Category : Tips

Mature man, eyes open with both hands on alarm clock while checking time, cannot sleep at night from insomnia

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep

While establishing a sleep schedule and routine can help improve your sleep, you may still struggle with occasional bouts of insomnia. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of tucking in, don’t stay in bed. Watching the minutes tick by while you lay awake can increase your anxiety, actually making it harder for you to sleep.

Instead of tossing and turning, get out of bed and choose a relaxing activity. Go back to bed when you feel tired. Even if you don’t fall asleep at your regularly scheduled time, try to wake up at your normal hour. Sleeping in can make it harder to fall asleep the following night.

You might consider these relaxing activities to get your sleepiness back:

  • Reading a book
  • Take a walk (outside)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Practice yoga
  • Meditate
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Write

To Nap or Not to Nap?

Napping can be a great way for you to catch up on sleep and increase your performance during the day, but it can also have negative effects. For some people, daytime napping can cause grogginess and nighttime sleep problems. If you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, experiment with naps to decide whether they are helpful for you.

If you do want to try napping, follow a few simple rules to minimize negative effects. Keep your naps short. For most people, 10 to 30 minutes is enough to recharge. Take your naps midmorning or mid-afternoon. Any later, and your nap might interfere with your nighttime sleep.

If you follow these guidelines but still experience grogginess or trouble sleeping at night, napping may not be a good way for you to recharge. Instead, try to get enough sleep at night to keep you going during the day.

Managing Sleep Problems

While occasional insomnia or sleeplessness is normal, some people experience more frequent sleep problems, even when they stick to a sleep schedule and make regular sleep routines. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping or waking up frequently in spite of changes to your sleep routines, talk to your doctor, as these symptoms may be signs of a sleep disorder or other illness.

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How important is a bedtime routine?

One of the best ways to improve your quality of sleep is to establish a sleep schedule and a bedtime routine. This regularity helps the body adjust to a daily habit and prepare for sleeping and waking when the time comes.

The Importance of a Regular Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle, called the circadian rhythm. This will help you sleep better and feel more energized and refreshed during the day.

Choose a regular sleep schedule based on when you feel tired at night and when you have to be up each morning. Some people are natural night owls, while other people feel sleepy earlier. Figure out which you are and schedule your sleep accordingly.

Follow the same sleep schedule every day, including on weekends and holidays. If you need to change your regular sleep schedule, work incrementally by adjusting your bedtime and morning alarm by 15 minutes each day.

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Setting up a routine you follow each night before bed further prepares your body for sleep. Eventually, these nightly activities will signal to your brain that it’s time to begin shutting down for the night, making it easier to fall asleep soon after you crawl into bed.

Set aside the hour before bed to begin your before-bed routine. Turn off electronics and turn down the lights in your home to tell your brain that bedtime is nearing. Then find something relaxing that will begin to quiet your mind and body. Here are some examples of calming activities you could do before bed.

  • Write in a journal. If you are someone who lies awake with anxious thoughts, try to document these before you go to bed. Or, write down happy memories from the day or a list of things for which you’re grateful.
  • Read a book. Pick something that isn’t too intense – graphic crime dramas and heart-pounding thrillers aren’t conducive to good sleep. Choose a lighthearted novel, a poetry collection, or a spiritual or religious text.
  • Take up a relaxing hobby. Try knitting, scrapbooking, or painting – something that will help you unwind and take your mind off your busy day.
  • Practice meditation to reduce stress. Many books, apps, and videos can guide you through the process of learning to meditate, a practice that research suggests may help with anxiety, sleep problems, and other ailments.
  • Take a warm bath. Add calming essential oils, such as lavender or chamomile, to enhance the experience and increase relaxation.

What to Avoid in the Hours before Sleep

Just as you can do some things before bed to promote healthy sleep, you should avoid other things that may make it harder to sleep well. Here are some common things to avoid.

  • Caffeine and nicotine. These chemicals send alerting signals to the brain, so cut these out well before your established bedtime.
  • Large meals. Feeling too full when you go to bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Similarly, feeling hungry can keep you up. If you want a late evening snack, try something small, like fruit, cereal, or a piece of cheese.
  • Exercise. While exercising in general helps you get a better night’s sleep, working out right before bed can energize your body rather than calming it down. If you feel like some light exercise before you sleep, try stretching or gentle yoga.
  • White screens. Televisions, computers, and tablets emit bright light that sends signals to the brain telling it to stay awake. Shut these down at least an hour before bed to begin transitioning to sleep.
  • Drinking. A glass of water right before bed may mean a sleep-disrupting trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Try to have your last sips at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

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Facts, Tips

How these simple bedroom tips improve your sleep drasticaly

One of the best ways to get a better night’s sleep is to create an environment that is conducive to deep, restful slumber. Your bedroom’s lighting and noise level can both affect how rested you feel each morning. Even the dripping of a leaky faucet or the light of your alarm clock can have an impact on your sleep, so consider adopting a few bedroom tips and making small, simple changes to your sleep environment to feel more rested each morning.

