Sehatu Sleep Yoga Warriors...do not be afraid!

“Rejoicing in the ordinary things is not simple or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world.” Pema Chodron

I never fully know why I choose one particular quote verses another to leave at the end of students' mats after one of my classes. Except, it is often something I feel for myself or want to remember for myself a certain day and figure... because we are all the same... it might strike a similar chord for someone else. If not today, then maybe, on just the right day this little quote, this little slip of paper, will appear.

I realize today's quote by Pema Chodron was especially meaningful because we had so many “first time ever practicing Yoga” students in the Sehatu Sleep studio. New Yoga Warriors giving themselves ninety minutes of union with self and some self-care on a beautiful summer morning.

I will never forget what guts it took for me to get up the courage to enter my first Yoga class. And, I guess, all my “complaints” were about myself and the way I thought I had to be, or the thoughts about the way I was not that prevented an earlier Yoga journey. I thought I had to know Yoga “stuff” like how to do all the moves, etc. So, I waited until I had done Yoga tapes on my VCR at home and read a Yoga flip book that showed a practice. I fully realize, even though I had several Yoga studios in the area where I grew up, I was afraid. Afraid, I guess, to do something “wrong”...who knows, it is hard to understand fears that are really just thoughts.

So,I started my own Yoga journey much later at a gym and then took, what I perceived as, another big step and entered a Yoga studio. As I am certain today's students found, and, as I know I found in my first class: I did not need to know any “stuff”, I am enough just as I am today, and there is nothing scary about a Yoga studio, nothing scary at all. They are actually quite welcoming and sweet. And, it is their job and their purpose to share with you how you might do Yoga stuff. Rejoice.

(I do still hold a little wish I had started practicing Yoga earlier and entered the Warrior's World of Yoga in community back in the day. Even though I know, as Yoga has taught me, whatever day you do choose, is the perfect day for you!)

Congratulations Sehatu Sleep Yoga students...you are Warriors.

Yoga and The Mind Body Connection

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CAI attended the first Gentle Yoga class at Sehatu Sleep this morning. I was a student. Iram, the teacher and co-owner, had not taught many classes indoors before. She said after the class she was a bit nervous. I never would have known it. From the first word she spoke, I was at ease. Iram's voice is very soothing and it carries an involvement in what she is saying. We laughed afterwords about how she had to remind herself during the class that she was the teacher. She was so connected. I loved it and realized that is such an important quality, to me, in a yoga class; the teacher be in union/connected to what they are teaching. Left or right, foot here or there…foot anywhere…does not help me to drop into the present moment, my practice. What helps me to feel safe and comfortable in my practice, in the present moment, is when I feel the teacher is in a similar union/yoking. I felt there was meaning and purpose behind every word Iram shared. The definition of Yoga is that connection to body, mind and spirit. I want my teacher in a Yoga class to be connected, too. I enjoyed the gentle sequence and felt refreshed and renewed after the class. I even brought a friend by later in the day to see the studio and consider taking class ! es from Iram, and at Sehatu Sleep.
(Okay, so now I am a blogger and Yoga Pusher, too.) Thank you, Iram…I'll be back!!!
This entry is by our new contributor Joan Marks, a senior yoga teacher and integrative restoration practitioner. She can be reached at joan@sehatusleep.com.

Teen Texting Trouble

Being able to text a short message to someone is a blessing of the times. It works when you can't pick the phone up and call, when you are in an environment where speaking is not appropriate and in a lot of situations. Like any other useful technological feature, young people find uses for it to suit their life style. In my medical practice I started seeing teens who were texting 5 to 6000 times per month when texting plans had not even been invented by the phone companies. Now, those appear to have been ancient times. With unlimited texting plans, and parents losing control of their children's phone usage, texting continues to reach new highs. The Pew Research Center published a study earlier this year about increasing texting use in teens. Click here to read: Pew Research Center Study on Teens and Texting

One of my teen patients recently told me there were some very important people texting her at 2 in the morning and she HAD to respond. Come to find out it was her suspicious controlling boyfriend checking on her. One sleep problem solved.

