trouble sleeping

  1. Electronic devices disrupt sleep cycles

    iDevices lead to poor sleep

    What's keeping you up at night?

    For many people, it's a sleep disorder such as insomnia. But for millions of others, it's a different type of disorder completely that's disrupting their sleep cycles.

    I call it iPad-nia.

    Lighting in general can disrupt production of melatonin, the hormone we need for proper sleep cycles. But new research shows how the LED lights used in electronics such as iPads and iPhones and such are even more disruptive than ordinary light.

    These lights fool your body into thinking it is daytime -- and when your body thinks it's daytime, it doesn't start up the melatonin factory.

    The result: You can't sleep, no matter what time it is.

    These days, many people unknowingly make the situation worse by bringing the iPad -- or some other similar device -- right into bed for late night-email or reading. Then, when they can't get to sleep, they do even more email and reading -- making the problem even worse.

    The issue isn't just the iPad, of course. And it's not even LED lights -- they may be the worst of it, according to the report in Nature, but constant exposure to artificial lights of any kind can also disrupt melatonin production and sleep cycles.

    That's not just bad news for bedtime. Melatonin is also essential for protection from the free radicals responsible for the damage of aging and it's critical to the immune system, where it can help protect you from diseases such as cancer.

    If you're not getting the sleep you need each night, maybe it's time to enforce a lights-out policy in your home past a certain time. And if that doesn't help, look for other lifestyle issues that may be keeping you up -- including caffeine from drinks like soda and coffee as well as foods such as chocolate.

    You'll even find caffeine hidden in some painkillers.

    If that's not enough to put you to bed, then you may have something else going on -- a nutritional issue or hormonal imbalance that can be corrected naturally. I recommend a holistic physician for helping getting your sleep cycles back on track.

  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.

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