How Light Affects Our Sleep

Light – or a lack of it – is one of the most important ways our body regulates sleep. Bright lights, particularly strong, outdoor lights, help regulate our circadian rhythms. These rhythms operate sort of like a clock, telling us when to sleep and when to wake up. Sunlight and bright indoor lighting tell our brains to wake up, while darkness indicates that it is time for sleep.

Before the invention of the light bulb in the late 19th century, our bodies transitioned between sleeping and waking with cues from natural light and darkness. But now, the brightness from indoor lighting and electronics has disrupted that natural rhythm. Even low lighting from a street lamp or a television set can send our brains the wrong messages and keep us up.

Begin sending the right signals to your brain by powering off electronics and turning down lights in the hour before bedtime. You can also make your bedroom more conducive to sleep by following a few steps to reduce lighting in your sleeping environment. If you are someone who works at night and sleeps during the day, reducing the light in your bedroom is even more essential to restful sleep.

Reducing Light

  • Turn off your television, laptop, tablet, or other electronics before falling asleep. Better yet, shut them off an hour before your head hits the pillow.
  • Use curtains or blinds to diffuse harsh outdoor lights, such as the light from a street lamp. If light still keeps you up, or if you sleep during the day, invest in blackout curtains, which will block all outside light.
  • If you use an alarm clock, choose one that goes dark at night and is only illuminated when you hit the snooze. The glow may not only affect your sleep, but anxiety about the time may also keep you up.
  • Even little lights, such as the light from a laptop’s “on” indicator or the glow of a watch, can impact sleep. Cover these with tape and scraps of paper, or move them to another room, to snooze soundly.
  • If you can’t control some of the light in your room, use an eye mask to block it out.
  • If you frequently get up at night, line the hallway with dim nightlights instead of flipping on overhead lighting. These bright overhead lights can interrupt our brain’s messages and tell us to wake up, making it harder to fall into a deep sleep when we return to bed.

How Noise Affects Our Sleep

For our early ancestors, small noises were often the only indication of an enemy or a predator lurking nearby. Humans adapted to respond to sounds while asleep. This is why, even today, a neighbor’s noisy party shakes us into wakefulness. Even when noises don’t wake us from sleep, they often cause us to transition to a lighter stage sleep, affecting our overall sleep quality and our feelings of restfulness the next day.

But not all noises are bad for our sleep. Some faint sounds, like the low hum of traffic, the sound of crickets, or the ticking of a clock, won’t wake us up if we are acclimated to them. In fact, silence can actually disrupt our sleep. When we are used to complete quiet, even the smallest sounds can startle us awake.

Unfamiliar, inconsistent, or loud noises, however, can wake us up. Outside your house or apartment, you may wake to noises from street construction or arguing neighbors. Inside, you may experience the sounds of a snoring partner or a television set in the next room. Even the dripping of a faucet can keep some people up at night. Improve your sleep by using the following techniques to reduce and control noise in your sleeping environment.

Reducing Noise

  • If you have noisy roommates or nocturnal pets, close your bedroom door to block out sounds.
  • Some people like to fall asleep to nature sounds or soothing music. This kind of background noise may improve your sleep quality, but if you find it waking you up later at night, set the noise on a timer so it shuts off shortly after you fall asleep.
  • If outside noise is invading your sleeping space, invest in heavy or noise-cancelling curtains or line your walls with sound-absorbing panels.
  • Some noises within your sleeping environment – for example, a roommate’s snoring – you may not be able to control. In these cases, invest in high-quality earplugs, which will reduce noise and improve sleep quality.
  • If, on the other hand, your sleeping space is very quiet, small sounds may wake you from a restful sleep. If this is the case, create some “white noise” in your environment by turning on a quiet fan or investing in a white noise machine or smart phone app.
  • If you have a ticking clock in your bedroom, consider packing it on trips so you experience the familiar sound while you’re away.


Making these simple changes to your sleeping area can improve your overall sleep quality. If you continue to suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems, talk to your doctor about medical interventions that may help.

