Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ways to sleep better….

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 12-17-2013 

There are a handful of people who have the genetics to get healthful and restorative sleep in 3 to 4 hours a night.

But for everyone else, the health statistics for people who get less than 6 hours a night of sleep or more than about 8 and a half hours a night are NOT good.

Today, for people who are interested in things or have goals they are committed to or both, it can be really hard to get much more than 6 hours a night.

But restful sleep is critical for good health, enjoying life, having a good mood, having enough energy, being productive at your work and other commitments, and staying an ideal level of fat on your body!

So if you do have a life that leaves you closer to 6 hours a night for sleep than 8 as most of us do or you want the things restful sleep can give you, getting good quality sleep is really important.

Even the famous super-short sleepers need good quality sleep!

Restful sleep of enough duration increases your release of growth hormones and neurotransmitters.  Your body stays in better repair, your brain stays at full strength, and you feel a LOT better.

And recent studies found there is even more to restful sleep.  Your brain becomes a bit denser leaving channels between the parts and the fluids that then circulate in those opened up channels carry off waste products.

That process helps prevent mental decline of all kinds. 

And you feel refreshed after sleeping and more energetic because your brain is literally clean and refreshed!

So, what can you do to sleep better?

There are something like 24 things that each work and you may need some more than others.

But here are a few of the more effective ones:

A.  One of the most effective has the most and most important other benefits.

Get some form of vigorous exercise early in your day.

People who do get MUCH better quality of sleep. 

By itself it may have as much as half the effect of the whole list for most people.

I think it’s because the exercise starts all the processes you want to go on when you sleep. 

It releases overall growth hormones; it releases the special growth hormone, BDNF that creates new nerve and brain cells. 

It keeps your blood sugars lower and increases your circulation to all parts of your body.  That ensures your brain has those and the circulation you need for you to get restorative sleep. 

It lowers your perceived stress level and increases your feeling of competence and control.  So you feel safer and have less to distract you from falling asleep.

It makes you physically tired and causes your body to ask for a rest to rebuild the cells it stresses, so you have much less of a problem falling asleep.

It works best for sleep when done early in the day.  AND, people who exercise early enough in the day to do it BEFORE the demands of the day, ideally at home, find it enormously easier to do reliably every week and keep doing it.  (I do that 7 days a week.)

You can do such exercises later in the day.  And, in fact for strength training, you may be a bit stronger at 4 to 6 PM than at 4 to 7 AM. (Recently I have been doing a half hour superslow strength training session from 6 to 6:30 PM.)

But you want to have such sessions end by about 3 hours before you go to bed.  That way your body is in recovery mode with your heart rate back to normal well before you go to bed.

(Any kind of vigorous exercise will work – even a few minutes of very brisk walking. 

But I’ve found a hard effort at superslow strength training works best.  The muscles you exercise get extra blood flow into them and act like a warm internal pillow when you go to bed!)

B.  If you have sleep apnea it will prevent restful sleep and disrupt it badly when it happens. 

This is so true, people with sleep apnea can fall asleep at work or while driving which ranges from not good to fatal!

(If you aren’t really over-fat; do not have any daytime sleepiness; do seem to get restful sleep often; and have no issues with snoring or BAD snoring that you know of and have no higher levels of high blood pressure, you likely do NOT have it. You can skip this section and go to the next one.

BUT if you have those things or know you have sleep apnea, it will trash your ability to get restorative, restful sleep.  And both your sleep quality and your health will be MUCH better if you turn sleep apnea off!)

There are four ways to turn it off.

1.  The brute force method works but is more than a bit nasty.  It consists of a breathing mask and an air pump to ensure that you have continuous air pressure so you have it basically breathe for you.

“CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open.”
It’s a bit noisy and you are connected to it and it doesn’t travel well and every time you get up to visit the bathroom you have to remove it and put it back on.

It does work great though and people with bad apnea find they get MUCH more restful sleep.

The causes of sleep apnea though have 3 other ways to solve the problem without the CPAP.

If you have a nose or throat issue that prevents breathing or your body doesn’t fire the nerves to your breathing muscles effectively, it overrides it.

Those can be fixed without the CPAP and doing so removes sleep apnea by removing its causes!

2.  Much of the sleep apnea is caused by having your tongue or throat tissue combine to stop the air.  In mild cases, simply sleeping on your side can turn this down enough. 

But in more severe cases, there is now a way to stop it without the CPAP machine. 

An in office procedure you can go back to work from almost called the Pillar Procedure puts a low invasive plastic insert that keeps your throat from closing that much.  This works right now even if you are obese which tends to cause the problem.

And, if you are more than 50 pounds over-fat, losing most of it and all of it over 50 pounds is also a big help. We now know how to do that while the solutions before have not worked reliably.

3.  Most people breathe through their nose and even if they have their throat open, there are problems some people have that cause enough of a nose blockage to cause sleep apnea.  These problems can also be fixed!

