Dr Akilah El – Celestial Healing Wellness Center

The Natural Health and Holistic World According to Dr Akilah El

Category Archives: Sleep

7 lifestyle behaviors that will help you sleep

Agoodsleep

Most adults suffer from sleep disorders at some point in their life. Sleeping problems are often the product of stress or depression. Other times, they are the result of something much simpler.You can fight insomnia by practicing good lifestyle habits. Getting into a good system will help you sleep soundly and be well rested to take on each day.

Make the room you sleep in a peaceful retreat.
If your bedroom is a place of distraction and chaos, it will be that much more difficult for you to fall asleep. Remove the alarm clock from sight — instead, put it under the bed or in a drawer. Adjust the room temperature for your comfort — for most people that’s between 65°F and 70°F — and make sure you have comfortable pillows and enough blankets. Hang blackout curtains or wear an eye mask if you are easily awakened by light.

Add white noise.
For many people, noise that is steady and not easily identifiable is easier to tune out than the sound of snoring, the rumble of traffic, or the musical stylings of the amateur trumpet player who lives next door. For others, total silence is disturbing. White-noise machines emit a steady whirring or purring sound, similar to the sound of wind rustling through leaves, which provides a welcome distraction for both these problems.

Practice good sleep habits.
Sleeping well is often about establishing the right habits. If your bed has become a place of tension from an extended bout of insomnia, then you have to work that much harder to associate bed with sleep again. First, get a different perspective by making the bedroom less familia — move the furniture around or buy a new set of bedding. Second, stick with a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up so your body will learn to associate certain times of day with a particular part of your sleep rhythm. Third, avoid using the bedroom for anything except sleeping and sex — no reading, no television, and definitely no eating. Finally, don’t let insomnia back into the bedroom. If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up, go to another room, and do something relaxing. Return to bed only when you feel sleepy again.

Wean yourself off naps.
People with insomnia often resort to afternoon naps to catch up on their missed sleep, but that’s a mistake. Napping encourages insomnia because you’ll be less likely to be tired at bedtime if you sleep during the day. It can become a counterproductive habit. Fight the urge; but if you must nap, don’t sleep for more than 20 minutes. After a day or two, your body will learn that the proper time for sleep is when you lie down in bed at the end of a day.

Make a to-do list.
People tend to lie awake in bed angst–ridden over all the things they need to get done. Before you go to bed each night, draft a list of everything you need to do for the next day. Getting it down on paper helps get it out of your mind.

Learn to relax.
You can’t run a crazy life and expect to just unplug your mind when you slip into bed. Sleep requires relaxation of mind and body. Try to take 30 minutes out at the end of each day to unwind: meditate, read, do yoga, take a hot shower or candlelit bath . . . anything that helps you put worries away for the next eight hours.

Exercise regularly, early in the day.
Some scientists believe that regular exercise may be the single best and safest method for improving sleep. Exercise has many wonderful effects on the body, all of which may contribute to better sleep. Exercise forces the body to work harder than usual, which means that we generally need more sleep to recuperate from the physical exertion. Exercise also increases the body’s production of endorphins and other hormones that lead to feelings of calm and well–being. However, time of day matters. Working out at night may energize you, ultimately keeping you awake. If you’re struggling with insomnia, limit vigorous exercise to the morning or afternoon. Calming routines like stretching or yoga poses are fine any time of day.

Here is a list of our links.

5 Ways To Clear Your Mind Before Bedtime

By Rob Dobrenski, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

People often assume that bad sleep simply means feeling fatigued the next day. The reality is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg: mood, concentration, work performance, and even learning are all impacted. In short, sleep is the cornerstone of mental health. And while a prescription for Ambien certainly has its place – I took sleep agents myself in graduate school – it is always desirable to implement as many natural strategies as possible when sleep is poor.

Consider these as potential “mind clearing” ideas before you hit the sheets.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This type of breathing, also known as Belly Breathing, helps to slow your heart rate and induce relaxation. I discussed how to do it before but below is a quick summary:

Lie on your back. Slowly push your stomach outward as you take in air through your nose. Try to keep your chest flat as you picture the incoming air flowing through your body. Slowly count to four as your belly rises and gently push out the air through your mouth as your stomach comes to rest. Note and enjoy this feeling. Repeat for one minute.

