep.

These three effective natural sleep remedies can help you fall asleep without taking prescription medication. Melatonin, valerian, and meditation are all safe alternatives for fighting insomnia and inducing sleep.