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Bladder problems lead to sleep struggles

The sneaky problem keeping you up at night

It’s one of those things that could have the BIGGEST impact on your day-to-day quality of life.

It can often mean the difference between feeling great and ready to tackle anything that comes your way… and feeling slow and weak, even if there’s nothing “wrong” with you.

The cause?

A hidden sleep problem — one so sneaky that you might not even know you have it.

Now, the latest research reveals how catching and fixing this “secret” condition could the key to improving your sleep at night… so your days are better and more enjoyable.

The cause? A bladder problem.

Some folks wake up to pee more often than a toddler learning to use the toilet… and not all of them know it.

You can be so groggy that you may not remember it the next day. Even if that pesky bladder pokes you awake two or three times — or more — you might have only the vaguest recollection by morning.

All you know is that you don’t quite feel rested.

Now, the new study of older women suffering from bladder problems (such as urgency and incontinence) shows what a difference a little detective work can make.

Find the problem and fix it, and you’ll see dramatic improvements in sleep.

Even just one less bathroom run per night — just one! — can give you better sleep by three important measures.

You can enjoy better overall sleep quality, which is just what it sounds like: how well you sleep.

It’ll improve what’s known as sleep efficiency, or how much time you spend in bed actually asleep versus tossing and turning or getting up to use the bathroom.

And it can boost your sleep duration, or the total amount of time asleep.

The one downside to the study is that the women took bladder control drugs, which can help with bladder problems — just a little — but come with the risk of serious side effects.

There’s an easier way.

First, recognize the problem. If you’re groggy in the morning and don’t know why, it could be a sign of a bladder issue.

If you find that you head to the bathroom a little more often than you’d like during the day, then odds are it’s a problem at night even if you’re not always aware of it.

And second, once you know — or suspect — a problem, don’t turn to bladder meds.

Start with simple solutions, including the easiest one of all: Limit your fluids after dinner.

Reducing how much you drink in the evening will often improve nighttime bladder struggles by at least as much as drugs, but without the risks.

If you need a little more help, try bladder training — such as practicing holding out between toilet trips during the day for increasing periods — as well as bladder-strengthening Kegel exercises.

Sleep struggles aren’t getting much better

The one big factor that unites nearly all Americans

By day, it can feel like America is more divided than ever before.

By night, there’s something that unites us all.

None of us can sleep!

A new report shows just how much — or rather, how little — progress we’ve made in the bedroom in recent years.

Today, the average American spends four extra days per year asleep than they did 15 years ago.

But don’t throw a slumber party yet.

That works out to an average of just 17 extra minutes per night… and most Americans STILL aren’t getting nearly enough sleep.

Even worse, a full third of Americans are missing out on so much sleep that they’re actually sleep-deprived.

You could be one of them without even realizing it. So many Americans have been falling short for so long that we’re all starting to forget what a good night of sleep really is!

People have become conditioned to waking up groggy and not “feeling right” until they’ve chugged some coffee.

If that sounds a little too familiar, it’s time to make some changes — because lost sleep is more than just a recipe for an unhealthy caffeine dependency.

Missing out on sleep regularly can increase your risk of serious health problems including obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes.

It could also hit you upstairs, slamming your brain in two dangerous ways.

There’s the immediate risk of grogginess, which can lead to everything from poor decisions to accidents.

Then there’s the long-haul risk of missed sleep: cognitive struggles and even dementia.

Poor sleepers even have a higher risk of cancer!

All of those risks are completely unnecessary, as sleep improvements are some of the easiest to make.

I know that it doesn’t SEEM that way when you’re tossing and turning in bed, so desperate for rest that you might consider turning to sleep meds.

But it is — if you look in the right places.

The first place is around you. Make sure you’re don’t have bad habits that can harm sleep, including evening caffeine, alcohol, and using digital devices before (or in) bed.

The second is inside you. Make sure your body has what it needs for a full night of rest, starting with melatonin. That’s often called the “sleep hormone” and for good reason: Your body uses it as a signal for sleep.

Many people — especially older folks — often struggle to produce the melatonin they need, which keeps the brain on “alert” even when your head is on a pillow.

Melatonin supplements can help fix that deficiency so that your brain kicks into sleep mode and you get the rest you need… and if you do it right, you’ll get more than just 17 minutes.

You’ll get a full night of shuteye, every night.

Sleep gadgets often fall short

2 things that really can help you sleep better

I can’t help but laugh at all of the crazy things people will try in the name of sleep.

There are cooling blankets, space pillows, blackout shades, smartphone apps to control your lights, noise machines to fill your room with ocean sounds, and more.

There are plugs to close your ears and strips to open your nose.

And let’s not forget the “As Seen on TV” mattresses with electronic controls that become softer or firmer on demand.

Some of these things can help. Some are a big waste of money. Some are a little of both.

Now, the sleep market is about to get even more crowded. There’s a new wave of expensive devices coming out that look — and I’m not even kidding here — like underwear, except you don’t pull them on over your legs.

You put them on over your head.

These gadgets are essentially oversized headbands that cover parts of your head and ears.

Electronic gimmickry inside is supposed to tap into your brainwaves… tracked and monitored via an app… and trigger certain sounds to be played into your ears as you doze off.