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Personal stories, Tips

The Best Natural Remedies for Sleep Disorders

For those of you who are tired -no pun intended- of staring up at the ceiling, hoping that you will eventually fall asleep, I may have some good news for you. First of all, you are definitely not alone. Almost 33 percent of the population suffers from insomnia. True insomnia is characterized by the inability to either fall or stay asleep, or both, consistently for more than a week. For some reason, women are typically more prone to this condition, likely in part due to the fact that we are always thinking, worrying or otherwise engaged mentally. It could also be hormone related in some cases. But as we age, the quality of sleep declines equally in both men and women.

There are many things that are thought to cause insomnia such as chronic stress, a noisy environment, some types of medications, changes in hormone levels, temperature (too hot or too cold), chronic pain and even anxiety about not being able to fall asleep… now that’s ironic! After time, lack of sleep can also cause depression, which only contributes to your insomnia. It truly is a vicious circle and the less sleep you get, the less likely you are to handle the stress that accompanies insomnia, bringing the whole situation back full circle.


Another cause of sleep disturbances is sleep apnea, which is characterized by shallow breathing and or pauses in breathing that can occur 5 to 30 times or more in an hour. During these episodes carbon dioxide builds up, which signals the brain to wake you up, ultimately causing you to be unable to sleep a night without waking numerous times. Almost 18 million people experience sleep apnea in the US alone. Studies also show that sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure and can even lead to inflamed and clogged arteries. You may not even be aware that you have sleep apnea, but when you wake in the morning you may feel exhausted or experience daytime grogginess. Other people can see what is happening, however, and if you are experiencing sleep apnea, you should talk to your doctor as this condition can actually be life threatening. A doctor can test you during a sleep study and determine if you are actually experiencing sleep apnea or if there is some other issue.

The treatment for sleep apnea is typically a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP), which is a mask that is attached to a tube that goes into your throat and blows air to keep your airway open. The success rate is high (90 to 95 percent) but it can be hard to get used to at first. If you have mild symptoms you can also try a dental device that pulls your lower jaw forward in order to create a larger airway. From a natural standpoint, you can also try neti pots or saline drops to treat nasal congestion but you really should see your doctor to make sure you are not at risk for more serious issues. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary and/or helpful.

Medication vs. Natural Remedies

Luckily, I have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea. I have, however, completed three sleep studies, which have determine that for whatever reason, I do not get deep sleep. I actually wake every 20 minutes or so (not that I am aware of this most times.) Prior to these studies, I tried probably close to every natural cure there is for my insomnia. Some were helpful and actually seemed to work for a time, but as I got older and the insomnia got worse, I ended up having to resort to medications. I do however also use some natural remedies that only enhance my sleep and at times, allow me to reduce the medication significantly.


We all produce this hormone naturally after the sun goes down. Darkness triggers our bodies to start pumping out the hormone that regulates our normal sleep/wake cycle. People with insomnia have been shown to have lower melatonin levels. Studies also show that supplemental melatonin can help improve the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It is also quite good for occasional insomnia brought on by jet lag. I found this remedy to be the most effective of all natural remedies.


This is an amino acid derivative found in green tea. It is known to trigger the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA triggers the major calming neurotransmitters and thus promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. Studies show however, that the body has difficulty absorbing supplements containing synthesized GABA. Naturopaths and other health professionals therefore typically recommend taking theanine, which the body does easily absorb. It then boosts GABA levels, which help with sleep issues.


This is a chemical made naturally by the body from the amino acid (L-tryptophan), which is a neurotransmitter that is essential for a good night’s sleep. Apparently, 5-Htp is better than L-tryptophan because it can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is another chemical that is made after tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP. Studies show that 5-HTP supplements help raise serotonin levels in the brain, thus helping with insomnia. 5-Htp is also used to enhance mood and decrease appetite so it is not recommended for people already on anti-depressants.


You likely know that magnesium is a mineral from high school science class. It is especially known to help with muscle and nerve functions. It is also great for your heart and immune system, and it is often combined with calcium because it is good for keeping your bones strong and healthy. Because lack of magnesium is known to inhibit nerve cell communication, it can lead to cell excitability, which results in nervous stress. Studies show that magnesium is helpful for reducing this anxiety, which helps calms the body and improve sleep quality and nighttime awakenings.


This herb to known to help reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have done studies that show that valerian has certain sedative properties, and it may increase the amount of GABA in the brain.


