Sleep Hygiene: Checklist for Good Sleep – You Can Sleep Like a Baby!

Sleep Hygiene: Checklist for Good Sleep – You Can Sleep Like a Baby!Most adults need between 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night. This varies from person to person, of course, but it’s a good number to shoot for: let’s call it The Solid Seven.  It’s backed up by research—but you probably know from personal experience the truth of it. When you go consecutive days without a Solid Seven, things tend to go downhill.

Here’s a collection of actions you can take to get the sleep you—and your hormones—need:

General Tips

  • Change the way you think of your bedroom: in your mind, call it the sleeproom. If it helps to call it that when you talk about it, then do that, too. Your family might think you’re silly when you say things like “I left my wallet in the sleeproom,” but then again, it might be fun.
  • Use the sleeproom for sleeping only—and intimacy, of course. Do things like reading, watching TV, working, or playing games in other rooms.
  • At risk of repeating ourselves: avoid reading, writing, working, watching TV, surfing the web on your laptop or tablet, playing games, or talking on the phone while you’re in the sleeproom.
  • Keep the sleeproom quiet and cool. Turn down the heat and keep an extra blanket on hand if you know you’re a cold sleeper.
  • Keep the sleeproom as dark as possible. This will stimulate the release of melatonin so you’re mind tells your body it’s time to sleep. Use blackout shades to keep out ambient light from streetlights, your neighbors outdoor security lights, or light from signage if you live in a big city.
  • Make your bed comfortable. If you sleep with a partner and a queen size bed is not large enough for the two of you, consider investing in a king-sized bed.

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In our last blog post, we examined how lack of sleep can negatively impact the body. While the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person, the general guideline for adults is seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. We emphasize quality because many people are in bed for the requisite number of hours but don’t wake up rested and recharged. If you put yourself in this category you’re in good company. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates about 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART TWO OF TWO)disorders each year. Let’s explore some of the most common disorders:


Nearly everyone has trouble getting to sleep now and then. Insomnia, however, is when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep night after night, often for months at a time. Acute insomnia is short term and commonly caused by stress, which increases cortisol levels in the body. Chronic insomnia lasts for at least three months and can be triggered by a variety of factors, including shift work, certain medications, environmental changes and hormone imbalances. Because insomnia has so many causes, treating it is a bit of a moving target. Talking with your doctor is the best way to create a tailored, effective care plan.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances

The brain is made up of two types of neurotransmitter chemicals; excitatory, which stimulate brain activity, and inhibitory, which calm the brain. When these chemicals are out of balance they can have a significant, negative impact on a person’s sleep patterns. Fortunately, a simple urine test can determine the best course of action to bring neurotransmitters back into balance. Treatments often take time to be fully realized but a good night’s sleep is well worth the effort.

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SLEEP YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH (PART ONE OF TWO)In our 24/7 society, there is pressure from all sides to forsake sleep in favor of other pursuits. The work project that keeps you at the office late. The DVR that makes it so easy to binge watch until the wee hours. And if you have small children at home, sleep is likely the first thing to go as you settle into your new normal.

Sleep deprivation has become so prevalent in the United States that last year the Centers for Disease Control declared it a public health problem. Proclamations like that usually get people’s attention, so why do we have such a hard time taking sleep seriously? Instead of making a good night’s sleep a habit and a priority, we reach for an energy drink or pour another cup of coffee and pat ourselves on the back for powering through another day. And another one. The cycle is hard to break, but not doing so takes a significant toll in a shockingly short period of time. Here’s what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep.

Our immune system is weakened.

The body is an amazing machine, particularly the immune system, which fights toxins and bacteria on a pretty predictable 24-hour cycle. Melatonin, prolactin and growth hormones work together in overtime at night to repair muscles, fight antigens and maintain a healthy level of inflammation that controls bacteria in the body. But when sleep is in short supply so is cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone. The result? A body that is in an inflammatory state and, by extension, a compromised immune system that can’t effectively combat infections and disease.

We gain weight.

When our bodies are in balance our cells draw in glucose and convert it into energy that keeps us going throughout the day. But just one week of sleep deprivation can disturb that delicate balance and cause glucose to be stored as fat instead, setting in motion a chain reaction. The body isn’t processing glucose efficiently because it’s sleep deprived, which makes you tired and hungry, which makes you reach for unhealthy foods, which puts more glucose into a body that is already having a hard time processing it as it should. The hormones leptin and ghrelin also come into play here. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone normally secreted in high levels at night. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is an appetite-stimulating hormone that is produced in lower levels at night. In sleep deprived bodies, leptin levels go down and ghrelin levels go up, creating a perfect storm for overeating and weight gain.