Supposedly, you can fall asleep more quickly, stay out longer, and get rested better.

On the downside, I haven’t seen any solid studies to back these things. They’re also expensive, running $400 to $500. And I can’t imagine that it’s very comfortable to sleep with these things hooked up to your skull.

If you can get past ALL of that, and you’re willing to shell out the cash, you can feel free to give one of these things a shot. At least it’s not another drug — and the only real side effect is probably your spouse laughing at you when you come to bed with underwear on your head.

But why bother?

There are much better ways to get the sleep you need.

They’re backed by science. They don’t look ridiculous. And they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

I recommend two steps.

First, make sure you have the right conditions for sleep: no caffeine at night, no gadgets in the hour or so before bed, and, of course, a dark and comfortable room.

If you need a little more help, go with the tried-and-true. The “sleep hormone” melatonin is proven to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer without the risks of sleep drugs.

Best of all, you won’t look like you’re wearing underwear on your head.

Sleep can help improve diet

One simple tweak for effortless dieting

It’s hard to believe, but February is exactly one week away.

That’s make-or-break time for your resolutions — because 80 percent of all of those New Year’s vows fail by Valentine’s Day.

How are you doing on yours?

If you’re like most folks, you promised yourself a new diet… and if you’re like most folks, your resolve is already wavering.

Well, friend, today I’m here with some reinforcements. I’ve got one little trick you can do that can make it easier than ever to live better and eat healthier.

Get more sleep.

That’s it. That’s the secret. Just a little extra snooze time can give you the resolve you need to eat better so that you lose weight and get healthier.

The new study looked at folks in nearly every age group, from teens right on up to people in their 60s.

But despite the differences in age, they all had one thing in common: They weren’t getting enough sleep, with most of them snoozing for between 5 and 7 hours per night.

Half of them kept their old habits.

The other half worked with a specialist on improving their sleep. With simple lifestyle changes — and no drugs — they spent nearly an extra hour in bed each day and more than 30 more minutes asleep per night.

No doubt, they felt more refreshed and energetic.

More importantly, as they slept more, they also ate better.

They cut their carb intake by an average of nearly 30 grams per day… and their sugar by nearly 12 grams.

That’s almost 3 teaspoons of sugar less per day — effortlessly erased.

They also cut their fat intake by nearly 4 percent when compared to the folks who didn’t get more sleep.

Remember, these folks didn’t make other changes. They weren’t told to try to eat less fat and sugar or to cut back on carbs.

It just happened… naturally… as they got more sleep.

And it can happen to you, too.

If you’re not quite getting enough sleep, start by taking a look at your habits. In many cases, poor sleep is often caused by a lifestyle factor from late-night TV to evening booze or caffeine.

Even using a cellphone, computer, or tablet before bed can mess up your sleep.

If you have fixed all of that and still struggle, you may need a little more help — whether it’s a natural remedy, such as melatonin, or a holistic physician who can find the cause of your sleep problems and work with you to fix it naturally.

And when you sleep better, you’ll eat better too… and have a better chance of keeping your resolutions into February and beyond.

Alzheimer’s disease damage linked to poor sleep

This one bad habit could trigger dementia damage

Could a single night of bad sleep damage your brain?

A new study says that it can — and if you’re a little older, this might be the wake-up call you need to get serious about sleep.

Missing out on snooze time can leave behind a tangled-up mess of garbage proteins in your brain that can choke off your neurons and set the stage for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In the new study, volunteers were monitored for 36 hours, including overnight, when researchers collected samples of brain fluid to see the changes taking place in real-time.

A night of good sleep didn’t really cause many changes at all.

But when the folks ranging in age from 30 to 60 were kept up all night, there were dramatic changes.

DANGEROUS changes.

Specifically, they had higher levels of the amyloid beta plaques that accumulate in the brains of dementia patients.

In a SINGLE NIGHT, the plaques increased by up to 30 percent — or levels typically seen in folks who have a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s a lot of damage for one night, but don’t get too worried. We all have the occasional sleepless night.

We might feel crummy the next day, but the kind of damage seen in this study probably isn’t permanent if you just miss out on sleep every now and then.

In fact, there’s an ingenious system in your design to sweep those toxins right out of your brain.

The catch? That system activates at night… when you’re asleep. Your brain cells shrink just a little bit while you doze, which forces toxic proteins such as beta amyloid to slide out in the open space between cells.

If you just miss out on sleep for a night or two, your brain can clean itself up… and you’ll be no worse for the wear.
But when you miss out on sleep too often — whether from chronic sleep problems or just bad habits — that process is cut short, and that brain-sweeping system could fall so far behind that it might never catch up.

The toxins will build up, and you could suffer lasting damage, ultimately leading to cognitive decline and dementia.

Clearly, it’s time to put a little extra effort into making sure you get the rest you need each night. That number varies from person to person, but studies show that right around 7 hours is the sweet spot.

If you have bad habits that keep you up at night, it’s time for a new routine.

If you struggle to sleep no matter what you do, don’t turn to meds. Turn to all-natural sleep solutions such as the “sleep hormone” melatonin and herbal remedies like chamomile, valerian, and passionflower.

