How sleep disorders set the stage for all-over pain

There's pain, and then there's PAIN.

The first is the pain you feel when you stub your toe, wake up with a headache or have to endure yet another grueling dinner with your in-laws.

The second is the widespread all-over PAIN that starts from the inside and works its way out, leaving you feeling as if you've just been hit by a truck.

If you've never suffered from that all-over PAIN yourself, count your blessings. And if you want to make sure you never find out what it feels like, be sure to get your beauty sleep -- because new research confirms that lack of sleep is the single biggest risk factor for widespread PAIN.

Lack of sleep comes in many forms. In some cases, it's classic insomnia -- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. In others, it's the restless sleep marked by tossing, turning and waking up too often no matter how many hours you spend in bed.

Some unlucky souls battle all of the above.

The bad news is, these and other sleep disorders are among the most common health problems facing Americans today -- meaning there are going to be a lot more people in the coming years learning the difference between pain and PAIN.

The good news? You don't have to be among them.

Pass on sleep meds; they might help you fall asleep a little faster and keep you unconscious a little bit longer, but they don't provide the rest you need for rejuvenation -- and they come with big risks, up to and including death.

I recommend a two-step approach to sleep problems instead.

First, turn to the safe and natural supplements that can help you sleep tonight -- including the "sleep hormone" melatonin, GABA, theanine and Inositol as well as tried-and-true herbal remedies such as chamomile and passionflower.

And second, work with a holistic doctor to find out what's keeping you awake. Sometimes, it's as simple as a lifestyle issue such as too much caffeine late in the day.

In others, lack of sleep may be a warning sign of a nutritional or hormonal problem.

A holistic doctor can run some tests and get to the bottom of it in a jiffy. Once you have it figured out, you'll be able to fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow.

If you're in Southern California, I can help. Make an appointment to see me at my clinic outside San Diego.

Not in the area? Not a problem -- I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule yours.