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FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES
Sleep is an important part of every person’s life. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body eventually stops working properly. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that adults should get about seven or more hours of sleep each night. Young adults may need nine or more hours of sleep. A regular sleep schedule can help promote an overall healthier lifestyle. So if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, read on for things you can do to help.
1. Find Your Sleep Schedule
Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important ways to improve your sleep. You should aim for around eight hours of sleep a night. Getting up and going to bed at around the same time every day will help you develop a schedule. You should avoid sleeping in or staying up late, even on the weekend.
By sticking to a schedule, your body’s sleep-wake cycle will begin operating with more consistency. This will help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
2. White Noise Machines
If you’re having trouble falling asleep because of the noise around you, a white noise machine might help. When you’re trying to fall asleep you may become distracted by sounds like:
- Cars honking
- Doors closing
- Children crying
- Animal sounds
- Common city sounds
A white noise machine in your room can help block the other noises that are bothering you. White noise masks disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound. You can create white noise with the following:
- A sound machine
- A fan
- Crowd noise on your laptop
Since there are different types of white noise, you’ll need to find one that’s right for you. Some machines and apps will let you choose different sounds to fall asleep to.
3. Soothing Sounds App
One way to add white noise is by using your phone. There are plenty of apps out there for this purpose. Some of these will let you choose from sounds like:
- Waves crashing
- Trees blowing in the wind
- Gentle humming
While these apps provide noise to help you fall asleep, there are some downsides. Research has shown that blue light coming from your phone or laptop can slow the production of your sleep hormones, making it harder for you to fall asleep. So keeping your phone near you may be counterproductive to your sleep schedule.
4. Try Meditation For Sleep
Meditation uses techniques to help you relax both your body and mind. This in turn prepares you for sleep. You can meditate in bed right before you plan to go to sleep.
Some relaxation techniques include:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Traditional meditation
There are other ways beyond meditation to help you wind down your mind at night. These include:
- Quiet reading
- Low-impact stretching
- Soothing music
- Lowering the lights
- Disconnecting from electronics 30 minutes before bed
5. Make Your Room Sleep-Ready
Another important part of a good night’s rest is sleeping in the right environment. The first step to making your room sleep-ready is making sure it’s dark enough, as your brain releases melatonin in the dark. This creates a calm and sleepy feeling. You should start reducing your light exposure before bed. It might be a good idea to keep the following out of your room:
- Other devices that distract and/or emit light
If you need something to do while you fall asleep, try keeping a book nearby. Reading a few pages before you fall asleep can keep you engaged so that you don’t reach for your phone.
Other ways you can make your bedroom more relaxing so that it’s a good place to fall asleep include:
- Pick a quality mattress and pillow. Proper support will keep your body from aching when you wake up.
- Choose good bedding. Make your bed look inviting with the right sheets and blanket. You should also make sure your bedding will keep you at a comfortable temperature through the night.
- Block out the light with blackout curtains in your bedroom. You can also use a sleep mask over your eyes.
- Create a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. In addition to a white noise machine, you can try headphones or earplugs to block out disrupting sounds.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only. To ensure it’s a relaxing space, don’t do work, play, or other activities in your bed.
6. Try Different Methods
One thing that helps someone else sleep better might not help you in the same way. It’s okay to try different methods and routines. The most important part is that you get to sleep and stay asleep for seven hours or more.
Keeping a sleep diary can help you track how you’re sleeping. You can write down what you did before bed, if you wake up in the middle of the night, and how you feel when you wake up. This will help you notice any problems or areas that need fixing.
7. Supplement Sleep With Melatonin
If you’ve tried everything listed above and you’re still having trouble sleeping, try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. If your body isn’t releasing melatonin as it should, you will need a supplement. There are plenty of over-the-counter options available in your local pharmacy. Buying the same brand is important when taking this supplement. Since melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA, you may get different dosages with different brands.
You should talk to your doctor before you start taking supplements — especially if you’re taking other types of medication. Your doctor will be able to tell you the right dosage for you.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Sleep FAQs.”
Consumer Reports: “Sleep Gadgets to Conquer Insomnia.”
HelpGuide: “How to Sleep Better.”
John Hopkins Medicine: “Natural Sleep Aids: Home Remedies to Help You Sleep.”
Mayo Clinic: “Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep.”
Mayo Clinic Health System: “5 ways to get better sleep.”
National Sleep Foundation: “Will a Sound Machine Help You Drift Off?”
Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips,” “Technology in the Bedroom.”
By Martin Taylor Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 11, 2021
If getting a good night’s sleep is not on your list of New Year’s resolutions, you might be setting yourself up for failure with the other goals on your list, including health-related ones, according to a sleep specialist from Ryerson University.
“If you’re having poor quality sleep it can actually interfere with some of your weight loss and weight maintenance goals,” said Colleen Carney, director of the Sleep and Depression Laboratory at Ryerson University. “It actually affects your metabolism, your ability to process insulin, and makes you hungrier and makes you feel less full when you’re eating so you’re prone to overeating.”
Not only does poor sleep affect a person’s physical health, it’s connected with mental health problems as well, said Carney, speaking on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.
“Unfortunately, people suffering from insomnia are susceptible to developing depression, so it’s really important for us to understand those links,” Carney said.
Create a routine for winding down
To get 2018 off on the right foot, Carney recommends implementing a routine for winding down that begins one hour before bed.
“You want to make sure that the phone is put away because that’s the device that keeps you plugged in to problem-solving, sometimes bad news or exciting news,” Carney said. “And you want to really cease any goal-directed problem-solving that we regularly do during the day.”
Suitable replacements for looking at one’s smartphone could be any relaxing, enjoyable activity, such as taking a bath, meditating, yoga or hobbies, Carney said. If you use your phone as a wake-up alarm, turn off the notifications so you’re not tempted to pick it up.
Sleeping well makes it easier to achieve other goals such as those for
Find your perfect sleep cycle
People vary in terms of the times when they typically get sleepy or wake naturally, Carney said. This often changes over one’s lifetime, for example, teenagers generally prefer to go to sleep later than adults, but adults can figure out their natural cycle and plan to sleep accordingly.
“If you typically get sleepy around 11 and your body would actually wake you up around six or seven, then you know that’s pretty much the sweet spot for you and this is largely genetically determined,” Carney said.
As far as how much sleep you really need, Colleen recommends looking at how much you sleep on average over a two-week period. Sleeping nine hours on a single weekend night may not mean you need nine hours of sleep every night.
“Some people are longer sleepers, but you shouldn’t be sort of picking what your longest sleep is and say ‘that’s what I’m going to go for’ because that will create insomnia over time.”
Adults can take a cue from children
While adults push their children to go to bed early and give them routines for winding down before bed, many don’t apply the same rules to themselves, Carney said.
“We know it’s good for how alert they’re going to feel during the day, their emotion regulation and how well they sleep,” Carney said. “But when we become adults we think we outgrow that and we throw all that out the window, and when we feel crappy and have trouble sleeping, we can’t understand why.
“We have to get back to basics.”
Does Christmas music put you in the spirit of giving or turn your heart two sizes too small?
If you find yourself relating to a hairy, green, holiday-hating beast known as the Grinch when your ears are filled with the sounds of the season, you’re in good company.
A 2011 Consumer Reports poll found that almost 25% of Americans picked seasonal music as one of the most dreaded aspects of the holiday season, ranking just behind “seeing certain relatives.”
A survey this fall of 2,000 people in the US and Britain by Soundtrack Your Brand, a Spotify-backed company that says it’s on a mission “to kill bad background music,” found that 17% of US shoppers and 25% of British shoppers “actively” dislike Christmas music. Bah! Humbug!
Health benefits of music
When it comes to your health, science says music is good for you. Studies show that music can treat insomnia; lessen the experience of pain (even during dental procedures); reduce your heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety; boost your mood and reduce depression; alter brainwaves and reduce stress; help you slow down and eat less during a meal; help your body recover faster; and engage the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, remembering and making predictions. Many studies say the best type of music for health is classical in nature, full of rich, soothing sounds.
With all those positives, what’s the problem with Christmas tunes?
One reason you might find yourself cringing is oversaturation. Due to “Christmas creep,” music and decorations seem to go up earlier each year, much closer to Halloween than Thanksgiving. That gives you ample time to hear Mariah Carey’s hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” for what seems like the googolplex time before you get far on your shopping list.
It makes sense that too much of anything can cause annoyance, even stress, and put a damper on your holiday spirit, much like a certain famous “nasty, wasty skunk”: “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch … you have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile … ”
That’s certainly the case for retail workers who are forced to listen to holiday tunes on a seemingly endless loop in the workplace. Soundtrack Your Brand’s survey found that one in six employees believe Christmas music repetition negatively affects “their emotional well-being,” while a full 25% said they felt less festive.