Need a little more help? Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine, or give me a ring for a telephone consultation at 855-DOC-MARK.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!

Improve insomnia dramatically with special glasses

The honey-colored secret to better sleep

What’s your resolution… and have you given up on it yet?

One reason people fail is they set grand goals on January 1 and expect to achieve them by January 2.

So, OF COURSE, plenty of people have already given up!

If you’re among them, don’t feel too bad. I’ve got a new resolution, and it’s one you can keep.

Get more sleep!

There’s not a single lifestyle change that can have a bigger impact on your day-to-day living than more snooze time. You’ll be more alert and less cranky… and you’ll even enjoy a razor-sharp memory and finely tuned immune system, too.

And you’re not going to believe what can help.

A crazy-looking pair of sunglasses can not only help you stand out in any crowd… they’ll also help you fall asleep sooner, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed than ever before.

The secret, according to a new study, is in amber lenses.

The honey coloring will take some of the shine out of the world around you, especially certain forms of light coming off all the screens that are around us.

TVs, computer displays, cellphones, and tablet computers all give off too much blue light, which is the same type of light your brain relies on to recognize daytime.

When your eyes are soaking up blue from one of those screens, your brain assumes it’s still daytime and doesn’t crank out the sleep hormone melatonin.

That’s where these wild glasses come in.

They block out the blue, and the new study finds that wearing them before bed can make sure your brain gets the message that it’s nighttime, so it flips the switch on your melatonin factory.

In the new study, 14 people with insomnia wore the glasses for two hours before bedtime every night for a week, while a second set of folks wore glasses with clear lenses.

The folks with the amber shades got a full 30 minutes of extra sleep, woke up less often, and felt better in the morning.

That’s not just good.

That’s practically a miracle!

Not even sleep drugs can promise that big a boost in snooze time, with most of them improving shuteye by an average of about 10 minutes.

That makes the lenses THREE TIMES more effective.

They’re also a whole lot safer, and there’s no prescription to keep refilling. You can find a decent pair for about $10. Shop around online or ask your eye doctor.

Chamomile boosts sleep quality

Better sleep, one sip at a time

Right now, millions of Americans are suffering from a “hidden” sleep problem.

It’s a disorder that disguises itself so well that many folks never even think they have a sleep problem at all.

They don’t toss and turn. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back asleep. And they don’t find themselves staring at the clock at 5 a.m. wondering why they keep waking up so early.

They get a full night of rest.

Yet something’s wrong. They know it — even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.

It’s the old quantity vs. quality issue, as good sleep isn’t just a matter of hitting a certain number of hours.

You also need the right kind of sleep, because poor sleep quality can leave you feeling crummy all day.

And it’s a problem that’s especially common among older folks.

It’s time to fight back, and a new study has just the ticket for getting better rest tonight and every night.

It’s simple, safe, inexpensive, and widely available.

This natural herbal therapy has the power to improve your quality of sleep, so you wake up ready to hit the ground running the moment your feet hit the bedroom floor.

The answer is chamomile.

This humble, daisy-like flower is known for its sweet scent and power to soothe the mind and restore calm, which can be especially effective at night.

In the new study, chamomile went head-to-head against a placebo in folks over the age of 70 who were battling low sleep quality.

The folks who got the real deal didn’t get more sleep. They got something even more important.

They got BETTER sleep with big-time improvements in quality, which allowed them to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated instead of groggy and foggy.

All from a little chamomile!

Of course, many of us don’t just have a problem with sleep quality.

There’s also the bigger issue: Too many Americans simply aren’t getting enough rest.

They struggle to fall asleep and wake up too often in the night.

Chamomile can help there, too.

While the new study didn’t find that it can increase the amount of sleep time, I’ve seen research that shows it can. Chamomile is even more effective when you combine it with other natural sleep aids such as valerian and passionflower.

You can usually find all three available as a supplement or — even better — a relaxing evening tea that’ll go down great an hour or so before bed.

Sleep drugs increase fall risk

Sleep aids mess you up even when you’re awake

Blood shot eyes… slow, shuffling walk… slurred speech.

No, these aren’t Halloween zombies out creeping around today on the hunt for brains (or at least some candy).

They’re what you’ll see out there every day, as millions of Americans struggle with sleep problems.

Losing sleep just once can make you miserable. Missing out night after night is like living in a nightmare — so, I can certainly understand the appeal of sleep meds.

They’re some of the best-selling drugs in the nation.

Don’t give into that temptation, because new research reveals a potentially life-altering risk.

And this one is especially dangerous for older folks.

These meds can lead directly to a fall.

That’s already a major risk that comes with the turf as you get older. The new study finds that even without meds or sleep problems, your odds of falling are at about 28 percent.

Once you throw lost sleep into the mix, that risk jumps. It leaps all the way to 40 percent if you have the four major warning signs:

  1. trouble falling asleep
  2. trouble staying asleep
  3. waking up too early, and
  4. waking up feeling crummy.

You’d think that getting more sleep would cut the risk of a fall — and I’m sure it would, if you got more sleep naturally.

But when that extra sleep comes from a drug, the new study finds your risk of a fall actually RISES!

