Sleep

Sleep soundly and wake rested and energized for the day. Learn how with the latest discoveries in sleep support on the NorthStar blog on sleep.

  1. SHORE UP your defenses by beating back sleeplessness and anxiety

    You’re so anxious that you can’t sleep

    And because you haven’t slept, now you’re even more anxious the next day.

    Sound familiar?

    Yeah, there’s A LOT of that going around right now!

    It’s a minor miracle that any of us are getting any sleep at all.

    And that leads to the ultimate irony.

    Your immune system DEPENDS on sleep.

    When you’re out for the night, that’s when your immunity army gets a chance to rearm itself… so it’s locked, loaded, and ready for battle.

    When you miss out on shuteye, it’s not just YOU that feels rundown and ragged.

    Your disease-fighting cells could be positively POOPED – exposing you to a HIGHER risk of infection and illness.

    So today, let’s take a look at how to TURN OFF the noise… and SHUT DOWN for the night.

    Sleep like a baby without a care in the world

    If all good things must come to an end…

    Then the SAME must go for bad things, too.

    As they say, “This too shall pass.”

    But until it does… the FIRST thing I want you to do is this.

    Pick up the remote… and turn the television OFF every now and again. (Or at least switch it to something other than news.)

    DON’T turn to meds for anxiety.

    Instead, try some nutritional therapy to help ease your worries… and ensure calm.

    I’m talking about…

    • B vitamins
    • calcium
    • magnesium
    • the neurotransmitter GABA, and
    • some herbal teas.

    Second, you’ll want to make sure you get those full nights of restful sleep that are so essential to helping your ward off disease.

    As with anxiety, many sleepless folks are popping pills.

    But the next day, sleep meds can leave you feeling hungover and, well, weird.

    And if you think you have anxiety NOW, just wait ’til you see the long-term risks of those drugs… which include everything from dementia to early death.

    There’s a simpler way.

    Once again, I want you to turn everything off – the lights, the TV, your cell phone, wifi, EVERYTHING. Make the room as DARK as possible.

    For an EXCELLENT sleep aid that’s natural, try that same GABA that can help ease anxiety.

    Need something a little stronger?

    You got it -- melatonin. The “sleep hormone” tells your brain when it’s time to shut down.

    I like the “spray” form. Since you don’t have to wait for your stomach to digest a capsule, it kicks in pretty much right away.

    In Your Corner,

    Dr. Allan Spreen

  2. [URGENT] Popular sleep meds in DEADLY new link

    It’s a lesson in how NOT to warn Americans about a dangerous drug!

    There’s an entire class of medication out there… taken by millions of Americans, especially older folks… nearly every single night for sleep.

    A new report finds… they’re ALL poisonous.

    ALL of them.EVERY… LAST… ONE.

    THAT should be the headline, right?

    Of course, that’s NOT how they covered this.

    The headline at Medscape– a website your own doctor likely uses for decisions on YOU – is much gentler.

    “Insomnia Drugs: Some More Dangerous Than Others.”

    That must’ve been a favor for their drug company pals.

    Because they make it sound like some drugs AREN’T “as” dangerous…

    All while NEVER mentioning that there are ways to get sleep that aren’t dangerous at all.

    The SAFER way to sleep… tonight and every night

    The new report finds that since the year 2000, “serious outcomes” from the use and/or overuse of 42 common sleep meds has TRIPLED.

    Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs that are also used as sleep meds are the “more dangerous than others” part of the headline.

    Supposedly, the newerbenzodiazepines and “Z drugs” like eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien)are what’s safer.

    But don’t ask your doctor about these “less dangerous” drugs yet.

    There’s a HUGE catch-- one that’s NOT in this study.

    See, they used data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers database.

    In other words, reports of people who took a drug and had an immediate terrible reaction, including accidental and/or intentional overdose.

    It doesn’t look at long-term risks

    And that’s where this stuff gets REALLY scary.

    Long-term use of the “safer” z-drugs and benzos can increase your risk of:

    • DEATH by 500%
    • DEMENTIA by 50%, and
    • FALLS by 40%.

    They’ve also been linked to car crashesallergic reactionsbreathing problems… and a crazy form of sleepwalking where you go out and do things WHILE STILL ASLEEP.

    And at the end of the day – or in this case, night – the drugs really only add just a few minutes to your total sleep time.

    So, let me give you three TRULY safe ways to get the rest you need… without poisoning yourself… and without facing these and other risks.