Note that if you have sleep apnea or BAD snoring, there IS a specialty medical practice that does the Pillar procedure and also can fix the nose problems.  They check first to see if you have each one and then fix what you have.:

EOS Sleep Center - EOSsleep.com
1 (877) 372 1033
For The Treatment of Snoring & Sleep Apnea.

And, if you have something else you think is apnea but is NOT, they can diagnose that too. 

I referred someone there who had issues caused by acid reflux NOT apnea.  They nailed it.  His regular doctor then gave him a reflux drug prescription and his problem was gone AND his sleep quality went way up!

So I think well of this medical group!

4.  Part of sleep apnea is a deficient nerve and muscular response to your control nerves caused by nerve damage and weak mitochondria in those cells. Instead of overriding the problem easily, they don’t fire off or the response is too weak.

With only mild obstructions, people without that part breathe OK anyway.  And that too can be fixed in most people.

What’s the most effective cure for this?

a)Do vigorous exercise if only for a few minutes at a time most days of every week!

b) Add to that, do NOT taking statin drugs.   They deplete CoQ10 that keeps the mitochondria in your cells healthy AND statins quite often harm your muscles if you do vigorous exercise if only for a few minutes at a time most days of every week.

Instead, eat right and take sterols and niacin and learn how to eat to prevent high triglycerides and inflammation and do it.

c) Take 100 to 300 mg a day of the much more bioavailable form of CoQ10, ubiquinol which keeps your mitochondria healthy and firing off the energy your cells—both nerves and muscles that your cells need.  Ubiquinol acts much like supplying fuel to an engine.

d)  Take the new supplement PQQ.  Kiwifruit has some and is higher in it than most foods.  PQQ restores damaged mitochondria and apparently also helps your body grow new ones.  PQQ acts more like rebuilding your engine to like new condition or getting a bigger engine or adding a turbo charger to the one you have!

C.  Set up your bedroom to make restful sleep easy and fix issues that prevent it.

1.  Keep it dark! 

Do NOT have TV in your bedroom at all!  And stop watching it an hour before you go to bed or don’t watch it much at all unless there is something special or a critically important news event on it.

If you have a computer, make sure you stop using it or stop using it without wearing blue blocker glasses at least an hour before you go to bed. 

To the maximum extent you can, have NO small sources of light at all in your bedroom.

Get blackout curtains so no outside light enters at all.  (I still remember one winter night when a storm knocked out the power to our whole neighborhood how it went from very low background light to totally black outside & the huge difference it made.  For best sleeping and more natural melatonin release, keep it that dark.  There is evidence this kind of natural melatonin release is itself restorative to your brain and helps prevent cancers too!)

You can take from half a mg to 3 mg of melatonin just before bed too.  But keeping your bedroom that dark makes that more effective and your sleep more restful by itself.

2.  Keep your bedroom quiet!

This will make it easier to fall asleep and improve your sleep quality. 

And, if you can avoid sudden loud noises at night be sure to do it.  Research found that people who have that often quickly begin to sleep through such noises. BUT, it does still disturb sleep and cut sleep quality even if you sleep through it.

a) Try to live in a quiet area if you can and have your bedroom have good sound insulation on top of that.

b)  There is now a high tech solution you can use also with anti-noise devices that detect noise real time and generate a reverse wave form of sound to muffle it down to almost zero.

c)  I use a much more low tech solution.  I sleep on my side with two pillows and sandwich my head between them and through my higher arm over the top one to create a light and sound muffler. 

This works pretty well.  When our alarm goes off early I often never hear it and my wife who does jostles me until I get up and turn it off. 

C.  Other effective methods to help you sleep better: 

1.  Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks over 300 to 400 mg a day; and stop drinking any by 3 to 6 hours before you go to bed.

More than 300 to 400 mg of caffeine adds little mental performance over that much or a bit less.  What the amount over that DOES do is to keep you from getting restful sleep so you then need extra the next day to wake up from not sleeping well.

Why take the time and spend the money when it messes up your sleep and doesn’t net out an added alertness benefit?

(I’ve found that since I like a lot of caffeinated drinks that a bit of coffee and several cups of tea and green tea help me to achieve that balance.)

The next group of things is my adaptation of a list from Dr Russell Blaylock that I got in his email yesterday:  (Those I included above I deleted or included where he has extra info.) (I also added my comments on each point like this.)

From Dr Russell Blaylock  12-16-2013

(IMPORTANT point on WHY to boost your sleep quality:  )

“The lack of sleep can sharply influence your quality of life as well as raise your risk of everything from automobile accidents to obesity and heart attacks.”

2.  (Do NOT, repeat NOT, take drugs to help you sleep.)

“The problem with sleep-inducing drugs is that they rarely produce restful sleep, and they often plague users with a number of complications and side effects, including next-day drowsiness, sleepwalking, and confusion.” 