Anecdotes aside, my concern as a sleep doctor is that the frequency of use and obsessive use, particularly during sleeping hours, interferes with a teen's ability to sleep restfully, keeping them on the edge, waiting for the phone to buzz, then alerting themselves to read and respond. Adrenaline levels, blood pressure, anxiety levels, moodiness, complaints of being tired all the time and many physical symptoms worsen with these habits, and are frequently overlooked. Often the adults in the household are not even aware of this behavior.

As I have written before, there is solid science supporting the observation that lack of sufficient good quality sleep leads to weight gain, behavior issues and accelerated aging; It triggers headaches, dizziness and even fainting besides making all kinds of existing physical problems worse.

I spoke to the local Sacramento radio channel KFBK today on this subject. Click here to listen: Teens and Texting on KFBK Radio 06-13-2012

Why am I tired all the time?

This question is most commonly asked by teens and middle aged people. It has motivated people to invent, create, produce, sell and consume on a mass scale many of the common products many of us use frequently. What you say are those? Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Starbucks, Peet's, 5-hour Energy, Rockstar, Red Bull, Chai Tea, the list goes on for dozens of products.

Why ARE you tired every day?

Reason #1: Your batteries aren't charged and you are trying to squeeze every bit of energy from them. My teenage patients often say all their friends live fine on 4 hours of sleep so what can't they? My answer is that every person has a different outlet for the built up steam. Some people are just blessed with rapid charging batteries. Most however, are struggling in one form or another. They may not realize how tired they feel but have physical symptoms including headaches, dizziness, stomach aches, and various other forms of physical symptoms. Some may have behavioral symptoms such as depression, increased anxiety, anger outbursts, trouble paying attention or concentrating on their work.

In fact, Reason #2 and 3 are also the same as above.

All the rest come down later on the list including anemia, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, diabetes, heart or liver problems and many other physical ailments.

So, you say, what do I mean by charging your batteries?

Sleep charges our batteries. Its job is to do the housekeeping work for the body and mind. It processes and organizes memories, manages body functions including blood pressure, blood sugar, fat content, energy and metabolism.

Problems with the duration or restfulness of sleep prevent the batteries from being fully charged. Not enough sleep, sleep apnea, insomnia and many sleep problems are included.

When will we start recognizing this fact as vital to our lives?

I feel we all need gentle reminders. So, be reminded dear reader!

On The Subject of The Active Mind Syndrome - Do You Have It Too?

To be very frank there is no such condition identified in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual that mental health providers use, at least not so far. Could it be that the prevalence of this problem is so high it is considered kind of normal to suffer with it?

Society has been hard at work to train our children and adults alike, to work hard, be responsible, worry about the consequences of our actions and be held accountable. Nothing wrong with any of that but there are ramifications to this training that we never see coming.

In going through the process of developing these necessary traits in our personalities, we de-train ourselves from how were were as young children, happy go lucky, taking a day at a time, relaxed and unhurried. Some of us can cope with the change simply because they have been blessed with a calm demeanor implanted genetically into their minds. The rest of us suffer. We worry about getting to places on time, paying bills, caring for loved ones, making money, spending money, socializing, networking, entertaining, being entertained, even sleeping. We take our busy minds to bed with us and rise with these busy multi tasking, active minds. Our minds keep busy problem solving, thinking, recalling what happened and planning ahead for what might happen, even when we are supposed to be resting.

Rest doesn't come easy, sleep doesn't come, and if it comes it is not restful. We keep tossing and turning in bed trying to fall asleep. We wake up within 2-3 hours of falling asleep often staring in the dark, counting sheep, checking text messages and emails, turning the TV on and off and finally giving in to the temptation to take some sort of sleeping pill. Some will keep going to the bathroom or get up and eat. Then comes the dreaded morning and back to the race to finish tasks, be on time, finish the work, on and on and on.

I see these people every day in my sleep medicine practice. Nice, responsible, good people. Suffering people. Distressed people. "Doctor, the more I try to sleep the harder it is to fall asleep. My mind just races and doesn't stop, even when there is nothing stressful happening. What should I do? Can you help me?" And I find myself thinking, here is another patient with the undiagnosed and so far unnamed Active Mind Syndrome.

