1. Back pain responds to better sleep

    Fight back pain... with your alarm clock!

    There's nothing worse than waking up with back pain, and some days you feel like you don't just need a doctor.

    You need a carpenter, too -- because you're stiff as a board.

    Some folks have back pain so bad that every morning begins with painkillers instead of coffee or tea, but new research shows that what your back really needs isn't a drug.

    It's better sleep!

    Like the rest of your body, the cells in your spinal discs have their own internal clocks that follow the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.

    The key word in there is "natural."

    Too many folks make their own hours these days rather than follow the clock built into our design, and the study shows how trying to reset that internal timer can be a recipe for extra pain.

    See, those cells can pump out natural inflammation-fighting compounds when you're awake, like your own private painkiller.

    But just as you can't be awake 24 hours a day, those cells need some downtime, too.

    So they shut off when you're supposed to be asleep.

    Sleep at the wrong times... or wake up too early or too late... and you'll be at the wrong end of that natural cycle, because your spine may not be churning out those compounds.

    The result? An extra dose of pain, according to new study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

    And that means one of the best things you can do for back pain is follow the old advice and make sure you're going early to bed, and early to rise.

    The researchers claim the study also shows the best time to take inflammation-fighting painkillers to maximize pain relief, but using those drugs regularly at any time of day can wreck your gut in the long-term and lead to more serious problems over the long run.

    Using them regularly can even increase your risk of a heart attack!

    Try natural inflammation fighters instead. Fish oil, curcumin, and topical MSM can all help fight back pain without the risks.

    And along with boosting your quality of sleep and catching your winks at the right times, don't forget about a few of the other bedroom basics.

    If your mattress is so old that it voted for Reagan, it's time to consider a new one -- and be sure to rotate it regularly. Similarly, a pillow isn't a lifetime commitment; replace it every few months.

    These simple steps can make the difference between waking up in pain... or bouncing out of bed, ready to start your day.

  2. Stroke risk linked to sleep problems

    Cut your stroke risk overnight

    There's nothing quite as scary as a stroke.

    It can happen anytime... anywhere... to anyone, often striking without any warning.

    One moment, everything's fine.

    The next, your world has changed forever -- because stroke is not only one of the nation's leading causes of death, it's also a top cause of disability in seniors.

    So of course it's scary.

    But today, I'm going to take some of that fear factor out of the equation and help even the score -- because you CAN cut your risk of stroke, and the latest research shows how.

    Sleep better!

    Odds are, you're not sleeping as well as you should. Don't worry; you're not alone. Sleep disorders are among the most common health problems in the nation, especially among seniors.

    Some folks have trouble falling asleep. Others can't stay asleep. And millions more face problems DURING sleep.

    Each of these conditions can increase your risk of suffering a stroke -- and afterward, those same sleep problems can mess up your recovery.

    The biggest risk factors are "sleep-disordered breathing" (SDB) conditions such as room-shaking snores and sleep apnea, the condition where you stop breathing in the night.

    The new study finds strong links between SDB conditions like apnea and ischemic stroke, or the classic blockage in the flow of blood to the brain responsible for nearly nine out of 10 strokes.

    Problems with breathing during sleep were also linked to hemorrhagic stroke, or a "rupture" in a brain artery. They were even linked to "mini" strokes, although to a much lesser extent.

    While SDB conditions had the biggest link to stroke, other sleep problems such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and over-sleeping also boosted the odds.

    And all of these sleep problems can lead to a more difficult recovery afterward.

    The analysis of 29 studies involving 2,343 stroke victims doesn't show why these sleep problems can worsen stroke recovery, but it's pretty easy to figure out.

    Your brain was designed with a pretty handy built-in repair kit, and it's far more precise than anything a surgeon can do. It's amazing, really -- because your brain can rewire its connections and sweep out bad cells in an effort to fix the damage and regain control.

    But these repairs only happen when you're asleep.

    If you can't fall asleep... if you wake up too much or too early... or if your sleep is interrupted by pauses in your breathing... the brain can't fix itself, and you're left with lasting damage or even disability.

    So whether you've had a stroke or are just looking to avoid one, gain control over sleep problems.

    The biggest one is apnea -- and while the study finds a CPAP oxygen mask can help limit the damage, I've got a solution that's far more permanent.

    Lose some weight.

    Apnea is almost always caused by weight gain, and dropping a few pounds will usually ease or cure it.

    There's also one more thing you can do. It's simple, easy and won't cost you a dime -- and you can read all about it for free right here.

  3. Diabetes linked to poor sleep in men

    Diabetes isn’t always caused by diet alone. There are other risk factors – and for men, poor sleep could be one of them.
  4. GABA supplements can help you sleep better

    GABA supplements get absorbed by your body in just 30 minutes, according to new research, which explains why they’re so effective at helping you fall asleep.
  5. Exercise can ease sleep apnea

    Exercise comes with a long list of benefits, and here’s one more: It can help ease sleep apnea, even if you don’t lose weight.
  6. Herbal teas can improve memory, ease sleep

    Herbal teas are delicious, and pack more benefits than coffee – helping with everything from perking you up to calming you down.
  7. Poor sleep could be caused by your iPad

    Sleep issues are one of the most common problems facing Americans, and one reason might be the widespread use of electronics such as iPads before bedtime.
  8. REM sleep problems linked to mood disorders

