1. Napping can be a diabetes warning

    When a nap is a warning

    There's nothing quite like a midday siesta to recharge the batteries.

    I won't lie; on the rare days I have an opening in my afternoon schedule and all the paperwork is done, I'll kick back in my office chair for a quick power nap.

    Napping isn't lazy. Studies show a quick snooze can boost your brainpower, lift your mood, and improve your performance.

    But it is possible to get too much of this good thing.

    If it turns out your afternoon doze is turning into lengthy journeys through the land of Nod, your body could be trying to tell you something -- because the latest research finds that naps of an hour or more will increase your risk of diabetes by 45 percent.

    The study doesn't show a reason for the link, only that it's there.

    But it's pretty obvious to me, and I don't think it's the naps themselves that are the culprit here... so much as what they mean.

    Long naps tell me that your energy levels are plunging to well below where they should be, and that's almost always a sign of something gone wrong inside your body.

    In this case, that "something" could be your body wearing out from fighting off the early warning signs of diabetes. You might even already have the disease without actually knowing it yet, as many cases remain undiagnosed for years.

    This invisible battle is leaving you drained -- so if you're sleeping too much in the afternoon, don't assume you're catching up on rest.

    Consider it your wakeup call instead!

    The study finds anything longer than an hour is a sign of disease risk, but there's a much easier way to tell if your naps are doing more harm than good without checking the clock.

    It's in how you feel when you wake up.

    If you're feeling rested and ready for the rest of your day, odds are you just had a perfect little catnap.

    On the other hand, if you wake up feeling groggy and miserable instead of sharp and refreshed, your body likely entered slow-wave sleep, or the deep sleep we usually fall into at night -- but it didn't have a chance to complete a full cycle.

    That's generally a sign your internal fuel tank is starting to empty, possibly because your immune system is malfunctioning... hormone levels are plunging... and/or insulin levels are bouncing around, as your body battles the early warning signs of diabetes.

    The answer isn't getting more sleep.

    It's finding out what's wrong... before it's too late.

    A holistic doctor can run some tests to help get to the bottom of it, then help you get started on a plan to beat diabetes before it starts.

    If you're in Southern California, I can run those tests right here at the Stengler Center.

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

  2. CPAP doesn’t cut sleep apnea risks

    A machine won’t solve your sleep issues

    Everyone loves a shortcut.

    I know I sure do. There’s not much better than saving a little time – because that’s the one thing we can’t make more of.

    But when it comes to your health, there are no shortcuts.

    If you’re battling a chronic health problem, you need to take care of it the right way – or your shortcut could become a dead end.

    New research shows how that’s especially true of sleep apnea, the chronic condition where you stop breathing in the night for 10 or more seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times per night.

    Those little lapses of oxygen can do lasting damage inside your body, increasing the risk of serious health problems including heart attack.

    The shortcut to easing the condition is a CPAP machine, or a breathing mask that delivers a steady flow of oxygen while you sleep so you’re never cut off – in theory stopping the damage of apnea.

    Problem solved, right?


    Turns out, that extra oxygen doesn’t do much of anything for sleep apnea patients with heart disease. There’s no cut in the risk of heart problems, stroke, hospitalization due to heart problems, or even death.

    The machine wasn’t completely useless. Folks in the study who used it were less tired during the day and had less anxiety and a better mood as a result.

    On the other hand, the machine is uncomfortable and tough to sleep with, and many of them consistently woke up at night to tear it off.

    Can you blame them? It’s like sleeping inside a noisy Halloween costume.

    It would be one thing to put up with all that discomfort if it actually did its job and saved lives. But without that major benefit, this is a shortcut that ultimately leads to nowhere.

    So consider CPAP a temporary measure at best.

    If you really want to sleep better at night and make sure your body gets the oxygen it needs to protect the heart, you’re going to have to take the long way.

    You’re going to have to lose some weight.

    Obesity is the single biggest cause of apnea, and losing the extra weight will almost always ease the disease. Even just a little weight loss can bring big benefits when it comes to sleep.

    But don’t settle for just a little weight loss. Keep at it – keep working, and you won’t just cut the risks that come along for the ride with sleep apnea.

    You’ll also be better able to prevent or control diabetes and cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and more.

    While you work on your waistline, or if you’re at a normal weight but still have apnea, you can look into a dental device that keeps the airway open at night.

    There are dentists who specialize in customizing the correct fit for you.

  3. Back pain responds to better sleep

    Back pain can be worsened by poor sleep habits, as new research finds the cells in the spinal discs have their own internal clocks.
  4. Stroke risk linked to sleep problems

    Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability, but you can cut your risk of having one with better sleep habits.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

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