    1. Herbal tea: This is a pretty simple option – so simple many people dismiss it. Don’t -- a tea with chamomile and valerian and knock you right out.
    2. Supplements: Both GABA and 5-HTP are safe options that’ll help you get some shuteye without the risks.
    3. The “sleep” hormone: If you’re a little older, there’s a good chance you’re low in melatonin… a.k.a. the “sleep hormone.” Boost the melatonin, and you’ll get the rest you need.

    For best results, look for a form that is micronized into a spray so that it gets absorbed instantly… and takes effect in a jiff.

  3. The Shocking Link Between Sleep and Blood Pressure

    Blood pressure and sleepWhen you were younger, you probably didn’t even think about maintaining healthy blood pressure numbers.

    They were just where you needed them to be. Now that you’re older, it’s a little different.

    These days, your doctor is more likely to look closer at those numbers.

    And you’re more likely to look closely. Because you both realize maintaining healthy blood pressure is more important than ever.

    But what happens if, in spite of your best efforts, you just haven’t quite figured out the proper equation for keeping those numbers exactly where you want them?

    Maybe that’s when it’s time to look at how much sleep you’re getting.

    That’s right – sleep. Because sleep and blood pressure are linked in ways you may not realize. Continue reading

  4. 10 Ways to Help Make Joint Pain at Night A Thing of the Past

    night joint painDoes it ever feel like joint pain at night is worse than it is during the day?

    You’re going along all morning and afternoon, just fine, with your pain reasonably under control.

    Then night comes and your joint pain gets worse – and worse – until you can’t get comfortable, you can’t fall asleep, and once you do, you can’t manage to stay asleep.

    It’s enough to make you dread getting in bed. The pressure points, having to roll over, risking tweaking a joint because you turned the wrong way or because you got twisted in the blankets.

    But you can put that dread to bed because we’ve got ways to help you make joint pain at night a thing of the past!

    Continue reading

  5. Is Your Nighttime Routine Helping or Hurting You?

    Routine nighttimeYou’re tired every day. You’re stressed every night.

    You toss and turn, unable to turn off your brain long enough to get to sleep.

    Or you wake up in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep.

    If any of these sound familiar, maybe the problem isn’t you – maybe the problem is your nighttime routine.

    After all, we know a healthy morning routine can make or break your day. Once you think about it, it makes sense that a nightly routine can be just as important.

    These suggestions can help make up a nighttime routine that will have you sleeping like a baby in no time. Not all of them may work for you, but feel free to pick and choose the ones that do.

    Continue reading

  6. Sleep and Memory: Can Sleep Help Improve Your Memory?

    memory and sleepMaybe you’re starting to have the occasional “senior moment.”

    Maybe you’re not there yet – but regardless, you don’t want them.

    Or maybe you just love learning and want to make sure you can keep doing it.

    For whatever reason, you’re looking to improve your memory.

    So you’ve started doing crossword puzzles and those brain games they advertise on television.

    But have you looked at how well you’re sleeping? Have you even considered how sleep and memory might be related and how it may even improve your memory?

    Because if you haven’t, you may want to – and you may find yourself surprised at how sleep can improve your memory.

    Continue reading

  7. 6 Different Sleeping Positions and How They Affect Your Health

    Different positions sleepingYou know that getting between seven and eight hours of sleep a night is good for your physical and mental health, but the story doesn’t stop there.

    What most people don’t realize is that the different sleeping positions we choose can actually affect our health.

    Continue reading

  8. How Important is Sleep for Your Mental Health?

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    mental health sleepWhen you don’t sleep well for a night or two, you may be a little grumpy…a little irritable.

    But that’s to be expected. After all, you didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before.

    But what happens to your mental health when you keep missing sleep? Just how important is sleep for your mental health?

    Continue reading

  9. Chronic stress is a memory killer

    Trouble remembering where you parked the car? Forgetting appointments or blanking on people’s names?

    Don’t panic, chances are it isn't early Alzheimer’s. And no, you don’t have a brain tumor.