Or … more Grinchy?
Putting aside the auditory attack on holiday retail workers, there’s another way to look at survey statistics: About 75% of us enjoy listening to Christmas music. And it’s not just baby boomer nostalgia that fuels those facts. According to Nielsen’s 2017 Music 360 report, millennials are the biggest holiday music fans (36%), closely followed by Generation X (31%) and then the baby boomers (25%).
Stores use music against you
Retailers are quite aware of those statistics and have learned how best to use our emotions to tap into our wallets.
Studies show that Christmas music, combined with festive scents, can increase the amount of time shoppers spend in stores, as well as their intentions to purchase. It turns out that the tempo of Christmas music plays a role as well.
Faster-paced pieces like “Jingle Bells” will energize shoppers and move them more quickly through a store than retailers might like. That’s why many rely on slower-tempo tunes, like Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” to relax shoppers and entice them to spend more time and money.
That makes sense to University of Cambridge music psychologist David Greenberg, who studies the relationship between our cognitive styles and musical preferences. He believes that how you think is an excellent predictor of what music you will like.
According to Greenberg, if you like to analyze rules and patterns in the world, like those that apply to technology, car engines and the weather, you’re probably a “systemizer.” If instead you enjoy focusing on understanding and reacting to the feelings and thoughts of others, you’re likely an “empathizer.”
Want to know your personal thinking/musical style? Take Greenberg’s in-depth quiz
If you found yourself scoring somewhere in the middle, Greenberg says you’re a “balanced” thinker, and your musical choices will probably contain a mixture of high- and low-energy pieces.
“About a third of us fall into each grouping: systemizer, empathizer and balanced,” Greenberg explained. “But it also depends on gender. Females score higher on empathizing and males on systemizing.”
Just how does that apply to holiday music?
“Empathizers prefer mellow styles of music, soft rock, R&B and soul, music that is slower,” Greenberg said. “It can be sad or nostalgic and certainly has an emotional depth to it. That profile that matches many Christmas songs such as ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,’ songs with features that get you in the Christmas mood.”
A “systemizer,” he says, will like more complex, high-energy music. Examples include hard rock and heavy metal, such as Metallica, The Sex Pistols and Guns N’ Roses. It’s safe to say that most holiday tunes don’t fit into that category.
It’s possible, says Greenberg, that those of us who don’t like Christmas music from the start of the season might fall into the “systemizer” category. Or that you might prefer listening to the more upbeat hits on Billboard’s Holiday 100, such as this year’s No. 2, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, or No. 4, “A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives.
So the next time the sounds and smells of the holiday season start to overwhelm you at your favorite retail store, relax. Understand that it’s all about personal style. Take a tip from the Grinch and let your heart grow – three sizes, perhaps?
Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.
40% of people who are rejected in a romantic relationship slip into clinical depression.
Dogs can see sadness in humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating cuddling.
Having sex only 3 times a week, has proven to make you look 5-7 years younger.
New research has found that treating insomnia with online cognitive behavioral therapy could in turn help treat mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
Carried out by researchers at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford, the team set out to try to improve sleep in a group of university students with insomnia to look at sleep’s effect on paranoia (excessive mistrust), anxiety, and depression.
The study, which involved 3,755 participants, is thought to be the largest ever randomized controlled trial of a psychological treatment for mental health and the first study large enough to determine the effects of treating insomnia on psychotic experiences.
Participants were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for insomnia while the other group received access to standard treatments.
The six sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy included behavioral, cognitive and educational components, such as learning to associate bed with sleep, encouraging people to put time aside to reflect on their day before going to bed, and facilitating a pro-sleep environment.
The interactive program also used information from the participants’ daily sleep diaries to tailor the advice.
Participants’ mental health was also monitored through a series of online questionnaires at 0, 3, 10 and 22 weeks from the start of the treatment.
After analyzing the results the team found that participants who received the CBT sleep treatment showed large reductions in insomnia, as well as small, sustained reductions in paranoia and hallucinatory experiences.
CBT treatment also helped improve other mental health problems including depression, anxiety, nightmares, and psychological well-being, as well as daytime work and home functioning.
“Sleep problems are very common in people with mental health disorders, but for too long insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom, rather than a cause, of psychological difficulties. This study turns that old idea on its head, showing that insomnia may actually be a contributory cause of mental health problems,” commented the study’s lead author Daniel Freeman.
“A good night’s sleep really can make a difference to people’s psychological health. Helping people get better sleep could be an important first step in tackling many psychological and emotional problems,” he concluded.