There are many natural supplements that actually combine some or all of the above. Like me, you may just have to go through various products to see which ones work best for you. But, with any natural product, you should talk to your doctor first before taking them as some can interact with certain medications. There really is no one ‘cure all’ for insomnia, but before resorting to medications, taking the natural route may be effective and save you from the side effects that often come with prescription or over the counter medications.

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Health, Tips

How to get rid of your Chronic Sleep Problems once and for all

Everyone suffers from occasional sleep problems, like insomnia or poor sleep quality. However, if you’re someone who regularly has trouble getting a good night’s rest, you may have a sleep disorder and need special treatment. There are many common disorders that may be interrupting your sleep. While some may be serious, and even life threatening, they are all treatable or manageable. If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Commonly, doctors will refer patients to specialists for diagnosis and treatment of sleep problems. These specialists will first ask you questions about your sleep and then may refer you for further testing. Sleep specialists commonly have patients undergo a sleep study, during which you would spend the night in a laboratory while diagnosticians monitor your sleep. You can help your medical team by making notes on your sleep (for example, the number of hours and quality of sleep) before your appointment.

Once diagnosed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, medical devices, or other therapy. Treatments vary depending on your diagnosed condition and the severity of your sleep problems.

Common Sleep Disorders

Insomnia: Although most people associate insomnia with difficulty falling asleep, it can also refer to waking during the night or poor sleep quality. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and can be a symptom of other problems, such as anxiety, depression, or a physical condition. Although medications can help in the short-term with insomnia, in most cases, the best long-term treatments are lifestyle changes to improve your sleep.

Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you stop breathing briefly during sleep because your airways become blocked. These interruptions cause you to wake up frequently, although many people do not remember waking. Sleep apnea can lead to feelings of exhaustion or fatigue during the day, as well as irritability, depression, and decreased productivity. Symptoms include loud snoring, pauses in breathing, gasping or choking, and waking with shortness of breath, headaches, or a dry throat.

Narcolepsy: This sleep disorder involves excessive daytime sleepiness, which often results in falling asleep at inappropriate times. Symptoms include intense dreams, dreaming immediately upon falling asleep, losing muscle control, or feeling paralyzed while falling asleep or waking up.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): This disorder causes an irresistible urge to move your legs or arms. You may feel uncomfortable sensations that are often worse at night or while seated.

Circadian rhythm disorders: Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by circadian rhythms, which release hormones for sleeping and waking. These rhythms may be disrupted by jet lag, irregular or rotating work schedules, or a condition called delayed sleep phase disorder, all of which can be managed.

If you experience severe symptoms, like extreme sleep deprivation, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Severe sleep problems may be signs of a medical condition or may lead to serious complications.


The most medications prescribed for sleep are used to treat insomnia or circadian rhythm disorders. Medications like Ambien and Lunesta are taken right before bed and can help you fall and stay asleep. Caution should be taken when using sleeping pills to treat these disorders. If you use them daily or over the long-term, you may become dependent on them for sleep. Prescription medications are best used on an as-needed, short-term basis, while other treatments, such as lifestyle changes, can help in the long term.

Sleeping pills should only be used when you have enough time for a full eight hours of sleep. Do not drive or drink alcohol while using a sleeping pill.

Although medications are most commonly prescribed for insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders, some other conditions can be treated with prescriptions. For example, doctors may prescribe stimulants or other medications to treat narcolepsy, while dopamine agonists are most commonly prescribed for restless leg syndrome. Medications are sometimes, but not often, prescribed to treat sleep apnea.

Breathing Machine

For moderate to severe sleep apnea, doctors might prescribe the use of a breathing machine, such as a continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) device. A CPAP increases air pressure into your airways, helping you breathe more easily and avoid awakening. The CPAP comes with a mask that covers either your nose and mouth or just your nose. It may take time to become adjusted to sleeping with the mask on and your doctor can give you suggestions for making the adjustment. A CPAP machine is the most common treatment for people with sleep apnea and has been shown effective at improving sleep quality and reducing daytime sleepiness.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

For people who suffer from insomnia, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) may also be an effective treatment. CBT is a psychotherapy that focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that have a negative impact on your sleep. This structured program may include keeping a sleep diary to track your problems and progress.

Your CBT therapist may try a variety of techniques with you, ranging from improving your sleep hygiene to learning relaxation skills. This therapy is usually short-term, ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Sometimes CBT is combined with medications.

