Good Sleep Tips For Pregnant Moms

Sleep does not come easily to the pregnant woman. It is understandably quite difficult to assume the fetal position with a fetus inside you. Hormonal changes and discomfort associated with pregnancy can affect a pregnant woman’s quality of sleep, and pregnant women need all the sleep they can get – it may be their last chance for a while. The National Sleep Foundation knows that each trimester of pregnancy brings with it a new set of challenges. Here is some of their advice for handling them.

First Trimester Of Pregnancy
In the first trimester of pregnancy, there are a number of challenges to a good night’s sleep you’ll need to be prepared for. Pregnant moms wake up frequently in need of the bathroom and emotional and physical stress may cause sleep disruptions and increased daytime sleepiness.

Second Trimester Of Pregnancy
The second trimester of pregnancy may be considered the metaphorical “calm before the storm.” Nighttime urination will become less of an issue because the fetus moves above the bladder, reducing the amount of pressure on it. However, sleep may still be interrupted by the growth of the child and the emotional stress.

Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
This one’s the doozy. In the third trimester of pregnancy, not only can you expect to feel discomfort as a result of your expanding belly, you may also experience, effects heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion, all keeping you from a good night’s sleep. In addition, you’ll find the nighttime urination increasing in frequency again as the baby’s position puts pressure on your bladder once more.

Tips For A Good Sleep
Extra Pillows: Get some extra pillows to pad the tummy and back. A pillow positioned between the legs can help to give support to the lower back to make sleeping on your side more comfortable. Consider the wedge shaped pillow or the full-length body pillow for best results.

Nutrition: A nice glass of warm milk is always a good remedy for sleeplessness. Also, foods rich in carbohydrates, such as crackers and bread can help bring on sleep, and a high protein snack can keep levels of blood sugar from falling and prevent headaches, bad dreams, and hot flashes.

Relaxation: Relaxation is also another great way to induce sleep, soothing your muscles, while calming your mind. Stretching, massage, yoga, and deep breathing are all effective relaxation techniques, and a warm bath and shower before bed may also prove quite soothing.

Exercise: Not only is regular exercise important during pregnancy to promote physical and mental health, it can also help you to sleep more deeply. However, keep in mind that stimulating exercise within four hours of bedtime is more like affect your sleep adversely than positively.

Medications: While most medications should be kept out of the equation when one is pregnant, there may be some herbal and dietary supplements that can help you sleep better. Make sure to discuss taking any type of drug, OTC, or prescription with a doctor before purchasing them.

If you have any good tips for sleeping while pregnant, we would love to hear them. Let us know!

Can Exercise Help Improve Hypersomnia?

Hypersomnia: A condition causing excessive daytime drowsiness. Aerobic exercise: an activity requiring excessive daytime energy. The two would seem to be in direct contrast to one another, but could one be the cure for the other? While it may seem vigorous exercise would be the last thing on a drowsy person’s to do list, new studies show that exercise may be a way to alleviate the symptoms of hypersomnia in depressed individuals. Could there be a science behind this theory? Let’s take a look.

Symptoms of Hypersomnia
Individuals with hypersomnia are likely to doze off regularly and repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times, including during meals, at work, or in conversation. They may show difficulty waking from a long sleep and feel disoriented upon waking. Anxiety, decreased energy, slowness of thought and speech, memory lapses, loss of appetite, and increased irritation are also among the symptoms of the condition. In severe cases, patients may lose their ability to function in social, family, and occupational settings.

Demographics
Hypersomnia is a rather uncommon disorder affecting a very small percentage of the population. Only 5% or fewer adults complain about feeling excessively sleepy during the day, and of that 5% only 5-10% are diagnosed with hypersomnia. It generally appears in a patient between the ages of 15 and 30, and tends to happen gradually, sometimes taking years to develop fully.

woman exercising indoors

The Research
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care are the group behind the findings about the positive effect of aerobic exercise upon the depressive condition. These researchers found that exercise lowered the levels of two biological markers for hypersomnia in blood samples, reducing the likelihood of excess sleepiness.

According to senior study author, Madukar Trivedi, MD, “Hypersomnia, as well as insomnia have been linked in the development, treatment, and recurrence of depression. Identifying these biomarkers, combined with new understanding of the important role of exercise in reducing hyperemia, have potential implications in the treatment of major depressive disorder.”

Previous research had found a negative loop in which sleep, depression, and inflammation interact, with detrimental results. The current findings suggest that exercise may be the key to resetting the loop. Researchers identified biomarkers based on the blood samples of 100 participants who were asked to perform two kinds of aerobic excersises. The subjects consisted of people ages 18 to 70 who all suffered from major depression disorder.

