5 Natural Sleep Aids

sleep-480568337The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults should receive between seven to eight hours of sleep each day.  However, the National Sleep Council reports that a staggering 48% of people living in the United States do not get enough sleep.  Additionally, one- third of our population states that they lay awake a few nights out of each week because they are unable to fall asleep.

These statistics clearly indicate that many of us are having problems falling asleep and getting adequate rest.  Without enough sleep, our bodies will not function properly. Sleep is needed to restore parts of the body such as the blood vessels and the heart. It is also needed to promote proper brain function and maintain a healthy balance in hormones.

Trying these natural sleep aids can help you combat sleeplessness and get the rest needed to revitalize your body:

  • Tart cherries or cherry juice-Tart cherries such as Montmorency cherries contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is essential in producing the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Increased levels of these hormones in the body can create the urge to sleep.
  • Valerian– Is a natural supplement that is commonly used to ease insomnia. Some studies suggest that it helps people fall asleep faster and improves the quality of sleep.
  • Hops– Hops are not only known for making beer, this herb is also known for promoting relaxation. Hops are typically boiled and steeped to make a tea.  Drinking this a few minutes before bed is said to help in achieving a restful night’s sleep.
  • Chamomile– This herb is usually ingested in the form of a tea. It contains several compounds such as apigenin and coumarin that are found to have a calming effect on the body.
  • Melatonin – Melatonin is naturally produced by the body but some people increase their levels by taking supplements. It can be used to help people with disruptive sleep cycles. Physicians recommend that you adhere to taking low dosages (speak to a doctor about which dose is right for you.) This is because taking too much melatonin can cause adverse reactions such as dizziness, headaches and hallucinations.

It is highly recommended that you consult a physician before trying these sleep aids. Although natural, there is the possibility that they can cause side effects.  Be certain to inform the doctor of all medications that you are taking, as mixing medications with certain herbs can be hazardous to your health.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How “Annual” Is Your Annual Physical?

HypertesionThinkstockPhotos-477722758A.  Yearly

B. Bi-Yearly

C. When I don’t feel good

D. I don’t do doctors

 

An annual exam is a good way of tracking your health progress.  Some of the benefits are:

  • Primary prevention
  • To identify risk factors for common chronic diseases
  • To detect disease that has no apparent symptoms (secondary prevention)
  • A way for the doctor to counsel people to promote healthy behavior
  • To update clinical data since your last check-up
  • To enhance the relationship betweenyou and your doctor

If you are interested in scheduling an exam, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center is centrally located and has convenient hours.  Call 718-206-7001 for an appointment.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Rare but True – Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rare, but real condition, but it doesn’t involve the Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat.

ThinkstockPhotos-466154054 (1)Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a neurological condition where the sufferer has temporary episodes of a distorted perception of their own size and the size of things around them. People with this condition visualize themselves as big as giants or as small as insects. The objects around them also appear abnormally large or small. For instance, someone with AIWS will perceive a teacup either as big as a car or as small as a thimble.

This hallucination-like state typically lasts anywhere from five to 30 minutes. People with AIWS also may experience an impaired sense of space, with objects suddenly seeming very close or far away. In some cases, the sense of touch and sound may also be distorted.

The syndrome references the adventures from the famous novel by Lewis Carroll, where the title character Alice experiences strange events in Wonderland. Many believe that the Carroll himself suffered from this disease and was the inspiration for the story.
The cause of the condition is unknown, although the episodes have been closely associated with the onset of migraine headaches or epilepsy. AIWS can affect anyone, but it is most common in children and young adults. Episodes stop for most over time, but those who experience symptoms are recommended to see a doctor immediately.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Why Do We Snore?

hat do half of all Americans do, but very few admit to, partly because they are unaware that they are doing it? The answer is snore.

ThinkstockPhotos-502743167Snoring occurs when the flow of air is partially obstructed in some way while we sleep. As air flows past relaxed tissue in the throat, the resulting vibrating sound is snoring. Snoring can take place for a variety of reasons, including:

 

• The anatomy of your mouth – Having an elongated soft palate or uvula can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat

• Being overweight – Those who are overweight have extra, bulky throat tissue that may narrow the airways

• Obstructed nasal airways – Allergies, a nasal infection or a deviated septum can all contribute to snoring

• Alcohol consumption – Drinking alcohol before bed can relax muscles in the tongue and throat can obstruct the airways

• Sleep apnea – This is a serious condition when your throat tissues partially or completely block your airway, preventing your from breathing

Unless you have an upset spouse inform you that you are snoring, you may be unaware that you have a problem. Look out for the following symptoms if you suspect you are snoring:

• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Sore throat
• Restless sleep
• Chest pain at night
• High blood pressure

To determine the cause of your snoring, your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, review your medical history, and perform an examination. Your doctor may request an x-ray or other imaging tests to check the structure of your airway. To determine is sleep apnea is the reason for your snoring, a sleep study to monitor brain waves, breathing and heart rate, and blood oxygen levels may also be ordered.

Lifestyle changes including losing weight, avoiding consuming alcohol before bed and changing your sleep position by either raising your head or sleeping on your side can reduce the liklihood of snoring. Other aids, such as nasal strips, form fitting mouth pieces, and short term decongestants for allergies or infections can also be helpful.

If these efforts prove unsuccessful, there are a variety of surgical and non-surgical interventions that your doctor could recommend. One of the most common therapies is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves wearing a pressurized mask that pumps air through your airways while you sleep.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.

ThinkstockPhotos-149405368Being overweight, over 40, or having a history of sleep apnea in your family are all factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition. Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than women. Other health factors that can lead to sleep apnea include: reflux, GERD, sinus issues, allergies, or a nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:

• High blood pressure
• Stroke
• Heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and heart attack
• Diabetes

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, restless sleep, frequently waking up while you are sleeping (sometimes with a choking sensation), and waking up with a sore throat. Those who suffer from sleep apnea also feel tired and lack energy while they are awake, experience mood changes, have lapses in concentration, and are forgetful. These waking symptoms can result in decreased productivity at work or school and can lead to potentially dangerous situations, especially while driving.

If sleep apnea is suspected, your doctor may recommend a sleep apnea study called a polysomnogram, which is a test administered by a qualified sleep specialist in a designated sleep center. While at the sleep center, you are assigned a private room where special equipment is used to monitor you. This equipment transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep. Special technicians determine if you have sleep apnea. If sleep apnea is diagnosed, you may be asked to do further sleep testing in order to determine the best treatment option.

The most common form of treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This is a treatment in which a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose. This air flow helps keep the airways open so that breathing is regular. Another treatment option is the utilization of dental devices designed to help keep the airway open. Some might benefit from surgery if their sleep apnea is caused by a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils, or a small lower jaw with an overbite.

There are things that people with sleep apnea can do to improve their condition including losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, and quit smoking. Other things that can potentially help are changing sleep positions to improve breathing and avoid sleeping on your back.

If you think you have sleep apnea, speak with your doctor about a sleep apnea test. Jamaica Hospital recently opened a state-of-the-art sleep center for those in need. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-5916.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.