(They have caused death and crimes in people who are sleep walking and can REDUCE your productivity and ability to manage your life the following day. 

Worse, people who take these drugs something like triple their risk of cancers and dying over people who don' take them and do this within the first year or two!)

“Below are steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you will enjoy a good night's sleep without the use of drugs. “

“• Always try to go to bed at least by midnight.  Staying up late resets the biological clock and can disrupt sleep patterns.”
(Getting home well before 10 pm also helps you avoid drunk drivers and GET home.  On holidays & week-ends it also helps to get to bed no later than two hours after you normally go to bed during the week.)

(It also helps to get up at exactly the same time each weekday and go to be as close to the same time each night and at least 6 hours before you get up.)

“• Keep the room slightly cool.  Benjamin Franklin suggested a cool pillow to induce sleep.”

(Ideal is 60 degrees in winter to less than or = 69 degrees in summer plus wearing slightly warmer clothes such as sweat clothes and a light to heavier blanket helps.  Turn down the heat to 60 at night in cold weather and use air conditioning to keep the temperature below 70 degrees in summer if you can.  If not, have a fan running to help cool you that causes air to flow over you.)

“• Make sure the room is dark.  Avoid nightlights, brightly lit phone dials and clocks.”  (This one we already covered and it IS very important.)

“• Try playing soothing music on a low volume at bedtime. “  (This works best for soothing music YOU personally like!)

“• Avoid reading or watching television at least one hour before bedtime.  Allow yourself time to wind down.”  (This is very important for TV. Reading is a bit more forgiving because usually if you overdo it you fall asleep while reading!)

“• Some people will become hypoglycemic during the night, and this will wake them up. 

Avoid sugar and sweet foods in the evening. Try eating a piece of turkey by itself (no bread) before bedtime. Turkey is high in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain uses to generate the sleep neurotransmitter serotonin.”

“• Avoid caffeine, smoking and all foods containing excitotoxins.” 

(MSG is fattening and harmful and is also an “excitotoxin.”   Caffeine is OK until a few hours before bedtime.  MSG and smoking are best deleted ALL the time!)

“• Exercise earlier in the day.  Exercise lowers inflammatory cytokines. Exercising late in the day revs up the metabolism and this can keep you awake. Do not exercise after 7:00 PM.”

(Here is his list of helpful supplementsJ

“• Before retiring for the night, take the following:

1) One gram of buffered vitamin C (magnesium or calcium ascorbate). This helps induce sleep.

2) Magnesium citrate (120 mg.) at bedtime. It is a natural relaxant and calmative. (The magnesium is good for you and most people who don’t take it as a supplement are deficient.)
3) Melatonin. Start at 1 mg. 30 minutes before bedtime. Increase as necessary. It will induce dreaming.

Other natural sleep aids:

• Calming teas.  Chamomile, valerian root, passionflower and catnip all calm and sooth the nerves. “

(The teas have not worked for me.  But if try them they might work for you.)

(Valerian is a special case.  The sedative ingredient works great and is strong.  But that exact ingredient stinks! 

So, only take it if you are under great stress and need your rest or just aren’t getting to sleep for some reason and need your rest. 

Take a capsule with enough Valerian to do the job. 

AND keep the container inside a larger one with a lid that can seal in the smell when you aren’t using it.

I have some.  But so far I’ve not needed it as I’ve avoided the stresses I got it for so far.  And it IS in that extra container!)

“• Flavonoids. Many flavonoids are anxiolytic, meaning they calm anxiety.

The most useful are hesperidin and quercetin. Take 250 to 500 mg. of hesperidin and 250 mg. of quercetin one hour before bedtime.

They also reduce inflammation.”

(Grape seed extract, bilberry extract, resveratrol, organic blueberries, and red wine are all also high in flavonoids.  I ingest all those. 

But I find red wine best for sleep at one or two drinks.  This lower amount is best for health and much more than two glasses causes me to wake up half way through the night and be wide awake when my liver finishes detoxing the extra alcohol.)

(Cutting inflammation by NOT eating oils or foods high in omega 6 oils and taking curcumin and using turmeric containing curries and ginger and taking omega 3 oils helps prevent mild aches and pains from existing or disrupting your sleep if present.  Cutting excessive chronic inflammation in these ways also prevents heart disease, mental decline, and cancers!)

“• Omega-3s. Take your fish oils one hour before bedtime. (One teaspoon to one tablespoon.) The omega-3 fatty acids suppress the cytokines that disturb sleep.”

(I take my omega 3 oils and DHA earlier in the day.  But I take enough that it likely is still working when I go to bed.  And some days I eat wild caught salmon for dinner.)

Two other supplements that help you sleep are extra vitamin B1, thiamine; and taking the chewable or under the tongue forms of the methyl version of B12. 

The B12 also gives you extra energy during the day and helps prevent nerve problems and mental decline.  

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