There are many ways to treat it should you be one of those people who have experienced the ill effects of this condition. Its important to know two facts first though. Firstly, there is no use asking the doctor since most doctors don't know what it is (and likely they have it too) and they wouldn't know how to treat it. Secondly, the answer is not in a pill.

What is your motivation? How strong is it? How bad is your suffering?

We at Sehatu Sleep think we have the answer. We call it Deep Relaxation Training (www.sehatusleep.com). We feel it requires re-training the mind to make the best of both worlds. People can learn to be productive, efficient, high achieving, and at the same time able to let go, relax, and loosen up on demand; able to sleep like a baby. It does require hard work, commitment and consistency but is very do-able. It is very powerful and gives you the capability to deal with life as it happens.

It is certainly not the only answer. Many paths can lead you to the same goal. We think ours is the most comprehensive. If not us, there are many wise people around you wherever you are. It just takes recognizing the problem and then seeking help. Its around the corner. Waiting for you. Wherever you are.

Happy dreams!

The Magic of Melatonin! (Requires a Magic Wand)

People looking for over the counter sleep aids often find melatonin along side other supplements. Since it is easily available, considered a supplement and not a medicine, there is plenty of incentive to at least try it. There are dozens of melatonin products on the market, freely available at supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores and online. People take it in increasing doses (I have known people to take as much as 15 mg in one night), combine it with Benadryl products or alcohol, with various vitamins and in combination with various herbal preparations. It may make you briefly drowsy. It may seem to help you fall asleep for a few days. Unfortunately, that's about it. So what about the magic?

The magic wand you need to unleash the powerful magic of melatonin is to know the science behind what the substance is and how it works, and most importantly what it works for. Melatonin works fantastically well for people with "delayed sleep phase syndrome", a medical term describing the inability to fall asleep at a socially acceptable time and wake up at a socially acceptable time in order to be productive. It is a very common sleep problem often misdiagnosed as insomnia. It is more common in adolescents, and in creative people, musicians and artists; and often runs in families.

These people are fully capable of getting sufficient sleep but end up not getting enough because they don't get sleepy until later in the night and have to wake up early to go to school or work. If they could sleep in every day and work started later in the day they would be fine.

If melatonin is taken in the smallest amount available, it works best. Take more and you will likely be groggy when you wake up. It should be taken no earlier than 8 hours after naturally waking up, and about an hour before intended bed time. The product has to come from a reliable manufacturer since no one is effectively regulating the quality of the product.

Most of all, if you expose yourself to bright sources of light after taking melatonin you will cancel out its effects. These bright sources include all kinds of handheld and electronic device screens that emit light. Its effect will also be reduced if you activate your mind, get busy thinking, worrying or performing mental tasks.

Lots of caveats, true. But the potion's magic has the potential to change countless lives, provided it is used properly, with wisdom and knowledge. It is typically inexpensive and works much better than sleeping pills, for the person with "delayed sleep phase". For everyone else, unless your sleep physician specifically recommended it, you are probably wasting your money.

 

Which one works best for insomnia: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata ..... or a golf club?

 

 

"There is no difference between taking a sleeping pill or asking someone to club you on the head"

The inability to fall or stay asleep, or waking up too early and then feeling the effects of sleep deprivation is commonly termed insomnia. The cost of insomnia to the US economy is estimated at over $35 billion each year. There are many types and many causes of insomnia. The commonest problem by far, is a state of mind called "hyper arousal" in which the person feels their mind continues to work and be active, even if they are not worried about anything. The problem tends to run in families, affects millions of people and affects smart people more, should that be consolation to some.

Since doctors have few tools to work with besides medicine, they tend to offer their patients the least addictive of the sleeping pills they know of, but end up in a wild goose chase of changing doses, managing side effects and development of tolerance to the sleep inducing effects. The pharmaceutical industry has also found insomnia therapy to be a major money maker. Ambien, also known by its generic name Zolpidem is one of the most commonly prescribed sleeping pills. The ever present Lunesta commercial on TV has inspired many comedy show spoofs. Trazodone has been used for many years. Ativan, Valium, Seroquel, Risperdal, Restoril; there are so many . Never mind the dozens of so called "natural" remedies, supplements (a chemical is a chemical, call it natural or pharmaceutical), gadgets, even iphone apps. None of these however address the issue of hyper arousal of the mind or do so ineffectively over the long term.