The reasons are pretty simple: Even if the drugs knock you out, you could still wake up in the night, maybe to use the bathroom, and when you do, you’re even groggier because of the effects of meds.

These drugs are also so powerful that you could still be off-kilter the next morning, even after a full night of rest.

And for what? Studies show many sleep drugs on average provide an extra 8 to 20 minutes of rest.

That’s it.

There’s a better way to get more sleep, one that will help you get a full night of rest without increasing your risk of falls or causing the notorious side effects of sleep drugs.

For short-term aid, try natural herbal therapies such as chamomile, passionflower, and valerian. You can often find all three together in one tea blend.

Homeopathic sleep aids and melatonin can also help.

More serious sleep problems, especially long-term battles with insomnia, are often a warning sign of something else going on your body. If you’re a little older, it’s often a hormonal issue.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I can test for and treat all the possible causes of sleep loss here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!

Sleep drugs taken by a third of seniors

Don’t ignore this common problem

Modern living is so convenient that it can be a little TOO convenient at times.

Case in point: When was the last time you saw a doctor for a seemingly minor, everyday complaint?

If you’re like most folks these days, the answer might be NEVER.

It’s too easy to just pop into a Walgreens or CVS and get whatever it is you think you need. Since many are open 24 hours a day, you can even dash out and pick something up to help you sleep.

Now, new research reveals just one possible toll of all that convenience.

Turns out many people… including potentially MILLIONS of seniors… are taking powerful and dangerous over-the-counter sleep drugs.

And they’ve never even spoken to a doctor about it!

The new study finds that 1 in 3 older Americans are using some kind of sleep aid, and the vast majority of them are turning to the on-the-shelf meds you’ll find in that 24-hour CVS or Walgreens.

And most never speak to a doctor about this hidden “pill habit”!

The new study shows the reason for it, too: Half of all older folks believe that sleep problems come with the territory.

They think that as you get older, it gets tougher to sleep.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Sleep problems aren’t normal at ANY age… and while they certainly become more common with age, they aren’t CAUSED by age alone.

They’re a sign of something else wrong inside the body — something that needs attention, but will never get it if you never see a doctor.

It’s time to change that.

Sometimes, sleep problems are caused by plain old bad habits.

Evening caffeine, late-night television, stress, and electronic devices can all disrupt sleep at any age — and how your body reacts to these things can change over time.

For example, many people enjoy a cup of coffee after dinner. When you were younger, that evening latte may not have had much of an effect on your sleep.

That might no longer be the case today, so take a moment to go over all your habits… and see if there is anything you can tweak for better sleep.

If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to pass on the convenience of a 24-hour pharmacy and take the one step the new study finds most people avoid: See a doctor.

Don’t visit one who just wants to put you on a prescription sleep med.

See a holistic doctor who can test you for and treat all the possible causes of sleep disruptions, including the hormonal imbalances that often strike with age.

Sleep disorders solved with these easy steps

Sleep easier without spending a penny… starting tonight!

If you have money and want sleep, there are a LOT of people willing to take one to give you the promise of the other.

Americans spend BILLIONS on everything from drugs to fancy pillows in hopes of getting a little more shuteye.

But the REAL secret to a good night’s sleep might not cost you a cent!

A new report shows how a few easy changes to your nightly routine can help you snooze better than you have in years — and you can see big benefits as soon as tonight.

Researchers in Britain asked some 2,000 sleepers about their nightly habits and then crunched the data to see if the folks who slept the best had anything in common.

They sure did — and it wasn’t a dependence on powerful pills or pricey pillows.

They had a few habits you can mimic yourself, right now, with little effort.

Here are three of the easiest changes you can make that can have the biggest effect on your sleep habits.

Early to bed: Ben Franklin was right, at least in this half of his formula for health, wealth, and wisdom. The folks in the survey who reported the best sleep weren’t watching late-night TV — they were in bed by an average of 10:39 p.m. If you REALLY need to see those late shows, record them or just check YouTube.

Drop the temperature: You don’t walk around your home wearing a coat, right? That’s a little like what you’re doing when you slip under a comforter. If the room was a comfortable temperature before you climbed into bed, it’s probably a little too warm for good sleep. The survey finds 61 degrees is the “best” temperature for sleep, but don’t aim for a number so much as what feels right when you’re actually under the sheets. Overall, a little cooler is usually a lot better for shuteye.

Turn off the electronics: If you change any habit at all, make it this one. The new report finds more than a third of all sleepers are fiddling with their phones up to 10 minutes before bed (and you know plenty of people are still playing with them while they’re in bed) — but not the folks who sleep the best. They turn their devices off an average of 37 minutes before turning in.

The blue wavelengths of light given off by those iPhone, iPad, and other device screens tell your brain it’s still daytime, so it delays production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin.

Turn your gadgets off sooner, and that hormone will kick in earlier… so you can sleep better.

Sleep struggles are bad for your brain

This nighttime habit is as dangerous as heavy drinking

You know the risks of booze, so you’re smart about it. You either drink very little… or you never touch the stuff.

But guess what?

You could face ALL the risks of heavy drinking and more — even if you’ve never had a sip!

New research reveals the one bad habit that’s just as dangerous as binge drinking, and I’m pretty sure this one’s going to surprise you.