While you are doing this, try to visualize your heart rate lowering, the muscles relaxing, your body appreciating the rest it’s receiving. Too often our cognitions revolve around “How much sleep will I get?  Will it be enough?  How much longer before I have to wake up?”  Instead, try to focus on what your body is doing as it begins its recovery from a day of activity.

Create Your To Do List Before Bed

Many people with hectic schedules climb into bed and immediately begin to ruminate on what they need to do tomorrow.  Instead of creating mental checklists under the covers, take ten minutes before you go to bed to write down what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. The keyboard strokes or the pen-on-paper effect can help to clear your mind.

Build Your Worry List

A hallmark symptom of worry is poor sleep. Pair that with a busy schedule and the mind is racing around what is wrong with life and how to get things done. Jot down your worries before bed. Even if there are not solutions at your immediate disposal, this can help. I would recommend doing this an hour or so before bedtime, just in case there is a spike in anxiety as you notice the many things that are troublesome. The trick here, again, is to write it down, and add the following at the end:

I will deal with this tomorrow, during the day. Now is time to prepare for sleep.

You’ll be surprised how, with practice, you can train your mind to temporarily shut down troublesome thoughts.

Mindfulness

This is a very hot topic in psychology right now. Research continues to emerge on the benefits of mindfulness in treating anxiety, panic, and other conditions that impact sleep. There are countless books and internet pages dedicated to mindfulness. I personally recommend “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” by Thich Nath Hanh.

Remember What is Currently Working for You

I mentioned this idea before but it bears repeating: poor sleep leads to frustration which, in turn, pushes us to hyperfocus on what is unsatisfactory in our lives. A list of positives in life can help us keep our thinking balanced. Balanced thinking has a powerful calming effect, which is always useful at lights out.

www.healingpowerhour.com

How Lack of Sleep Makes You Gain Weight

You stayed up too late last night, so you grab a latte on your way into work. When you feel yourself slump at 3 p.m., you raid the vending machine. You’re so tired at the end of the day, you can barely get home for dinner, let alone make a trip to the gym.

Sound familiar? Many sleep-deprived people drag themselves through the day, skipping physical activity and relying on sugary pick-me-ups. But these habits don’t fight off sleepiness for long. And even worse? Over time, they can contribute to weight gain or, at the very least, sabotage your efforts to lose those last few pounds.

Lack of sleep changes your appetite
“We have very substantial research that shows if you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie dense foods,” says Charles Samuels, MD, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary, Alberta. “On a simplistic level, your appetite changes.”

Two hormones in your body play an important role in controlling appetite and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to eat; leptin suppresses appetite—so you’ll stop eating—and stimulates energy expenditure. In a properly functioning brain, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. But research has shown that sleep deprivation can alter ghrelin and leptin levels.

“When sleep is restricted to four hours a night, ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down,” says National Sleep Foundation spokesperson William Orr, PhD, president and CEO of the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City. “So you have a greater amount of appetite and a greater amount of intake.”

Belly fat raises your diabetes risk
If you’re chronically sleep-deprived and consume more high-calorie foods, it’s likely those calories will be deposited around your middle, forming fat deposits that are especially dangerous for raising your risk of type II diabetes. “It’s known as visceral fat deposition,” says Dr. Samuels. “Sleep-deprived individuals’ ability to respond to a glucose load and release insulin is altered.”

In one oft-cited study, he adds, healthy people whose sleep was restricted for six nights showed impaired glucose tolerance, which is a prediabetic condition. When they then got enough sleep, about nine hours a night over the next six nights, their glucose responses returned to normal.

There’s not enough evidence to claim that lack of sleep could cause diabetes, but research has found a connection between the two. At the very least, getting enough sleep can help regulate energy levels—eliminating the need to rely on sugar or carbs for a boost—whether you have diabetes or not.

If you sleep less, you may weigh more
Countering an occasional sleepless night with chocolate the next day won’t set you back too far, but research suggests you may gain weight if sleep deprivation and overeating become routine. “Individuals who are obese tend to sleep less,” says Orr. “There’s been a marked increase in obesity over the last 10 years, and over the last 50 years, there’s been a marked reduction in average sleep time for the average American—which suggests a link between sleep, appetite regulation, and obesity.”