Our heart health is compromised.

The heart is the body’s hardest working muscle and it gets much-needed rest while you sleep. While it obviously continues to pump throughout the night, it does so at a lower rate which has the added benefit of lowering your blood pressure. Lack of sleep means your heart doesn’t have a chance to recover from the day’s activities, and that can lead to high blood pressure. Skimping on sleep also increases levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an unhealthy protein physicians measure to determine stress as well as one’s risk for heart disease. CRP also indicates inflammation in the body and, as we’ve already learned, inflammation makes it harder to ward off chronic health problems including cardiovascular disease.

Our cognitive abilities are reduced.

Did you know that going without sleep for 24 hours impairs brain function in the same way as having a blood alcohol level of .10? That sobering fact (no pun intended) plays out in ways that impact job performance, physical activity, even our safety. The “fog” many people describe feeling after a poor night’s sleep is the brain’s prefrontal cortex struggling to focus and concentrate. When you can’t focus, your judgment, memory and ability to reason are all compromised. Our sleep deprived society is also the cause of an alarming increase in car accidents. One study revealed that sleepy drivers are more willing to take risks behind the wheel than their well-rested counterparts. Combine that with a diminished response time and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation is a safety concern.

It’s easy to see the snowball effect a lack of sleep has on virtually every aspect of one’s health and well-being. The challenge is finding a way to remedy the problem. In the second half of this blog series we’ll examine specific sleep disruptors and explore proven techniques to help you get the sleep you need so you can live the life you want.

Antioxidants for Health

Antioxidants for HealthAntioxidants are molecules that inhibit the chemical reactions of other molecules that produce free radicals which often leads to chain reactions that may damage cell health.

This chemical reaction known as oxidation can be damaging to your body’s natural and complex systems, and are linked to a number of human diseases and degenerative disorders (as well as aging).

Because of their proactive role in preventing the degeneration and damage of the cells in our bodies, antioxidants are an important dietary supplement – and may be a powerful weapon against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. They are also effective against certain conditions causing chronic pain and soreness!

So-called “super foods” such as blueberries, beans, and cranberries are naturally high in antioxidants; however, it’s important to have a full complement of antioxidants to achieve their fullest effect. Proper supplements are one way of ensuring that your body is receiving the maximum benefit from these important molecules.

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Avoid These Common Drinks If You Have High Blood Pressure

Avoid These Common Drinks If You Have High Blood Pressure

According to the American Heart Association, 1 out of every 3 adults in the United States has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Furthermore, the AHA also notes that hypertension “was listed as a primary or contributing cause of death in about 348,102 of the more than 2.4 million U.S. deaths in 2009.”

These numbers are high, and more than likely, high blood pressure affects you or someone you know. It’s a serious health condition, but it’s one that can often be alleviated naturally.

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension – or pre-hypertension – perhaps you’ve taken steps to lower your blood pressure by exercising, losing weight, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Or, if you’re taking medication to treat the problem, you may worry that you’ll have to take that medication for the rest of your life just to keep your numbers down.

Ironically, even if you’ve made several positive changes to lower your blood pressure, you may be consuming drinks that cause your blood pressure to rise. The simple solution is to avoid them or – at least – minimize your consumption of them. Here are three drinks you’ll want to avoid if you are battling high blood pressure.

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New Considerations for Managing those Relentless Chronic Symptoms

New Considerations for Managing those Relentless Chronic SymptomsIf you suffer from a chronic, unresolved symptom and are taking prescription medication prescribed to you by your doctor, chances are you might be experiencing some temporary relief. But don’t assume that the cause of the symptom itself has been identified and eliminated. The reality is that medications only temporarily mask the symptoms but rarely address the reason that the symptoms exist in the first place. This is how the pharmaceutical industry continues to keep you on its drugs.

The key to eliminating the symptom is to identify the cause and remove it. So while your doctor may be telling you the truth about your condition –such as chronic pain, diabetes, acid reflux, inflammation, high blood pressure, weight control, etc.– he or she may not have gone far enough below the surface in their evaluation of you to identify the source – the root cause – of the symptoms themselves.

It’s not your doctor’s fault

Conventional medicine only trains doctors to identify a disease once it’s already developed and then render a diagnosis, not to seek the actual cause of the symptoms. The result is that doctors frequently ‘miss the mark’ because they are either looking at the wrong things or are looking at the things they are trained to look at in the wrong way. So, unless your doctor takes the initiative to explore the relationship of your symptoms—any symptoms—to disease or aging, he or she is limited to what they have been taught. And the way they have been taught is to do X procedure or administer X drug when you complain of X symptom. It’s really not his or her fault. That’s just what they’ve been taught.