    The truth is, you’re probably just experiencing a little bit of chronic stress. And the cure for those brain burps is as simple as it gets: relax! Continue reading

  10. Shocking sleeping pill side effects force changes

    In case you’re keeping score, the FDA has been caught asleep at the wheel yet again. After ten years of being on the market, they’ve finally admitted that for more than 11 hours after taking Lunesta, the sleeping pill's side effects may severely impair a user’s memory, coordination and ability to perform everyday tasks. You know… tasks like driving a two-ton car down the same highway your child’s school bus takes.
  11. Lack of sleep could raise your stroke risk 54%

    I’ve told you before how dangerous a lack of sleep could be to your health. Now a new study out of Taiwan really drives that point home with a bang. Researchers found that sleeplessness, or insomnia, may boost your risk of stoke by a staggering 54 percent. The four-year-long study compared the health records of more than 21,000 people who suffer with insomnia to 64,000 who don’t have the condition. When the researchers crunched the numbers, and adjusted for other factors, they say there was a clear link between lack of sleep and stroke. And the worse your sleeping problem is the higher your stroke risk is.

    From diabetes to brain damage.. lack of sleep raises your risks

    As I’ve explained before, insomnia can raise your risk for a number of health problems including high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and even brain damage. It now looks like we need to add stroke to that list. Perhaps must shocking of all is that younger insomniacs, people between the ages of 18 to 34, were eight times more likely to suffer a stroke when compared to their snoozing peers. Proving that no matter your age, you need to start taking sleep—or lack of it—seriously. But, whatever you do, don’t fall for Big Pharma’s dangerous sleep drugs. To find out why sleeping pills aren’t the answer to lack of sleep, as well as read up on some natural shut-eye tricks, click here.
  12. Insomnia can be bad for your heart health

    If you have insomnia, nobody needs to tell you that it takes a toll on your day-to-day life. But do you know about the more serious consequences of insomnia? It can have a major effect on your health. In fact, a brand new study found that men and women who can't fall asleep in their own bed face a much higher risk of winding up in a hospital bed! For this study, researchers analyzed data for more than 50,000 Norwegian adults who filled out a national survey about their sleep habits. The researchers followed these adults over 11 years. During this time, 2,368 men and women suffered heart attacks. After analyzing the data... The researchers found that insomniacs ran a 45 percent greater heart attack risk than men and women who didn't have problems falling asleep. Plus, the men and women who fell asleep fine, but had trouble staying asleep through the night, showed a 30 percent increased heart attack risk. According to Edward Fisher, professor of cardiovascular medicine at NYU says, "animals with disrupted circadian rhythms develop metabolic changes." When these problems occur in humans, it might increase heart disease risk as well. So, if you run into a bout of insomnia, take measures to correct the problem. Skip the Ambien and try a steaming hot shower with the lights turned down low. That's my go-to insomnia cure.
  13. Benefits of green tea extract: Boost your mental focus in 16 weeks

    Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) sounds pretty harmless. But it‘s not. It means you have memory or language problems beyond those attributed to normal aging. Your friends and family may notice your lapses in memory. But it doesn‘t interfere with your day-to-day life. However, most experts agree that having MCI raises your risk of developing Alzheimer‘s disease. Currently, there is no mainstream treatment for mild cognitive impairment. But you know I‘m not a mainstream guy. A new study found that men and women with mild cognitive impairment significantly improved their "mental focus" without taking a single drug. For the study, Korean scientists recruited 90 men and women with mild cognitive impairment. They divided the volunteers into two groups. One group received a placebo and the other group received 1,680 mg of green tea extract with L- theanine. (According to NutraIngredients USA, L-theanine "is an amino acid found in tea leaves thought to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve the quality of sleep.") The volunteers followed this regimen for 16 weeks. Then, they took a battery of tests. The green tea group showed "significant" improvement in memory and recall. Plus, 24 volunteers took EEG scans of their brains. Again, the green tea drinkers showed improvements in specific areas of the brain associated with mental alertness. (I‘d also throw some ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine in there, but that‘s another story.) Bottom line? Even if you don‘t have mild cognitive impairment, you may benefit from taking a green tea/L-theanine extract. Plus, you may want to look back at my Guide to Good Health from last year. I talked about one antioxidant proven to slash your Alzheimer‘s risk by a whopping 54 percent.
  14. Skip the sedative hypnotic drugs and get a safer night sleep

    A recent study found that men and women who take sedatives to sleep may increase their mortality risk by more than a third. Now, I know that lack of sleep is a huge problem, especially if you‘re under a lot of stress. But if you take a drug like Ambien to catch some z‘s, you could be heading for disaster. The good news is, there are plenty of safe and natural sleep aids that won‘t send you to an early grave. More about those in a moment. But first, let me explain...