It’s not cigarettes, prescription meds, junk food, or even an illicit drug habit.

It’s poor sleep!

This one bad habit alone can leave lasting damage throughout your body over the long-term. But the biggest effects just might be in the brain, and the new study out of Canada reveals both short-term and long-term risks linked to missing out on sleep.

I don’t know which one is more frightening.

Let’s start with what just one night of short sleep will do to your brain, because I’m guessing most folks will be surprised by this. If you miss out even a little… if you have “one of those nights” where you get just five hours of sleep or less… you could face the same level of cognitive impairment as you might after five or six drinks.

That could lead to accidents on the road on in your workplace… problems with relationships… and even poor decisions.

If you’ve had a night of poor sleep, maybe you should avoid both driving and QVC!

But at least you can “cure” that problem easily enough. Go back to bed, and you’ll feel better — because the study finds a night of short sleep here and there won’t do any long-term damage to your body.

When it happens regularly, that’s another story.

The same report out of Canada finds that long-term sleep loss will damage your immune system — exposing you to infection and illness — and mess with your body’s hormones so that your appetite goes haywire.

That leads to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease along with a higher risk of both heart attack and stroke.

And to cap it all off, missing out on sleep can lead to mood disorders like depression, too.

Now that you know what’s at stake, it’s time to do something about it.

First, take action to sleep better tonight. The “sleep hormone” melatonin can often do the trick, as can homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies such as chamomile.

And second, work closely with a doctor to find out why you’re struggling to get the rest you need. Poor sleep is usually a warning sign of a larger issue. In older folks, it’s often a hormonal issue.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I can help you get to the bottom of your own sleep problems here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!

Sleep apnea linked to vision loss in diabetes patients

This will TRIPLE your risk of losing your eyesight

Sometimes, the answer’s obvious. But other times, it’s hiding where you least expect it.

If you have diabetes, you know there’s more than just your life on the line.

This disease isn’t just trying to kill you. It’ll leave you with nerve pain, memory loss, and more.

It can even rob you of your eyesight.

It’s trying to steal everything that makes life worth living!

The OBVIOUS answer is to keep control over blood sugar to cut those risks.

But I promised you an answer where you least expect it — and when it comes to one of the biggest diabetes risks of all, the answer isn’t in your blood sugar.

It’s in your bedroom!

If you’re sleeping well, you’ll lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy, a vision-robbing condition that hits up to half of all patients with diabetes and can lead to disability and even blindness.

But if you have one of the nation’s most common sleep disorders, you may as well kiss your vision goodbye right now.

Turns out there’s a direct link between sleep apnea and diabetic retinopathy, with apnea DOUBLING your risk of developing the condition.

And if you already have retinopathy and diabetes, sleep apnea will TRIPLE your risk of it progressing to the most severe form, according to the study.

When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing in the night. If you have a loved one with this condition, it can be absolutely terrifying to watch as it happens.

But as the new study shows, what you CAN’T see could be even more frightening, as hidden damage takes place deep inside the body. The lack of oxygen as you stop breathing can deprive your eyes of the oxygen-rich blood they need for good function.

Don’t sleep too easy if you think you can’t possibly have apnea yourself.

Most of the folks with apnea don’t even know it, because they never actually wake up during these episodes. But if your spouse notices loud snores followed by total silence, you could very well have apnea.

Or, if you wake up feeling tired even after a full night of sleep… having morning headaches or sore throats… or suffering daytime sleepiness… you could also have apnea.

Docs have no shortages of gimmicks for apnea, from minor surgery to noisy and uncomfortable oxygen masks.

But the real answer is to attack the cause.

Apnea is usually caused by weight gain. Drop the extra pounds, and you’ll sleep better and breathe easier at night… wiping out the apnea and quite possibly saving your eyesight.

Sleep apnea linked to depression and insomnia

Doctors can miss this DEADLY condition

It’s not just any old medical mistake.

It’s the kind of error that could have devastating — perhaps even DEADLY — consequences.

And no one will ever realize that your doctor screwed up!

The problem is depression. At least, that’s what HE’LL think. Tell him you’re not quite feeling like yourself and are having some struggles sleeping, and he’ll be absolutely certain you’re battling this mood disorder.

You know what that means: Your doctor will hand you a prescription for an antidepressant and send you on your way, thinking his work is done.

Now, the latest research reveals how he didn’t do his job at all.

He missed a key warning sign of a major undiagnosed health problem — one that quietly affects millions of Americans and can lead to major chronic illness such as heart disease.

It’s sleep apnea, the condition where window-rattling snores are followed by complete silence as you stop breathing. That causes oxygen levels in the body to plunge, depriving vital organs — including the heart and brain — of what they need to function.

The new study of some 700 middle-aged and older men who’d never been diagnosed with sleep apnea found that more than half of them actually had the condition.

That’s no surprise. Most people who have apnea don’t know it, and it’s not something that will show up on any routine test in a doctor’s office.

But depression combined with insomnia could be a major indication, as the new study found that 43 percent of men with both conditions also had sleep apnea.

That means these two symptoms together should be a HUGE red flag.

Yet doctors are missing it!