    REM sleep is needed for dreaming, but new research shows how it’s also connected to your emotional wellbeing.
  9. Sleep disorders boost diabetes risk

    Sleep disorders are more than just a lousy night in the sack. They can also boost your risk of diabetes by as much as 400 percent.
  10. Fiber can improve your sleep

    Fiber isn’t just important to keep you “regular.” New research finds it could help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get a better overall quality of sleep.
  11. Gout can be caused by sleep apnea

    Gout and sleep apnea have a few things in common, and new research finds that if you have apnea, your risk of painful gout jumps by 80 percent.
  12. Chronic snoring linked to diabetes

    New research reveals that chronic snoring can increase your risk of diabetes by 27 percent. But there are some natural solutions that can help turn the tide.
  13. Sleep apnea increases the risk of car accidents

    Common condition raises your risk of a car accident 250%

    A lot of folks are more worried about today than tomorrow -- so when you hear that sleep apnea might increase your risk of chronic health problems years down the road, it might not seem all that urgent.

    But believe me, fixing this condition is urgent business, because it can do more than just hurt you in some distant future.

    It could kill you today.

    Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing in the night. Because you don't wake up, you might not even know you have it -- but your body does, and those nighttime episodes can leave you feeling tired all day. Continue reading

  14. Napping can help you recover from lost sleep

    Overcome sleep woes with simple, drug-free action plan

    It's tough to get a full night's sleep sometimes -- and when you don't the damage goes far beyond feeling crummy all day. Poor sleep can literally throw your hormones out of whack, and missing out night after night can lead to serious long-term damage.

    But new research finds a way to reverse that damage -- in as little as 30 minutes.

    In the study, men limited to just two hours of sleep a night saw their levels of the hormone norepinephrine jump by 250 percent.

    That's a stress hormone involved in your body's "flight or fight" response. It's handy in an emergency, but not the best thing to have rising all day as it causes your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels to jump. Continue reading

  15. Sleep disorders linked to hypertension

    Surprising symptom reveals hidden high blood pressure

    High blood pressure isn't something you can see or feel, so unless you're making regular trips to the doctor's office -- or at least rolling up your sleeve for that machine at the drug store -- you may not even know you have it.

    That's why hypertension is often called "the silent killer."

    But there's one surprising warning sign that could alert you when your BP is starting to tick upward.

    Sleep problems. Continue reading

  16. Don't drink alcohol to help you sleep

    Is that tasty nightcap sabotaging your sleep?

    Alcohol isn't a sleep aid any more than a hammer to the head -- but when I tell my patients not to drink before bed, I often get a look of doubt.

    "Well, it works for me," is a pretty typical reaction.

    On one level, it does work. You drink, you fall asleep... just as you'll "fall asleep" after being bonked with that hammer. But you won't get the right kind of sleep, and that's every bit as important as the sleep itself.

    Now, two new studies show how alcohol may knock you out -- but it alters critical REM and essential slow-wave sleep.

    The first, an analysis of 20 studies involving a combined 517 patients, confirms what my own patients see -- it shows how a drink will help you fall asleep, and multiple drinks will cause you to nod off even faster. Continue reading

  17. iPad light can lead to insomnia and sleep disturbances

    WARNING: Your iPad could turn you into a sleep-deprived zombie

    Whether it's a chapter or two of the latest page-turner or the comfort of your favorite scripture verses, a little bedtime reading is a time-tested ritual that many people find helps with sleep.

    But if you were given an e-reader such as an iPad for Christmas, keep it out of your bedroom.

    These electronic devices (and that includes your smartphone) emit light, which right off the bat is bad enough for someone getting ready for bed. But even worse, they emit a very specific wavelength of light.

    They're heavy in the blue part of the spectrum, or the wavelength that tells your brain it's daytime. When you see blue light, your brain thinks of daytime blue skies and shuts down production of the "sleep hormone" melatonin. Continue reading

  18. Slash calories and slash your sleep apnea risks

    Ease sleep apnea symptoms in WEEKS!

    If you want to rid yourself of sleep apnea, the terrifying condition in which you stop breathing in the night, there's one easy answer: Lose weight.

    Forget incredibly risky surgeries, oxygen masks and other gimmicks. At best, they're Band-Aid solutions that may help temporarily ease the condition, but won't solve the underlying problems that cause it.

    And at worst, they don't work at all. Continue reading

  19. Benzodiazepines increase Alzheimer's risk

    Are your sleeping pills giving you Alzheimer's?

    A little rest, and a little relaxation. That's the promise of benzodiazepines, a class of medication used primarily for anxiety and sleep disorders.

    Who can resist that? Not many of us, which is why more than 110 million prescriptions for these drugs are filled each year in the United States alone.

    But the promise is a false one, because even when these drugs seem to work -- even when you get that rest, or your anxieties seem to melt away -- you're paying a terrible price. Continue reading

  20. Sleep loss leads to brain loss

    Are you losing your mind? Poor sleep shrinks brains

    You know how missing out on sleep can make you feel lousy on the outside, especially when it happens night after night.

    But that's nothing compared to what it's doing to you on the inside.

    It's the kind of damage you can't see or feel right away, so it might not ruin your day -- but when it catches up with you (and eventually, it will) it could ruin your life. Continue reading

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