    Why sedatives are so bad

    According to some research, 20 percent of adults use some type of sleep aid each night. You may take an OTC drug like Tylenol PM to help get you through a rough couple of nights. These drugs contain antihistamines plus pain relievers. These drugs are tough on the liver and your digestive system, but they‘re not nearly in the same league as a prescription drug like Ambien. Ambien belongs to a class of drugs called sedative hypnotics. And there are two distinct types of sedative hypnotics. The first type of sedatives -- called benzodiazepines -- hit the market in the 1950s. Xanax and Ativan are the most well-known. Side effects range from daytime sleepiness to urinary incontinence to respiratory problems. But the biggest drawback for these heavy-duty drugs is the tendency to become dependent on them. Plus, these drugs stay in your system longer than a newer class of hypnotics called non-benzodiazepines. And that‘s why the more recent drugs like Ambien have been such blockbusters. They‘re perceived as safer and less addicting. But according to the new study, they‘re just as dangerous...if not more so because you think you‘re safe taking them for a longer period.

    Sedative drug use may increase mortality risk by 36 percent

    For this study, scientists analyzed data for 14,000 people. They found that men and women who took a sedative hypnotic drug had a 36 percent greater risk of dying. And those at greatest risk were men and women over age 55. In addition, men and women with pre-existing health conditions -- such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory disease -- also ran a greater risk of dying after taking a sedative. According to the published report, there are a number of reasons why this happens... First off, both types of sedative hypnotic drugs impair your ability to stay alert. They also affect your coordination. This -- they authors wrote -- contributes to an increase in falls and car accidents. Secondly, we know that these drugs can also trigger or aggravate breathing disorders. So imagine what taking a sedative will do to someone who‘s already got sleep apnea or asthma...or someone who smokes! It‘s a recipe for disaster. Lastly, these drugs may cause depression...or make existing depression worse. They can also play games with your central nervous system. As a result, feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin can be disturbed. Therefore, I‘m guessing that some of the premature deaths in the study may have occurred due to suicide. So if sedative drugs aren‘t the answer to your sleep problems...what is?

    Safely and naturally improving your sleep

    You already know to keep your room a cool, dark, TV-free zone. And exercising before bed will just rev you up. Plus, here are few other tips that should help you get back to a healthy sleep pattern... 1. Get off all stimulants. Yup, even in the morning. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate are the obvious culprits. But you should also avoid taking ginseng, B12, or milk thistle before bed too. You‘ll also want to avoid eating bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, spinach, or tomatoes close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant. Most processed foods also contain tyramine. 2. Try upping your daily magnesium. Go for 500 mg capsules at bedtime. If you also suffer from mild anxiety, this amount of magnesium may also lessen your symptoms. 3. If you‘re under the age of 40, try using l-tryptophan. It‘s an essential amino acid found in turkey, chicken, tuna, whole grain crackers, eggs, bananas, figs and dates. So, if you must eat before bed, these are all safe choices. But of course, to get enough l-tryptophan from food, you‘d have too eat a lot of it— nothing like a whole turkey before bed, right? So supplementing is ideal. L- tryptophan will help gently induce sleep. Plus, unlike many drugs, it won‘t cause morning-after fogginess. That said, unfortunately, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may have trouble absorbing l-tryptophan. So if that‘s the case, stick to the other options. 4. I‘ve also seen excellent results using melatonin supplements. Just beware, melatonin is a hormone. So I don‘t recommend taking it if you‘re younger than 40. But as we get older, our melatonin production slows down so there‘s less of a chance of you getting "too much" by taking it as a supplement. Go for the smallest dose to start: 1.5 mg at bedtime for ages 40 to 50 or 3 mg for people over the age of 50. With higher dosages, you might wake up drowsy. If that‘s the case, you know you‘ve taken too much. 5. After a certain age, many of us wake up every night to visit the bathroom. If you want to get ahead of the curve and support healthy bladder function now, there‘s a plant extract call three-leaf caper that just might help. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, three-leaf caper strengthens and tones the bladder wall so it can empty more fully. You‘ll find three-leaf caper, along with several other herbs that support bladder function, in a NorthStar Nutritional product called UroLogic. To learn more about three-leaf caper and UroLogic, read this: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/UroLogic.htm. For men interested in a product that supports bladder as well as prostate function, consider ProSense by NorthStar Nutritionals: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/ProSense.htm. It‘s a safe, natural, and effective way to address both bladder and prostate health. Just remember, when you sleep it‘s your body‘s time to refresh and reboot. It‘s vital for your overall health. So if you‘re not getting enough restful z‘s, give one of these natural sleep aids a try.

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