The trouble doesn’t necessarily end if you watch what you eat. Cheat sleep and you may have more trouble losing weight, even if you have a healthy diet. If two women are the same age and weight, both eating healthy meals and walking five hours a week, but one isn’t losing weight, “the first thing we’d ask is if she’s getting enough sleep,” says Dr. Samuels. “With weight control, we look at physical activity, movement, food intake, and recovery, and you have to focus on sleep and where it fits into this context. The fundamental foundation of recovery is sleep.”

Kids and teens also may have problems if they skimp on sleep. Studies have shown that short sleep time in children and adolescents is associated with being overweight. One recent study also suggests a possible link between decreased REM sleep and an increased risk of being overweight.

To fight sleep-deprivation-related weight gain and help make weight loss easier, try the following:

  • Rest. “Get the sleep you need, end of story,” says Dr. Samuels. “People always want some magic answer beyond that, but you’ve got to get your sleep. My biggest issue is people who wake up at 4 to go to the gym. People should focus on sleep first, to get to their goal from the weight perspective.”
  • Work out early in the day. “Exercise can aid sleep, but not right before bedtime,” says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Jim White, RD, an American College of Sports Medicine–certified fitness instructor in Virginia Beach, Va. After working out, “adrenaline hormones and body temperature are up, which can keep you from falling asleep,” he says.
  • Eat right. “Protein is a critical factor for alertness, but people eat carbs when they’re tired,” says Dr. Samuels. “Instead, eat a handful of unsalted mixed nuts.” Whole grains with fiber are also good, says White. “Sugary foods will give you an instant energy buzz for 30 to 45 minutes, but you’ll see a big crash after that; whole grains will fuel you for a longer time.”
  • Avoid alcohol. Even if you think it relaxes you, don’t turn to alcohol to calm down in the evening. “People don’t realize that alcohol has nearly the same amount of calories per gram as fat,” says Dr. Samuels. “When men stop drinking, boy, do they lose weight fast.” Additionally, drinking alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt sleep: You may fall asleep more quickly after a few drinks, but you’ll likely wake up more frequently during the night, and research indicates you’ll get less REM sleep during the first half of the night.

www.healingpowerhour.com

How To Prevent Jet Lag Naturally

Looking for a jet lag cure? Here are some of the best natural remedies you can use to prevent jet lag.

I travel overseas quite a bit and I know what it’s like to suffer from jet lag. The crazy sleeping schedules, hitting a brick wall in the middle of the day and feeling like you just can’t go on. I’ve experienced it a lot.

That’s why I started looking for jet lag cures. The best remedies for jet lag involve doing something to prevent it during the trip. Here are some natural remedies I use and one I’ve never used that I hear works great.

Fasting

Harvard Medical School researchers have found that there are two biological clocks in mice. One works according to light. The second works according to meal times. When you travel long distances in a plane the light clock gets all messed up, but when you’re quite hungry the meal time clock can override the light clock.

Fasting for 16 hours is enough to override your light clock. If you fast until the end of your trip and eat your first meal when you arrive at your destination at a normal meal time, your body will adjust to the new time much faster. Considering how bad airplane food is you won’t be missing much by fasting.

Drink Water

Dehydration makes jet lag worse. Planes are dry and I find that they don’t really give you enough to drink on the plane. Staying hydrated will help you feel better once you land. Drinking water will hydrate you much more effectively than drinking sodas or juice. Everytime that drink cart comes around get some water. Ask for more water between drink times. Your neighbor may not like you getting crawling over their lap for the toilet all the time, but you’ll feel much better when you land.

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

During your trip keep the same sleeping and wake schedule as your destination. If you’ll land in the evening, don’t sleep on the plane. If you land in the morning be sure to sleep during the flight.

The first day at your destination, you’ll likely be tired. Try your best not to nap. If you do nap don’t nap any longer than 30 minutes. Stay up until a reasonable time at night so that when you do sleep you’ll be able to sleep through the whole night. Trying your best to keep a sleeping schedule that matches your destination will help you overcome your jet lag more quickly.

Exercise

Once you arrive at your destination exercise in the mornings, preferably outside in the sun. Exercise will help get your body going for the day and increase your energy.