After a 12 week period,researchers had located reductions in tow biomarkers related to hypersomnia. Lead author Chad Rethorst, PhD says, “Identification of biomarkers that uniquely predict or correlate with improvement in hypersomnia and insomnia is an important step toward more effective treatment of MDD.

Do you suffer from hypersomnia or know someone who does? Let us know what you think of the new findings.

Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Woman sleeping soundly

Suggestions For Distraction-Free Sleep

So you’ve just gotten back from partying for 6 days in the desert and, boy, are you tired. You are going to sleep, but this will not be a regular sleep; this will be an epic sleep. You are going to sleep like the dead and pity the person or thing that dares to interrupt you. But a sleep like this will take careful planning. You need to make sure this sleep is totally free of distractions. If you can just stay awake a few more minutes, you should do the following to ensure your sleep is the blissful one you are anticipating.

Turn Off Electronics
In order to fall asleep, your body increases sleep hormone levels as it gets darker outside. In turn, your body begins to associate darkness with sleep. Exposure to light from electronics, like laptops and cell phones, inhibit the formation of these hormones. For a good night’s sleep, turn off all brightly screened electronic devises at least on hour prior to turning in.

Studies show that people who play computer games more than seven hours per week do not sleep as well as those who refrain from such activity. Also, social media outlets can raise stress and anxiety levels.

Cool Off
Heat can be a major sleep distraction. The best combination for a good night’s sleep is a cool room and hot skin. Set the thermostat to 65 or lower to induce sleepiness and prevent night sweats.

Woman sleeping with book

Keep It Dark
Bright lights are not conducive to good sleep. They trick the body into thinking it is daytime, and prevent sleep hormones from forming. Turn off night lights, overheads, and table lamps. Close your blinds and consider investing in light blocking curtain for extra relaxation.

If you chose to read or write before turning in, try a small book light as opposed to a desktop or overhead light source. if you own a bright clock, check out the dimmer option to lower brightness and face it away from you to avoid obsessive time checks.

Reduce Unwanted Noise
White noise generators are available, as are recordings of natural sounds. These rhythmic sounds can drown out noises which can interfere with sleep. You may also want to listen to some soft music. You can do an online search to find specific pieces of music recommended to aid sleep. Experiment with different types until you find which works best for you. It may be classical or modern ambient.

Use earplugs to keep out background noises and annoying sounds, like car alarms or barking dogs.

Woman with headphones

Avoid falling asleep with head phones on, as they may become uncomfortable. Play music with a self timer, so you don’t need to worry about shutting it off after a certain time.

Take A Supplement
Herbal and mineral supplements have been used as sleep aids since time immemorial. Try taking 600 mg of calcium with 200mg magnesium as a sleep aid.

Hops are also great for helping with insomnia and relieving anxiety. 30 -120 mg should send you off to sleep nicely.

Wild lettuce tablets can also help to reduce sleep anxiety. Take a recommended 30-120 mg nightly.

L-theanine is a another supplement know to improve not only quality of sleep, but also alertness upon waking. Green tea also contains trace amounts of the amino acid.

Valerian roots supplements are another cure for insomnia. Two hundred to eight hundred mg whole help you fall asleep quickly and easily.

How do you keep your sleep distraction-free? Let us know how you keep your bedroom a sanctuary.

Healthy lifestyle

Setting Personal Goals For Healthy Living

Being unhealthy is not just a part of your life; it’s a part of your identity. And now you’ve decided to make the change. But you’re uneasy. What are your buddies going to think when you beg off a trip to the bar in order to go to the gym? What are they going to say when you pass on the midnight donut run? When you get the spinach pizza instead of the meat lovers?

Setting personal health goals can be difficult, especially when you’re accustomed to a less than Jack Lalanne approved lifestyle, but it can be done. Here are some tips on doing just that.

To-Do List for Healthy Living
Go see your doctor. Even if you’re feeling great, it’s always a good idea to make sure everything is running smoothly. Get yourself screened and immunized and get the answers to all of the nagging questions that may be on your mind.

Keep tabs on your height and weight and make sure you are getting in enough physical activity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of two and a half hour of moderate aerobic activity and 15 minutes of more intense aerobic activity each week, plus muscle training exercises at least two days a week.

Nutritionist Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD tells you to, “Keep track of what your eating–all of it. The idea is to write it down without judgment. You can’t change what you’re not aware of or don’t acknowledge.”

Check your relationships and evaluate your mood and energy levels. Make sure you’re surrounded by people that enrich your life; get adequate sleep, and monitor yourself for signs of depression.

