The Alexander Technique

Did You Know…

… that a unique and practical method of moment called the Alexander Technique has been shown to help alleviate tension headaches naturally, as well as ease back pain, tennis elbow—and even asthma, sleep disorders and lethargy?

If you watch toddlers playing, you will notice that they move with ease: spines straight, joints free and large heads balanced easily on their small necks.  It doesn’t take long, however, before unawareness settles in, and the body’s innate ability to move Continue reading

The Top Eight Herbs to Battle Anxiety and Depression

Herbal treatments for depression and anxiety are often forgotten due to the barrage of pharmaceutical drugs that are currently available. But many herbal cures are effective without causing any of the prescription side effects associated with antidepressants. Take, for example, eight herbs studied in a recent clinical trial. Continue reading

Eliminating Tartrazine from Diet Decreases your Chances for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

These days, most food products that are specifically marketed to children contain tartrazine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop here. Tartrazine is also found in many medications, cosmetics and personal care products. It is in fact derived from coal tar. Some may not be familiar with what coal tar actually is or where it originates from. The online dictionary at www.dictionary.reference.com refers to coal tar as `a thick, black, viscid liquid formed during the distillation of coal, that upon further distillation yields compounds, as benzene, anthracene, and phenol, from which are derived a large number of dyes, drugs and other synthetic compounds, and that yields a final residuum (coal-tar pitch), which is used chiefly in making pavements.` Continue reading

The Basic Medical Benefits of Sleep

In addition to the many health benefits of sleep, there are other factors that make sleep absolutely necessary to life. Sleep is important for concentration, memory formation and the repair of damage to your body’s cells during the day. Chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infections.

Lack of Sleep Can Kill

Researchers do not know exactly why people need sleep, but we do know that lack of sleep can kill. In research studies, rats normally live two to three years, but if rats are totally deprived of sleep, they only live about five weeks. They also develop sores, their immune systems do not work well and their body temperature drops. Humans deprived of sleep for long periods begin hallucinating and develop other mental problems.

Sleep and Concentration

When people do not have enough sleep, they cannot concentrate well the next day and have problems forming memories. Researchers believe that during sleep, neurons can shut down and repair any damage done during the day. Without these repairs, the neurons may not function correctly due to a buildup of waste products. Sleep also seems important for the formation of memories.

Growth and Beauty Sleep

Important hormone production is regulated during sleep; in children, human growth hormone (HGH) is released during deep sleep. Insufficient sleep can affect hormonal balance in adults as well. Tissue repair also occurs during sleep, including repair to the daily skin damage done by UV light. Getting enough deep sleep will help your skin repair itself.

What Are Sleep Disorders – What To Do

Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

More than 100 different disorders of sleeping and waking have been identified. They can be grouped in four main categories:

• Problems with falling and staying asleep (insomnia)
• Problems with staying awake (excessive daytime sleepiness)
• Problems with sticking to a regular sleep schedule (sleep rhythm problem)
• Unusual behaviors during sleep (sleep-disruptive behaviors)

PROBLEMS WITH FALLING AND STAYING ASLEEP

Insomnia includes any combination of difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, intermittent wakefulness and early-morning awakening. Episodes may come and go (be transient), last as long as 2 to 3 weeks (be short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).

Common factors associated with insomnia include:

• Physical illness
• Depression
• Anxiety or stress
• Poor sleeping environment such as excessive noise or light
• Caffeine
• Alcohol or other drugs
• Use of certain medications
• Heavy smoking
• Physical discomfort
• Daytime napping
• Counterproductive sleep habits:
o Early bedtimes
o Excessive time spent awake in bed

Disorders include:

• Psychophysiological insomnia: a condition in which stress caused by the insomnia makes it even harder to fall asleep
• Delayed sleep phase syndrome: your internal clock is constantly out of synch with the “accepted” day / night phases; for example, patients feel best if they can sleep from 4AM to noon
• Hypnotic-dependent sleep disorder: insomnia that occurs when you stop or become tolerant to certain types of sleep medications
• Stimulant-dependent sleep disorder: insomnia that occurs when you stop or become dependent on certain types of stimulants

PROBLEMS WITH STAYING AWAKE

Disorders of excessive sleepiness are called hypersomnias. These include:

• Idiopathic hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness that occurs without an identifiable cause)
• Narcolepsy
• Obstructive and central sleep apnea
• Periodic limb movement disorder
• Restless leg syndrome

PROBLEMS STICKING TO A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE

Problems may also occur when you do not maintain a consistent sleep and wake schedule. This occurs when traveling between times zones and with shift workers on rotating schedules, particularly nighttime workers.

Sleep disruption disorders include:

• Irregular sleep-wake syndrome
• Jet lag syndrome
• Natural short sleeper (the person sleeps less hours than normal but has no ill effects)
• Paradoxical insomnia (the person actually sleeps a different amount than they think they do)
• Shift work sleep disorder

SLEEP-DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIORS

Abnormal behaviors during sleep are called parasomnias and are fairly common in children. They include:

• Sleep terrors
• Sleep walking
• REM sleep-behavior disorder (a type of psychosis in which a person”acts out” dreams so violently that they may injure the person sleeping with them)

Symptoms

The symptoms vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.

Signs and tests

Tests vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder. A sleep study (polysomnography) may be done.

Treatment

Treatments vary and depend on the specific sleep disorder.

* Insomnia
* Hypersomnias
* Sleep terrors
* Sleep walking

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome varies with the type of disorder. Some disorders may go away without treatment.
Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if lack of sleep, too much sleep, or unusual sleep behaviors are interfering with daily living.

Sleep apnea should be suspected in people who snore loudly, wake frequently to urinate at night, and wake up in the morning unrefreshed.

Prevention

The following can help prevent many sleep disorders.

* Regular sleep habits (such as going to bed and waking at the same time every day)
* A quiet sleep environment
* Regular exercise
* Staying generally fit and healthy