Sleep problems

  1. Gadgets keep you awake even after you turn them off

    How your iPad messes with your internal clock

    It's almost funny to see all the iPhone and iPad apps designed to help people get to sleep. For many people, those gadgets are the very reason they're not getting the rest they need in the first place.

    Some people use them to do work and answer emails all night long. For others, tablets have replaced books and even television. And for many people, they've brought the ability to surf the web not just into the bedroom... but right into the bed itself.

    These devices don't just keep you awake while you use them. They can actually stimulate your body in ways that will keep you up long after the gadget has been powered down.

    The reason is light, which can have a lingering effect on your body. One new study finds that iPads give off the blue light that your body interprets as a signal to shut down production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

    In one set of experiments, volunteers were asked to play with an iPad for two hours. In another, they were asked to play with the iPad for two hours while wearing special orange-tinted lenses that filter out blue light.

    Not surprisingly, they produced about 23 percent less melatonin after using the iPad without the light-filtering lenses, according to the study in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

    The good news is that there was no effect on melatonin after just an hour -- so you could limit the damage by simply limiting your screen time. And, while you're at it, it would also help to turn down the brightness.

    Or you could just turn to something a little more old-fashioned and read books and magazines, which give off no light at all. And if you're having trouble finding the right reading to put yourself to sleep, there are a few medical journals I can recommend.

  2. Simple solution for post-menopausal sleep disorders

    If you tell your doctor you're having trouble sleeping, the first thing he'll do is reach for his prescription pad -- especially if you're a woman going through menopause.

    Feel free to visit the drugstore -- but don't head for the pharmacy, and don't fill that prescription.

    Make a beeline for the supplements aisle instead, and reach for an inexpensive remedy that's been used for centuries by men and women alike to help ease anxiety and get better rest.

    It's valerian root -- and a new clinical trial finds that it can help beat the sleep problems that often accompany menopause.

    Iranian researchers randomly assigned 100 women to either 530 milligrams of valerian root twice a day, or a placebo, for a month and found that 30 percent of the women who got the supplement had better sleep.

    Thirty percent may not sound impressive -- but it's a dramatic improvement compared to the 4 percent of women on the placebo who reported relief.

    What's more, the women who took the supplement reported no side effects -- unlike the sleep meds that can not only leave you groggy in the morning, but can also cause addiction as well as bizarre and often dangerous behavior.

    If valerian doesn't work for you, there's still no reason to fill that prescription: Other studies have found that yoga, tai chi, acupressure, and cognitive behavioral therapy can all help men and women alike overcome sleep problems.

    In some cases, you may need to experiment a little until you find a natural treatment that works best for you. In others, you may need to combine two or more.

    For more tips on how to get better sleep – whether you're a man or woman of any age – explore the Web site of the Health Sciences Institute. Enter "sleep" into the "find a cure" box and then find a comfortable spot to finally get the rest you need.

  3. Yin vs. yang in Parkinson's treatment

    Centuries before James Parkinson described the "shaking palsy" that would later bear his name, the Chinese were already treating the condition they called "the shakes" with a simple herb.
  4. Sleep problems linked to TV, Internet

    Now, a new study finds that more than a third of all Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night--and at the same time, a new survey finds that up to 95 percent of us are in front of those glowing screens within an hour of bedtime.

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