Research has shown over and over that sleeping pills i.e. "clubbing your head", works for short periods of time only. Cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, stress management techniques including yoga and meditation work better, and work long term. The problem so far has been that trained therapists are hard to find and even harder to make health insurance companies pay for it.

Uniquely, Sehatu Sleep, a small start up company in Northern California, has taken up this challenge. They offer on site and online, "Deep Relaxation Training" to empower insomniacs, to calm their minds and get restful sleep. No chemicals, no gadgets, no gimmicks. This, is what we need, not clubs on our heads!

Sleep, Weight Gain and Obesity

sehatu photos

Apple sold millions of iPads as soon as the new product came out. We buy the newest gadgets. We tend to see and hear what excites us, and gravitate towards it. What is often not as sexy and difficult to market but critical for human well being gets lost in the news.

We buy supplements to lose weight. We buy treadmills to exercise. I know many people who spent much to undergo major surgery to reduce weight or improve their bulky appearance. How many of us though have heard the terms Leptin and Ghrelin? Ask your doctor. The physician has probably not heard the terms either. The research is now over ten years old: Leptin and Ghrelin are two chemicals that control our weight, our appetite and the amount of fat produced by our body. The delicate balance between them is held in check by one critical function of our body: Sleep.

Lack of sleep, either in duration or quality upsets this balance, increasing stress on the body, increasing fat production and deposition, reducing satisfaction from what we eat and leading to weight gain and obesity.

Inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up too early, snoring and trouble breathing in sleep, all lead to this disaster.

One of many articles from the scientific literature is here for you to read.

Click here: The Link between Sleep and Obesity

Enjoy every moment, sleep well, live longer and healthier.

The Price of Being Smart & Sleep...

  A state of the mind called hyper-arousal is very common, particularly among smarter people. Smartness comes at a tradeoff. There is increased sensitivity to noise, smells, textures, emotions, and often an inability to loosen up, relax and let go. The last one is what often makes people miserable keeping them from getting adequate restful sleep. Sleep, which is required to do the body's housekeeping work. Imagine a house that has not been adequately cleaned, dishes not washed and laundry not done, week after week, month after month, and year after year. The treatment is in training your mind to do what does not come naturally to it.

 

Dr. Amer Khan-"Good Day Sacramento" Ch. 31: Caffeine, "Aero Shots" and Sleep...

Melissa Cabral at the local Sacramento CBS affiliate Channel 31 asked me this morning on the live morning show “Good Day Sacramento” about the new powdered form of caffeine called “Aero Shots”. As a society we are increasingly busy using our bodies and minds to their maximum efficiency and productivity, in the race to do better.

Recently we have learned to pay more attention to physical exercise and nutrition. However, we have not made the connection with the real key to emotional and physical health: Sleep. This has led to the energy drink culture. All kinds of shots, sprays, supplements and powders have flooded the market to provide us with much needed energy to keep working.

Why is it that we don’t have enough energy to be maximally productive? Are these products filled with some sort of nuclear or solar energy? Of course not. Caffeine, sugar and a variety of vitamins and some exotic chemicals are added together to relieve the effects of what is in reality a lack of adequate rest. Adequate rest is required, not optional, for the working of the human body. Rejuvenation, cleaning up, organizing and reorganizing, which is essentially housekeeping work for the body and mind, is performed during sleep. The science has been there for years.

Sehatu Sleep can help you sleep better.  Ask us how!

Sehatu Sleep Opens its doors to the public on June 1, 2012

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CA We will open our doors to the public on June 1, 2012.

Registration is now open for introductory sessions for Deep Relaxation Training. Timings and days are listed on our calendar and classes pages. Pre payment of $25 for the 2 hour session is required, valued at $50. Please contact us at info@sehatusleep.com, call us at 916-742-7718 or schedule online by going to our classes page.

Registration is now open for Yoga classes. Timings, types of yoga and instructors are listed in our calendar and classes pages. Please contact us at info@sehatusleep.com, call us at 916-742-7718 or schedule online by going to our classes page.