Now, I’m not saying docs should’ve known all along that insomnia and depression mean the patient has apnea. As far as I know, this study is the first of its kind linking all three conditions at once.

But they SHOULD know that depression ALWAYS has a cause — and when a patient reports feeling down and doesn’t know why, they shouldn’t just write a prescription and send them home.

They need to dig deeper.

In this case, the failure to search for that cause — to actively IGNORE it by giving patients an antidepressant they never even needed — exposes men to serious long-term risks, as sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke, dementia, and more.

And that’s not the only condition that goes undiagnosed when docs turn to antidepressants.

Depression with no obvious cause can be a sign of poor diet and nutrition or even hormonal imbalances, especially in older folks.

If your doc isn’t willing to dig deeper to find and fix the real cause, it’s time to find a doctor who will. I recommend working closely with a holistic physician.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook

Sleep loss linked to Alzheimer’s damage

Lost sleep can DESTROY your brain cells!

There’s nothing in the world quite like waking up on a lazy weekend morning after a full night of snoozing.

No alarm clock.

No appointments.

No pressure… no stress… no problem!

If only EVERY day could feel like that, right?

Well, friend, life might be too busy to toss the alarm clock. But it should never be too busy to sacrifice your sleep.

And if you’re falling short, it’s time to make some adjustments — because the latest research shows how poor sleep can lead to the kind of damage inside your brain that’s been linked directly to Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s especially scary news, considering the disease is far deadlier than we ever imagined, as I shared with you earlier this week.

In the new study, researchers put mice through experiments involving both short-term sleep loss and conditions that mimic chronic struggles with shuteye.

Even with short-term sleep loss, the researchers saw a frightening change in the glial cells, which are part of the brain’s internal maintenance system.

They’re a bit like electricians, working to rewire and remodel the synapses, or the network that allows information to flow between neurons.

One cell in particular, called an astrocyte, essentially helps trim synapses of unnecessary branches.

In mice with normal sleep, those electricians were active in about 6 percent of the synapses. But when they missed out on sleep over the short term, their activity jumped by about a third to 8 percent.

Even worse, chronic sleep problems more than doubled their activity to 13.5 percent.

That’s a sign they could be trimming and pruning unnecessarily, hitting even healthy synapses — which, in turn, could damage and disrupt your brain’s internal communications network.

And that’s not the only change.

In mice induced to have chronic sleep problems, microglial cells went absolutely haywire.

In ideal circumstances, microglial cells hunt for damage and brain debris. But when they get overactive, they could end up sweeping out good cells along with the bad ones.

Don’t dismiss this because it was a study on mice.

In people, an overactive microglial response is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders — many of which, not coincidentally, are often accompanied by sleep struggles.

Sometimes, poor habits such as too much late-night television lead to poor sleep.

But in many cases, especially in older folks, those bedtime battles have nothing to do with TV habits. They’re often a result of a hidden problem inside the body that needs some attention.

Gobbling a sleeping pill won’t fix that problem.

Instead, try something safer in the short term — like valerian or melatonin — so you can get the rest you need each night.

But since these won’t fix the underlying problem either, don’t stop there. A holistic medical doctor can test you for all the causes of sleep loss and help you get it under control so you can rest easy every night.

And if you’re in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!

Sleep apnea increases risk of afib

Snoring? Here’s what it’s doing to your heart!

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “silent killer” thrown around for conditions like high blood pressure and cancer.

But one of the most dangerous conditions of all isn’t silent.

It’s loud and in some cases deafening!

The crazy thing about this NOISY killer is that if you have it yourself, you probably won’t hear a thing… because all that racket only arrives when you’re sound asleep.

It’s called sleep apnea, and those noises are the room-shaking snores that often mark the disease.

Now, the latest research reveals how waking up your spouse — and maybe even the neighbors — is the least if your worries if you have this condition.

You could be shaking your heart right out of its rhythm!

If you have sleep apnea, you’re facing a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, or the nation’s most common irregular heartbeat condition.

It’s not only frightening when you feel your ticker galloping like a spooked horse.

It’s also deadly, increasing your risk of a stroke and often leading to a lifetime on meds so dangerous that the side effects can literally kill you.

The problem isn’t the snoring itself. Not when it comes to your heart, anyway. (What snoring does to your marriage might be another story).

When you have sleep apnea, those loud snores are followed by brief periods of total silence — and in those moments, you’re not only quiet.

You’re not breathing.

Those short lapses cut off oxygen, lowering the levels in your body so that your vital organs don’t get what they need.

The worse your apnea, the lower the oxygen levels — and, the study finds, folks who have the lowest levels of all ALSO have the highest risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

And that’s not the only risk here.

Other studies have found that apnea patients face a higher risk of nearly every deadly chronic disease in the book, from dementia to heart disease.

It’ll even boost your risk of death.

Since you can’t watch yourself sleep, the warning signs to look for are waking up feeling like you haven’t rested, morning headaches, sore throats, and daytime sleepiness.

The other warning sign is your spouse sending you to the sofa because you’re snoring so much!

Don’t go to the sofa. Go to your doctor, who can refer you to a sleep clinic for a proper diagnosis. If you have it — if you even THINK you have it — the treatment is usually a simple one.

Lose some weight.