The results can be found published online in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Men with both obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are much more likely to have depression symptoms compared to men with either sleep disorder alone, suggests a recent Australian study.
The depression symptoms also seem to be worse for men who have both apnea and insomnia compared to men with depression but without this combination of sleep problems, the authors report in the journal Respirology.
“Obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are the two most common sleep disorders and can occur together in the same individual,” lead author Dr. Carol Lang, a researcher at the Basil Hetzel Institute at the University of Adelaide Queen Elizabeth Hospital Campus, told Reuters Health.
“We know that each of these disorders is individually associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes in patients. However, we don’t know very much about if, or how, the two disorders interact with each other and the health outcomes when they coexist in the same individual,” Lang said in an email.
A person with obstructive sleep apnea has their breathing interrupted multiple times during sleep by narrowed or blocked airways. The condition is often treated by wearing a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, mask to keep the airway open.
Insomnia was defined in this study as the inability to fall or stay asleep together with feeling fatigued during the day.
Lang and her colleagues enrolled 700 mostly middle aged men in Adelaide with no diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. All of them underwent at-home sleep monitoring known as polysomnography and answered questions about their sleep habits, health conditions and possible depression symptoms.
Researchers found that more than half of the men had undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. In the entire group, 323 men had sleep apnea only, 37 had insomnia only and 47 had both conditions.
Of the men with both sleep apnea and insomnia, 43 percent also had depression, compared with 22 percent of the men who had insomnia alone and 8 percent of the men who had sleep apnea alone.
Sleep deprivation, which may occur in chronic insomnia, is known to adversely affect muscles involved in breathing and may contribute to the propensity and severity of sleep apnea, Lang noted.
“There are also many biochemical signaling pathways in the body through which sleep apnea, insomnia, and depression may interact with each other,” she said.
If one of the sleep disorders is suspected, primary care providers should consider the possibility of co-existing sleep apnea and insomnia as well as their patient’s mental health, said Lang.
“Since some hypnotic medications could potentially be counter-productive, patients should be referred to sleep clinics, and if necessary mental health clinics, for further investigation so that the most appropriate treatment strategy can be implemented for them as an individual,” she said.
Our sleep is important for our physical and mental health, Lang added, and a person who experiences sleep problems should talk to a medical practitioner to see if further investigation is necessary.
Many people with anxiety disorders have trouble sleeping. That’s a problem. Too little sleep affects mood, contributing to irritability and sometimes depression. Vital functions occur during different stages of sleep that leave you feeling rested and energized or help you learn and forge memories. Sleep usually improves when an anxiety disorder is treated. Practicing good “sleep hygiene” helps, too. Here are some steps to take:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Daylight helps set sleep patterns, so try to be outdoors while it’s light out for 30 minutes a day.
- Exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime). An afternoon workout is ideal.
- Keep naps short — less than an hour — and forgo napping after 3 p.m.
- Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, many teas, chocolate, and many soft drinks), which can take up to eight hours to wear off. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if you have panic attacks; many people who experience panic attacks are extra-sensitive to caffeine.
- Review your medications with a doctor to see if you are taking any stimulants, which are a common culprit in keeping people up at night. Sometimes it’s possible to switch medicines.
- Avoid alcohol, large meals, foods that induce heartburn, and drinking a lot of fluid for several hours before bedtime.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking causes many health problems, including compromising sleep in a variety of ways.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, without distractions like TV or a computer. Avoid using an electronic device to read in bed; the light from the screen can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime. If your mattress is uncomfortable, replace it.
- Reading, listening to music, or relaxing before bed with a hot bath or deep breathing can help you get to sleep.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of turning in (or if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep in 20 minutes), get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
For additional tips and strategies for living with anxiety, buy Coping with Anxiety and Stress Disorders, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
- Coffee has been found to reverse liver damage caused by alcohol.
- The brain naturally craves 4 things: Food, Sex, Water and Sleep.
- Studies show that by eating a big breakfast, you won’t feel as hungry the rest of the day, which can lead to more nutritional food choices.
- 70% of people pretend to be okay simply because they don’t want to annoy others with their problems.
- The average woman smiles 62 times a day. The average man smiles only 8 times.
- Self-discipline better predicts success than IQ, according to research.
- Eating tomatoes helps prevent sunburn.
- Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.