Sunlight

Exposure to sunlight also helps reset your body clock. Try to spend a lot of time outside in the sun on your first day at your destination.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a well known jet lag cure. This chemical is naturally produced by your brain to make you sleepy. Traveling over time zones throws your melatonin production out of whack. You can purchase melatonin in a pill form from most health food stores. I’ve never tried this jet lag cure, but I hear it works wonderfully. Once you get to your destination take melatonin for half the number of nights as time zones you crossed. If you crosed 4 time zones you’d take melatonin for 2 nights. You should take the lowest dose possible–1 mg or even less. The melatonin works in about 30 minutes to put you to sleep. Take the melatonin at night and stay awake all day and you should be able to get rid your jet leg in no time.

What to Avoid

Don’t drink alcohol on your flight. Alcoholic beverages dehydrate you even more and could make your jet lag worse.

Avoid caffeine and sugar. Both give you temporary energy followed by a crash. This doesn’t help your body’s clock to adjust one bit. Using these substances to give you energy when you’re tired will only prolong your jet lag.

Some people take sleep pills on flights to help avoid jet lag. This can be dangerous because sleeping pills cause your body to go into an unnatural state where you sleep with very little movement. Moving around while you sleep is very important on a flight because not moving your legs can cause deadly blood clots to form in them. Sleeping pills also dehydrate you.

Standing hydrated, keep a normal sleep schedule, and eating right are your best bet.

 

 

Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

Effective Eating Tips to Prevent Fatigue

In today’s fast-paced world many of us suffer from fatigue. Fatigue from being over-extended between family, work and children responsibilities. Fatigue from lack of rest, poor diet and poor sleeping habits. And fatigue from just being too tired.

People can look to healthy eating to prevent fatigue because we really are what we eat. Our bodies use the nutrition we provide it to build cells and produce energy. If the nutrition is a twinkie and a soda then the energy we produce will be substandard.

If you are searching for healthy eating to prevent fatigue then you must avoid the foods that give you an initial boost of energy but then leave you flat on your face. These foods include most that are high in sugar such as cookies, candy, soda, fruit drinks, and other foods with caffeine such as chocolate and coffee. These are an effective short-term solution to a long-term problem. Work on getting rid of them slowly so you will have a better feeling for your more natural energy.

There are other foods that cause an immediate problem instead of a boost and then fall in your energy levels. These foods include carbohydrates that will cause you to be drowsy because of the altered level of serotonin in your brain. They may be good before bedtime snacks but not to treat the mid-day slump.

Healthy Eating Habits Help Prevent Disease

If you are searching for healthy eating habits to prevent fatigue then you must avoid the foods that give you an initial boost of energy but then leave you flat on your face.

These foods include most that are high in sugar such as cookies, candy, soda, fruit drinks, and other foods with caffeine such as chocolate and coffee.

These are an effective short-term solution to a long-term problem. Work on getting rid of them slowly so you will have a better feeling for your more natural energy. There are other foods that cause an immediate problem instead of a boost and then fall in your energy levels.

These foods include carbohydrates that will cause you to be drowsy because of the altered level of serotonin in your brain. They may be good before bedtime snacks but not to treat the mid-day slump.

Positive Action to Prevent Causes of Fatigue

Now let’s focus on what you should do instead of what you shouldn’t do to prevent fatigue.

One trick to help prevent the afternoon nap is to eat pure protein at lunch.

Protein will be broken down in digestion into amino-acid building blocks that increase the production of chemicals, which will increase your level of alertness and energy.

For instance your lunch might be broiled fish and a few vegetables or a hard boiled egg and tuna.

You can include a few carbohydrates later in the day when you are past the 2-4 o’clock slump in the mid-afternoon.

Quality Nutritional Supplements Help Reduce Fatigue

Healthy eating also includes getting enough of the necessary vitamins and minerals that support your body’s function. One of those is iron.

Many women don’t get enough iron and loose it each month with their period. Unless it’s replaced you can suffer from iron deficiency anemia, which leads to chronic fatigue.

You should also get as many fruits and vegetables as possible. The USDA recommends we eat 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Most people don’t come anywhere close.

Many people swear by a natural herb boost each day. In the mid-afternoon a tea from ginseng and ginkgo biloba may be just what you need.

Lack of exercise is also one of the causes of fatigue.

It may seem counter-intuitive but exercise will actually increase the amount of energy you have each day.

Getting 30 minutes of exercise during lunchtime will help to boost your metabolism and keep your engines running for the afternoon.

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Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter

For More Health Tips Like This Check Out Our Health Tips Page

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