Lifestyle Changes

For many people, making simple lifestyle changes can dramatically help improve their sleep quality. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try these strategies to improve your rest. First, set a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Make a relaxing sleep environment that is dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature. Invest in cozy bedding and good pillows.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the hours before bed, as these can reduce your sleep quality. Also avoid large meals within two hours of going to sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep within 20 minutes of crawling into bed, get back up and do something relaxing until you feel tired.

For many sleep problems, these and other lifestyle changes may be the best long-term solution. Talk to your doctor or a sleep therapist about all your treatment options for your sleep problems.


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Health, Tips

The effect of Vitamin D on your sleep

It is always a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked, especially if you notice you have insomnia, gained weight, have strange muscle aches or joint pain, are often tired during the day, need several caffeinated drinks to function or are having symptoms of depression. People in the medical community often don’t recognize the link between depression and lack of vitamin D and instead of focusing on vitamin deficiencies, will prescribe drugs to treat depressive symptoms or insomnia. Since depression can play a major role in sleep disorders, vitamin D can help several symptoms along the same spectrum. When we don’t get enough good quality sleep, there is no question that your physical body, mood and entire well-being suffers. Lack of REM sleep can lead to serious health conditions including hypertension, heart disease, cancer and stroke.

If you have enough vitamin D in your body and you keep your bedroom completely dark, you will produce melatonin while you sleep. It is important to keep the tv or computer off, since studies have found even a small amount of light disrupts your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. Melatonin helps your body go into REM or the stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement; it is during this stage that you will have the most dreams and your body’s natural healing processes can begin. Since vitamin D helps the body produce melatonin, there is no need for melatonin supplements if you are getting enough vitamin D.

People think that we get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from the sun, but the truth is many people don’t. If you work indoors you probably don’t get enough sun for your body to produce this often underestimated but so important hormone. If you tend to be more of a night owl, you also might be at risk of having low vitamin D levels. Or maybe you are on a dairy-free or vegan diet, which limits the amount of vitamin D from foods since egg yolks, meat and dairy contain some amounts of vitamin D but not nearly enough for for your daily intake. To get your intake from the sun, you have to sit outside for half the time it takes before you begin to burn and with all of the risks from too much sun exposure, many people would rather go for the supplements. The darker your skin is, the more likely you will need a vitamin D supplement, since melanin reduces the amount of vitamin D your body produces and the older you are, the slower the body gets at producing what it needs.

Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol is the best supplement to take and comes from lanolin (wool grease) or fish organs. The supplements come in capsule and tablet form, and either as an oil or in a vegetable base. In order to properly absorb vitamin D, you have to be eating a well-balanced diet with sufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin K. You can find vitamin K1 in green leafies like kale, chard, spinach or wheatgrass. Vitamin K2 comes from proteins, especially liver, eggs and hard cheese. Sure, your body will produce vitamin D if you’re outdoors on a sunny day and fully exposed, like you are on the beach, however you would need to do this daily for the amount of time it takes for your skin to turn half a shade darker or pink, whichever comes first. However, the time involved in going to the beach daily with perfect weather conditions is just not realistic for most people. Eating magnesium-rich foods like legumes, broccoli, nuts and avocados will also help prevent leg cramps and headaches some experience when first starting vitamin D supplementation. Magnesium also helps to balance your calcium levels which is good for your heart.

There are numerous reports and testimonials online by people who swear that supplementing with vitamin D3 helps them to sleep deeper, longer and feel well-rested each day. It takes time for your body’s levels to adjust to your final dosage so don’t expect immediate results. Its also a good idea to take the vitamin D3 in the morning, since it temporarily cuts off melatonin production; this way, once its time for you to sleep, your body can produce melatonin at optimal levels.

The FDA recommends a vitamin D daily requirement of 400-800IU per day; a fairly low range adequate enough for good sleep and low enough to avoid accidental vitamin D overdose. Too much vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, which can result in constipation, kidney stones and bone pain. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include excessive thirst and increased urination. Its best to talk to your doctor first about taking the vitamin D test, also known as the 25(OH)D level test to see where your levels fall. This way you can determine what dosage you need since everyone absorbs vitamin D differently and some may need more than others. For those without health insurance, The Vitamin D Council offers tons of up-to-date information about vitamin D as well as vitamin D testing for a fee less than a doctor’s visit.

Who knew that vitamin D could really have that much of an effect on sleep and sleep disorders? If you haven’t tried it yet, its definitely something worth looking into. The power of a good night’s rest does not have to be a daydream anymore; with vitamin D you could likely turn that dream into reality.

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