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Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

Sea Salt vs. Table SaltShould you use sea salt or table salt? This has been the subject of debate for years. While it’s often a matter of personal preference, we recommend sea salt. Here’s why.

Sodium Levels: Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

Regardless of the choice you make, sea salt and table salt are comprised of the minerals sodium and chloride. However, if you look beyond this similarity, there are some distinct differences between the two.

With all the harsh warnings regarding consuming too much salt, you may think that sodium is bad for you. This is simply not true. Too much sodium is bad for you.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans ingest twice as much their daily recommended sodium requirement. Adults need 1,500 mg. per day to maintain good health. Canned goods and restaurant foods are the big sodium culprits, adding unhealthy levels of sodium to our diets.

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Do You Have a Nitric Oxide Deficiency?

Do You Have a Nitric Oxide Deficiency?
Ever heard of nitric oxide? It’s a gas that is produced in every tissue and every organ of your body. It’s essential for living a long and healthy life.

Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in nitric oxide (NO) but don’t know it because the signs are also symptomatic of other chronic issues.

If you’ve never heard of NO, read on. What you don’t know can be detrimental to your health.

The Importance of Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide is an important molecule. In fact, it is one of the components that will determine how long you are going to live. NO is linked to heart health as well as sexual health.

Nitric oxide is made by the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels. It’s sensitive to the physical and chemical conditions inside the blood vessels and reacts accordingly.

When the endothelium senses heart healthy conditions – such as physical activity and low cholesterol – it releases more nitric oxide. This is good for your health. Here’s why.

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5 Tips for Dealing with Barometric Pressure Headaches

5 Tips for Dealing with Barometric Pressure HeadachesIf you’ve ever experienced headaches when the weather changes, chances are the barometric pressure is to blame. When barometric pressure and humidity drops simultaneously, conditions are particularly ripe for a barometric pressure headache.

Barometric pressure, according to Environmental Monitor, “is the weight of the overlying air pressing down on the earth. It is also known as air pressure. Low barometric pressure means the overlying air is rising, whereas high pressure means the overlying air is sinking.”

Individuals who are particularly sensitive to atmospheric pressure changes may experience headaches that are in sync with weather fluctuations. However, there’s no reason to suffer every time the weather changes. There are steps you can take to avoid or lessen your discomfort.

Here are five tips for alleviating the pain.

Take an anti-inflammatory. An all-natural alternative to ibuprofen is Bio-Allay. Bio-Allay can be purchased directly from the Biotics Research website or from other health supplement stores or websites.

Use a humidifier or ionizer. If you live in a dry area, try using a humidifier or ionizer. Lie down in a closed area for best results. Some people claim that taking a walk by the river is also comforting.

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7 Signs You May Have Leaky Gut

7 Signs You May Have Leaky GutLeaky gut is a condition that affects the lining of the intestines and can contribute to a variety of chronic health challenges.

According to Optimal Wellness Labs Co-founder Dr. Richard DiCenso, leaky gut occurs when “the incompletely digested food leaks back into the system through the enlarged pores in the small intestine. The immune system does not recognize it as a potential food source and so it produces a temporary allergic reaction to the food particle, not to the food itself.”
Here are seven signs that may point to a leaky gut.

  1. Intolerance to certain foods. Often, when someone has leaky gut, certain types of foods will cause an “allergic” reaction. Fizzy drinks, vinegar, and dairy products are among some of the foods you should avoid if you have this disorder.
  2. Mood/mind disorders. Individuals with anxiety, depression, ADD, or ADHD may attribute their conditions to leaky gut. Because all neurological processes have a direct correlation to brain activity, many sufferers of leaky gut find that they may experience inconsistent mood or concentration issues.
  3. Digestive issues. Bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or gas are signs of a leaky gut.
  4. Chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. A diet rich in nutrients has shown a reversal in symptoms in some patients. Supplementation is often necessary to amend the issues.
  5. Seasonal allergies. Because your respiratory and digestive tracks are immune barriers, each one affects the other. If you fix your leaky gut, you’ll find that your seasonal allergies may subside.
  6. Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease may be triggered when undigested food particles leaks into our system. Leaky gut puts our immune system in a “high alert” status, essentially causing a little chaos in our system.
  7. Skin problems. Individuals with skin issues such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema may have leaky gut to blame. Any type of skin rash is your body’s way of eliminating toxins in the body.

It’s important to note that your chronic conditions, such as leaky gut, don’t occur in isolation. That’s why it’s important to know what’s going on inside your body so you can address all of your chronic issues.

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