Sure shiitake mushrooms are savory and delicious, but now there are scientifically proven reasons to eat them every day. If you are one of the lucky people who ate shiitake mushrooms at breakfast this morning, you are well aware of the tasty reasons to eat them.
Shiitake mushrooms are one delicious variety of fungi that not only taste good, but that help heal your body. Let’s look further at the edible bounty of shiitake mushrooms and why science has proven that eating them every day is deliciously good for you.
8 SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN REASONS TO EAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS EVERY DAY
A half cup of shiitake mushrooms only has 41 calories and packs the following nutritional daily values:
- Copper 72%
- Pantothenic acid 52%
- Selenium 33%
- Vitamin B2 9%
- Zinc 9%
- Manganese 8%
- Vitamin B6 7%
- Vitamin B3 7%
- Choline 6%
- Fiber 6%
- Vitamin D 5%
- Folate 4%
1. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN KILL BACTERIA THAT CAUSE DISEASE.
Chitosan is a type of natural sugar that is found in a few foods, including the shells of crabs and the stems of shiitake mushrooms. The chitosan found in shiitake mushrooms has antimicrobial properties that kill bacteria.
Researchers in one study found that chitosan from shiitake stems showed excellent antimicrobial activities against eight different species of disease-causing bacteria. Scientists also discovered that shiitake chitosan was more effective at killing bacteria than the chitosan taken from crab shells.
2. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN KILL TUMORS
Keeping yourself cancer-free is certainly a great reason to eat shiitakes and the scientific research backs up this claim. The same study mentioned above also found that the chitosan in shiitake mushroom stems helped prevent tumors from spreading.
Chitosan can also be found in crab shells, but the researchers found that shiitake chitosan was better at stopping the spread of tumors than the chitosan taken from crab shells. Although we can’t say that shiitake mushrooms prevent cancer form occurring in the first place, reducing the spread of tumors is a great reason to add them to your meal plan every day.
3. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN REDUCE INFLAMMATION AND IMPROVE IMMUNITY.
Yet another scientific study showed that eating whole dried shiitake mushrooms in a daily diet helped reduce the inflammation for 52 male and female study participants over 4 weeks. Scientists were able to show an improved immune function for the people who ate the mushrooms every day. An improved immune response is yet another incredible health benefit of eating shiitake mushrooms.
4. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN HELP FIGHT OBESITY.
In a study of mice that were fed a diet of shiitake mushrooms, scientists showed that the mice that ate the mushrooms had much healthier body weights than those that did not. The shiitake-fed mice had reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels and also had fewer fatty liver deposits.
The researchers say that supplementing diet with shiitake mushrooms could be a way to help control obesity in humans as well. Whether you suffer from a weight problem or not, adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet is a way to add a healthy, high-nutrient, low calorie food that you will enjoy.
5. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN PREVENT INSOMNIA.
Some scientists believe that Vitamin D deficiency is responsible for many of the chronic insomnia sufferers in the world. 100 grams of fresh shiitake mushrooms provide 100 IU of Vitamin D daily, which helps your body repair itself at night while you get restful sleep.
6. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN PREVENT AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES.
Adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet can decrease the risk of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis. Shiitake naturally contain beta glucans, which are a type of natural sugar.
Beta glucans have many health benefits including protection from colds and flu.
Gaining resilience against autoimmune diseases and preventing the immune system from attacking the body is a scientifically proven reason to eat shiitake mushrooms every day.
7. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN IMPROVE OVERALL NUTRITION IN YOUR DIET.
Science has shown that those who have mushrooms in their diet are more likely to have a higher quality diet with respect to total nutrient content than people who do not have mushrooms in their diet. Nine years of data were analyzed and measurements of healthy eating were checked for groups of people who either had mushrooms in their diets or did not. The mushroom-eating group surpassed the others for total vegetables, dark greens and grains.
8. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS CAN PREVENT AND CORRECT HYPERTENSION.
Researchers evaluating alternatives to high-blood pressure medication say that ‘Synthetic anti-hypertensive drugs have been blamed for side effects of various sorts. Thus, the search for natural, safe, and food-based anti-hypertensive agents has gained momentum. Mushrooms, abundant in bio-active components, had been recognized for its use as therapeutics in alternative and complementary medicine as well as functional food.’
Mushrooms contain terpenoids, peptides, lentinan, pipecolic acid and potassium, which researchers have shown can actually prevent a high-cholesterol diet from causing high blood pressure. The compounds in shiitake mushrooms also have the potential to reverse hypertension for patients who prefer a non-drug therapy.