Apnea is often caused by weight gain, and dropping those extra pounds will ease or even cure the condition.

Sleeping pills boost risk of hip breaks

Could you break a bone… in your sleep?

All you want is a little sleep. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask — yet somehow, ordinary sleep has become an extraordinary struggle.

I’ve got a simple, foolproof plan for getting the shuteye you need, and I’ll share the basics in a moment.

But first, new research shows what you SHOULDN’T do — and, unfortunately, it’s exactly what many folks do FIRST.

They turn to meds.

Now, the new study shows why that could be a life-changing mistake, especially if you’re a little older — because it reveals how common sleep drugs can more than DOUBLE your risk of a cracked hip!

The reason is pretty obvious.

These drugs are like a punch in the brain and can leave your feeling hung-over, awkward, and just plain loopy.

It’s bad if you wake up in the middle of the night, when the effects are in full gear, and have to stagger in the dark to the bathroom.

But it can even lead to tipsiness the NEXT DAY!

Some studies have found that people who take sleep meds can actually be too impaired to drive the next morning.

That makes it hardly surprising to learn that older folks are two and a half times more likely to suffer a broken hip within two weeks of starting on a sleep med.

Of course they are.

They’re staggering around like drunks!

The risk drops over time. At 15 days, the odds of a cracked hip are 53 percent higher… and by the one-month mark, it’s at 20 percent (which is still far too high).

It might feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place — forced to choose between bad nights or bad meds — but, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve got another option for you.

And it works close to 100 percent of the time.

First, focus on getting to sleep tonight. One of the best options is the “sleep hormone” melatonin.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try the sublingual form, which melts under your tongue and kicks in faster. If you have difficulty staying asleep, look for a time-release capsule so you use the melatonin more slowly, which will help keep you from waking up in the middle of the night.

Even if melatonin works — and it usually does — don’t stop there.

The second step is to find out why you need melatonin in the first place, because sleep problems are often a sign of some other problem in your body.

With older people in particular, it’s often a hormonal imbalance. A holistic medical doctor can test your levels and help make sure you get what you need so you sleep better every night.

Green coffee bean extract eases insomnia

Sleep better with this coffee compound

Could coffee… help you SLEEP?

I know that sounds more than a little wacky.

Most folks who drink the stuff use it to wake up, not conk out — but new research finds one hidden ingredient in coffee could do just the opposite.

It could help you to fall asleep faster, especially if you’re carrying around a little extra weight.

And if you use this stuff to help get a little more sleep, you might not have that extra weight too much longer: The same secret ingredient can help kick-start your metabolism so your body burns more fat… all while you’re peacefully snoozing away!

The “secret” is what’s known as CGA, or chlorogenic acids, and in the new study folks were given either 600 mg per day or a placebo for a week.

By the end of the week, the ones on the placebo took about 16 minutes to fall asleep.

The ones given the CGA were out in 9 minutes flat.

That’s already good news if you spend way too much time tossing and turning and not enough time sleeping.

But that’s not the only benefit.

The CGA supplements also increased the oxidation of stored fat by 50 percent. In plain talk, that’s the breakdown of fat — and that stored fat is exactly the stuff you want gone.

The benefits seem to come from a boost in parasympathetic activity, or what’s better known as your “rest and digest” system.

It’s just what you want to happen at night: It’s when your heart rate and breathing get slow and steady so your body can rest and recover. As the name suggests, it’s also when your body does its best digestion, so you get all the nutrients you need from your food.

Obviously, if you get your chlorogenic acids from coffee, you’ll also get a dose of caffeine… and that’ll wreck your sleep, not help it.

Decaf might seem like a better option, but don’t brew yourself a cup just yet: A single mug of any coffee (decaf or regular) has as little as 70 mg of chlorogenic acids.

You’d have to drink about eight and a half cups before bed to get what you need!

That wouldn’t help you sleep… that would ruin it, since you’d be waking up to dash for the toilet all night long.

The best way to get chlorogenic acids is with a supplement, where it’s often called “green coffee extract” and is perhaps best known for its ability to help control blood sugar.

You can find it available both on its own and as part of glucose control formulas. As always, look for a quality supplement from a maker you trust.

Bone loss linked to sleep problems

Poor sleep can lead to thinner bone

It’s bad for your heart… bad for your brain… and new research shows it’s literally “bad to the bone.”

If you have lousy sleep habits, your bones could be slowly crumbling right inside your body, right now!

Guys, don’t hit the snooze button on this one.

I know bone risk SOUNDS like something YOU don’t have to worry about. Most studies on bone health focus on women, who face a higher risk of bone-thinning conditions such as osteoporosis.

But this new one looked at MEN.

And if you’re not getting the sleep you need — whether it’s not enough sleep, or sleeping at all the wrong times — you could be setting the stage for a devastating bone break.

The study looked at just a small group of men. Some of them were younger and in their 20s… while some were older, in their 50s and 60s.

In the end, it didn’t matter much: Bone growth seemed to slow at EVERY age, WHENEVER sleep was cut short.

And after just three weeks of forced sleeping problems, the men in the study were showing some pretty dangerous warning signs.

Your bones are constantly rebuilding themselves. Little bits break off in a process called resorption, and new bone is formed.

