teens

On Sleep Cycle Problems Wrongly Termed Insomnia: What Can You Do?

Continuing from our previous discussion on how problems with the sleep cycle are wrongly termed insomnia, let's talk about what you can do to help yourself:

1. Recognize the problem:

Of course, you have to realize the nature of the sleep problem. "Delayed Sleep Phase" is the commonest disorder of sleep cycle. It commonly runs in families, and is very prevalent among teens, young adults, creative people and those with "active minds". Anxiety is often associated with delayed sleep phase, as well as a tendency to want to stay up at night, to accomplish tasks that are difficult to complete during the day. A frequent statement is that "my mind seems to wake up when it is time to sleep."

2. Do you really want to make it better?

Sounds like a silly question. But the point is that it is very difficult to make this problem better unless the person suffering from it is motivated to make it better. The good news is it can be completely better, without prescription medicines if you are willing to learn about how the body's sleep mechanisms work, how they get disturbed and how to return them to their natural function. Some people decide however that their tendency to be awake at night and asleep during the day works for them; musicians, performers and writers being some of them.

3. "Just tell me what to do?"

I will expand on the following next time but here are some of the things to do:

- Bright light exposure of 5,000 lux or more starting 30 minutes before your "natural" wake up time. (Usual indoor lighting is 100-200 lux).

- Do not take a daytime nap of over 30 minutes, and none in the last six hours before bedtime.

- Turn down the lighting one hour before intended sleep time. Turn off all sources of lighted electronic screens.

- Take melatonin 1.5 mg or less from a large reputable manufacturer, one hour before intended sleep time, BUT no earlier than ten hours of "natural" wake up time. No added ingredients are necessary.

- Eat a filling starchy snack 30 minutes before bed time; not fatty, not sugary food.

- Avoid all sugary or caffeinated drinks in the last six hours before intended bedtime.

Relax. You will reach your goal and you can do it. No one has invented any magic pill stronger than human will power.

More next time. Adios.

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CA

 

Deep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

 

 

 

I Know You Can't Sleep But Its Not Insomnia!

The word "insomnia" has become so ingrained in language and culture that even medical professionals have a difficult time telling the difference between what truly is insomnia and what is not. I have known many patients who came in to see me for insomnia that they have apparently had for many years, and treated often with multiple medications, but a short discussion later, they reveal the real problem.

The inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early leading to the effects of insufficient sleep is defined as insomnia, and for it to be a medical diagnosis as a health disorder it is usually required to be of sufficient duration of at least a month. An individual with insomnia is unable to get sufficient sleep no matter what. Of course the word sufficient means the amount of sleep required by a person's body in order to feel fully rested. That number can also considerably vary by individual ranging from five to ten hours per day for an adult.

Herein lies the issue: First, how much sleep do you think you need, and are you really unable to sleep that much? Second, really, given the opportunity, can you really not get the amount of sleep you truly need? The differentiation is vital because it leads to the type of treatment that is most likely to help.

Many people have been stuck in a bad sleep routine for so long they have no idea how much sleep they need in a day. Young parents and middle age workers being a prime example of busy lives and responsibilities, find a short amount of time late in the evening to be by themselves to unwind from the day. They end up going to sleep late, wake up tired the next day and struggle through the day. They don't have insomnia. Send them on a vacation and they do just fine. In the busyness of life they often lose sight of how much sleep is necessary for them to feel charged up and function at their best, leading to excessive caffeine use.

Young adults and teens often report they can not fall asleep at a reasonable time, but given the chance they will sleep in, sometimes all day, to obtain the full amount of restful sleep they need. They stay up late and have to wake up early, struggling to make it to classes, then sleep till very late on weekends. They don't have insomnia. Given the opprtunity they sleep well and enough.

Retirees most often end up sleeping in fragments. My own mother for example, an eighty year old, has forever complained of not being able to sleep well at night. She falls asleep around ten, to wake up at two, then sleeps from four till about six. She will wake up, eat breakfast, then nap for an hour, spend a few hours sitting around then nap again for a couple of hours. The fragmentation of sleep, which is common biologically in the elderly anyway, gives the impression as if they have insomnia but in fact they are getting the amount of sleep they need, but only in fragments.

By any means, my implication is not that these are not real problems of real people. My point is that to solve these problems the answer is not in a prescription of Ambien or trazodone. And the argument here is not that these are bad medicines, but that it is the wrong answer simply because it does not address the real problem.

We shall continue this discussion.

 

Sehatu Sleep Granite Bay CADeep Relaxation Training at Sehatu Sleep, designed with sleep medicine and psychology principles, empowers people by giving them skills to turn the mind switch on and off on command and to relax when needed. Classes can be attended via Skype.

Sehatu Sleep and Yoga Studio, located in Granite Bay, CA,  also provides a variety of Yoga classes, including Yin, Gentle and Restorative Yoga, as well as Meditation classes, for individuals who are interested in practicing a healthy lifestyle at any age, starting at any time in their life at any skill level. 

 

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!