Food

Improve Your Diet
Its all about taking back the power over food. Says Williams, ” Instead of,’I should be eating more fruits and vegetables,’ it’s, ‘I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,’ or, ‘ I choose not to, It shows your in control, you’re making the choice. Stock the kitchen with healthy foods, so you have a healthy strategy for when cravings hit. Slow down and enjoy your food. According to Williams, “You’re much more likely to feel psychologically satisfied,'” and shoot forgive to nine servings of varied vegetables and fruits per day.

Exercise More
Not the exercise type? No such thing! Dr. Williams says there’s no need to stick with the dreaded cardio: find something you enjoy and keep track of what you’re doing. Put big X’s on the calendar on days when you exercise. A visual record will Keep you motivated. Set weekly goals rather than daily ones, so you have greater day-to-day freedom. That way, you can forgive yourself if you miss a day, so long as you make it up before the weekend

Cut Down On Stress
When it comes to handling stress, Williams has two suggestions. Routine maintenance entails the development of coping skills, like meditation or yoga to keep your stress level down. You can also breakthrough stress, by finding ways to handle stressful situations when they pop up. For example, you might run up and down the stairs to quell aggravation after a stressful encounter.

Woman sleeping

Sleep More Soundly
If sound sleep is a problem for you, Lisa Shives, MD has a few tips. The doctor advises avoiding the stimulation of computer and tv two hours before bedtime and recommends a light reading lamp that doesn’t shine into your eyes directly. She warns against vigorous exercise near bedtime and taking a hot bath to relax yourself mentally. Shives also stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule and making good sleep a priority saying sleep is, “just as important as diet and exercise.”

Sound doable to you? Of course it does! Let us know how you’re getting a handle on your health. We love to hear it!

woman sleeping

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Imagine going to sleep tonight and waking up on January 2nd. You’ve missed the turkey, the gifts, the outfits, the eating, the drinking, all of it. Perhaps, you are thinking, that would be great! You’ve saved yourself a ton of calories, had an excuse for not seeing in-laws, and still had a ton of gifts to open. But you probably would have liked to have a choice in the matter. For sufferers of Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) this is often not the case. Often referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, KLS is a rare neurological disorder, most commonly characterized by long periods of sleep, causing individuals to lose large chunks of their lives and affecting the lives of those around them.

What is KLS?
In addition to excessive sleeping, symptoms of KLS can include a reduced understanding of circumstances and altered behavior on the part of the patient. While adolescents are most likely to be targets for the disorder, it can also strike adults and young children.

When a KLS episode sets in, the patient will experience hypersomnolence, a condition which will cause the patient to become increasingly drowsy and sleep for most of the time, waking only to eat and use the bathroom. These episodes can last days, weeks, or months, and preclude all normal daily activity, such as work and school and make self care impossible. In the time between the episodes, the sufferer may appear to be perfectly healthy with no physical or behavioral problems whatsoever. In total, the condition can last for 10 years or more.

Identification of KLS
Aside from excessive sleep, people with KLS will often seem childlike or “spacey.” He or she can become confused, lethargic, apathetic, and disoriented. The patient may claim that things look out of focus and will become hypersensitive to light and noise. Sometimes, those with the disorder will develop deep cravings for food. Hypersexuality is another reported symptom.

When KLS episodes are in effect, the patient will usually remain bedridden and appear uncommunicative when awake. Although most will not be able to carry out regular activities, not every sufferer is affected by the same symptoms.

It is possible for a person to go for weeks or even years without evidence of the symptoms, but the symptoms can return with out warning, The diagnosed can appear to be in perfect health one day, but there is always an underlying threat that he or she will fall into dysfunction the next. The diagnostic delay for KLS diagnosis is four years, which means it can take up four years for a patient to receive an accurate diagnosis and there is no medical test to definitively confirm the condition. However, if you believe you may be affected, there is a symptom checker developed by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.

KLS Symptom Checker
A KLS patient would have recurrent episodes of hypersomnia lasting 2-31 days and one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive abnormalities like confusion, unreality and hallucination
  • Odd behavior like aggression or irritability
  • Binge Eating
  • Hypersexuality.

While there is no definitive cure treatment for KLS, modafinil may shorten the episodes, but not the recurrence. Lithium and carbamazapine can be beneficial in treatment of some of the symptoms, but no medication has proven to be a consistently successful.

If you feel that you may be suffering from KLS, it is important to reach out to a professional. If you or a loved one has been affected by this condition, please feel free to start a conversation here. Awareness is critical to problem solving.