But in the study, as men missed out on sleep, their levels of the marker of resorption held steady while their levels of a marker of bone formation dropped.

In plain talk, the same amount of old bone was being lost… but less new bone was being made.

And that’s after just three weeks of bad sleep habits. Many people suffer for months — even years — at a time, and they could be facing serious bone risk because of it.

The researchers hope to look at women next to see if there’s a similar risk. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is.

About half of all cases of osteoporosis in men and women alike don’t have obvious explanations, such as the hormonal changes that strike after menopause.

If the new study’s any indication, sleep problems could help explain at least some of those “unexplained” cases.

But bone health doesn’t stop when you wake up after even a perfect night of sleep.

You also need to give your bones the nutrients they need to stay strong. That means calcium, of course, but calcium is practically worthless by itself. It needs both vitamin D and magnesium to do its job — so, make sure you’re getting the right levels of all three.

In addition, consider oleuropein, a natural compound found in olives that can help boost the stem cells that form bone.

A quality bone support formula will contain all of these essentials.

Sleep problems common with age

Why your sleep is getting worse… and how to fix it

Nothing’s as good as it used to be, right?

The coffee’s too bitter, the music’s too noisy, and don’t even get me started on the garbage that passes for TV these days.

And those aren’t the only things that have changed over the years.

Even SLEEP isn’t what is used to be!

As you get older, it’s harder to get the sleep you need. Even when you THINK you’ve gotten all 40 winks, you can wake up feeling not quite as rested as you used to.

Now, the latest research shows why — and it’s a problem deep inside your brain.

UC Berkeley researchers wrote in the journal Neuron that the parts of the brain that start to slow with age are the same areas needed to produce what’s known as “slow wave” sleep, or the deep sleep that’s so essential to rest and rejuvenation.

The brain also struggles to generate essential neurochemicals such as galanin and orexin, which help to control the sleep cycles.

That poor rest, in turn, can lead to even more problems in the brain that can set the stage for memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Sleep drugs can’t help here — even when they make you sleep LONGER, they don’t lead to the same natural sleep cycles and won’t necessarily increase your slow wave sleep.

But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from the sleep-robbing effects of age. You can take action today so you can rest better tonight and get more of that essential slow-wave sleep, and I’ve got some quick tips that’ll help you do just that.

First, try some valerian.

This natural sleep-friendly herbal remedy is not only proven to help folks sleep longer and better, but it’s especially effective at increasing your slow-wave sleep.

Second, eat more fiber.

A study last year found boosting fiber intake helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get more of that all-important slow-wave “deep” sleep that’s so hard to come by as you get older.

Third, turn off the devices.

The blue light wavelengths emitted from electronics such as iPads can alter your brain and change your sleep patterns. As a result, researchers found that just 30 minutes on an iPad before bed can delay slow-wave sleep.

Read a book instead.

Finally, limit your booze — and definitely don’t drink right before bed, as alcohol can alter your sleep mix, changing how and when you get your slow-wave sleep in ways that can leave you feeling crummy in the morning.

If you have to drink before turning in, try herbal tea instead. Some of them even have that valerian I just mentioned.

Nocturia caused by too much salt

Cut nighttime bathroom trips with this one change

It can literally haunt your dreams.

Doesn’t matter what’s going through your mind as you snooze, eventually the sound of rushing water invades — and, next thing you know, you’re standing next to a river or maybe a waterfall.

It’s your bladder, sending a signal straight into your brain.

You need to GO, and you need to GO NOW… and you’re suddenly wide-awake and dashing to the bathroom.

I’m sure you’ve heard a million tips and tricks over the years on how to eliminate those nighttime bathroom runs, a.k.a. nocturia, and most of them are worthless.

But the latest research shows one small change you can make to your diet that could give you almost instant results.

It’s something you should do anyway: Cut back on salt.

The new study out of Japan looked at about 300 volunteers with high salt intake and nocturia problems.

Half were told to cut back on their salt, while the other half were told to actually increase those levels.

Over three months, the folks who cut back cut their midnight bathroom visits by about 40 percent… while those who got more salt were awake and running for the toilet more often.

That’s very encouraging, but there are two important caveats.

First, these folks had incredibly high sodium intakes.

They were getting roughly triple the U.S. average, and four or five times the recommended daily limit.

That’s a LOT of salt… and if you’re getting anything near those levels, you should cut back even if you’re NOT having bathroom problems.

If, on the other hand, you’ve got normal salt intake, cutting back might not help much.

And second, while reducing salt most certainly COULD help some people, it almost definitely WON’T work for everyone, since those late-night potty breaks often have another cause.

In some folks, it’s weaker bladder muscle. In others, it’s a hormonal problem. It could also a lifestyle issue like drinking habits or dietary problems… or even something psychological.

Since salt has nothing to do with those possible causes, cutting back probably won’t help much in those cases.

Still, reducing salt levels is something anyone can try quickly, easily, and at no cost — so, it’s certainly worth giving a shot (especially if your sodium levels are a little higher than they should be).

If it doesn’t work, you’ll need a little more help finding the cause and fixing it.

Work closely with a holistic medical doctor.

If you’re in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I’m also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook!